~ Jagad Guru Chris Butler (Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa)

Andhra-Vyasa Part II

As published in The Harmonist (Sree Sajjanatoshani)
Edited by Paramahamsa Paribrajakacharyya Sri Srimad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Maharaj

FEBRUARY 14, 1935

One day when Pothan was engaged in his work of writing the Bhagabatam, his son Mallan was ploughing the land in view of his father. At this moment Sreenath was passing by his house on his way to the court of the king, seated in a beautifully ornamented and valuable palanquin. It may be noted that Sreenath was an adept in certain supernatural powers by virtue of his meditative practices. To show to Pothan, by means of his supernatural power, his own higher position and thereby to lower the latter in the estimation of the people, Sreenath had recourse to one such by asking the two palanquin bearers, who were supporting the front side of the palanquin, to leave their posts, but contriving at the same time that the palanquin would move on as before in their absence. Pothan could read the mind of Sreenath, and in order to giving a fitting reply to humble his pride, he asked his son to let go one of the two bullocks from the yoke, but the ploughing was carried on with one bullock, as before. This tit-for-tat excited Sreenath to remove the other two palanquin bearers from behind the conveyance, but the palanquin continued to go on suspended in air. Herein also Pothan was not a bit slow in his reply. He asked his son to remove the other bullock from the yoke and made the ploughing to go on as before in the absence of both the bullocks. This incident humbled the pride of Sreenath through his possession of supernatural powers. But this rude shock did not deter him from carrying on his malicious intrigues against Pothan. In the chapter of "Gajendramokshana" of eighth skandha of the Andhra Bhagabata, Pothan narrated that Sree Vishnu on hearing the pitiful and afflicted wailings of Gajendra left Vaikuntha all in a hurry to save the devotee who had surrendered himself to His feet and that He was in such anxious haste that He did not care either to speak with Lakshmidevi or to take His Club or Chakra or to equip Himself with proper dress.

These lines of the Andhra Bhagabatam were too much for the puppy brain of the king's poet Sreenath who made cutting and sarcastic remarks against Pothan, because he could not make himself believe that the lamentation of a devotee could bring about such a perplexed state of conduct in Sree Vishnu Himself. Pothan heard them, but for the time being did not think of giving the reply, although he was on the look out for one such in the shape of a cut and dry matter of fact incident. And he had not to wait long. One day when Sreenath was engaged in his mid-day meal, Pothan informed him that his (Sreenath's) son had fallen into a deep well nearby. The news had its forcible effect and Sreenath at once jumped up from his seat and ran to the well in such anxious haste for saving his son that he had no time for caring about anything else viz., securing the ropes, men or other things necessary for his purpose. Pothan was not now slow to address this taunt to Sreenath, "Now, sir, by your own conduct you have provided me with an apt reply to your sarcastic remarks. Your anxiety to save your son from the well in all haste without caring to be provided with the means for his rescue is a fit reply to your observation as to how Sree Vishnu could run to the rescue of Gajendra in distress, forgetful of Himself. Are you any longer in doubt about the conduct of Sree Vishnu? Besides your love for your son is infinitely less than that of Lord Vishnu for His devotee in distress." This telling reply of Pothan brought Sreenath to his senses, who now understood his mistakes and thenceforward never raised his finger again against Pothan.

It is true that the Andhra Bhagabata is a rendering in the Andhra language of the original Sanskrit text. But it is not an exact translation in the strict sense of the term. Endowed with heavenly powers, Pothan was manifested in the book a poetical genius which has made it an unrivalled treasure among the spiritual scriptures. When Pothan was writing the chapter on "Gajendramokshana", the flow of his poetry received by chance a set-back with the result that in spite of all his best efforts that he could bring to bear on the subject, he could not fill up one of the lines in the meter to his satisfaction. When the poem was still unfinished, he had to leave his desk for a while. On his return he found to his great surprise and satisfaction that the line in the poem had been filled up in his absence. Rumour goes that the Lord Himself appeared I the guise of Pothan and filled up the blank in his Divine poem. An incident of similar Divine favour is also reported to be attached to Jayadeva, the great amorous poet of Bengal. Opinions may vary as to the truth of such traditions, but this much at least can be safely assured and believed that nothing is at all impossible in the Leela of the Supreme Lord. All limited empiric attempts to measure the extent of the Pastimes of the Supreme Lord are nothing short of the delirious outbursts of mad men.

The short life-sketch of a devotee of Pothan's type shows, in bright contrast of the ordinary run of people of this world, how the course of a devotee of Godhead is an easy-going one, how he is saved from all extraneous pernicious influences by the Graceful Hand of God, how, inspite of any the least exertion on his part, all supernatural powers flock to him, and how all his wants are spontaneously met without his asking for the same. This narrative, not drawn from the fertile imaginary brain of men but based on the actual facts of life, has its own intrinsic worth to the minds of all religiously disposed readers who, it is hoped, will not fail to draw the necessary healthy inspiration there from.