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Darshan with Swami Krishnananda during 1997
by Swami Krishnananda

24. Holi, Mount Meru, Sati

(Darshan given on March 11th, 1997.)

Swamiji: We have varieties of festivals, and each one has its own shape. This [Holi] is some strange thing. They throw coloured water on your face if you go out. I was trying to find out why they are doing like that. They say, people never change their clothes. They are very miserly. They use the same cloth for three years, so once in a year at least you must change the clothes, so they throw some colour on your clothes, and then you have to throw them away and put on a new cloth. It is a compulsion to wear fresh clothes – that is one thing.

Secondly, it lifts the usual social ban on behaviour. How long can you ban a person? He is unhappy about it. Every individual requires some freedom, but everywhere you have got some restriction on your freedom: You cannot do this; you should do this only. Everywhere you will find this kind of thing. Whether it is administrative or social, financial, economic, whatever it is, there is some restriction. This lifts it for one day at least so that you become wild with your original nature. The original nature of the human being is being wild, wild. They say originally the human being is wild, but he doesn't look wild because of some restrictions.

There was a great political philosopher called Thomas Hobbes. Thomas Hobbes – very famous. His doctrine is, every person is like a wolf basically, and he is always a wolf only; he cannot become better than that. If only the occasion arises, the nature of the wolf will manifest itself. So everywhere is a wolf only. The whole world is filled with wolves, and the wolves were not happy because it is very difficult: “You see, we are all scratching each other every day.” Some wolves joined together: “This is no good. We shall not quarrel like that. We shall have some wolves to form a system of management to control our behaviour. We will agree with them.” They say this is the beginning of government. Many wolves joined together and put a restriction on themselves so that it is good for them; otherwise, every day one wolf will attack another wolf. This is not a good thing. Then the few who were selected to administer the wolves said: “You are so large in number, we are few, so how will we manage you?” “Then we will give another set of wolves for the police and the army and all that. So these wolves will protect you against us.” This is the original contract theory of political government. It is a mutual agreement among wolves. But the whole point is, it is wolves.

Are we wolves, basically? You see, it depends upon how you encounter a person. You don't encounter a person properly. Very severely you oppose others, in every way. In every way you must oppose the person, a hundred percent; then the wolf comes up. Otherwise, if you oppose a little bit, it will be not sufficient. When everything goes, the real strength of the man comes up. That is the political theory of Thomas Hobbes. It is called the social contract theory. Government was created by people, by mutual agreement, for their own benefit, which amounts to saying something like democracy. Democracy is a mutual agreement.

A visitor: When did Holi originate?

Swamiji: Since ancient times, ancient. No date for that.

Visitor: I heard that Krishna, he was the first.

Swamiji: Even before that, even earlier. Krishna only followed that system, but it was much earlier also.

Visitor: Swamiji, can I ask you one question? Do you know where Siva took the poison? In which place? Where is this place that he ate it?

Swamiji: It is not on this earth.

Visitor: Really?

Swamiji: No. It is some heavenly event – heavenly event. It is a big story. When the gods and the demons of ancient mythology decided to become immortal and never die, they wanted to churn the ocean. It is not an ordinary ocean which we have here. It is a cosmic ocean. Churn it and extract nectar from the ocean. And they used the huge mountain called Meru Mountain as the churning rod. A rod is necessary to churn like this. And the rope was a huge snake, a poisonous snake. Not an ordinary snake – so big, as vast as the world itself. One side of the snake was held by the gods, and the other side was held by the demons. By chance, or as the case may be, the side of the mouth was held by the demons, and the side of the tail was held by the gods. They churned and churned and churned and churned and churned. When it was vigorously being churned, the snake emitted poison, deadly poison from the mouth. It choked the throat of everybody, and it came firstly to the demons because they were holding the mouth. Then they all prayed to Lord Siva: “What to do with this poison? It is suffocating. Please, O Lord, come and help us.” He drew all the poison into himself and swallowed it. It had not gone inside – in the neck only. When it was sticking at the neck, his consort, Parvati Devi, said, “Don't swallow it into the stomach. Otherwise, the whole world will be burnt because your stomach contains the whole universe and everybody will perish by this poison going inside your stomach. Please don't swallow it.” So Lord Siva would not allow the poison to go up because the gods would be affected, and he would not allow it to go down because human beings would be affected, so he held it in his neck only. Therefore, Lord Siva's neck became blue due to the intensity of the poison. So even today he is called 'blue-necked', and he is not allowing anybody else to suffer due to that. He kept it in his neck forever so that nobody is troubled. And he has got the power to hold it up. The snake cannot do anything to him, and he can digest all the poison. This is the old story in the Puranas – ancient history, ancient cosmic history, of which we have plenty in India. It is a mythological story.

Visitor: Is Meru Mountain in the Himalaya?

Swamiji: It is not in the Himalaya. It is the central backbone of the whole universe. You cannot see it with the eyes. You can only conceive it in your meditation. If you can imagine, you conceive the whole universe as a person, and the central backbone of the whole cosmos, which stabilises its existence, that is the Meru. It is not in the Himalayas.

Visitor: I heard that some great men, some yogins, they came to Himalayas in physical bodies. Ganda Baba, he came to Sumeru in a physical body. Is it truth?

Swamiji: That is only… Actually, Sumeru does not mean anything visible in the physical world. I told you, it is some spiritual concept. We can conceptually translate it into a visible form of it. We can conceive the whole body of an individual as the cosmos, and your spine may be compared in a way to the central Meru spine. As everything that is in the universe is inside you, and whatever is inside you is the universe, some kind of comparison can be made. But actually, in the true sense of the term, it is a cosmic concept, and it should not be brought down to the earth level. It is a highly spiritual notion. It is a metaphysical, philosophical, highly spiritual concept of the totality of the universe presided over by the highest consciousness – Lord Siva or whatever you call it.

Visitor: Sati's body was…

Swamiji: You are asking where she died?

Visitor: No. Where her heart… When Vishnu cut her body into fifty-one pieces…

Swamiji: No, it is not like that. He didn't cut the body of a living person. He cut the body of the dead person only. And this happened in Haridwar. There is a place called Daksha Prajapati on the bank of Ganga. This event of Sati burning herself happened in Haridwar. It is called Daksha Prajapati.

Daksha was the father-in-law of Siva, and in the assembly of Brahma, the Creator, all the gods were sitting, and Siva also was sitting. When Daksha entered the hall, all people stood up in honour, with salutations. But Siva did not get up. He sat. He did not bother that Daksha is entering the hall, so Daksha got insulted. He stood up and shouted. “Here is a shameless man,” he said, “to whom I gave my daughter, wrongly. He has no shame. He has no respect for elderly people. He roams about like a naked person. It is a great mistake I committed. I never knew he is of that kind.” He went on blabbering, shouting against Siva with great anger. Siva did not say anything. He simply got up and went away from the assembly.

Then what happened, this Daksha, who was so angry, performed a great sacrifice, a yajna. He sent invitations to everybody, but he did not send an invitation to Siva though he was his son-in-law, because of this incident. When Sati was sitting in Kailasha with Lord Siva, she saw so many celestial planes flying with divine couples. Somewhere they are going, going. She asked them, “Where are you all moving?” They said, “You do not know? Your father is performing a huge sacrifice. You do not know?” “No, I don't know,” she said. “I don't know anything.” “How is it that they are not sending an invitation to you, when you are the daughter of Daksha?” “No, and he didn't invite Lord Siva also.” She was very much upset. “How is it?”

Then she told Siva, “I want to go to attend the sacrifice.” Siva said, “I don't think it is good for you to go because he insulted me in the assembly. For you to go there, it is not good.” “But I want to go,” Sati said. “I am telling you again, it is not good for you.” “Let us go,” she said. “I am not coming,” Siva said. “But I want to go.” “If you want to go, you go,” Siva said. “I am not coming, and I am not interested also in this matter. But I am telling you it is not good for you to go.” Sati said, “I am going.” But anyhow, in compassion, Siva sent some attendants with Sati to take care of her. She went.

When Sati entered the hall, nobody recognised her. Her father did not even notice that his daughter has come. Sati was completely ignored. She was very angry. “Firstly, my husband Siva, the great god, has been insulted and not given an invitation. Secondly, I am also insulted here.” Then she sat. “I want to end this body. I am born to this man who has no respect for anybody. I do not want to have this body anymore.” She sat in yoga, and fire broke out from her nadi, and she burned herself – half burned.

This news went to Siva: “Your wife is burnt.” He sent an army. He took his hair and struck it, like this [Swamiji jestures]. Immediately a huge giant came. “What do you want?” he asked. “Go and destroy this sacrifice.” So this huge giant went, with a large retinue, and attacked that sacrifice, and Daksha's head was severed. So a big war took place. But even then, that was not the end of the matter. The anger of Siva did not subside. He himself ran, took that body…

Now here the answer to your question comes. Siva simply ran in all directions, as if he was going crazy. He held the half-burnt body. Everywhere, throughout the universe he ran. The gods in heaven got frightened. “If this happens, we do not know finally what will be the conclusion. Siva is running with great anger.” They went to Vishnu. “Please do something. It is a very serious situation.” Then it is that Vishnu let off his Sudarshan Chakra and severed the body of Sati into little pieces. It fell. Because Siva was roaming with great speed, Sati's body fell in different directions, and they are called Shakti Sthal – the sacred spots in the country where these little parts of the body fell. They are all objects of worship, even today. When the body got scissored completely and there was nothing there, Lord Siva became calm.

Then Vishnu and Brahma came, and pacified Siva. “You should not get angry with a foolish man. Daksha is ignorant. He doesn't understand, so calm down. Don't get angry with him. And give him back his head because you removed the head. Let him complete the sacrifice.” Then they brought the head of a goat, and fixed it on Daksha's body. And with that he prayed to Lord Siva afterwards. He chanted mantra. We have got Veda mantra where the sound made is something like the sound of a goat. You know how a goat sounds. It cannot make sound like a human being. An odd sound it makes, odd sound.

There is one goat always coming behind my room here and making that sound. There is a little green grass there. To eat it, it jumps the corridor and comes inside, and then it cannot go out because it is caught. It is a foolish goat. He jumps inside, but cannot get out, and so the whole night it makes a sound like that. With that kind of sound Daksha chanted prayers to Lord Siva, and that yajna, sacrifice, was completed with great joy. So this is the story of Sati Sthal.

Visitor: Very interesting story. Thank you very much.