Appearance of Sri Varahadeva

By HG Hari Sauri Prabhu - 2.2 2023

So today is the transcendental appearance day of Lord Varaha. We have got the regular Bhagavatam verse on the board from Prthu Maharaj’s going back to Godhead. However we are not going to read that this morning. We are going to talk about Lord Varahadev instead because it is an interesting narrative.

There are different incarnations or appearances of Lord Varahadev. Previously the white boar incarnation has been described. The one that is in the Bhagavatam as we receive it is the story about the red incarnation and His fight with the demon Hiranyaksha. So it is an interesting history and one that is very instructive for the devotees because it is a narrative of people feeling sorry. The history is Diti was feeling unusually lusty. She was feeling impelled to the point where she lost control of herself and she approached her husband Kasyapa at an inauspicious time for the purpose of having a child. Of course it is to be noted that it wasn’t even though she was feeling lusty her intention was to have a child. So it was for procreative purposes. You could say it was dharmic nevertheless. However it was still at an improper time of the day because it was sunset and that is just when Lord Siva and his ghostly hordes become active.

Apparently any child that is conceived at that time of the day is likely to be one of those ghostly … taking their next birth. The Vedic principle is not to have sex for procreation or any sex at that time of the day because you don’t know who is coming into the womb. It might not be somebody that you particularly like. So somehow or the other she convinced her husband that don’t wait even a few more minutes. It must be done now because she was impelled by some force or the other. The end result was that immediately these two twins where put into a womb and the afterwards she immediately felt very sorry.

So she was the first person in this whole episode to start feeling sorry. She recognised her mistake immediately because she was a devotee and her husband also was feeling quite sorry. So she prayed to him. In fact she prayed to Lord Siva to excuse her mistake. On account of that although she did this act at an improper time the children that would be born from this will be terrorists. They will not terrorise just one small area but they are going to terrorise the entire universe and afflict everybody. And everybody else is going to be sorry because of what you have done. She was feeling very sorry when she heard that and because of her repentance although the deed itself could not be undone, the result could not be undone. It was modified.

She was given this benediction that, “Don’t worry the two sons that you will have will both be killed by the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself. So although they will cause a lot of problems ultimately it would come out okay. More for them and for everybody else because the Lord will appear and everybody will get the blessings of His appearance. They will get killed by Him and of course that means they will get liberation. So the outcome ultimately will be okay even if in the middle there is some trouble.”

She was satisfied with that and she was given a further benediction that she would have a grandson. So one of these two children would have a son who would be a great devotee. Of course that is Prahlad Maharaj. So that was a cause of celebration. In that way she was kind of pacified because she was feeling very sorry and she apologised and was feeling very regretful.

When the twins appeared immediately so many inauspicious symptoms appeared in the universe. Everything became very dark. There were all kinds of horrible events. It was raining puss and blood and rocks and asses were braying and disturbing all the other living entities. The cows were passing blood from their milk sacks. So many different things were observe when these two demons made their appearance.

The demigods went to Lord Brahma saying, “We can understand this is trouble for us. So what to do about it?” So then he being very intelligent first person he narrated the history of these two apparent demons. And so he begins to relate the story of how the four Kumaras, pure souls, his first born sons – very pure, not materially contaminated went to the Vaikuntha realm. At that time they were impersonalists but somehow or another not Mayavadis but impersonalists. Mayavadis are offenders. Impersonalists may not be.

They went to the doors of heaven. I think in some other places it is said there are seven gates. In this instance they passed through six gates that were guarding the Vaikuntha region and there was no opposition there was no problem. They were very innocent just like small children. They had no sense of what is right and what is wrong or you can’t do this. You can only do that. They were just wandering around as five year olds apparently – great sages. And they wandered through these gates wondering where it was all going. Then they got to the seventh gate. The seventh gate was being guarded by Jaya and Vijay. For so apparently unknown reason they were not in a very good mood although they were in Vaikuntha. Somehow or the other their mood was a little discordant.

So when they were approached by the four Kumaras they immediately demanded to know, “How did you get here? Where do you think you are all going?’ As soon as there was that challenge then these four Kumaras, young boys they also became offended and angry. And they became annoyed with the gate keepers. Both parties became annoyed with each other, which was highly unusual because all of them were liberated souls. So how that annoyance came about? So anyway because the four Kumaras became annoyed they cursed the two gatekeepers that, “You can take birth in the material world because you are showing the symptoms of material living beings. You are seeing somebody as a friend and somebody as an enemy and that mentality can only exist in the material world. In the spiritual world everybody is a friend.”

As soon as they spoke like that then the gate keepers felt very sorry. So they began to backtrack and apologise and beg for forgiveness. As soon as they did that then who appears on the scene but Lord Visnu Himself. As soon as Lord Visnu appeared on the scene then the four Kumaras became great devotees. They were impersonalist but as soon as they saw the Lord and especially as the breeze wafted the scent of the Tulasi leaves that were decorating His lotus feet. It went into their nostrils and they experienced transcendental pleasure.

And from that transcendental pleasure they were able to understand that their idea of impersonal Brahman was inferior and they immediately gave it up and they decided that they wanted to serve this Supreme Personality of Godhead who previously they had only seen in meditation within the heart. So even if you get to the point where you can see the Lord in the heart is not quite the same as actually seeing the Lord in person being right there with Him. It is not explaining the technicality of that but in this instance it is made clear that there was a difference between the personality they meditated upon in their heart and the person that now appeared before them.

As soon as they saw the Lord they realised that these gate keepers were great personalities. They were the eternal servants of the Lord and we just cursed them. So they started to feel sorry also. So everybody is feeling sorry – Diti is feeling sorry, Kasyapa is feeling sorry, the whole universe is feeling sorry and the gatekeepers are feeling sorry and the four Kumaras are feeling sorry and Lord Visnu Himself is starting to feel sorry. He was thinking that, “These boys have come and are very innocent and My servants have prevented them from entering. So because they acted incorrectly, not exactly according to His wish apparently he was also feeling sorry. So in that way it was a very sorrowful occasion. The whole event started to look very sorry.

It then becomes revealed how this whole episode came about. The four Kumaras where wandering. The appearance of the Lord, they could see this personality and understand the relationship between the Lord and His devotee in Vaikuntha. So they were wandering how these gate keepers could possibly could have developed this kind of mentality. This could only have happened due to the direct influence of the Lord. Therefore He must have some purpose. He is the ultimate doer and he has engineered this whole situation for some purpose of His own.

So they were feeling very sorry that they had taken action on their own and that made them realise that this is some lila of the Lord. “We may have interfered with that.” So they were very regretful about that. As it happens it was actually an arrangement of the Lord and the final course is explained by Lord Brahma. He said, “Sometime, (of course in the Vaikunthalokas there is no time. There is just activity but there is no time.)But it says here sometime previously (Although there is no past.) Laxmidevi had come to see Lord Visnu and He was sleeping. So the two doorkeepers had decided not to allow Laxmidevi to visit the Lord until He was awake.”

You can imagine what power they have that they can stop Laxmidevi from seeing Lord Visnu. Of course that wasn’t a good thing and Lord Visnu was not very happy when He woke up. So He decided that these two door keepers would have to be taught a lesson but at the same time He had a desire as well. His desire was that He was feeling like a fight but in Vaikunthaloka there is nobody to fight with because everybody is friends. So He was feeling like He wanted to exhibit His prowess as a fighter. Therefore He used this incident between Laxmi and the gatekeepers as a means so that he could have this lila of fighting in the material world.

It was already decided by Lord Visnu that the gatekeepers will have to go to the material world and they could take on a position of an enemy or His enemies so that He could fight them and have a good time. So in that way the whole lila started to become real and everybody became pacified that this was due to the Lord entirely and lord Visnu was happy. And so He told Jaya and Vijaya that, “Okay. You have been cursed by these great devotees, the four Kumaras so you have to go to the material world. There is no avoiding that. Once they have given a curse that cannot be retracted. But I will give you a choice. You can have seven births in the material world as My devotees or you can have three births as My enemies. Personally I prefer that you go down as My enemies because i want to fight with you.”

So in that way they thought, “This is the Lord’s desire and anyway we will come back to Vaikunthaloka a lot quicker if we take birth as demons rather than devotees. But then they were a little afraid that if they did that they may forget Lord Visnu. That is always the danger because the material world is a place of forgetfulness. Everybody who is here comes here because they want to forget Lord Visnu. They want to forget that they are His eternal servants and they want to pretend otherwise. So the material world is not a very desirable place to be in for the devotees because that tendency is always there – the forgetfulness that at any moment – just like Diti. She was a great devotee but became temporarily overwhelmed by the influence of the modes of material nature, the dense ignorance that comprises the material world – and they may do something that is not favourable for their relationship with the Lord or which will not please the Supreme Lord.

The devotees although they do not have fear of anything they do fear being in the material world because they know it is a very dodgy place. Any moment something could happen temporarily and one can forget one’s true position and then get into a lot of trouble. But the nature of devotional service is that it is eternal. The Lord is eternal. The devotees are eternal. So they cannot be bound up in that spell of maya for very long. Therefore we see this instant reaction. Even sometime there are mistakes that are made in the dealings of one devotee and another or the devotee’s dealings with the Lord. Somehow or the other because they are devotees they can recover themselves very quickly by being very sorry for what has happened, by being very repentant. That is the symptom of a devotee.

Sometime we feel that devotees mean that they never do anything wrong, never make any mistakes. But here is an instance where there is a whole bunch of mistakes made by very, very exhalted devotees or apparent mistakes. The lesson is because all of them were repentant in their own way for whatever part they had played in the whole episode immediately everything could be rectified and the devotional content of the lila could then come out. This is a very instructive lesson for all of us.

We are not on the level of Jaya and Vijaya or the four Kumaras. We are just insignificant little bugs in the universe and it is not surprising that when we do our devotional service we make mistakes. Sometimes we do the wrong thing. Sometimes we say the wrong things, sometimes we express the wrong emotion and it causes problems but if we take this lesson the rectification for any wrong situation that we may find ourselves in is repentance.

We have to feel sorry. If you don’t feel sorry when you have committed an offence you are in big trouble. But if we do feel sorry even if the person commits a big offence then he can be excused from that just like Dhurvasa Muni. He tried to kill Ambarish Maharaj. How big an offense can that be. He also went to the Vaikunthalokas. So it appears that sometimes even persons who are not fully in devotional service can go to the Vaikuntha realm. Dhurvasa also went to the Vaikuntha realm. He also personally met Lord Visnu just like the Kumaras but he did not get excused. The Kumaras – there was no problem. They were the only ones who weren’t sorry. When the two gatekeepers took birth as Hiranyaksa and Hiranyakasipu everybody else was very anxious but the four Kumaras were very cool about the whole thing because they knew obviously the beginnings of that lila.

Durvasa Muni did not get any relief at all even by going to Vaikuntha. He spoke to Lord Visnu only to find out that, “You are not feeling sorry. So sorry. I am sorry but you are not sorry. So nothing can be done. You have to go back to the person, My devotee who you have offended and say you are sorry. Then i will forgive you. The the sudarsan chakra will stop chasing you all over the universe.”

Immediately he realised, “I have to go back to Ambarish Maharaj and apologise and as soon as he did that, of course Ambarish Maharaj being a great devotee he did not think that there was any offence caused at all. Somehow or the other he didn’t think of Durvasa as being an offender or his enemy and so he was immediately very forgiving and as soon as that apology came from Durvasa Muni and Ambarish Maharaj told him, “Don’t worry about it. I did not take any offence.” Immediately sudarsan chakra was removed and Durvasa Muni was relieved.

This is one of the key lessons in this lila. We know the story of Hiranyaksa and Hiranyakasipu terrorising the universe. They got that benediction. Hiranyakasipu got the benediction that it would be very difficult, nearly impossible to kill him. Hiranyaksa also got a similar benediction. So they were roaming around and causing general havoc and mayhem to the point where the earth was plunged into the ocean at the bottom of the universe and nobody could do anything about it. So it was a really difficult situation.

So we know that story but here’s one lesson that we should learn for ourselves. We are not likely to see Lord Varaha lifting out the earth from the ocean and killing Hiranyaksa. But still there is something here that is very relevant to our present situation as devotees or people who are trying to become devotees in Kali yuga. It is a really tough situation. There is alot going against us.

In the Mahabharata it is mentioned that in Kali yuga the demoniac mentality and the devotional mentality exists with the same body. In previous yugas it was in different cities and in the previous yuga to that it was in different countries and previous to that it was on different planets. The demons where on their own planet, the devotees where on another. Then they were on the same planet but in different countries, then in the same country but in different towns and in Kali yuga the demoniac and divine exists with the same body. So it is pretty tough. Therefore it is not surprising that as we do our devotional service we make mistakes.

Sometimes we feel an impulse and we do the wrong thing. That obliviously would lead to trouble Diti acted on an impulse. The result was these demons causing havoc for everybody so actually she was feeling very bad about that but the rectification also can be brought about by the right mood of repentance. So in that way this is our lesson in Kali yuga as we attempt to be devotees – when we do make mistakes (I won’t say if. I say when!) I don’t know anybody that has not made mistakes at some time or the other, who hasn’t knowingly or unknowingly committed an offence against other devotees. So what is our salvation? That is this mood of repentance – feeling very sorry. We have to be at least aware of our own selves that we are likely to commit offences at any moment and therefore we should always keep this humble state of mind. Therefore Lord Caitanya advised:

trnad api sunicena taror api sahisnuna amanina manadena kirtaniyah sada harih [Cc. Adi 17.31]

Keep the mind always very humble because you are going to make mistakes, you are going to commit offences and this will save you. I had that practical experience when I first became Prabhupada’s servant in the late 1975 in Delhi. Somehow or the other i got asked to massage Srila Prabhupada and actually a couple of months before that I had a conversation with Nitai Dasa who was Prabhupada’s servant on and off and he had come to Sri Vrindavan with Srila Prabhupada during Janmastami of 1975 – Prabhupada’s first visit back to the Krishna Balaram Mandir after the opening at Ram Naumi. He came for three weeks just to see how things were going on. So Nitai was on the party. When Prabhupada left Nitai remained behind.

Breakfast time was usually quite nice because we would all sit together and he would tell us stories about Srila Prabhupada. So one morning at breakfast I told him, “You are so fortunate to have done that service.” I said, “I could never massage Srila Prabhupada. I am so gross that i would probably break his fingers or do something horrible.” He laughed and said, “You would if you got the chance.” Then I laughed and said, “Well I am never going to get the chance. Am I?”

Two months later there I am and I was asked to massage Srila Prabhupada. So I was very apprehensive. I wasn’t in any way an established devotee. I had been in the movement for three years or three and half years and I didn’t know anything at all practically. So I was simply asked. Harikesa came into the temple one day and he asked me, “Do you know how to massage.” I said, “No. Never done it in my life.” He said, “Well you better go on the roof because Upendra is massaging Prabhupada right now. He is leaving tomorrow and you are going to do it tomorrow.” And that was it!

I had to run up on the roof. Sure enough there was Prabupada. I couldn’t really believe what i had just heard. I was in a kind of suspended animation almost – at least my brain was anyway I didn’t really believe that he had just told me that I was going to have to massage Prabhupada. But when I went on the roof sure enough there was Prabhupada sitting on the mat and Upendra was massaging him. And I thought, “Wow! This is really happening!”

Then next day that was it. Upendra left and as he walked out the door with Prabhupada’s blessings – he gave him a garland and off he went with his suitcase to catch a plane to Fiji As soon as he walked out the door there was just Prabhupada and myself and Prabhupada looked at me and he said, “So? Let’s start!” Meaning let’s start have the massage. As I said I had never massaged anybody in my whole life, what to speak about Srila Prabhupada!

I think the only time that I had touched Srila Prabhupada was in 1975 when he came to Melborne. I offered him a garland and touched his feet. That would have been enough for a whole lifetime. Now I had to actually massage him and I hadn’t got a clue as to what I was doing. Upendra gave me two minute instruction on how to massage Srila Prabhupada and that was it. So I had to just pray to Krishna, “Please just give me some intelligence how to do this properly so that Prabhupada will be pleased.”

So I did it. I had all these horrible kind of visions in my head – I am massaging his head and I poked my thumb in his eye or something. And Upendra told me you had to pull his fingers and make the joints pop. And I was thinking what happens if I dislocate his fingers. [Laughter] There were all kinds of things going through my head. Externally I was trying to keep cool and do the job and of course immediately I made a mistake.

The massage was okay. That went fairly well but halfway through the massage then you were supposed to stop and have a bucket of water ready with the immersion heater – the electric sticks that you put in the water and they heat them up. Because in those days most Indian houses didn’t have running hot water as we do in the west. So Prabhupada needed warm water for bathing him and it was nearly winter, So we had to remember to put a bucket out and put an immersion heater. Then half way through the massage stop, know how to switch it on then go back and finish the massage. Then at the end of the massage there would be warm water or hot water carried out down to Prabhupada’s bathroom. Then he would mix that with cold water to the right temperature and then he would bathe.

So I was so intent on doing the massage properly that I totally forgot about the water. So at the end of the massage Prabhupada stood up ready to go off the roof into the apartment that he was staying in that was at 9 Todar Mal Lane, Bengali Markets. I sudden realized that there was no hot water so I had to hang my head and apologise, “I am sorry Srila Prabhupada I forgot to switch the heater on.” I could see that Prabhupada was a little put out but he didn’t say anything because it was my first day and I was sorry.

I switched it on. He had to stand around for fifteen minutes to wait for the water to heat up. Then the next day. I remembered everything went well and then the next day after that i forgot again. [Laughter] That time Prabhupada was not so patient. He said a few words to me. [Laughter]

Other things that happened: Of course I was allowed in at night time into Prabhupada’s quarters because he had an evening massage and so I was told to report back at nine o’clock at night into his rooms. I think that one of the first evenings I came into his rooms he was just finishing his darsan and he had a basket of fruit that was underneath his desk. One visitor had presented that to him. Prabhupada didn’t take any of the fruit because he decided that it should be offered to the deities. So as soon as I came in he called me over.

Harikesa had just cooked something, a light supper snack and Prabhupada had just eaten that. So his plate was on the table. Under the table was the basket of fruit. So Prabhupada called me over and he said, “Take this plate and wash it. Take this fruit to the temple and then it could be offered to the deities in the morning because it was still bhoga.’ So I thought, “Great. I got some service.’ So immediately I picked up Prabhupada’s plate with one hand and I picked up the basket of fruit with the other.

Prabhupada immediately stopped me. “You Yavana! Mleccha! The plate is dirty and you are picking it up with one hand and now you are picking the fruit that is to be offered to the deities with the other!” He said, “Now put them down. Go and wash your hands. Wash the plate first and then take the fruit.” So that was a first lesson. Anyway there was a whole series of things that happened – small things. Sometimes there was some big things as well.

I realised in those first couple of days that there is no way that I am going to be able to do this service without committing offences. I am so dumb and gross and Prabhupada is so elevated and he has such a high standard. Just that thing about cleanliness. Even at the end of my tenure at the end of sixteen months I still hadn’t learnt

We were up in the lotus building here and Prabhupada was talking to Gurukrpa and I was sitting at the back of his room. And because they were talking about some business to do with his loan i was thinking, “Well this has got nothing to do with me. So I was kind of spacing out.” I had my waistcoat on and in the waistcoat pocket I found a toothpick. So I was just sitting there [Laughter] and very casually poking my teeth. Typically Prabhupada was also sitting there engaged in this very intense managerial conversation with Gurukrpa. He had is one eye on Gurukrpa and his other eye on me. He stopped halfway through and he said, “What is this?” He said, “You are always playing with your nose and your mouth.” [Laughter] He said, “Go and wash your hands.”

When I had come back Gurukrpa had gone and Prabhupada was kind of laughing. I said, “I am sorry Srila Prabhupada.” I said, “It is just that somehow or another being clean is something of an artificial condition for the westerners.” [Laughter] I said, “I am learning.” At that time i was taking three baths a day. I would take a bath in the morning, one before the massage and another one at six o’clock at night. When i said, “I am learning.” Prabhupada said, “I do not know when you will learn.” [Laughter] So that was after a year and a half.

Devotional service is a very refined platform. To be a real devotee means to be beyond goodness, beyond being sattvic, you know vissuddha-sattva. So naturally people like us are inevitably going to make mistakes. So I realised that right at the very beginning of my tenure as Prabhupada’s servant that I am going to make a lot of mistakes here and I am going to commit offences. So what to do? One option is to not do the service then you won’t commit the offences. But then I thought that is not an option. Prabhupada needs the service and I really want to do it but then if I do it I am going to make offences and then I will get some reactions from that. I heard about previous servants who had become callous and started to take Prabhupada or the position as Prabhupada’s servant for granted – familiarity breeds contempt! They start making offences and then they leave the movement. So that wasn’t a very good prospect for me. I thought if I am going to continue doing this service I thought I am maybe going to end up blooping at the end of it. So I was thinking what is the solution?

Then I realised that you just have to be very, very humble. When you do your service you are going to make mistakes, you are going to commit offences. The only thing that saves you from the reactions is to be very, very humble – to be repentant, to recognise when you have done a mistake and rectify it somehow or the other and you begin that by apologising to the person that you have offended. I saw that time and again that when I did make mistakes – and sometimes really major ones I got relief by being apologetic and then working to rectify so that I didn’t make the same mistake again. Because if you made a mistake one time Prabhupada would forgive you but if you did it again then he would really start having doubts about your level of intelligence. And if you did it a third time he would really let you have it.

I committed offences on every level – minor, medium and major. The only way that I got over them was just to be very humble – just to be aware of the fact that I have done something wrong and apologise and then work to rectify that so that it didn’t happen again. So the same thing here: This is essential in devotional service that one has to be very humble in the execution of one’s duties, in the interactions that we have with other devotees and the interactions that we have with the deities and even with not just devotees but a devotee doesn’t like to be offensive or harsh in their dealings with anyone, even the karmis or even people that are inimical to a devotee. A devotee doesn’t have any bad feelings towards them – ajata-satru. They are friends to all living beings.

So we see that with Diti, with the Kumaras, with Jaya and Vijaya and with the Lord Himself. Everybody has got this very nice mood of forgiveness and regret if anything is being done which is not correct. So if we do that then we can get Krishna’s mercy. Then we can get the mercy of Lord Varaha, Lord Visnu and we can progress very steadily on the path back home back to Godhead. At least I thought that would be one lesson that we could learn from this lila of Lord Varaha. It is getting a little late.