Tuesday, 3 May 2011

20. Story of Adishesha (Devotional)

      Adishesha is a snake with 1000 heads who acts as the couch of Lord Vishnu. He born on earth as Patanjali and gave mankind the art of Yoga, Ayurveda and documented sanskrit grammer. Once Lord Vishnu was watching the enchanting dance of Lord Shiva through meditation. Vishnu was so totally absorbed in the dance of Shiva that his body began to vibrate to its rhythm. This vibration made him so heavier causing Adishesha to feel so uncomfortable that he was gasping for breath. The moment the dance came to an end, Vishnu’s body became light again. Adishesha was amazed and asked his master the cause of these stupendous changes. Vishnu explained that the grace, beauty, majesty and grandeur of Shiva’s dance had created corresponding vibrations in his own body making it heavy. Adishesha professed a desire to learn dance to which Vishnu became thoughtful and predicted that soon Shiva would grace Adishesha to take a human life to write a commentary on grammar and that he would then also be able to devote himself to perfection in the art of dance. Adishesha was overjoyed by these words and looked forward to the descent of Shiva’s grace.

      Once in Darukavanam, Shiva wished to teach a lesson to the Rishis who were proud of their learning. Shiva took the form of a mendicant with a begging bowl in hand, accompanied by Vishnu disguised as Mohini. The rishipatnis (wives of the Rishis) were attracted by the sight of this beautiful pair. The Rishis grew angry and tried to destroy the pair. They performed a sacrificial fire and raised a tiger from the fire which sprang at Shiva. Shiva pealed off the skin of the tiger and wrapped it round his waist. Then again the Rishis sent a poisonous serpent and Shiva tied it round his neck. Then the Rishis sent against Shiva an Apasmara Purusha, Muyalaka, whom Lord Shiva crushed by pressing him to the ground with his foot. At this, the Rishis confessed defeat and Shiva started to dance before all the Gods and Rishis. Lord Adishesha heard the description of Shiva’s dance at Darukavanam from Vishnu and requested Vishnu to allow him to witness the dance himself. Vishnu agreed to this. Adishesha performed penance and prayed to Shiva to allow him to see the dance.  Being pleased with his penance, Shiva appeared to him and promised that he would dance at Tillai (Chidambaram).

      Adishesha began to meditate to ascertain who would be his mother on earth. In meditation, he had the vision of a yogini by the name of Gonika who was praying for a worthy son to whom she could impart her knowledge and wisdom. He at once realized that she would be a worthy mother for him. One day Gonika was praying to the Sun. She took a handful of water as a oblation to him and meditated on the Sun. When she opened her eyes, she saw a tiny snake moving in her palms, who soon took on a human form. That kid was named as Patanjali because her hands had been in the prayerful gesture (anjali) and he had fallen (pat) from heaven. After leading an ascetic, yogic life, Patanjali felt ready to start his life’s mission. He traveled to Chidambaram in South India where Shiva promised that he would dance. There were other great souls, divine beings, sages and yogis all ready to watch the cosmic dance. Shiva directed Patanjali to watch the dance carefully so that he could completely understand the Maheswara aphorisms and write a proper commentary to Panini’s work. Panini was considered to be a dull lad and he ran away from home and practiced severe penance. Shiva, pleased by Panini’s austerities appeared before him and sounded the drum nine and five or fourteen times. Panini became instantly learned by the grace of Shiva. The sound of Shiva’s drums transformed Panini into a gifted scholar and this sound contains all the alphabets of Sanskrit and are called Shiva Sutras. Panini who witnessed the dance wrote an elaborate text in 8 chapters the entire work of grammar, based on Shiva’s 14 Sutras but because they were terse and ambiguous, could not take roots among the people. Now Shiva wanted Patanjali to write a detailed commentary on Panini’s works so that Sanskrit would become accessible to mankind.

      Patanjali went into yogic Samadhi, so that the divine dance could be experienced and watched the dance minutely grasping the nuances of the Shiva Sutras as the sounds emanated from the drum (damaru) of the dancing Nataraja. Patanjali then left the place and very carefully wrote a great commentary (Maha Bhashya) on the Panini’s wok. The basic informations or cues of Vyakarana or grammar came from the dancing Shiva’s drum. It is also believed by musicologists that the basic seven musical notes also came from Shiva's drum. Patanjali after watching the dance of Shiva became a great dancer himself as predicted by Vishnu. When Patanjali went into Samadhi, not only was he able to witness the Cosmic Dance, but also got to experience the ultimate state of Yoga, the Nirvikalpa or Nirodha Samadhi. With that experience and the grace of Shiva he was able to write an authentic text on Yoga. Lord Siva is also known as Yogiswara, the Lord of all Yogis. He is also known as Bhaishajya or one who has the wisdom of Curing and Patanjali could get the necessary expertise on Ayurveda also from Shiva and thus wrote a medical text par excellence.
      Once all the Muni and Rishi approached Vishnu to tell him that even though they got Dhanvantari by churning milk ocean (refer Kurmavatar), people still fell ill. They also wanted to know what to do when people got sick. Sometimes it is not just physical illness, but mental and emotional illness too that needs to be dealt with. Anger, lust, greed, jealousy etc. How does one get rid of all these impurities? What is the formula to treat them? Vishnu gave them Aadishesha, the symbol of awareness, who took birth in the world as Maharishi Patanjali. So Patanjali after learning about Yoga from Shiva's dance, compiled Yoga Sootras which are being called Patanjali Yoga Sutras. Patanjali had to really work hard to propagate his work. Since he was the sole repository of the knowledge at that time, he had to teach as many people as possible. Patanjali said he was not going to discuss his Yoga Sootras unless 1000 people got together and another condition is that he would put a screen between him and his students and told them that nobody was to lift the screen or leave. Everybody had to stay in the hall till he finished.

      Patanjali stayed behind the curtain and transformed into 1000 headed Adhishesha and transmitted his knowledge to the 1000 disciples gathered there. One day a little boy had to go out to attend natures call so he left the room. Meanwhile another student became curious and lifted the curtain to see the Master. But just as he did so, all 999 disciples were burnt to ashes due to dangerous poison of Adhishesha. Now, Patanjali became very sad that all of his disciples were burnt. At that moment, that one little boy returned. Patanjali asked him where he had gone. The boy explained and asked his forgiveness. Patanjali was compassionate and felt him alive. He gave him the rest of the Sootras, the rest of the knowledge. But the student had violated the law and Patanjali was not willing to forget that. So he cursed him to become a Brahm Raakshas (demon) and hang on a tree. And the only way he could liberate himself from the curse is to teach one student. That Brahm Raakshas was hanging on a tree would ask everyone who passed by, only one question and when they could not answer he would eat them. He had no choice and for a few thousand years this continued. He could not find a single person to whom he could teach the Yoga Sootras. So he remained on the tree as a Brahm Raakshas. Then out of compassion, Patanjali himself became a disciple and came as a student to Brahm Raakshas who told him all the Sootras, which Patanjali wrote on the palm leaves of that tree. Thus Adishesha gave mankind the art of Yoga, Ayurveda and documented sanskrit grammer.

No comments:

Post a Comment