We live in a world where Truth is threatened. Rarely will you find a person who has the spine to stand up for what is right. Here is an interesting story from the Bhagavatam that narrates how in Kali Yuga the only pillar of Dharma that exists is Truth. This is the only hope for salvation.
Lord Krishna has left the earth. Its the beginning of Kali Yuga. On the banks of the Saraswati a Bull hobbling on one leg was talking to a tired and sad Cow. The Cow was in tears and looked sickly. Sensing this the Bull asks the Cow the reason for her sorrow.
“Are you weeping because you see my 3 legs are broken. Are you worried about the future when Kshatriyas will no longer rule the world. Are you sorry for the Devas who will be denied their share of Havis as Yagna’s will no longer be conducted. Are you sad about the decay of Dharma? A future where men will no longer protect women, where men will forget the Lord and be drunk in sin. ”
In tears the Cow (Mother Earth) addresses the Bull (Lord Dharma). “The Lord has left me – the moment he left, righteousness left me. I am paining for you and all that you stood for”. As they were discussing a low born man dressed as a Kshatriya starts to harass them and tries to break the only leg of the Bull.
King Parikshit (Son of Ahibamanyu) spots this terrible action and rushes to the scene. He has tears in his eyes seeing the Bull & the Cow. He comforts them and says he is going to get rid of this evil man. In a terrible voice he thunders at the assailant – “In my land how dare you commit such an atrocity”.
With tears in his eyes he asks the Bull who was responsible for cutting his 3 legs. The Bull does not give a direct answer and talks about the different variants of Dharma practised by man . Some are atheists, some believe in the stars while others in Karma. Man is governed by his EGO, only a very few believe in God. He then tells king Parikshit to decide for himself who is responsible for his state. The king realises that the Bull is Dharma – who is so righteous he refuses to even name the people who have harmed him.
It is said that Penance (Tapas), Cleanliness (Shaucha), Compassion (Daya) and Truth (Sathya) are the 4 legs of Dharma. Pride is responsible for the destruction of Tapas, Smaya – Indulgence & arrogance for the other two.
In Kali Yuga man can be said to practise Dharma only by the observance of Truth and that is the one leg on which the Bull is standing.
The King then charges towards the perpetrator of the crime who immediately sheds his disguise and drops at the feet of the King. He is Kali (Kali Yuga). Unable to kill a person who has fallen at his feet the king banishes Kali from his kingdom.
Trembling with fear Kali says. “My Lord the entire earth is ruled by you. God has created me – I have to exist somewhere, tell me where to go and I will obey you”
The King realises the truth in Kali’s words and says “You can go and thrive where the name of the Lord is forgotten. Parikshit allows him five places to reside – where there is gambling, alcohol consumption, prostitution, animal slaughter and gold. Sri Ramkrishna used to say Kamini & Kanchana (Lust and Gold) are the two enemies waiting to destroy man.
At this point Kali smartly entered into Parikshit’s golden crown and spoils his thoughts. Parikshit enters the hut of a sage named Shamika as he was thirsty. He found the sage in deep meditation. He bowed to him several times but there was no response. In anger, he took a dead snake and threw it around the sage’s neck. Later when the sage’s son – Shringin, heard of this incident he cursed the king to die of snake bite on the seventh day. On hearing this, the king forswore the throne for his son and spent his last seven days listening to the discourses of the Bhagavatam by sage Shuka (Son of Vysysa), under the banyan tree of Shukratal.
This story is narrated in the Bhagavatam (Chapter 15 & 16 – Shrimad Bhagavatam by Kamala Subramaniam). In a set of YouTube videos Sri M has narrated the Bhagvatam beautifully. These are recordings from live session at Brindavan in Sep 2023.