Avadhuta Yadu Samvada (अवधूतयद्वोः संवादः)

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Avadhuta Yadu Samvada (Samskrit: अवधूतयद्वोः संवादः) is a well read conversation between Avadhuta (Dattatreya) a recluse who had realized Brahman and Yadu Maharaja of intellectual brilliance, described in the Bhagavata Purana (Skanda 11 Adhyayas 7-9). A very important concept of learning from the very nature around us, Dattatreya, the son of Maharshi Atri and Anasuya, describes twenty-four Gurus (चतुर्विंशतिगुरवः) from whom he has assimilated some specific wisdom.

Dattatreya, said to be the avatara of MahaVishnu, is an example of Avadhuta (अवधूतः). They are the ever-free, highly illuminated beings, yogis, who wander on the earthly sphere always immersed in the Brahman. The life of Dattatreya furnishes the best ideal of a Guru.

अवधूतदत्तात्रेयः ॥ Avadhuta Dattatreya

Although many texts describe Dattatreya as the avatara of MahaVishnu, born as the son of Maharshi Atri and his chaste wife Anasuya, very often he is described as the incarnation of the Trimurtis - Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, born of the same parents. Some state that he is also one of the Saptarshis. It was he who taught the knowledge of Self to Prahlada, Alarka, Yadu and Kartavirya. He is spoken of highly even in the Upanishads such as Jabala Upanishad, Narada Parivrajaka Upanishad, Yajnavalkya Upanishad and the Bhikshu Upanishad. The Shandilya Upanishad gives an explanation of the term Dattatreya along with his legend.[1]

अवधूतस्य लक्षणानि॥ Characteristics of Avadhuta

Bhagavata Purana in the present samvada describes the lakshanas of an Avadhuta in Yadu Maharaja's words thus

कुतो बुद्धिरियं ब्रह्मन्नकर्तुः सुविशारदा यामासाद्य भवाँल्लोकं विद्वाँश्चरति बालवत् २६

प्रायो धर्मार्थकामेषु विवित्सायां च मानवाः हेतुनैव समीहन्त आयुषो यशसः श्रियः २७

त्वं तु कल्पः कविर्दक्षः सुभगोऽमृतभाषणः न कर्ता नेहसे किञ्चिज्जडोन्मत्तपिशाचवत् २८

जनेषु दह्यमानेषु कामलोभदवाग्निना न तप्यसेऽग्निना मुक्तो गङ्गाम्भःस्थ इव द्विपः २९

त्वं हि नः पृच्छतां ब्रह्मन्नात्मन्यानन्दकारणम् ब्रूहि स्पर्शविहीनस्य भवतः केवलात्मनः ३० (Bhag. Pura. 11.7.26-30)[2]

Summary: Whence did you, apparently inactive, come to possess such extraordinary intelligence and wisdom (is such a youthful stage), endowed with which and enlightened (immersed in Brahman) you roam about in this world like a child. Engaged in activities to attain Dharma, Artha and Kama men desire for longevity, fame and fortune. But you appear to be able-bodied, wise, skillful and alert, good-looking having a nectar like sweetness in speech, yet you behave as if you are a dullard (Jada), lunatic (Unmatta) like one who is haunted by a pisachas (possessed by ghost). People have burning and consuming forms of agni called desires and greed, yet you are free from such burning desires appearing like an elephant standing in the waters of Ganga (untouched by the conflagrations). We enquire you seriously, please tell us the cause of your blissfulness due to the Self, untouched by objects of pleasure, just pure consciousness.[3]

The characteristic presentation of an Avadhuta to the world may be described as बालोन्मत्तपिशाचवेषाः।

An Avadhuta is free from the net of hope, from the idea of the beginning, middle, and end of things and that he is perpetually abiding in happiness. He is devoid of all desires, his speech is devoid of evil and that he exists in all existing things. An Avadhuta's body is covered with dust, the mind is purged of all evil thoughts and he is free from all diseases. He is full of contemplation of the reality, free from activities causing anxieties and bereft of ahankara. Primarily an Avadhuta is permeated with the sentiment of oneness throughout and are untouched by the worldly phenomenon and all duties, rites, observances prescribed by the various texts. His speech though devoid of evils may be misinterpreted by a worldly man and his actions may clash with the worldly interests against human expectations.[4]

For all such things he does not care, for he has already trodden them and risen triumphant over them all. His utterances do not hold water with the ordinary man of the world, for one who is still enveloped thickly with the veils of the Maya and whose aim is yet to attain worldly success or even heavenly joys. The Avadhuta's message is grasped easily by those who have risen far above this stage of life. His messages will be full of reflections from the Vedanta and Upanishadic texts and meaningful paths that lead to Moksha to a seeker of jnana.[4]

चतुर्विंशतिगुरवः ॥ Twenty-four Gurus

Dattatreya reflects and delivers an important advice that a seeker of wisdom, a sadhaka, should always endeavor to pick up lessons wherever he finds it. He should neither be judgmental nor despise the source from which it comes. Only that sadhaka who accepts wisdom from various sources, just like a honey-bee collecting honey by thousands of trips to various flowers, will succeed in collecting the honey of essence of Vedic wisdom. Dattatreya himself sets an example to this fact when he declares how he made 24 individuals - animate and inanimate objects - his Gurus.[4]

Noticing the youthful Brahmana ascetic (Dattatreya) of immeasurable splendour, wandering fearlessly, Maharaja Yadu asks him the reason for his behaviour as a बालः (child) उन्मत्तः (Lunatic) and पिशाचवेषः (as though possessed of a ghost) and the cause of blissfulness untouched by the objects of pleasure.

When respectfully questioned by the intelligent Yadu Maharaja, the Brahmana ascetic, explains that many are his preceptors, both animate and inanimate, from whom he assimilated specific wisdom through his judgment. They are

  1. पृथिवी ॥ Prthvi (Earth)
  2. वायु ॥ Vayu (Air)
  3. आकाशम् ॥ Akasha (Ether)
  4. आपः॥ Apah (Water)
  5. अग्निः ॥ Agni (FIre)
  6. चन्द्रः ॥ Chandra (Moon)
  7. रविः ॥ Surya (Sun)
  8. कपोतः ॥ Kapota (Pigeon)
  9. अजगरः ॥ Ajagar (A Boa-Constrictor snake)
  10. सिन्धुः ॥ Sindhu (Sea)
  11. पतङ्गः ॥ Patanga (A Moth)
  12. मधुकृत् ॥ Madhukrd (A Bee)
  13. गजः ॥ Gaja (An Elephant)
  14. मधुहा ॥ Madhuha (A honey-gatherer)
  15. हरिणः ॥ Harini (A deer)
  16. मीनः ॥ Meena (A fish)
  17. पिङ्गला ॥ Pingala (A courtesan)
  18. कुररः ॥ Kurara (A Bird)
  19. अर्भकः ॥ Arbhaka (A child)
  20. कुमारी ॥ Kumari (A maiden)
  21. शरकृत् ॥ Sharakrt (An arrow-sharpner)
  22. सर्पः ॥ Sarpa (A Snake)
  23. ऊर्णनाभिः ॥ Urnanabhi ( A Spider)
  24. सुपेशकृत् ॥ Supeshakrt (A Wasp)

And he continues to explain what those lessons are which, being the special ways of behaviour of each of the above beings, gave him specific lessons useful in life (to everyone).

पृथिवी ॥ Prthvi (Earth)

भूतैराक्रम्यमाणोऽपि धीरो दैववशानुगैः । तद्विद्वान्न चलेन्मार्गादन्वशिक्षं क्षितेर्व्रतम् ३७

शश्वत्परार्थसर्वेहः परार्थैकान्तसम्भवः साधुः शिक्षेत भूभृत्तो नगशिष्यः परात्मताम् ३८

प्राणवृत्त्यैव सन्तुष्येन्मुनिर्नैवेन्द्रियप्रियैः ज्ञानं यथा न नश्येत नावकीर्येत वाङ्मनः ३९ (Bhag. Pura. 11.7.37-39)[2]

From Prthvi, I learnt to remain firm and undisturbed even when trodden over and ill-treated by other beings (standing unperturbed in times of adversity). With full understanding that these beings (oppressors) are acting by nature and fate, a Dheera (धीरः), a strong-minded wise person should never deviate from his path of dharma. A mountain by its Paropakara lakshana of serving others bears the trees, grass and water streams meant for the use of others (people). Thus just a mountain strives for Parahita or resigns all his activities for the good of other beings, a sadhaka or seeker of wisdom should develop Paropakara and Parahita lakshanas. A sadhaka should always remember to take resources like food, just enough to sustain himself and not striving to satisfy the Indriyas (senses); thus he learns the quality of contentment with whatever he procures. With such restraint his Jnanashakti is protected and his speech and manas do not falter or waver.[3][5]

वायु ॥ Vayu (Air)

विषयेष्वाविशन्योगी नानाधर्मेषु सर्वतः गुणदोषव्यपेतात्मा न विषज्जेत वायुवत् ४०

पार्थिवेष्विह देहेषु प्रविष्टस्तद्गुणाश्रयः गुणैर्न युज्यते योगी गन्धैर्वायुरिवात्मदृक् ४१ (Bhag. Pura. 11.7.40-41)[2]

Vayu travels in many kinds of surroundings but does not show any specific interest (neither surroundings of natural beauty nor in a burning forest) or attachment to their excellences or deficiencies. Similarly a sadhaka, though participates in the surrounding objects (of senses) of various characteristics, should develop Unattachment to sense objects (विषज्जेत) and remain in an aloof state unattached to the excellences or deficiencies of those sense objects.

Just as the wind, though is a carrier of scents and odours (which are due to the particles of the earth wafted by it) remains aloof from the smells (good or bad), so also an Atmajnani as long as he remains in the earthly body should bear the bodily diseases, pains, hunger, thirst etc., yet remaining untouched by the bodily Gunas (attributes) and Doshas. Just as a mere spectator a sadhaka should be fully aware that he is distinct from the body or its attributes.[3][5]

आकाशम् ॥ Akasha (Ether)

अन्तर्हितश्च स्थिरजङ्गमेषु ब्रह्मात्मभावेन समन्वयेन व्याप्त्याव्यवच्छेदमसङ्गमात्मनो मुनिर्नभस्त्वं विततस्य भावयेत् ४२

तेजोऽबन्नमयैर्भावैर्मेघाद्यैर्वायुनेरितैः न स्पृश्यते नभस्तद्वत्कालसृष्टैर्गुणैः पुमान् ४३ (Bhag. Pura. 11.7.42-43)[2]

Even though the forms of mobile and immobile creation appear to be variable, they are all connected by (interpenetrated) by the one Akasha, which is undivided and all-pervading. A contemplative muni should learn that even though invested with the physical body, Atma is identical to Brahman which is also all-pervading and permeates all beings (both the mobile and immobile) yet is unconnected like Akasha. From Akasha a sadhaka thus learns the underlying Unity of all beings and identity with Brahman.

Vayu and Agni cause rains and food is grown. It is because of Vayu that clouds form, get tossed and disappear in the sky (Akasha). However, in spite of the many activities that take place Akasha is untouched and unperturbed by them. In the same way a contemplative sadhaka should not be affected by the passing products of time such as Gunas (attributes) and Dravyas (things).[3][5]

आपः॥ Apah (Water)

स्वच्छः प्रकृतितः स्निग्धो माधुर्यस्तीर्थभूर्नृणाम् मुनिः पुनात्यपां मित्रमीक्षोपस्पर्शकीर्तनैः ४४ (Bhag. Pura. 11.7.44)[2]

Jala is by nature pure, smooth and sweet, cleansing and purifying beings in the form of teerthas. Similarly, a sadhaka should have inculcate the nature of being free of love or hatredness towards anyone and have equanimity towards all men and with purifying sight, touch and soft words he makes them pure. Thus sadhaka learns Equanimity and Purification from water.[5]

अग्निः ॥ Agni (Fire)

तेजस्वी तपसा दीप्तो दुर्धर्षोदरभाजनः सर्वभक्ष्योऽपि युक्तात्मा नादत्ते मलमग्निवत् ४५

क्वचिच्छन्नः क्वचित्स्पष्ट उपास्यः श्रेय इच्छताम् भुङ्क्ते सर्वत्र दातॄणां दहन्प्रागुत्तराशुभम् ४६

स्वमायया सृष्टमिदं सदसल्लक्षणं विभुः प्रविष्ट ईयते तत्तत् स्वरूपोऽग्निरिवैधसि ४७ (Bhag. Pura. 11.7.45-47)[2]

A contemplative seer like Agni has brilliance due to his penance, and remains formidable. He is satisfied by the minimal offerings of Bhiksha and does not resort to hoarding of anything nor saving for future use. Like Agni, who accepts the offerings (Ahutis) made to him without judging, a sadhaka is devoid of doshas even though he accepts Bhiksha from one and all. It must be underlined that he does not take anything impure things in the first place.[5]

Agni remains sometimes hidden (in fuel or covered in ashes) and sometimes is well-known (as in blazing state) and is worshipped by those seekers of spiritual good (Shreyakama). Agni consumes only what is offered as havis at the time of homas and yajnas and burns down the papa committed in the past and future (malefic effects accrued) of the yajamana. Similarly a sadhaka is like Agni, sometimes lying hidden and sometimes in the limelight. Those seeking spiritual good serve him and in turn he destroys the papa committed by them in the past and the future.[5] Additionally just as Paramatma (विभुः) appears to possess the size and shape of the bodies that he pervades whether of higher or lower forms (like that of the devatas and manushyas) created by his Maya, so also Agni assumes the shape and size of the fuel (logs or wood or coal) in which it abides.[3] Thus from Agni, a sadhaka learns Contentment and Equanimity in all situations.

चन्द्रः ॥ Chandra (Moon)

विसर्गाद्याः श्मशानान्ता भावा देहस्य नात्मनः कलानामिव चन्द्रस्य कालेनाव्यक्तवर्त्मना ४८

कालेन ह्योघवेगेन भूतानां प्रभवाप्ययौ नित्यावपि न दृश्येते आत्मनोऽग्नेर्यथार्चिषाम् ४९ (Bhag. Pura. 11.7.48-49)[2]

Chandra (moon) appears to be waxing and waning, similar to the Shad Bhavavikaras (षड्भावविकाराः) or the six natural change of states of the body starting with creation and ending with death; all such changes, both of the moon and the body, are known to be caused by Kala (Time Factor). Know that just like the waxing and waning of moon are only an appearance affected by Kala and does not affect the moon itself, so also the six change of states of the body are affected by Kala and Atman itself (which is associated with the body) remains unchanged. A sadhaka (a Dheera) should be aware that these changes are but natural (in prkrti) and should remain unperturbed.[5] The births and deaths of bodies though eternally taking place due to the inexorable force of Kala (Time Factor) flowing like a rushing stream, do not affect the Atma just as there is a beginning and an end to the blazing fire but not to Agni itself.[3] From Chandra, a sadhaka learns to Accept the changes due to Time and remain unperturbed (Dheera).

रविः ॥ Surya (Sun)

गुणैर्गुणानुपादत्ते यथाकालं विमुञ्चति न तेषु युज्यते योगी गोभिर्गा इव गोपतिः ५०

बुध्यते स्वे न भेदेन व्यक्तिस्थ इव तद्गतः लक्ष्यते स्थूलमतिभिरात्मा चावस्थितोऽर्कवत् ५१ (Bhag. Pura. 11.7.50-51)[2]

Surya (Sun) by his rays draws the waters up into the air and releases/showers the waters when the time is appropriate (as rain) for the good of the mankind, and as a Lokasakshi, he just accepts and releases (as a duty) without any attachment (न तेषु युज्यते) towards the water. Similarly, a yogi, in accordance with nature, accepts the objects offered to his senses and leaves them according to the exigencies of time, but he is no way attached to those objects.[3][5]

Just like Surya (Arka) who appears to be different in different vessels of water (as reflection) but is one entity, so also the one entity Atman, appears to be multiformed (many bodied) to those persons who regard one gross physical body as the Atma. Their gross intellect does not recognise the unity of Atma that underlies the various Upadhis (forms). Thus Surya teaches Akhandatva or Unity of Atman.

कपोतः ॥ Kapota (Pigeon)

नातिस्नेहः प्रसङ्गो वा कर्तव्यः क्वापि केनचित् कुर्वन्विन्देत सन्तापं कपोत इव दीनधीः ५२

कपोतः कश्चनारण्ये कृतनीडो वनस्पतौ कपोत्या भार्यया सार्धमुवास कतिचित्समाः ५३

एवं कुटुम्ब्यशान्तात्मा द्वन्द्वारामः पतत्रिवत् पुष्णन्कुटुम्बं कृपणः सानुबन्धोऽवसीदति ७३

यः प्राप्य मानुषं लोकं मुक्तिद्वारमपावृतम् गृहेषु खगवत्सक्तस्तमारूढच्युतं विदुः ७४ (Bhag. Pura. 11.7.52 to 74)[2]

Excessive attachment or over-association with anyone should never be contracted by a person, else he will have excessive grief just like dull-minded pigeon. Here Dattatreya describes the the legend of the grieved pigeon to Yadu Maharaja.

A certain pigeon once built a nest on a tree, in a certain forest and lived with his mate, a female dove for some years. Even though they had separate bodies, their hearts were tied in bonds of unfailing love. They led a conjugal life binding together each other's eyes with eyes, body with body, and heart with heart. United in company of each other, they slept, ate, flew around the forest, stood, chatted, and sported together fearlessly wandering in the forest. The female dove satisfied the conjugal desires of the male dove and was treated with sympathetic affection by him. Such was their union that irrespective of the strain involved, the male dove fulfilled all the desires of his mate. In due course of time, the female dove laid down the eggs in the nest in presence of her mate. Soon after the proper period the well-formed fledglings were born out of the eggs. With excess parental affection both the parents nourished their off-spring and rejoiced in their movements, the soft touch and sweet cooings. Deluded by Vishnu Maya, the hearts of the parent birds were closely knit and they completely immersed themselves in rearing their children oblivious to the world.

Once when the parent birds were away busy gathering food for the ever-growing needs of their rapidly growing young children, a hunter happened to see those young birds. He spread out his net and as the birds moved about they were caught in the net. As the parents returned, seeing the young ones so ensnared the female dove bewildered and overwhelmed with grief, rushed to them and she was herself entangled therein. Deeply distressed and bewailing sorrowfully, the male dove understood the calamity that took over him, his much loved children and a very dear life-mate. He sorrowfully recollected the fate that awaited them, the ruining of the household life which is the source of the three Purusharthas, and the loss of his dear agreeable mate for the sake of his children. In this excessive sorrow that overtook him, with the thought of the desolate days of emptiness that his future held without his deity like wife to keep company, he flung himself in the snare along with his family. Thus the entire family was captured by the hunter who accomplished his purpose and returned home.

In the same way, a householder of weak intellect takes extreme delight in conjugal life, with his mind constantly distracted by the two-sided (Dvanda) needs of the family gets perturbed, and eventually gets ruined along with the family just like the dove in the legend.

Birth in the human form is like an open gate to Moksha from Samsara. He who even after being born as human being, which is an instrument to achieve Mukti, falls into the trap of ensnarement of Samsara, is a dull-intellect taking the downward path away from Shreyas (the highest good). Thus the Pigeon teaches a sadhaka not to get ensnared in the activities of Samsara and wisely choose the Path of Shreyas.[3]

The Brahmana (Dattatreya) continues describing his Preceptors further.

अजगरः ॥ Ajagar (A Boa-Constrictor snake)

सुखम् ऐन्द्रियकं राजन् स्वर्गे नरक एव च । देहिनां यद् यथा दुःखं तस्मान् नेच्छेत तद्‍बुधः ॥ १ ॥

ग्रासं सुमृष्टं विरसं महान्तं स्तोकमेव वा । यदृच्छयैवापतितं ग्रसेत् आजगरोऽक्रियः ॥ २ ॥

ओजःसहोबलयुतं बिभ्रद् देहमकर्मकम् । शयानो वीतनिद्रश्च नेहेतेन्द्रियवानपि ॥ ४ ॥ (Bhag. Pura. 11.8.1-4)[6]

Oh Yadumaharaja, just as sukha (pleasure) is obtained by the sense organs in the celestial regions as per a person's Prarabdha karma, so also he gets his share of dukkha (sorrow) in naraka accordingly without asking for it. Hence a wise man should ponder over such secrets and not hanker after the pleasures. A yogi should be content with whatever food he is given without effort, irrespective of its taste (delicious or distasteful) or quantity obtained (too much or too little). He should like an Ajagara (a python or a boa constrictor with slight differences), subsist himself on whatever food that comes to him without his effort and with indifference (Udaseena). Even if no food comes to him over a long period of time, he should not exert himself just like his Guru the Ajagara. Although endowed with a body of physical strength, having mental energy and soundness of the sense organs, a yogi should consciously withdraw from exerting himself for food and remain actionless yet sleepless.[3] Thus a yogi learns to Control his sense organs like the Ajagara even-though fully endowed with all capacities to use them.

सिन्धुः ॥ Sindhu (Sea)

मुनिः प्रसन्नगम्भीरो दुर्विगाह्यो दुरत्ययः । अनन्तपारो ह्यक्षोभ्यः स्तिमितोद इवार्णवः ॥ ५ ॥

समृद्धकामो हीनो वा नारायणपरो मुनिः । नोत्सर्पेत न शुष्येत सरिद्‌भिरिव सागरः ॥ ६ ॥ (Bhag. Pura. 11.8.5-6)[6]

Like the unfathomable, limitless, unperturbable deep sea of clear, translucent water, a yogi should be quiet, absorbed in meditation, inscrutable, unaffected by time and space, and undisturbed by passions. Just as the sea does not overflow its limits when rivers and flood waters come gushing into it, nor does it dry up with the drying up of rivers, a muni should neither be elated when his desires are fulfilled nor feel depressed when disappointed in actions, but be Complacent like the Sagara and be devoted to Narayana at all times.[3]

पतङ्गः ॥ Patanga (A Moth)

दृष्ट्वा स्त्रियं देवमायां तद्‌भावैरजितेन्द्रियः । प्रलोभितः पतत्यन्धे तमस्यग्नौ पतङ्गवत् ॥ ७ ॥

योषिद्धिरण्याभरणाम्बरादिद्रव्येषु मायारचितेषु मूढः । प्रलोभितात्मा ह्युपभोगबुद्ध्या पतङ्गवत् नश्यति नष्टदृष्टिः ॥ ८ ॥ (Bhag. Pura. 11.8.7-8)[6]

A moth is attracted by the brightness of the fire, comes near it and falls into it. Similarly a person having attachment to sense objects (अजितेन्द्रियः), by the deluding divine Maya gets attracted to women on seeing them and fascinated by their movement and alluring gestures becomes smitten and crazy about her and falls into the dark naraka like the moth which falls into the fire.[5]

A moth is attracted to the appearance of fire (attracted to the rupam or form) and captivated by it, falls into it. With his mind enticed by women, decorated in gold ornaments, rich clothes and other things which are a creations of the deluding Maya, an ill-judging (मूढः) is easily tempted to obtain the objects of enjoyment. Such an infatuated person with a desire to obtain such objects, loses his discrimination and ruins himself like a moth which falls into the fire.[5]

In this context, the following famous shloka from Garuda Purana gives us an insight about the addiction to five sense-objects.

कुरङ्ग-मातङ्ग-पतङ्गं-भृङ्ग-मीना हताः पञ्चबिरेव पञ्च । एकः प्रमाथी स कथं न घात्यो यः सेवते पञ्चभिरेव पञ्च ॥ १,११५.२१ ॥ (Garu. Pura. 1.115.21)

An deer, elephant, a moth, black-bee, and a fish - these five are destroyed due to addiction to their five sense organs.

Victims of Addiction to the Five Senses[7]
Victim Sense Organ Object
1 Deer (कुरङ्ग) Sound (Ears) र्गीतमोहितात् - Listens to sweet music and gets caught by the hunter.
2 Elephant (मातङ्ग) Touch (Skin) अङ्गसङ्गतः - It is caught through the touch of the she-elephant
3 Moth (पतङ्गं) Sight (Eyes) प्रलोभितः - It is attracted by the color of the flame and falls into the fire.
4 Bee (भृङ्ग) Smell (Nose) It is attracted to the fragrance of lotus flowers and gets caught within.
5 Fish (मीना) Taste (Tongue) रसविमोहितः - It nibbles at the bait and gets caught.

Thus the lesson taught by Patanga is Not to get addicted to sense objects. The following shlokas relate to the above table.

मधुकृत् ॥ Madhukrd (A Bee)

स्तोकं स्तोकं ग्रसेद् ग्रासं देहो वर्तेत यावता । गृहान् अहिंसन् आतिष्ठेद् वृत्तिं माधुकरीं मुनिः ॥ ९ ॥

अणुभ्यश्च महद्‍भ्यश्च शास्त्रेभ्यः कुशलो नरः । सर्वतः सारमादद्यात् पुष्पेभ्य इव षट्पदः ॥ १० ॥ (Bhag. Pura. 11.8.9-10)[6]

A bee painstakingly visits and enjoys the very little honey in many trips. Similarly a Muni should seek Bhiksha in small quantities by visiting many households, sufficient enough for his sustenance following the Madhukari Vrtti. This way the grhasthas are also not burdened by offering small amounts of food. Just as the bee takes the essence, the honey, from flowers big or small, skilful and clever person should assimilate the essence of the Shastras great or small.[3][5] The bee teaches a sadhaka to Seek Small amounts of Bhiksha and Assimilate the Essence of Shastras big or small.

सायन्तनं श्वस्तनं वा न सङ्गृह्णीत भिक्षितम् । पाणिपात्रोदरामत्रो मक्षिकेव न सङ्ग्रही ॥ ११ ॥

सायन्तनं श्वस्तनं वा न सङ्गृह्णीत भिक्षुकः । मक्षिका इव सङ्गृह्णन् सह तेन विनश्यति ॥ १२ ॥ (Bhag. Pura. 11.8.11-12)[6]

A Muni should not accept Bhiksha with a view of storing (a part of it) it for the evening meal or for the next day like a honey-bee (मधुमक्षिक) which hoards honey. His hands should be used as his vessel and consume that amount of food enough to fill his stomach. A Bhikshuka asking for alms should not store any food for the evening or the following day and if he were to hoard more than he needs he will perish along with it just like the honey bee with its honey.[3] Thus a sadhaka learns not to be a Hoarder like the Honeybee.

गजः ॥ Gaja (An Elephant)

पदापि युवतीं भिक्षुः न स्पृशेद् दारवीमपि । स्पृशन् करीव बध्येत करिण्या अङ्गसङ्गतः ॥ १३ ॥

नाधिगच्छेत् स्त्रियं प्राज्ञः कर्हिचित् मृत्युमात्मनः । बलाधिकैः स हन्येत गजैरन्यैर्गजो यथा ॥ १४ ॥ (Bhag. Pura. 11.8.13-14)[6]

A mendicant should not touch, even with his foot, a wooden figurine of a woman, for he will fall into the trap of beauty and enticement just like the male elephant which gets fettered due to its attraction to the female elephant. (See the table above near Patanga). A wise person should not at any cost get attracted to the beauty and grace of woman (of another person) for he should know that she is his veritable death, just as an elephant is killed by the other powerful tuskers surrounding the female elephant.[3] A recluse thus learns Not to get Attracted to Physical beauty and learns to Control his senses.

मधुहा ॥ Madhuha (A honey-gatherer)

न देयं नोपभोग्यं च लुब्धैर्यद् दुःखसञ्चितम् । भुङ्क्ते तदपि तच्चान्यो मधुहेवार्थविन्मधु ॥ ५ ॥

सुदुःखोपार्जितैः वित्तैः आशासानां गृहाशिषः । मधुहेवाग्रतो भुङ्क्ते यतिर्वै गृहमेधिनाम् ॥ १६ ॥ (Bhag. Pura. 11.8.15-16)[6]

A Lobhi (a greedy miser) hoards wealth painstakingly but is neither enjoyed by him nor is given in dana (charity) but is enjoyed by others just as the honey collected painstakingly by the honeybees are enjoyed by the honey-gather who knows the way to misappropriate it from the honeycomb. Many honey-bees collect the honey and store it in the honeycomb after great efforts but it is the honey-gatherer who enjoys the honey even before the honey-bees. Similarly a Yati (recluse) is the first to enjoy the wealth amassed as the fruits of labour of the grahasthas. Thus a sadhaka learns Not to be Greedy.

हरिणः ॥ Harini (A deer)

ग्राम्यगीतं न श्रृणुयाद् यतिर्वनचरः क्वचित् । शिक्षेत हरिणाद् बद्धान् मृगयोर्गीतमोहितात् ॥ १७ ॥

नृत्यवादित्रगीतानि जुषन् ग्राम्याणि योषिताम् । आसां क्रीडनको वश्य ऋष्यश्रृङ्गो मृगीसुतः ॥ १८ ॥ (Bhag. Pura. 11.8.17-18)[6]

Yati who dwells in the forest should learn the lesson that he should not listen to vulgar songs describing the sensual pleasures from the deer which got ensnared by being beguiled with the music notes of the hunter. Born of a deer Rshyashringa, the son of Vibhandaka rshi, came to be manipulated by the courtesans by his attraction to their instrumental music and dances depicting sensual pleasures.[5] A sadhaka should refrain from all kinds of sensual attractions and restrict himself to listening to songs and speeches about Narayana.

मीनः ॥ Meena (A fish)

जिह्वयातिप्रमाथिन्या जनो रसविमोहितः । मृत्युम् ऋच्छत्यसद्‍बुधिः मीनस्तु बडिशैर्यथा ॥ १९ ॥

इन्द्रियाणि जयन्त्याशु निराहारा मनीषिणः । वर्जयित्वा तु रसनं तन्निरन्नस्य वर्धते ॥ २० ॥

तावत् जितेन्द्रियो न स्याद् विजितान्येन्द्रियः पुमान् । न जयेद् रसनं यावत् जितं सर्वं जिते रसे ॥ २१ ॥ (Bhag. Pura. 11.8.19-21)[6]

A fish tempted by the bait gets caught and loses its life. Similarly a person, who is a slave to alluring tastes through his uncontrolled tongue, loses his reasoning capacity and dies of diseases. Wise people may soon bring all senses, other than than taste, into their control by observing fasts; but because of this the sense of taste becomes all the more powerful during famishment. Even if a person has controlled all other senses (except the taste) he cannot really be called as जितेन्द्रियः - one who overcame his Indriyas, unless he has conquered the sense of taste. It is only when sense of taste is overcome that all senses become controlled. Thus a sadhaka learns to control the sense of taste through the example of the fish.[3]

पिङ्गला ॥ Pingala (A Courtesan)

पिङ्गला नाम वेश्याऽऽसीद् विदेहनगरे पुरा । तस्या मे शिक्षितं किञ्चित् निबोध नृपनन्दन ॥ २२ ॥

आशा हि परमं दुःखं नैराश्यं परमं सुखम् । यथा सञ्छिद्य कान्ताशां सुखं सुष्वाप पिङ्गला ॥ ४४ ॥ (Bhag. Pura. 11.8.22 and 44)[6]

Here the Brahmana relates the story of Pingala (Adhyaya 8 Shlokas 22 to 44), a courtesan, who lived in the city of Videha and the lesson he learnt from her. Pingala was a veshya, who hoped to earn great riches by attracting wealthy paramours who would give her rich fee. So thinking, all adorned she would wait all night hoping rich people to pass by, thereby losing her sleep. When all her hopes got thwarted she understood that: "Complete indifference to worldly objects is like a sword in a man's hand to cut off the cords of desire". Realising her folly and delusion, she came to dwell on the eternally proximate paramour (the Indwelling Atman) capable of giving real delight and who bestows eternal wealth. She thought that in the whole city of Videha, she was the only foolish person who expected to get pleasure from persons other than Achyuta who confers his own self to his devotees. So saying she submitted herself to the most beloved friend, protector and the very Self of all embodied beings. When a person observes that this world is practically devoured by the serpent in the form of Time, he becomes alert and is disgusted with all worldly objects. He realizes that his Atman is the protector of himself. The Brahmana concludes saying that Hope is the greatest misery and freedom from hope is the happiest state; having come to this conclusion, Pingala gave up all hope for a paramour and enjoyed a happy sleep.[3] The sadhaka learns to Give up hope for worldly things, be dispassionate and rest on the Achyuta as the eternal companion.

कुररः ॥ Kurara (A Bird)

परिग्रहो हि दुःखाय यद् यत् प्रियतमं नृणाम् । अनन्तं सुखमाप्नोति तद् विद्वान् यस्त्वकिञ्चनः ॥ १ ॥

सामिषं कुररं जघ्नुः बलिनो ये निरामिषाः । तदामिषं परित्यज्य स सुखं समविन्दत ॥ २ ॥ (Bhag. Pura. 11.9.1-2)[8]

O Raja, acquisition of whatever persons crave to possess is certainly the cause of misery. The wise who overcomes this desire to possess attains infinite happiness. The more powerful birds of prey which longed for the piece of flesh that the Kurara bird (Osprey) acquired, attacked and pecked him until he dropped it and got relief from them.[3] A sadhaka should learn that possessing things leads to misery and one should Overcome propensity for possession.

अर्भकः ॥ Arbhaka (A child)

न मे मानापमानौ स्तो न चिन्ता गेहपुत्रिणाम् । आत्मक्रीड आत्मरतिः विचरामीह बालवत् ॥ ३ ॥

द्वावेव चिन्तया मुक्तौ परमानन्द आप्लुतौ । यो विमुग्धो जडो बालो यो गुणेभ्यः परं गतः ॥ ४ ॥ (Bhag. Pura. 11.9.3-4)[8]

A small child roams all over free from anxiety and enjoys delight in his own Self. In the same way the thought that "I am enjoying bliss in my Self, I am not affected by honour or dishonour. I am free from anxiety for house, wife or children" makes one delight in his own Atman just like a child. O Raja, only two (types of) persons are free from anxiety and are immersed in Supreme Bliss - One who is as innocent as child and the other who has transcended the Gunas.[3] Thus the sadhaka learns to Let go of all anxiety from a child.

कुमारी ॥ Kumari (A maiden)

क्वचित् कुमारी त्वात्मानं वृणानान् गृहमागतान् । स्वयं तान् अर्हयामास क्वापि यातेषु बन्धुषु ॥ ५ ॥

तेषम् अभ्यवहारार्थं शालीन् रहसि पार्थिव । अवघ्नन्त्याः प्रकोष्ठस्थाः चक्रुः शङ्खाः स्वनं महत् ॥ ६ ॥

सा तत् जुगुप्सितं मत्वा महती व्रीडिता ततः । बभञ्जैकैकशः शङ्खान् द्वौ द्वौ पाण्योरशेषयत् ॥ ७ ॥

उभयोरप्यभूद् घोषो ह्यवघ्नन्त्याः स्म शंखयोः । तत्राप्येकं निरभिदद् एकस्मात् नाभवद् ध्वनिः ॥ ८ ॥

अन्वशिक्षमिमं तस्या उपदेशमरिन्दम । लोकान् अनुचरन् एतान् लोकतत्त्वविवित्सया ॥ ९ ॥

वासे बहूनां कलहो भवेत् वार्ता द्वयोरपि । एक एव चरेत् तस्मात् कुमार्या इव कङ्कणः ॥ १० ॥ (Bhag. Pura. 11.9.5-10)[8]

In a certain place, a maiden herself had to receive the guests who had come to see her (for selecting her as a bride) while her relatives (parents etc.,) had gone out somewhere. To prepare and serve food to the guests she was pounding the paddy alone secretly inside the house. At that time her bangles of shell on her wrists began to make loud jingling sound. The intelligent girl felt it would be a shame to disclose that the bride had to do the work herself (conveyed by the jingling sound of her bangles), broke the bangles one by one till only two of them remained on each of her wrists. Then she continued to pound paddy and realized that even the pair of bangles created a noise, therefore, she broke one bangle each from each pair with the result that no sound was produced from the one bangle.

The Brahmana continued, "O Vanquisher of enemies! I learnt this lesson from her, while roaming over the world with the desire to know the true nature of the world. If many persons live together there will be quarrels; if two live together there is a talk. Hence a person should wander alone without any companion like the single bangle on the wrist of the girl".[3]

Thus the bangles of a maiden teach the sadhaka not to engage in banter and arguments but to move about alone and engage in the Self.

शरकृत् ॥ Sharakrt (An arrow-sharpner)

मन एकत्र संयुञ्ज्यात् जितश्वासो जितासनः । वैराग्याभ्यासयोगेन ध्रियमाणमतन्द्रितः ॥ ११ ॥

यस्मिन्मनो लब्धपदं यदेतत् शनैः शनैः मुञ्चति कर्मरेणून् । सत्त्वेन वृद्धेन रजस्तमश्च विधूय निर्वाणमुपैत्यनिन्धनम् ॥ १२ ॥

तदैवमात्मन्यवरुद्धचित्तो न वेद किञ्चिद् बहिरन्तरं वा । यथेषुकारो नृपतिं व्रजन्तं  इषौ गतात्मा न ददर्श पार्श्वे ॥ १३ ॥ (Bhag. Pura. 11.9.11-13)[8]

Sitting on a firm ground, a person should control his breath by Pranayama and concentrate on his mind. By Vairagya (renunciation) and Abhyasa (practice) he should vigilantly keep his mind steady and focus on the target. The mind, when steadfast on the Blissful Paramatma, sheds off the particles of Karma-vasanas (remnants of fruits of karma) gradually. In such state Satvaguna increases extinguishing the Rajasik and Tamasik tendencies, just like the fire which is extinguishing as the fuel is completely depleted; and he enters the state of Nirvana bringing peacefulness. In such a stage, a person whose mind is firmly and completely absorbed in the Self, does not remain conscious of anything inside or outside, just as the arrow-sharpner who was so absorbed in his work of making the arrows that he was not aware even if the Raja and his retinue passed by his workshop.[5] A sadhaka learns to Concentrate his mind and have undivided attention from an arrow maker.

सर्पः ॥ Sarpa (A Snake)

एकचार्यनिकेतः स्याद् अप्रमत्तो गुहाशयः । अलक्ष्यमाण आचारैः मुनिरेकोऽल्पभाषणः ॥ १४ ॥

गृहारम्भोऽतिदुःखाय विफलश्चाध्रुवात्मनः । सर्पः परकृतं वेश्म प्रविश्य सुखमेधते ॥ १५ ॥ (Bhag. Pura. 11.9.14-15)[8]

Like a snake, a Muni should live alone (avoiding company of others), should not be attached to any house, should live in places devoid of human habitation and take shelter in caves. By his acharas or worldly activities and behaviour he should not be marked out or draw attention of others. He should be sparing of words and lead a solitary life. For housing this perishing body building a house is fraught with misery and is useless. A serpent enters into a house built by others such as an ant-hill or a hole prepared by a rat and lives happily.[5] Similarly a sadhaka should follow the example of a serpent and not bother about constructing a house.

ऊर्णनाभिः ॥ Urnanabhi ( A Spider)

In the shlokas, 16 to 21 of Adhyaya 9, the Brahmana describes about the emergence and dissolution of Srshti by Narayana through the example of a spider.

एको नारायणो देवः पूर्वसृष्टं स्वमायया । संहृत्य कालकलया कल्पान्त इदमीश्वरः ॥ १६ ॥

एक एवाद्वितीयोऽभूत् आत्माधारोऽखिलाश्रयः । कालेनात्मानुभावेन साम्यं नीतासु शक्तिषु ।सत्त्वादिष्वादिपुरुषः प्रधानपुरुषेश्वरः ॥ १७ ॥

तामाहुः त्रिगुणव्यक्तिं सृजन्तीं विश्वतोमुखम् । यस्मिन् प्रोतम् इदं विश्वं येन संसरते पुमान् ॥ २० ॥

यथोर्णनाभिः हृदयाद् ऊर्णां सन्तत्य वक्त्रतः । तया विहृत्य भूयस्तां ग्रसत्येवं महेश्वरः ॥ २१ ॥ (Bhag. Pura. 11.9.16,17,20, 21)[8]

Bhagavan Narayana without any other help, creates the jagat (Universe) by his Maya, just by his sankalpa only, which he withdraws at the end of the Kalpa, by the power of Kala (Time). He then remains alone, without a second (undifferentiated) supported by Himself. He becomes the support to all beings of the universe. He regulates the Prkrti and Purusha. He maintains the state of equilibrium of the three Gunas, Sattva, Rajas and Tamas by the force called Time. He exists as the First Cause of the Jagat thus having the cause-effect relationship. He however remains in Unity, as the one without a second, known only through experience as Absolute Unconditioned Bliss. He is not attached to any embodied form. He creates the Mahat which is the root cause of all visible creation. By his potency called Time, with the power of Maya, he creates the Sutra or the Principle called Mahat. This Sutra is the manifestation of the three gunas which evolves this Universe. It is in this Sutra that the Universe is woven where the person wanders through the cycle of births and deaths.

Just as a spider extends through its mouth the web from its heart, sports with it and again swallows it, so also the Supreme Ruler evolves, protects and withdraws the Universe. A sadhaka must understand the Concept of Evolution from the activity of the spider.[3]

सुपेशकृत् ॥ Supeshakrt (A Wasp)

यत्र यत्र मनो देही धारयेत् सकलं धिया । स्नेहाद् द्वेषाद् भयाद् वापि याति तत् तत्स्वरूपताम् ॥ २२ ॥

कीटः पेशस्कृतं ध्यायन् कुड्यां तेन प्रवेशितः । याति तत्सात्मतां राजन् पूर्वरूपमसन्त्यजन् ॥ २३ ॥ (Bhag. Pura. 11.9.22-23)[8]

It may be out of love, hatred or fear but on whatever object an a person concentrates his mind entirely, he attains the semblance of that object (or attains the same Guna as that object). The larva captured and confined in the nest of a wasp, O Rajan, continuously broods over it out of fear, and without losing its original form it gets transformed into the semblance of a wasp.[3][5] A sadhaka with continuous brooding over Paramatma, out of Bhakti, attains the same (Tadatmya).

Thus the Brahmana explains how he learnt lessons from the twenty four entities which he called as preceptors, to Yadu Maharaja.


  1. Swami Chetanananda (2005 Fifth Edition) Avadhuta Gita, The Song of the Ever-Free By Dattatreya Avadhuta. Kolkata: Advaita Ashrama.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 Bhagavata Purana (Skanda 11 Adhyaya 7)
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  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13 5.14 Krshnamacharyulu. M and Goli Venkataramayya. (2013) Vedavyasa Maharshi Pranita Srimad Bhagavata Mahapuranamu, Khanda 2 (Skandas 9 to 12) Shloka and Tatparya Sahita (Telugu Translation). Gorakhpur: Gita Press. (Pages 772 - 790)
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