Guiding Light: Bhagavata Saptaham

Guiding Light: Bhagavata Saptaham

Prof S AinavoluUpdated: Wednesday, May 08, 2024, 07:04 PM IST
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Bhagavata refers to the stories of divine incarnations and that of devotees. It has twelve skandas (cantos). The story of occurrence of Bhagavatam itself is poignant, and emotionally loaded.

After the Mahabharata’s Kurukshetra war in which Pandavas side wins, Ashwaddhama the warrior friend of Duryodhana and guru-putra of both sides, desired to eliminate Pandavas. Instead he killed five sons of Pandavas for which he was to be chased and caught. When cornered, he fires the most powerful Brahma named weapon, which had to be neutralized by similar weapon by Arjuna. Due to the heat and turbidity, the baby and the only nextgen of Pandavas, who lost his father Abhimanyu in Kurukshetra war almost loses his life in the womb of mother Uttara. Shri Krishna helped the child survive. He was Pareekshit.

When Pandavas wanted to ‘move on’, Yudhishtira coronates Pareekshit and they ascend up through ‘great journey’ called ‘Maha Prasthanam’. Pareekshit was blessed by four sons and when they were young, he went for hunting wild animals, became thirsty, and requested a sage called Shameeka. As the sage was in deep meditation, he did not respond for which the king takes offence and put a dead snake as garland. Shrungi, the son of the sage was told of the incident, he became sad at the humiliation meted to his father, and cursed the king that he shall be killed by the bite of snake named Takshaka.

Upon alerted by Shameeka’s disciple about the impending death in seven days, Pareekshit requested the ‘wise mandali’ about the mitigation. Only recourse of losing the fear and attaining the better lokas was told as listening to the stories of one’s ancestors. At that time sage Vyasa’s son Shuka+Acharya visits the place. He was humbly requested by the Pareekshit, and Sage Shuka narrated the Bhagavatam which he learned from his father Veda Vyasa, who composed it.

The entire narration happened in seven days, and hence the term ‘Saptaham’. Since, then the tradition of narrating the Bhagavatam in seven days started, with typical three hour sessions happening. Three hours is significant from the point of view of ‘Asana Siddhi’, without moving and breaks, conducting the narration.

Tradition continues. Many generations of Bhaagavats narrated the stories of Almighty, and many more shall continue to do.

Prof S Ainavolu is a Mumbai-based teacher of Tradition and Management. Views are personal. https://www.linkedin.com/in/s-ainavolu-6831b724/ . https://www.ainavolu.in/blog

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