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Friday, June 17, 2011

Śrīmad Bhāgavat, canto 7, part 3

This is the third and final part of my selection of favorite verses of, and commentaries on the 7th Canto Bhāgavat -

7.13.24, ṭīkā by Viśvanāth Cakravartīpāda - "The insatiable desires that propel the stream of birth and death are compared to rivers. The rains thrown by Indra are filling these rivers, but the sense objects created by Brahmä do not fill (or fulfill) the rivers of desire. Just as there are logs, grass, pebbles and thorns floating in the river, similarly I have also entered animal- demigod- and other species. Scared of crocodiles, turtles and whirlpools I have thought of different ways to be saved from them. Similarly I am scared of lust, anger, disease, thirst, hunger, birth and death, and I have done many things to be saved from them, but nothing helped. Just as one might sometimes find a sand island in the middle of the river, with four paths on it, I have also attained this human body while floating in the river of birth and death. From there one can either find a place of permanent peace or one can go back floating in the river. Similarly in this river of birth and death there is the demigod-body which is attained through virtuous acts performed in the human body with its insatiable desires, animal bodies like that of a pig, that are attained through sin, and the human body which is attained through a mixture of sin and virtue, and finally liberation, which is attained through the practise of jñāna."

7.14.11 - "Even one's wife should be offered for the reception of guests" - there have been quite some naughty interpretations of this verse but this is not what the ācāryas comment on it. Śrīdhara Swāmī warns - na tv anyathā mantavyaḥ (“One should not think otherwise”), and this is quoted by Viśvanāth Cakravartīpāda in turn.

There is the story that when Bilvamangal was a travelling sādhu he came to the house of a gṛhastha and asked the wife of the gṛhastha in charity. When the gṛhastha complied Bilvamangal, by that time becoming repentant, asked the lady's hairpin and jabbed his own eyes out, so he would never be visually attracted to women again. Neither of these things should be done - either asking a wife in charity or jabbing one's eyes out. There are unscrupulous sādhus who create a lot of offspring in the wombs of other men’s wives, in full knowledge of their husbands, who consider it an honor to thus serve a sādhu. In this commentary it is clear that this is not an authorized sādhu sevā. Also poking one's eyes out to avoid attraction is quite useless, as the desires are not removed from the heart in this way. King Dhṛtaraṣṭra was born blind, yet he found his way to Queen Gāndhārī still - they had 100 children.

7.14.39 - tretādiṣu harer arcā - Deity worship was introduced in Treta Yuga. Jīva Goswāmī comments on this in Bhakti Sandarbha [290]: pratimā svalpa-buddhīnām ity atra ca alpa-buddhīnām apīty arthaḥ - The śāstras sometimes say that the deity is for the less intelligent, but this is mean 'even for the less intelligent' nṛsiṁha-purānādau brahmāmbarīṣādīnām api tat-pūjā-śravaṇāt - "Because in Nṛsiṁha Purāṇa and other śāstras it is heard that even Brahmā and Ambarīṣa worshiped deities." In our sampradāya deity-worship is not considered only for the less intelligent.

7.15.25 — etat sarvaṁ gurau bhaktyā puruṣo hyanjasā jayet - This is one of the major statements in the Bhāgavat - 'all anarthas, that can be conquered in the above ways in the above verses, can be easily conquered all at once by devotion to the Guru." Viśvanāth Cakravartīpāda’s tika - atra kāmādi jayo jñānināṁ gurubhakter anusaṁhitaṁ phalaṁ śuddha bhaktānāṁ tvānuṣaṅgikam iti viśeṣo draṣṭavyaḥ. “For the jñānīs, victory over lust is the main result of guru bhakti, for the pure devotees it is a side effect.” Guru bhakti is of course the center piece of Gauḍīya Bhakti, aiming at the achievement of prema.

7.15.26 - In his verse-translation Bhānu Swāmī calls the Guru a 'spiritual expansion of the Lord' - this, however, is diametrically opposed to the word sākṣād in the text and the commentary, which says: sākṣād bhagavatīti bhagavad aṁśa-buddhir api gurau na kāryeti bhāvaḥ. yad vā upāsye bhagavatyeva sākṣād vidyamāne martyā’sad dhīḥ martya iti durbuddhis tasya śrutaṁ bhagavan mantrādikaṁ śāstrādikaṁ śravaṇa mananādikaṁ ca vyartham ityarthaḥ «Sākṣād Bhagavān means one should not even see the Guru as a particle of God, but as God Himself. It is foolish if one sees God, who is directly present (in the form of the Guru) as a mortal. If a fool thinks the Guru is an ordinary mortal not only his learning, but also his practise of his mantra, his hearing and his meditation on the Lord are all in vain. »

7.15.27 - Śrīdhara Swāmī comments on this verse: lokasya naro’sāv iti buddhir bhrāntir ity arthaḥ 'It is only the mistake of the people's intelligence that 'he (the Guru) is a human being'.
Viśvanāth Cakravartīpāda confirms this more elaborately in his own comment: nanu guroḥ pitṛ putrādayaḥ prativeśinaś ca taṁ naram eva manyante katham eka evāyaṁ śiṣyas taṁ parameśvaraṁ manyante? ata āha – eṣa iti bhagavān yadunandano raghunandano vā vai niścitam eva pradhāna puruṣayor īśvaraḥ yaṁ lokas tad avatāra kālotpanno janaḥ naraṁ manyate tena kiṁ sa naro bhavati? api tu parameśvara evetyevaṁ guror apīti bhāvaḥ “If his parents, children and neighbors consider the Guru to be a human being then how can one disciple consider him to be the supreme controller (parameśvara)? To this it is said: When the master of the material nature and the living beings descends as Yadunandana (Kṛṣṇa) or Raghunandana (Rāma) and people who meet Him while He is down here on earth, take Him to be a human being, does that mean that He is? He is certainly the supreme controller, and so is the Guru.”

7.15.47 - Viśvanāth Cakravartīpāda’s ṭīkānanu viṣaya-bhogo’pi śāstreṇa vihito na tu kevalaṁ niṣiddha eva – “Even sense enjoyment is enjoined in śāstra - it is not merely forbidden.” satyam adhikāri-bhedāt phala-bhedāc ca tatra vyavasthā draṣṭavyety āha - "Truly it is arranged [enjoined] according to eligibility and its results."

gṛhastha āśram is like a pedestrian refuge on the highway - if there would be no such refuge a broken down car would be smashed by other approaching cars. There must be one ashram where there is no pressure of renunciation on the sādhaka, where he/she can work on elevation while at the same time catering to the urges of the senses. adhikārī bheda, 'eligibility', here means that the license is given for those who are really totally unable to control their senses, yet also want to make progress in spiritual life. This is also encouraging in grass-roots preaching, that anyone in any stage of life or culture can take to bhakti immediately. Though a devotee should of course follow Vaiṣṇava principles, still purity is not a prerequisite for the chanting of Hare Kṛṣṇa - anyone who has a heart for it can participate. saj-jana, durjana, paṅgu, jaḍa, andha-gaṇa prema-bonyāya ḍubāila jagatera jana (CC Adi 7.26) 'The good, the bad, the lame, the dull and the blind - all people of the world were inundated by the flood of prema.' Sin is not an obstacle, but aparādha is - māyāvādī karma niṣṭha kutarkika gaṇa ninduk pāṣāṇḍī joto poruwa adham (29-30) 'Illusionists, those fixed in fruitive work, false logicians, critics, atheists and fallen bookworms could not be touched by the flood of prema'. We have seen that often with over-intelligent ex-devotees, who eventually feel they are smarter than śāstra and the ācāryas. Also, the above license for sense enjoyment should also not be seen as making fallen devotees equal to devotees in good standing. After uplifting and encouraging fallen devotees in Bhagavad Gītā (9.30-32, api cet sudurācāro, kṣipraṁ bhavati dharmātmā and māṁ hi pārtha vyapāśritya) Kṛṣṇa does acknowledge that the pure devotees are in an advantage - kiṁ punar brāhmaṇā puṇya bhakta rājārṣayas tathā - 'What to speak of the brahmins, the pious, the devotees and the saintly kings?' (Bhagavad Gītā 9.33)

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