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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta, Canto 2, chapter 3

Bookreview of the edition of Gopīprāṇadhan Dās, part 5-

2.3.28 Gopīprāṇadhan says that the daughter of Yasoda is Subhadra - this is not in Sanatan Goswami's tika. It should be Maya instead. Subhadra is the only daughter of Vasudeva and Rohini instead.

2.3.50 See my blog of June 30, 2008

2.3.112 in the commentary Gopīprāṇadhan writes: "And so Jaya and Vijaya gave up their material bodies to resume their posts, in their spiritual bodies, as eternal servants of the Lord. Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī has thus entertained the theoretical possibility that devotees who live in the Lord’s abode during His appearance sometimes have material bodies." This is nowhere in the ṭīkā of Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī. After this supposed purport, Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī's actual ṭīkā says:
śrī bhagavān iva martyaloke'pi te sarve manuṣyākārāḥ saccidānanda vigrahā eva yaddhi kadācit svakīyāvirbhāva tirobhāvādikaṁ nija prabhu-vara-līlānusāreṇa paramotkaṭa prema viśeṣodayena vā vistārayanti - "Just as the Lord’s appearance, even as a human being within the world of mortals, is always purely transcendental, so also are the “human” bodies of the devotees who take part in His pastimes. When those devotees appear or disappear, they are either responding to the needs of the pastimes of their beloved Lord or expressing the ecstasies of their fully blossomed prema."

2.3.127 ṭīkā - tathāpi ekenaiva prakārena vaikuṇṭhasya siddhau satyām api sā anirvacanīya paramahārasa viśeṣamayī nava-vidhaiva sampādyate sāngam anuṣṭhīyate. kim artham. vicitrāṇāṁ sravaṇa-kīrtanādi bhedena bahu-vidhānām etasyā bhakte rasānām āsvādanāṁ mādhuryasya labdhaye yato rasajnaiḥ - "Although devotees can attain Vaikuṇṭha by any one of the nine practices of bhakti, they often like to engage in all nine to enjoy the supreme, indescribably blissful taste of those transcendental activities. Each of the practices, beginning with śravaṇa and kīrtana, gives a sweet satisfaction of its own."

2.3.133 "You should not consider devotional service merely an activity of the body, senses, and mind. It is in fact the eternal absolute reality, manifesting itself as the most intense ecstasy, beyond the material modes."
ṭīkā synopsis: 'pure bhakti is never approached by material senses. Even though hearing is done with the ears, chanting with the tongue, remembering with the mind, and praying and other activities with the limbs of the body, these activities are not material; they are spiritual activities that can be performed only by a devotee’s awakened spiritual senses.'

2.3.134 "By Lord Kṛṣṇa’s mercy, His devotees happily realize this devotional service in many varieties. It reveals itself to them in their hearts, which are free from the material modes and immersed in eternity, knowledge, and bliss." This verse is Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī's counterpart of Rūpa Goswāmī's famous ataḥ śrī kṛṣṇa nāmādi verse, quoted from Padma Purāṇa.

Gopīprāṇadhan adds this purport:
'As devotees mature in their practice, their individual tastes gradually appear, and on the higher levels of advancement their reciprocations with Kṛṣṇa become increasingly precise, diverse, and ecstatic.'
This is not in Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī's ṭīkā but is not necessarily wrong.

2.3.139, commentary: Even devotees who still live in this world in bodies made of material energy can engage in pure bhakti because the awakening of bhakti transforms their bodies. Either their bodies become literally sac-cid-ānanda, or bhakti enters their material bodies by the potency of the Supreme Lord’s special mercy, or else their bodies and senses become suitable for performing bhakti by some God-given potency inherent in the jīvas themselves.

2.3.141 Devotional service appears to new servants of the Lord to be a function of their own senses, body, and mind so that such neophytes can engage in devotional service with relish, as they should.
Commentary: When one undertakes devotional service, one perceives one’s devotional activities to be external functions of the material body. Why should such direct perception be denied? It should be denied because such perception is only the experience of beginners in devotional practice. Bhakti encourages those who are new to the Lord’s service to think “Oh, my own tongue is vibrating the names of God, and my own ears are hearing them!” In this way the faith of the neophytes is evoked, since otherwise they would have difficulty making the effort required to surrender their independence.

This last sentence of the ṭīkā is wrongly translated by Gopīparānadhana - instead Sanātan Goswāmī comments - anyathā svaprayāsa sādhyatvābhāvena tatra tatraudāsīnyāpatteḥ "If such new practitioners did not have faith in this being their own endeavour they would become indifferent."

2.3.142 But great devotees fixed in devotional service do not think the services they do to be actions under their own control but expressions of the Lord’s supreme mercy.

2.3.148 But we consider chanting to be alone the most excellent form of bhakti, better than remembering, which appears only in one’s own turbulent heart. For chanting harnesses not only the faculty of speech, which it engages directly, but also the mind and sense of hearing. And chanting helps not only the person practicing it but others as well.
Commentary: kīrtana also acts on the mind, bringing it subconsciously into contact with all spiritual sensory functions. If this subtle contact were not established, the spirit soul could not awaken to his real life. The transcendental sound of kīrtana enters the ears on its own strength, without any effort by the hearer, and thus it benefits not only the chanter but everyone who hears it.

2.3.149 If the sense of speech, which sets all the external and internal senses in motion, is brought under constant control, then the mind becomes stable and can properly engage in transcendental remembrance of the Lord. Remembrance thus develops as the fruit of chanting.

2.3.151 If by the force of one’s meditation all the functions of the senses—saṅkīrtana of the Lord, physical contact with Him, seeing Him, and so on—become absorbed into the function of the mind, that meditation may be accepted as better than chanting out loud.
Commentary: evaṁ sankīrtanādi sambandhe sati dhyānasya śraiṣṭhyam asmābhir apyaṅgīkriyata ityāhuḥ ced iti. tā asmad abhipretā indriyāṇāṁ vāk tvak cakṣur ādīnāṁ vṛtti-rūpāḥ sankīrtanādayo dhyānasya vegāt prābalyena ced yadi citta vṛttāvantar bhavanti dhyāna madhye evāntaḥ kīrtanādayaḥ sampadyante tadā dhyānaṁ kīrtanato varyaṁ śreṣṭham astītyabhyupagamaḥ - "Accepting that meditation is superior over saṅkīrtana,  it is now said that if the workings of speech, skin, eyes and other senses are internalized in the consciousness, viz. the strong impressions of kīrtana, darshan and touch are revealed within the consciousness, then it must be admitted (abhyupagama) that meditation is greater than kīrtana."
I must think of the samudra-patan-līlā, when Mahāprabhu washed upon the shore at Purī, in deep trance, and the devotees tried to bring Him back to external senses with harinām saṅkīrtana and Mahāprabhu complained of it, calling it 'kolāhol', noise (CC Antya 18, 109).
Gopīprāṇadhan's translation (above translation is mine): "If a devotee becomes so proficient in dhyāna (meditation on the Lord) that the devotional practices he earlier performed with his speech, touch, eyes, and other senses become spontaneous activities of his mind, then of course for that devotee meditation has become the most suitable practice. He can inwardly continue his śravaṇa, kīrtana, and so on, with or without the participation of his external senses." The last sentence of this translation is not so accurate.

2.3.152 "Whatever the devotional method by which a man with true spiritual taste feels satisfaction and complete joy, that is the method saintly authorities deem most excellent and effective for him. It is not only the best of methods but the very aim of his endeavor."
Commentary: How should we regard the meditation in which a Vaiṣṇava does not experience the sensory functions of saṅkīrtana,  touching the Lord, and so on, but merely contemplates the Lord’s form? That style of devotional service should also be accepted as perfect for the devotee who derives pleasure from it. When a devotee feels eager attraction to any of the nine kinds of service, that devotional method becomes the means for him to quickly fulfill all his desires. Moreover, his practice will gradually evolve into prema, the final goal of devotional life.

2.3.153, commentary: Either [kīrtana or dhyāna] may be done separately, but neither, in the end, is complete without the other. Regardless of which serves as the cause and which the effect, the two are essentially non-different (kārya-kāraṇayor abhedāt).

2.3.157 The earlier praise of meditation by the Vaikuntha-dutas in verse 151 is superseded by their praise of saṅkīrtana here, after all, in the sense that one needs a quiet and lonely place for meditation while saṅkīrtana can be done in public too. (But where is the peace of mind then?)

2.3.168 Commentary: "The devotees who prefer meditation to saṅkīrtana might argue that chanting in full view of the public is risky in several ways: envious people may try to interfere, one may succumb to the allurement of popularity, one may not have the required physical strength, or one may be too sick to chant properly. These dangers do not arise when a devotee simply concentrates on the Supreme Lord in a secluded place. In answer to this objection, the Vaikuṇṭha messengers say that nāma-saṅkīrtana cannot be disrupted by obstacles, for it develops by the mercy of the Lord, not by one’s own endeavor. (One does see a lot of devotees on ego-trips during harināma, though, trying to shine on photos of the event).

2.3.170, commentary: "....when saintly devotees like Bharata, deeply absorbed in the moods of loving service to the Lord, seem to exhibit material attachment (as when Bharata became obsessed with the care of a fawn) and when they seem to fall into bad association and miserable conditions (as when Bharata took his next birth as an animal), they are only pretending to be materially affected, in order to keep the confidential moods of devotional service hidden from public view. Such devotees would rather be treated with undeserved contempt than honored and worshiped."

2.3.171, commentary: "Shouldn’t advanced devotees, in order to deliver the world from ignorance, let everyone see their greatness? Yes, but the so-called anomalous behavior of Vaiṣṇavas like Bharata Maharaja is in fact their way of teaching sad-ācāra, civilized human behavior. By the examples of their own lives they show the consequences of violating the laws of God and material nature, for if people fail to learn how to act according to civilized standards their hearts will remain contaminated by sinful desires and they will never become inclined toward the Lord’s devotional service."

2.3.172 As Bharata and others showed the fault of bad association, Yudhiṣṭhira and others the fault of gambling, and Nrga and others the fear caused by taking a brāhmaṇa’s property, pure souls generally use their own behavior to teach the people.

Commentary: Bharata Maharaja showed by his own life the danger of wrong association. Although almost perfectly devoted and renounced, he was distracted into caring for a newborn deer and therefore had to suffer birth as a deer. A similar case is that of Saubhari Ṛṣi, who was deviated from meditation by seeing two fish engaged in sex. In the opinion of the Vaikuṇṭha-dūtas, however, in reality these elevated souls were faultless.

2.3.176 sva māṁsa cakṣuṣā darśanābhimānena tadīya kāruṇya viśeṣāvagamāt 'Those who imagine to see the Lord with the carnal retina know this to be His special grace."

2.3.179 ato mānasikasya dhyāna-dhāraṇādi-rūpa bhakti prakārasyāpi sākṣāddarśanam eva phalam 'The dhyāna and dhāraṇa of the mental [yogik] worshipper is a type of bhakti which also leads to the final goal - the direct vision of the Lord (dṛgbhyam, with one's very two eyes)."


  1. QUOTE
    2.3.139, commentary: Even devotees who still live in this world in bodies made of material energy can engage in pure bhakti because the awakening of bhakti transforms their bodies. Either their bodies become literally sac-cid-ananda, or bhakti enters their material bodies by the potency of the Supreme Lord’s special mercy, or else their bodies and senses become suitable for performing bhakti by some God-given potency inherent in the jivas themselves.

    Advaitadas, are you translating the tika of Sanatan Goswami here? (I have no access to my books to look at this right now) -- Muralidhar

    This statement is noteworthy:
    "their bodies and senses become suitable for performing bhakti by some God-given potency inherent in the jivas themselves"

  2. Murali I am suffering of RSI so I cant type too much now, but yes the whole commentary is by Sanatan Goswami, I checked it in my Bengali/Sanskrit copy. Indeed, the last line is intriguing -
    kim vA Atmani tat sphUrtyA - "Or it is revealed within the self / mind / heart." Atmatatvasyaiva bhagavacchakti-vizeSeNa tad anurUpAGgendriyAdi-rUpatA pratipAdanAd iti dik - "By a certain energy of Bhagavan, which is surely of one's own essence, accordingly, rUpatA [the state of being formed or composed of] of the body and the senses, is pratipAdana [bestowed]."

  3. Something within "one's own essence" enables a self to manifest a divine form suitable for doing service in the aprakrita world.

    Vedanta Sutra IV.4.8:
    Sankalpadeva tu tacchruteh.
    "The soul which who has attained Brahman attains whatever it desires by mere will alone."

    - Murali