PADMA PURANA

Padma

Pitru Bhakti leads Shiva Sharmas devoted sons to Vishnu dhaam

In Bhumi Khanda, the Concept of Pitru Bhakti was defined and described in good detail. On the banks of the Western Ocean of Bharat in Dwaraka, there was a Veda-Shastra Vidwan called Shiva Sharma who had five Sons named Yagna Sharma, Veda Sharma, Dharma Sharma, Vishnu Sharma and Soma Sharma, all with good knowledge of Scriptures and great devotees of their father.

Shiva Sharma decided to examine the ‘Pitru Bhakti’ of their sons and by the play of ‘Maya’ (Illusion) that he created declared that his wife died and asked his eldest son Yagna Sharma to cut the body of his mother into pieces and throw away; the son did exactly as was told by his father. Shiva Sharma asked his second son to convince another (illusory) woman whom he liked as it would be difficult for him to carry on without a wife. Veda Sharma approached the woman but she said that his father was old and diseased and that she would rather like to marry the son instead. Veda Sharma told her that it was unfair for her to talk like that and that he was prepared to do any thing if she married his father. The illusory woman demanded that she should then be able to vision Indra and other Devas. Veda Sharma was able to do so by the power of his Tapasya. The woman appreciated the achievement and sent away the Devas but she then demanded that Veda Sharma should cut off his head with his own hands and gift it to her! The illustrious son did so and the ‘Maya Stree’ showed the slain head to the father and the rest of his sons. Shiva Sharma then handed over the head of Veda Sharma to the third son Dharma Sharma and asked him to revive the life of Veda Sharma. Dharma Sharma invoked Dharma Raja and said that if only he did unswerving service to his Guru and had unparalelled Pitru Bhakti his elder brother’s life be revived. Dharma Raja was immensely pleased and not only agreed to revive the life of Veda Sharma but also agreed to give any other boon to him; Dharma Sharma desired that his Pitru Bhakti be enhanced further, that his Dharma (Virtue) be intensified and that he should attain ‘Moksha’ after his life. Then Shiva Sharma desired to test the fourth son Vishnu Sharma and that indeed was tougher further; he desired that the son should approach Indra Deva and bring ‘Amrit’ for all the family members! As Vishnu Sharma left for Indra Loka, Lord Indra was aware of the intention and commissioned Menaka to attract him; Vishnu Sharma was indeed aware of her intentions and asked her not to waste his time with her traditional tactics as he was not like Sage Vishwamitra to yield to her infatuations. As Menaka failed in her mission, Indra kept on placing obstructions in the way of Vishnu Sharma, the latter was infuriated and declared that he would kick down Indra and if needed, create another Indra! Indra was frightened and tendered apology as also accompanied the son to the father, handed over a pot of Amrit and told Shiva Sharma that there could never be a son like Vishnu Sharma and that there were such an unbelievable example of Pitru Bhakti in the family as one son was overshadowing another in their display of unparalelled devotion to the father! Meanwhile, the mother of the five sons re-appeared and expressed her enormous pleasure to have secured a husband like Shiva Sharma and the sons who proved their worth by their exemplary devotion to their father. The father who felt proud of their sons gave the four of them the boon of achieving ‘Goloka / Vishnu loka dham’ even as Lord Vishnu appeared before them to accompany the four-some; Shiva Sharma told the fifth son Soma Sharma that he and his wife would proceed to visit ‘Tirthas’ while Soma Sharma would have to protect the Amrit pot meanwhile. Soma Sharma guarded the Amrita Kumbha so sincerely that he did not leave it even for a minute and after ten years the parents returned highly diseased, ematiated, skinny with leprosy and fully spotted all over the bodies; the untouchable condition of the parents was also display of ‘Maya’, but the son performed the kind of service with grit and determination that no son could have ever done, as he cleaned the blood and pus from the body-cracks, tidied the ‘Mala-Mutras’ or the body rejects and without sleep or rest, looked after the parents that Devas on heavens were stunned! The parents refused to accept the Amrit, they refused to accept it, as curing of the leprosy was against the principle of natural justice, as they were destined to suffer.But, when the parents could not suffer beyond limits, they relented and finally asked for the Amrita Kumbha but Soma Sharma found to his utter surprise that the Kumbha was empty! Unnerved by this misfortune, Soma Sharma looked to Heavens and challenged fate that if he had truly and most faithfully served his parents with devotion all these years and that he controlled his ‘Indriyas’ of physique and mind with the greatest and unfailing commitment, then the Amrita Kumbha should be full up at once; indeed the Kumbha was full. The parents assured that the ‘Kushthu’disease was fake and the empty Kumbha was an illusion sothat his Pitru Bhakti had to be vindicated. Being extremely happy and contented that the last son Soma Sharma like his earlier brothers too passed the test of Pitru Bhakti, the proud parents blessed him and left for Vishnu Loka.
 
As Soma Sharma and his wife Sumana could not beget a son, Soma Sharma approached Maharshi Vasishta for guidance. Vasishtha told that Soma Sharma that in his earlier life, the latter was a miser and did not want to spend any amount even on the day of his departed father’s death anniversary. He had amassed considerable wealth but never did he perform any charity or any Punya Karya; he did not even enjoy any happiness excepting the joy of possession. He was suspicious even of his sons and at the time of his death no body knew where the wealth was deposited. But while alive, the Sudra did one single good task in his long life viz. of hosting a Vishnu Bhakta at his home and that day happened to be Ashadha Shukla Dwadashi and that was how he was born as a Brahmana in the current birth. Vasistha further advised that he would secure an excellent son by worshipping Vishnu Deva. As Soma Sharma was performing ‘japa’ (meditation) Saadhvi Sumana too served her husband with devotion. But there were many distractions like the appearances of big black snakes of poison, elephants, tigers, and even piscachas. However, Soma Sharma never got unnerved. One day a lion tried to hurt the Brahmana and then also he held on with the meditation more intensely than ever by chanting ‘Narasimha Stotra’. That was the time when Bhagavan Vishnu granted his vision in his full form with four hands armed with Shankha, Chakra, Gada and Saranga with an extremely charming face with a smile. Soma Sharma was overpowered with ecstacy and eulogised him for long time till his heart’s content. When Bhagavan Vishnu was pleased with Soma Sharma’s ‘Tapasya’, he asked the Brahmana for boons and the Brahmana desired that he should secure a son who should be a distinguished Vishnu Bhakta, a highly erudite and virtuous example of his ‘Vamsa’and a person of universal fame. In course of time, a boy of radiance and intelligence was born named Suvrata. Even from childhood, the boy visioned Bhagavan Narasimha in every part of the Universe, be it the Sky, Earth, Mountains, Forests, Water, Stones, all human beings, animals, birds and so on! As he grew he was completely immersed in ‘Vishnu Dhyana’, singing Vishnu Hymns, publicising the greatness of Vishnu and dedicating each and every action of his to Vishnu.

Pashyatyevam vadantyevam Janannatham Janaardanam,
sa dhyaayatey tameykam hi Vishvanaatham Parameswaram/
Truney Kaashthey cha paashaaney sushkey saandryem hi Keshavam,
Pashyatyevam sa Dharmaatmaa Govindam Kamalekshanam/
Akaashey Bhumimadhye tu Parvateshu Vaneshu cha,
Jaley Sthaley cha Paashaaney Jeeveshucha Mahamatih/
Nrisimham pashyatey Viprah Suvratah Sumanaasutah/

As Sumana, the mother of Suvrata called the son for food, he used to reply: Mother! I am extremely full in my stomach with the Amrit like Vishnu Dhyan; I have come into the fold of Bhagavan, while eating, wearing clothes, sitting, sleeping, and dedicating every act to Janardana Himself! Dhyayanti Devah satatam Muraarim yasyanga madhye Sakalam nivishtam, Yogeshwaram Paapavisaashanamcha bhajey sharanyam Madhusudanaakhyam/ In course of time, Suvrata commenced full-fledged Tapasya and eventually after many years of intense dedication, Lord Vishnu was pleased to give His ‘darshan’ (appearance), when Suvrata was overwhelmed with bliss and praised saying: Samsarasagaramateeva gabheera paaram, Duhkhormibhirvividha mohamayaistarangaih/ Sampurnamasti nijadosha gunaistu praaptam, tasmaat samuddhara Janaardana maam sudeenam/ ( Janardana! This Ocean of Samsara is inexplicably deep and most difficult to swim across; this is full of high tides of sorrow and infatuations. I am intensely helpless and ensnarled with my own limitations of sins and distesses. Could you my Lord! Save me from here!). Suvrata sought the boon of lifting him up along with his parents and wife with their own bodies to Vishnu dhaam!

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