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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

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Śrīmad Bhāgavata Chapter 1, Canto 1 - the rest


I had a remaining problem with the first verse of the Bhāgavat, so I asked Paṇḍit Satya-nārāyaṇa Dās about it -

Panditji Rādhe Rādhe and a happy Nandotsava to you. I am studying Bhānu Swami's translation of Visvanatha's tika to the first verse of the Bhagavata. In Viśvanātha's third explanation Bhanu Swami says that -

"Let us meditate on Kṛṣṇa from whom appears the highest rasa, śṛṅgāra-rasa (janma ādyasya). Previously this rasa, though existing, had disappeared because of the censure by conservative spiritual aspirants. "
Viśvanātha's Sanskrit reads:

tad yathā—ādyasya śṛṅgāra-rasasya janma yatas taṁ dhīmahi | pūrvaṁ tasya paramārtha-darśibhiḥ saṁyogāt sadbhir vigītatvena svato’pi nāśa evāsīd iti bhāvaḥ

It speaks of paramārtha darśibhih, seers of spirituality. It does not seem that Bhānu's translation is right. What does the ṭīkā actually say?

Paṇḍit Satya-nārāyaṇa Dās replied - “His translation is right, just needs an explanation to make it clear. The paramārtha darśibhiḥ mainly refers to spiritualists who were in the renounced order. Thus they did not appreciate śṛṅgāra rasa, did not study it, and thus it became invisible. Sannyasis were not allowed or expected to indulge in śṛṅgāra kathā. It was forbidden.”

More Sārārtha Darśinī reviews -
Verse 1.1.2 of the Bhāgavat says that sadyo hṛdy avaruddhyate, the Lord is instantly captured in the heart by those who hear the Bhāgavat. Viśvanātha says:

“This indicates that prema arises in the devotees, since the Lord is subdued only by prema.  Praṇaya-raśanayā dhṛtāṅghri-padmaḥ: the Lord’s lotus feet are tied by ropes to the devotee.  (SB 11.2.55)…..Kṛṣṇa enters the hearts of even those who have suddenly developed the desire to hear from the moment they begin listening. Since they develop the desire to hear from that moment, even before having faith, it means that they develop prema simply by hearing the Bhāgavat, what to speak if they heard with faith!” 

Tat-kṣaṇāt can also mean that due to Kṛṣṇa’s (tat) festival, frolicks (kṣaṇāt) he becomes caught in the devotee’s heart. Since Kṛṣṇa becomes supremely blissful by being locked in a heart filled with prema, this also indicates that Kṛṣṇa feels paramānanda and prema when the devotees hear the Bhāgavat. This result is not attained through any other scripture or sādhana (kiṁ vā paraiḥ).… In this scripture and in no other work, the essential object, the religion free from all deceit, is presented.

Verse 1.1.3 -
The Bhāgavata is the ripened fruit that fell off the desire tree of the Vedas, dropped from the mouth of the divine parrot, or Śukadeva. O Rasikas! Drink that luscious bhāgavata until you faint of ecstasy - (śuka mukhād amṛta) galitam means that it falls down of by itself when it is ripe on the tree - not by force. This fulfills its sweetness. Even after falling from a high position in the tree, it does not break, nor does it lose its sweetness. That is because it comes down from the highest position, from Nārāyaṇa, to the branch of Brahmā, and then to the mouth of Śuka. Thus it is endowed with liquid sweetness like honey. The parrot, Śuka, has even made a gate (opening) in the fruit with his beak for taking out the sweetness. Moreover, having been tasted by him, that fruit becomes even sweeter. Moreover, it remains unbroken, coming down step-by-step from the branch of Sūta and others. What is implied here is that without guru-paramparā, one cannot drink the Bhāgavat in its unbroken form, just by trying to taste it through the use of one’s own intelligence…..How should the fruit be relished? One should drink it, for this fruit is the essence of taste (rasam), devoid of skin, seed and other disposable parts.”
“One of the meanings of the word laya may be the eighth sāttvika-bhāva called pralaya, fainting. One should drink until one develops the eight symptoms up to the final one, fainting. Though one will not be able to drink the nectar when one has fainted, when the fainting wears off, one again awakens to consciousness and begins drinking until one faints again. One cannot give up drinking. Hence the use of the word muhuḥ (again and again). Or muhuḥ can mean that though one has drunk it, by again drinking it, the relish increases. Aho means it is astonishing. O knowers of rasa (rasikāḥ)! This refers only to the devotees, for their rati (bhāva) becomes the sthāyi-bhāva which enables them to relish the rasa of the Bhāgavat…..
Surely Kṛṣṇa is rasa, the fruit, but this fruit is not directly situated on the desire-tree of the Vedas. It has fallen down (galitam) nearby. This object, rasa, is not on the tree itself. It is not to be searched out in the Vedas, but rather it is in the mouth of Śukadeva. One can say that Vyāsa, knowing that this fruit was very tasty, got attracted to it, brought it and put it in the mouth of his son out of affection.  śukha-mukhāt can also indicate a cause: the rasa is sweeter because of coming from the mouth of Śukadeva
…….Bhuvi indicates Vraja-bhūmi. Bhāvukāḥ and rasikāḥ indicate the dear gopīs. O dear relishers of Kṛṣṇa’s rasa, drink the sweetness of the rasa arising from his form (bhāgavatam). Or pibata bhāgavatam rasam ālayam can mean “relish rasa up to the point of embracing (ālayam) Kṛṣṇa….. Kṛṣṇa’s rasa is indestructible (amṛta) and flows away quickly from the mind and eye (drava). Therefore drink that indestructible nectar in the form of his lips. In that case, nigama-kalpa-taror galitaṁ phalam means “rāgānugā-bhakti which is the fully ripened fruit (galitam) on the tree of the Vedas.” This fully ripened fruit is rāgānugā-bhakti following in the footsteps of the gopīs. It is seen in the Bṛhad-vāmana Purāṇa that the Vedas, adopting that type of bhakti, accepted the forms of hundreds of thousands of gopīs in Vraja bhūmi and drank the sweet nectar of his lips.
Verse 1.1.10 is the famous verse about Kali yuga-people –
In Kali-yuga people are generally short-lived, lazy, unintelligent, devoid of the good fortune of devotee association, and afflicted by various problems.

Viśvanātha comments –
“In Kali-yuga people are generally short-lived. If they have long life by chance, then they are too lazy to investigate spiritual topics. Even if someone is not lazy then he is unintelligent. Even if someone is intelligent, he is unfortunate, for he will be bereft of the company of sādhus. Even if someone has that association of devotees, he is afflicted. Under the control of diseases and other problems, he does not get the time to hear from the mouth of the devotee, or even if he does hear, he cannot discern the highest goal for the human being and then carry out actions to attain it.”

Verse 1.1.19 –
“We are never satiated with hearing Kṛṣṇa-kathā, which become more and more relishable at every step for the knowers of rasa.”

Viśvanātha comments - 
Uttama-śloka means “he whose fame or good qualities are the best.” Or it can mean “he who is praised by the best persons.”

In three ways one knows that one has had enough of something and is satisfied: by having a full belly, by lack of knowledge of the taste, and by lack of particular relish of the object. In this verse, there is insufficiency for the hearers (śṛṅvatām) because the exploits are not directly present, being present only as sound in the ether contacting the ear.  Satisfaction is not accomplished by a person who does not know rasa, someone who is just like an animal. Rasikas know [rasajñā, appreciate] rasa, but still they are not satisfied. Unlike chewed sugarcane which loses its taste and becomes detestable, the topics of the Lord are most excellent because of the increase in taste at every moment (pade pade) after tasting. Rasikas do not lose taste, but are still dissatisfied.