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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Śrīmad Bhāgavat 7th canto, part 1

Continuing the Bhāgavat-commentaries (mostly by Viśvanāth Cakravartīpāda) we now arrive at the seventh canto -

7.1.26 One should not criticize the Lord in a way that hurts Him. It will bring the critic in a bad situation, as it is said in Śrīmad Bhāgavat [10.74.40] ‘If after hearing criticism of the Lord or His devotee, one does not leave, one falls from one’s piety.’ There are two types of criticism - favorable and unfavorable. Favorable criticism is a transformation of prema, as in Śrīmad Bhāgavat 10.47.17 - "Like a hunter, He cruelly shot the king of the monkeys with arrows. Because He was conquered by a woman, He disfigured another woman who came to Him with lusty desires. And even after consuming the gifts of Bali Mahārāja, He bound him up with ropes as if he were a crow. So let us give up all friendship with this dark-complexioned boy, even if we cannot give up talking about Him."
This is a bud of light from the crest jewel of prema (puruṣārtha cūḍāmaṇi marīci mañjarīva), not attained by anyone except the gopīs. Unfavorable criticism is of two types - that which arises from absorption in the Lord and that which does not arise from absorption in the Lord. The first type takes place in Śiśupāla. The bad karma created by his criticism was destroyed immediately by his absorption in the Lord and created a neutral condition and qualification for vaidhi bhakti. This does not hurt the Lord and it destroys the sin of the critic [due to his absorption] should see the Lord according to one's own emotions. By attaining sāyujya the demons who hate the Lord realize themselves as non-different from Him. One statement can have a different meaning according to the person in question. Of course a devotee cannot be advised to be absorbed in the Lord in enmity, as it is said one should accept favorable things to bhakti and reject unfavorable things. Absorption in fear is like that of the gopīs, in their anxious extra-marital affair with Kṛṣṇa, and without fear is like that of Rukmiṇī and the other wives of Kṛṣṇa, who could love Him openly.
7.1.28-29 - Just as the grassworm attains the form of his besieger the bee through absorption in hatred, Sisupala and other demons also attained sārūpya, the same form as Kṛṣṇa  by their hateful meditation on Him. This meditation is still that purifying to bestow such an effect.
7.1.46 — yathā vahninā kanakasya mālinyam eva hanyate na tu kanakaṁ tathaiva jaya vijayor bāhya mālinyāvaraṇayor naṣṭayoḥ satoḥ jaya vijayāveva tejaḥ puñjākārau śrī kṛṣṇaṁ praviṣṭau janair dṛṣṭāviti bhāvaḥ - Just as fire destroys the impurity of gold but not the gold itself, similarly Jaya and Vijaya’s external contaminated covering was destroyed when they entered into the powerful form of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. All people could see that.
7.4.38 - Just as a one-year old child is always embraced by the parents, Prahlād was always embraced by the Lord during all his activities - eating, sleeping etc.
7.4.42 - Prahlād was a very powerful devotee - he was not contaminated by the bad association at school, though he was unable to convert his demoniac father himself.
7.5.5 - anyathā vanaṁ gato’pi gṛham andha-kūpam - "One can still fall in the blind well of household life even after having retired into the forest." One must be sure to be ready to live in a holy place fulltime. If one retires there with many material desires one will get into scandal after scandal there.
7.5.23 – This is the famous verse śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ, about the nine-fold process of bhakti which, in the next verse, is said to be for all puṁsaḥ. Normaly puṁ means man, but here Viśvanāth Cakravartīpāda comments: puṁ śabdasya jīva mātra vācakatvāt striyāpi. “The word puṁ means all living entities, also women.”
7.5.30- Prahlāda told Hiraṇyakaśipu – “For you Kṛṣṇa is false, Kṛṣṇa consciousness will never arise in persons like you. It will not come from you, nor from your Guru nor a combination of both. Factually you did not get the shower of footdust of the great souls."
Even Prahlāda's own great devotional influence could not save Hiraṇyakaśipu. punaḥ punaś carvita carvanānāṁ – chewing the chewd, wet stool, dry stool – Viśvanāth Cakravartīpāda asks a rhetorical question here - “but gṛhasthas should go to swarga [heaven] sometimes?” yeṣāṁ teṣāṁ veśyālayaḥ svargo vā tulya – “The brothel or heaven, it's all the same....”
7.6.1 iha bhārata bhūmau. iha means India. nanu tān yauvanādāvapi kṛtvā kṛtārthībhavati tatrāha prājña iti. yadi kaumārānte mṛtyuḥ syāt tarhiḥ kiṁ bhaved iti prakṛṣṭa jñānavān. The wisest man will consider: Even by practicing sādhana in youth one can attain perfection - what if I die after my childhood? nanu tatra kā cintā janmāntaraṁ tu bhāvi tatraiva bhakti kāryeti. tatrāha durlabhaṁ mānuṣāṁ janma tad api bhāgyāllabdham apyadhruvaṁ adya vartamānatve’pi tasya śvaḥ sthitau niścayābhāvāt. [One could argue] "Why should we worry? We can do bhakti in the next life also!" To this it is said: "Human life is rare, and attained by good luck. It is also uncertain. Nothing is certain, even in the present." nanu tarhi tāvan mātra kālena kuto bhaktisiddhas tatrāha arthadaṁ muhūrta mātra vyāpi bhaktimatām api khaṭvāṅgādīnāṁ siddhi darśanāt. [One could argue] "How can bhakti siddhi be attained in this time?" To this it is said arthadaṁ, in just a moment one can become devoted, instant siddhi is seen in Khaṭvanga and others.
7.7.29 - Viśvanāth Cakravartīpāda comments: guroḥ śuśrūṣayā snapana saṁvāhanādikayā – “The word śuśrūṣā means bathing and massaging the Guru, etc.” (practical services)”.
7.7.33bhaktir īśvare vāsudeve bhagavati yayā samlabhyate ratiḥ – “By bhakti one attains (samlabhyate) rati (love or bhāva)”, another proof that prema is not dormant within the heart.
7.9.2 - Though Lakṣmī had seen Narasiṁha in the previous kalpa and He eternally resides in Vaikuṇṭha, she was still astonished due to the agency of the līlā śakti (playful potency), so that the rasa of adbhuta (wonder) could be created around Narasiṁha.
7.9.14 - Parents cannot always protect a child, often it is seen that children suffer despite their being well protected by the parents. It is also seen that parents abuse their children, like Ajigarta who sold his son Śūnaśepa as a human sacrifice. Medicine does not always protect a sick person, because even persons who take medicine still have to die. A boat does not protect persons from drowning, because boats also sink (like the 'unsinkable' Titanic, which sunk even on its maiden voyage, killing 1,500 passengers). Without you (Nrsiṁha) no remedy for suffering is successful.”
7.9.38 - (In Kali-yuga) You are covered because externally You show a different form and mood, later this conclusion will be explained [in 11.5.31-32, hinting at the avatāra of Śrīman Mahāprabhu]
7.9.40 - Prahlāda says here that his genitals are pulling him towards women, but how can a 5-year old feel like that? It seems clear that the Bhāgavat sometimes makes more moral statements than historical ones. In other words, the ācāryas want to teach something and so put such words into the mouth of an infant.
7.9.44 - Though this verse is sometimes quoted to criticize ‘bhajanānandī Vaiṣṇavas’ for being ‘selfish and only engaged for their own liberation’ this verse clearly speaks about munayo, munis of the Himālaya, yogīs and so, not rāgānuga bhaktas doing bhajan at Rādhākuṇḍa. Any type of bhakti is to be done for Kṛṣṇa's pleasure, and either bhajan or preaching can be done for either Kṛṣṇa’s pleasure or for lābha pūjā pratiṣṭhā (profit, adoration and distinction)
7.9.45 - This the famous verse about scratching an itch. Normally scratching an itching spot should solve the itching, but what is meant here is making matters worse by trying to solve them, like trying to satisfy lust by giving in to it.

This was the first of a three-part synopsis of the 7th canto Bhagavat.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Completion of 6th Canto Bhāgavata commentaries

This is the completion of the blogs about the comments on the 6th Canto Bhāgavat, the last installment of which was posted on December 6, 2010 -

6.9.9 - śaśvat kāma varenāṁhas turīyaṁ jagṛhuḥ striyaḥ
rajo-rupeṇa tāsvaṁho māsi māsi pradṛsyate 

"Women took a fourth part of Indra's sin of slaying a brahmin by accepting the reaction of their monthly unease. In return they received a boon of constant sexual capacity."

6.9.21 - "Anyone who tries to look for shelter in anyone else but the Lord is like a fool who tries to cross the ocean by holding on to the tail of a dog."

Śrī Jiva quotes Bhāgavat 8.24.49 in his ṭīkā:

na yat-prasādāyuta-bhāga-leśam
anye ca devā guravo janāḥ svayam 
kartuṁ sametāḥ prabhavanti puṁsas
tam īśvaraṁ vai śaraṇaṁ prapadye 

"No gods, gurus (mundane superiors, not the Sat Guru), or ordinary persons can give even minute shelter compared to the Supreme Controller. "

As well as the Mahābhārata -

yas tu viṣṇuṁ parityajya mohād anyam upāsate
sa hema-rāśim utsṛjya pāṁśu-rāśiṁ jighṛkṣati 

"Anyone so bewildered as to give up the worship of Viṣṇu for any other god, is like one giving up a heap of gold for a handful of dust."

Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda comments: taṁ vinā aparaṁ devatāntaraṁ karma-yogaṁ jñāna-yogam apara-yogaṁ vā śaraṇārthaṁ bāliśo mahā-mūrkha evopasarpati, na tu vijñaḥ - "A person who takes shelter of other gods, karma yoga, jñāna yoga or other yogas is a big fool, not a wise man." yathā śunaḥ pucchena sindhum atitartum icchati, sa śvā eva sindhuṁ tartuṁ na śaknoti, kim uta tat-puccha-grāhī ! "He is like someone trying to cross the ocean by holding on to the tail of a dog. The dog cannot even cross the ocean himself, let alone someone who holds on to its tail." pratyuta sva-puccha-grāhiṇaṁ sa śvā eva dṛṣṭvā prathamaṁ samudra-madhye kṣipati, paścāt svayam api nimajjatīti bhāvaḥ "The dog will first shake off the person who holds on to its tail and then drown himself too."

6.11.22 - According to Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda here Vṛtrāsura sticks up his nose against Indra, saying that although Indra may be wealthier than him, it is not a sign of the Lord's mercy. Wealth causes a lot of agitation due to envy which will disturb one's bhajan. It connects to Śrīmad Bhāgavat 10.88.8, which states that losing one's wealth is a sign of Kṛṣṇa's mercy.

6.11.24 - This verse is very famous. Vṛtrāsura saying 'Let me again be a devotee' refers to his previous birth, when he was a devotee named Citraketu. He wants to get out of his demon-body and return to a devotee-body. It does not mean that he fell down from the spiritual world due to envy of Kṛṣṇa and wants to return there. The whole story of Indra and Vṛtra also shows that mundane piety [Indra] is really inferior to a demon being a devotee. Often we see persons born in very low families, including foreigners [non-Indians] displaying much more purity, humility and integrity than born devotees or naturally pious people [like some Indian brahmins and even sādhus].

6.11.26 - Fearing owls and afflicted by hunger, baby-birds long to see their mother at every moment. In the same way the Lord will protect the devotees from deprivation and enemies. The calves bound up at home desire the milk from the mother cow, but they do not desire to serve the mother. Not satisfied with this example he gives another example. A wife whose husband has gone for a long journey is morose out of separation. The wife wants to serve her husband to please her and wants to please her own senses by relishing his beauty and sweetness, his qualities, actions and joking, so I will also serve You and You will satisfy me. The difference is however that the wife pleases the husband with dāsya [service], sakhya [friendship] and śṛṅgāra rasa [erotic love], whereas I only desire to serve You [dāsya].

6.15.4 - "Oh king, just as grains appear or do not appear from seeds, children appear or do not appear from fathers impelled by māyā."

The Bhāgavat says [3.31.1] karmanā daiva netrena jantur dehopapattaye - the jīva gets a body due to its karma and the decisions of Fate. So we see illicit relationships, conducted by vow-breaking sādhus or adulterous gṛhasthas, with the use of contraceptives, resulting into [unwanted] pregnancies and perfectly decent marriages, where contraceptives are taboo, still remain childless. Seed alone is not enough to fertilize a woman - the Lord must want a certain soul to be born from a certain couple, even if that may be an illicit couple. Some claim that each sperm cell of a man [a man releases an estimated 400,000,000 of them in each ejaculation] contains a soul and that an ejaculation thus is equal to the genocide of all of Europe or North America, but this is clearly not so, according to the above statements of the Bhāgavata. dhānā means roasted grains and a woman. Just as grain does not arise from roasted grains, children do not arise from those without the karma for having sons.

6.16.39 kāma-dhiyas tvayi racitā na parama rohanti yathā karambha-bījāni
jñānātmany aguṇamaye guṇa-gaṇato 'sya dvandva-jālāni

“Oh Lord! Desires for material pleasure, directed to you, who are composed of spiritual knowledge and are different from the material guṇas, do not produce further material bodies, just as roasted seeds do not grow.  The networks of duality causing rebirth arise from the material guṇas.”

Āśā-vāṇī – words of hope. If one conceives a Kṛṣṇa-conscious child, even with obvious lusty desires, or one takes prasāda with a desire to enjoy the tongue, still one does not take birth again in the material world.”

6.18.33-34 - The husband is the supreme object of worship for a woman as the representative of the Lord." Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda's ṭīkā:

"The husband is a jīva, so how can he be the Lord? The Lord Vāsudeva is the presiding deity of the citta and manasa is worshipped by karma yogīs by objects indicating the devatās, like Indra holding the thunderbolt and different other images, with utterances like indrāya svāhā and agnaye svāhā - women similarly worship the Lord in the form of their husband."

6.19.5 - Though the verse says that the Lord is fully endowed with compassion, fortune, glory, majesty, virility and other excellences, Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda makes the following lovely commentary:
"By your kṛpā śakti you wait for the Tulasī-leaf offered by the devotee, thus You are not independent. You ask the devotee 'Please give Me something to eat because I am hungry today" thus You are not fulfilled in desires. You say to a devotee in a dream "My house and garden are worn out, where will I play?" thus You are bereft of opulence. Though You have all yoga siddhis like aṇimā, bound by the ropes of prema of the devotee, You cannot go anywhere." Bhānu Swāmī translates this verse as 'You mercy is hiding" which is not in the BBT translation, nor in the Gita Press translation.