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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta, Canto I, chapters 5-7

Before I start the third part of this review I would like to object to the fact that Gopī-prāṇadhan prints his own name twice the size of Sanātan Goswāmī's name on the sleeve.

1.5.14 saḥ svayam eva sādhanair vinā vo yuṣmākaṁ prasanno'bhūt - The Pāṇḍavas pleased Kṛṣṇa without sādhana - this is one path for the gṛhastha-bhaktas, it is not a universal example. They were nitya siddhas of course but so were the six Goswāmīs, who performed severe sādhana. They give the example of the tyāgī bhaktas. Furthermore, Gopī-prāṇadhan comments:

“Even though Nārada is in fact a first-class Vaiṣṇava, he humbly includes himself among impersonalist sages who have not yet received the Supreme Lord's mercy.."

This is nowhere in the text, nor does it make any sense, nor is it concluded before that the controlled sages were all Brahmavādīs. Rather, the point that Sanātan Goswāmī makes is simply that the Pāṇḍavas did not practise any sādhana, whether it was mauna, ātma-rāmatā, śānti, mukti, the nine types of bhakti, seeing the deity or Vaiṣṇava-saṅga.

1.5.27, Sanātan Goswāmī's ṭīkā: "There is a logical dilemma in this description: If the Supreme Lord's superlative charm did not exist before Kṛṣṇa's appearance, that charm would not be eternal. If it did exist, then Kṛṣṇa would not be superior to the other forms of Godhead. This apparent contradiction, however, is easily resolved: Before Kṛṣṇa appeared in Mathura 5000 years ago, His eternal complete attractiveness had not been seen in this world for a very long time. It had been forgotten, even by the Vedic sages and demigods. Thus without the advent of Kṛṣṇa Himself, no one would have had any idea of the extent of His perpetual glories."

1.5.37 The purport carries an interesting definition of Bhagavān:

utpattiṁ pralayaṁ caiva bhūtānām āgatiṁ gatim
vetti vidyām avidyāṁ ca sa vācyo bhagavān iti

"A person who knows about the creation and destruction of the universe, the karmic comings and goings of embodied creatures, and the forces of enlightenment and illusion may be called bhagavān." (Viṣṇu Purāṇa 6.5.78)
1.5.40 Bhīṣma's apparent merging with Brahman means actually attaining a pārṣad deha in Vaikuṇṭha. In his ṭīkā of SB 1.9.44 Jīva Goswāmī quotes SB 7.7.37 to prove attaining narākṛti paraṁ brahman Śrī Kṛṣṇa is sometimes described as merging with Brahman.

1.5.119 Uddhava enjoyed Kṛṣṇa's association constantly, but when sent out to either rescue or console the Lord's dear devotees, Uddhava felt more satisfaction than by staying with Kṛṣṇa. Nityānanda was sent out of Puri by Mahāprabhu to preach. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, as in SB 1.6.22-23.

1.6.21, commentary: "Uddhava was next confronted by the bhāva of jealousy, intolerance of others' good fortune. This transcendental jealousy, however, was sāttvika, born from pure goodness, untouched by the influence of passion and ignorance. Therefore it was a cause of joy. Having no trace of hatred, this ecstatic jealousy gave no distress to Uddhava or anyone else. Rather, in this jealousy he entered even deeper into the trance of his attraction to Kṛṣṇa, just as devotees in the conjugal mood become even more blissfully attached to Kṛṣṇa when jealous of His other lovers." This last sentence I could not find in Sanātan Goswāmī's ṭīkā, though it is not necessarily apasiddhānta.

1.6.39 It was Kṛṣṇa who entranced the residents of Vraja. Acting through His YogamAyA potency, He diverted them from paying attention to their own safety. At the same time, He completely protected them. Vaiṣṇavas are supposed to cultivate the understanding that Kṛṣṇa will protect them from all dangers: rakṣiṣyatīti viśvāsaḥ  (Vaiṣṇava-tantra). The Vraja-vāsīs, however, manifested the perfection of this surrender spontaneously, without having to practice it." This comment is by Gopī-prāṇadhan, not by Sanātan Goswāmī.

1.6.48 Gopī-prāṇadhan says the Vrajavāsīs are dead but Sanātan Goswāmī says mṛta prāya, they are just like dead. It means a spiritual death which is described in Vilāpa Kusumāñjali verse 10.

1.6.73-75 Śrīmad Bhāgavat 3.2.26 says that Kṛṣṇa lived in Vraja (in prakaṭa līlā of course) for 11 years. However, Śrīmad Bhāgavat 10.38.28-29, 10.44.8 and 10.45.3 show that Kṛṣṇa and Balarām enjoyed their full kiśora age in Vraja till the age of 15. The answer is that They sucked breast milk till age 4 and then drank Vraja's cows' milk for the remaining 11 years, making 15. They owe Nanda Mahārāja the milk of 11 years, that is the meaning of Śrīmad Bhāgavat 3.2.26.

1.6.88 Vaiṣṇavas dress nicely to please Kṛṣṇa - some Baṅki Bihārī devotees put new, unoffered garlands around themselves, and then stand before Banki Bihārī to please Him with the sight. Other devotees shave the head to renounce bodily identification and prevent attracting the opposite sex.

1.6.108 Like Kuśakrath, Gopī-prāṇadhan also mistakes Mānasī Gaṅgā for a river which flows. It is a lake instead, and Sanātan Goswāmī says vilasanti, it is splendidly manifest, not that it flows.

1.6.111 Gopī-prāṇadhan adds this interesting comment himself: "For example, the village of Nanda Mahārāja is protected by Lord Shiva in the form of Nandīśvara. Lord Shiva begged for this service of guarding Kṛṣṇa's home and showed his gratitude for the appointment by giving the blessing that Nandīśvara Hill and Nandagrāma on its peak would never be attacked by Rākṣasas."

It is not clear to me what is the source of this story.

1.7.3-4 This little piece of fall-vāda or envy-vāda is not in Sanātan Goswāmī's ṭīkā: "Kṛṣṇa's highest glories are not to be found in His pastime of creating the material world so that rebellious souls may indulge their perverted intentions."

1.7.8 As in Lalita Mādhava, here also is a concept of a new Vṛndāvana-garden in Dwārakā, built by Viśvakarmā to console Kṛṣṇa. Of course he could not replica the Vrajavāsīs but the dummies (pratimāsū) he made seemed to do the trick well too. Kṛṣṇa took their silence to be symptoms of their ecstasy of love for Him.

1.7.78 The phrase "regain the taste of love of God." is not in the ṭīkā of Sanātan Goswāmī. Once prema is tasted in full, it will never cease.

1.7.96 In their trance of separation, the devotees of Vraja are aware of nothing but Kṛṣṇa. Their ecstasy is so deep that as a natural effect of remembering Kṛṣṇa they see Him physically before them. Other pure devotees, whose love for Kṛṣṇa is not on the same level of perfection, have separate experiences of Him internally and externally. Dhruva, for example, concentrated His mind on Lord Viṣṇu in deep meditation, but his internal vision of the Lord did not expand into a vision outside like that of the gopīs. Only when Lord Viṣṇu came to Dhruva to offer him special mercy did the Lord disappear from Dhruva's heart to show Himself externally (ref. SB 4.9.2).

1.7.110 Gopī-prāṇadhan: "Kṛṣṇa's beauty never diminishes, even when He leaves Vṛndāvana to reside elsewhere for more than a hundred years. Only in nostalgic retrospect does Kṛṣṇa think He was more beautiful during His youth." This seems to be apasiddhānta and is not in Sanātan Goswāmī's ṭīkā.

1.7.111 Gopī-prāṇadhan: "Even nonliving objects gained consciousness and underwent these effects of prema-bhakti." This 'nonliving' is not in the ṭīkā and may cause confusion.

1.7.126-128 When talking of separation one is inclined to project one's material experiences [getting dumped by a lover] on the transcendental pastimes of Kṛṣṇa. However, separation from Kṛṣṇa is not a miserable experience at all. Everyone seeks bliss. No one seeks misery. Furthermore the spiritual sky is naturally a place of Absolute Bliss and Absolute Perfection, where there is no place for distress at all. There is so much separation mentioned in the pastimes of Kṛṣṇa, including the Bhāgavat, but the śāstras do not lead us to a life of eternal misery. One needs to read these books taking distance from one's mundane experiences - neither the sexual joys of Kṛṣṇa and the gopīs nor their pain of separation is like any mundane counterpart we have experienced. Hence Sanātan Goswāmī says tad rasikaika vedya - it is only understandable by rasika devotees, who have experience of the spiritual counterparts of these feelings. The same with the principle of service - it is considered miserable and degrading in the material world so if you preach it people reject it because they want to be 'free'. Humility is similarly seen by conditioned souls as 'weakness' or 'an inferiority complex' or a 'loser'. They do not understand the joys of humility, austerities etc. The ākāra (shape) of these divine plays (Kṛṣṇa's sexual enjoyments and the pain of separation) appear similar to those in the material world, but the prakāra (nature) is totally different. The paribhāṣā (basic definition) of this issue is verse 126.

1.7.138, commentary: "The other pure Vaiṣṇavas acknowledge the supremacy of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī without envy,..."
There is no mentioning of any type of 'envy' in Sanātan Goswāmī's text.

1.7.148 Nārada is a brahmacārī but still he is fanned by Satyabhāmā? 
He is a nitya siddha, not a struggling sādhaka, so the restrictive discipline of brahmacārīs does not apply to him. Madhumaṅgal is a brahmacārī too and he participates in Kṛṣṇa's Rādhākuṇḍa-pastimes.

1.7.158 Gopī-prāṇadhan translates the end of Sanātan Goswāmī's important ṭīkā here as: "It was not out of shyness that Śukadeva was reluctant to mention the gopīs by name; it was out of fear of losing control of himself."

But actually Sanātan Goswāmī says vaikalya prāptyeveti, Śukadeva was actually too agitated by ecstasy to pronounce the names of the gopīs.


  1. "Sanatan Goswami says vaikalya prAptyeveti, Sukadeva was actually too agitated by ecstasy to pronounce the names of the gopis."

    Who is Sukadeva Goswami in Lord Krishna's lila? I would suppose that in order to feel such sentiments of ecstasy he must have been already familiar with the gopis of Vrindavan.

  2. In the Bhagavat it is narrated that Lord Krishna Himself caused Shukadeva's birth by convincing him to leave his mother's womb. So Shukadeva in Krishna lila is Shukadeva. He was initially a brahmavadi, but while studying the Bhagavat from his father Vyasa he became attracted to Krishna (SB 2.1.9-10)

  3. But how did he feel such ecstasy if he had no direct connection with the gopis?

    In order to be too agitated to pronounce the names of the gopis, presupposes that he must have had prior knowledge of them.

  4. Anon, we are not dealing with an ordinary person here - Shukadeva was liberated from birth. Naked girls would not dress in front of him because he had no bodily consciousness at all. Secondly, even advanced sadhakas, that also have had no prior meeting with the gopis, could experience such ecstasy.

  5. "Naked girls would not dress in front of him because he had no bodily consciousness at all."

    I presume you meant to say that they 'would/could' dress in front of him.

  6. No they did not dress. It is described in the Bhagavata that when his father Vyasa chased him there were girls swimming naked in a pond. They did not feel any inhibition before Shukadev because he was beyond bodily consciousness but they quickly covered their bodies when Vyasa passed by, as he had not yet transcended and thus still saw them as girls.

  7. SB 1.7.110 Gopipranadhan: "Krishna's beauty never diminishes, even when He leaves Vrindavana to reside elsewhere for more than a hundred years. Only in nostalgic retrospect does
    Krishna think He was more beautiful during His youth."
    Advaitadas: This seems to be apasiddhanta and is not in Sanatan Goswami's tika.
    Thank you for this Advaitadas.

    Dvarakadhisha-Krishna is parambrahma (gita 10.11) and he is never affected by nostalgia. Indeed the nava-vrindavan-lila at the end of BB.Section.1 describes how Krishna is constantly doing meditation on Vraja-lila and that Krishna's meditation is in the mood of vipralambha-bhava. That type of meditation should never be called nostalgia. What's wrong with Gopiparandhan that he thinks of Krishna like this? Clearly Gopiparanadhana has never had actual darshan of the nama-rupa-guna-lila of Krishna. Why is he making "scholarly" comments about Brhadbhagavatamrtam when he doesn't understand that Vasudeva-Krishna has all pervading consciousness?

    I would suggest this statement of Gopiparanadhana shows his adhikar. It shows as well that he is not really qualified to translate this type of shastra since he is a commentator who believes Krishna in Mathura-Dvaraka is equally attractive as Braja-Kishore Krishna.

    It is my Guru Maharaj's opinion that a less than perfect person translating the books of the Goswamis should do that translation under the guidance of a Vaishnava who has proper understanding of siddhanta, and if there is no higher guidance available then a scholar should not be so egotistical as to think he can write a translation and sell some books for money to the members of his international society. What higher guidance does Gopiparanadha follow? The "we fell from Goloka" GBC?

    Advaitadas you may feel this is too controversial for you to publish on our blog and if so just delete this. I don't mind. But I am saying to you how I really feel about this.

    - Muralidhar

  8. "Advaitadas you may feel this is too controversial for you to publish on our blog and if so just delete this. I don't mind. But I am saying to you how I really feel about this."

    This post is a border-case. On the one hand the tone of this comment is a bit too confrontational for this blog, which seeks conciliation, but on the other hand it contains some valid points. I therefore distance myself from the more aggressive statements in it - they are purely Muralidhara's words and his responsibility only.