Kaliyugada Kalpataru The first delight Shankukarnaru

|| Sri Gururajo Vijayate ||

Kaliyuga - Kalpataru

The first delight is Shankukarnaru

Composed by Raja, S. Gururajacharyaru

He who is the cause of the creation, sustenance, and dissolution of the universe, who is all-independent, supreme, the object of worship for all, and the embodiment of the Supreme Brahman, is Sri Ramanayaka in the form of Sri Padmanabha. Emerging from the lotus navel of Sri Hari, the fortunate one, following the command of the God of gods, Sri Narayana, created the entire universe and are revered as the great-grandfathers in all fourteen worlds. These four-faced Brahma Deva, born from the belly of Lakshmi Devi, the mother of all worlds, hold a prominent position among the gods.

In the Satyaloka of Sri Brahma Deva, the grand father of all worlds, there is a beautiful temple on the lotus seat. This temple of worship of the four-faced deity is crowded with gods, semi-gods, Gandharvas, and sages. How beautiful the temple is! It dazzles with golden walls, columns made of diamond and lapis lazuli, and garlands and festoons crafted from pearls, rubies, gems, and Gomedh stones. In the center of this breathtaking and captivating temple shines a grand pavilion adorned with nine precious stones. In front of this beautiful pavilion, golden lampstands with Nandadeepa lamps are glowing. Around it, golden vessels contain all the items needed for the worship of the Lord. Inside the temple, the gods are seated in order according to their rank, reciting the Vedas. On one side, the Gandharvas are singing, and on another side, the female celestial beings are depicting the various pastimes of the Lord's ten incarnations through diverse expressions and postures in their dance.

Sitting on the golden throne, Lord Brahma is deeply engaged in the worship of the Supreme Soul. The Vedic chants resonate beautifully in various pitches and tones, emanating from the gently smiling faces of the serpents around him. This divine and auspicious sight ignites a flame of devotion in everyone's heart.

Adorned with all sorts of ornaments, Saraswati, who emerged from the lotus and is known for her lotus-like face, is radiant with the soft glow of her smile, illuminating the entire temple with her beauty. A captivating veena rests on the delicate lap of Brahma's consort. Her tender fingers delicately and intricately strum the strings of the veena, producing a melodious flow of Kalyani ragas. This heart-touching melody seems to pervade Satyaloka, hinting at some future well-being of the world. The waves of sound from Saraswati's veena, rich in the Kalyani raga, gently ripple and raise a stream of emotional devotion in the lotus hearts of the listeners. Today, for some reason, the beautiful Kalyani raga seems especially dear to the consort of the Lord of wealth. As Veena Pani, she showcases her expertise in playing the divine instrument, leaving the universe in awe. This unending stream of delightful music, singing the playful acts of the Lord with fresh inspiration, might just be the prelude to the well-being of many worlds in the form of Kalyani raga.

In front of Sri Saraswati Devi, the queen adorned with the crown of Aja, stands a highly radiant god, deeply immersed in enjoying the sweet music of the veena. Oh, what beauty! His body shines like refined gold, matching his complexion, with a broad chest and expansive, yet restless and compassionate eyes, sparkling with the light of lightning. Dressed as a Pitambara (wearer of yellow garments), adorned with a jewel-studded crown, earrings, and pearl necklaces, his face is incredibly charming. His gentle smile, like moonlight, captivates everyone's heart with its brilliance. Such majesty he holds! Who could this deity be, emanating such serenity and truthfulness? He seems very dear to Brahma and his consort. Perhaps the four-faced Lord Brahma himself has gathered all the beauty and charm of the universe to create him. Holding a golden flower basket in his hand, with half-closed eyes, this god is none other than our hero of the story, the deity of karma in the fundamental form of Kaliyuga Kalpataru - Shankukarna. Shankukarna is known for bringing Tulasi flowers for the worship conducted by Lord Brahma, a traditional act of service. This is the duty assigned to him by the great-grandfather Brahma.

It is Lord Brahma's custom to worship the various forms of the Almighty every day. As usual, he is deeply engaged in worshipping the ten incarnations of the Supreme Soul. The worship of the first six avatars, including Matsya and Kurma, has been completed. As Brahma meditates on each divine form, Lord Hari personally appears in those forms to accept the worship. What an extraordinary sight it is! How fortunate are the residents of Satyaloka to witness and rejoice in the unique forms of the Supreme Soul every day. Is there any limit to their good fortune and merit?

The worship of Sri Bhargava Rama has concluded. Lord Brahma is eager to worship the form of Sri Ramachandra. From his lotus-like face, praises of Sri Rama flow forth: 'I continuously worship Sri Rama, who pervades the ten directions, controls the ten senses, is the son of Dasharatha, the enemy of Ravana with ten heads, and resides in Srinivasa.'

In the gem-studded pavilion, colors shine like a rainbow's arch! It is as if a million suns have risen simultaneously, creating a magnificent brilliance! Adorned in blue garments that enhance his beauty, captivating the world, the conqueror of even Cupid himself, wearing yellow garments, garlands, armlets, bracelets, shark-shaped earrings, and the Kaustubha gem, and holding the Kodanda bow, the supremely auspicious figure of Lord Ramachandra appears. Accompanied by the mother of the world, Sita Devi, he stands there, his face illuminated by a gentle smile like the moonlight!

Overwhelmed with joy from the vision of Lord Ramachandra, the ruler of all the universes, Lord Brahma on his lotus seat was thrilled. With single-minded focus, he gazed at the lotus face of Janaki's consort. His heart swelled with devotion, his throat choked with emotion, and tears of joy streamed from his eyes. After performing the rituals of invocation, offering water for washing hands and feet, and presenting sandalwood paste and rice, Lord Brahma reached for the golden flower basket to begin the worship. But his hands froze in surprise! Astonishingly, there were no Tulasi flowers in the basket for the worship of the deity! What a grave oversight, especially in Satyaloka, to have no flowers for the worship of the Supreme Soul! Brahma's heart was filled with deep regret and agitation. The great Lord had arrived for worship, but now there was an obstacle due to the absence of Tulasi flowers. What a slothful predicament!

Turning around in slight anger, Brahma called out 'Shankukarna', but there was no response. Upon looking again, Shankukarna stood still as if in a trance. 'Didn't he hear me calling?' thought Brahma, and called out again with more irritation, 'Shankukarna!'

Shankukarna jolted awake. The veena music by Saraswati had also stopped. He looked around bewildered as if he had just descended from another world. Lord Brahma, seeing Shankukarna standing motionless, scolded, 'Where are the Tulasi flowers for the worship of the deity? Why do you stand there as if you cannot hear, Shankukarna? Is such negligence even in the virtuous Satyaloka acceptable?'

Shankukarna then became fully alert. He glanced around and saw Lord Ramachandra standing with a gentle smile next to Sita in the gem-studded pavilion, Lord Brahma looking angry at the disruption in the worship, Saraswati who had stopped her veena playing and was sitting down, and his own hand holding an empty golden vessel. Realizing the situation, Shankukarna burst into laughter!

Seeing Shankukarna laughing heartily, Lord Brahma's anger exceeded its bounds. He scolded, 'Shankukarna! You have failed in your duty by not bringing Tulasi flowers for the worship of the Lord of the Universe, causing an obstruction in the worship of the Supreme Soul, and now you laugh without answering my question? How did you, who reside in Satyaloka and witness the auspicious form of Madhava every day, acquire this demonic nature (Asuric behavior)? Now, suffer the consequences! For neglecting your duty and acting like a demon, you shall be reborn as a demon!' Saying this, Brahma sprinkled water from his kamandalu over Shankukarna.

Shankukarna trembled as if struck by lightning and was distressed. The consort of Brahma, Saraswati, wept. The noble assembly and celestial beings were filled with concern. A gentle smile shone on the auspicious face of Lord Ramachandra.

Shivering with fear, Shankukarna fell at the lotus feet of his grandfather, Brahma, shedding tears and pleading, 'Forgive me, forgive me.'

Moved by the plight of her beloved disciple Shankukarna, Saraswati, with compassion, beseeched, 'My beloved! Isn't Shankukarna the child we have nurtured? What does this curse mean, my Lord? Please forgive and save him.'

Lord Brahma, still irked but listening to Saraswati's words, replied, 'Oh Saraswati! Indeed, it's true, Shankukarna is your beloved child. Yet you speak in his defense, turning a blind eye to his grave offense. But, Goddess, the punishment I have imposed for his great offense today is justified.'

With these words, the fate of Shankukarna was sealed, as he faced the consequences of his actions and the words of Lord Brahma.

As Shankukarna fell to the ground, his body trembling and tears streaming down his face, he pleaded in a choked voice, 'Father! Is such a harsh punishment necessary for this small, unintentional mistake? Grandfather, a curse for your servant? Lord, have I ever committed such a misdeed before? I have dedicated this body solely for your service. Why are you so angry with me, your humble servant? Please, my Lord, forgive this servant's mistake.'

Hearing Shankukarna's pitiful words, Lord Brahma's anger slightly subsided. He spoke calmly, 'Shankukarna! As a disciple dear to me and Saraswati, and a person of good virtues, I am deeply pained and angered by such an inappropriate act from you! My child, even if you had committed any other mistake, I would not have been this troubled. Any other offense, I could have forgiven. But what you have done today is unforgivable! When Sri Ramachandra Prabhu, the ruler of all the universes and my father, appeared to accept my worship, you caused a disruption that prevented me from worshiping him. Disturbing the worship of the Supreme Being is an inexcusable offense. Moreover, the curse I have given you cannot be in vain.'

In great distress, Shankukarna implored, 'Lord, please consider a child's plea. Distracted by mother Saraswati's melodious veena, I forgot myself, leading to this incident. Am I, who has received your grace, now to be born as a demon? The thought of a demonic birth chills my spine. Grandfather, can you not show mercy to a child? Should I harbor hatred towards the supreme, auspicious form of the Supreme Soul? Please, no, my Lord. Do not cast me into that vile demon birth that would make me despise Sri Hari! Better to suffer in the worst hell than to live devoid of devotion to Hari. Any lowly birth other than a demon would be acceptable to me; I would happily accept it. But please, not the demon birth. Have mercy, Father.

All the celestial sages and gods in Satyaloka were silently witnessing this dialogue between the guru and disciple, the lord and his devotee, the father and his children, feeling utterly astonished and empathetic. Everyone's heart melted with compassion for Shankukarna, sympathizing with his plight.

Lord Brahma, with a sense of pity, spoke, 'Child, Shankukarna, even if you are born as a demon, you will not possess the nature of a demon. Your devotion to Hari will never wane; this is the truth.' He thus decreed.

Then, a change of heart occurred in Lord Brahma. He pondered, 'Poor Shankukarna has never behaved like this before. His dedication to the worship of Sri Hari, his respect in serving Saraswati and me, his enthusiasm in performing our worship with fear and devotion... Why did this happen today?' As he reflected, Lord Ramachandra, standing with a pleasant face next to Mother Sita in the gem-studded pavilion, suddenly vanished with a laugh!

Seeing the Lord of the Universe disappear with a laugh, Brahma was astonished. He contemplated the reason for this and, closing his eyes, realized the truth through his inner vision. His face brightened up, and his worries and anxieties vanished. Brahma's body shivered with excitement. In a joyful mood, he exclaimed, 'Ah, God of Gods, friend of the devotees, is this your divine play? Oh Lord, how compassionate you are towards your devotees! Is this not your illusion, Lord, when even Goddess Lakshmi is bewildered by your Maya? Who are we to act against your will, Lord, the master puppeteer, making us dance to your strings? Can we, your servants, ever be capable of acting against your wishes? Even the Vedas, which declare you as the only one to be known, confess their inability to fully comprehend you, saying 'words return unable to grasp him.' Who can understand you, your glory, your playful acts, and your divine will? Oh Lord, did you orchestrate this for the benefit of the immortals and the welfare of the world? Infinite salutations to your familial love.' Brahma then opened his eyes, lifted Shankukarna with love, placed his divine hand on Shankukarna's head, and spoke in a sweet voice.

Lord Brahma said, 'My child, Shankukarna, this is the divine play of the Supreme Soul. Do you realize the kindness Sri Narayana has shown towards you? For the welfare of the gods and the good of all worlds, he inspired Saraswati to play the Kalyani raga on her veena, making you, a diligent servant, forget yourself in the sweetness of the raga. Then, as he appeared with Sita, he orchestrated the situation so that there were no Tulasi flowers for his worship, inciting anger in me, leading me to curse you without thought. We all have been caught in his profound Maya, acting according to his will, and seeing this, he smiled contently and vanished as if he knew nothing! Ah, Lord, your play is indeed marvelous,' he praised the glory of Sri Hari.

Hearing Lord Brahma's words, Shankukarna lamented, 'Great Grandfather, was it the will of the God of gods that I be cursed? Alas, what misfortune is mine! I can't see what sin I committed to deserve the wrath of Sri Hari, the Supreme Soul.'

Lord Brahma, in a comforting tone, said, 'Ah, my child, why be sad at a time of joy?'

Shankukarna, sighing deeply, said, 'Lord, your words are puzzling to me. I don't understand your intention. How can this be a time of joy for me, who has been cursed?'

Lord Brahma, with a slight smile, said, 'Indeed, Shankukarna, it is a time of joy! Isn't it joyous that you are about to receive the complete grace of Sri Hari?'

Shankukarna, folding his hands, pleaded, 'What do you mean, Great Grandfather? I don't understand anything. Please explain the matter clearly.

Lord Brahma said, 'Shankukarna, you are indeed fortunate! What great destiny you have! Listen, my child, Sri Narayana is about to bestow upon you a unique blessing that has never been granted to anyone before. Through you, Sri Hari will manifest in a new and extraordinary form in the world, and it will be because of you that the teachings of Bhagavata Dharma will spread widely. You will attain a prominent position among the devotees of Sri Narayana! Not only that, but Sri Hari will always be close to you, using you in various ways to bring about the welfare of the world and grant you widespread fame. Who else has ever received such fortune? Truly, Shankukarna, you are blessed!

Shankukarna (joyfully): 'Father, you just cursed me to become a demon, and now you say that I will be a great devotee of Sri Hari and earn extraordinary fame? What does this mean, Lord?'

Lord Brahma: 'My son, it is now inevitable that Sri Hari will incarnate to discipline the wicked and protect the righteous. You are destined to be the cause of His incarnation! It is His will that I curse you. Ordinarily, a curse for gods or humans leads to ruin, but a curse born of Sri Hari's will turns into a blessing, leading to the upliftment of the entire world and the establishment of Dharma. Shankukarna, Sri Hari has chosen you for this great task! Can there be any limit to your fortune then? Listen, even if you are born as a demon, no demonic traits will touch you. You will always embody divine qualities. Your devotion to Vishnu will grow boundlessly, and you will not only elevate yourself but also the world. Do not worry, your name will become immortal.

Shankukarna: 'Lord, does this mean I have to be born as a demon?'

Lord Brahma: 'Yes, my son, you will be born as a demon, but remember, your inherent nature will not be that of a demon. You will possess divine attributes and immense devotion to Vishnu, and through this, you will achieve great things.

Lord Brahma: 'No mistake, my child! This is the will of Sri Lakshmikanta!

Shankukarna: 'Then, Great Grandfather, when will my curse be lifted?'

Lord Brahma: (with a gentle smile) 'It's not a curse, Shankukarna! Consider it a blessed boon. (after a moment of contemplation) Hmm, as for the liberation from the curse, it will take many ages. You will incarnate in four avatars, serve Sri Hari, become famous as the foremost among the Bhagavatas, and in your final incarnation, you will perform unparalleled acts for the welfare of the world, earning the title of the crest jewel of Sri Hari's devotees. Now, entranced by the sweet melody of Saraswati's Kalyani raga, which led you to neglect the worship of Sri Ramachandra and thus incur the curse, you will specially worship Sri Ramachandra and become actively involved in the world's welfare as a master of veena music. Eventually, you will come to my abode and then join the lotus feet of Sri Hari, experiencing eternal bliss beyond birth and death.

Shankukarna: (with joy and enthusiasm) 'Father, I accept your command. But, Lord, do I have to stay away from you and Mother Saraswati for ages?'

Lord Brahma: (smiling) 'My son, even if you leave my world, I will never leave you. I, along with Vayu Deva, will always be near you, working through you for the welfare of the world.

Shankukarna: (joyfully) 'I am blessed! When I incarnate on Earth and forget my duties due to human nature, who will remind me, Lord?'

Saraswati Devi: (approaching with a loving smile and placing her hand on Shankukarna's head) 'My child, do not worry. I will always be close to you. Whenever you feel confused or lost, I will appear before you and guide you on your duties. Do not fear.

Then, with tears of joy in his eyes, Shankukarna bowed deeply to Lord Brahma and Saraswati, praying, 'Father, Mother, may your grace always be upon this servant of yours. Bless me so that my devotion to you and the supreme Sri Lakshminarayana always grows.'

Lord Brahma and Saraswati: 'So be it. My son, may auspiciousness be upon you.'

As the celestial sages and gods witnessed the divine play, they rejoiced and blessed Shankukarna, who, accepting Lord Brahma's curse-turned-boon, prepared to serve according to Sri Hari's will. Radiant with divine energy, he vanished from Satyaloka to fulfill his destiny.