Do you know that there are 18 Puranans in Hinduism. One of them is the Bhagwat Puranam. This was written by Veda Vyasa after he had finished composing the Mahabharatha. This Purana focuses on Lord Vishnu, his avatars and specifically on Lord Krishna. Do you know how this Purana came to be written?….
Veda Vyasa was feeling exultant as he saw the river Saraswati flowing near his hermitage. I have done it! I have done it! He repeated again and again to himself. He could not believe that the Mahabharatha was finally over. He had just finished the dictation, which Lord Ganesha had taken down at record speed. The greatest story ever told! It was now finished.
For the next few days Veda Vyasa was feeling extremely jubilant. He had been assigned a tall task by Lord Brahma and he had done it….But deep within himself, Veda Vyasa was feeling….uneasy. He could not explain it, not even to himself,but he was feeling not quiet himself. Is this how I am supposed to feel after completing the greatest task ever assigned to me? Why do I feel so incomplete, almost as if it was not yet over… Veda Vyasa mentally reviewed everything he had written and knew that the entire story had been told, then why…?
Veda Vyasa looked at the river with sad eyes. ‘Narayana! Narayana!’ came a mischievous voice behind him. Veda Vyasa smiled to himself. Just the person he wanted to see. Veda Vyasa’s face broke into a happy, relieved smile as he turned and saw Sage Narada plucking his tamboora and making his way to the hermitage. Veda Vyasa knew that Sage Narada had come here knowing his anxiety and had come to dispel it.
Veda Vyasa welcomed Narada. Narada smiled mischievously. ‘I just came to see you! Now that the Mahabharatha is over, I think you must be feeling a tremendous sense of relief. You have completed the great task placed before you!’
Veda Vyasa looked at Sage Narada for some time, not saying anything. Sage Narada looked at Veda Vyasa with a mischievous smile. Finally Veda Vyasa took a deep breath and answered. ‘The Mahabharatha has been completed and it is with me.’ Veda Vyasa was quiet as Narada looked at Veda Vyasa pretending to be incredulous. ‘You don’t look like a man, who has completed the purpose of his life. Far from it…You look like a man who is lost! What could possibly make a great sage like you, feel like this!’
Veda Vyasa looked at Narada with interest. Narada had used a curious phrase…Purpose of life…
The words kept swirling in his head, when Veda Vyasa had a sudden flash. Veda Vyasa realized that that was exactly what he was feeling. He was feeling that the purpose of his life was not yet over.
Veda Vyasa looked at Narada with renewed interest. ‘You have guessed correctly! I am feeling a little…lost! Can you tell me why?’
Sage Narada looked at Veda Vyasa with mischievous eyes. ‘First tell me something, my friend! Why did you compose the Mahabharatha? I know Lord Brahma asked you to compose it. Do you know why he asked you to compose it?’
Veda Vyasa realized that Sage Narada had changed the topic purposely. Wondering where this was leading, Veda Vyasa recollected his thoughts and said. ‘The fourth Yuga, the Kali Yuga has come, my friend. People would be so steeped in evil that….that they would find it difficult to focus on the Lord. They would not even be able to carry out their duties and responsibilities. So first to help the people, I divided the Vedas into four and taught it to my disciples, so that they would continue teaching it to others. So that people may get some peace following the Vedas!’
Sage Narada smiled as he shook his head. ‘But not everybody can read the Vedas, my friend!’
Veda Vyasa nodded his head eagerly, ‘That was the reason I composed the Mahabharatha! The crux of the Vedas is taught through the stories in the Mahabharatha.
‘….And you are still feeling incomplete! Though the Mahabharatha is one of the greatest stories ever told….’ Sage Narada said his eyes still twinkling.
Sage Veda Vyasa nodded his head lost in thought.
Sage Narada smiled and changed the topic. ‘My friend, answer one more question! What are the four paths to attain salvation?’
Veda Vyasa blinked at the sudden change of the topic. He could not even figure what the mischievous sage wanted. But he said anyway, ‘The first one is the path of Knowledge of the Brahman [the Force which runs within us all]- the Gyana Marga….’ Sage Narada nodded his head signaling the sage to continue. ‘The second one is the path of penance, which sages and rishis follow.’
‘OK! What is the third path?’ Sage Narada asked.
‘The path of doing ones duty – the Karma Marga! You attain salvation by doing your duty and responsibility to the fullest of your ability!’
Sage Narada nodded his head appreciatively. ‘Well said! And?’ Sage Narada asked as his mischievous smile was back.
‘And….and….’ Veda Vyasa suddenly stopped, blinking. He suddenly understood everything that the sage wanted to tell him. It also explained his feelings and it also explained what he had to do. He looked at young sage with love and affection, lost for words. Sage Narada happily nodded his head. ‘Yes my friend! The fourth path, you missed the fourth path. The path of devotion. The Bhakti Marga, the way to Salvation by utmost devotion to the Lord!
‘You have divided the Vedas into four, that was for explaining the Gyana Marga! The path of penance is known to all. The Karma Marga has been explained in detail in the Mahabharatha…But you have still left out the an important path to salvation. That is the reason for your unrest! You still have a job to complete! You have to teach the people, the path of devotion, so that they may be able to attain salvation!’
‘Why is this path so important?’ Veda Vyasa frowned as he asked Narada.
Narada looked ahead and said gravely, ‘You already know of the Kali Yuga! You know how much the values of the people would deteriorate in those times. It would be too difficult for people to follow the other three paths, in those times. So the only path which can possibly bring atleast some peace to the people is the Bhakti Marga! That is the reason it is important!’ Sage Narada said simply. ‘And besides my friend, this path takes special significance to you!’
Veda Vyasa frowned. ‘To me? Why?’
‘Tell me, how did you write the Mahabahratha?’ Sage Narada asked playfully.
Veda Vyasa shrugged and said quietly. ‘I described the events exactly as it took place. I described a character the way they were. When I wrote the stories, I thought like that particular character.’
‘So when you were writing about Arjuna, you thought like Arjuna, right?’ Sage Narada asked. Veda Vyasa nodded his head. ‘I put myself in the character’s place and wrote what had taken place.’
‘So you also thought like Shakuni or Duryodhana, whenever necessary?’ Sage Narada asked.
Veda Vyasa looked sharply at Narada. ‘If I had to write the story correctly I had to think like Shakuni or Duryodhana. What is wrong with that?’
Narada held up his hands. ‘My friend you have to realize that for sometime, you have vile and evil thoughts, though not your own….you still did! Remove these bad thoughts from your mind. Sing the praises of the Lord and cleanse yourself!’ Sage Narada said. ‘Let the people know about the glories of the Lord. Tell them about the Dasavatar, the glories of the Dark Lard. Let them read all of it and let theirs worries and distress fade away.’
Veda Vyasa was quiet when Narada asked again, ‘Have you ever wondered my friend, about why I am so happy?’
Veda Vyasa smiled as Narada continued. ‘I think of the Lord all the time. Whatever I am doing, I always think of the Lord. Everything I do, I do it in the name of the Lord!’ Sage Narada laughed as he looked at Veda Vyasa. ‘That is one great way of staying happy and peaceful, my friend!’
Veda Vyasa absently smiled nodding his head.
Sage Narada left leaving Veda Vyasa in deep thought.
Veda Vyasa smiled as he watched the retreating form of Narada. He knew what had to be written. He would sing the glories of Lord Krishna, the Dark Lord in particular. He knew that was the one thing which would complete him. It would complete the purpose of his life…..
It was as a result of this, the Bhgawat Puranam was written.