Adventures in Humility

News, Views, and Chews on spiritual issues.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Priti Sandarbha 13

Read this for background. And now finally, Priti Sandarbha gives a few more details about the attainment of the spiritual body before proceeding to describe the activities and powers of the liberated soul:

The bodies of the liberated souls are also described in these words of Chandogya Upanisad (8.13.1):

azva iva romANi vidhUya ... dhUtvA zarIram
akRtaM kRtAtmA brahmalokam abhisambhavAni

"As a horse sheds its hairs, . . .so will I shed this external material
body and go to the spiritual abode of the Supreme Lord."

Thus, by the intervention of the Supreme Lord's inconceivable potency, the devotee leaves behind his material body and attains a spiritual body like that of the Lord. This is described in the following narration of Dhruva Maharaja's activities (Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.12.29):

bibhrad rUpaM hiraNmayam

"Before getting aboard, Dhruva Maharaja worshiped the airplane, circumambulated it, and also offered obeisances to the associates of Visnu. In the meantime he became as brilliant and illuminating as molten gold. He was thus completely prepared to board the transcendental plane."
Srila Sridhara Svami comments:

"This means he attained a form brilliant and illuminating as molten gold."

Sarsti liberation is described in these words of the Supreme Lord (Srimad-Bhagavatam 11.29.34), which I have already discussed in Bhakti-sandarbha (anuccheda 309):

martyo yadA tyakta-samasta-karmA. . .

. . .mayAtma-bhUyAya ca kalpate vai

"A human being who renounces all fruitive activities, offers himself to Me, and yearns to serve Me, becomes immortal. He becomes glorious like Me."

So that's pretty clear I think, is it not? Sri Jiva Gosvamipada sets down the siddhanta in his stupendous Sandarbha series and succeeding Acharyas after him have followed his example: The weight of the evidence is in support of the "given" theory. However, there does seem to be anecdotal support in favour of the inherent theory and I hear that some say that both approaches are possible. Possibly the "given" theory is the "official line" but I wouldn't be surprised if both paths were possible. There are a multiplicity of ways to attain the Lord's company and we should rejoice that they are all possible. Consider BG 4.11:

ye yathA mAM prapAdyante
tAMs tathaiva bhajAmy aham
mama vartmAnuvartante
manuSyAH pArtha sarvazaH

As all surrender unto Me, them I certainly reward.
My path is followed by all men, O son of Pritha, in all respects.

What more need be said?

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Priti Sandarbha 11-12

Read here for background.

Priti Sandarbha 11 contains a little more detail about the form by which the liberated soul possesses:

Liberation is also described in these words of Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.6.28):

prayujyamAne mayi tAM
zuddhAM bhAgavatIM tanum
nyapatat paJca-bhautikaH

"Having been awarded a transcendental body befitting an
associate of the Personality of Godhead, I quit the body made
of five material elements, and thus all acquired
fruitive results of work (karma) stopped."

It is again described in these words of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.6.23):

hitvAvadyam imaM lokaM
gantA maj-janatAm asi

"By service of the Absolute Truth, even for a few days,
a devotee attains firm and fixed intelligence in Me. Consequently
he goes to become My associate in the transcendental world after
giving up the present deplorable material worlds."

Jivapada's commentary: In Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.6.28 the Supreme Personality of Godhead promises to give the devotee a spiritual form like His own. Here "tAM bhAgavatIm" means "a form that is a fragment of the spiritual effulgence of the Supreme Lord", "zuddhAm" means "untouched by matter", "tanum" means "a form given by the Supreme Personality of Godhead", and "mayi prayujyamAne" means "attained by me when the results of karma came to an end". This happened when the material body made of five elements fell away (nyapatat paJca-bhautikaH). Here it is seen that the subtle material body of mind, intelligence, and false ego is also destroyed. Because of his faith in the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the devotee's past karma also comes to an end. In his commentary on this verse Srila Sridhara Svami explains:

"The bodies of a personal associates of the Supreme Lord are eternal, pure, and free from karma."
This verse was spoken by Sri Narada to Sri Vyasa.

Priti Sandarbha 12

The body of a liberated soul is also described in these words of Srimad-Bhagavatam (8.3.19):

yaM dharma-kAmArtha. . .rAty api deham avyayam

"After worshiping the Supreme Personality of Godhead, those who are interested in the four principles of religion, economic development, sense gratification and liberation obtain from Him what they desire. What, then, is be said of other benedictions? Indeed, sometimes the Lord gives a spiritual body to such ambitious worshipers."
Srila Sridhara Svami comments:

"In this way the Supreme Lord gives the devotee an eternal spiritual body."

So this is very clear: After Anuccheda 10 confirms that the soul can manifest many forms and that the residents of Vaikuntha have forms alike to the Lord's, Anuccheda 11-12 confirms that such a form is bestowed. In this connection, "bestowed" and "attained" both refer to the same thing in the context of Gaudiya sadhana practice. It is not inherent in any case, scripturally speaking.

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Priti Sandarbha 10

If you just stumbled here, then read this first for background. The language of the text clearly points to a translator from ISKCON (probably the late Kusakratha das). Here we go with some choice quotes from Priti-sandarbha (Anuccheda 10) of Sri Jiva Gosvamipada after he briefly describes the five kinds of liberation:

By his own will a liberated soul can manifest many different forms. This is described in these words of Chandogya Upanisad (7.26.2):

sa ekadhA bhavati, dvidhA bhavati, tridhA bhavati.

"The liberated soul may manifest one form, two forms,
three forms, or more forms than that."

He then explains that Vaikuntha is free from maya and that one who reaches there never comes back. And then at the end of Anuccheda 10, he says:

In final liberation the devotees attain a spiritual nature and form like those of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself. This is described in the following words of Srimad-Bhagavatam (3.15.14):

vasanti yatra puruSAH
sarve vaikuNTha-mUrtayaH
ye 'nimitta-nimittena
dharmeNArAdhayan harim

"In the Vaikuntha planets all the residents are similar in form to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. They all engage in devotional service ot the Lord without desires for sense gratification."

Here "nimitta" means "result", and "animitta" means "without cause". These two words together mean, "without the desire for material sense gratification". "Dharmena" means "by devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead". Here the word "vaikuntha" means "the Supreme Personality of Godhead". "Vaikuntha-murtayah" means numberless forms of the individual souls who reside in Vaikuntha and who are manifest from tiny fragments of the effulgence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. There are many liberated souls, each with his own form, and there is one Supreme Personality of Godhead, who has His own form. Still, the liberated souls have forms that are like the form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This verse was spoken by the demigod Brahma to the demigods.


So after first describing that it is within the capacity of the jiva to manifest one, two, or more forms, Sri Jivapada says that in Vaikuntha all the souls there have a form of their own that is similar to that of the Lord's.

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More evidence of Siddha-deha

I'm not so keen on philosophical egghead discussions these days and would much prefer to do Krishna-katha, but of course it is necessary to have a strong philosophical grounding. Either way I would prefer not to argue too much about it. Back in August '06 I ordered some books via the Net including the famed Govinda-bhashya Vedanta commentary by Sri Baladeva Vidyabhushan, and David Haberman's "Acting As A Way To Salvation". I spotted some interesting tidbits that helped to make sense of a long-running controversy about the siddha-deha (spiritual body): Is it bestowed by the guru or is it inherent within?

Of course this is a bone of contention between those who adhere to those respective views as well, with much acrimony and bitterness being expressed in defending those views. Like I said I'm not interested in arguing but would prefer discussing this as a matter of shastra, a spiritual discussion that is elevating. So you can go ahead and see what I wrote about it back then, check out the comments too. The discussion went further on Advaita dasji's blog. The general view is that the majority of scriptural evidence (and also real history) argues for the "bestowed" view; that the siddha-deha is bestowed upon the aspirant by the guru, and that the siddha-deha is realized and perfected through appropriate spiritual practice. The other view - that the siddha-deha is inherent and automatically manifests upon reaching a certain level of purity - seems to be a minority view and has very little actual scriptural backing. How can we say this?

Sri Rupa Gosvami, Sri Sanatan Gosvami, Sri Jiva Gosvami - three of the famous Six Gosvamis - subscribe to the "given" theory. So does Sri Baladev Vidyabhushan, the great Acharya who provided a commentary on the Vedanta-sutra. In fact you would be hard-pressed to find a prominent Gaudiya-acharya who does not back the "given" theory as, to cut a long story short, makes more sense in the whole context of Gaudiya siddhanta in the long run. But since Sri Baladeva's Vedanta commentary was being used to promote the "inherent" view, I took it upon myself to transcribe the relevant sections from the Govinda-bhashya. You can find it here. I was also surprised to find Sripada Madhvacharya backing the "given" theory.

So I wanted to tie up some loose ends now that I've found more evidence for the "given" theory by Sri Jiva Gosvami. Sri Jiva's Priti-sandarbha was briefly quoted in the original post which was what I had, and I did not have the original and whole text to see the quotes in their proper context.

Well, now I do! :-)

So roll on the next post.



Priti Sandarbha 10
Priti Sandarbha 11-12
Priti Sandarbha 13

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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Mahaprabhu The LORD!

I love this little extract from Caitanya-bhagavata that I spotted the other day. The scene is set like so:

A sannyasi arrived at the house of Advaita Prabhu and, after the normal niceties, desired to ask Advaita Acharya a question. "How is Keshava Bharati related to Chaitanya?" Advaita was in a quandary, for how could he answer? The Lord has no superior, but Chaitanya had accepted Sri Keshava Bharati as master. Contemplating on both the worldly and spiritual aspects of the question, Advaita replied, "Keshava Bharati is Chaitanya's guru. But you already knew this so why did you ask?"

At that moment, Advaita's young son Achyutananda came running into the house after play and had heard the words of his esteemed father. In mock anger he chastised Advaita for describing Chaitanya as an ordinary mortal having a guru, and corrected his "misconception". What follows are the beautiful words of Sri Achyutananda as he describes Mahaprabhu as the Supreme Lord and identifies Him as Maha-Vishnu, the Creator:

ananta brahmāṇḍa sei caitanya-icchāya
saba caitanyera loma-kūpete miśāya

"By the will of Chaitanya, innumerable universes
issue forth from the hair-pores of His body".

jala-krīḍā-parāyaṇa caitanya-gosāñi
viharena ātma-krīḍa-āra dui nāi

"It is Caitanya Gosai who enjoys His own
pastimes in the [Great Ocean] with no other."

yata dekha mahāmuni - mahā abhimāna
uddeśa nā thāke kāro, kothā kāra nāma

"It has been observed that the great sages who were very
proud of themselves did not know their situation or their names."

punaḥ sei caitanyera acintya-icchāya
nābhi-padma haite brahmā hayena līlāya
haiyāo nā thāke dekhite kichu śakti
aveśeṣe karena ekānta-bhāve bhakti

"By the inconceivable will of Caitanya, Brahma appears
from the lotus flower that sprouts from His navel.
Yet after his appearance he has no power to see anything
until he worships the Lord with one-pointed devotion."

tabe bhakti-vaśe tuṣṭa haiyā tāhāne
tattva-upadeśa prabhu kahena āpane

"Observing his devotion and being pleased thereof, Prabhu
[Caitanya] imparts the tattva of everything unto him."

tabe sei brahmā prabhu-ājñā kari' sire
sṛṣṭi kari' sei jñāna kahena sabāre

"Obeying the will of Prabhu, Brahma begins to create.
He then imparted that knowledge unto others."

sei jñāna sanakādi pāi' brahmā haite
pracāra karena tabe kṛpāya jagate

"The four Kumaras headed by Sanaka received that knowledge
from Brahma, and mercifully preached it throughout the creation."

(CB 3.4.162-169)

Achyutananda went on to say a few mote things. After hearing thus, Advaita Acharya was so impressed that he embraced his son and shed tears of joy, as did the sannyasi who heard the boy's glorification of Mahaprabhu and similarly wept joyfully.

May we all be blessed with the boon of joyful tears after hearing such beautiful narrations.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Mahaprabhu's Beautiful Lotus Feet

For years I have been telling anyone who'll listen about the glories of Mahaprabhu's beautiful Golden Lotus Feet. Mahaprabhu's lotus feet are the most beautiful golden colour, softer than a rose. His toenails are so shiny, you can see your face in them.

And guess what! I just found out it's confirmed by scripture!

aruNa kamala yena caraNa-yugala
daza nakha yena daza tarpaNa nirmala

"His two feet are like reddish lotuses,
and His ten toenails are like ten shiny mirrors." (CB 3.4.33)

How nice it is to get your inclinations confirmed by shastra. :)

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When You Point A Finger..

Yes, we've all heard this little story before: When you point a finger at someone, there are three fingers pointing right back at you. Ergo, be mindful of what/who you're pointing at and refrain from criticism lest you be hypocritical and end up being judged by your own standards.

But today it hit me in a flash: What are those three fingers actually saying to you?

1st Finger: Trinad Api Sunicena.
2nd Finger: Taror Iva Sahisnuna.
3rd Finger: Amanina Mana Dena.

Mahaprabhu's neat little trick, eh? But what about Kirtaniyah Sada Harih? That, you must do with your mouth.

And why not? You point a finger at someone and criticise them with your mouth, why not point a finger and say something nice about them? Or better still, use your mouth to glorify Hari instead of wasting your time criticising a Vaishnava. And didn't you know that criticising Vaishnavas makes Mahaprabhu angry?

So there you go: Mahaprabhu's secret formula to bring out the best in you when you're attempting to do your worst.

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How Far Can We Speculate?

We oftern hear that it's not good to speculate in spiritual matters, and that it is best to accept the considered opinion of guru-sadhu-shastra. Of course there is such a thing as philosophical debate, but how much can we speculate?

I was looking through Gita yesterday and I think I've found the answer from Krishna Himself:

mayy arpita-mano-buddhir
mAm evaiSyasy asaMzayaH

"Surrendering your mind and intelligence to Me,
you will surely attain Me without a doubt." BG 8.7

The activities of the mind and the intelligence have to be offered to Krishna in His seva, by which we can think and ruminate on whatever spiritual issues we may be contemplating. It is not that we just willy-nilly speculate about this and that, it is important to consider how much we have surrendered our mind/intelligence in the discussion.

Actually, you know what? When I read this yesterday I had a whole different take on it because I was reading it in the context of BG 8.5-6 but it's all gone now. All I can think about right now is how some devotees tend to get involved and argue their cases in debates with some sort of agenda or other. Whatever that agenda may be; to prove their point or to push forward the views of their guru on that matter, I am growing convinced that it is always a bad idea to argue a case with some personal investment involved. If the debate is about a philosophical matter and a point of siddhanta, then it would be most beneficial to put all agendas aside and listen to the truth. Listening to the "truth" means accepting it even if it breaks your dearly-held ideas. This also requires an open mind, instead of a closed mind that is bent on pushing an agenda. There are so many implications for this; once one gets locked into pushing an agenda, it is very difficult to make further progress in understanding and knowledge.

So surrendering our minds and intelligences to Krishna in the context of debates and discussions entail that we keep an open mind about any issues and also be prepared to be wrong and have your ideas smashed. Of course if one is gentle-hearted and humble in the first place, admitting your errors won't be too much of a problem. And that's another reason why agendas are bad; there's an awful lot of ego involved. And when one Vaishnava ego clashes with another, a horrendous amount of aparadha occurs which withers the bhakti-lata of both of them. Entirely avoidable. Simply when we engage our thinking and critical faculties in spiritual topics and conundrums, the best thing to do is follow Krishna's advice: simply by surrendering our minds and intelligences we can attain Him.


Sunday, April 08, 2007

"May Our Family Increase!"

I was going through CB Madhya-khanda today, the chapter describing Sri Gaurahari's return to Navadvipa from Gaya after receiving diksha from Sri Ishvara Puripada. As Mahaprabhu recounts the basic details of His trip to Mother Sachi and the other Vaishnavas, his joyful memories cause him to faint and revive in a constant cycle, body horripilating and tears streaming from His holy eyes at the very mention of Gaya as "pada-padma-tirtha", and ecstatically crying "Where is Krishna?" to the astonishment and amazement of the residents of Navadvipa.

ārambhilā mahāprabhu āpana-prakāśa
ananta brahmāṇda-maya haila ullāsa

As Mahaprabhu began to manifest
Himself, unlimited universes rejoiced!

'prema-vṛṣṭi karite prabhura śubhārambha'
dhvani śuni' yaya yathā bhāgavata-vṛnda

'The auspicious beginning of Prabhu's distribution
of prema is about to begin.' Hearing thus, all the
devotees immediately ventured to that spot.
(CB 2. 1. 47-48)

Finding Himself unable to speak, Prabhu directed only a few of His associates (Sriman Pandit, Sadashiva Brahmachari and Murari Pandit) to meet the next morning at Shuklambhara Brahmachari's house where He promised to give fuller details. As that most auspicious day dawned, Sriman Pandita joyfully came to Srivasa Thakura's beauteous garden to pick flowers for offering to Mahaprabhu, and revealed the news of his impending meeting with the Lord to Srivasa, Gadadhara, Gopinath and Ramai, who were also picking flowers for their morning worship. After relating the happenings of the previous day to them in detail, Sriman Pandit urged them that there was every reason to believe him and his description was greeted with the triumphant and joyful chanting of Hari-nama from his listeners.

prathamei balilena śrīvāsa udāra
"gotra bāḍāuna kṛṣṇa āmā' sabākāra"

The magnanimous Srivasa was the first
to speak: "May Krishna increase our family."

gotraṁ nu vardhatām iti

May our family increase.
(CB 2.1.73-74)

This is the magic mantra!!!!! "Gotraṁ nu vardhatām iti" - the most holy words spoken by Bhakta-avatara Srivasa Pandit in the Sri Caitanya-bhagavata, the magic words in seed form that will bestow great blessings upon the world!! How wonderful!!! The most wonderful and benevolent mission of Mahaprabhu is about to start, and billions of jivas will be drawn to His fold!! Indeed so:

'tathāstu' 'tathāstu' bale bhāgavata-gaṇa
'sabei bhājuka kṛṣṇacandrera caraṇa'

'So shall it be!' 'So shall it be!' exclaimed the devotees.
'Let everyone worship the feet of Krishnacandra!'
(CB 2.1.76)

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