And there is a great story about that. And it just happened the other night, it was Kartik Purnima. And Kartik Purnima, there was a rasa leela, and Shiva and Parvati were dancing in Manipur. They had seen the dance of Radha and Krishna, and they were so enamored of Radha and Krishna’s dance that Shiva and Parvati began to dance. And then everybody got up and sang a song.
And Saraswati sang a song and it was very beautiful. And Shiva sang a song and it was even more beautiful. And Radha and Krishna were dancing to Shiva’s song, and from the perspiration from Krishna’s brow, Ganga came. Ganga came, and when Radha saw Ganga she looked at Krishna and said, “Hey, Don’t get any ideas. I know your nature.”
Ganga became terrified and took refuge at Krishna’s feet. And she hid there. And Radha started scolding Krishna, She said, “I saw you with Pushti, I saw you with Shanti, I saw you with all of the other ladies of Golok. You always were chasing those girls. You were running after peace, You were running after nourishment, You were always taking refuge in all the divine attributes of divinity, of heaven. And now I see what youâ€™re planning to do with this Ganga.”
Krishna said, “I didn’t do anything. I was dancing with my beloved Radha, and here came Ganga, and it’s not my fault. Brahma! Protect Ganga. Take Ganga in your water pot, and you take her with you. Save her from the wrath of Radha.”
So Ganga entered into Brahma’s Kamandalu, into His water pot, and She went to the Brahma-loka.
And I’d like to tell a story about Ghantakarna. This is a little bit different in illustration, but Ghantakarna loved Vishnu, and he always wanted to worship Vishnu. Vishnu came to him and said, “You know Shiva is my other form, so you can’t really please me without pleasing Shiva. So do Shiva’s puja as well as my puja.” And Ghantakarna said, “No, no, no, I only worship Vishnu, I am Vaishnava, and I don’t believe in Shiva. He hangs out with ghosts and goblins, takes bhang all the time, he’s always drunk, he’s always intoxicated. I don’t worship Shiva, I only worship Vishnu.”
So Vishnu came to him in the form of Harihara, who was half Vishnu and half Shiva. And Ghantakarna made a puja, and he offered the incense, and when he saw the side of Shiva was getting the smoke and going in to the nostril of Shiva, he went and he held the nostril of Shiva so that the smoke would only go to Vishnu. So then Vishnu tried in many, many ways to teach Ghantakarna that, no, Vishnu and Shiva are the same.
Well, what happened was whenever Ghantakarna went outside, all the boys started to tease him. And they would shout, “Shiva, Shiva, Shiva.” So Ghantakarna made some big earrings with bells in them called, “Ghantakarna”, who has bells in his ears. And everytime that he would go outside and the young children would call, “Shiva, Shiva, Shiva”, he would shake his head so that the bells would ring in his ears and all he would hear was the sound of the bells. And he would never hear the name of Shiva.
That’s the story of Ghantakarna.
And I’d like to tell you a little story about Shankachuda, who was the king of the asuras, and Tulsi. Shankachuda was cursed to become an asura, and Tulsi was also cursed to come down to earth. And they met at Pushkar where Tulsi was doing tapasya. And She said, “I want to go back to Golok and be with Vishnu and Krishna.” And Brahma came to Her and said, “You will go back to Golok and you will marry Vishnu. But first you have karma on the earth and you have to be the partner of Shankachuda, the king of the asuras. And that will fulfill the curse, and you can go back home.”
So Tulsi said, “Alright Brahma, if that is the will of God I’m going to marry Shankachuda.” And she began to do tapasya and recite the mantra waiting for Shankha. And of course one day Shankachuda came up, the king of the asuras. And He saw Tulsi radiant with purity. There is nothing so pure as Tulsi. And She was just radiant, and He looked at Her and said, “Would you be mine?” And She said, “Are you Shankha?” And He said, “Yes.” She said, “OK.”
So the marriage was fixed. It was quite a love affair. And very quickly the purity of Tulsi was Shankha’s protection. And the Gods attacked the asuras, and the asuras began to fight and no one could defeat Shankha because of Tulsi’s purity.
So the Gods went to Vishnu and they said, “Vishnu, Somebody has to help us out, we can’t defeat these asuras, Tulsi is too pure. Because of the purity of Tulsi, we can’t defeat Shankha, and He’s the king of the asuras. So you have to find a way to rob her of her purity.” Vishnu said, “I’m always willing to do the work of the Gods. Because it’s destined that the Gods always will go back to heaven. And the asuras will always relinquish their authority over the earth. Satyam Eva Jayate. Truth will always prevail.”
So the Gods will be victorious and I will do whatever is required. Vishnu took on the form of Shankha. And He went to Tulsi’s place where She was staying and He said, “Hi honey, I’m home from the war, quickly, let’s make love!” And Tulsi had a doubt. But she said, “My husband has come home from so much hardship and facing so many dangers in battle, I must yield to him. As soon as they began their engagement, Tulsi said, “You’re not my husband. Who are you in reality? Why have you come to rob me of my purity? By deceit you’re trying to defeat the asuras? Who are you?”
Vishnu assumed his form with four arms and said, “You prayed for the blessing to marry me, and here I am.” And Tulsi said, “Yes, but not like this, not by deceit. Your deceit has written the death of my husband, and I can’t accept that.” And Vishnu said, “I’m giving you a boon. My worship will never be complete without a Shankha. Shankha, the conch shell will sit at my feet, wherever devotees gather there will always be a conch shell.” And, I’m giving you another boon, “You can be with Shankha all through the day. Every devotee who worships with the conch shell will say, “Om Aim Hrim Klim Srim Vrndavanavasinyai Svaha”, and put some tulsi leaves in to the conch shell. And Tulsi gets to stay in the arms of her lover all through the day. And every night when the worship is complete, the devotees and Pujaris will take that conch shell water and sprinkle it on the heads of all the devotees and then Tulsi will come and stay with Vishnu all night.”
Now how do you like that? Can’t complain about that deal. What a deal! She gets to be with Shankha in the day and Vishnu in the night. So Tulsi accepted.
And now remember that Brahma was sitting in the lotus in Vishnu’s navel. Vishnu was asleep. And Too much and Too little said, “Hey, that looks like a nice place to sit. Get off of that lotus.” And Brahma said, “Hey, This is my lotus, I’m the creator of existence, give me a break!” And Too much and Too little said, “You get off that lotus now and leave, or we will slay you.” I’ve heard that challenge somewhere before. And Brahma said, “These guys, there are two of them, and they’re warriors, and they’re strong and they’re well-armed, and I’m an old man and I have no weapons at all, what will I do?” He said, “Vishnu, wake up!”
Vishnu was in the sleep of Yoga Nidra. Pure consciousness, sitting on the couch of infinity, on the ocean of pure consciousness, Ksheera Samudra. He was deep in deep sushupti, dreamless sleep or state of meditation. Brahma said, “Wake up. Somebody’s got to protect me, you are the protector!” And Vishnu stayed asleep. So then Brahma thought, “What shall I do? I’ll call Yoga Nidra, the Goddess of Sleep. And I’ll ask Her to come out and leave Her dwelling where She’s staying at Vishnu, and wake Him up so He can defend me.”
And that’s just what He did, He sang the Tantric Ratri Shukta – Tvam Svaha Tvam Svadha Tvam Hi Vasatkarahsvaratmika. And He praised Her with so much devotion that the Goddess manifested herself. And She said, “What do you want? You’re the creator of the universe, what do you need me for?” And Brahma said, “Would you please wake up Vishnu, that sleepy head is going to sleep right through this war and I’m an old man and I can’t defend myself.” And the Divine Mother said, “Yes, I will.”
So, now, here the Creative Capacity praised the Remover of Darkness in order to slay Too much and Too little and return consciousness to perfect balance. Notice that each of the weapons in each of her hands has a spiritual significance. We have the sword of worship, the discus of revolving time, the club of articulation. And when we say these mantras and articulate them, we hit those asuras over the head with the club each time. Every time we take aim with our sankalpa, we have the bow of determination, we have the arrows of one-pointed attention, the pike of attention, the head of egotism, the conch of vibrations. The conch shell contains all the vibrations of the universe. Each one of these weapons in Her hands takes on significance as we approach closer and closer to the Goddess, and put our own asuras in to the balance and harmony of Her blessing.
“As the son of Mrikanda, Markandeya, found imperishable life, may we be reunited with life and blessed with a hundred autumns.”
Remember the story of Mrikanda Rishi? He was an old ascetic doing tapasya for many years. He called upon Shiva, and finally Shiva gave him darshan. Shiva said, “What do you want?” And he said, “I want a son, who can continue my lineage.” And Shiva said, “You are an old man now, what do you want with a son? I mean you’ve been doing tapasya all these years, now you want a son? I’ll tell you what. I’ll give you a stupid son with a long life or a very wise son with a very short life. Take your pick.”
Mrikanda thought for a moment or two and then he said, “I’ll take the intelligent son.” And that was Markendeya. Of course Markandeya as he grew up, he was supposed to leave his body at an early age, and as the time approached for him to leave his body, his father got more and more dejected. Markandeya went to the father and said, “Father why are you so sad?” And father said, “I didn’t want to tell you this, but since you asked. Shiva said I could have a stupid son with a long life or a smart son with a short life. I chose the smart son and you’re him. And anytime now the ambassadors of Yama, Yamaduta, the God of Death are going to come, and they are going to take you away from me. And I really like having you here.”
And Markandeya said, “Dad no reason to be dejected, Shiva’s the one who gave you the boon, let me propitiate Shiva, and see if he’ll give me a boon too.” He sat down by the Shiva lingam, and said, “Om Namah Shivaya.” And he said it again and again. And Yama was sitting in the kingdom of death, and Chitragupta, his prime minister turned to him and said, “You know its time to pick up that smart kid, the smart alleck down there on earth, he thinks saying Om Namah Shivaya is going to save him, its written here he’s suppose to come to us now.” And Yama called his ambassadors, he said, “Yamaduta, ambassadors of the God of Death, go down and bring me the soul of Markandeya.”
And the ambassadors of the God of Death came, and Markandeya was saying, “Om Namah Shivaya Om Namah Shivaya.” And they said, “Hey kid, come with us.” He said, “I’m not leaving.” They said, “Oh No No No, we’re sent by the God of Death, the power that controls, nobody can refuse his order. He said its time for you to come, so you come with us.” And Markandeya said, “I’m not coming.” And the ambassadors from the God of Death said, “If you don’t come with us peacefully, were gonna take you by force.” And they grabbed hold of the kid.
The kid, Markandeya, grabbed on to the Shiva lingam. And pull as they tried, they couldn’t break him free from the Shiva lingam, he was holding on to that Shiva lingam and they were pulling and pulling and pulling. And finally Shiva came and said, “You better leave him alone. Let him stay. I’m giving him imperishable life. I’m blessing him with Mahamrityunjaya, victory over the Great Death, you go back and tell Yama the God of Death, I said he can stay.”
Well the ambassadors went back to Yama, the God of Death, and Yama said, “Hey! Nobody can resist the order of Yama, but if it’s Shiva’s order, I guess he has to stay.” Of course Markandeya went on to expound the Markandeya Purana from which comes our Chandi Path. He was the first seer of the Mahamrityunjaya mantra. So in the same way that he found imperishable life, may we be united with life and blessed with a hundred autumns, that means a hundred years. Hey, it’s autumn now. And everytime autumn comes around we can count another year.
So remember the story of Ahalya – Indra looked down from heaven and saw, Ahalya, who was the wife of Gautam Muni, who’s the most beautiful of all the women, and suddenly he desired to enjoy with her. And he watched for some time. And one morning early in the morning when the Rishi Gautam got up to take his bath in the river, Indra recognized his opportunity. He changed his appearance into the appearance of Gautam Muni. And he went into the cottage of Ahalya.
And Ahalya said, “This doesn’t seem like my husband’s behavior, but suddenly my husband desires to enjoy with me in romantic embrace, how can I deny him?” And when Indra was finished, he came outside the cottage, and Rishi Gautam was just coming back from his bath. And when he saw another man wearing his same appearance, he knew that some deceit had taken place. He took some water in his hand, and he said, “Who are you in reality?”. And Indra became in his own form. And Rishi Gautam got mad. He said, “I curse you with impotency.” And threw the water.
When Ahalya heard the commotion she came running outside and she saw the two men wearing the same form. And she said, “I knew that I was tricked.” And Gautam got mad and he said, “You knew you were tricked, then why did you allow him?” She said, “He looked exactly like you!” And Gautam said, “Well you should have looked inside. Because inside was only deceit. And I’m cursing You, that you didn’t look inside. I curse you, you become a stone.” And he threw the water. And Ahalya instantly was turned into a stone.
And when Ram was coming to Mithila, in the company of the Rishi Vishwamitra, they came to a desolate ashram, in the midst of which was a stone. And out of the stone was growing a tulsi plant. And Ram said, “Guruji, Vishwamitraji, this is amazing, how is it that everything seems desolate here, and yet there is a tulsi plant growing out of the stone.” And Vishwamitra said, “Inside this stone resides the soul of a woman. A woman who was cursed by one man, and deceived by another man. And Ram, everyone knows how to give blame and punishment to a wrongdoer, but only special individuals have the power to redeem the fallen. Patita Pavana! You, Ram, are that special person, so touch that stone with your foot and you will redeem Ahalya from the curse.”
Ram went and put his foot on the stone as directed by Vishwamitra Rishi. And the stone became Ahalya. And she was redeemed by Ram’s touch. And she looked into his eyes and she said, “I thought my husband had cursed me, but that curse turns out to become the greatest blessing, because of all those years of making japa of the name of Ram, I get to look into the face of God. It was a blessing, the greatest blessing that my husband could have bestowed upon me was to allow me the privilege of looking into the face of God. And had I not been cursed I would never have received that privilege.”
Q: Why does the Shanti mantra bring so much noise both inside and outside?
Like ringing a bell during the Shanti mantra.
A: You know, Dilip, the bell is despised by all ashuras!
They can’t stand the noise!
In fact, I want to make such a racket that I can’t even hear the ashuras calling out,
“Hey, stop that, Swami! Stop that noise!”
Do you know how many voices are calling out to you every time you say,
“Shanti, shanti, shanti”?
You just want to say shanti louder than them!
And that’s why we make such a ruckus.