The Bhagavad-gita Mahatmya

by N.A. Deshpande | 1951 | 23,843 words | ISBN-10: 8120838297 | ISBN-13: 9788120838291

The English translation of the Bhagavad-gita Mahatmya, taken directly from the Padma Purana: one of the largest of the eighteen major puranas. The Gita-mahatmya praises the Bhagavadgita using a series of illustrative stories showing the spiritual value of latter. It contains eighteen chapters corresponding to the eighteen chapters of the actual Bha...

Chapter 1 - The Anecdote of Suśarman

[Note: this page corresponds to chapter 175 of the Book 6 (Uttarakhaṇḍa) of the translation of The Padmapurāṇa]

Pārvatī said:

1-2. O revered one, O you knowing the entire truth, through your grace I have heard various duties about Viṣṇu, which are the causes of complete crossing (of the worldly existence). Now I also desire to hear the greatness of Gītā, having heard which devotion to Viṣṇu enhances. Now tell it, O god, if I am dear to you.

The lord said:

3-4. We worship great Viṣṇu, Acyuta, resembling the hemp-flower, having the lord of birds as his seat, and lying on the bed of Śeṣa. Once Lakṣmī delighting the three worlds, respectfully asked (Viṣṇu) enemy of Mura, comfortably seated on a charming seat.

Lakṣmī said:

5. O revered one, with what purpose are you sleeping in the Milky Oceon—you, like one who is neutral, having instituted glory in the world is it were? (obscure).

The lord said:

6. Hearing these words, proud through knowledge, of Lakṣmī, the destroyer of Mura, with his eyes doubting and smiling, spoke with soft words.

The lord said:

7-13 O you of a beautiful face, I am not sleepy. With my sight turned inside and pursuing the truth, I see my own body of Śiva. O goddess, that which the contemplative saints see within with their sharp intellect, which produces a continuous mass of joy and which is without a second, is the immutable light, of the nature of the self, and unharmed, resorting to which the world subsists, and which is experienced by me, and without which there is no element in the world, mobile or immobile, and having secured which, Dvaipāyana (i.e. Vyāsa) produced the holy text of the Gītā; after having thought in many ways the very intelligent one churned the holy texts of the Vedas. O chief goddess, having resorted to it, a great joy, I, with my mind delighted, appear to be sleepy in the Milky Ocean.

Having heard these limited delightful words of the enemy of Mura, Lakṣmī, with her rolling eyes full of joy, was amazed.

Lakṣmī said:

14-20. O Hṛṣīkeśa, you alone are always to be meditated upon by the self-controlled ones. Therefore, I have a great curiosity to hear from you about that which is greater than you. O Acyuta, tell me if there is someone different from you who are the lord, the creator and the destroyer of the worlds.

The lord said:

O goddess, this my body is illusory and not real, and is augmented with the mass of the acts of creation, maintenance and withdrawal. O dear one, the nature of the soul is different from this. It is without duality and unity. It is free from existence and non-existence; and without beginning or end. It is pure consciousness, has acquired lustre, is beautiful due to great joy, is the form of lord, can be known only through the oneness of the soul, and is told in the Gītā.

Hearing these words of him of an unlimited lustre, she having doubt due to contradictory statement said: “If you are highest joy, and not known through speech and mind, then how does Gītā make you known. Remove this doubt of me.”

The lord (Śiva) said:

21-26. Having heard the proper words of Lakṣmī, the lord told her the Gītā, the view leading one to the self, along with an old account. “O greatest goddess, I am the soul (looked at) in two ways as higher and lower. The higher is a (mere) witness, qulityless, partless and auspicious. The lower one, I am Pañcavaktra; it also remains in two forms. I, Maheśvara, the soul, am to be explained through the difference in words and meanings, as, through the words of the Gītā, my strong bond, of the nature of the objects in the mundane existence, is completely cut off; since (my two forms) Pañcavktra and Maheśvara, are dependent on its study.” (obscure). Hearing these words of him, of the great ocean of the essence of Gītā, those afraid of the mundane existence know it through the difference between this and that. Lakṣmī asked this to him. He told her the entire greatness along with its account, remaining in major and minor parts. (obscure).

The lord (Viṣṇu) said:

27-31. O you beautiful lady, I shall tell you about my firm existence in the Gītā. The five faces are the five chapters in order. The (next) ten chapters are the arms; one is the belly. and the (remaining) two are the lotus-like feet. Thus the eighteen chapters are the divine forms of words. It, destroying great sins, should be known through knowledge only. Therefore, he, the very intelligent one, who studies a chapter, or half of it, or a verse or half a verse is liberated like Suśarman.

Lakṣmī said:

O lord. who was he named Suśarman? What caste did be belong to? How was his nature? Whence was he liberated? Due to which cause did his liberation take place?

The lord said:

32-47a. There was a wicked (man) named Suśarman, who was the limit of sinners (i.e. the worst sinner). He was born in the family of brāhmaṇas, who did cruel deeds, and had not realised the self. He did not meditate (upon the god), did not mutter (hymns), did not perform a sacrifice, did not honour his guests; but due to his possessing strength he indulged in sensual objects only. He was always engaged in husbandry, subsisted on leaves, loved liquor, ate flesh; for a very long time he passed his time like this. Desiring to fetch leaves, he moved into a sage’s orchard. The dull-witted one was bitten there by a deadly serpent. Having died, and having gone to many hells, he came (i.e. was born) again and was born as a bull. A lame man bartered him for his subsistence. With a great difficulty, he, carrying him (i.e. the lame man) on his back, passed seven or eight autumns. He was maimed, his eyes rolled, and vomited foam continuously. He neither lived nor died due to his own acts. Some time the lame man made him revolve speedily. He suddenly fell on the ground and fainted. As this world is attracted by curiosity, in the crowd (around him) a meritorious man gave his religious merit to him. Some others also, remembering their own deeds, gave (him their religious merit). There was (in the crowd) a courtezan also, leading the course of the worldly life; and not knowing her religious merit, she gave (him) some religious merit. By the servants of Death he was taken to the city of the dead. He was released due to his being meritorious as a result of the religious merit given by the courtezan. Again he came to the earth and was born in the house of noble persons—brāhmaṇas. He remembered his (former) existence; after a long time he, desiring to know religious merit removing his ignorance, approached the courtezan, and proclaimed himself; he asked her. She told (him): “This parrot, living in the cage daily tells me. My heart was purified due to that, and I divided my religious merit.” The parrot, asked by the two, started narrating an account that,had formerly taken place, after remembering his former existence also.

The parrot said:

47b-55. Formerly I was a learned man, deluded by the pride of my learning. Due to my hatred for loveliness I was jealous even of virtuous persons. After (some) time, having departed from life, I then reached abhorred worlds. Then, I who very much censured (my) good preceptor, was born in the stock of a parrot. In the summer season, I, the wicked one, was also separated from my parents. In the summer, in which the roads were heated, I was brought by best sages and was dropped in a cage in the hermitage, the resort of the great. Hearing from the sons of the sages revising with great care the first chapter of the Gītā, I repeatedly recited it. In the meanwhile, a fowler indulging in stealing, snatched and sold me.

Thus the account was told.

The lord said:

This chapter was enunciated before. Due to that he dispelled his sin. With his heart purified by that the best bird was released. Thus talking to one another, and telling its greatness, they, the wise ones, constantly muttering it, obtained salvation in the house. Therefore, for him who recites or listens to the first chapter, or would remember or study it, the ocean of the mundane existence is not difficult to cross.

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