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Vishnu Enlightens Mankind

Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 6:39 AM

Vishnu as Mayamoha, the teacher who deluded demons into giving up the Vedas Pahari painting Demons Corrupt Vedas


In Kali-yuga, the final quarter of the world-cycle, the asuras stole the Vedas and used their mystical secrets to become powerful beings. Mantras and yagnas were subverted for material gain, their spiritual aims disregarded.

The sapta rishis, ancient keepers of wisdom, went to Vishnu and complained "Nobody understands the Vedas anymore. Corrupted by the demons, they fail to direct man towards the divine. Save the texts before ignorance heralds the day of doom."

Mayamoha Deludes Asuras


Vishnu went to the kingdom of demons taking the form of a wily sage called Mayamoha, the deluder, with Garuda accompanying him as a monk.

Clean shaven, dressed in clothes of bark, with a begging bowl in hand, Mayamoha sat amongst the asuras denouncing the Vedas. "Don't waste your time with these high philosophies and complex rituals. They are nothing but superstitions. You don't need them to be powerful."

With clever arguments Mayamoha convinced the demons to abandon the Vedic way. They stopped chanting mantras and performing yagnas. They threw the holy texts out of their land and became heretics. The rishis recovered the Vedas and began restoring them to their former glory.

The Divine Teacher


Nara-Narayana, the twin incarnations of Vishnu  Temple carving Meanwhile, on earth, the distortion of the Vedas by the demons had caused confusion mankind had lost touch with the divine. Life lacked direction. There was suffering everywhere.

To fight this ignorance with knowledge, Vishnu descended upon earth as the enlightened teacher. Incarnating as Nara and Narayana, Kapila, Narada, Vyasa, Datta, Rishabha and Buddha, the lord taught man the true nature of the cosmos. He explained the mysteries of life and showed many ways to attain salvation.

Those who lived by his words found themselves in the paradise of Vaikuntha, attuned to the blissful rhythms of the cosmos. The rest, like demons, suffered the pangs of existence.

Tapas of Nara-Narayana


On the snowy peaks of the Himalayas, at Badrika, Nara-Narayana, two inseparable sages, performed terrible austerities, tapas. Nobody knew what they sought.

"Maybe they seek power," said the demon-king, Dambhodabhava. He sent hundreds of soldiers to attack them. The sages refused to tight. Instead, they hurled blades of grass which turned into fiery missiles killing everyone who dared disturb their serenity.

Kapila, the seer, who laid down the foundations of Indian mysticism Pahari miniature painting
The god-king Indra sent hundreds of nymphs to seduce them. The sages remained unmoved. "We can create them ourselves." So saying Nara and Narayana rubbed their thighs and brought forth a voluptuous nymph called Urvashi, more alluring than all of Indra's apsaras put together.

"What do you want?" asked the gods and demons, unable to fathom the reason for their tapas.

"We seek the ultimate goal of existence realization and union with the divine spirit. Power and pleasure are merely temporal delights that will wither away someday," said Nara-Narayana.

Kapila and Jnana-yoga


Kardama renounced worldly life soon after his son Kapila , was horn. A time came when Kapila decided to follow in his father's footsteps.


'Why did I lose my husband? Why am I losing my son?" wondered Devahuti, Kapila's mother, unable to come to terms with the separation.

Said Kapila, "Nothing is permanent in the material world. All that you see, smell, hear, touch or taste are material things, products of prakriti. They are transitory pleasures here one moment, gone the next. If you want something permanent, you must look beyond the material reality and get in touch with the spiritual reality of the cosmos, the immutable purusha."

Narada, the great devotee; South Indian bronze idol Kapila went on to explain the structure of the world. He enumerated the two principles which govern life eternal nil and transitory substance.

This Santkhya philosophy became the corner-stone of nysticism and the foundation of intellectual introspection - Jnana-yoga.

Narada and Bhakti-yoga


Even after performing a hundred thousand yagnas, King Prachinabarhis was not happy. "What have I done wrong? why am I not content? Why do I experience no bliss?" he wondered.

The sage Narada, lute in hand, came forward to solve the king's problem. "With your rituals you are trying to control the world around you and make it work in your 'our. But let me show you what you have really achieved."

Narada pointed to a vast field covered with the carcasses cattle sacrificed in his many rituals.

“Your rites and rituals will never influence the workings he world. But for killing these innocent beasts you will e to someday pay a terrible price."

Narada continued, "The desire to manipulate events in one's favour is unproductive because Vishnu, the supreme being, loves all creatures equally he does not discriminate or favour anyone. Accept his divine intentions humbly live life accordingly. Look at every event good or as the lord's gift, prasada, an opportunity to discover the divine. Only then will you realise his benign and live a life of joy."

Vyasa dictating the Mahabharata epic to Ganesha
Thos did Narada direct the king Prachinabarhis to the path of devotion called bhakti-yoga that leads straight to heart of Vishnu.

Veda Vyasa and Karma-yoga


The sage Parashara fell in love with a fisherwoman called Satyavati as she ferried him across the river Ganga. She gave birth to his son Krishna-Dwaipayana, so called because of his dark complexion and because he was born on an island in the middle of the river.

Satyavati's son painstakingly compiled the Vedas, which had been lost to the world, with Ganesha, the lord of wisdom, serving as his scribe. His work made him famous in the three worlds as Veda Vyasa compiler of the books of knowledge.

Krishna-Dwaipayana also wrote down the Adi Purana and the Itihasa, the book of myths and legends, through which he propogated the doctrine of duty, karma-yoga.

Said he, "Man must act according to dharma because dharma ensures harmony between the self and the world around. Actions motivated by desire unravel the cosmic fabric they also generate emotions that trap one within the material world. Nishkama karma, selfless action focussed on duty not reward, enables one to attain salvation without having to renounce the world."

The followers of Vyasa became the first bards who revealed truth through tales of gods, king and sages.

Dattatreya, the Mystic


Anasuya, the wife of sage Atri, was renowned for her virtue. To test her, Vishnu arrived at her doorstep disguised as a sage and asked her to feed him unclothed. Anasuya, bound by the rules of hospitality, agreed to the strange request. But such was the power of her chastity that when she brought the food, Vishnu turned into an infant whom Anasuya fed as a mother, her virtue uncompromised. When Vishnu recovered his original form, he blessed Anasuya, "You will bear a son who will be the embodiment of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva."

Thus was born Datta, the son of Anasuya. He was also known as Dattatreya after his father,
Dattatreya, the mendicant-teacher; 64 Modern calendar art
the sage Atri.

Datta observed Nature carefully the elements, the sun and the moon, birds and animals, men and women and gained an insight into the nature of the world. Inspired, he went on to compose the Avadhuta Gita the song of the recluse that explains the doctrine of detachment, vairagya.

Through various occult sciences like Tantra and mystical disciplines like Yoga, Dattatreya taught mankind the means to yoke oneself to the way of the cosmos. His students called him the fountainhead of all knowledge, the supreme teacher, Adinatha.

He wandered around the world as a mendicant with his cow, Bhoodevi herself, and four dogs, embodiments of the Vedas. Said Dattatreya, "You can either remain ignorant and abuse Nature or you can learn from her and realise divinity."

Rishabha, the Ford-finder


Meru, wife of the noble king Nabhi of Ayodhya, dreamt of a mighty bull as she gave birth to her son. The prince was therefore named Rishabha bull amongst men.

Rishabha ruled his kingdom wisely, teaching man seventy-two vocational skills and women sixty-four domestic arts.

He had many children. His daughter Brahmi invented the script called Brahmi. His son Bharata was a great king of India; after him the land continued to be known as Bharata-varsha, the kingdom of Bharata.

Rishabha, the jina or conqueror of bodily passions who built a bridge out of the wheel of existence, is described as an incarnation of Vishnu in some texts but this is not accepted by followers of the Jain faith Stone idol on the walls of a Jain temple
When he had fulfilled his duties as a householder and king, Rishabha renounced worldly life. He crowned Bharata as his successor and went into the wilderness to live a life of austere contemplation.

Seated on Mount Kailasa, Rishabha reiterated the Jain philosophy, one of the oldest doctrines of liberation that enables man to break the fetters of karma and transcend samsara. Rishabha thus created a bridge out of the wheel of existence and became tirthankara the ford-finder.

Buddha, the Enlightened One


Gautama, the Sakya prince of Kapilavastu, grew up surrounded by royal comforts adored by his loving mother. When he came of age, he married the beautiful princess Yashodhara. Within the walls of his palace there was nothing but joy.

But one day, as he rode through the city, he became aware of the suffering that plagues the life of every man poverty, old age, disease and death.

He witnessed innocent animals and birds being mercilessly slaughtered by priests in elaborate ceremonies in the hope of relieving sorrow and ushering in joy.

Sakyamuni Gautama Buddha who found the answer to human suffering was considered to be an incarnation of Vishnu by some Vaishnavas though Buddhists refute this claim Stone carving
In his compassion, Gautama decided to find the reason behind suffering. "Once I know what makes man unhappy, I will find a way to make him happy."

He renounced his wife and child, his wealth and crown and lived a life of a mendicant in the forest, fasting, meditating, talking to wise men, seeking a solution to the misery of man.

He sat under a pipal tree and refused to get up until he had found the answer. In time he did. He realised desire was the root of all pain.

As Buddha, the enlightened one, Gautama concluded that to be free of desire one had to alter one's attitude towards the world and seek answers within oneself, through contemplation and restraint. He propogated a disciplined way of life based on compassion known as Buddhism the path of the enlightened.

Writer Name: Decdutt Pattanaik
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