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Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Attaining the siddha deha

In Śrīmad Bhāgavat 1.6.27 (28 in some editions) it is said - "The spiritual body comes simultaneously with the giving up of the material body, like lightning being accompanied by its splendour. (kālaḥ prādurabhūt kāle taḍit saudāmanī yathā).

Śrīdhara Swami comments:  saudāmanīti viśeṣaṇaṁ sphuṭatva-pradarśanārtham - The adjective saudāmani indicates clearness (of the light) yad vā sudāmā-nāmā kaścit sphaṭika-parvataḥ.....sphaṭikādi-maya-parvata-prānte bhavā hi vidyud ati-sphuṭā bhavati tadvad ity arthaḥ 'It can also refer to the crystal mountain named Sudāma, close to which the lightning will be very clear."

Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda's ṭīkā - "At the time of dissolving subtle and gross bodies the time for leaving the body made its appearance. It is like saying "the time when the king went was the time he arrived". Intelligence could not make a distinction here. The disappearance of the material body and the appearance of the spiritual body simultaneously made their appearance, connected closely like subject and predicate. It is like the simultaneity of the lightning with another flash of lightning."

It reminds me of a verse in the Upaniṣads and the 10th canto Bhāgavat which describes reincarnation as a caterpillar placing its front paws on a new leaf while its back-paws are still on the previous leaf - a seamless transfer.

In Śrīmad Bhāgavat 1.6.28 (29 in some editions) Nārada said: “When my prārabdha karma was depleted, my body of five gross elements fell and the Lord brought me a transcendental body of His associate.”

Śrīdhara Swami and Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda comment: yā bhāgavatī bhagavat-pārṣada-rūpā śuddhā sattva-mayī tanuḥ pratiśrutā tāṁ prati bhagavatā mayi prayujyamāne nīyamāne – “This body is transcendental, functions as an associate of the Lord and is brought by the Lord.” If it is brought by the Lord it was not dormant but an external gift. This verse clearly shows that the siddha deha is not dormant in the heart of the conditioned soul, as is often believed, but is bestowed newly. I blogged on this verse earlier, briefly, on February 21, 2006. See also my blog of August 5, 2006

Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda's tika: The Lord previously promised hitvāvadyam imam lokam ganta maj-janatam asi: "Giving up this low body, you will become My associate." (SB 1.6.23) At the time of being made to accept a body which was śuddha-sattva (śuddham) because it was not a material body and because it belonged to the Lord (bhagavatim), my material body (pañca-bhautikaḥ) fell away. Giving up my material body and attaining a spiritual body were simultaneous, like the expression "I am walking while the cows are being milked." The Lord's own words were hitvāvadyam imam lokam. The use of the verb form hitvā (giving up the material body) in this case indicates simultaneously giving up the material body while receiving the spiritual body. It is said in the Bhāṣa-vṛtti: kvacit tulya-kāle'pi upaviṣya bhunkte ṛṇat-kṛtya patati cakṣuh sammilya hasati mukham vyadāya svapitity adikam upasankhyeyam: "There are examples in which the participles indicate simultaneous actions as in sitting down and eating, assuming debts and falling from esteem, closing the eyes and laughing, lowering the head and falling asleep." Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda quotes Śrīdhara Svāmī's ṭīkāanena pārṣada-tanunam akarmarābdhatvam suddhatvaṁ nityatvam ity ādi sūcitaṁ bhavati: "What is said in this verse is that the bodies of the associates of the Lord are pure, without prārabdha-karmas, and eternal. The bahu-vrīhi compound ārabdha-karma-nirvānah means that he had destroyed the karmas like fire burning wood. But this means that the prārabdha-karmas were not destroyed just now, but previously for that is accomplished by sādhana. prārabdha-karmas do not remain with the devotees who have developed prema-bhakti. For those practicing pure bhakti, destruction of prārabdha-karmas takes place during sādhana-bhakti. It will be said in the story of Priyavrata:

naivam-vidhaḥ puruṣa-kāra urukramasya
puṁsāṁ tad-aṅghri-rajasā jita-ṣaḍ-guṇānām
citraṁ vidūra-vigataḥ sakṛd ādadīta
yan-nāma dheyam adhunā sajahāti tanvam

"Such power is not surprising from persons who have conquered the six senses by the dust from the lotus feet of the Lord, since even an outcaste becomes immediately free of bondage of karma by chanting the Lord's name once." SB 5.1.35

Here is the meaning of the verse: This is not so amazing for such a type of person. What should be amazing? Even an outcaste (vidūra-vigataḥ) who chants the name of the Lord once, now, at the time of accepting the name, gives up his body. Since we do not see anyone giving up their body simultaneously with chanting, "body" here means his prārabdha-karmas which are being experienced in the present body. This is the opinion of some. Others say by the association of bhakti, like a touchstone, the body made of the three guṇas becomes free of the guṇas, as seen in the case of Dhruva. Thus, giving up the body means giving up the body made of three guṇas. This will be explained later at the beginning of the Rāsa-dance with jahur guṇa-mayaṁ dehaṁ sadyah prakṣīna-bandhanaḥ: "Free of bondage, those gopīs abandoned their gross material bodies made of guṇas." (SB 10.29.11) But others say that sometimes the Lord shows devotees, literally, giving up their bodies in order that the opinion of others not be negated. Thus Nārada, who had developed prema already, gave up his body. However it should be understood that he had already destroyed his prārabdha-karmas during his practice of bhakti. Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī explains this:

yad brahma-sākṣāt-kṛti-niṣṭhayāpi
vināśam āyati vinā na bhogaiḥ
apaiti nāma sphuraṇena tat te
prārabdha-karmeti virauti vedaḥ

"The Vedas declare that although meditation on impersonal Brahman cannot bring freedom from past karma, O Holy Name, your appearance at once makes all prārabdha-karma disappear." (Nāmāṣṭaka 4)

If the intended meaning was "When Narada's prārabdha-karmas were destroyed, his body fell away" the phrase would be expressed as prārabdha-karma-nirvāṇe nyapatat pañca-bhautika. But this grammatical structure has not been used and instead a bahuvrīhi compound has been used. Thus the meaning is a general statement "For the devotees, the body which has had its prārabhda-karmas destroyed, will fall away."


  1. Please explain when and how prarbdh karmas are depleted in case of sadhaka? Please explain "For those practicing pure bhakti, destruction of prarabdha-karmas takes place during sadhana-bhakti." Does it mean on the level of asakti prarabdh karmas are destroyed?

  2. Visvanath Cakravartipad comments on SB 5.8.26 - mrga-darakam abhasayati prakasayati yat tena svarabdha karmaneti. prarabdham hi dvividham sobhanam asobhanam ca tatradye bhakta-priyenapi nayana-tivranjana-dana-nyayena sva bhaktyutkantha vardhana vidagdhena bhagavataiva svecchayaiva prarabdha-tulyatvat prarabdham upapadyate yad udarko bhaktyudreka eva syat tat khalutpanna ratinam api sambhaved eva. dvitiyam tu pracina-prakrta karma-mayam eva yad udarko visayabhinivesa eva syat. atra tu sobhanenarabdheneti saksat susabdha evopanyastah. yogena bhakti-yogenaiva hetuna tapasah sarva visaya-tyaga rupam tapah kurvanah. Apyarthe cakarah. yadyapi bhaktiyogo bahu-vighnakulo na bhavati tad api bhagavad icchaya bhagavad aradhanad vibhramsita ityarthah.

    “There are two kinds of prarabdha karma - sobhana and asobhana (beautiful and not-beautiful). The first one is like a biting eye-ointment administered by the Lord, who is dear to His bhakta (bhakta-priyena), which serves to increase the devotee’s eagerness (to attain Him) and which is freely (independently) bestowed by this vidagdha (clever) Lord. It appears to be just like ordinary prarabdha. This is even possible to happen to those who have attained rati or bhava bhakti level. The second type of prarabdha is made of one’s old karma and is caused by absorption in the sense objects. The former, sobhana, is mentioned in this verse.”

    This is quoted in my blogs of October 24, 2010 and July 28, 2009.

  3. i have seen the seemless lightning and can vouch for this process