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Svayambhuva Manu Protected by Lord Yagya.
Gajendra Protected by Lord Hari.
Svayambhuva Manu was by nature unattached to the enjoyment of the senses. Thus, he gave up his kingdom and went to a forest on the banks of the river Sunanda, along with his wife, Shatarupa. While standing upon only one leg, Svayambhuva Manu performed great austerities for one hundred years, and while doing so, he offered the following prayers: “Although the Supreme Lord constantly watches the activities of this world, no one sees Him. Still, one should not conclude that because no one sees the Lord, He therefore does not exist.”
“Everyone should worship the Paramatma, who always stays within the heart of the individual soul, for He is his well-wishing friend. Because the Lord has created this cosmic manifestation by His external energy, one may think that the universe has been created, maintained, and annihilated directly by Him. The fact is, however, that the Lord remains forever within His spiritual energy, and is untouched by the activities of the material energy. The devotees who follow in the footsteps of the Lord are also not entangled by the modes of material nature, in spite of acting in various ways. As the supreme teacher of human society, the Lord inaugurates the real path of religion, while simultaneously enacting His own pastimes. Therefore, everyone should become His follower, to become free from the bondage of material existence.”
While Svayambhuva Manu was in trance, chanting these verses, the Rakshasas and asuras, being very hungry, rushed at him in the hopes of eating him. The Supreme Lord, who had appeared as Yagyamurti, the son of Ruchi and Akuti, observed this. Accompanied by His sons, who were called the Yamas, as well as the other demigods, Lord Yagya immediately appeared upon the scene and killed all of the Rakshasas and demons.
Thereafter, Lord Yagya took the post of Indra and began ruling the heavenly kingdom.
The son of Agni named Svarochisa became the second Manu, and during his reign, the son of Yagya named Rochana took the post of Indra. Through the womb of his wife, Tushita, a famous rishi named Vedashira begot the avatara named Vibhu. Lord Vibhu remained a lifelong brahmachari, and taught 88,000 rishis how to attain the transcendental position.
King Priyavrata’s son Uttama became the third Manu and Satyajit was selected to become Indra, the king of heaven. In this manvantara, the Lord appeared as Satyasena, the son of Dharma and his wife Sunrita. Along with his friend Satyajit, Satyasena killed all of the sinful Yakshas, Rakshasas, and ghosts who gave pain to other living beings.
Uttama’s brother, Tamasa became the fourth Manu, and Trishikha was awarded the post of Indra. During this period, the Lord appeared as Hari, the son of Harimedha and his wife, Harini. Lord Hari saved His devotee Gajendra from the mouth of a crocodile, and this story is narrated as follows.
The Trikuta Mountain, which is 10,000 yojanas high, and of the same length and breadth, has three principal peaks that are made of iron, silver and gold. Being surrounded by the Milk Ocean, the Trikuta Mountain is very beautifully situated and its numerous secondary peaks are nicely decorated with trees, shrubs and waterfalls, and are full of jewels and minerals. Because the earth at the foot of the mountain is constantly washed by the waves of the Milk Ocean, it contains a great quantity of emeralds.
The inhabitants of the higher planets, such as the Siddhas, Charanas, Gandharvas, Vidyadharas and Apsaras go there to sport in the mountain caves, and thus the whole area is filled with the sounds of merriment. The valleys at the foot of Trikuta Mountain are the playgrounds of numerous wild animals, and in the gardens that are maintained by the demigods, varieties of birds are always heard chirping very pleasantly. There are also many rivers and lakes in the area whose shores are covered by small gems that resemble grains of sand. All of these lakes are crystal clear, and when the consorts of the demigods bathe in them, their bodies perfume the water and breeze, thus enriching the whole atmosphere.
In a valley of the Trikuta Mountain, there is a garden named Ritumat that is owned by Varuna and serves as a sporting ground for the celestial damsels. All kinds of fruit trees and flowers grow there in all seasons, so that the humming of intoxicated bees and the very melodious singing of birds is always to be heard. Within the garden is a very large lake that is filled with shining golden lotus flowers and crowded with swans, karandavas, chakravakas, cranes and other water birds. Because of its being agitated by the movements of the fish and tortoises, the surface of the water is decorated with pollen that falls from the lotus flowers. The shore of this lake is abundantly adorned with all varieties of flowering trees, so that with the mountain towering overhead, the whole scene is very beautifully decorated.
Once upon a time, Gajendra, the leader of the elephants, who lived in the forest there, was walking toward the lake, along with his female companions and young ones, and while going, he crushed many plants, thickets and trees, not caring for their piercing thorns. Simply by catching Gajendra’s scent, all of the other ferocious animals, such as the lions, tigers, sharabhas, and great serpents all fled in fear. Thus, by his mercy, the smaller animals could loiter nearby without anxiety.
While walking, Gajendra made the earth around the Trikuta mountain tremble, due to the enormous weight of his body. He was perspiring heavily, liquor dripped from his mouth, and his vision was clouded due to intoxication. Being very afflicted by thirst, when Gajendra entered the lake and thoroughly bathed, he became relieved from all fatigue. By drinking the cold, clear and nectar-like water, which was mixed with the pollen of lotus flowers, Gajendra became fully satisfied. Like a human being that lacks spiritual knowledge, and thus becomes too attached to family members, Gajendra had his wives and children bathe and drink, and as they did so, he laboriously sprayed them with water through his trunk.
Suddenly, by the arrangement of providence, a powerful crocodile became angry with Gajendra and attacked one of his legs within the water. Although Gajendra was very strong and tried his best to pull his leg free, he was unable to get out of the clutches of the crocodile. When the elephant’s wives saw him in that dangerous condition, they began to cry piteously, and although the other elephants tried to free Gajendra by grasping him from behind, because of the crocodile’s great strength, they were unable to do so. The elephant and the crocodile continued to fight for one thousand years, pulling one another in and out of the water, and the demigods who watched as spectators were highly amazed to see the contest.
After struggling for many, many years, Gajendra’s mental and physical strength became diminished, whereas the crocodile, being a creature of the water, increased in strength and enthusiasm. Being out his natural habitat, the elephant could not get any food, whereas the crocodile, being at home within the water, had no such difficulty and thus he flourished. Seeing himself in a helpless condition, by the will of providence, Gajendra realized that he could not save himself and thus he became extremely afraid of being killed.
Finally, after considering his position for a long time, Gajendra reached the following decision: “My friends and relatives cannot do anything to rescue me from this danger. Because this crocodile has attacked me by the will of providence, I shall seek shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Who is the resort of everyone, even the greatest of personalities. Although the serpent of time endlessly chases everyone, ready to swallow them, if one fearfully takes shelter of the Supreme Lord, then the Lord will give him protection, for even death runs away in fear of Him.”
Having made this decision, Gajendra fixed his mind in his heart and then chanted the following mantra, which he had learned in his previous birth as King Indradyumna, and which he remembered by the grace of the Krishna.
Gajendra prayed, “I offer my respectful obeisances unto the Supreme Person, Who is the root cause of all existence. The Supreme Lord is the ultimate platform upon which everything rests, He is the ingredient by which everything has become manifested, and yet He is self-sufficient in all regards. May that Supreme Personality of Godhead give me protection, for I am taking shelter at His lotus feet.”
“An artist onstage, being dressed in various costumes and dancing with intricate motions cannot be understood by the audience. Similarly, the activities and features of the Supreme Artist cannot be properly understood even by great sages and demigods.”
“My Lord, You are the actual observer of the objectives of sensual activities, and without Your direction, the living entity cannot take even one step forward. The conditioned soul wants to enjoy material happiness, but unless You give him directions, he cannot make progress in pursuing his shadowy objective. Since a result gives a glimpse of the cause, one accepts this material world as real because it is something like the shadow of Your existence.”
“Because an animal such as I have surrendered unto You, certainly You will release me from this dangerous position. Indeed, being extremely merciful, as the Paramatma within my heart, You are incessantly trying to deliver me. May the unlimitedly merciful Lord bestow upon me the benediction of liberation from my present danger, and also from the materialistic way of life.”
“I know that pure devotees never ask for such benedictions, since they are satisfied simply to hear and chant the Lord’s glories. I am in danger, however, and thus I pray to the Lord for deliverance and offer my respectful obeisances unto Him. Actually, I do not wish to continue living, even after being released from this crocodile’s attack. What is the use of an elephant’s body, which is externally and internally full of ignorance? I simply desire liberation from this covering of ignorance, and thus I offer my obeisances unto the Supreme Lord, Who is eternally situated in the transcendental position.”
While praying, Gajendra did not refer to any specific person, although he clearly addressed the supreme controller and authority. Because Gajendra did not invoke any of the demigods, none of them came forward to help him. Being the all-pervading Supreme Soul, however, when Lord Hari understood Gajendra’s awkward position, He appeared there, riding upon the back of Garuda and surrounded by all of the demigods, who were engaged in worshiping Him. The demigods could have rescued Gajendra, but because he had specifically prayed to the Supreme Lord, they felt a little offended. This was itself an offense, and so when the Lord arrived, all of the demigods went and offered Him prayers, so that their offense might be excused.
Gajendra was feeling intense pain, but when he saw Lord Narayana arrive in the sky, wielding His disc, he immediately plucked a lotus flower with his trunk. Then, while holding it as an offering, he said, “O my Lord Narayana, master of the universe, O Supreme Personality of Godhead, I offer my respectful obeisances unto You.”
Thereafter, the Supreme Lord, Hari quickly got down from the back of Garuda and pulled Gajendra out of the water, along with the crocodile. Then, in the presence of all the demigods, the Lord severed the crocodile’s mouth from its body with His Sudarshana chakra, thus saving the life of the elephant king. The demigods glorified the Lord’s magnanimous pastime, while showering flowers upon both He and Gajendra. Drums were sounded in heaven, and the Gandharvas joyfully sang and danced, while the Siddhas and Charanas offered prayers.
The Gandharva king, Huhu had been cursed by Devala Muni to become a crocodile. Now, after having been delivered by the Lord, he assumed his original celestial form as a Gandharva. Fully understanding the mercy that had been bestowed upon him, King Huhu offered respectful obeisances unto the Lord and recited suitable prayers in His glorification. King Huhu then circumambulated the Lord, and after once again offering his obeisances, he returned to Gandharvaloka, freed from all sinful reactions.
Gajendra had formerly been a Vaishnava and the king of the Pandya country in Dravida-desha (South India) named Indradyumna. Having retired from family life, King Indradyumna went to the Malaya Hills, where he lived in a small cottage and practiced austerities.
Once, while Maharaja Indradyumna was observing a vow of silence and was worshiping the Supreme Lord in a trance of ecstatic meditation, the great sage Agastya arrived at his ashram, surrounded by his disciples. When the rishi saw how Indradyumna remained silent, as if avoiding the etiquette of offering him a reception, he became very angry and cursed the king as follows: “This Indradyumna is not at all gentle, for he has dared to insult a brahmana. May he therefore enter into a life of darkness by receiving the dull, dumb body of an elephant.”
After cursing King Indradyumna, Agastya Rishi departed, along with his disciples. Being a devotee, King Indradyumna considered the curse to be the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and thus he accepted it as welcome. Although he thereafter received the body of an elephant, because of his previous devotional service, Maharaja Indradyumna was able to remember how to worship and offer prayers to the Lord.
Because Gajendra had been touched by the Supreme Lord, he immediately became free of all material bondage and ignorance, and received sarupya-mukti, the same four-armed form as the Lord.
Then, while being praised by the demigods, Lord Hari got up onto Garuda’s back and addressed Gajendra with great pleasure in the presence of all.
Lord Hari said, “Those who rise up from bed early in the morning and concentrate their minds upon your form- this Trikuta mountain and its beautiful surroundings, including the lake- My very pleasing abode, Svetadvipa, which is within the Milk Ocean- My various bodily features and transcendental ornaments, such as My mark of Shrivatsa, the Kaustubha gem, My Vaijayanti garland, My Kaumodaki club, My Sudarshana chakra, My Panchajanya conch shell, as well as My carrier, Garuda- My various incarnations- and the Goddess of Fortune, Lakshmi- shall become freed from all sinful reactions.”
“My dear devotee, unto those who rise up from bed early in the morning and offer Me the prayers that you recited, I will give an eternal residence in the spiritual world at the end of their lives.”
After saying this, the Lord blew His Panchajanya conch shell, and then departed for His transcendental abode, taking Gajendra with Him.