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A108-AI

Located one km south of the Sthala Sayana Perumal Divya Desam on the way to the light house is a lesser known but an ancient Pallava period rock cut cave temple dedicated to Varaha Perumal.

rock-cave.jpg

This temple pre dates the Kadal Mallai Divya Desam in Maamallapuram and is one of the two Vishnu temples that have survived ravages of the sea over the last 10centuries.

The Story

A Pallava King made a daily trip to the Varaha Perumal temple at Thiru Vidanthai (15kms north of here on the East Coast Road). He would have his morning food only after this darshan. Also, it was his practice to feed a 1000people each day after coming back from Thiru Vidanthai.

Lord Vishnu decided to put his devotion to test. One morning he appeared before the king as a hungry Brahmin carrying along with a child (Goddess in disguise).

The king requested if he could first make his daily trip to Thiru Vidanthai and then offer them food as that was his practice. The Lord in disguise rejected this suggestion stating that he was dying of hunger and that it may be too late for the child by the time the king returned.

Invoking the blessings of Varaha Perumal of Thiru Vidanthai, the king decided that feeding a hungry child was more important than his trip. Pleased with the king’s true devotion, the disguised Lord provided darshan to the king at the same place as Varaha Perumal with Agilavalli Thaayar on his right side ( at Thiru Vidanthai, Goddess is seen to the left of the Lord).

At this cave temple, the moolavar Varna Kala moorthy Aadhi Varaha Perumal is sculpted on the rock with his left leg placed on a Naga King and Queen and with his left hand on Thaayar’s lap.

Construction

Pallava King Simha Vishnu is believed to have built this cave temple. In memory of his contribution, one finds stone moorthys of Simha Vishnu along with his son Mahendra Varma Pallava.

There are also exquisite stone moorthys of Rudra, Brahmma, Goddess Lakshmi and Durga inside this cave temple.

Secret Tunnel

An interesting feature at the temple is the entrance to a secret 15km long tunnel (now shut) that was once an underground route to the Nithya Kalyana Perumal temple in Thiru Vidanthai. One also finds such a secret passage at Parameswara Vinnagaram (Vaikunta Perumal) Divya Desam in Kanchipuram which once led to Maamallapuram almost 70kms east.

Gnanapiran.jpg

Festival

On the full moon day in Maasi every year, the utsava moorthy, Gnanapiran, goes on a procession to the sea shore on a Garuda Vahana.

Quick Facts

Moolavar: Aadhi Varaha Perumal West Facing Standing Posture
Thaayar : Agilavalli Thaayar
Utsavar : Gnana Piran
Time : 8am-12noon and 3pm-5pm
Contact : Gopalakrishnan (Gopu) Bhattar @ 98404 08755

Auto from Sthala Sayana Perumal temple will cost Rs. 40.

Courtesy: Sri S. Prabhu

A108-AI

According to Visishtadvaita philosophy, dreams are real. The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad defines the state as intermediate between this world and the next. Staying at that junction, the soul surveys both the worlds’ (sandhyam triteeyam svapnasthaanam. tasmin sandy sthanne tishthan tee ubbe sthanne pasyati dam cha paralokasthaanam cha). Of the objects seen and feelings experienced in the dream , its says that ‘no chariots , no horses, no pathways, no pleasures, blessings or delights exist in the dream state, but the supreme Lord creates them’ (refer ibid 4.3.10). what it means is that these objects and experiences do not exist for others except the dreamer; and even for the dreamer, they do not exist in the waking state.

Sri Sankara says that dreams are all unreal and illusory. But Ramanuja says that as far as the dreamer is concerned, they are all real. When a person is awake, the soul maintains contact with the external world through the mind and the senses. During sleep, it shuts off the senses, but the mind is awake and keeps working. It projects  many images, but without coherence. During the three stages it passes through, consciousness, a function of the mind, is continuous. In the waking state, the consciousness is distinct and clear, but in the dream state, it is indistinct and confused. One cannot, therefore, say that the waking state is real whereas the dream state is unreal.  What really happens is that the dreamer does not see any difference between the sleeping body and the newly created body with which he has the dream experiences. In the dream state, there is real knowledge, together with some non-apprehension. Hence the dream experience is real, not illusory.

upanishad.jpgWho creates dreams?

Mention has already been made that the supreme Being creates the dreams as vouched in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. The Brahmasutra (3.2)- Sandhya -adhikarana (sutras 1to 6 ) clarifies the matter further. After stating the views of some that the individual self is the creator and the objects created are his ‘issues’. it is clearly declared in sutra 3 that  ‘the Creator is the supreme Self. It is due to His maya. The objects seen in the dream are the wonderful creations of the Lord’.

It does not lie within the power of the individual self to effect such creation; when the consciousness of the dreamer is clouded even during the waking state due to connection with the world of matter, what to speak of the dream state?  He who creates should have divine intelligence. He must have full consciousness and be fully awake in those who sleep and dream. Such a person is the supreme being alone and can be none else. In the kathopanishad (5.8), it is clearly declared thus:

‘This (supreme) Purusha stays awake while all others (individual souls ) are asleep and creates repeatedly through His will. He is the effulgent One, the Brahman Immortal ( ya eshu supteshu jaagarti  kaamam kaamam purusho nirmimaanah, tadeva sukram tad brahma tadeva amritam uchyate). The Manusmriti (12.122)avers that the supreme Purusha is the Ruler of every object from the smallest particle to the brightest gold perceived in sleep i.e. during dreams (prasaasitaaram sarveshaam aneeyaamsam anorapi, rukmaabham svapnadheegamyam vidyaattam purusham param). Thus the dreams which are seen by an individual have been created by the Lord who wills dreamer to experience them through his own psychic apparatus which is also controlled by the Lord. Sri Ramanuja reiterates in several places (e.g. Vedantadeepa, Vedantasara) that dreams are beyond the capacity of the individual self in his awakened state.

Good and bad dreams

When the self does not have the power to create dreams, it is obvious that he cannot choose what type of dreams he should get. Left to himself, he would like to have only pleasant dreams. But it never happens. He experiences unpleasant dreams also. According to Visishtadvaita, the type of dreams a person gets depends on his Karma. Good Karmas lead to pleasant dreams and evil actions beget unpleasant dreams. They leave behind pleasant or unpleasant thoughts which are either rewards for good conduct or punishment for transgressions. Good dreams often lead to bodily health and are psychologically boosting while bad dreams leave the dreamer physically tired and mentally depressed.

But some dreams are prophetic in nature; they indicate they shape of things to come. The Chandogya Upanishad (5.2.8) mentions that when a person, in the midst of a ritual spread over several days for the fulfillment of a desire, takes rest and sees a woman in his dreams, it indicates fulfillment of his wishes (sa radii stream pasyet, samriddham karmeti vidyaat). Similarly, there is a statement in the Aitareya Aranyaka (3.2.4), which predicts death ‘when a person dreams of a black man with black teeth’.

Further, it is acknowledged by scholars that, as a person becomes more and more sattvik, he is likely to get more dreams of a prophetic nature, because of his growing proximity to the divine. It is also a fact that the type of dreams a person has is associated with his state of health. The famous physician of ancient times, Charaka, had a theory linking up certain kinds of dreams with certain diseases and ailments.

asoka-van.jpgSome famous dreams

The most famous dream recorded in the epics is that of Trijata, the daughter of Vibhishana. She was one among those who were guarding Sitadevi in Lanka. She dreamt that Sri Rama and Lakshmana had arrived at Lanka, both clad in white and in a golden palanquin and going back with Sitadevi in a golden chariot. She saw Ravana in dire straits, clad in red, drinking deep draughts of oil, behaving like a mad man, riding on asses and being dragged towards the south. Kumbhakarna was in the same predicament.

Vibhishana alone was decked in white clothes, garlanded and welcomed by bards and dancers. She also saw a huge monkey setting fire to Lanka. After the dream, she pleaded with the demonizes to make peace with Sitadevi and seek Her refuge to be saved from the calamity which was awaiting their clan. Trijata’s dream was thus prophetic. The next dream recorded in the Ramayana is that of Bharata. He dreamt of his father, King Dasaratha, jumping off a cliff into a ravine filled with oil and dirt, eating food prepared with sesame seeds, laughing uproariously and heading south in a chariot drawn by asses. The next day, Bharata was totally depressed and feared for the life of the king or Sri Rama or himself. He found out the nature of the calamity which befell Ayodhya only after he reached there. There is another happier dream mentioned in the Raghuvamsa of Kalidasa, but which is not found in Srimad Ramayana. It is recorded in canto 10, verses 60 to 64 that the three queens of Dasaratha had identical dreams that three small divine figures armed with the five weapons of the Lord were protecting them, that they were flown to the heaven on the wings of Garuda, welcomed by the seven brahmarishis and also smilingly entertained by Goddess Lakshmi. Of course, this dream can be treated as a poetic fancy.Andal6.jpg

Srimad Bhagavata (10.62.12) records of a dream by princess Usha, the daughter of Banasura, that she had seen and fallen in love with Aniruddha, the grandson of Lord krishna. The event was so real for her that when she woke up and did not find him, she called out for him. This led to the spiriting away of Aniruddha to her chambers by a confidante of Usha, who had yogic powers. Later on, Aniruddha was imprisoned by Banasura and was rescued by Lord Krishna who waged a war and defeated Banasura. It was however, a happy ending for Aniruddha and Usha.

Then there is the famous dream -sequence experienced by Sri Andal (Nacchiyar Thirumozhi, sixth decad). Sri Andal dreamt that the Lord came towards her, surrounded by caparisoned elephants, he was accompanied by the celestials chanting the wedding mantras, the Lord and she were bathed in holy waters, young maidens circumambulated the Lord with lighted lamps and sacred urns in their hands, the Lord held Sri Andal’s hand amidst the sounds of conches and the drum – beats, the Lord and she went round the fire -altar, He lifted her foot and placed it on a grindstone, heaps of puffed rice were offered to the fire, and finally both the Lord and Sri Andal were taken around the city on an elephant. Such detailed recording of a dream has not been found in any devotional literature anywhere. This dream was prophetic as, according to tradition, Sri andal’s father was instructed by the Lord to bring her to Srirangam in a palanquin, fully clad in bridal attire. Thereafter, Sri Andal entered the sanctum of the Lord and got merged in His Image.

Recently recorded dreams

AthivaN-Sadagopan-swami.jpgWhy go all the way to Itihasas, Puranas and other sacred lore for instances of prophetic dreams? Sri Ahobila Math is itself the result of a dream. A young scholar, Sri Kidambi Srinivasacharya of Tirunarayanapuram, had a dream in which the Lord asked him to come to Ahobilam urgently. There he was initiated into the fourth order by an ascetic, who was none other than the Lord Himself. The Lord then directed him to travel throughout the country with an image of Lord Lakshminarashimha. Thus Sri Ahobila Math was born and Sri Srinivasacharya, designated as Sri Adivan sathakopa Yatindra Mahadesika, became the first pontiff. Another dream which is also well -known is that which occurred to His Holiness the 44th Jiyar, Sri Mukkur Azhagiyasingar . Lord Ranganatha  appeared in his dream when he was on a yatra and commanded him to return to Srirangam and complete the southern gopuram of the Srirangam temple, which had remained incomplete for several centuries. His Holiness complied with the divine orders despite his advanced age. Thus there are dreams which, besides being real, also lead to realities.

Conclusion

Hence dreams have a real significance in a man’s life. With situations created by the Lord suited to each individual and his then state of mental development, dreams bring gentle retribution and minor rewards, besides acting as a guide to the future in the case of spiritually evolved souls. But care should be taken to distinguish between dreams and hallucinations. There is a very important difference between the two. Hallucination is merely an illusion and can occur in a waking state also. It is a perception of something that does not exist. On the other hand , dream is a vision which occurs only during sleep and constitutes a series of images, positive or negative. There are several authorities on the interpretation of dreams, both according to Eastern and Western psychology, but the purpose of this article is just to present the Visishtadvaitic view of dreams in general.

A108-AI

A Tale of Two Thieves

Krishna-leela.jpegStrange indeed are the ways of the Lord. It is impossible to predict His actions. Since He is the Lord and Master of everyone and everything, He is an absolutely independent entity, not having to account to anybody for His actions. This, however, doesn’t mean that He acts arbitrarily. Since it is He who lays down the do’s and don’ts for everyone to follow (Shruti: Smriti: mamaiva aagyaa), it is unthinkable that He Himself would wantonly violate His own dicta. However, the point is that what is right and wrong from our standpoint, may not apply to Him. Hence He may appear at times to favour someone seemingly not at all worthy of His attentions out of turn and deny His grace to an apparently unblemished devotee. However, all that is eminently within the Laws of Divine Grace and prompted by considerations which we ignorant mortals have no way of ascertaining. One thing, however, is sure: in all His actions, Emperuman is absolutely fair to everyone by His own standards: He doesn’t play favourites nor does He harbour any bias against anyone (na me dveshyosti na priya:).

There lived an eminent scholar in Dwaraka. He belonged to a distinguished lineage of scholars and was impeccable in his character and conduct. By dint of hard work in his youth, he had mastered the Shastras, Itihasas and Puranas and could repeat whole chunks of them from his prodigious memory, without having to refer to books. The whole city of Dwaraka looked up to him as a paragon of virtue and as an ideal to be emulated. Not only had he acquired scholarship, he was adept at imparting it to others too. Numerous were his disciples who worshipped the ground on which he walked. People flocked to hear his discourses on Srimad Bhagavatam. When he described the leelas of Sri Krishna, many were the people who shed tears at his graphic portrayals, bringing the Lord verily before their eyes with his words of wisdom. And his discourses were works of art, polished to high precision through a careful choice of moving words, gestures and songs, all carefully choreographed in sequence. In short, he had perfected the fine-art of moving people to spiritual delight, while remaining entirely unmoved himself. Endowed with eloquence by nature, he had assiduously developed it further through hard practice and could lecture to anyone on any religious topic, with very little preparation, all, of course, for a consideration.

Lay people often mistake scholarship, especially in the spiritual field, to devotion. A person could be capable of reciting slokas and mantras by the hour, adorn himself all over with religious marks, sport a flowing beard reaching down to his chest and spend the better part of his waking time daily in temples: all these, however, are no guarantee that the fledgling, green shoots of devotion have indeed taken root in his heart and that he is nurturing them with the moisture of unalloyed piety. It is to such people that Sri Tondaridippodi Azhwar refers thus in his Tirumaalai:

Ullatthe urayum Maalai ulluvaan unarvondru illaa

kallatthen naanum thondaai thondukke kolam poondu..

Here, Azhwar makes fun of those who sport all the appropriate outward signs of devotion, but have a heart of stone that is unmoved by the Lord and His leelas.

Our reputed scholar conformed in letter and spirit to Azhwar’s description. The delicate plant of Bhakti was yet to take root in his heart, which was still filled with avarice and acquisitive tendencies. All this is not to say that he didn’t at all love God, he did: however, the priority he assigned to such devotion was, let us say, not in tune with what he professed. Matters mundane continued to rule his heart, even as he exhorted his listeners not to be bowled over by worldly pleasures and not to remain steeped in the mire of ignorance and indulgence. While he hectored his audience to remove the cobwebs of sensual pleasures from their minds and to install there the glorious form of the Lord, his own mind remained lamentably fickle.

One day, the Vidvan was at his oratorical best, during one of his discourses on Srimad Bhagavatam. His appealing words drew a responsive chord, as always, from the audience and many were the listeners who openly and unashamedly shed tears at Sri Krishna’s exploits, His exchanging his jewels for a mere  handful of naaval pazham, His endearing encounter with Sudhama, etc. He described vividly the splendour and opulence of the Lord as He reigned in Dwaraka—the innumerable golden garlands that He sported around His neck, the priceless crown studded with precious diamonds and glowing sapphires that adorned His beautiful head and the innumerable other ornaments that decorated various parts of His tirumeni and lighted up His dark complexion, making Him appear to be a mobile jewellery shop. If, even in arcchaavataram, the Lord likes to dress up in all his finery and ornaments even for His routine outings on Amavasya, Ekadasi, Sankaramanam, Tiruvonam, etc., just imagine how He would have been, during Krishnavataram! The Vidvan portrayed Sri Krishna in all His magnificence, with innumerable and priceless jewels and walking about in Dwaraka, capturing the hearts of all its citizens.

Now, among the spell-bound audience listening to this enthralling portrayal of Sri Krishna and His exploits, was a thief. Like many others who come to such discourses for purposes of their own and not solely prompted by Bhakti, the thief too was there on the call of duty (so to say). He had fallen on hard times, with gullible victims being hard to find and when at all found, not being so ready to part with their hard-earned valuables. Unable to find a well-attired victim despite hard search, he was tormented by hunger and desperate for a catch.

As you know, thieves love crowds. Crowds afford an excellent opportunity for them to ply their trade and vanish after successfully relieving some off-guard person of her necklace, chain or similar ornament. It was thus that our thief too happened to be among the audience, (apparently) listening raptly to the Vidvan’s discourse. However, the thief was doomed to disappointment, since none of the people in his vicinity was wearing anything worth stealing. In desperation, he decried the tendency of people to adorn themselves with imitation gold, not making it worth his while to rob them. Adept at discerning the purity of gold even from a casual look, he realized that people had grown wise and were leaving their real gold jewels at home, while still appearing to be well-heeled with the aid of imitation ones.

After casting his glance all around and finding few prospective victims, the thief, in sheer frustration, let his vision dwell on the Vidvan and started listening involuntarily to him. This happened at the moment when the Vidvan was waxing eloquent on the bewitching appearance of Sri Krishna, His natural radiance apparently enhanced by the brilliance of gold and precious stone-studded ornaments adorning His person. The Scholar portrayed Sri Krishna’s opulence and the magnificence of His attire in well-chosen words, bringing before the audience’s eyes a picture of boundless affluence and prosperity.

Whether or not any other member of the audience was impressed by this description, the thief certainly was. And you know only too well how professional speakers succeed in making the audience feel as if they are living in the present along with the Lord, that He is walking in their midst and listening to every word of theirs, participating in all their joy and sorrow. This Vidvan too made it sound as if he was talking not about the distant past in which Sri Krishna and His Consorts were present on earth, but as though the Lord was indeed their contemporary.

The Vidvan thus unwittingly succeeded in planting the impression in the thief’s mind that if at all there could be an ideal target, it was Sri Krishna. Like many people who listen selectively and absorb and hear only what they want to, the thief too filtered out all references to Sri Krishna’s divinity and stuck to the impression of His being a magnificent monarch, who preferred to move about in the midst of his people informally and in utter simplicity, without the unwanted (from the thief’s viewpoint) attendance of protective soldiers. The thief thus concluded that he could live his entire life in considerable comfort, if only he could lay his hands on Sri Krishna’s famed jewellery. Dreams of residing in palatial houses in royal comfort, with servants waiting on him hand and foot, all resulting from the proceeds of his prospective robbery, began playing in his mind in technicolour.

The thief was faced with a dilemma: while the Vidvan had furnished him with a detailed inventory of the precious ornaments that could be obtained by robbing Sri Krishna, he had been vague about where this opulent victim was to be found. Not to be put off by such a simple thing, the thief resolved to find out.

When the Vidvan finished his discourse and was on his way home with his substantial honorarium, the thief confronted him in a dark alley and demanded the thick gold chain that adorned the Vidvan’s neck. Loathe to giving up what he had earned through hours of discourses, the scholar told the thief of his erudition,  influence and  stature and suggested that he find an alternate victim. The thief agreed after an appropriate show of reluctance and on one condition: that the Vidvan tell him where and how to find Sri Krishna, the wearer of innumerable jewels.

The Vidvan now realized what had happened. While feeling flattered that he had made Sri Krishna come alive in the thief’s heart, the scholar was faced with a dilemma as to how he could come out of the situation unscathed. Since the thief obviously believed Sri Krishna to be a contemporary personality ripe for robbery, the scholar did not want to clarify that the Lord had lived at Dwaraka in the early years of Kaliyugam, of which more than 5000 years have since passed. He told the thief, “Yes! Krishna is indeed the person you need to meet for fulfilling all your desires (which was indeed true!). He is usually to be found in the dense forest to the east of the city. I will also tell you how to identify Him: He always wears a plethora of garlands around His neck, is to be seen with His cows (of which he has thousands), sports a flute stylishly in His hands and His arrival is always heralded by a sweet aroma drifting in the breeze. And now, if you will excuse me, I shall be grateful if you will permit me to go. And have absolutely no doubt, Krishna is the person you need to meet.”

So saying, the Vidvan took hurried leave of the thief and went home with every intention of packing his belongings and migrating to a distant city. He feared a backlash from the thief, who, he was sure, would wait in vain in the forest for hours or even days together and return empty handed to Dwaraka, full of disappointment and consequent anger, which he would naturally vent on the Vidvan.

The thief took the Vidvan’s words at face value, believing in the current existence of Sri Krishna absolutely and convinced that all he had to do was to find the fellow, relieve him of his jewels and then live happily ever after. The next day, he went to the forest to the east of the city and lay in wait for the prospective victim, whom the Vidvan had described as a handsome prince. All his thoughts were focussed on the glorious Krishna, with a lot of garlands around His neck, herding a group of cows and merrily playing the flute all the while, just as the Vidvan had described to him. Though he hid in the wayside bushes for hours together, there was no sign of the quarry. Strangely, however, the thief didn’t mind the waiting: he found an inexplicable delight in just thinking about the strikingly gorgeous lad whom he was waiting to rob and as time passed and as the magical figure filled his mind entirely, he grew inexplicably fond of Him. You may ask how a common thief could get attached to the Lord who was a total stranger to him and for whom he had not spared a thought so far in his life: I do not have a straight reply for you. At this juncture, I would urge you to read the first paragraph of this article again.

Just when the thief was about to give up the wait, go home and thrash the Vidvan for misleading him, the wind, which had hitherto been hot, turned pleasant and the air was full of a divine fragrance. A few cows came into his sight, frolicking and gamboling as if they were extremely happy.

And then the thief was treated to the sight of his life: that of a young boy, handsome beyond imagination, His entire person adorned with the most exotic ornaments ever seen by human eyes, His slender hands holding the flute, his lips dancing upon its holes to produce the sweetest of notes. The cows walked with Him with a spring in their steps, staring at Him all the while with their large, soulful eyes. The entire atmosphere, which had hitherto been desolate and bleak, had turned festive and fun-filled. The beautiful smile playing on the boy’s lips made His dark face light up like a million Suns shining simultaneously. His feet, which appeared to dance, rather than walk, were soft and red as just-bloomed lotuses. However, His eyes were the piece de resistance—they were long, broad, shining with a life of their own and adorned with reddish streaks.

The thief, who had been patiently lying in wait just for this second, found himself staring at the magnificent spectacle (of Sri Krishna) with his mouth agape, all his nefarious intentions forgotten for the nonce. He stood mesmerized by the boy’s glorious eyes, which appeared to speak to him directly. The sickle he was clutching for long, the weapon he intended to threaten the victim with, fell from his lifeless hands with a clatter.  He was awash with a hitherto unexperienced and indescribable joy.

The bonny boy drew near with His bovine retinue and stopped beside the thief with glowing eyes laced with mischievousness. He seemed to tell the thief, “Look, I have presented myself before you; now, do what you wanted to—take the jewels and flee.” Coming out of his trance and remembering his original mission, the thief told the boy, “Take off all your jewels and put them into this sack, if you value your life”. Apparently unmoved by the threat and by the upraised sickle, the boy wonder told the thief, “Remove them yourself and take them if you want!” The moment the thief’s fingers touched the boy for removing a glittering chain, the thief felt a pleasurable shock and shudder pass through his entire system.  Suddenly, he lost all desire to rob the apparently helpless boy and told Him, “Your parents will scold you if I take away your jewels. You may go now; but be careful, since you are passing through dense woods, which are full of robbers who won’t spare you. I have a small request: if you are coming to this part of the woods daily to graze your cows, I too shall come and just look at you for some time. You need not be afraid of me”

However, the boy told him to take the jewels, since He had plenty of them and His parents wouldn’t mind even if He were to lose a few. So saying, He took off quite a few chains and other ornaments and dropped them in the thief’s lap. Wonderstruck at his good fortune, but loathe to leaving the boy’s company, the thief took his leave reluctantly, went straight to the Vidvan’s house and showed him the jewels, narrating his adventures with the Boy Wonder in detail.

It was the Vidvan’s turn to be flabbergasted: he didn’t know whether at all to believe the thief. After all, he was a robber, from whom honesty could not be expected. Yet, thought the Vidvan, how could he explain the wonderful jewels he had brought, which shone with a glitter impossible to have been imparted by mortal hands? The jewels appeared indeed divine. And yet, how could the thief have been blessed with the sight of Sri Krishna, who had passed from this world thousands of years ago? Honestly, the Vidvan, though he had been spouting all manner of moving things about the Lord and impressing upon devotees the Lord’s propensity to honour true Bhaktas with His darshan, did not believe in his heart of hearts that it was indeed possible to see Him in this world through devotion.

Since the thief told the Vidvan that he would be meeting Sri Krishna at the woods the next day, the latter decided to accompany him and see for himself the truth of the matter. Accordingly, at the appointed time, both were in the woods. After only a short wait, the thief stood up with excitement and pointed to the distance, exclaiming with unalloyed pleasure, “There He is! And there are His cows, as happy as ever! And He seems to have an unending supply of ornaments! Only yesterday he gave me most of what He was wearing and here He is now, draped from head to foot with priceless jewels!” The thief was beside himself with joy at the sight of the Lord and longed to speak to Him, to touch Him and to simply stare at Him with star-struck eyes.

The Vidvan, however, couldn’t see a thing: neither boy nor cows came into his sight. He thought that the thief was bluffing: however, the look of absolute bliss in the thief’s eyes made it clear that he was obviously seeing somebody or something wonderful, which the Vidvan was not. And in a minute, it was apparent that Krishna had drawn near, for the thief jumped with joy and appeared to touch someone tenderly, his face awash with indescribable bliss. It was then that the Vidvan realized that the Lord had indeed blessed the thief with His darshan and had, inexplicably, denied him (the Vidvan) the same. He felt hurt: he had had the Lord’s names on his lips for years together, he had spoken with eloquence on the Lord’s glories for practically all his life and had brought tears of joy and devotion to the eyes of hundreds of devotees. And yet, for all his piety and service to the Lord, Sri Krishna had refused to become visible to his eyes. Adding insult to injury, Sri Krishna had been hobnobbing with a common thief, as if they were bosom friends! Could it be that having Himself been a notorious thief of dairy products, Sri Krishna had felt an empathy with the thief?

Though puzzled as to why the Vidvan couldn’t see Sri Krishna whom he himself was seeing plainly, the thief requested Sri Krishna to show His glorious form to the Vidvan too, but for whom he (the thief) would not have been blessed with the company of the wonderful boy. Sri Krishna, however, refused, telling the thief that the Vidvan had merely used the Lord’s holy names for a livelihood, without feeling in his heart even a small part of the emotions he evoked in others. The innumerable hours of discourses on Srimad Bhagavatam did indeed bring tears of devotion and joy to other devotees; but for the Vidvan, it was just a professional spiel, which he was spouting for a fat dakshina.

Surprisingly, the good-hearted thief persistently pleaded for the scholar, entreating Sri Krishna to show Himself to the Vidvan. He said,” You have shown yourself in all your glory to me, an unlettered thief, who has never uttered your names nor taken shelter in a temple even when it rained. Whatever his motives, this Vidvan has definitely been speaking about you to the masses and but for him, I would have never learnt about you nor had the stupendous good fortune of seeing you. So, for my sake at least, do show Yourself to the poor fellow!”

Having taught the Vidvan a much-needed lesson, Sri Krishna appeared before him in all His splendour, prompting tears of real joy in the scholar, who realized that chanting the Lord’s  names never goes in vain and that sooner or later, the Lord does indeed reward His devotees, even if the devotion is just lip-deep. And there ends The Tale of The Two Thieves.

The citizens of Dwaraka never speak of Sri Krishna in the past tense: for them, He is a living God and Emperor who looks after them as a benevolent Monarch, reigning resplendently in their hearts, to whom they confide all their inner-most feelings and who shares all their joys and sorrows. If only you care to listen, every particle of sand in Dwaraka will tell you sagas about the softness and suppleness of the Lord’s lotus feet, which traversed the entire city He lovingly built to house His courtiers, Consorts and citizens.

Article by Sri Sadagopan Iyengar

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