Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakura
Srila Bhakti Vedanta Swami Prabhupada
Tridandi Swami Bhakti Hridaya Vana Maharaj
Akinchan Krishnadas Babaji Maharaj
Avadhuta Ramesh Babaji Maharaj
Memories of Srila Prabhupada
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(C) 1995 by Richard S. Brown
All rights reserved.
LESSON OF KING BHARAT
Easy narration by Richard Shaw Brown
Period: Treta (Silver) Yuga over one million years BC
Bharata, the eldest son of King Rishabdev, was a devout Theist. When his exalted father retired from material life to seek God alone in the wilderness, he appointed his foremost son, Bharata, to succeed him as King.
Accepting his fathers order he began to rule the vast Kingdom (modern India is STILL named Bharata, but during the time of Bharats rule his domain, known as Bharata varsha, included all the land between Persia and South East Asia). Following his fathers wishes he also married beautiful Pancajana (lit. five persons), who became his Queen.
In the womb of Queen Pancajana King Bharata procreated five wonderful sons, who were named Sumati, Raashtrabhrita, Sudarshana, Aavarana and Dhumraketu.
Originally this (Asian-known) Earth was called Ajanabha-varsha (in Vedic history), but since the time of King Bharata it became known as Bharata-varsha (now shrunk to modern India)
.King Bharata ruled with great skill, and treated his subjects like a father treats a child. He was very expert and wise, and he showed his people by example how to perform their duties according to their inbred qualities and activities. Protecting and leading the people of his kingdom King Bharata ruled with strength and compassion.
With a mind to propitiate and please God, King Bharata performed the
various Vedic sacrifices and ceremonies.
Believing that all the Vedic Hierarchy and all beings were part of God,
King Bharata always mentally offered the good karma acquired through his
activities back to God, for the pleasure of God, knowing that by watering
the root of a tree you thereby nourish the entire tree. In
this way he performed all his duties as an offering to God.
Through manifold pious activities carried out during his very long life
King Bharatas consciousness became pure, and he became free of lust,
anger, infatuation and material attachment. His heart having become clean
his devotion to the Lord of the Universe grew every day.
The all-attractive Lord of the Universe, is the highest Being, and He
manifests Himself in three ways, 1) as Paramatma or supersoul within the
heart of every living being, 2) as Brahman or the impersonal all-pervading
totally of life, and also 3) as Bhagavan or the beautifully dressed and
adorned Supreme Being Who always resides with unlimited devotes in His
eternal spiritual paradise.
According to his good karma King Bharat enjoyed material pleasures and
ruled for a very long time; but when he felt his time was up, he decided
to retire from family life, and accordingly he divided the wealth and
domain he had inherited amongst his five grown sons.
Having duly installed his sons as the new rulers, Bharat resolutely departed
from his opulent palace and loving wife and family and walked, alone and
penniless, to a place in the Himalayas near Haridwar (lit. Door to God)
named Pulahasrama. This spot is sanctified by the divine Sri Shalagram
stones, which are found there. There, in the Krishna-Gandaki River, The
Supreme Lord has mercifully manifest Himself to His devotees in the form
of smooth water-worn dark stones called Shalagram which are
decorated with the signs of the chakra or discus and navel of the Supreme
Having accepted the life of a mendicant, former King Bharat passed his
remaining days in the forest-ashram of Pulaha. By collecting fruits, nuts,
berries, flowers, and holy basil leaves he offered these items to God
via his Shalagram Stone Form, and Bharata himself subsided on the leftovers
- feeling more and more contented.
Because he was such an exalted devotee, King Bharata, always engaged
in constant remembrance of the Supreme Lord, and his heart melted in divine
love. In fact, he became so absorbed in his devotional meditation that
he gradually lost all interest in rules and regulations, and remained
absorbed in remembrance of God and his spiritual attributes.
Because of feeling divine ecstasy his body hairs stood up in goose bumps,
and so many tears of joy flooded his eyes that he was unable to see clearly.
In this manner he meditated on the form and glories of God until his heart
became like a calm lake of divine love; and with his heart and mind so
immersed he even forgot his routine duties.
Physically King Bharat was very handsome, with thick curly hair on his
head that was always wet from bathing three times every day. He wore only
a deerskin. King Bharat worshiped God as the light within the Sun by reciting
Vedic Sanskrit verses and prayers. He would also pray in the following
I bow to the Supreme Lord who is the bestower of intelligence.
As the light of the Sun, God Narayana illuminates the entire universe
and blesses all beings.
He has created this universe using his own material and spiritual energies,
and after creation he has entered into the heart of every individual finite
soul as Supersoul. By his varied energies Lord Narayana is maintaining
all living souls."
One day after Bharat had finishing his morning cleansing and bathing
duties He sat on the bank of the Gandaki River and began chanting
his mantras, beginning with OM.
While Bharata sat chanting he saw that a pregnant doe had come to the
opposite river bank and was drinking water.
Suddenly the load roar of a near by lion terrified the doe who by nature
was always afraid of being killed, and she leapt across the river. Because
the doe was pregnant and jumped out of fear, the baby deer fell from her
womb into the river.
Meanwhile the doe reached the opposite river bank and immediately dropped
dead from acute distress and exhaustion.
When King Bharata saw the motherless baby deer floating down the river he felt great compassion. He immediately lifted the baby deer from the water, and, like a true friend he brought the fawn to his Ashram hut.
Seeing the helpless fawn King Bharata felt great compassion toward the
deer, and he began to feed it grass and protect it from the danger of
tigers and other animals. He felt compelled to raise the dear, and becoming
affectionate the King would pet it and even kiss it out of love.
He become so absorbed in raising the fawn that he gradually forgot his
holy duties and even forgot to meditate on and worship the Supreme Lord.
He began to think, Oh what a pity. By destiny, which is a force
of Gods Time factor, this young and helpless fawn has taken shelter
of me; I am its only family. The deer is completely trusting in me, with
full faith, so it is my duty to protect this creature, even at the cost
of neglecting my own spiritual life. It would be a great fault if for
my own selfish reasons I did not nurture this poor helpless creature that
has taken shelter with me. A good man will never neglect a helpless being
that has sought protection.
Even though the deer is disturbing my spiritual life, I realize
that a helpless being that has come under my shelter cannot be neglected.
That would be a great fault.
Even if one is a monk in the renounced they should feel compassion for
suffering living beings. A good man will certainly neglect his own personal
interests, however important they may be, to selflessly protect one who
has taken shelter.
Through this association King Bharat developed an endearing attachment
for the young dear, and he would lay with it and play with it and even
eat with it. In this way his purified heart again became bound up in material
affection, this time to the young and charming deer.
Whenever Bharat when into the forest to collect eatables and wood he
would always take the young dear with him out of affection for its
playful and charming antics, as well as fear for its safety from
wild animals. He became so affectionate that he would play with the dear
and sometimes even carry the young fawn on his shoulder. The King felt
great happiness in playing with the fawn.
Whenever King Bharata engaged in some ritualistic spiritual practice
he would break at intervals to check on the well being of the deer. Seeing
that his beloved deer was comfortable he would bless it by saying, My
dear fawn, may you always be well and happy!
Whenever the deer was out of sight King Bharat would worry, and like
a miser who had lost his wealth, he would lament in this manner
Woe-is-me, my beloved fawn is missing and may have been killed
by a hard-hearted hunter. Alas, the poor deer is helpless and I am so
unfortunate that I cannot protect it. The deer has put full trust in me
although I am selfish and cruel. But this deer has faith in me, just as
a good man forgets the misbehavior of a friend and still maintains his
faith in him. Oh, I wonder, will this helpless creature again return?
Has it been killed by wild animals? Will it again return and gladden
my heart with its playful ways and eating of soft grasses? I fear that
it has been eaten by a lone tiger or a flock of wild boars, or killed
by wild dogs devoid of mercy.
In the morning when the sun rises all auspicious things begin.
But not so for me, worried as I am about the welfare of the deer. And
now the sun is setting and still the poor deer has not yet returned.
Oh, when will I see the princely deer again playing so sweetly?
When will it come back and pacify my anxious heart? I must be devoid of
good karma otherwise the deer would have returned by now.
When I pretend to meditate the fawn would walk around me out of
love and nudge me with its soft baby horns to get my attention.
Whenever I try to prepare sacred articles for worship the deer
would pollute them by playfully touch with his mouth. And when I scold
the deer it becomes as still as a saint out of fear.
Raving in this way the King went outside and seeing the footprints of
the deer on the ground, he praised the footprints out of love, saying,
the footprints of this deer, which are soft, beautiful, most auspicious,
are imprinted on the surface of this fortunate Earth. By following these
soft footprints I can again regain the lost treasure of my life.
King Bharata continued speaking like a madman, and seeing the deer-like spots on the full moon he thought that his deer must have been given shelter by the Moongod, who is protecting it from lions.
Looking at the Moon, Bharata began ranting like a madman, In feeling
separation for the deer I am also feeling acute separation for my owns
sons. My heart is burning in agony of separation like being in a forest-fire,
and seeing my dilemma the friendly Moon is sending down soothing beams
just like a friend throws water on a friend suffering from high fever.
King Bharata was overwhelmed by an uncontrollable desire in the form
of the deer. Due to the results of his past karma he neglected his meditation
and fell down from the lofty height of mystic yoga, penance, worship of
God, and material detachment and lost his spiritual life.
If not for past karma how else could Bharat have become attracted to
a deer, an animal, after having renounced his beautiful Queen, his loving
children, and kingdom while considering that material attachment blocked
salvation of his soul? He left his beloved family for liberation and yet
became ensnared by attachment to a deer. This can only be the result of
his past karma.
King Bharat became so attached to the deer that he gradually gave up
all his spiritual practices and ignored the passage of time. Eventually
Death entered his hut just like a poisonous snake enters through a mouse
hole and stood before him. Seeing death, the King looked over at the deer
lying next to him, like his own son, and it was shedding tears over his
Thus, at the time of death King Bharats mind was absorbed in the
body of a deer, and after he left his human body he was reborn as a baby
deer at a nearby location. But because of his previous spiritual activities
even he lost his human body and took on the body of a deer yet he did
not forget his past life. This was due to the karma of his previous spiritual
Because of his high past karma his intelligence allowed him to understand
that he was in the body of a deer, and he could remember how it happened.
Remembering his fall down he said to himself.
What a huge mistake! Although advanced I have fallen from the spiritual
path. I renounced my loving sons, my affectionate wife and heavenly kingdom
just to make advancement in spiritual life, and I took shelter in a lonely
holy place in the wilderness. I had become self-controlled and self-realized,
and I engaged constantly in remembering the Supreme Lord of the Universe.
I was reaching success and my heart was becoming like a clean mirror.
But somehow I was so foolish to allow my mind to once again become attachedto
an animal, a deer. Now I have been reborn in this body of a deer and have
strayed far away from my spiritual goal of life."
Bharat Maharaja was always feeling repentant. Very soon he left his deer
mother and managed to find his way back to the ashram where he had last
died, famous as the place of Shalagram Shila stones. Although remaining
alone he was always aware of the Super Soul within his heart. He didnt
want to make any new karma and simply waited until his deer-body
karma was exhausted.
Finally he went into the waters of the river and stood, waist deep, and
fasted until his deer body died.
Next he was born the son of a devout Brahmin belonging to the family
line of Angira. His new father was very expert in Vedic sciences and was
a learned and kindman, possessing good qualities like sense control, non-violence,
tolerance, and he was well acquainted with Scriptures.
The Brahmin had nine sons from his first wife, and from his second wife
he begot twins, a boy and a girl. It is stated that the twin boy was none
other than the reincarnation of the great devotee formally known as King
Bharat, and this is his amazing story after quitting his body of a deer.
Due to his exalted consciousness, Bharat, known at this point as Jada-Bharat,
could remember his previous lives. He was afraid of making the same mistake
and so he remained aloof from family attachments and material activities.
He didnt want to fall into the false bodily identification again,
so he behaved like a fool and dullard. This was to avoid the company of
the people; and so that no one would speak with him, he appeared just
like a madman, unhearing, unseeing, and uncomprehending.
Always remembering God within his heart he simply waited for this balance
of his karma (as a Brahmin son) to expire so he could finally become free
from material bondage.
Jada Bharat means the soul of King Bharat, now enveloped in a jada-deha
or material body made of earth, water, fire, air, and ether, known as
Jada or matter. In other words, he had no identity other than
the material body. And his only desire was to exhaust that remaining material
karma tying him to the jada-deha.
Jada Bharats father loved him very much and tried in every way
to nurture and teach his son about Brahminical material life. But no matter
how hard he tried still Jada Bharat remained unfazed and always appeared
like a dunce. In fact he was being vigilant not to become again identified
with the material world and its perishable ways.
The kind Brahmana tried hard to educate his son, Jada Bharat, but he
remained as if uncomprehending, and he would do things in reverse, such
as washing his hands before going to the latrine instead of after.
Eventually his father invested him with the Sacred Thread, but although
he wore the thread of a Brahman it was impossible to teach Jada Bharat
anything. In fact, it was Jada Bharats intention to act this way
in order to discourage his father from trying to teach him. Jada Bharat
KNEW what was real, and he was very much afraid of again making his mistake.
Still his father was so affectionate that he continued trying to teach
him, but to no avail.
This was s source of great frustration to his father who tried his best
to educate his son. He hoped his sons dullness could be cured and
he wanted him to be agreatscholar
but all his attempts were a complete
After trying for so long he finally died, and Jada Bharats mother
placed him and his sister under the care of the first wife while she herself
willingly entered the funeral fire of her dead husband.
In this way Jada-Bharat came under the care of his nine foster brothers,
all of whom considered him a liability and a dunce, and they stopped all
attempts at educating him and instead tried to give him various labor
jobs to perform such as mending fences, acting as a scare crow, etc. But
even these duties he was unable to recognize and he performed things backwards,
always making a mess.
The step brothers of Jada Bharat, although learned in the Vedas and karma-kandas, were basically materialistic, engaged is making more and more karma, and they were not able to see nor understand the hidden glories of their illustrious brother.
Materialistic people mistreated Jada Bharat, but he never protested. He acted like a madman even though he was a super-human. He did whatever people ordered of him, and took whatever food was given without begging. Jada Bharat was determined to refrain from creating more karma and also exhaust his remaining karma as soon as possible.
He didn't care about wages for work or if food was good or bad, nor if
it was hot or cold, or neither comfortable nor miserable
He was transcendental
to all opposites.
Peopled seeing that although he was born the son of a Brahman he acted
like a fool, called him names and insulted him. But he refused to feel
bad and simply tolerated his life without losing sight of the spiritual
Jada Bharat was very handsome, with long limbs and strong body. But he
never covered not protected his body from rain nor shine. He took life
as it came, disguised as a madman, and being insulted he simply wandered
Jada Bharats brothers considered him a fool and engaged him in
hard fieldwork planting grains; but even simple jobs he was unable to
fulfill properly, always acting stupid.
For food he gladly accepted rotten, stale left overs. But he made no
distinction, accepting all as nectar and Gods mercy. He accepted
what ever was given and did as directed without the slightest ill will
Gradually he was driven away by his brothers who grew tired of looking
after him. Following his destiny wherever Jada Bharat simply wandered
around the countryside and through jungles, subsisting on whatever he
came across with no intentions.
During the time that Jada Bharat was wondering around aimlessly he was
captured by a band of thieves & murderers who were ordered by their
leader to search out a fresh victim for human sacrifice to the Goddess
Kali, he being desirous of having a son.
Jada Bharat was a perfect physical specimen, and being a dullard appearing
no more aware than an animal he was considered ideal. Doing what ever
he was told Jada Bharat was brought to a remote temple of Goddess Kali
to be killed in sacrifice.
According to their own fanciful way the robbers cleaned and decorated
the body of Bharat. They covered his limbs in scented oils and fine garments,
which they considered suitable for the ceremony. After preparation Bharat
was agreeably taken before the Goddess. He was made to sit before the
statue of the Goddess while the robbers sounded music and tossed flowers.
Then the priest amongst the thieves was ready to offer the blood of this
man-animal to Goddess Kali and taking a consecrated sword he raised the
sharp blade above his head, ready to decapitate the great-soul known as
Seeing the great devotee Jada Bharat kneeling before Her about to be sacrificed the Goddess Kali became infuriated. The Idol of the Goddess cracked open and the Goddess Kali Herself emerged seething with anger. Her eyes burned like fire, her teeth were like fangs, and she appeared in a horrific form, as if to destroy the entire creation.
The Goddess sprang forth from the altar and snatching the sacrificial
sword from the evil priest she immediately slaughtered all the thieves,
chopping of their heads and limbs. With blood spurting from the dismembered
bodies of the dacoits the Goddess drank Her fill, and becoming intoxicated
she began to play with the severed heads like a child plays with toys.
The associates of the Goddess also appeared on the scene and drank the
remaining blood. Then they began singing loudly and dancing with such
force as if to crush the Earth beneath their feet. Such is the fate of
anyone harming a pure devotee.
Great souls who are liberated from the material illusion, and who bear no ill will towards any being, they always seek shelter in the Supreme Lord, even when about to be murdered. This is normal for the self-realized souls.
Later, at another place, a certain King of Sindhu and Sauvira named King
Rahugana was being carried in a palanquin amidst a large procession on
route to visit a great sage at Kapilashram. The Palanquin required a replacement
carrier, and it just so happened that they came across Jada Bharat during
his aimless wanderings.
The Kings servants seeing that Jada Bharat was young and strong ordered him to carry the burden. Being attuned to allowing his remaining karma to expire he accepted the duty without protest.
When the procession again continued there was shaking of the palanquin
because Jada Bharat would only step forward after checking the ground
in front of him to insure that no ants got crushed; this walking held
up the other bearers and upset the palanquin. Agitated and annoyed the
King admonished his men to carry properly, and again they tried with out
success because Jada Bharat was in a mind of his own.
The lead carrier told the King, Your Majesty, we are trying our
best, but this new bearer is causing the disruption by walking out of
King Rahugana was angry and he looked down at Jada Bharat, who was without
blame, and sarcastically insulted him by saying, Dear bearer, I
am sorry to see that due to old age and weakness you have become fatigued
by carrying this palanquin all alone, without assistance.
The King, being of warrior caste, and with his mind covered in the mode of passion, spoke these sarcastic words to the great saint Jada Bharat. But Bharat was none of those things; he was separate from matter, being fixed up in the absolute consciousness. Bharat was at one with God and therefore he did not react, instead he simply carried the palanquin out of step as before. This angered the King who cried out, Why are you disobeying my order? Dont you realize I am master and you are servant? Are you dead although living? For your disobedience Ill teach you a lesson, just like Yamaraj deals with sinners, and bring you to your senses!
The King threatened Jada Bharat in this way because the King considered the material body to be the self and he was caught up in the material illusion of ever-changing matter. It was wrong of the King who had no idea of the greatness of Jada Bharat.
But Bharat was in tune with God, and his own soul. He didnt relate to the body of 5 gross elements and mind of 3 subtle elements as his self. God Himself resided in the heart of Bharat, and Jada Bharat never cared about insult or praise, considering both to be other than the self. He could see the folly of the King, and by the will of providence the great soul smiled at the King and replied
The LESSON OF BHARAT
You Majesty, what you have sarcastically said is certainly true because I am none of the things you mention. The material body is bearing the load, not I, who am different from the gross body and subtle mind. The material body may be weak or strong, or whatever, but that never applies to me, the spirit soul.
It is also true that I have not worked hard, and I am not weak
or tired, because all these designations pertain to the material body,
and not the soul. What ever may appear as the material body is never applicable
to the soul within the body.
This path and the journey you are making is nothing to do with
me, the spirit soul, and that is why I am not feeling any trouble on this
account. Please consider that no wise man would ever confuse the body
with the soul as you are doing.
All material differences are in a constant state of flux, and the
question of being fat or skinny, or anything else is not the reality of
the self, who is always spiritual by nature.
Fatness, thinness, bodily and mental illness, thirst, hunger, fear,
disagreement, desires for material happiness, old age, sleep, attachment
for material possessions, anger, lamentation, illusion and identification
of the body with the self are all transformations of the material covering
of the spirit soul. A person living in such a mundane bodily conception
feels affected by these things, but I am not identified with matter. Therefore
everything you have jokingly said it true about me, the soul, because
I am separate from all this misidentification.
Oh great hero, you have accused me of being dead though alive.
In this regard, I can only say that this is the case everywhere because
everything material has its beginning and end. And everything material
is dead although permeated by the living spirit.
You claim that youre the king and I am the servant, and you
are trying to order me around; but this is nonsense because these material
positions are ever changing, and one day I may be King and you would be
servant. This is according to our ever-changing karma.
And if Im crazy like you say then what is the use? If you
beat a madman hes not cured, like beating a dead horse. In fact,
Im a self-realized soul, so whats the use of punishing me?
Everyone is bound by their karma and following their own modes
of nature so no one is ever fixed as master or servant. But, if you still
think youre right then tell me what to do?
Having said this, and showing no signs or agitation, Jada Bharat began
to carry the palanquin again, in the same way. He had no false ego. He
was thinking that by carrying the palanquin, he was burning the remaining
results of his past karma.
But King Rahugana was simply amazed to hear the words of Bharat. He was
stunned, and he quickly realized that Jada Bharat was a greatly exalted
devotee and saint.
His material identity as a king was smashed. He felt terrible for offending
such a saint, and he immediately descended from his palanquin and fell
flat on the ground like a staff, placing his head on the sacred feet of
King Rahugana prayed to Bharat, Oh great saintly person, please
excuse my ignorance. Im so sorry!!! How could I know? You are wearing
the sacred thread like a Brahmin, but you appear to be covered over, like
ashes cover a fire. Please tell me who you are and how you came to this
realization? Who is your spiritual master? And how have you reached this
Dear great saint, Im not scared of the King of heaven, nor
even the superintendent of hell, I am not afraid of anything in this world,
save committing an offense against a saint like you. Please forgive me,
and kindly reveal your true identity.
We can see that your knowledge, although hidden, is greatly advanced
and approved by Vedic Scriptures. Pray tell us why youre wandering
around appearing like a dunce. Please explain yourself to us.
You are surely an incarnation of God, roaming about for the benefit of humanity. Your knowledge is unlimited, and youre fully self-realized. No one can be a better spiritual master than you. As a disciple we beg you to kindly tell us what is the safest position in life?