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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Śrīmad Bhāgavat Canto 1, chapters 2-6


Continuing our review of Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartī's commentaries on the first Canto -

1.2.4 After the famous verse nārāyaṇaṁ namaskṛtya naraṁ caiva narottamam, Bhānu Swāmī writes a footnote about Saraswati –

“This is not the material deity. In the spiritual world exist counterparts to the devatās of the material world who assist the Lord in his pastimes there. For instance divyā Sarasvatī gives Kṛṣṇa mantra to Brahmā in Brahma-saṁhitā.”

The words divyā sarasvatī appear in Brahmā Saṁhitā 5.24, and there is a verse in the Purāṇas describing demigods in the spiritual sky. We will have to wait until or whether we find pramāṇa about this particular mentioning of Sarasvatī. The sentence ‘tato jayam udirayet’ is justly translated as ‘and thus one must proclaim Jaya!’

1.2.6 Viśvanātha compares the growth of bhakti from sādhana bhakti to prema bhakti with the growth of a mango – the raw mango is sādhana bhakti, with inferior taste, and the ripe mango is prema bhakti – “The stages of childhood, youth and adulthood in one person are actually not conditions of cause and effect (since the person remains). On the other hand, when pots, cloth and cooked rice arise, the original names and forms of mud, thread and raw rice disappear. One cannot compare these examples to bhakti and prema.”

1.2.18 nityaṁ bhāgavata sevayā - By serving the devotees and the Bhāgavat, the major portion of nāmāparādhas (abhadreṣu) becomes weak.

1.2.20 With the development of āsakti, with worship of Kṛṣṇa at every moment, rati appears (prasanna-manasaḥ). Without rati, there could never be constant detachment from objects of material enjoyment, and without constant detachment, there could never be satisfaction of the mind. Then prema to Bhagavān appears (bhagavad-bhakti-yogataḥ). From that arises realization (vijñānam) of the Lord’s form, qualities, pastimes, majesty and sweetness.

1.2.23 Because one can realize fire through wood but not through smoke, tamas should be considered superior to rajas. In deep sleep (tamas) one has realization of oneness with ātmā. Thus some persons argue that between Brahmā and Śiva, Śiva is better.

1.2.24 jīvātmanas tu cit-karaṇatvād alpa-prakāśakatvād īśitavyatvād asvātantryād alpa-balatvācca guṇa-kartṛka eva tat-sparśe sati sva-jñāna-lopaḥ saṁsāraśca bhavatīti vivecanīyam - However the jīva, because he is only a particle of cit, having very little ability of knowledge and because he is controlled by the Lord and not independent, and has very little power, he is bereft of knowledge of his real nature and resides in this material world by contacting the guṇas.

1.5.9 Vyāsa protested to Nārada that he did actually glorify bhakti as being above mukti, as he had already written the Purāṇas at this point. He had written in the Padma Purāṇa –

anyatra puṇya-tīrtheṣu muktir eva mahā-phalam
muktaiḥ prārthyā harer bhaktir mathurāyāṁ ca labhyata

“Liberation is the highest goal in other holy places, but Hari-bhakti, prayed for by the liberated souls, is attained in Mathurā.”

And of course there is the famous mad bhaktim labhate param-verse in the Gītā (18.54). But Nārada told him he did not write this enough and therefore he needed to write the Bhāgavat.

1.5.10 It may be argued that none of the Purāṇas written by Vyāsa should be considered as a place of crows, since nothing there is completely devoid of the glories of the Lord.  To this however it can be said:

kali-mala-saṁhati-kālano’khileśo
harir itaratra na gīyate hy abhīkṣṇam
iha tu punar bhagavān aśeṣa-mūrtiḥ
paripaṭhito’nu-padaṁ kathā-prasaṅgaiḥ

“Nārāyaṇa, the soul of the universal form, who destroys the accumulated sins of the Kali age, is not glorified all the time elsewhere [in other scriptures]. But Bhagavān, with His unlimited forms, is abundantly and constantly described throughout the narrations of this Śrīmad-Bhāgavat.” (SB 12.12.65)

1.5.25 mahā-mahā prasāda is so powerful, that Nārada got bhakti just by eating some rice which was stuck to the plate of one of the sages his mother was serving!

In his commentary on verses 28-30 Viśvanātha says Nārada developed prema by hearing Kṛṣṇa-kathā from the sages for just two seasons (4 months in Vedic measure).

1.6.16 The Lord first appeared in Nārada’s heart, and then he appeared in the three functions of the mind—nose, ear and eye, so that he could experience the fragrance of His body, the sound of His ankle bells and the beauty of His face.

1.6.17 Prema and its symptoms are clearly mentioned here in the verse.


1.6.27-28 [28-29 in other editions] Nārada says: “At the time of dissolving my subtle and gross bodies, the time that I was waiting for for a long time made its appearance.”

Suddenly the two times (disappearance of the material body and attainment of the spiritual body) simultaneously made their appearance, connected closely like subject and predicate. “Just as sometimes lightning appears at the same time as another flash of lightning, similarly at the exact time of giving up my material body, the time of receiving my spiritual body as an associate also occurred.” In the next verse Viśvanātha continues on this, comparing the event as ‘sitting down and eating’, two things that occur simultaneously. Viśvanātha: “What should be amazing?  Even an outcaste who chants the name of the Lord once, now, at the time of uttering 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 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 (SB 10.29.11): jahur guṇamayaṁ dehaṁ sadyaḥ prakṣīṇa-bandhanāḥ: “Free of bondage, those gopīs abandoned their gross material bodies made of guṇas.” But others say that sometimes the Lord shows devotees literally giving up their bodies in order that the opinion of others are not contradicted. 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. This verse is discussed earlier in my blog of February 21, 2006

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