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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Śrīmad Bhāgavat, canto 9, part 2

Some interesting comments on Śrīmad Bhāgavat’s canto 9 -

9.11.29 It is mentioned there that the people of Ayodhyā blessed the Lord. How can that be? There is a similar verse in the Stavāvalī, wherein the sakhīs and mañjarīs bless the divine Couple during Their amorous pastimes. This does not mean they feel themselves superior at all. It is like supporters during a sports match, they wish their heroes on the field the best. In fact, such a scene takes place in Rādhākuṇḍa's water-pastimes too - the cowherd boys and gopīs stand on the shores of the Kuṇḍa, cheering for either Rādhā or Kṛṣṇa. If the boss of an employee gets sick the employee can humbly bless him by writing him a get-well card, saying 'Mr Frazer, may you be well again soon.' There is no breach of etiquette there. This has nothing to do with aiśvarya or mādhurya. Just like we say 'Jai Śrī Kṛṣṇa' - may Lord Kṛṣṇa be victorious. It is a humble blessing upon the Lord. It is not a practical matter that anyone will carry out this blessing - it is a matter of attitude only.

9.14.28 Bhānu Swāmī uses the word ‘eunuch’ here for napuṁsaka. Here however napuṁsaka means ‘a fairy’, ‘a fruitcake’ or ‘a sissy’ – a not very masculine man.

9.14.38 Here Bhānu Swāmī says ‘women are prostitutes’ as a blanket statement. The verse, however, clearly speaks about puṁścalya, those among women who are running after one man after the other, not that every woman is like that.

9.19.27 Bhānu Swāmī wrongly translates the word prapāyā as ‘waterhole’, but going through a waterhole makes no sense at all. The word prapāyā means, according to the Motilal- and Gita Press- Bhagavat-editions, a place to drink water. In India in the summertime there are water-booths everywhere so people can drink water to somehow make it through the soaring heat. Meetings there are of course very brief.

9.20 Though neither the Bhāgavat nor the commentators attach a morale to the shocking account of Bṛhaspati, the Guru of the Devatās, raping and impregnating Mamatā, his sister-in-law, and then cursing his brother’s offspring, already in her womb, to become blind, it shows that learning alone is not enough to become a saint (Bṛhaspati is considered the most learned scholar in the universe).

9.23.35 bhojya not only means ‘enjoyable’, it can also mean the name of the girl’s dynasty, Bhoja. It is also funny to see how king Jyāmagha was henpecked by his wife Śaibyā, even in the old days. Both Śrīdhara Swāmī and Viśvanāth Cakravartīpāda describe that he was sweating and shivering out of fear of his wife.

9.23.38 Bhānu Swāmi forgets to include the word bhāryā-vaśa in his translation of the śloka from Viṣṇu Purāṇa, bhāryā-vaśa meaning henpecked, in other words, Jyāmagha was the most henpecked man ever to exist, not the greatest king ever to exist. Arjun single-handedly defeated the Kaurava Army at Virāṭ, but yet he was afraid to present his new co-wife Subhadrā to his first wife Draupadī, because she was so fiery.

Chapter 24 shows that Vasudeva, Kṛṣṇa's father, had an astonishing number of wives and children. As Vasudeva spent approximately 20 years in Kaṁsa’s dungeon, with only one wife, Devakī, one wonders when he created all the other offspring. Perhaps he was already elderly when he was imprisoned and created the offspring before that. Also astonishing that Kṛṣṇa does not have more names in relation to His many brothers and sisters. The only one known are Rāmānuja [younger brother of Balarāma] and Gadāgraja, elder brother of Gada.

9.24.58 Shows that the material world ‘conduces to the birth, continuance and destruction of every embodied soul [body]’, but it also ‘causes liberation if the Lord’s grace is there’ Viśvanāth Cakravartīpāda comments: “The Lord glances over the material energy, saying, ´Let the living beings enjoy here.” One may argue “How can that be mercy? It is full of suffering here.” Answer – he acts so that the jīvas can become detached from this enjoyment through bhakti and vairāgya.” There is some purpose given here to creation, though Viśvanāth Cakravartīpāda earlier in 3.7.10 said there is neither a beginning nor a reason for our conditioning. Of course, no ācārya comments on this verse that the world is a prison-house for rebellious souls that want to imitate Kṛṣṇa by lording it over the material nature out of envy of Kṛṣṇa etc etc, but some reason is given here nonetheless. Viśvanāth Cakravartīpāda also quotes a śloka from the Bhāgavata [10.87.2] to confirm that the world is both a playground for enjoyment and a launching pad for liberation.

9.24.61 shows Kṛṣṇa destroyed the darkness of Kali in advance [as He appeared just before the onset of Kali yuga]. Although Viśvanāth Cakravartīpāda abstains from connecting this verse to the Kali yuga avatāra of Śrīman Mahāprabhu, Kavi Karṇapura does so in his Caitanya Mata Mañjuṣā commentary. There he quotes Queen Kunti [SB 1.8.35], who also speaks of Kṛṣṇa giving bhakti sādhana in the future tense, indicating Kṛṣṇa would come again for this purpose, as Mahāprabhu.

9.24.65 Viśvanāth Cakravartīpāda comments that inability to tolerate even the blinking of the eyes, because then they cannot stare at Kṛṣṇa, is an exclusive symptom of rūḍha mahābhāva, so the words nāryo-narāś ca [both men and women] only applies to the gopīs and Kṛṣṇa's priya narma sakhās such as Subala. He quotes verses from the tail-end of Ujjvala Nīlamaṇi [15.232-3] to prove it. He furthermore explains that Kṛṣṇa's face is the sweetest part of His body, and that His ears and cheeks actually beautify His earrings, as it is said earlier in the Bhāgavat [3rd canto] that Kṛṣṇa beautifies His ornaments, though normally it is the other way around. Also His smile defeated the splendor of His earrings because it was tainted by the color of His chewed betelnuts. The betelnuts caused a slight hump in His cheeks too. Viśvanātha quotes the last verse of chapter 14 of Ujjvala Nīlamaṇi, which says that Subal and other boys possess bhāvānta, which is glossed as rūḍha mahābhāva by Viṣṇudās Goswāmī.

9.24.66 This verse is a summary of Kṛṣṇa’s entire līlā – He showed the limit of perfection in Vraja [vrajam edhita artha], in the form of the Vrajavāsīs’ prema, which is the crown-jewel of human pursuits [puruṣārtha śiromaṇi], and later He showed the path of varṇāśrama by marrying so many ladies and having so many children, all according to religious principles.

1 comment:

  1. 9.19.27 Bhanu Swami wrongly translates the word prapAyA as ‘waterhole’, but going through a waterhole makes no sense at all. The word prapAyA means, according to the Motilal- and Gita Press- Bhagavat-editions, a place to drink water. In India in the summertime there are waterbooths everywhere so people can drink water to somehow make it through the soaring heat. Meetings there are of course very brief.

    I have not read the full text of the verse so not so sure of the context, but I think Bhanuswami is correct. Bhanuswami is Asian-american whose first language is english. Waterhole in the American english or even in the Australian english means: a depression, such as a pond or pool, containing water, esp one used by animals as a drinking place or a source of drinking water in a desert.

    There is also an english word "watering hole" to refer to pubs, drinking tavern. I'm sure you have pubs in Holland too.

    I dont think the use of the word "waterhole" by Bhanuswami contradicts the translation given by Motilal or the Gita Press.

    And btw, Happy Janmasthami
    Jai Sri Bala Gopal!