Subscribe for Newsletters and Discounts
Be the first to receive our thoughtfully written
religious articles and product discounts.
By registering, you may receive account related information, our email newsletters and product updates, no more than twice a month. Please read our Privacy Policy for details.
Share our website with your friends.
Email this page to a friend
By subscribing, you will receive our email newsletters and product updates, no more than twice a month. All emails will be sent by Exotic India using the email address

Please read our Privacy Policy for details.
Your Cart (0)

The Devotee and the Angry Saint - Study in the Inner Workings of God

Article of the Month - June 2014
Viewed 6530 times since 15th Jun, 2014
This is the story of a highly fortunate king named Ambarisha. He had inherited from his father the rule of the whole world including all the seven continents and an inexhaustible amount of wealth and power. Undoubtedly these are all precious things difficult for an ordinary human being to obtain. For Ambarisha however, all of it was unreal like a dream. He understood the perishability of wealth and knew that it ultimately leads man to darkness. He could realize all this because he was a devotee of Lord Krishna and His bhaktas. For one who has attained to such devotion, the whole world and its wealth is nothing but equivalent to a piece of stone.

All activities of Ambarisha were devoted to Krishna. His mind was devoted to the lotus-feet of the Lord. His voice was always engaged in singing the glories of Krishna, his hands in cleaning and maintaining the temples of the Lord and his ears in listening to the excellent stories of Krishna.

He engaged his eyes in the darshan of the images and temples of Krishna, his sense of touch in touching the devotees of the Lord, his nose in smelling the tulsi leaves offered to Him and his tongue in tasting the the food offered to Krishna (prasad).

He engaged his legs in visiting the holy places of Krishna and his head in bowing down before the images of the Lord. In this manner had he converted his karma into a yajna, offering all his actions unto the Lord. He ruled the world according to the advice of brahmins who were also devotees of Lord Krishna.

Ambarisha, the great bhakta, under the guidance of great sages like Vasistha and Gautama, performed the ultimate worship of Lord Krishna by successfully completing the horse sacrifice known as Ashwamedha Yajna. This is a complicated sacrifice with many parts. However, Ambarisha, with the blessings of the brahmins, was able to perform it successfully. His yajna became noted for the sumptuous amount of dakshina offered to the priests. In fact, the brahmins in his yajna were so richly attired that they looked like gods themselves.

The Sudarshana Chakra

In this way the king, through his bhakti combined with austerities, propitiated Lord Krishna by following his dharma and thus was gradually able to disassociate himself from all attachments. He gained the firm conviction that one’s house, wife, children, relatives, friends, chariots, armies, wealth - all are fleeting and transient. This exceptional devotion prompted God to assign His weapon, the powerful Sudarshan Chakra, in the protection of His bhakta Ambarisha.


Ekadasi Mahatmya: The Glories of Ekadasi


King Ambarisha’s wife too was similarly pious. Once, with a desire to worship Lord Krishna, the king, along with his wife, undertook to observe the fast of Ekadashi for one year, meaning that he would not eat anything on the eleventh day of each (lunar) month and break his fast only on the next (twelfth day).



When the year ended the couple fasted for three nights in the month of Kartik and after bathing in the Yamuna river performed puja of Lord Krishna at Madhuvana (modern Mathura). At the end of the puja they distributed lavish gifts on brahmins, including milk-bearing cows decorated with gold. Then, after the brahmins had partaken of a fabulous feast, the king himself decided to end his fast and took permission for the same from the brahmins. No sooner had he decided on having his food than there appeared on the scene the great saint Durvasa.

King Ambarisha rose to greet the sage and offered him a respectful seat. He then washed the saint's feet and humbly requested him to have food. The sage gladly accepted and went to have a bath in the Yamuna first. There the saint entered samadhi while meditating on the Supreme Lord and lost track of time. Meanwhile, the auspicious hour for breaking Ambarisha's fast was passing away. The king, conversant with the nuances of dharma, knew that eating before a guest was a fault and so was also not breaking one's fast at the auspicious hour. He then consulted the wise brahmins who reminded him that it is mentioned in the Vedas that drinking water is equivalent to eating and also non-eating. Thus deciding, king Ambarisha, remembering Lord Krishna, had a little water and waited for the return of the sage.

After some time Durvasa came back and was respectfully greeted by Ambarisha. However, no sooner had the sage laid an eye on the king he understood that he had broken his fast before Durvasa himself had had his food. Now in Indian history Durvasa is known as ‘the angry saint’, and at that moment his anger revealed itself manifold because he was extremely hungry too. With a trembling body and frowning brows he furiously admonished the king, who stood all the time with folded hands: “Look at this cruel man! He is maddened by the pride of his wealth. Not only does he lack devotion towards the Lord but considers himself as God. Today he has crossed all limits by transgressing dharma. He had extended an invitation to a guest but instead of feeding him, has himself eaten first. Now I will punish him for his offence."

Flared up with rage, the great sage pulled out a lock of his hair and created from it a demoness to kill Ambarisha. This fearsome ogress resembled the blazing fires which consume the world at the time of pralaya (dissolution of the world). Spitting fire she rushed towards the king with a sword in hand, the earth trembling under her feet. However, the king remained unperturbed. He did not even stir and remained where he was. The Shrimad Bhagavatm says: 'Narayana-parah sarve na kutashchana bibhyati - Those who have surrendered to God do not have anything to fear’ (6.17.28).

The Sudarshana Chakra, already deputed in the protection of Ambarisha, immediately came to his rescue and burnt down the demoness, much like a forest fire destroys a serpent. The Chakra then started towards Durvasa himself. The latter, on seeing the failure of his efforts and the advancing Sudarshan Chakra, started fearing for his life and ran in all directions to save himself. The Chakra closely pursued him, like a forest fire following a serpent. Observing it so close behind him, he took to his heels, fleeing to different quarters, including the sky, earth, underworlds, seas and even the heavens. However, wherever he went he saw the Sudarshan Chakra close behind him.

When he could not find escape anywhere, the terrified Durvasa decided to take refuge with Brahma Ji and applied to him saying: “O Creator of the Universe!, protect me from the Chakra of Lord Vishnu”.

Brahma Ji replied: “My own life is dependent on the great Lord. The whole world, including myself, will vanish at the mere contraction of Lord Vishnu’s brow. Me and all the other gods are subject to the commands of Lord Vishnu and live within his divine law. (Hence how can we help you?)”.

When he was thus refused protection by Brahma Ji, Durvasa, tormented as he was by the scorching heat of the Sudarshan Chakra, sought asylum with Lord Shiva at the latter’s abode on mount Kailasha. To his request the Great Shiva replied: “Durvasa Ji, we cannot prevail against the Supreme Lord who is the source of infinite jivas like Brahma and from whom are born thousands of universes like this one. The Chakra is the weapon of the Supreme Ruler of the universe. It is unbearable and irresistible even for us. You should take refuge in Lord Vishnu Himself. He will save you from your misery.”

Sheshasayi Vishnu


Being thus disappointed, Durvasa then went to Vaikuntha where Lord Vishnu lives with His wife Goddess Lakshmi.



All the while Durvasa was being scorched by the Chakra’s heat. Trembling with fear, he fell at the Lord’s feet and said: "O Lord! You are the one desired by all saintly people. O Almighty God! You are the protector of the universe. Protect me too, who am an offender. I was ignorant of your supreme power and committed an offence against your beloved devotee Ambarisha. Save me from that sin, as even a being in hell is released when he utters your divine name.”

The Lord replied: “O Brahmana! I am not at all independent, being completely under the control of my devotees. My heart has been won over by My selfless devotees and hence My heart is in their possession. I love them and they Me. I am the sole refuge of My devotees. Therefore, other than My devotees, I do not desire anybody, not even Myself or My wife Lakshmi. How can I even think of giving up those who have renounced their wives, homes, sons, relatives, wealth and have taken refuge in Me? Like a chaste wife brings her virtuous husband under control by her service, so have my devotees captured my heart with their devotion. For true devotees My bhakti is an end in itself (and not a means of gaining anything material or even transcendental). Durvasa Ji! What more can I say? My loving devotees are My heart and their heart is none other than Me. They do not know anything except Me and I too don’t know anything other than them.

“Listen O Great Sage! I will tell you a remedy for your torment. It is by offending Ambarisha that you have reached this state of distress. You should therefore go to him only. Remember, a power, when used against a devotee of God, causes harm only to the wielder of the the power while the devotee remains unscathed. There is no doubt that asceticism and learning are spiritually beneficial; but, when the same powers are mishandled through indiscipline, they produce contrary results. Hence O Brahmana! I wish you all good fortune. Go and seek forgiveness of king Ambarisha. Then alone will you gain peace.”

Thus commanded by the glorious Lord Vishnu, Durvasa Ji returned to Ambarisha’s palace and hurled himself at his feet. Ambarisha felt ashamed at Durvasa’s action and with his heart overflowing with compassion prayed aloud: “O Sudarshan Chakra! You are the glorious Agni. You are the all powerful Surya. You with a thousand spokes are extremely dear to your Lord. I pay my respects to you. You are the protector of the whole world; I request you to protect this brahmana too.

“O Divine Wheel, you have an auspicious hub. You are the splendour of the Supreme Lord and the protector of dharma. Your speed is as quick as that of one’s mind. By your splendour of dharma you destroy the darkness of adharma and protect even beings like the Sun. For the sake of our entire clan I request you to bless Durvasa Ji. This will be your grace on us. If I have ever done a charitable deed, or performed a yajna, or followed my dharma or if our family regards brahmins as gods, then may Durvasa Ji be freed of the inflammation tormenting him. If I have visualised God as the soul of all beings then may the Lord be pleased with me and Durvasa be relieved from his distress.”

No sooner had Ambarisha uttered the prayer than the Chakra subsided. Thus freed, Durvasa Ji felt relieved and praised the king bestowing on him the highest blessings: “My dear king! Today I have witnessed the glory of a true devotee of the Lord. Even though I offended you, you wished only for my welfare. For those who have tightly gripped the lotus feet of the Lord, there can never be a deficiency in their karma. Beloved Ambarisha! Your heart is full of compassion. You have done a great favor to me. Oh! You forgave my offence and saved my life.”

A long time had elapsed since all this had happened and yet King Ambarisha had not taken his food. He was waiting for Durvasa Ji to return. Now he caught hold of the saint’s feet, pleased him and fed him sumptuously. Durvasa was extremely satisfied after taking this meal and said respectfully: “O King! Now you too have your food. I am very pleased with you. I feel gratified on seeing you and talking with you. Songs celebrating your spotless character will be sung by the women of heaven. This earth too will always chant your glory.”

After Durvasa Ji had gone, king Ambarisha took the food left, made auspicious by the fact that the great sage Durvasa had partaken it. Pondering on Durvasa’s calamity and finally his release, the humble devotee Ambarisha did not give any credit to himself but felt that everything had been done by God. The great king continued in his path of devotion by dedicating all his actions, performed according to his caste (varna) and stage of life (ashrama), to the Lord. By the strength of this devotion he became detached from all material life and starting considering even heavenly delights as manifestations of hell.

In course of time, Ambarisha entrusted his kingdom to his sons who were of the same disposition as him and entered the forests. There he concentrated his mind wholly on the lotus feet of the Lord and became finally free from all material fetters.

Conclusion: Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita: “My bhakta is never destroyed” (9.31), implying that protection is given by God to the one who surrenders before Him Also, people often accuse Durvasa Ji of being tempered and unfair. But that is a mistake. Durvasa is an enlightened devotee and an incarnation of Lord Shiva. He sacrifices his own reputation in order to show the greatness of the Lord’s devotees and how they are protected by Him. People would never have come to know of Amabrisha’s patience and forbearance had Durvasa not shown anger. Nor would they have known how the Lord’s protection is always with the devotees. Sage Durvasa hence becomes a catalyst for revealing the greatness of the Lord and His devotees. A similar innocent occurs in the Mahabharata when Durvasa calls upon the Pandavas who are living in a forest. Actually, we tend to see only the outward behaviour of Durvasa. If we look a bit deeper, we will see that his heart is filled with love.


References & Further Reading:

Post a Comment
Post Review
  • Please tell us the story of what happened between Durvasa and the Pandavas.

    This article was amazing by the way. All of your work is. You are an incredible writer and inspiration.
    by Ravi Jaishankar ( on 7th Nov 2014
  • Thank you for this for this extraordinary and sattvic story.
    Full of devotion like a flower in blossom.
    by Patricia Gonzalez on 19th Jun 2014
Parcel received is brilliantly packed by your dispatch team. Excellent collection, beautiful Micro-art work. The items are exactly same as displayed. Hats-off to the collection team. The shiva linga Ring & Garuda pendant were superb. Its pleasure shopping every time. God bless your team with good energy to continue this Real collection work.
Badarinath, India
Jamavar arrived so quickly and is beautiful, thank you!
Your service is exceptional. I am very pleased with your professionalism.
Shambhu, USA
Statue rec'd & it is beautiful, thank you!
Fran, New Jersey
Very good collection. Once ordered previously I had received exactly what has been displayed on the website. Very honest and genuine. But there was little delay in delivery. Nice experience shopping in this website.
Badarinath, India
I’ve received my blue scarf and I am delighted. I am impressed by your professionalism. Thank you so much! I will place another order soon.
Celine, France
Received the consignment in time. Excellent service. I place on record your prompt service and excellent way the product was packed and sent. Kindly accept my appreciation and thanks for all those involved in this work. My prayers t the Almighty to continue the excellent service for the many more years to come. Long live EXOTIC INDIA and its employees
A very thorough and beautiful website and webstore. I have tried for several years to get this Bhagavad Gita Home Study Course from Arshavidya and have been unable. Was so pleased to find it in your store!
George Marshall
A big fan of Exotic India. Have been for years and years. I am always certain to find exactly what I am looking for in your merchandise.
John Dash, western New York, USA
I just got my order and it’s exactly as I hoped it would be!
Nancy, USA.
Subscribe to our newsletter and discounts
Share with friends
Related Links
"This middle path lies in between extreme asceticism on one side, and extreme indulgence on the other…. When standing under a Ashok tree, tired and exhausted, she raised her right hand for seeking support of a branch of the tree…. The unique balance that defined his entire life was pre-determined in this duality….One day, in the palace garden he frightened his attendants…. He ate less and less till his diet reduced to a sesame seed, and himself, to a mere skeleton…. Seven days after the attainment of enlightenment gods sent food for breaking his fast…. However, he postponed his ‘nirvana’ for three months till he visited the places he had reminiscences of."
The Light That Enlightened Millions
(The life of Buddha in the popular mind)
"But to pull this statement out of context and give it as an advice for anyone is far from correct…. But how is one to recognise the guru? Obviously, he will be able to understand the difficulties of the disciples and clarify to them the meaning of the scriptures on the basis of logic and experience…. They will have to search in their own neighbourhood only….The guru chosen by him should be at least better than himself!…. Of course, if the ideal guru whose features have been enumerated in the beginning is available, then the sadhaka should immediately go and surrender to him…. It is just like going to another teacher for higher education, after completing the education in a school."
The Qualities of a Guru and How to Find One
"Once as he was engaged in puja, a saint came to visit him….Like a true householder attached to his family, Gajendra sported in the water with his wives, children and friends…. Understanding that his end was imminent, they all slowly withdrew, till Gajendra was left alone…. If we reflect on it calmly, we will realise that there is no house in the world where the story of Gajendra does not play out…. The one who is careful towards the end is able to reform his death…. Gajendra’s hymn of praise is one of the greatest philosophical poems in the annals of world literature."
Moksha of Gajendra: Liberation by The Formless God
"Who would not satisfy his wife who is but his better half?…. Later, he took a bath, performed pranayama and meditating silently on the pure, eternal light, repeated internally the Gayatri Mantra…. Once it so happened that goddess Lakshmi was out of Vaikuntha…. Despite being older, they always maintain the appearance of five-year olds…. Seeing the great saints he welcomed them with reverence…. It is never for one single purpose but to fulfil many functions at the same time…. He ensured for them a glorious death."
God’s Lila, Understanding the Collective Impact of Avatara
"Whenever he gets the time, he should go and live amongst people who have given up worldly life…. A wise person should serve his body and family only to the extent that is functionally necessary…. The person who lays claim on the surplus wealth is nothing but a thief…. He should share all objects of enjoyment with everyone, right down to dogs, sinners…. Such is the attachment to one’s wife….How despicable is this body, which if buried is going to become the food of worms, or excreta if eaten by animals….Since a son is to thus revere his elders even after their death, what to say that he is expected to serve them when they are alive…. The person wishing to follow the path of dharma should steer clear of the five forms of Adharma."
Narada Teaches Yuddhishtra a Householder’s Dharma
"She has always believed that this would redeem her of her distress….A coconut, otherwise an ordinary dried fruit or the source of edible, or at the most, beauty oil, has always been revered as an auspicious object effecting good and well-being and the food that gods most loved….The tree in the Buddhist tradition was later identified as Bodhi-tree, seated under which Buddha had attained Enlightenment….Body gestures and symptoms, signs, indications among others must have been the early man’s tools of communicating oneself and knowing and understanding the world around….Kirttimukha was initially conceived as a mystical mask….Lion does not figure in the wide range of animal toys or figurines excavated from Indus sites."
Auspicious Symbols in Indian tradition
"Only a certain fraction of this karma is chosen by God in order to form the blueprint of our next birth…. The fruit that one experiences in this birth is due to prarabdha and a portion of the present agami…. Similarly, a fish in the Ganga does not accrue punya because of always living in Ganga…. A good karma can be annulled by a bad karma and a bad one by a good one…. Sometimes we also hear that prarabdha cannot be got rid of. It has to be spent through…. Bhagawan Vyasa says that for the full result of the karma to manifest, three things are necessary…. Then how to understand the statement that prarabdha should unavoidably be experienced?"
Theory and Practice of Karma: Some Salient Features
"The Bhagavad Gita, while describing the qualities of a wise person says…. This verse is vividly illustrated in the story of king Rantideva occurring in the Srimad Bhagavatam…. He did not believe in hoarding, was above all attachments and was highly patient…. They were all trembling due to starvation and thirst….bowed to the dogs and their owner…. What I want is only this: That I be able to go and live in the hearts of all beings and undergo sufferings on their behalf, so that they may become free from all miseries."
An Example of Living Vedanta: The Story of King Rantideva
"Here is a fragment from one of the most poignant episodes of Indian history…. This piece of history is from the Mahabharata…. She was dying with shame but inside, like a true kshatrani (woman of the warrior race), she was burning with anger…. I have heard that women who follow dharma were never brought before a public court….Greed is the destroyer of dharma. I do not desire a third boon…. Draupadi was as forgiving as mother earth herself…. Just then Arjuna saw his dear friend Bhagawan Krishna approaching him…. “Leave him, leave him. He is a brahmin and worthy of our worship. Their mother should not cry, like I have at the death of my children."
Analyzing the Eternal Dimensions of Dharma Through Itihasa (History)
" Contrarily metaphysicians and theologians perceived his form as it manifested in the Upanishads and Puranas….The ‘Advaita’ philosophy also contends that the entire Creation is just the extension of One…. Dance illustrates one of the ever-first cosmic acts with which Shiva seems to have tamed violent motion and separated from it rhythm, moves that communicated emotions and states of mind – human mind and the cosmic, and disciplined and defined pace…. Unlike Vishnu who resorted to dance for accomplishing a contemplated objective, Shiva has been conceived more or less as a regular dancer performing for accomplishing an objective as also for pure aesthetic delight…. Unfurling locks of hair and his snakes floating into space portray the dynamics of the act."
Shiva, the Nataraja
"Actually, the one who worships Bhagwan Vishnu should get rich and the one who worships Shiva should become an avadhuta like Him…. Then he works hard again to acquire wealth. I render all his efforts futile…. However, Bhagawan Vishnu is not like that, it takes longer to please Him…. As a consequence, they later harassed the great God Himself…. On the seventh day, he bathed in the holy waters of Kedarnath and began to cut his head with an axe to offer into the fire…. The boy bowed respectfully before the demon and asked…. No one who commits sin against a great person can be safe and happy in this world."
Shiva and Vishnu: A Unique Aspect of Their Worship
"It concedes that for an orderly social life a division into four groups based on the principle of varnadharma is necessary…. Each individual sometimes acts in a sattvika manner while at other times he may act in rajasic or tamasic manner, which means that the manifestation of a particular guna depends on circumstances…. Though all the three gunas are present in everyone, different persons are driven to act differently…. The karma that I have to perform should depend on my inherent gunas and should have the ability to regulate these gunas…. There is no instant transition to moksha…. An individual has to make his way towards moksha only through worldly life."
Varnashrama Dharma: A Logical View
"Vyasa Ji explained through a story how it came to be that the Pandava's marriage with a single wife was in conformity with dharma….The gods, along with their king Indra, were sitting on the bank of a river when they saw a beautiful golden lotus floating on its waters…. Both were playing a game of dice…. On hearing Shiva’s words, Indra started shaking with fear… Without death, the burden on the earth becomes too much…. Her birth had the sanction of all the three Gods - Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu."
Devi Draupadi: Resolving the Paradox
"We assume that our happiness is the result of an interaction with external objects…. Suppose that an individual is deprived of sleep and food and pleasurable objects for a long time and then all of them are simultaneously offered to him…. Actually, seeking the answer to this question is the most significant pursuit in life…. The veil comes up again and the duality returns…. In this background, we can now analyse the nature of dukha (grief)."
Ananda: Understanding the True Nature of Happiness
"During one such sacrifice, nine spiritually charged men entered the sacrificial hall….As for Bhagavat Dharma, it is the dharma spoken by God directly from his own mouth…. Like a person eating food finds himself gratified simultaneously in three ways…. We are all constantly taught by spiritual texts to offer or dedicate all our actions to God. However, the question remains as to how to practically carry out this injunction…..The only fruit of wealth is dharma... Therefore, there is no need for the Vedas to enjoin us to these things for which we already have a tendency….The real intention of the Vedic injunctions in these matters is to make a person abstain from them…”
Nine Teachings from Nine Yogis: The Essence of Bhagavat Dharma
Show More
TRUSTe online privacy certification
All rights reserved. Copyright 2016 © Exotic India