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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta, canto 2, chapter Five

Continuing my review of Gopīprāṇadhan Dāsa's rendering of Sanātan Goswāmī's Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta -

2.5.7, commentary: "And whereas devotees of Viṣṇu see their Lord with four arms, the more intimate among the residents of Dvārakā generally see Him with only two."

2.5.12 The intimate discussion with Uddhava is about the Gokula pastimes, it is not political.

2.5.48 Sanātan Goswāmī confirms that one should not make a show of one's ecstasy - nija-bhāva-viśeṣa-prakāśa-bhayāc ca.

2.5.50 Nārada is described in the commentary as kautuki, humorous, while I always pictured him as a serious person.

2.5.52-53 "Just as the one Personality of Godhead Śrī Kṛṣṇa exists in many forms and many places, so also do we, His servants. So it is with all of us— Śrī Garuda and other attendants, devotees like Śrīmān Hanuman, and our friend Uddhava, and others too, like these Yādavas." This shows there are as many eternal associates of the Lord as there are forms of the Lord Himself.
Commentary: "Hanumān sings the glories of Lord Rāma in the Kimpuruṣa-loka of the Bhū-loka region and simultaneously in the Ayodhyā of Vaikuṇṭha. And Uddhava, whom Gopa-kumāra can see right before him, is simultaneously one of the principal companions of Kṛṣṇa in Dvārakā on earth, along with the Yādavas, the Pāṇḍavas, and others."

2.5.54 "All the Lord’s personal associates are at His hand like playthings.They are always fully dedicated to His service. Each assumes a variety of forms yet stays essentially one, just like the Lord Himself." Commentary: "So when He expands Himself and His abode into all sorts of forms, they accompany Him in suitably corresponding forms."

2.5.55 is something for those who want to dress Kṛṣṇa up with blue-jeans and mobile phone: "The abode of Mathurā, and paricchadas [garments and ornaments] like Kaustubha, Sudarśana and so, are also expanding innumerably with the Lord." In other words, these are unseparable features of the Lord. It also means that all flowers, trees and birds in Mathurā [Vraja] are not 'Indian' but reflections of the residents of the spiritual world. Recently I saw pictures of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa deities dressed in Scottisch checkers and even as Santa Claus - this is not just mundane and ridiculous, it is even offensive.

2.5.61 Commentary of Gopīprāṇadhan:  "Although time and space do not exist in the spiritual realm, Goloka is still considered far away in the sense that the common residents of Vaikuṇṭha cannot approach it."
Though this is siddhānta, strictly speaking it is not what Sanātan Goswāmī says in his ṭīkā. He says: śri golokākhyāṁ sthānaṁ śri vaikuṇṭhād api durlabhatvena paramoccatvāt "Higher than Vaikuṇṭha means that Golok is more rarely attained."

2.5.79-80 Since Mathurā is inside Braja-maṇḍal and thus inseparable from it, Mathurā City is also situated in Goloka. It is still called Goloka instead of Mathurā because the entire realm is a land of cows.

2.5.85 'Goloka is said to be far from Vaikuṇṭha because of its laukik bandhu vyavahāra - customs of dealing with God as an ordinary friend.' This is my translation of Sanātan Goswāmī's ṭīkā. Gopīprāṇadhana's translation is a bit too generic here.

2.5.95 Why Kṛṣṇa likes to come to the material world? In Śrīmad Bhāgavat 10.14.37 it is said He gives more astonishment to His devotees there (prapanna janatānanda).

2.5.97 States that Viṣṇu sometimes does vacate Vaikuṇṭha to go to the material world. This is hard to reconcile with the eternality, endlessness and omnipresence of the Lord. Verse 101 says that Kṛṣṇa always adorns the earth with His pastimes [bhūr-loka-stham api krīḍā-viśeṣair bhūṣayet sadā) - which means He would be eternally absent from Vaikuṇṭha. There is also the ālāt cakra vāda, the concept of the Lord's manifest pastimes rotating through the material universes like a firebrand....... A possible solution to this is that Yogamāyā makes Kṛṣṇa's absence seem to last for just a moment, as it is experienced by the cowherd boys in the aṣṭa kālīya līlā. Kṛṣṇa's 5-hour excursion to Rādhākuṇḍa is experienced by them as lasting just a few moments.

2.5.104 Mahā-lakṣmī in Nanda Mahārāja's house means just her intangible presence in the form of wealth, not that the goddess of fortune, who is eternally unable to attain Vraja, would have still attained it in person. That is already denied in Śrīmad Bhāgavat 10.16.36 and 10.47.60, that would otherwise contradict Śrīmad Bhāgavat 10.31.1, where the gopīs sing śrayata indirā śaśvat atra hi, "Indirā (Mahālakṣmī) is always rendering service here" as well as Śrīmad Bhāgavat 10.5.18. We feel the wind but do not see the wind-god, similarly we see the wealth of Nanda Mahārāj in Gokul but not the personality of the goddess of fortune.

2.5.105, Gopīprāṇadhan's commentary: "And how then could Vraja be a suitable place for the Supreme Lord to enjoy pastimes as an ordinary person? Vraja is suitable because the Lord reveals those opulences only in select instances, when they are useful for His purposes. If there is no special need for them He keeps them hidden. Thus the opulences of Godhead are only occasionally seen in Vraja, though the Lord’s charming pastimes as the darling of the cowherds are always visibly expanding."
Sanātan Goswāmī says it a bit differently - svasya īsasya vihāreṣu vighnād dhetoḥ ..... tan mahā vaibhava prakaṭa rūpam aiśvaryaṁ sadā na prakāśayet - "The desire-trees do not always display their prowess for it may obstruct His [the Lord's] sweet enjoyment."

2.5.143 Mundane rockets and airplanes have their own thrusters and propellors but in the heavens and in the spiritual sky they are vimānair vāyu-vegenohyamānair divya ratha viśeṣair yānaṁ - divine chariots (not cigar-shaped vehicles like airplanes here) that are carried by the force of the wind(-god).

2.5.145, ṭīkā: "The phrase “our whole community” implies that the gopas meant to include in their statement the young gopīs but were too embarrassed to mention Kṛṣṇa’s relationship with them directly."

2.5.172 Sanātan Goswāmī's commentary: "A devotee may develop Krsna consciousness to the point of being able to see Kṛṣṇa but may not be able to see Him busily enjoying the special pastimes of Vṛndāvana (tādṛk-krīḍam) with His intimate devotees. When more advanced, a Vaiṣṇava may occasionally see Kṛṣṇa engaging in His Vṛndāvana pastimes but not displaying the full scope of His blissful enjoyment (suprasannam). And even such a Vaiṣṇava may not be fortunate enough to enter Kṛṣṇa’s eternal pastimes and play with Kṛṣṇa in absolute freedom. The highest perfection of Kṛṣṇa-consciousness is rarely achieved."

2.5.216, ṭīkā: "Others, like strict brāhmanas who eat only what they have cooked themselves and offered to their own Deities, should be given rice, other ingredients, and pots and fuel for cooking." 
The word 'brāhmana' is not mentioned in Sanātan Goswāmī's ṭīkā. Those who get the raw ingredients are a class of vairāgīs, or it is happening in a region where householders, from whom the sādhus beg, tend not to be vegetarians. The śāstra says āhāra-śuddhau sattva-śuddhih, sattva-śuddhau dhruvāsmṛtih, smṛtilambhe sarva-granthīnaṁ vipramokṣah (Chāndogya Upaniṣad VII.26.2) - 'Pure food brings pure existence, pure existence brings extensive meditation, which again frees one from all knots." When you eat your own cooked food you neither win or lose - it is just your own manovṛtti, if you eat from others you may degrade or elevate yourself (usually degrade, it is very risky because you can not see on the outside which cook is pure or impure within the heart). It is very touchy socially, because you may not want to eat the cooking of an important person (relative, devotee, employer, friend). It may appear to be proud, but actually it is a discipline. Out of humility one can also not start eating one's relatives' beefsteak, thinking 'Oh I am the lowest in the world - anyone's food will elevate me - they are all superior to me'. That is not humility, that is stupidity. One can drink juice and milk from them, or eat nuts and fruits.

2.5.219 Sanātana Goswāmī says gopayen mātṛ jāravat iti na cātra mantavyam - bhakta-vareṣu nija pratiṣṭhārthaṁ tathā syād 'If ecstatic symptoms arise that may happen spontaneously, but it should never be done for false prestige. The śāstra says one should hide it like one hides the fact that one's mother has a paramour."

2.5.221 Gopīprāṇadhan writes in his purport: "Once sādhana-bhakti has yielded its fruit—rāgānugā-bhakti, spontaneous devotion....."
There is no mentioning in Sanātan Goswāmī's verse or commentary of sādhana culminating into rāgānugā bhakti - Gopīprāṇadhan's purport is outright misleading. Sanātan Goswāmī speaks of sādhana leading to prema, not to rāgānugā bhakti. rāgānugā bhakti is itself a sādhana.

2.5.226 Sanātan Goswāmī's commentary: "According to Nārada, only those who have realized prema can distinguish its real nature. The essence of prema cannot be defined in mere words. At best it can be recognized by its secondary characteristics (taṭastha-lakṣaṇa). Thus we can understand the presence of prema by its external symptoms like trembling, floods of tears, and standing erect of the bodily hair. Softening of the heart (cittārdratā) also counts as an external symptom because it is knowable by the mind, even though it is also said to be internal because it is not a directly visible object."

2.5.234 Though this verse seems to hint at Śrīman Mahāprabhu, Sanātan Goswāmī does not mention Him in his commentary.
Gopīprāṇadhan adds: "To protect the hope of Gopa-kumāra and other devotees to obtain love at the lotus feet of Śrī Rādhikā and the Lord of Her heart, here Nārada hints at the future appearance of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, the combined form of Śrī-Śrī Radha and Kṛṣṇa. For even subtly alluding to the merciful descent of Lord Caitanya, Nārada is all-glorious."
But this is just Gopīprāṇadhan's own comment.

2.5.251, commentary: vividha jñānena manaś cāncalyāt tathā'tyantautsukyābhāvācca. bhāva-viśeṣānutpattyā bhagavaddarśane'pi tādṛśa sukhaṁ nodeti - ".....Gopa-kumāra’s simplicity allowed him to see in a very pure loving mood the Personality of Godhead. A mind filled with all kinds of knowledge becomes easily agitated by critical thoughts and is not free to enjoy enthusiasm like the mind of a simple person. Had Gopa-kumāra been more sophisticated, he would not have been able to discover the Supreme Lord in His various aspects with as much sincere affection and would not have derived as much joy from the Lord’s darśana."


  1. Sadhu Baba told me to wear a dhoti in the west too. So far I have faithfully done that at home during my sadhana, but this was the first time [in 30 years] I went out on the street downtown with a dhoti on, on harinam sankirtan. Hopefully Sadhu Baba will be proud and pleased. It was also the first time I gave Bhagavad Gita class in Iskcon [in 30 years] and the first time I gave class anywhere in nearly 4 years.

  2. Sounds as though your local Iskcon chapter is relatively broadminded to allow you to give patha. In America, even Gaudiya Matha members are routinely barred from leading kirtan, what to speak of giving class.

  3. Well those banned fellows may have a reputation of loud opposition or rebellion while I keep a very low profile when I visit Iskcon. Secondly, I gave path basically because the car of the devotee who was supposed to do that broke down, so he was unable to attend both the harinam and the following program. So I was so bold to step in. The scheduled pathak showed up in the middle of the path, sat down and listened and was actually very pleased with its contents. Needless to say, I kept far away from controversial issues.

  4. Glad to hear that Vaisnavas enjoyed the patha.

    My experience has been that association with non-Iskcon groups is enough to be prohibited from speaking and performing other public activities in Iskcon. This, of course, is simply based on my limited observation. However, I understand that it is standard procedure. Naturally, there may be exceptions.

  5. My experiences with Iskcon centers have always been positive - in recent years I have been to temples in Atlanta, Amsterdam, Hohenstein, Utrecht and Vrindavan - no problems anywhere and actually quite cordial treatment. I know, giving path is quite a stretch, but the bhakta who let me do it is quite liberal anyway........