"Why do the
best of the sages reject even heavenly nectar
and instead drink the water from My lotus feet?"
this way, Bala-Mukunda eagerly sucks His own lotus foot.
Checking For Himself The Sweetness of His Own Toe,
Wondering What Makes People Drink the Water Touched by It
(The Lord and His Maya)
During the universal deluge,
the Supreme Lord Narayana takes the form of a little baby floating on a banyan
leaf over the dangerous torrents of pralaya jalam, the waters of cosmic dissolution.
He protects all the universe and its beings by swallowing them in His tiny stomach
and rests them there , while contemplating about their creation once again after
the deluge by releasing the Universe and its beings from the safe storage place
(viz)., His stomach . Leela Sukha (Bilvamangala Thakur) in
one of his Krishna Karnamritha slokas 2.57 describes
the baby (Bala-Mukunda) that floats on the pralaya waters on top
of a banyan leaf after swallowing the universe and its contents for their protection:
padharavindam / mukharavindhe vinivesayantham
vatasya patrasya pute shayanam / balam-mukundam manasa smarami
With His soft lotus hands, our baby Mukunda has grabbed His lotus like toe and
placed it in His lotus mouth, decorated with red lips, and sucks on it in amusement
as He rests on the tender shoot of a Pupil leaf contemplating on the next cycle
The above vision
of Vatapathra Saayee (vata pathra sayanam) is a beautiful one. His
hands, feet and Face are like aravindham (Lotus flower). Like an innocent child,
there He rests after completing the miraculous act of swallowing the Universe
for safe keeping.
checking For Himself The Sweetness of His Own Toe,
Wondering What Makes People Drink the Water Touched by It (The Lord and His Maya)
narration of Krishna sucking his toe,
lying on a banyan leaf is recounted in the Markandeya Purana:
see also Mahabharata: Vana Parva, Chapter 187-188
'Before the beginning, there
was an end: the end of the old era. . . Black clouds obstructed the sun and hurled
lightning in every direction. Unrelenting rains lashed the ground. The seven rivers
began to swell and the four oceans started to overflow. Waves as high as mountains
drowned the earth. This was pralaya, the final dissolution of the world, before
its regeneration. The sole witness to this cosmic deluge was Markandeya Rishi,
a great saint.
Markandeyaji sat on the bank of the river Subhadraa, to do the evening Sandhya
Vandan worship. It seemed to him that the sea was rising on all sides, coming
towards him, flooding everything in its path. The water reached him and swept
him away, but he did not die. He saw the whole world submerged in water.
Sometimes, some creatures of the sea would swallow him and sometimes some other
creatures would swallow him, but they would throw him out again. He wandered thus
for several millions of year. Ultimately, he saw a tiny baby sleeping on a cupped
leaf of a banyan (peepal) tree.
is stated by the Lord in the Vedas: Oh, Human! This village of yours is
balanced on the banyan leaf and your lifespan is just alike a drop of water running
down that leaf, which may fall any minute.
all the confusion, Markandeya noticed a banyan leaf floating on the ocean, tossed
by the waves. On this unlikely raft lay a beautiful and adorable child, suckling
his right toe, unperturbed by the calamity that had befallen the world. It was
Krishna as Balaji, the newborn cosmic child.
heavenly smile negated the brutality of the pralaya (cosmic deluge). His compassionate
glance reassured Markandeya that life would go on, convincing him that the world
never ends, but only changes.
saw that the baby was sucking his own big toe. The Mahatmas have said,
about this, that the baby was the Lord Bala-gopal himself. He was sucking his
big toe, to check what sweetness it has, which makes people drink the water touched
went close to this baby, he was sucked in with the air, when the baby took
a breath. Inside, he saw hundreds of thousand of universes and all that had
been consumed by the deluge - the skies, the seas, the earth, gods, demons, humans,
animals and plants. So mush so, that he even had a glimpse of his own Ashram on
the banks of the Subhadra River. He saw himself sitting in meditation. Markandeya
thus realized that the child was none other than the cosmic god (Narayana) who
had withdrawn the world into himself.
Markandeya, the son of Mrikand Rishi, was worshipping the Lord, the Lord was pleased
with him, ready to give any boons Markandeya would wish for.
had no material desire whatsoever, but when the Lord Narayana appeared before
him and told him to ask for a boon since He was pleased with Markandeyajis
stuti. Markandeyaji prayed, Sir, I have obtained your vision, and desire
nothing else. However, I want to see what your Maya is. Please grace me with a
glimpse of your Maya.
The Lord was
quite surprised to hear Markandeyajis request. However, he said, All
right, you will have a glimpse.
emerged again, when the baby exhaled. When he went to bow down to the baby,
he realized that there was no baby, and no other scene. He was back at the same
spot, on the same day, at the same time, as when he started his Sandhya Vandan,
his worship of the Lord.
thought, Oh, what was all that which I saw? Then he understood that
it was the play of Maya, which he had seen. Maya hid the Paramatma, hid the truth,
and showed - like a magic show - that, which did not exist. Markandeyaji was wonderstruck.
He realized that one can never understand God, but only sing His glories. He thus
became engrossed in the prayers and meditation of the Lord again.
The sage Markandeya
was the one who witnessed Lord Krishna as a toe-sucking infant lying on a banyan
leaf, floating in the vastness of the primordial cosmic ocean. When the perplexed
sage asked the god to explain the secret behind his apparition, the lord replied
as follows: "I am the Primal Cosmic Man, Narayana . . . . I am the Lord of Waters."
Thus this image of the playful infant Krishna is in reality a manifestation of
the cosmic form of Vishnu, and corresponds to the epithet often used for Shiva
'sadyojata,' or the new born.
Vishnu is different from his awesome universal manifestation envisaged in the
Bhagvad Gita known as the Vishvarupa
was created in the small town of Kishangarh, twenty-five kilometres
from Jaipur, the capital city of Rajasthan.
baby Krishna is lying on a huge green banyan leaf floating on water, he
looks at the ignorant world with seeming by innocent eyes. A smile, displaying
a couple of baby teeth, plays on his lips. Enormous details, though as
much realistic, tend to depict him as a tender, lovable, most extraordinary child,
with beautiful face - a face that holds the most impish smile, naughty eyes that
contain a glint within. Dense, curly locks encompass
his adorable and beautiful face. His mother Yashoda has tried to curtail his unruly
hair in strings of pearls and pieces of jewellery.
The body of
baby Krishna is adorned lovingly with jewellery and
majestic ornaments. T
he peacock feather is tucked in the knotted hair. The
sacred Vaishnava mark of Vishnu (tilaka)
rests on his small forehead.
A yellow divine halo can be seen around his face.
s bodily gestures are like any child of his age. With one hand occupied
with the flute, that has been associated
in all of his lilas, he uses the other hand to direct his toe to his mouth which
parts mischievously. He must have been initially wrapped in a yellow-orange cloth,
which he might have also kicked away.
water in the upper background is calm but where the leaf with Krishna passes from,
the water rises as if to touch his little divine lotus feet.
In the background,
towards the left stands an aged, gentle rishi Markandeya with flowing beard and
hair; tulsi beads form his necklace, bracelets and armlets. He stands with folded
hands paying salutations to Krishna. He recognizes the divine lord even in his
form as baby Krishna Bala-Gopal. In his expression he has genteel and wisdom that
arises out of dedication and devotion to God. He stands against a backdrop of
Bhagavatam, Canto 12, Chapter 9, Text 1-34
Suta Gosvami said: The Supreme Lord Narayana, the friend of Nara,
was satisfied by the proper glorification offered by the intelligent sage Markandeya.
Thus the Lord addressed that excellent descendant of Bhrigu.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: My dear
Markandeya, you are indeed the best of all learned brahmanas. You have perfected
your life by practicing fixed meditation upon the Supreme Soul, as well as by
focusing upon Me your undeviating devotional service, your austerities, your study
of the Vedas and your strict adherence to regulative principles.
We are perfectly satisfied with your practice of
lifelong celibacy. Please choose whatever benediction you desire, since I can
grant your wish. May you enjoy all good fortune.
The sage said: O Lord of lords, all glories to
You! O Lord Acyuta, You remove all distress for the devotees who surrender unto
You. That you have allowed me to see You is all the benediction I want.
Such demigods as Lord Brahma achieved their exalted
positions simply by seeing Your beautiful lotus feet after their minds had become
mature in yoga practice. And now, my Lord, You have personally appeared before
O lotus-eyed Lord, O crest jewel of renowned personalities,
although I am satisfied simply by seeing You, I do wish to see Your illusory potency,
by whose influence the entire world, together with its ruling demigods, considers
reality to be materially variegated.
Suta Gosvami said: O wise Saunaka, thus satisfied
by Markandeya's praise and worship, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, smiling,
replied, "So be it," and then departed for His hermitage at Badarikasrama.
Thinking always of his desire to see the Lord's
illusory energy, the sage remained in his asrama, meditating constantly upon the
Lord within fire, the sun, the moon, water, the earth, air, lightning and his
own heart and worshiping Him with paraphernalia conceived in his mind. But sometimes,
overwhelmed by waves of love for the Lord, Markandeya would forget to perform
his regular worship.
O brahmana Saunaka, best of the Bhrigus, one day
while Markandeya was performing his evening worship on the bank of the Pushpabhadra,
a great wind suddenly arose.
That wind created a terrible sound and brought
in its wake fearsome clouds that were accompanied by lightning and roaring thunder
and that poured down on all sides torrents of rain as heavy as wagon wheels.
Then the four great oceans appeared on all sides,
swallowing up the surface of the earth with their wind-tossed waves. In these
oceans were terrible sea monsters, fearful whirlpools and ominous rumblings.
The sage saw all the inhabitants of the universe,
including himself, tormented within and without by the harsh winds, the bolts
of lightning, and the great waves rising beyond the sky. As the whole earth flooded,
he grew perplexed and fearful.
Even as Markandeya looked on, the rain pouring
down from the clouds filled the ocean more and more until that great sea, its
waters violently whipped into terrifying waves by hurricanes, covered up all the
earth's islands, mountains and continents.
The water inundated the earth, outer space, heaven
and the celestial region. Indeed, the entire expanse of the universe was flooded
in all directions, and out of all its inhabitants only Markandeya remained.
His matted hair scattered, the great sage wandered about alone in the water as
if dumb and blind.
Tormented by hunger and thirst, attacked by monstrous
makaras and timingila fish and battered by the wind and waves, he moved aimlessly
through the infinite darkness into which he had fallen. As he grew increasingly
exhausted, he lost all sense of direction and could not tell the sky from the
At times he was engulfed by the great whirlpools,
sometimes he was beaten by the mighty waves, and at other times the aquatic monsters
threatened to devour him as they attacked one another. Sometimes he felt lamentation,
bewilderment, misery, happiness or fear, and at other times he experienced such
terrible illness and pain that he felt himself dying.
Countless millions of years passed as Markandeya
wandered about in that deluge, his mind bewildered by the illusory energy of Lord
Vishnu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Once, while wandering in the water, the brahmana
Markandeya discovered a small island, upon which stood a young banyan tree bearing
blossoms and fruits.
Upon a branch of the northeast portion of that
tree he saw an infant boy lying within a leaf. The child's effulgence was swallowing
up the darkness.
The infant's dark-blue complexion was the color
of a flawless emerald, His lotus face shone with a wealth of beauty, and His throat
bore marks like the lines on a conchshell. He had a broad chest, a finely shaped
nose, beautiful eyebrows, and lovely ears that resembled pomegranate flowers and
that had inner folds like a conchshell's spirals. The corners of His eyes were
reddish like the whorl of a lotus, and the effulgence of His coral-like lips slightly
reddened the nectarean, enchanting smile on His face. As He breathed, His splendid
hair trembled and His deep navel became distorted by the moving folds of skin
on His abdomen, which resembled a banyan leaf. The exalted brahmana watched with
amazement as the infant took hold of one of His lotus feet with His graceful fingers,
placed a toe within His mouth and began to suck.
As Markandeya beheld the child, all his weariness
vanished. Indeed, so great was his pleasure that the lotus of his heart, along
with his lotus eyes, fully blossomed and the hairs on his body stood on end. Confused
as to the identity of the wonderful infant, the sage approached Him.
Just then the child inhaled, drawing Markandeya
within His body like a mosquito. There the sage found the entire universe arrayed
as it had been before its dissolution. Seeing this, Markandeya was most astonished
The sage saw the entire universe: the sky, heavens
and earth, the stars, mountains, oceans, great islands and continents, the expanses
in every direction, the saintly and demoniac living beings, the forests, countries,
rivers, cities and mines, the agricultural villages and cow pastures, and the
occupational and spiritual activities of the various social divisions. He also
saw the basic elements of creation along with all their by-products, as well as
time itself, which regulates the progression of countless ages within the days
of Brahma. In addition, he saw everything else created for use in material life.
All this he saw manifested before him as if it were real.
He saw before him the Himalaya
, the Pushpabhadra River, and his own hermitage, where he
had had the audience of the sages Nara-Narayana. Then, as Markandeya beheld
the entire universe, the infant exhaled, expelling the sage from His body and
casting him back into the ocean of dissolution.
In that vast sea he again saw the banyan tree growing
on the tiny island and the infant boy lying within the leaf. The child glanced
at him from the corner of His eyes with a smile imbued with the nectar of love,
and Markandeya took Him into his heart through his eyes. Greatly agitated, the
sage ran to embrace the transcendental Personality of Godhead.
At that moment the Supreme Personality of Godhead,
who is the original master of all mysticism and who is hidden within everyone's
heart, became invisible to the sage, just as the achievements of an incompetent
person can suddenly vanish.
After the Lord disappeared, O brahmana, the banyan
tree, the great water and the dissolution of the universe all vanished as well,
and in an instant Markandeya found himself back in his own hermitage, just as
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