In the previous episode, we had offered our humble prostrations and salutations to the Aachaarya, Sage Paraashara, who has authored this great text that we’re about to commence witnessing as part of this mega-project – Shri Vishnu Puraana. We had also witnessed some of Sage Paraashara’s significances wherein he’s the one who had taught all of us the difference between “Chtih”, “Achith”, and the “Paramatman” and as a “Chith” living in this world, whom should we catch hold of and which should we let go off. Moreover, Sage Paraashara is also an epitome of the noble quality called “Udhaaram”, which means, “endlessly offering” all his knowledge and experience to this world unconditionally. This is also a very important quality in not only Sage Paraashara, but also the other great Maharishis who have been instrumental in authoring innumerable texts as part of our Sanaatana Dharma literature, which are extremely revered and respected. We’ve witnessed the contributions of Valmiki Maharishi, Sage Veda Vyaasa, Sage Sukhaachaarya in our previous projects, and now it is the time for us to experience the beauty of Sage Paraashara’s contributions to our Sanaatana Dharma literature, in the form of Shri Vishnu Puraana.
Now, as we move on further, before we commence the contents of the first “Amsa”, we should first understand the context at which this Shri Vishnu Puraana came into existence. Just like how we witnessed that Shrimad Bhaagawatha Puraana came into existence because of the conversation between Sage Sukhaachaarya and King Parikshit, here too, there is a conversation. It’s very interesting to understand here that all of these “Puraanas”, inclusive of these two, are the outcomes of some high level “Kaala-kshema” between two or more people. Normally in the Sanaatana Dharma style, any high-level discussions happen primarily via two methodologies. One is “Upanyaasa” and the second is “Kaalakshema”. “Upanyaasa” is a style wherein one speaker talks on for hours and the listeners would be sitting opposite to the speaker, grasping whatever he / she explains in detail. This is predominantly a one-way traffic of conversation. Only the speaker is going to do all the talking, and the others are going to just listen. There is no room for the listeners to talk back to the speaker. However, in the “Kaalakshema” mode, it is predominantly a two-way traffic. Here, as the speaker is talking, the listeners too get involved in the conversation by asking questions or doubts in the middle. For instance, as the speaker is explaining one point, there is always a room for the audience to get up and pose a question to the speaker as to why and how is this point valid. The speaker would immediately give an answer for this question, before moving on to the next point. This method wherein the interaction between the speaker and audience is a “two-way traffic” is called “Kaalakshema”, and this was a very popular mode of discussion during the previous Yugas and even during the early days of Kali Yuga.
While the advantage of having an “Upanyaasa” is that, we can cover lot of points quickly without constant interference from others, the only disadvantage here is that it is very difficult to conclude whether the listeners have really understood what the speaker had to convey. This is because different people have different levels of comprehension capability. For instance, if we drop a tennis ball on one surface, it would produce one type of sound. Whereas, if we drop the same tennis ball at a different surface, it is going to produce a different sound with a different frequency level, isn’t it? Here, even though the ball is the same, the surface on which it is tapped upon makes a huge difference. Similarly here too, although the speaker might be the same, different listeners’ observing and grasping capacities and capabilities are different, isn’t it? This is where, the “Upanyaasa” methodology faces a drawback. Even with the case of all of us, if we happen to listen to any renowned “Upanyaasaka”, at that point of listening to him or her, we would feel as if we’re very familiar with all what he / she is explaining. It would be as if we’re understanding 100% of what is being discussed. However, if we’re asked to speak a few words on the topic, we would start stammering. We wouldn’t have that confidence whether we had understood the context in the right way or not! This is the potential drawback of the “Upanyaasa” style of discussion!
Whereas, if we consider the other style called “Kaalakshema”, as mentioned above, there is always an opportunity for questioning the speaker and clearing doubts then and there. This is exactly the same way through which Bhagawan Krishna gave the Bhagawad Gita to Arjuna! This is why we would have in the middle of the Bhagawad Gita text, Arjuna posing questions to Bhagawan Krishna. We have both “Arjuna Uvaacha” and “Bhagawan Uvaacha” in the Bhagawad Gita text, isn’t it? All the 700 slokas of the Gita weren’t recited by Bhagawan alone. There’s Arjuna’s part in it as well. Similarly, the Mahabharata text too was a “Kaalakshema” between Sage Vaishampaayana and King Janame Jaya. Again, there would be many instances in the entire Mahabharata text, wherein King Janame Jaya would pose questions to Sage Vaishampaayana in the middle. Similar was the approach in the Shrimad Bhaagawatha Puraana as well. We’ve witnessed that it was a dialogue between Sage Sukhaachaarya and King Parikshit, wherein King Parikshit too asks a lot of questions in the middle and Sage Sukhaachaarya is trying to resolve them with answers.
Thus, as this trend goes, Shri Vishnu Puraana also fits this trend of “Kaalakshema”. To whom is Sage Paraashara explaining all of this? It is none other than his disciple, the great Sage Maithreya. Here, Sage Maithreya is asking question after question and Sage Paraashara, being his Aachaarya, is explaining the answers to each and every question of Sage Maithreya. Thus, the Shri Vishnu Puraana was born. Thus, we should understand here that this entire text is a “Kaalakshema” of Sage Paraashara to Sage Maithreya!
So for today, let us understand these points clearly and let us wait till the next episode to build on this further, as we move into the first “Amsa” discussion! Stay tuned! 🙂