Thursday, 23 June 2011

Guru Dakshina

Those were the days when Krishna ['dark', because of His dark blue-grey colored skin] and Balarâma ['strength of joy'], were studying under the great sage Sândîpani [see also S.B. 10.45 and BV41]. They conducted themselves as ideal students, serving the guru with fear and reverence. Yet they were not lacking in love and loyalty to the sage. One day Krishna approached the guru and said: "Oh wise one! We often find your eyes filled with tears while we converse with you. There must be some strong reason for this grief. Please tell us. No act of service can be so holy and so meritorious as restoring joy in our guru's heart. Do not hesitate or doubt."

Sândîpani drew the two brothers near and, making them sit close to him, said, "Children, I derive great joy from Your very presence in the as'ram. I am reminded of my son whom I lost... ." Uttering these words, he broke down. Balarâma fell at his feet and said, "Tell us, guruji, what happened to him and where he is, we shall certainly bring him to you." "Children, after many years of tapas, I was blessed with a son. I brought him up lovingly and with great care. One day he went to Prabhâsa-kshetra [see S.B. 11.30: 6] to take a holy dip in the sea. While bathing he was drowned. Since then I have been suffering from inconsolable grief. But from the moment You entered my as'ram, I have been deriving great consolation and joy. You are so good, humble and disciplined. I am sad because in a day or two You have to leave the as'ram. You have learnt all that has to be learnt [see also S.B. 10.45 footnote 4]. You cannot stay longer. After Your departure once again I will be plunged into inconsolable grief". Krishna got up and with folded hands, said firmly: "Oh best of masters! We have to offer our gratitude to you, as our teacher. You have taught us rare arts and sciences. Is it not our duty (dharma) to please our guru? We will at once proceed to Prabhâsa-kshetra and search for your son. If necessary, we will fight against the sea and even the Lord of Death, to bring back your son. Please bless us". Sândîpani was confident that the boys would succeed in their endeavor. He knew that they were not ordinary boys. So he blessed them and permitted them to proceed on the venture.

Balarâma and Krishna hastened to the sea. Standing on the shore they said aloud in a compelling voice: "Ocean! Give us back the son of our guru Sândîpani immediately, or suffer the punishment we intend meeting out to you." The ocean shook in fear, as soon as he heard these words. He appeared before the brothers in his royal form. He touched their feet and said: "Pardon, me, oh revered ones! It is no fault of mine! When the boy was bathing destiny drew him and took him to the depths. Meanwhile the ogre, Pañcajana living in the caverns swallowed him. This is the truth. I leave the decision to you." Krishna thanked the ocean for giving this information and then plunging into the deep sea, reached the cavern of the ogre. He tore open the stomach of the ogre but could not find the remains of the boy because he had handed over the boy to the God of Death [Yamarâja]. He found a conch in the stomach of the ogre and went to the abode of the God of Death. Krishna blew the conch at the entrance. Yamarâja, the Lord of Death appeared before the brothers. He saw the brothers, Balarâma and Krishna and queried politely: "May I know what brings You to my abode?". The brothers commanded him to bring the son of their guru Sândîpani and place him in their custody." Yamarâja replied: "I will certainly do as it pleases You. My minions will bring the lad and hand him over to You". Within seconds the consecrated son was placed in the hands of Krishna. Balarâma and Krishna hurried to the hermitage with the boy.

They handed over to the guru his son and said: "This is our Guru Dakshina; Please accept this act of ours as such." The joy of the parents was beyond words. They blessed both the brothers. Sândîpani shed tears of joy realizing his great fortune in having such divine incarnations as his pupils. Even Avatârs recognised the greatness of the preceptor and obeyed the upanishadic injunction, "âcârya devobhava" so as to set an example to the world.

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