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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.


  1. Advaitadasji

    Firstly, why were the verses randomly chosen and not in order?

    Thanks for these, I am going back to studying the Bhagavat and your post gave me reason to read back on the verses.

    I’m using the one translated by Swami Tapasyananda of the Sri RamaKrishna Math.

    I think the import of 7.1.26-29 and 46 is summarized by 7.1.30 quote from the book “The gopis through lust, Kamsa through fear, Sisupala and other kings through hatred, the Vrishnis and other allies through kinship and you (Pandavas) through affection and we (sages) through bhakti, -- these O great king, are examples of the above mentioned doctrine.”

    So really it has to do with our respective levels.

    7.4.42 “ He gave peace even to the minds of persons distressed on account of evil worldly associations by the spiritual joy he radiated – the joy which he derived from the service of the Lord, the same reward which he got fro keeping the company of holy en devoid of any worldly possession.”

    So not only was he not contaminated by the bad association at school, but in fact he radiated peace and joy to anyone he had association with.

    7.5.5 This verse parallels what Sadhu Baba had said: Better to be thinking of Vraja while in Holland than be thinking of Holland while in Vraja—or something to that effect.

    7.5.23 Yes, it is also translated as “man” in the translation I am reading. Yes, that’s the magnanimity of the mahajan -Sri Visvanath-- even women-- everyone, I suppose.

    Be back for more of the study of the other verses.


  2. Ladies, I know three Malatis - one from Finland [unlikely to be commenting here], one from Australia and one from Germany. I surmise I am dealing with one of the latter two.
    Thanks for the comment. The verses are in the sequence of the book, but if you ask me why I chose them randomly - I have discussed the verses with some friends, made notes of the most interesting commentaries and selected them for the blog. It is the commentaries that are the crux of the blog, not the verses.

  3. Ok, let's get this straight. It's Malati from Oz.

  4. 7.5.30 “The brothel or heaven, it's all the same....”

    What exactly is the point here? Yes, it is something to do with the “proclivity of the mind” (the words from the translation I’m reading). And the external circumstances have not much to do with the state of our mind. However, aren’t there activities that indeed have the tendency to get the jiva entangled in the wheel of samsara? Doing an honest work to maintain your family is better than selling dope and splurging on drugs, and prostitutes.

    7.5.30 A call to urgency. Don’t procrastinate.

    7.7.29. The commentary says service to the guru which is a central teaching in GVism. However the translation I’m reading is more broad and which ties in with
    7.5.30: “Of the numerous ways for achieving this, the easiest is the path prescribed by the Lord himself – the practice of virtues that stimulate deep devotion to him.” And elaborated in the next verses:.7.7. 30-32: “Path of devotion consists in the cultivation of these disciplines; ..... reverence to the guru through service... keeping contact with devotees leading holy life (sadhu sanga); worship of the Lord; faith in the spiritual import of the accounts of his sportive manifestations’.... practicing meditation;.... supplying all beings with their needs according to one’s capacity, with the attitude that the Lord dwells in them...”.

    7.9.2 The commentary you wrote was that by Sri Visvanath? In my book, the verse is translated thus:" Even Sri Devi, when requested by the Devas, feared to go near him (the Lord) in that wrathful mood of his, unseen and unheard of at any time before”
    7.9.14. This verse is clear to me. From my book: “Therefore deign to defuse thy wrath. The asura is now dead and there is not one here deserving thy anger. Even pious men rejoice at the killing of the harmful creatures like scorpions and serpents. Similarly the whole world feels relieved by the elimination of the asura, and all are waiting to see thy anger abate. O thou of the man lion form, men will contemplate on this form of thine for freedom from fear”

    7.9.38 Alright. GV cites this as proving that Sri Chaitanya Mahaprahu is God, Krishna.The previous verse 37, talks about Hayagriva (an aisvarya Lord, the horse headed incarnation) and the translation of this verse, from my book is this: “O, all powerful Lord, incarnating thyself as man, animal, fish, and celestial, in different yugas, though dost destroy the wicked ..... Though thuo most protect the dharma appropriate to every age. Thy presence is hidden in the age of Kali” I think this verse is weak to establish the GV conclusion. This could mean that the Lord in hidden because his presence is subtle as in the form of the paramatma. Besides the Lord being discussed here is the Lord with the aisvarya (power) features, destroying the asuras, not someone in the state of madhurya. Also, dont you think that, because Kali is more degraded than the other yugas when the Lord used his aisvarya powerful features to straighten the asuras, the Lord if he has to appear in kaliyuga should use even way mightier, more powerful ways to defeat the wicked and undharmic? As the verse 38 says:" Though thuo most protect the dharma appropriate to every age”. Please dont take my comments of this verse in a negative light. I am honestly trying to understand.

  5. 7.9.40. The verse starts with O Achyuta....... Achyuta means, unfallen, steadfast imperishable, firm, etc. The verse is not just talking about sexual lust but generally about lust.... about our sense of taste, hearing and smell, and sexual tendencies, if not employed towards the Lord. Of course in the verse itself is this, which is just an analogy: “I am torn to pieces by their conflicting claims, as a husband by his several wives”. Anyway, I have read that male babies while still in the womb at a certain stage exhibit signs of erection.

    7.9.44 No, they can’t use this to criticize the bhajanandis. The previous verse 43. says, “ I am sorrowing for the ignorant persons who eschew the path of devotion, and for the sake of the petty short-lived pleasures”. Verse 44, therefore based on the previous verse is about compassion, generally. And compassion can take many forms. The last sentence of 44 is this “ So if thou art pleased to save me from samsara, I am willing to accept it only on the condition that all my fellow-sufferers too are saved”.
    And yes you are very correct when you said preaching can be for Krishna’s please or for pratishta.

    7.9.45 Yes, what you wrote was on the spot. But if I may take the other angle. Some devotees take to sanyass because they think they can cure their sexual agitation by donning the uniform and wearing the kaupin of a sanyassi. And then trouble happens, which gives the tradition a bad name. The last sentence of 45 says” A wise man ... my overcome sexuality as a man escapes the temptation of the itch to scratch oneself: but that is achieved only through thy grace”.


  6. 7.5.30 The verse says: punah punas carvita carvananam - the conditioned souls are chewing the chewed, in other words, they may enjoy their senses virtuously
    in heaven or sinfully in the brothel, but it is ultimately all the same. kabhu svarge uthay kobhu narake dubay - "sometimes he rises to heaven and sometimes he
    submerges in hell". Maintaining one's family through honest work is another issue from the issue of attachment to sense enjoyment, which is the focus of this
    verse. The Vaishnava will do such a job without attachment to the fruits or attachment to the sensuality his/her colleagues may be indulging in. This is surely another form of sannyasa in karma yoga.

    7.7.29 in the blog is not the verse, but the commentary by Visvanath, he says this because later [7.15.22-26] the Bhagavat concludes that service to the Guru is the panacea of all anarthas, the fast track approach of anartha nivritti.

    7.9.2 Yes Malati, that is the commentary of Visvanatha.

    7.9.38 The even more mighty way to defeat the wicked and adharmic is the process of harinama sankirtan which was given by Sriman Mahaprabhu. In his commentary Visvanatha Cakravarti quotes Bhag. 11.5.31 - he says that in the other 3 yugas the Lord clearly announced Himself but still, in the Kali yuga too He is
    worshipped - nAnA tantra vidhAnena kalAv api tathA zRNu - 'Hear now how He is praised [stuvanti] in the age of Kali through different rules given by the Tantras.' Then he quotes the full verse 11.5.32, how the Lord is appearing in a non-blackish form with His weapons [nAm holen astra, Sadhu Baba said - 'The name is the weapon'] and is worshipped through sankirtan yagya.

    7.9.40 Babies' erections are probably muscle spasms as there is no sexual drive yet in males until they are at least 11-12 years old. Indeed, males' sexual awakening takes place later than the females'.

    7.9.44 Thanks for the tip on verse 43, Malati. Indeed, it speaks of those averse to Krishna Katha and the following, famous, verse speaks about solitary munis, not about "bhajanAnandis" that hear Krishna Katha all day in Vraja-dhama.

    7.9.45 It is indeed attained by His grace, but it should be noted that Sannyas was originally not meant for 20-year old American hippies but for 75-year old
    born Indian brahmins. It is the former practise that gives our sampradaya a bad name.