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Monday, January 23, 2012

Śrīmad Bhāgavat, Canto 11, part 3

The eleventh canto of the Bhāgavat is the most philosophical one. Apart from the disappearance pastimes of Śrī Kṛṣṇa there is practically only philosophy in it. Most Bhāgavat-verses that are quoted by the acaryas in their philosophical books come from the eleventh canto. Like in the previous 11th canto blog, this time too we briefly hark back to earlier verses that were not thoroughly discussed yet.

11.10.12 The Guru is the wood base, the disciple is the wood on top, and the teachings are the kindling stick. It is not that the Guru needs to be put on fire [figuratively of course] – the fire is present within the wood but it needs to be kindled with paripraśnena sevayā, humble service and submissive inquiry. A better and more popular example is the sugarcane. It has a very hard bark, so one cannot extract the sugar-juice from the cane with one’s bare teeth. A mill is needed to crush the cane to extract the sugar juice. That mill is the submissive service the śiṣya renders to Guru. It is not enough that there is just a Guru and a śiṣya – there must be interaction between them, a rubbing of wood which produces spiritual knowledge, leading to the  śiṣya’s enlightenment.

11.10.30 As mentioned in the previous blog, while discussing SB 11.21.23, śāstras sometimes entice simple souls, for their own benefit. Viśvanātha’s ṭīkā: yac ca tuṣyatu durjana iti nyāyenāṅgīkṛtaM svargādīnāṁ nityatvaṁ tan nirākaroti—lokānām iti. svarga-lokasya tat-pālānāṁ ca naiva nityatvam ity āha—lokānām iti. There is a nyāya (maxim): „ Let the wicked be satisfied”, so sometimes the śāstras proclaim the heavens to be eternal, to satisfy materialistic people, but actually they are not. The śāstras do this in order to regulate society, enticing people to act piously and not be a menace to society, by promising them mountains of gold in the afterlife. This is not on the platform of pure selfless devotional service, but if such simpletons come to Mount Govardhan to do parikrama for their heavenly rewards, they may get attracted to Kṛṣṇa bhakti too, even.
A second important point of this commentary is that one should not take all promises of śāstra of rewards in the afterlife too seriously - „As a reward for digging a well here for thirsty people one goes to Vaikuṇṭha for billions of kalpas, along with billions of generations of one’s ancestors”, or „ Anyone who snorts his nose in a mile’s distance from a brahmin goes to hell for as long as the sun and the moon hang in the sky”. Parents use the bogey-man too to frighten their children into good behaviour.

11.21.36 Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartī discusses the 4 levels of sound in his ṭīkā - The Veda is difficult to understand regarding its true nature and function. It has two forms, gross and subtle. The subtle form of the Vedas is difficult to understand. First, the Veda is parā, related to prāṇa, situated in the mūlādhāra-cakra. Then it becomes paśyantī, related to mind, situated in the navel in the manīpūra-cakra. Then it becomes madhyamā, related to intelligence, situated in the heart in the anāhata-cakra. Then it becomes vaikharī, related to the senses. In using speech, the sense organ called the voice is prominent. Moreover the Veda, made of material and spiritual prāṇa, is infinite, not divided by space or time.

11.22.39 explains why one cannot remember one’s previous lives: viṣayābhiniveśena nātmānaṁ yat smaret punaḥ jantor vai kasyacid dhetor mṛtyur atyanta-vismṛtiḥ Since the jīva does not remember his previous body because of absorption in his new body, the forgetfulness of that body by the jīva because of termination of present karmas is called death.

11.22.47,  Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartī’s tika - yauvanam ā-pañcacatvāriṁśataḥ, tato vayo-madhyam ā-ṣaṣṭi-varṣāt, tato yāvaj jīvanaṁ jaraiva tato mṛtyur iti – „Youth lasts till forty-five years. Middle age continues till sixty years. The rest of life till death is called old age.”

11.22.56,  Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartī’s ṭīkā - Though things related to imposition by false identity have no factual existence, the suffering arising from relationship with saṁsāra does not disappear. It does not disappear for a jIva who meditates on sense objects with intelligence directed at enjoying. An example is given of something which gives real suffering, though it is insubstantial. In a dream, one is bitten by a snake and feels pain.

10.25.24 Knowledge in the mode of sattva is not about Brahman, because Brahman is transcendental (SB 1.2.11), rather all the ācāryas comment on this verse that knowledge in the sattva mode is knowledge about the difference between body and soul.

11.27.25-26, in their comments, Jīva Goswāmī and  Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartī  mention the Yogapīth-pūjā with an 8-petalled lotus - tan-madhye navabhiḥ śaktibhir vimalādyābhiś ca mamāsanaṁ yoga-pīṭhaṁ tatrāṣṭa-dalaM padmaṁ ca kalpayitvā veda-tantrābhyāṁ vedoktena tantroktena ca. The original blueprint of the Yogapīṭha features Lord Nārāyan’s 9 śaktis, nowadays it has the eight sakhīs surrounding Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. This means the practice was not a later concoction by Bengali Vaiṣṇavas.

11.28.14 - Śrīdhar Swāmī and  Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartī  comment: nanu tarhi vivekino jīvan-muktasyāpi yat kiñcid viṣaya-dhyānaṁ durvāram ity anirmokṣa-prasaṅgas tatrāha—yathā hīti. prasvāpaḥ svapnaḥ bahūn anarthān bibharti, pratibuddhasya prāpta-jāgarasya na mohāya, tasya mithyātva-niścayāt - “Even a person with discrimination, a jīvan-mukta, has difficult avoiding some meditation on sense objects. This means he cannot get liberation.” Though a dream produces many bad experiences for the sleeper, for a person who has woken up, the dream does not produce bewilderment since he understands the dream was false.

11.28.17 ahaṅkāra is called amūla here, without root. Causeless and beginningless, so no prior fall or envy of Kṛṣṇa. Jīva Goswāmī comments that ahaṅkāra is cut by the sharp sword of worshiping the Guru.

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