In the previous episode, we had been at an important juncture wherein Sage Bharata was caught off guard by the deer, and with that, he lost the thin line of difference between compassion and attachment. He probably went a bit overboard in his affection and concern towards the little deer that he totally forgot about his penance and spiritual progress henceforth. He was totally after the deer in such a way that only if the deer ate something, he would eat. Only if the deer drank water, he would drink. Only if the deer slept, he would go to bed. Thus, in all ways, he became so attached and identified himself only with that deer. It so happened that as age was catching up with him fast, he even started having thoughts that who would take care of the deer if he passed away! Such was the attachment Sage Bharata had towards the deer. Thus, in due course of the last episode, we had witnessed the thin line of difference between compassion and attachment. Of course, we should be kind and compassionate towards other fellow living beings, but that should not go into a state wherein we start totally associating ourselves with those living beings. We should be able to draw the thin line of difference here. This is the important message that we learn out of this part of the “Jada-Bharata-Upaakhyaana”.
Moving on further thus, as days progressed, Sage Bharata was getting older and with his old age, he was more and more concerned about the deer, rather than thinking of Bhagawan at this stage. Finally when the time came, Sage Bharata passed away with his thoughts fully on the deer! We’ve to understand one important point here – There are two important categories of people who are devotees of Bhagawan. The first category of people are called “Bhaktas” and the second category of people are referred to as “Sharanagatas”. Now what is the difference between these two people, and where do we fit Sage Bharata here? The first category of people – “Bhaktas” are those who have the thought process thus, “Oh! If I’ve to attain Bhagawan, I should put forward the requisite effort towards spiritual progress, and it is only with my consistent efforts, I’m attaining Bhagawan!” This method of attaining Bhagawan is often referred to as “Saadhyopaayam” in our Sanaatana Dharma literature. Whereas the thought process of a “Sharanagatha” is thus, “Oh! I’m in such a state that I’m not going to attain Bhagawan with any of my efforts. Let Him take me to Vaikunta with His divine grace and compassion! All I can do here is to make myself eligible for His grace. Rest is His!”
We might be able to see a gross difference in attitude in both these categories here isn’t it? The “Bhakta” has an “I” attitude and a sense of pride in whatever he / she is doing, whereas a “Sharanagata” is a person who leaves everything to Bhagawan and surrenders onto His feet completely without any expectation. Of course, both are good paths of “Bhakti-Maarga” without any doubt, but there is only a small problem with the “Bhakta” here – If we have the “I” attitude raging within us a bit more, we are prone to deviate from the Bhakti-Maarga easily. It is like walking on a knife-edge and at any point in time, we might deviate and fall down the wrong path. The compounding problem to this is that, as we are deviating from the spiritual path, whatever we think about during our last breath, would be the one in which we manifest ourselves in our next birth as well! For instance, as a Bhakta, if we think of Bhagawan while we’re at our death bed, we would be able to reach Vaikunta safely without any hassles. However, the problem comes when we start deviating, and this exactly is what happened to Sage Bharata here. Since he was in deep thinking about the deer as he was on his deathbed, his next birth was designed to be born as a deer itself!
Bhagawan Krishna explains this phenomenon beautifully in the Bhagawad Gita as well thus:
“Yam yam vaapi smaranbhaavantyajaavante kalevaram!
Tam tameiti kaunteya sadaa tath bhaava bhaavitaha!!”
Here, Bhagawan Krishna explains clearly to Arjuna that whatever we think about during our last breath, we would take birth in our next birth exactly the same as what we were thinking at that time. Hence, we’ve to be very careful here. This is a very important learning for all of us, and this is why we always keep emphasizing that we’ve to develop the habit of thinking of Bhagawan all the time, irrespective of whatever we keep doing. Because, if we’ve to think of Bhagawan during our last times, it would not be possible overnight. All our family members, our pets, our properties, our money, etc. would be running in our mind at that time, which are totally useless at that point in time. If we’ve to be able to brush aside all of it and think of Bhagawan during that stage, we’ve to start practising it now, and this is why it is very important to have Bhagawan’s thoughts throughout, so that it would become a habit for us at our later stages.
So for today, let us understand this point very clearly, and let us wait till the next episode to witness what happened to “Bharata – the deer”! Now, Bharata has passed away with the thought of the deer, and he’s now going to take re-birth as a deer itself! An absorbing episode awaits us tomorrow to narrate what conspired after this! Stay tuned! 🙂