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Friday, May 01, 2009

Crows' gutters

As a separate response to a discussion I partook in elsewhere, as to why the ācāryas rejected all mundane literature as vulgar and disgusting, I'd like to contribute this verse of the Bhāgavat and the relevant part of Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda's marvellous commentary on it. The verse (1.5.10) says:

na yad vacaś citra-padaṁ harer yaśo
jagat-pavitraṁ pragṛṇīta karhicit
tad vāyasaṁ tīrtham uśanti mānasā
na yatra haṁsā niramanty uśik-kṣayāḥ

Actually the verse is not about literature an sich, as in those days there were no books yet, let alone websites, video clips, youtube etc. This is all included in the rejection. The translation in the Gita Press edition already nicely includes part of the commentary:

"Speech, which, though full of figurative expressions, never utters the praises of Sri Hari - the praises that possess the virtue of sanctifying the whole world - is considered to be the delight of voluptuous men, who wallow in the pleasures of sense like crows that feed upon the dirty leavings of food. Like swans, that are traditionally believed to have their abodes in the lotus beds of the Māna Sarovara lake, devotees who have taken shelter in the lotus-feet of the Lord and therefore ever abide in His heart never take delight in such speech."

(With 'figurative expressions' I suppose the translator means 'astonishing embellishments')

Here are some relevant parts of Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda's commentary:

vāsudeva-mahima-varnanābhāve kavi-kṛti-mātrasyaiva jugupsitatvam evāha na yad iti.

"The verse indicates that all poetry devoid of descriptions of Vāsudeva's glories is disgusting."

yad vacaḥ kartṛ-citrāṇi guṇālankāra-yuktāni padāni yatra ...citrasya vismayasya sthānam api harer yaśo na pragṛṇīta...

"That includes the most astonishing and amazing choice poetry, endowed with all attributes and embellishments, which does not utter the glories of Hari..."

tad-yaśasya vinā kavi-vaco’lankārādi-yuktaṁ mṛta-śarīram ivāpavitraṁ bhavatīti bhāvaḥ. tad vāyasaṁ tīrthaṁ ucchiṣṭāvicitrānnādi-yuktaṁ garta-viśeṣaṁ kāka-tulyānāṁ kāminām abhilaṣaṇīyatvāt.........

"Poetry that is bereft of glorification of Him (Hari) may be endowed with all vocal embellishments but they are polluted like a dead corpse (similarly decorated with jewels etc.). They are like places of pilgrimage for crow-like lechers, like gutters where crows gather to eat plain leftovers of rice......"

Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda then quotes SB 9.4.1, which is the opening verse of a story not directly related to Kṛṣṇa, and continues:

ity ādīnāṁ śrī-bhāgavatīyānām api pṛthag-vākyānāṁ vāyasa-tīrthatvaṁ prasajjate. śāstre’bhidhīyamāne vyāsādi-kṛteṣu purāṇādiṣu na kutrāpi hari-yaśaḥ sāmānyābhāva iti na kasyāpi vāyasa-tīrthatvaṁ syāt.

"In this way there are also so many narrations in the Srimad Bhagavat that are separate from Krishna. They could also be called crow-tirthas then. However, nowhere in the scriptures composed by Vyasa and other sages is there is a complete or general absence of Hari-katha, and thus none of these scriptures should be considered crow-tirthas."

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