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Thursday, June 02, 2011

Śrīmad Bhāgavat, Canto 7, part 2

7.9.46  vārtā bhavantyuta na vātra tu dambhikānām – ‘All kinds of penance and pious conduct can be just a means of livelihood for hypocrites’. Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda comments: te tu prāyaśo’jitendriyāṇām indriya-bhogāyārthārthaṁ vikrīṇatāṁ vārtā jīvanopāyā bhavanti. dāmbhikānāṁ tu vārtā api bhavanti vā na vā. dambhasyāniyata-phalatvāt - "All the different practises of tapasya mentioned in this verse can be used as means of livelihood and even sense enjoyment for those with uncontrolled senses. It is not so, though, that all tapasvis will become such imposters."

It is poignant to see that such abuse took place even thousands of years ago, when the Bhāgavat was written. Especially in India, where people have very simple faith, it is easy to mislead them by cheaply putting some beads on, growing a beard and dressing in some fantastic outfit to be special and maintain one's family with their donations.

7.9.49 viramanti śabdāt – “Knowing Kṛṣṇa's glories are endless, the wise cease Vedic studies.” Śrīdhara Swāmī and Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda quote the Upaniṣads - taj jñānaṁ tvad-bhaktyaiva bhaven, na tu śāstrādhyayana-buddhi-kauśalādibhir ity āha—neti  "Such knowledge is attained through bhakti, not through scriptural study nor through intellectual cleverness." Śruti says kim-arthā vayam adhyeṣyāmahe kim-arthā vayaṁ yakṣyāmahe "For what reason will we understand and what meaning shall we speak?" and nānudhyāyed bahūn śabdān vāco-viglāpanaṁ hi tad (Bṛhad Āraṇyaka Upaniṣad) "Do not contemplate many words, it gives merely fatigue from speaking."

This (as well as verse 46) could come straight out of a sermon by Sādhu Bābā. One must be cautious, though, not to stop reading śāstra in an immature stage, it will lead to bewilderment and downfall, as Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda points out in his ṭīkā of Bhagavad Gītā 2.52.

7.9.52 Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda writes in his ṭīkātena prahlāda-buddhi-viṣayī-kṛtās tāt-kālikā jīvā nistīrṇā eva, jīvānām ānantyāt tad anyair eva jīvais tad-anantaraṁ brahmāṇḍam apūrīti jñeyam "The jīvas of whom Prahlada was thinking would be liberated, but since there is no end to the number of jivas, afterwards the universe would be full of them still anyway." pūrṇasya pūrṇam ādāya pūrṇam evāvaśiṣyate [Iśopaniṣad] - "If you subtract the full from the full, what remains is the full."

7.10.5  na svāmī bhṛtyataḥ svāmyam icchan yo rāti cāśiṣaḥ - This refers to big Gurus who flatter powerful politicians and rich merchants to secure their power and wealth for themselves.

7.10.13 Bhānu Swāmī writes an apt footnote here to the last sentence of Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda's ṭīkā where he says: evaṁ prahlādasyāṁśena sādhana-siddhatvaṁ nitya-siddhatvaṁ ca nāradādivaj jñeyam – “Like Nārada, Prahlāda is partly sādhana siddha and partly nitya siddha.” Bhānu Swāmī says: 'They are actually nitya siddha, but they also take forms of sādhana siddhas during the Lord's pastimes'. I would add to that that this also goes for the six Goswāmīs - they acted as sādhakas in Puri, Bengal and Braja but are actually nitya siddha mañjarīs.

7.10.30  varaṁ krūra nisargāṇām ahīnām amṛtaṁ yathā - Do not give nectar to a demon, it is like giving milk to a snake - it just increases their venom. It is like throwing pearls before swine.

7.10.39 The transformation from worms to wasp due to absorption in enmity does not take place in the same lifetime, it is shown by the word ante, it happens at the end of life.

7.11.13 – saṁskāra mantravanto garbhādhānādayo yasmin sa dvijaḥ. vichinna saṁskāro dvijabandhur ityarthaḥ. ajo brahmā yaṁ jagādeti brahma sṛṣṭyārambhata eva pravṛttāyāṁ dvija jātau viśuddha mātā pitṛkaṁ janmaiva mukhyalakṣaṇam ityarthaḥ. A person who performs saṁskāras, rituals like garbhādhāna with mantras, is called a dvija. A person with interrupted saṁskāras is called a friend of the dvijas. This was practised from the moment Brahmā created the world. The main characteristic of the twice born caste is birth from a pure mother and father.

7.11.33-34 These are the verses about extinguishing the fire of lust by throwing too much ghee on it (over-indulgence). Though I always thought these verses apply to the shudra race, this is not mentioned either in the ṭīkās or in the preceding ślokas. Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda mentions Yayāti and Saubhari as examples in his comments, neither whom were śūdras: "Because it is impossible for a person with excessive material desires to give them up at once, the śāstras will allow him to enjoy with an honest heart rather than forbid the enjoyment altogether. Eventually then detachment will take place. Examples are Yayāti and Saubharī. After much cultivation sometimes a field is no longer suitable for germinating seeds, which may be destroyed by the acidic soil. The heart in which desire abides in abundance as various impressions, gradually becomes detached. A fire is not extinguished by sprinkling drops of ghee on it but by pouring a huge amount of ghee on it. Similarly desire is extinguished by a huge amount of indulgence."

7.11.35 — kiṁ ca yasya puṁso varṇābhivyañjakaṁ yallakṣaṇaṁ varṇaṁ brāhmaṇādi jātiṁ abhivyañjayati yattacca sāmānyato vihitam eva śama-damādikaṁ na tu viśeṣato vihitam sandhyopāstādikaṁ yadyanyatra jātyantare'pi dṛśyeta tajjātyantaram api tenaiva brāhmaṇādi śabdenaiva vinirdiśet iti brāhmaṇādi tulyādaraṁ lakṣayati. na ca para dharma bhayāvahaḥ iti vācyam. śama-damādīnāṁ para dharmatrābhāvād iti bhāvaḥ. “If a man designated by a particular varṇa shows the qualities of another varṇa, he should be classified according to that other varṇa and he should be called by that name such as brāhmaṇa. What is meant by showing qualities is showing general qualities like control of the senses and the mind, not particular actions like performing sandhya-rites. This means he should be given respect like a brāhmaṇa. One should not say that performing another’s dharma is dangerous [as in Bhagavad Gītā 3.35], since attaining qualities like control of the mind and senses is not another’s dharma.” This is in line with Jīva Goswāmī’s commentary on Śrīmad Bhāgavat 3.33.6 in which he says that the dog-eater who chants the name of the Lord is to be given respect but not that he can literally perform Vedic sacrifices without first being born as a Brahmin. Here too Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda focuses on pious qualities like control of the mind and senses, not on non-brāhmins’ adhikāra for performing Vedic sacrifices.”

7.12.11 This verse does not mean that the gṛhastha needs permission from the Guru to make a child. The words guru vṛtti do not mean ‘permission from Guru’. guru vṛttir vikalpena means ‘the service of the Guru is optional for the gṛhastha, who is tu-gāmī, approaching the wife in her season. At that time Guru service is not possible. The context of the sentence is the brahmacārī’s duty of serving the Guru, which may not be possible for the gṛhastha, who usually does not live with the Guru. Ācārya Vīra-Rāghava comments: gurvī vṛttir gurvānuvṛttiḥ strī-saṅga rāhityādi rūpā brahmacarya vṛttiḥ gṛhasthasya tu vikalpena kadācid bhavet kadācin na syāt. kadā na bhavet? ....ṛtu-gāmina iti. ṛtu gāmitvād guru vṛtti vikalpa iti bhāvaḥ. ṛtu-kāleṣu guru vṛttir nāstīti ca bhāvaḥ. asyā vṛttir duṣkaratvābhiprāyeṇa gurviti viśeṣaṇam upāttam. “The brahmacārī does not associate with women, so he can constantly serve the Guru, but that is not so for the gṛhastha, who can sometimes do and sometimes not do this service. When can he not do? .... When he approaches his wife in the season. Then serving the Guru becomes an option. In the seasonal time the Guru is not served, for it will be difficult to accomplish.” Bhānu Swāmī translates Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda's tika as 'the person decides when he will have children or not'.

7.13.7 Madhvācārya comments: na vyākhyāyopajīveta - A sannyāsī should not make a living off explaining śāstra. Sridhara Swami says jalpa-vitaṇḍādi niṣṭhā 'Fixed in talking and arguing frivolously'. Also it applies to prestigious debates - one wants to establish one's own prestige by winning so many philosophical debates. Rūpa Goswāmī, when challenged by Vallabha Bhaṭṭa, readily admitted, out of humility and because he wanted to do his service in peace - that his Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu needed editing.

7.13.8 The sannyāsī should not take disciples out of greed or by force, not should he build temples and āśrams. If he manages a building, how can he be a wanderer [parivrājaka, as mentioned in 7.13.1]? na vyākhyām upayuñjīta [do not undertake scriptural explanations] could, in the modern days, be interpreted as 'not publishing books', as in the days of the Bhāgavat there were no printing presses yet. granthān naivābhyased bahūn - He should not study too many scriptures. Mahāprabhu was a big scholar when He was a gṛhastha, but there is no description of Him studying after taking sannyāsa. Canakya Paṇḍit reminds us that life is short and too much time is lost in intellectual pursuit – ananta śāstraṁ bahulaś ca vidyā svalpaś ca kālo bahu vighnatā ca.

7.13.21 - apavarga means here causeless devotion to Bhagavan, not liberation that destroys devotion.

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for the post.

    7.11.13. The translation from my book: A dwija or a twice born is a person for whom all the 16 purificatory rites have been done without a break.... and who is designated by that name in the Veda.* (By mere birth one does not become a member of the class). On all the twice born, who are pure by birth and work, is enjoined the duty of performing yajnas, studying the Vedas.... as also the duties pertaining to the ashrams that they belong to for the time being.

    Footnote in my book: From this it is to be understood that it is not mere birth that makes one a member of the Vedic varna...... It is the performance of samskaras.... The rites are meant to make the body and mind of the infividual fit for grasping and practicing high ideals. As samkarsas have either been given up or reduced to an apology for them, varna has disappeared as an organized social system. The modern caste system of India should never be identified with the varna system in which man’s guna (nature) and karma (work) are the clue to his nature.

    In my translation there’s no mention of friend of dwija. The footnote also made a social commentary that this system does not occur anymore in India as it is guna (constituent nature) and karma (work) which determine his varna.

    This is a very realistic assessment and in line with the IGM ideas which guide their society in regard assigning duties and responsibilities to their members. Is this happening with the trad community as well?

    7.11.33-34 So the verses are about burning off of karma or letting the karmic process takes its course.


    7.11.35 You said: This is in line with Jiva Goswami’s commentary on Srimad Bhagavat 3.33.6 in which he says that the dogeater who chants the name of the Lord is to be given respect but not that he can literally perform Vedic sacrifices without first being born as a Brahmin. Here too Visvanatha focuses on pious qualities like control of the mind and senses, not on non-brahmins’ adhikara for performing Vedic sacrifices.”

    Do you think Sri Jiva will give this commentary if he was alive today, considering the state of human society as a whole, everywhere. Do you think its wrong for other groups to give Brahman initiation to westerners considering that Indians don’t do much better as the non-Indians? I dont mean just westerners.

    Also I need to ask just what do you mean by Vedic sacrifices in your commentary, anyway?


    7.12.11 Bhanu Swami’s translation is very Iskconish.

    My book translates it thus: Good conduct and other virtues and disciplines of mind with reference to the brahmacharrin apply to the householders and sanyassins too with the following difference in regard to householders. He needs serve the teacher only occasionally and he may live with his wife at regulated times.

    The verses show that even the shastra gives leeway based on one’s ashram or responsibilities.

    7.13.7 I’d say Uggh. Im guilty . I read too much sciency stuff. However, I read stuff that I think will help me understand and appreciate the world which is a handiwork of God.

    7.13.8 I think this verse reflects the situation of the time.

    Therefore this speaks more of a historical truth than a practical truth. The modern world and the mindset of the modern men/women make it so that we should at least be able to know something if we are to effectively engage in dialogues with men/women in this modern world.

    7.13.21 Rightly so.

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  2. "7.11.13. The translation from my book: A dwija or a twice born is a person for whom all the 16 purificatory rites have been done without a break.... and who is designated by that name in the Veda.* (By mere birth one does not become a member of the class). On all the twice born, who are pure by birth and work, is enjoined the duty of performing yajnas, studying the Vedas.... as also the duties pertaining to the ashrams that they belong to for the time being.

    Footnote in my book: From this it is to be understood that it is not mere birth that makes one a member of the Vedic varna...... It is the performance of samskaras.... The rites are meant to make the body and mind of the infividual fit for grasping and practicing high ideals. As samkarsas have either been given up or reduced to an apology for them, varna has disappeared as an organized social system. The modern caste system of India should never be identified with the varna system in which man’s guna (nature) and karma (work) are the clue to his nature."


    In which parivara does this commentator appear, and on whose tika does he base his commentary? His notes and texts between brackets are not at all echoed in the tikas. The text says: saMskArA yad avichinnAH sa dvijo'jo jagAda yam "A twice born brAhmaNa is he in whose family the (16) purificatory rites have been performed in unbroken succession and whom Lord BrahmA has denominated as such." SrIpAda SrIdhara SvAmI comments on this verse: saMskArA mantravanto garbhAdhAnAdayo yasminn avicchinnAH sa dvijaH -
    "He is a twice born who went through all samskaras, such as garbhadhana” - which westerner’s parents went through the garbhAdhAna samskAra? Sridhara Swami continues: zUdraM tu na mantravat saMskAra yuktaM jagAda na copanayanavantam ato nAsau dvijaH....ato vivAha vyatirikta saMskArAnavazyakatvAt upanayanasya tu sarvathA niSedhAt na tasya dvijatvam - "The zUdra is not to be invested with mantras nor with the sacred thread, hence he is not a dvija." "Other than marriage there is no saMskAra for the zUdra, therefore the sacred thread ceremony is forbidden for him in all respects and he cannot be a dvija."

    “In my translation there’s no mention of friend of dwija.”

    In the blog you see it is a translation of the tika of Visvanath Cakravartipada

    “The footnote also made a social commentary that this system does not occur anymore in India as it is guna (constituent nature) and karma (work) which determine his varna.”

    The footnote is neither quoted from shastra nor from any of the tikakaras. The word varNa itself means birth or race. What causes birth? One’s attachment in the previous life to a certain guNa and karma – kArAnaM guNa sango’sya sad asad yoni janmasu (B.Gita 13.21)

    “This is a very realistic assessment and in line with the IGM ideas which guide their society in regard assigning duties and responsibilities to their members.”

    So what is your varna then, Malati? And who has decided your varna for you?

    “Is this happening with the trad community as well?”

    I have not seen any Brahmin threads distributed to shudras or foreigners by any Babaji or Goswami in the past 29 years, or before that.

    “Do you think Sri Jiva will give this commentary if he was alive today, considering the state of human society as a whole, everywhere.”

    Yes. Birth takes place according to one’s previous life’s attachment to a certain guna [mentality, culture] and karma [action]. It is not that from January 1, 1900, suddenly souls take birth at random in any species, just by accident.

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  3. “Do you think its wrong for other groups to give Brahman initiation to westerners considering that Indians don’t do much better as the non-Indians? I dont mean just westerners.”

    It is wrong because there is no sanction for that in any shastra, nor is any ritual prescribed for giving Brahmin threads to sudras or foreigners. It is not a question of ‘doing better’. You can not earn a brahmin thread like you earn promotion in a job or a degree at college, just as you can not earn a different skin colour during this lifetime by either good or bad conduct. Modern Brahmins in India do not wear the thread either because they simply do not care anymore, so there is no need to challenge them anyway. I don’t claim that Brahmin is merely by birth.

    “Also I need to ask just what do you mean by Vedic sacrifices in your commentary, anyway?”

    Soma yajna is mentioned as an example in the SB 3.33.6, which is clearly a glorification only.

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