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Nabhaga, the son of Nabhaga.
Ambarisha Maharaja and Durvasa Muni.
Vaivasvata Manu’s son, Nabhaga, had a son named Nabhaga, who lived for a long time at the place of his spiritual master. Since his brothers assumed that Nabhaga had accepted the vow of lifelong brahmacharya, they divided the property of their father among themselves, without providing him a share. Thus, when Nabhaga returned home and inquired, “My dear brothers, what have you kept as my portion of our father’s property?” they replied, “We have reserved our father himself as your rightful share.”
Nabhaga went to his father and said, “My elder brothers have given you as my share of the inheritance.”
The father replied, “My dear son, do not accept such cheating words, for I cannot be your property. Now, please hear me attentively. The descendents of Angira are about to perform a great sacrifice. But, in spite of their being very intelligent, on every sixth day they will become bewildered, and thus make mistakes while performing their duties. You should go to them and describe two Vedic mantras pertaining to Vaishvadeva. In this way, the great sages will become pleased with you, so that at the completion of the sacrifice, when they are departing for the heavenly planets, they will give you whatever wealth they had received as remuneration.”
Nabhaga acted according to his father’s advice, and as a result, the great rishis of the Angira dynasty gave him all of the wealth that they received as priestly remuneration before departing for the heavenly planets. At that time, a very black-complexioned person from the north came to Nabhaga and said, “All of the wealth from this sacrificial arena belongs to me.”
Nabhaga replied, “These riches were given to me by the descendents of Angira, and so they are mine.”
The black-looking person then suggested, “Let us go to your father and ask him to settle our disagreement.”
In this way, the matter was placed before Nabhaga, who then decided, “Whatever the great sages had offered in sacrifice was intended for Lord Shiva. Therefore, everything in the sacrificial arena certainly belongs to him.”
Accepting the words of his father, Nabhaga offered his obeisances to Lord Shiva and then said, “O worshipable lord, everything is yours. I bow my head before you with great respect and beg for your mercy.”
Lord Shiva replied, “Whatever your father has said is correct. However, since you have cheerfully accepted his verdict, I will allow you to take all of the wealth that was left aside by the brahmanas.”
After saying this, Lord Shiva, who had come just to test Nabhaga, disappeared from that place. The son of Nabhaga was an exalted devotee of the Lord named Maharaja Ambarisha. Although King Ambarisha achieved the rule of the entire earth, consisting of seven islands, and thus possessed practically unlimited opulence, he did not care at all for that exalted position. He knew very well that such material things, like that which is imagined in dreams, will ultimately be destroyed. Indeed, due to his unflinching devotion for the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the Lord’s devotees, Maharaja Ambarisha considered the entire universe to be no more significant than a stone.
King Ambarisha always engaged his mind in meditating upon the lotus feet of Krishna, and his words in describing the glories of the Lord. He engaged his hands in cleaning the Lord’s temple; his ears in hearing Krishna-katha; and his eyes in seeing the Krishna-murti, as well as the holy places that are associated with the Lord’s pastimes. Maharaja Ambarisha engaged his sense of touch in touching the bodies of the Lord’s devotees, he engaged his nose in smelling the tulasi leaves offered at the lotus feet of the Lord, and he engaged his tongue in tasting the Lord’s prasada. He engaged his legs in walking to the temple and other holy places; he engaged his head in bowing down before the Lord; and he engaged all of his desires in serving the Supreme Personality of Godhead, twenty-four hours a day.
Indeed, Maharaja Ambarisha engaged himself so completely in devotional service that he became fully attached to the Lord, and detached from all desires for personal sense gratification. While performing his duties as a king, Maharaja Ambarisha offered all the results of his activities to the Supreme Lord, Who is the supreme enjoyer.
Although, for the benefit of his kingdom, Maharaja Ambarisha performed elaborate sacrifices, under the supervision of great personalities such as Vasishtha, Asita and Gautama- internally he always engaged in the devotional service of the Lord, as previously described. Even the citizens within Maharaja Ambarisha’s kingdom were accustomed to hearing and chanting about the glorious activities of the Supreme Lord, and thus they never aspired for anything else, not even heavenly elevation. Indeed, those who are saturated with the transcendental happiness of rendering service unto the Supreme Lord are uninterested even in the achievements of great mystics, for such things do not enhance the bliss that is felt by the devotees who always think of Krishna within the core of their hearts.
Once upon a time, Maharaja Ambarisha observed the vow of Ekadashi and Dvadashi for one year, along with his equally qualified wife. In the month of Kartika, when the vow was completed, Maharaja Ambarisha fasted for three nights, and then, after bathing in the River Yamuna at Madhuvana, he worshiped the Deity by performing the mahabhisheka. First of all, the king bathed the Deity with all paraphernalia, and then he dressed the Lord in fine clothing, ornaments and flower garlands.
Thereafter, Maharaja Ambarisha gave sixty crores cows, with gold-plated horns and silver-plated hooves, in charity to the brahmanas, and satisfied all the other guests that had arrived at his house. All of these cows were mild in nature, young and beautiful, and were accompanied by their calves.
After this, Maharaja Ambarisha sumptuously fed the brahmanas. Then, when he saw that the brahmanas were fully satisfied, he prepared to observe the end of Ekadashi by breaking his fast, with their permission. Just at this time, however, the powerful mystic, Durvasa Muni, appeared on the scene as an uninvited guest.
After standing up to receive the great sage, Maharaja Ambarisha offered him a nice seat and all kinds of paraphernalia for his worship. Then, after sitting at Durvasa Muni’s feet, Maharaja Ambarisha humbly requested him to eat. Durvasa Muni gladly accepted the invitation, but first, so that he could perform his ritualistic duties, he went to the River Yamuna. After dipping into the water, Durvasa Muni began meditating upon the impersonal Brahman, and due to remaining in samadhi, he did not return for a long time.
Meanwhile, because only one muhurta remained before the Ekadashi-parana of the Dvadasi day, it was imperative to break the fast immediately. In this dangerous situation, Maharaja Ambarisha consulted the learned brahmanas and then said, “It is certainly a great offense to transgress the rules of respectful behavior toward the brahmanas. On the other hand, if I do not break my fast within the allotted time, there will be a flaw in the observance of my vow. Therefore, O brahmanas, if you think it to be proper, I shall break the fast by drinking water.”
After consulting the brahmanas, Maharaja Ambarisha made up his mind in this way, for according to their opinion, drinking water can either be accepted as eating, or not eating. After drinking some water, Maharaja Ambarisha absorbed himself in meditation upon the Supreme Personality of Godhead within his heart, while awaiting Durvasa Muni’s return.
When his noontime duties were finished, Durvasa Muni returned from the Yamuna, and so Maharaja Ambarisha received him with all respect. However, by dint of his mystic power, Durvasa Muni could understand that King Ambarisha drank some water without his permission. The sage was very hungry, and due to feeling himself neglected, he became so enraged that his whole body trembled and his face became contorted, with frowning eyebrows.
As Maharaja Ambarisha stood before him with folded hands, Durvasa Muni angrily chastised him: “Oh, just see the behavior of this cruel man! He cannot be a devotee of Lord Vishnu, because, being proud of his material opulence and position, he considers himself to be God. Ambarisha, you have invited Me to eat as a guest, but instead of feeding me, you have eaten first. Because of your misbehavior, I shall now do something to punish you!”
His face red with rage, Durvasa Muni pulled out a bunch of hair from his head, and with it he created a demon that resembled the blazing fire at the time of devastation. With trident in hand, this blazing creature made the surface of the earth tremble with each step as he came toward Maharaja Ambarisha. And yet, the king, who fully depended upon the Supreme Personality of Godhead, did not move an inch from his position, for he did not become the slightest bit disturbed by seeing the fearful demon. Then, suddenly, due to a previous order of the Supreme Lord, the Sudarshana chakra arrived at that spot and burnt the demon to ashes, to protect Maharaja Ambarisha.
When Durvasa Muni saw how his attempt at retaliation had failed, and that the Sudarshana Chakra was approaching him next, he became extremely frightened. Although Durvasa Muni swiftly fled in all directions, just to save his life, the disc of the Supreme Lord practically touched his back as it chased him, like a blazing forest fire pursuing a snake.
In the hopes of protecting himself, Durvasa Muni fled everywhere, throughout the sky, over the surface of the earth, into caves, within the ocean, and throughout the planetary systems of the three worlds. But, wherever he went, Durvasa saw the unbearable effulgence of the Sudarshana chakra following him close behind. Finally, when he could find no other shelter, he fearfully approached Lord Brahma and pleaded, “O my lord, kindly protect me from the blazing Sudarshana chakra that has been sent by the Supreme Personality of Godhead.”
Lord Brahma replied, “At the end of dvi-parardha, by the indication of His eyebrows, Lord Vishnu vanquishes the entire universe. Even Lord Shiva and I, as well as great sages headed by Bhrigu, surrender unto that Supreme Personality of Godhead by bowing down our heads and carrying out His orders, for the benefit of all living entities.”
After being thus denied shelter by Lord Brahma, Durvasa Muni, who was greatly afflicted by the Sudarshana chakra, next approached Lord Shiva in Kailash.
However, Lord Shiva replied to the harassed Muni’s supplications: “My dear son, neither I, Lord Brahma, nor anyone else can exhibit any power to compete with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, under whose direction innumerable universes and their inhabitants come into existence and then are again annihilated. Therefore, you should approach the Supreme Lord to gain relief, for this Sudarshana chakra is intolerable even for me. I am sure that Lord Vishnu will be kind enough to bestow all good fortune upon you.”
Thereafter, Durvasa Muni went to Vaikuntha-dhama, where Lord Narayana eternally resides along with His consort, the goddess of fortune, Lakshmi. His entire body trembling, and scorched by the heart of the Sudarshana chakra, Durvasa Muni fell at Lord Narayana’s lotus feet and begged, “O infallible, unlimited Supreme Lord, You are the maintainer of the entire universe, and the only objective for the devotees. I am certainly a great offender, but please give me protection. Being ignorant of Your unlimited prowess, I have dared to offend Your dearmost devotee.”
“My dear Lord, You are capable of doing anything. Even if a person is a candidate for hellish punishment, You can deliver him simply by awakening within his heart Your holy name. Therefore, kindly save me from the reaction to my offense.”
The Supreme Lord relied, “O brahmana, you should know that I am completely under the control of My devotees, and thus I am not at all independent. What to speak of My devotees, even those who are the devotees of My devotees are very dear to Me. Without such pure devotees, for whom I am the only destination, I do not desire to enjoy My supreme opulence and transcendental bliss. Because such devotees give up their homes, wives, children, wealth and even their very lives to serve Me, without any desire for material remuneration, in this life or the next, how can I give them up at any time?”
“Just as chaste women bring their gentle husbands under control by service, the pure devotees who are completely attached to Me within the core of their hearts, bring Me under their full control. Such devotees are not even interested in the four kinds of Vaikuntha liberation, and so what to speak of the perishable happiness that is obtained from elevation to higher planets. The pure devotees are always within the core of My heart, just as I am always within the hearts of My pure devotees. They do not know anything but Me, and I also do not know anyone but them.”
“O brahmana, I wish you all good fortune, and so let Me advise you for your own protection. You should immediately go to Maharaja Ambarisha, for only if you can satisfy him will there ever be peace for you. When someone employs his so-called prowess against a devotee, it simply reacts to harm the aggressor. Because of this, even though knowledge and austerity are certainly meritorious, when they are acquired by a brahmana who is not gentle, they can become most dangerous.”
After receiving this advice from the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Durvasa Muni immediately went to Maharaja Ambarisha, and after falling onto the ground, he clasped the king’s lotus feet. Maharaja Ambarisha felt very ashamed that a brahmana was touching his feet, and when he saw Durvasa about to offer him prayers, he became even more embarrassed.
To relieve the awkward situation, the merciful king addressed the Sudarshana chakra as follows: “O great weapon of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, having thousands of spokes, you are the original vision of the Supreme Lord and so I offer my respectful obeisances unto you. This entire material world has been created by your activities, and by your effulgence, which is full of religious principles, the darkness of the universe is dissipated.”
“O protector of the universe, you are engaged by the Supreme Lord as His all-powerful weapon for killing the envious demons. Now, for the benefit of our entire dynasty, please be merciful to this poor brahmana. If our family has ever given in charity, performed any sacrifices, or properly carried out our occupational duties, I wish that in exchange for the merit that has been earned, this brahmana may become freed from your burning heat.”
After hearing Maharaja Ambarisha’s prayers, the Sudarshana chakra became peaceful and refrained from burning Durvasa Muni any further. The brahmana was certainly extremely delighted at being released from all danger. Thus, he praised Maharaja Ambarisha: “My dear king, today I have experienced the greatness of the devotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, for in spite of my having offended you, you have prayed for my good fortune. For those who are absorbed in their personal relationship with the Supreme Lord, what is impossible to do, and what is impossible to give up?”
“O King, because you have overlooked my offenses and saved my life, I am very much obliged to you.”
Maharaja Ambarisha had been standing in the same place, and had forgone all food and drink, except water, as he waited one full year for Durvasa Muni’s return. Then, after falling at his feet, Maharaja Ambarisha further satisfied Durvasa Muni by making him sumptuously eat innumerable varieties of very palatable food.
Finally, with great affection, the brahmana requested Ambarisha, “My dear King, please have your meal. At first, I thought of you as an ordinary human being, but now I can understand that you are the most exalted devotee of the Lord. Therefore, simply by seeing you, by touching your feet, and by talking with you, I have become very obliged. Because of your exalted behavior, the people of this world will eternally chant your glories, and the women of heaven will sing of your spotless character.”
Thereafter, Durvasa Muni, who had become highly satisfied in all respects, took permission from Maharaja Ambarisha and departed, and while going through the airways to Brahmaloka, he continuously glorified the king. After seeing how Durvasa had become released from the danger of being burned, Maharaja Ambarisha could understand how powerful he had become by the grace of the Supreme Lord. Still, he did not take any credit for himself, for he knew fully well that everything had been done by the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
After some time, Maharaja Ambarisha decided to retire from active life, and so he divided his property among his sons, who were as qualified as he. Accepting the order of vanaprastha, he went to the forest so that he could fully concentrate his mind upon the Supreme Lord.