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Friday, July 08, 2011

Śrīmad Bhāgavat, 9th Canto, part 1

The following is a selection of my favorite verses of and comments on the 9th skandha (canto) of Śrīmat Bhāgavata.

9.4.63 ahaṁ bhaktāparādhīno hyasvatantra iva dvija - I am subdued by [the love of] My devotee, I am not independent at all."
This verse also establishes that it is by the grace of such a great devotee, rather than by the Lord's own grace, that someone becomes a devotee. If the devotee comes to Vaikuṇṭha, Kṛṣṇa will ask the Guru 'Who is this?' Śrī Guru will say 'He is My śiṣya, he can be allowed in'.
yasya prasādat bhagavat prasādo yasyāprasādān na gati kuto'pi - 'By Guru's grace there is the Lord's grace and without Guru's grace you are not going anywhere.'

9.4.64 nāham ātmānam āśāśe - Kṛṣṇa says that even His own internal and innate bliss does not give Him as much happiness as the love of His devotees. Even in the most intimate part of the Bhāgavata, during the Rāsa-līlā, this is described as ātmarāmo'pi līlayā - He performs līlā even though He is self-delighted. Though the jīva was never created at any point in history since it is beginningless, this is nevertheless the function and, if you like, reason for the existence of the jīva. Only a loving relationship between the jīva and Īśvara can make either happy. Śrīla Jīva Goswāmī says in Prīti Sandarbha (63):

"Bhagavan's ānanda is of two kinds: 1. The bliss that is part of His nature (svarūpānanda), and 2. The bliss that comes from His internal potency (svarūpa-śakty-ānanda). The second of these is again divided into two kinds: 1. The bliss of the heart (mānasānanda) and 2. The bliss of the Lord's power and opulence (aiśvaryānanda). Mānasānanda is the kingdom of bliss the Lord feels in His heart because of the devotional service offered by His devotees."

9.4.65 The Lord says: "How can I forsake a person who has given up house wife and children for My sake?" But how can this verse apply to Mahārāja Ambarīṣa, who was a great king instead of a renounced sadhu? The Lord explains in Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda's purport:

"You (Durvāsā) created a demon to destroy Ambarīṣa Mahārāja but Mahārāja did not move one step as he is totally detached from his body. You, however, may be a so-called renounced saint but you ran all over the universe to protect your body, when I unleashed My invincible Sudarśan Cakra."

A tyāgī can be attached to his Loṭā [waterpot], while a devotee-tycoon may be totally detached from his business empire and beautiful wife. It is not a question of official āśram-status but of the heart. Mahārāja Pratāparudra was willing to give up his entire kingdom just to have the darśan of Śrīman Mahāprabhu. Affection need not always mean attachment - one can and should be affectionate to one's near and dear without being attached to them - separation is inevitable in due course of time. Speaking of quality rather than birth [or āśrama] – many gṛhasthas live very austere lives, sleeping on straw mats on the floor, while many sannyāsīs bathe in luxury, wear gold Rolex watches and silk garments, have huge bank accounts and travel business class. Speaking of the substance versus the form! Ambarīṣa stood still and told Durvāsā - 'Kill me - I am not this body. I don't care.' and he was a big big king. Ambarīṣa had no more defense-attitude left, as he was fully in love with the Lord and ready to join Him at any time, without any attachment to this world. For a sādhaka it is a healthy attitude to want to protect his/her body as it is the instrument for self realization,the boat to cross over the ocean of birth and death [nṛ-deham ādyam sulabhaṁ sudurllabham plavaṁ sukalpaṁ guru karṇadhāra]. Śrīman Mahāprabhu said 'prema prayojana' - love of God is the goal. If that is established what is the use of the body? If someone wants to destroy it at the stage of prema, the premika bhakti will see it as a release arranged by the Lord.

9.4.68 In Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda's purport Durvāsā Muni asks Lord Nārāyaṇa: “Was I not right in getting angry with Ambarīṣa? What is more important? Respecting a brahmin [Ambarīṣa, as a kṣatriya, should not have eaten before a brahmin] or observing Dwādaśī [breaking the fast of Ekādaśī in time]?"
The Lord replied: 'You must ask Ambarīṣa. I do not know these things. Ambarīṣa is an expert bhakta, he knows. The śāstra says that drinking water is both eating and not eating, so Ambarīṣa has equally respected the brahmins and the Dwādaśī."

It is not that Lord Nārāyaṇā really did not know things and Ambarīṣa knew it better. The opening verse of the Rāmānanda Samvāda says that the ocean gives water to the cloud and the cloud returns the water to the ocean through rain. Similarly, the cloud-like Rāmānanda Rāya 'gave his knowledge' to Śrīman Mahāprabhu though of course he got that knowledge within the heart from Mahāprabhu Himself again. Pradyumna Miśra approached Mahāprabhu for teachings in bhakti, but, to glorify His devotees, Mahāprabhu humbly said: "I do not know anything. Go to Rāmānanda Rāya, he knows it much better than Me." The Lord was similarly approached by Raghunātha Dās Goswāmī and he, too, was forwarded to Śrī Swarūp Dāmodara. Each society needs it scholars and although scholarship is not the nucleus of bhakti, still each devotee-community also needs its scholars to provide scriptural support to their sādhana and sermons. One should and cannot approach God directly. mad bhakta pūjyabhyādhika - "My devotee is to be worshiped first and foremost". Even in the jñāna mārga the worship of Guru is compulsory, Śaṅkarācārya wrote this Gurvaṣṭakam - guror aṅghri padme manaś cen na lagnaṁ tataḥ kiṁ tataḥ kiṁ tataḥ kiṁ tataḥ kiṁ - 'If the mind is not fettered to the lotus feet of the Guru, then what is the use of anything?'

9.8.16 Asamañjasa behaved as badly as possible in order to keep people away. We have seen in the activities of great souls often before that they deliberately behave badly just to be left in peace. However, only a great transcendentalist could do this without committing aparādha. If any ordinary sādhaka does this he will surely commit aparādha.

9.9.7 "Lord Rudra, the very Self of embodied souls, into whom this universe is woven, warp and woof, as a piece of cloth into its threads, will bear your [the Ganges] force." This verse again confirms the non-difference between Shiva and Nārāyaṇa.

9.10.44 - puṣpaka does not mean flower plane but a plane stolen from Kubera by Rāvana, and taken by Rāma to return to Ayodhyā. Rāmāyaṇa narrates that it is constructed with gold and Vaidurya-jewels by Viśvakarmā.

9.10.46 The gurūn mentioned in the ṭīkā is not a single spiritual master, gurūn is in plural case here and means the host of superiors, like parents, parents-in-law, brahmins etc.

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