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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta, Canto 2, chapter 7 [final part]

This is the 11th and final part of my review of Gopīprāṇadhan Dās’s rendering of Śrīla Sanātan Goswāmī’s Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta.

2.7.115 Is a quotation from Śrīmad Bhāgavat 10.21.14 -

“O mother, in this forest all the birds have risen onto the beautiful branches of the trees to see Kṛṣṇa. With closed eyes they are simply listening in silence to the sweet vibrations of His flute, and they are not attracted by any other sound. Surely these birds are on the same level as great sages.”

Normally speaking one should not close one's eyes during sadhana due to the danger of laya and vikṣepa [falling asleep and spacing out], but I suppose the bird-like Munis in this Bhāgavat-verse are siddhas that need not fear sleep. This danger of sleep can be largely avoided if a sādhaka is allowed to get sufficient sleep - it is a myth that everyone should sleep 6 hours or less - it is medically well proven that some persons are naturally long sleepers and others short sleepers.
Sanātan Goswāmī comments: "According to the commentary of Śrīla Śrīdhara Svāmī, all sages, even if content in their own selves, should become birds in the Vṛndāvana forest." This may seem ordinary for us modern Vaiṣṇavas, but in his time, when nearly all sādhus were brahmavādīs or māyāvādīs, it was quite revolutionary. It may be one of the oldest references to a siddha svarupa.

2.7.119, commentary: "Apparently Kṛṣṇa was walking vigorously, because the kumkum became firmly attached to the grass and stones." This is not correct. Sanātan Goswāmī writes: prācuryāt sammarda viśeṣeṇa padābjayoḥ sampṛktatvāc cākṣīyamāṇaṁ sadā vana-sthalīṣu tata itaścaṁ krameṇa tābhyāṁ tṛṇādiṣu saṁlagnaṁ - 'Because Kṛṣṇa's lotus-feet intensely rubbed the gopīs' breasts and because there was so much kumkum on these breasts, the kumkum remained on His feet even though He walked all over the place with it...'

2.7.121, quoting SB 10.12.11: "These gopīs could see Kṛṣṇa only as an attractive youth (nara-dāraka). They gave no thought to His godly omnipotence. As if ordinary girls, they simply focused their attention on Him as the sole object of their desire and affection. Or— another reading—the same Kṛṣṇa who is the constant companion of the cowherd boys is also amorous appeal personified for all human females (nara-dārāḥ). Or else Kṛṣṇa figuratively tears apart all persons (narān dārayati) by filling their hearts with unique love for Him. Of course, Kṛṣṇa's attraction in the conjugal rasa is most appropriately described in relation to women, but because the gopīs presume every human being to be like themselves, they think that Kṛṣṇa tears apart the heart of everyone and fills it with love. This presumption is suggested by the use of the masculine form nara-dārakeṇa, which can be grammatically understood to include both males and females."

2.7.133, ṭīkā: "Of course the days [the gopīs] spent without Kṛṣṇa didn’t literally last hundreds of yugas, but, as indicated by the word iva [just like], such was the gopīs’ subjective experience while in the pain and anxiety of separation."

2.7.136 The gopīs were riding swings (inkana) in this Bhāgavat verse (10.44.15), but those leasurely activities are never disconnected from Kṛṣṇa as it could not stop them from drinking the nectar of Kṛṣṇa. They were going about their daily lives without it obstructing their Kṛṣṇa consciousness, as did Ambarīṣa, Prahlād and the Pāṇḍavas.

2.7.138, commentary: Dividing the phrase sva-sādhu-kṛtyam differently yields yet another understanding. su-asādhu-kṛtyam (which changes to sv-asādhu-kṛtyam) means “very un-virtuous acts.” Thus Kṛṣṇa indicates that even the things the gopīs do that lack virtue, such as behaving cruelly toward Him, are glorious."
What those cruel acts of the gopīs were is not explained; perhaps some of the harsh words they spoke to him before, in chapters 31 and 32 of the tenth canto?

2.7.140, commentary: "Kṛṣṇa assures Uddhava that even though the gopīs have for His sake abandoned loka and dharma, He watches over them and protects them. He continues to provide them the same worldly and superworldly benefits they have rejected. Thus when Uddhava reaches Vṛndāvana he will find the gopīs at home with their husbands and children, and of sane mind." Sanātan Goswāmī uses the word dhairya here [patience] for 'sane mind'. This seems to contradict this statement in the commentary of verse 141: "Unable to think and act coherently, they become as if insane." However, although the gopīs are very upset, when Uddhava comes to see them, Kṛṣṇa arranges for it that they are at least patient [dhīra] enough to hear him out, so that they understand that Kṛṣṇa cares enough about them to send Uddhava to them to console them.

2.7.144 "The moonlit autumn nights when Kṛṣṇa danced with the gopīs passed quickly for the gopīs, but not other nights. On other nights the suffering they underwent from Kṛṣṇa’s absence seemed to last millions of years. Or if we accept that Kṛṣṇa, almost every night, would find ways to sneak out of the house to meet the gopīs, then every night passed quickly, not just the nights of the Rāsa-līlā season. Only the day times were excruciatingly long." Since in aṣṭakālīya līlā there is Rāsa līlā every night this may all apply to the prakat līlā here, as described in Śrīmad Bhāgavat. This is anyway a verse quoted from the Bhāgavat (11.12.11), which deals with prakat līlā.

2.7.148 The first sentence in the commentary is by Gopīprāṇadhana; “It is obviously with irony that Uddhava speaks these words.” the word 'irony' is not well chosen, 'creating a big contrast' would have sounded better.
Further on in the commentary, "Uddhava thinks that they are Kṛṣṇa’s dearmost devotees whereas he has deviated in so many ways from the path of devotion: he has committed serious aparādhas, refused to carry out Kṛṣṇa’s instructions, and failed to develop confidence in the process of bhakti-yoga." It is not clear what this refers to, if this is narrated in other Purāṇas or it is just a statement of humility by Uddhava.

2.7.150, commentary: "In the opinion of some authorities, the Upaniṣads earned the right to become gopīs out of intense hankering to worship Kṛṣṇa in the gopīs’ special mode of prema. But this should be rejected as an untenable theory. Why? Because the Upaniṣads are inferior in devotion even to the goddess Lakṣmī. Thus the Upaniṣads, on their own merit, do not deserve the good fortune of becoming gopīs. Only on the strength of Kṛṣṇa’s special mercy could any of them ever attain that perfection."

2.7.154, end of the commentary: "Those trees cry unhappy tears because they cannot receive the nectar from Kṛṣṇa’s lips." There is bhāgya-bheda among the trees in Vraja - the trees that hang above Rādhākuṇḍa are most fortunate, because, unlike most gopas and all parents, they can actually witness Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa's jala-keli and provide shade and even ornaments (stored in their pumpkins), as well as offer seats to birds, peacocks and monkeys who can thus also witness the līlā.

Thus ends the review of Gopīprāṇadhan Dās’ rendering of Sanātan Goswāmi’s Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta. 


  1. "Normally speaking one should not close one's eyes during sadhana due to the danger of laya and viksepa [falling asleep and spacing out]"

    Is this mentioned anywhere in the sastras? It's interesting because I find it easier to concentrate when my eyes are closed. When they are open they dart around looking at all sorts of stuff.

    If the eyes are open, what are they supposed to focus on?

  2. Laya and viksepa are very wellknown topics in yoga-shastra - falling asleep and spacing out. It is mentioned in Madhusudan Saraswati's and Baladeva Vidyabhusan's purports of Bhagavad Gita 6.14, as well as in Visvanatha Cakravarti's Madhurya Kadambini. If you have a copy of Narayan Maharaja's Bhagavad Gita, with the purports of Visvanatha and Baladeva, check his purport of Bhagavad Gita 6.14. It carries a comprehensive prescription.

  3. From Bhanu Swami's translation of Sri Baladeva's commentary on 6.14:

    "With determined effort (sthiraH), one should gaze at the tip of the nose, or between the brows, in order to prevent the mind from sleeping or wandering. One should not look here and there.

  4. In the commentaries of both Sri Baladeva and Sri Chakravartipada on BG 6.14, the practices for the yogi meditating on the four-armed form of the Lord are discussed. Considering the practitioner, and the goal (the four-armed form of the Lord), addressed in this verse, is it possible that such recommendations do not apply to the bhakta with Vrajendranandana Krsna as his/her istadeva? Or, if other instructions are given for such Krsna bhaktas?

  5. No. Meditation is meditation, laya and vikSepa are laya and vikSepa, the mind is the mind. The istadeva does not matter in that regard. Please see my blogs of January 31, 2007, June 22, 2006 and May 14, 2006.