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Devi Purana: Krishna’s Death and Sati by the Pandavas

The Mahabharata stories of the death of Krishna and the end of the Pandavas are well known. Krishna dies when he is shot by a hunter while he was lying in yoga in the jungle wishing to end his life. Some while after this, the Pandavas undertake a long pilgrimage which eventually leads them to the Himalayas and beyond, where they meet with their ends – Draupadi and the four younger Pandavas fall down on the way and die, and Yudhishthira is taken to heaven while he is still in his body after he passes a test by Dharma to encounter yet another test in the other world.

The end of Krishna, the Pandava brothers and Draupadi in the Devi Purana is very different from this.

Before we go into how the Devi Purana tells this story, a few words about the Purana itself. Devi Purana, also known as Mahabhagavata Purana, occupies a place of importance among the eighteen Upapuranas. It is called Devi Purana because its central theme is the glory of the Goddess. The Purana describes the transformation o…

Arjuna Becomes a Woman: A Transgender Tale from Padma Purana

The story of Arjuna cursed to spend time as a hermaphrodite is well known. That happens when the apsara Urvashi approaches him desiring sex and Arjuna politely refuses, telling her she is like a mother to him because in one of her lifetimes on earth she was the wife of Pururava, his ancestor. He sticks to his stand even when she tells him those are human rules and they are not applicable to apsaras. A furious Urvashi curses him that he will spend time as a eunuch among women. It is using this curse that Arjuna lives one year in the antahpura of Virata during his life incognito following the dice game.

This story however is different. Here it is not a hermaphoridite that Arjuna becomes, but a beautiful woman called Arjunī and Arjuniyā. The fascinating tale, pregnant with profound mystic teachings, is told by the Padma Purana in its Patala Khanda.

I would like to tell the story with a warning at the beginning: it is a mystic tale told at the mystic level and trying to understand it at t…

Uttara Ramayana: How Jaimini Tells It – Part 2

[An analysis of how Jaiminiya Ashwamedha Parva differs from Valmiki Ramayana in telling the Uttara Katha of Rama. Continued from part 1.]

As we proceed further, the changes Jaimini introduces become more fascinating.

When Valmiki sees Sita who is wailing aloud in the hair-raisingly terrible jungle filled with fearsome animals, Jaimini tells us, he approaches her and asks her who she is, whose daughter and whose wife she is and why she has come to the uninhabited jungle. She introduces herself as Janaka’s daughter, Dasharatha’s daughter-in-law and Rama’s wife. She also tells him she has been abandoned by Rama for reasons she does not know. Valmiki consoles her telling her not to worry and introduces himself. He then takes her with him to his ashram and Sita goes with him quietly.

Valmiki

In Valmiki Ramayana these scenes are different. While Jaimini’s Valmiki has to ask her who she is, in the Ramayana, Valmiki knows everything about her without asking. In fact, he consoles her by addressin…

Osho on Krishna and Egoism

Here is something beautiful from Osho on Krishna’s words in the Gita about his being the best in everything.

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QUESTIONER: KRISHNA, IN CHAPTER TEN OF THE GEETA DESCRIBES HIMSELF TO BE THE GANGES AMONG THE RIVERS, THE SPRING AMONG THE SEASONS, THE LION AMONG THE BEASTS, THE GARUDA OR EAGLE AMONG THE BIRDS, THE AIRAVAT AMONG THE ELEPHANTS, THE KAMDHENU AMONG THE COWS, VASUKI AMONG THE SNAKES, AND SO ON. DOES IT MEAN THAT HE IS TRYING TO DECLARE HIMSELF TO BE THE BEST AND THE GREATEST IN ALL CREATION? DOES IT ALSO MEAN THAT HE REFUSES TO REPRESENT ALL THAT IS LOWLY AND BASE? WHY DOES HE EXCLUDE THE MEANEST OF US ALL? AND WHERE DOES THE MEANEST BELONG?

It is a significant question. And there are two beautiful aspects to it.

Firstly, Krishna declares himself to be the best among all things – of all the seasons he is the spring, of all the cows he is the Kamdhenu, of all the elephants he is the Airavat. And secondly – and this is more significant – he finds his peers even among the lowliest …

Uttara Ramayana: How Jaimini Tells It

In an earlier article of mine available online [Retelling the Ramayana: How Padma Purana Does It], I discussed how differently the author of Padma Purana tells the story of Rama from how Valmiki does it. Reading the Jaiminiya Ashwamedha Parva recently, I was fascinated by the changes its author makes when he tells the Uttara Ramayana story.

The context is of the narration of the Ashwamedha battle between Arjuna and his son Babhruvahana. While describing the battle to Janamejaya, the author-narrator Jaimini compares it to the similar battle between Rama and his son Kusha. This prompts Janamejaya to ask for the details of the battle between Rama and Kusha and Jaimini responds by narrating the story at length, devoting twelve of the total sixty-eight chapters of the book to it.

Jaimini
After returning from his fourteen year exile, says Jaimini, Rama begins ruling Ayodhya. Years pass and yet Sita does not conceive – the duration mentioned by Jaimini is ten thousand years, whatever he mean…

Zen, Learning and Enlightenment

I was staying in Uttar Kashi then, in Tapovan Kuti, originally a tiny one-room cottage that belonged to my grand teacher Swami Tapovanamji, later enlarged and developed by his disciple and my guru Swami Chinmayanandaji into a large ashram with scores of rooms with modern comforts. This is in Ujeili, on the lower slopes of Varanavat Mountain, facing Har Parbat across the Ganga in the east and the famous Valakhilya Mountains some distance away in the south east. It is a beautiful place, the whole area this side of the Ganga filled with ashrams.

I used to watch every day a serious looking young monk on the terrace of a nearby ashram. He would walk up and down on the terrace the whole day, with an open book in hand, and from the constant movement of his lips it was clear he was repeating and learning by heart the book. Eventually one day I asked him what the book was and he showed it to me. It was a commentary on the Brahma Sutras. On top of each page was the text of the Sutras, below it …