“The king went and received blessings and then paid so much honor and respect after that. When he saw Rama, he experienced a happiness one hundred times that of Brahman realization.” (Janaki Mangala, Chand 5.2)
नृप गहे पाय असीस पाई मान आदर अति किएँ।
अवलोकि रामहि अनुभवत मनु ब्रह्मसुख सौगुन किएँ।।5।।
nr̥pa gahe pāya asīsa pā’ī māna ādara ati ki’em̐ |
avaloki rāmahi anubhavata manu brahmasukha sauguna ki’em̐ ||5||
He plays different roles over the course of an existence, which is quite long. More difficult than calculating the self-employment tax for a business with income in a year, Shri Krishna provides hints on how to reach the exact number in the Bhagavad-gita.
अहर् यद् ब्रह्मणो विदुः
ते ऽहो-रात्र-विदो जनाः
ahar yad brahmaṇo viduḥ
te ‘ho-rātra-vido janāḥ
“By human calculation, a thousand ages taken together is the duration of Brahma’s one day. And such also is the duration of his night.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.17)
Lord Brahma is the creator. The first living entity, Svayambhu, emerging from the lotus stem from the lotus-like navel of Vishnu, who is the origin of everything. Brahma’s day is unimaginably long, and the host of beings comes and goes during Brahma’s lifetime.
Mahadeva is in a higher category. Though he is responsible for the destruction to take place at the designated time, he is not affected. He is a realized soul whose favorite activity is meditating on the lotus feet of Vishnu’s non-different form of Shri Rama.
Mahadeva requires no further realization. There is nothing anyone can teach him. Rather, he is the origin of a sampradaya, which is a disciplic succession, in the worship of the personal God. In this way, man wastes time searching for God and the origin of the universe through research work. True knowledge in this sense can only be passed down; it cannot be deciphered through the process of elimination spanning millions of years of recorded observation.
2. King Janaka
He is one of the most famous kings in the history of the world. One appearing in a long line of rulers with the same name, this Janaka is known as Shiradhvaja. He was the king of Videha and he lived up to the name. He was bodiless in the sense that nothing from the external covering interfered with his meditation.
He was completely realized in the self. Contrary to the popular stereotype, this did not require abandoning home and responsibility. Janaka lived with the renounced spirit while carrying out his prescribed duties. Nothing was lacking on either end: responsibility or yoga.
3. Shukadeva Gosvami
He emerged from the womb of his mother after a long time. He was a full-grown human being. This seems like a mythological story passed on for symbolic significance, but Shukadeva has so many activities attributed to him, witnessed by others, that it would be a shame not to accept everything as fact.
He was born a liberated soul. He was considered more advanced than his father, the venerable Vyasadeva. Shukadeva walked around without clothes on, not caring what anyone thought. One time women who were bathing outside witnessed him passing by and were not ashamed, since they knew he would not view anyone based on their bodily features. With Vyasadeva, on the other hand, they were more reserved.
It is interesting to see that even with these most advanced souls, there is still further immersion in spiritual life. Mahadeva takes great pleasure in hearing the pastimes of Shri Rama, which are found in many Vedic texts, including the Ramayana of Valmiki. Mahadeva does not require further realization or inspiration. This means that he meditates on Rama simply because of the increasing bliss it brings.
King Janaka, known for his dispassion, once found a baby girl in the ground. The girl was still alive, and Janaka held the utmost affection for her. This did not violate the “Videha” title since the baby was Lakshmi Devi, the goddess of fortune.
The association of God and those close to Him brings bliss even to the liberated souls. When Janaka later met Rama and His younger brother Lakshmana, Goswami Tulsidas says that the feeling of bliss in the king was one hundred times that achieved through realization of the impersonal spiritual energy, Brahman.
The same was true with Shukadeva, who despite not requiring anything in life took to becoming a great orator of Shrimad Bhagavatam. His most famous association with that Purana took place as a conversation with the dying king named Parikshit. That exchange revealed both how to live and how to die.
The beauty of pure devotion is that it is neither a supplement nor a passing stage to the realization matching the potential for intelligence in the human being. Bhakti is a way of life, and an eternal one. It brings bliss to every person on the progressive path towards liberation, and even after the achievement it continues to be the source of inspiration and joy, as discovered in the repeated chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Veil of illusion uncover,
From chanting routine discover.
That bliss more and more arriving,
Rather than for temporary striving.
Even liberated souls this path taking,
Like Shuka Bhagavata-katha making.
And dispassionate king by Sita caught,
And Mahadeva who sampradaya brought.
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