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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Śrīmad Bhāgavat, Canto 3, part 1

This is the first of a series of blogs on some of my favorite commentaries on Śrīmad Bhāgavat, primarily the 3rd and 4th canto. The commentaries are by Śrīpāda Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda, unless mentioned otherwise-

2.9.32 Lord Nārāyan tells Brahmā: "By My grace, you shall have true knowledge about Me, as to how great I am, what is My essential character, in how many forms I manifest Myself, what virtues I possess and what My activities are. "

Viśvanātha Cakravartī's ṭīkā says: "Knowledge which is beyond the senses and which is true should appear to some degree to theists who are pure and have faith. Vijñāna refers to the realization of that entity beyond the senses, direct vision of My svarūpa as it is. This can not occur without prema- and sādhana-bhakti, knowing the Lord gives His blessing for that purpose. ..... By a gradual increase of sādhana- and prema-bhakti, that are special features of the Lord's mercy-potency, one gradually realizes the Lord's sweetness more and more. It is indicated here that 'eventually you will realize the most rare and sweet form of Mine as Kṛṣṇa in Vraja-bhūmi.' This (rūpa-guṇa-karmaka) naturally defeats the notion of any type of indistinct abstract realization like Brahman."

Brahmā is the greatest intellectual in the universe and he still needed the Lord's blessings for understanding things. That shows once more that mundane brain-salads alone do not lead to spiritual realization or understanding.

3.6.23-24 The moon-god entered the heart of the giant form of the universe - the moon-god presides over the mind, which indicates that the mind is in the heart. Vijayadhvaja Tīrtha comments - hṛdaya mano vāsa-sthāna 'The heart is the abode of the mind'. Viśvanātha also comments on SB 3.26.61 hṛdaya eva mana ādy-antaḥ-karaṇa-catuṣṭayasyādhiṣṭhānam - "The whole fourfold subtle body, including the mind, is situated in the heart."

3.7.9 Viśvanātha Cakravartī shows here one should not theorize about the reason why we are in the material world, like for being 'envious of Kṛṣṇa' or even 'to learn how to love God' etc - anādyavidyā saṅgavaśāt jīvena sva jñānānandaṁ vismṛtya dehābhimāna prāptaṁ deha dharmaṁ durbhagatvādikañca prāpya yadi kliśyate tarhi kasmai doṣo deya iti  "Because of association with beginningless ignorance the jīva has forgotten his blissful and conscious nature and has developed a false ego in the material body. He suffers due to acquiring bodily characteristics and misfortune, therefore no one is to be blamed."

3.7.10 — More of the same here - tatra bhagavataḥ pṛṣṭha sthitayā anādyavidyayā tamaḥ svarūpayā anādi vaimukhya rūpa bhagavat pṛṣṭha-sthānāṁ jīvānāṁ jñānam yallupyate tasya na vastutvam kāraṇam nāpi prayojanaṁ kim apy asti "Ignorance, which is beginningless, is situated on the Lord's back. She covers the knowledge of the jīvas who are situated on the Lord's back and are non devotees. Their non devotion is anādi. There is no real reason or purpose for their knowledge being covered."

3.7.16 - And yet more - "O learned Maitreya! You have accurately explained how the external energy, whose actions which are without purpose and without cause is under the shelter of the Supreme Lord, and you have explained how the jīva's bondage, which is without purpose and without cause, is under the shelter of the Lord's māyā. Except for that māyā, then is no other cause for the universe. ....The bondage of the jīva by ignorance, and the resulting misfortune of losing knowledge (ātma-māyāyanam), is under the shelter of māyā. This is also without a goal and without a cause."

3.7.20 — kiṁ ca seyaṁ mahat sevaivāti durllabhetyāha alpa tapasā iti lokarītyoktir mahat sevāyāṁ tat kṛpaika labhyatvena tapaḥ phalatvābhāvāt vaikuṇṭhasya vartmabhūteṣu tad bhakteṣu nityaṁ sādhana sādhyāvasthāyāṁ. “That the service of great souls is very rarely attained by those of scant penance is a popular saying (loka-rīti-ukti), for the service of the saints is attainable by their grace alone, it is achieved by the devotees (Vaikuṇṭha-vartma) without the fruit of penance as the eternal practise and goal.”

3.9.11 te sādhaka-bhaktāḥ sva sva bhāvānurūpaṁ yad yad dhiyā bhāvayanti tat tad eva vapus teṣāṁ siddha dehaṁ praṇayase prakarṣeṇa tān prāpayasi aho te sva bhakta pāravaśyam iti bhāvaḥ 
"Whatever the sādhaka bhaktas meditate on, according to their own feelings, the Lord will make them a siddha deha accordingly, which they will attain. Aho! This is how the Lord is subdued by His devotees!" The words sva sva bhāvānurūpa make it clear that the siddha deha is not a diktat from the Lord above, but something which spontaneously develops in the heart of the sādhaka / sādhikā.

3.9.12bhaktena sarva-bhūteṣv eva dayā kāryaiva tad api na sarva-muktir draṣṭavyā. nahi sarvatraivoptāny api bījāny uṣara-kṣārādi-bhūmiṣv api prarohantīti - "The devotee should be merciful upon everyone, and yet we do not see everyone getting liberated. (The clue is: ) Seeds can be sown everywhere, but still they will not sprout on saline or barren ground."

3.9.21 Brahmā prays to Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu when He wakes up: he mat-prabho kṛpā-pārāvāra jāgṛhi jāgṛhi kiṅkaro’haṁ maṅgalārātrikaṁ karavāṇīti bhāvaḥ "O Lord, ocean of mercy, wake up wake up I am your servant, and then performs maṅgala ārati." This is a very cosmic maṅgala ārati because this Lord has been sleeping for an entire kalpa. Mahaviṣṇu's maṅgal ārati is mādhurya on a cosmic līlā projected by Viśvanātha here.

There is anyway some mādhurya in these cosmic pastimes in śayan ekādaśī, pārśvaikādaśī and utthānaikādaśī. On Śayan Ekādaśī the cosmic Puruṣa goes to sleep, on Pārśva Ekādaśī He turns over on his other side after 2 months, and then, on Utthāna Ekādaśī He rises again after 4 months of rest. In the beginning of the cyclic creation the Lord also 'felt alone' in SB 3.5.24 - there Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda compares Lord Nārāyan in that situation with a gṛhastha without wife - asantam iva mene gṛhinīṁ vinā gṛhastha

3.14.16-21 and surrounding verses do not mean that sex affliction can be solved in marriage; Kasyapa's flattering words to Diti are not meant literally as objective siddhānta. Viśvanātha comments on verse 17: kaśyapasya bahu-vāg-vilāsa-racanā sāyaṁ-kāla-yāpanārthaṁ eveti jñeyam - "Kaśyapa used many playful words to keep Diti occupied until the inauspicious twilight time was over". He comments on verse 16: "Vidura was strong in dharma, but Kaśyapa was not. Kaśyapa did not glance at Diti or scold her in anger. If he would have done so her affliction of lust would have disappeared out of fear. Being dizzy with lust she could not tolerate any conciliatory words. Her lust simply increased."

The ṭīkā of verse 20 confirms what i said in my blog of June 6 durgo’tra viṣaya-bhoga eva. tatra daivāt patitān brahmacaryādīn eva bhraṁśantīti, na tu gṛhasthān, teṣāṁ bhoga-viśeṣasya śāstra-vihitatvena - "The fortress is sense enjoyment. If a brahmacārī falls into it, it ruins him, but not the gṛhastha because his enjoyment is according to śāstra." This is repeated in the next śloka's ṭīkā too - tad evaṁ striyam āśrityaiva gṛhastha eva sukhena viṣayam api bhuṅkte narake’pi na patati, na tu virakta. The ṭīkā of verse 21 says Kaśyapa is joking with Diti - by speaking of himself in plural case and of Diti in singular case Kaśyapa indicates he is joking with her. None of this means that sex desire is solved by marriage.

3.15.19  tarhi tad eva tapo vayam ito bhārata-bhūmiṁ gatvā ācarāma iti teṣāṁ mano’nulāpo dhvanyate. tataś ca vaikuṇṭha-vāsino’pi bhārata-bhūmau janma vāñchantīti vaikuṇṭhād api bhārata-bhūmer utkarṣo’nudhvanyate. ‘Then let us go to India to do penance` this is how they think to themselves. So it is indicated here that even the residents of Vaikuṇṭha desire birth in India and that India is even more excellent than Vaikuṇṭha."

3.15.20 "The ladies of Vaikuṇṭha do not incite lusty desires with their feminine features"
- Śrī Jiva Goswami comments on this verse: rajo nādadhuḥ kintu tāsām api parama-bhaktatvād bhakty-uddīpanam eva jātam ity arthaḥ 'Even they [the women of Vaikuṇṭha] incite devotion [not lust] due to their being the topmost devotees." Just like, if you meet a great devotee in the material world, you get bhakti. yeṣāṁ saṁsmaraṇāt puṁsaḥ - "even the remembrance of a great soul", sadya śudhyanti vai gṛha - "instantly purifies your abode". So though these great souls (parama bhaktatvāt) may appear as beautiful and attractive ladies, their sight is simply purifying, not lust-inciting, for the equally great male devotees of Vaikuṇṭha.

The prostitute that came to seduce Haridās Ṭhākur was converted by him, after which she shaved her head, gave up her beautiful dresses and ornaments, and began to chant day and night before the Tulasī-tree. This caused even the great mahāntas came to come and be purified by having her darśana (divine audience). Devotee-wives can very much enthuse their devotee-husbands in bhakti, because they have a heart. The Sanskrit word bhakti is female gender and the word jñāna is male, not by accident - the man's ratio and the woman's heart should complement each other and create a balance. The lame supporting the blind. So here the ladies of Vaikuṇṭha make themselves pretty for Kṛṣṇa. Even in the sādhaka world, down here, often ladies, and even men, dress themselves in their best outfits when they visit the temple, to please the Lord's eyes with their looks. It is not just that we should enjoy the sight of the deity, but it should be vice versa too.

3.15.24 hā hanta bhārata bhūmau kadā nṛ-januṣo bhūtvā vayaṁ kṛṣṇaḥ bhajantaḥ kṣaṇa mātreṇaiva vaikuṇṭhaṁ prāpnuyāmeti — "Alas! When can we take human birth in India, so that we can attain Vaikuṇṭha by worshipping Kṛṣṇa for only a moment?"

Verses 3.14.16-21 paragraph edited June 26, 2010, verse 3.15.20 added February 8, 2011


  1. Advaitaji, all these three comments by Cakravartipada could also be understood as dormant love/knowledge-vad, or rather, inherent sat-cit-andanda of the jiva, even though I assume he only talks about generic awareness and freedom from suffering. This is often very unclear in sastra, and thus there is no much interpretation:

    3.7.9 "Because of association with beginningless ignorance the jIva has forgotten his blissful and conscious nature and has developed a false ego in the material body. therefore no one is to be blamed."

    3.7.10 "Ignorance, which is beginningless, is situated on the Lord's back. She covers the knowledge of the jIvas who are situated on the Lord's back and are non devotees .."

    3.7.16 The bondage of the jIva by ignorance, and the resulting misfortune of losing knowledge (Atma-mAyAyanam), is under the shelter of mAyA."

  2. Malatiji,
    1. How can something be dormant when the opposite is beginningless? The ignorance and karma of the jivas is always said to be beginningless, so how can knowledge or love be dormant at the same time?
    2. Interpretations are human work. Dormant love is supta prema or nidrita prema, dormant knowledge is supta jnana or nidrita jnana, and I have never seen such terms in shastra.