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Friday, December 18, 2009

Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta, Canto 2, chapters 1 and 2

Bookreview of the edition of Gopīprāṇadhan Dās, part 4-

By studying the Sanskrit tikas it has become clear to me that Gopīprāṇadhan Dās often gives only synopses of them in his English translation. It is therefore more of a rendering than a translation. Starting now the review of the second Canto:

2.1.12-14 These verses describe the gradual process of arci, in which sakāma-bhaktas gradually ascend to the spiritual sky through more and more subtle enjoyments in the heavens - "sakāma-bhaktas live happily in this world, free from material restraints (svecchayā). They are at liberty to visit all the regions of this world, including the highest planets, beginning with Mahar, they can reach the subtlest stages on the ārcir-ādi path, and they can attain the Vaikuṇṭha realms within this universe like Svetadvīpa and Ramāpriya." This is described in SB 2.2.24-31, quoted in full by Sanātan Goswami in the ṭīkā. In his ṭīkā to these verses Viśvanātha Cakravartī says this gradual path is for yogīs, not for premik bhaktas.

2.1.16 ṭīkā  "...prema-parā-bhaktas, like Śrīman Arjuna and his brothers. They are not interested in the process of bhakti itself, but only in prema, ecstatic love."
'The process of bhakti' here means chanting millions of rounds. They are practical devotees, just acting for Kṛṣṇa's pleasure. See BB 1.5.14, discussed in a previous blog.

2.1.24 ṭīkā  "And when the entire universe or the three middle planetary systems are destroyed, the earthly Mathurā becomes invisible and merges back into Śrī Goloka. In other words, Mathurā is not destroyed; it remains unchanged, above the wheel of time. But because the Lord’s pastimes are then no longer perceivable in Mathurā on earth, it seems that the Personality of Godhead continues to enjoy Himself only in the corresponding spiritual realm, Goloka."

2.1.34  ṭīkā  "Vyāsa never formally initiated his son Śukadeva Gosvāmī, and Śukadeva never formally initiated his student Parīkṣit. Nonetheless, the entire tradition of hearing Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam in the transcendental bhāgavata line of disciplic succession rests on the foundation of the relationship between Śukadeva and Parīkṣit as Guru and disciple."

This is absolutely nowhere in Sanātan Goswāmī's ṭīkā-  it is purely from Gopī Prāṇadhan. The fact that Śukadeva and Rāmānanda Rāy's Gurus are not mentioned does not mean at all that they were not initiated. Is it mentioned in any śāstra that Śukadeva was not initiated? If you do not see me passing stool does that mean I do not pass stool?

2.1.36-37 Staying on the topic of dīkṣā, verse 36 seems to confirm the possibility of dream-initiation: tasyāḥ sakāśāt tuṣṭāyāḥ svapne mantraṁ daśākṣaram 'Kāmākhya devī gave 10-syllable Gopāl-mantra to the brāhmin from Prāgjyotiṣapur in a dream." However, in 2.1.62, Sanātan Goswāmī's ṭīkā, the Vaiṣṇavas of Mathurā told the brāhmin from Prāgjyotiṣapur: guroḥ sakāśād gṛhītā dīkṣā yair ityanena tava tathātvābhāvāt tan mantra japenāpi drutaṁ na kincij jnānādikaṁ sampadyata 'We are initiated by a Guru, but you are not, so you cannot swiftly attain knowledge, even if you practise the mantra."

2.1.79 explains further that, though the brāhmin had no proper faith, he became accomplished on the strength of association with the sādhus. Gopīprāṇadhan's translation is not very accurate and clear.

2.1.109, in the ṭīkā this verse is quoted from Devala Ṛṣi -

ūrdhva-retas tapasy ugro niyatāśī ca saṁyami
śāpānugrahayoḥ śaktaḥ satya-sandho bhaved ṛṣiḥ

“A ṛṣi is one whose semen flows upward, who is fierce in observing austere vows, who eats moderately, controls his senses, is able to curse and bless, and adheres firmly to the truth.”

Sanātan Goswāmī is quite rasika too. In BB 2.3.112 he says that the guṇamaya dehas the gopīs gave up in the beginning of the Rāsa-dance were bodies full of transcendental qualities (guṇamaya), not 'full of the three modes', as it is usually translated in chapter 29 of the 10th canto.

2.1.110 ṭīkā - Of all forms of evidence for establishing the truth, experience from one’s own life is the strongest - sarva pramāṇām ca madhye'nubhava-pramāṇasya śraiṣṭhyāt.

2.1.154 ṭīkā  "Discriminating Vaiṣṇavas may be better off uninvolved in the management of kingdoms."
This may apply to sādhakas because siddhas like the Pāṇḍavas did nothing else but managing a kingdom without any special sādhana.

2.2.54  ṭīkā- the Ṛṣis seem to be able to turn the vaiśya Gopakumar straight into a brāhmaṇa, but in verses 56-8 Śrī Gopa-kumāra said: "Hearing this, O brāhmaṇa, I thought I would be much happier staying a vaiśya, for then I could keep worshiping both the Supreme Lord and those brāhmaṇas, His devotees. For these brāhmaṇas, I thought, “performing sacrifice is the only interest in life. If I were to become one of them, surely I would become lax in the chanting I am duty-bound to continue. My divine Guru taught me to worship this mantra, and besides, I have already seen its good results. Therefore, while showing respect to the sages, I declined the status of a brāhmaṇa."

2.2.91, ṭīkā - evaṁ śrī bhagavato viśuddha-citta-vṛtti-viśeṣe sphūrtir eva darśanaṁ na tu sākṣād akṣibhyāma indriya-vṛttyagocaratvād iti siddham "’s “seeing” the Personality of Godhead is in reality the Lord’s manifesting Himself through the functions of one’s purified consciousness. It is not direct perception through the eyes, because the Supreme Lord stands outside the scope of the activity of the senses."

2.2.96 Kṛṣṇa can appear in the mind or heart and after that appear directly before you, this is clear from this verse and SB 2.9.38 (37 in the Gita Press edition).

In the ṭīkā of BB 2.2.123 Sanātan Goswāmī says that Brahmā, the creator, has a transcendental body due to being an avatāra of Bhagavān - bhagavad avatāratvena saccidānanda-ghana-mūrtitvāt.

2.2.131 Gopī Prāṇadhan writes in the purport: "It is said that Lord Mahāpuruṣa has thousands of arms, heads, and feet; but that is just a figurative way of saying that He has an uncountable number of limbs." This is, however, not in the ṭīkā of Sanātan Goswāmī.

2.2.186 Sanātan Goswāmī writes in the ṭīkā that atyantika muktas can get bhakti, too:

muktā api līlayā vigrahaṁ kṛtvā bhagavantaṁ bhajanti iti śrī śaṅkarācārya bhagavat padānāṁ vacanam. tathā muktānām api siddhānāṁ nārāyaṇa pārāyaṇaḥ sudurlabhaḥ praśāntātmā koṭiṣvapi mahāmune (ṣB 6.14.5). ityādīni mahāpurāṇādi vacanāni ca sangacchante. anyathā muktyā brahmaṇi layenaikye sati ko nāma līlayā vigrahaṁ karotu. ko vā bhaktyā nārāyaṇa-pārāyaṇo bhavatu. katham api pṛthak sattāvaśeṣābhāvāt. na ca vaktavyam - tad vacanāni jīvan mukta viṣayānīti. yato jīvanmuktānāṁ svata eva dehasya vidyamānatvāt vigrahaṁ kṛtvetyuktir na sangacchate. tathā muktānām api siddhānām iti padadvaya nirdeśo'pi. atra ca pādma kārtika māhātmyoktau bhagavati layaṁ prāptyasyāpi nṛ-dehasya 'mahāmuneḥ punar nārāyaṇa rūpeṇa prādurbhāvaḥ. tathā bṛhan nārasiṁha purāṇe narasiṁha caturdaśī vrata prasaṅge kathitaḥ. bhagavati līnasyāpi veśyā sahitasya viprasya punaḥ sabhārya prahlāda rūpeṇāvirbhāva ityādyanekopākhyānam anyacca paraṁ pramāṇam anusandheyam ity eṣā dik. prāya iti kadācit kasyāpi bhagavad icchayā sāyujyākhya nirvāṇābhiprāyeṇa -

Śrī Śaṅkarācārya has said, muktā api līlayā vigrahaṁ kṛtvā bhagavantaṁ bhajanti: “Even the liberated accept new bodies as their pastime to worship the Supreme Lord.” This idea is also consistent with statements of the Mahā-purāṇas and other scriptures. For example, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (6.14.5) states: 

muktānām api siddhānāṁ nārāyaṇa-parāyanah 
su-durlabhaḥ praśantātma koṭiṣv api mahāmune 

“O great sage, among many millions who are liberated and perfect in knowledge of liberation, one may be a devotee of Lord Nārāyaṇa, or Kṛṣṇa. Such devotees, who are fully peaceful, are extremely rare.”

If upon attaining liberation a person were to merge as one with Brahman, who would remain to take on a new body for pastimes? Or what liberated soul would engage in bhakti as a devotee of Lord Nārāyaṇa? Having no individual existence separate from Brahman would disallow the liberated ātma from doing any of this. Nor can we explain away the cited statements by saying that they refer to persons who are jīvan-mukta, who have earned liberation but are still living in material bodies. Such persons already have bodies and therefore need not assume bodies for pastimes. The Sixth Canto verse cited above states that some liberated souls worship Nārāyaṇa. The Kārttika-Māhātmya section of the Padma Purāṇa tells of an advanced sage in a human body who merged into the Supreme Lord and then later obtained a form similar in appearance to that of Lord Nārāyaṇa  Similarly, in a discourse about fasting on Nṛsiṁha-caturdaśī, the Bṛhan-nṛsiṁha Purāṇa relates how a fallen brāhmaṇa and a prostitute merged into the Supreme and then again took birth as Prahlāda Mahārāja and his wife. Many histories like these serve as evidence that the jīva continues its individual existence after liberation. Only as a concession does the current verse use the word prāyaḥ (“as a general rule”) to indicate that in certain cases the Lord may, by His sweet will, allow someone to attain sāyujya, the nirvāṇa of entering His body." (Gopī-prāṇadhan's translation is fine here, except for the last words, 'His body', which is purely his own interpretation, since the text of Sanātan Goswāmī only says nirvāṇa, nothing more)

2.2.196 The commentary carries an explanation of atyantika muktas attaining bhakti: "....sometimes, by the Supreme Lord’s special mercy, a liberated soul merged into oneness with Brahman becomes eager for the joys of bhakti and once again assumes his distinct identity so that he can have a spiritual body with which to serve the Lord..."

2.2.199 The commentary carries this warning (which would have been apt during the final discussions with the Gauḍīya-Discussions-eggheads back in the days, and also shows what happened with them all):

athāpi mahatāṁ vākya vyavahārādy anādareṇāpi ācaryamāṇā vidhīyamānā nāstikatvaṁ kalpayitur veda śāstra vimukhatvaṁ vitanvatī vistārayantī vikhyāpayantītyarthaḥ yad vā tasyāmeva pravartamānena vardhayantī tat nija pāṇḍitya vikhyāpanārtha prauḍhi-vāda-paraṁ kalpayitāram ete hy arthavādā iti kalpayantaṁ saivārtha-vādatva-kalpanā dustare dusparihare'navachinne vā narakāṇām utkare samuhe kṣipet. "

"If one refuses to take seriously the words and behavior of elevated persons and one acts as if the glories of devotional service were mere exaggerations, he will become an atheist. He will lose faith in the authority of the Vedic śāstras, become more and more proud of his own scholarship, and concoct theories about artha-vāda (eulogy) that will earn him hellish punishments from which he will long be unable to escape." (In my Bengali edition of Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta the word prauḍhi-vāda is translated as 'theories that serve as self-aggrandizement for the arrogant intellectual'). As the Nārada Purāṇa warns:

purāṇeṣu dvija-śreṣṭhaḥ sarva-dharma-pravaktṛṣu
pravadanty artha-vādatvaṁ ye te naraka-bhājanaḥ

“O best of brāhmaṇas, the Purāṇas authoritatively teach all aspects of religious life. Those who say that these Puranic teachings are mere artha-vāda (eulogy) are sure to suffer in hell.”

2.2.207 Gopīprāṇadhan translates the end the ṭīkā as follows: " Even the liberated souls who have merged into the formless divine light of Brahman retain their spiritual bodies, complete with spiritual mind and senses. Nothing, not even liberation in Brahman, can ever deprive a jīva of these assets. Thus when a liberated soul gains the favor of the Supreme Lord's personal energy his spiritual body and senses are reawakened for hearing and chanting the glories of Lord Hari and acting in other ways for the Lord's pleasure."

However, Sanātan Goswāmī writes: karaṇair indriyaiḥ kṛtvā bhagavantaṁ hariṁ param ākarṣaka guṇa mahimānaṁ bhajante śravaṇa kīrtanādinā sevante ' They attain senses with which they serve the most attractive Hari by doing bhajan of hearing and chanting His glories."
Nothing of re-awakening at all here.

2.2.222 "In this very gentle, supreme nectar of devotional service, the intelligent find no use for harsh and thorn-like logic. Still, we have spoken this discourse to induce those who are attached to impersonal liberation to begin devotional service, and we have spoken to give pleasure to the neophyte devotees of the Lord."

This may be an acknowledgement that the rejection of Brahman in the preceding verses was a bit slanted and subjective, and was done just for preaching purposes.

2.2.226 Sanātana Goswāmī's  ṭīkā- yadyapi mokṣasya paramārtha vicāreṇa deśa niyamo nāsti tathāpi prapancātītatvena tat tad āvaraṇādi sthānato bāhyatvāpekṣayā kalpyate. "Of course, from the absolute point of view, liberation is not confined to some specific location. Nonetheless, in spatial terms it is conceived as being outside the coverings of the material cosmos."
Gopīprāṇadhan should have translated the word prapañcātītatvena here too - 'since it is beyond the material world it is conceived or imagined (kalpyate) to be outside of its layers.' Of course the jīvanmuktas and the bhāva-bhaktas live in the spiritual world even within the material realm, see SB 3.6.2.

Review of BB 2.1.36-37 added February 9, 2010

1 comment:

  1. QUOTE: 2.2.196 The commentary carries an explanation of atyantika muktas attaining bhakti: "....sometimes, by the Supreme Lord’s special mercy, a liberated soul merged into oneness with Brahman becomes eager for the joys of bhakti and once again assumes his distinct identity so that he can have a spiritual body with which to serve the Lord..."


    You also wrote this, in an email in 2005:


    in verse 186 Sanatan Gosvami quotes Shankaracarya's mukta api lilaya vigraham kritva bhagavantam bhajanta' - Even the liberated assume a form and worship the Lord in his pastimes' and SB 6.14.5 muktanam api siddhanam narayana parayana - "Also the liberated and perfected souls are engaged in Narayan's service." Then he asks himself: 'If liberated souls didnt have forms how could they engage in the Lord's service?' Bhagavati layam praptasyapi nri dehasya mahamuneh punar narayana rupena pradurbhavah - ' Even those who have merged into the Lord have human forms.'

    Someone else has said it like this:
    Even the great sages who have attained the perfection of dissolution unto Bhagavan can have repetition of existence in a human form by attaining an inconceivable nirgun bodily form of the nature of Narayana.