Tag Archives: Bhagavata Purana

Royal Assassination Attempt

1.8.8

O brahmana, as soon as Kṛṣṇa sat upon his chariot and was about to start towards Dvārakā he saw panic stricken Uttarā coming towards him.

Uttarā is the wife of Abhimanyu (son of Arjuna & Kṛṣṇa’s sister, Subhadra), future mother of Parīkṣit.

Dvārakā is Kṛṣṇa’s own city.

9-10

Uttarā said:

Protect me! Protect me great mystic; god of gods, and protector of the universe! I see no one but you who can drive away my fear in this world of repeated death! My powerful lord, a blazing metallic ray advances upon me! It can burn me, master, but don’t let it harm the baby in my womb!

11

Sūta said:

The All-Attractive, ever affectionate towards the devoted, heard her words and understood that Droṇa’s son had sent forth this weapon to finish the Pāṇḍava dynasty.

12

O best of scholars, seeing a blaze coming their way the five Pāṇḍava brothers took up their five weapons.

13-16

Seeing that he was their only hope of being saved from this danger, the Great One took up his own weapon, the Sudarśan Disc, which protects his people. He is the soul within the soul of all living beings, so Hari, the master of all mysticism, used his own mystical power to shield the womb of the daughter of Virāṭ and save the Kuru dynasty. Even though the ultimate weapon is unstoppable and inescapable, when confronted by the power of Viṣṇu it was neutralized. Don’t think this is impossible! All impossibilities reside within the Infallible! By his divine mysticism everything is created, maintained and destroyed.

Aśvatthāmā, Droṇa’s son, is the same vile man who decapitated the five sleeping sons of the Pāṇḍavas and then recklessly let loose an uncontrolled nuclear-like explosion in a last-ditch attempt to save his own skin. The Pāṇḍava’s spared his life and let him go with a mere reprimand. His contemptible spirit did not reform, however. He brooded constantly on how to destroy the royal family who had defeated and humiliated him.

He knew it would be impossible while Kṛṣṇa remained nearby, so he waited and waited for Hari to depart. He saw an ideal opportunity the moment Kṛṣṇa began to leave – for all the Pāṇḍava men and their unborn child were together in the same place. In a passionate haste this despicable wretch again sent forth the ultimate weapon in an uncontrolled blast.

Uttarā saw the approaching weapon first and turned, panic-stricken, to Kṛṣṇa for help. The Pāṇḍava’s instinctively reached for their own weapons, but Kṛṣṇa knew that such weapons were useless now, and there was no time for any other approach. So he took up his own weapon, the great discus of Viṣṇu which drew the perilous blast into its vortex and neutralized it. This saved the Pāṇḍavas, but an unborn child is very sensitive and easily injured. To give special protection to this child in Uttarā’s womb, Kṛṣṇa used his mystical power – which is within every atom as the soul of every soul – to form a shield around the womb and absorb the radiation from the blast.

To us, the entire story is fantastic. But to the sages hearing this story from Sūta, many of the details were contemporary and immediately real. The powerful weapons of ancient warriors, for example, were practical realities to them. So gestures of disbelief showed on some of their faces. “That weapon is unstoppable except by another instance of itself! How could it have suddenly been dispelled, and even a fetus was not injured in the blast!?”

Sūta politely reprimanded their disbelief by reminding them that Kṛṣṇa is Viṣṇu, not another ordinary warrior. Nothing is impossible for Viṣṇu’s magic to destroy, because by this magic the entire universe (what to speak of a comparatively miniscule explosion within it) is destroyed, and created and maintained as well.

Now we have been introduced for the first time to Parīkṣit, the person to whom and for whom this book Śrīmad Bhāgavatam was spoken. We are introduced to a person who was protected and embraced by Kṛṣṇa while he was still in the womb.

English: "Uttara and Abhimanyu," as ...

Uttara and Abhimanyu, as Abhumanyu leaves for the war

Krishna holding the weapon of Visnu in his right hand.


Sequel to Mahabharata Begins With A Nuclear Explosion

1.7.12

Now, to begin our discussion of Kṛṣṇa I will tell you about the birth, deeds, and rescue of Parīkṣit, the sage among kings, and the final end of the sons of Pāṇḍu.

By discussing a person who is in love with someone, invariably the discussion comes to their beloved. So by discussing those devoted to Kṛṣṇa one sets the scene for deep discussion of Kṛṣṇa.

The Śrīmad Bhāgavatam will now begin a “sequel” to the Mahābhārata, again illustrating that it is the culmination of everything important and revered in classical Indian civilization. Besides providing a sequel to the beloved Mahābhārata, it is also an elaboration upon the purport of the Gayatrī Mantra, a clarification of the conclusion of Vedānta-Sūtra, and an illustration of the principles and conclusions of Bhagavad-Gītā. The Gayatrī Mantra is the zenith of Vedic Mantras, so by elaborating on the Gayatrī the Bhāgavatam effectively elaborates upon the entire body of Vedic Mantra. The Gītā and especially the Vedānta-Sūtra is the crème of the Upanishads, so by expanding upon these the Bhāgavatam expands upon the Upanishads.

The first verse of Bhāgavatam ends with the word dhīmahī, a word reserved for Gayatrī mantra which means “meditation.” So the Bhāgavatam provides the subject matter that the Gayatrī directs us to contemplate and meditate upon.  

That same verse begins with the word janmādyasyayatha, which is also the first word in Vedānta-Sūtra. This repetition is Vyāsa’s device indicating that the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam discusses the same conclusions as Vedānta-Sūtra.

The second verse of Bhāgavatam begins with dharmaḥ projjhita-kaitavaḥ, “abandoning all selfish duties.” The concluding instruction in Bhagavad-Gītā is sarva-dharmān parityajya, “abandon all selfish duties.” And now the Bhāgavatam will give an extension or “sequel” to Mahābhārata. We cannot sidestep the fact that the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam expresses the penultimate culmination of Indian civilization and thought. It is the effort of Vyāsa in his full maturity.

13-14

When the heroes among the Kurus and Pāṇḍavas attained their heroic ends, and the son of Dhṛtarāṣṭra wept with a spine broken by the crushing blows of Wolf-Belly’s club, the son of Droṇa beheaded the sleeping sons of Kṛṣṇā, thinking it would please his master, who deplored the disgusting deed.

Kurus and Pāṇḍavas are two groups within the same royal family. The feud between them and the war it culminated in is the main subject of Mahābhārata.

Dhṛtarāṣṭra is a blind man who refused to relent the stewardship of the throne he assumed when his brother unexpectedly died before his five children were old enough to take the throne. The son of Dhṛtarāṣṭra is the leader of the Kurus: Duryodhana, who intends to be the next king.

The “Wolf-Bellied” is Bhīma, the second of the five main Pāṇḍava children.

Droṇa is a great martial artist, who was the instructor of the entire royal family. His son is Aśvatthāmā, who beheaded the five sleeping children of “Kṛṣṇā.” The master of Droṇa’s son is Duryodhana, because he was the leader under whose cursed banner Droṇa and his son fought.

Kṛṣṇā is a name for the wife of the five Pāṇḍavas (Yes, all five brothers had a single wife. It’s a long story). She is so named because of her intense love for Kṛṣṇa, and is more commonly known by the name Draupadī.

15-16

When the mother heard of the ghastly massacre of her children she began to wail and weep. Then the famous Arjuna, with tears in his own eyes, pacified her by saying, “I will wipe away your tears, oh auspicious woman, when I give you the head of that so-called brahmin, pierced with the arrows of my bow. Then, stand on it while you take the bath you must after cremating your children.”

17

So the friend of the Infallible pacified his beloved with various heartfelt words. He then set off on his chariot in pursuit of his teacher’s son, dressed in armor and carrying his terrible bow.

18

When the child-killer saw Arjuna approaching furiously from the distance, he jumped on his chariot and fled for his life at full speed, panic striken – much like Brahmā and Sūrya fled from Śiva.

Śiva became furious when Brahmā expressed sexual desires towards a woman who was his daughter (mind you, since Brahmā is the first being in the universe everyone is his decedent in some way or another). Śiva also became enraged when Sūrya (the sun god) attacked someone he had blessed. The fear and panic with which Brahmā and Sūrya fled from Śiva is reminiscent of the fear with which the child-killer fled from Arjuna. The import here is that Arjuna’s ferocity and rage was on a par with Śiva’s, the god of destruction.

19

Eventually seeing that his horses were tired and he had no other alternative to save his life, that brahmin’s son invoked the ultimate weapon.

Although he is the son of a brahmin, he is not considered a brahmin because his behavior was immoral. If India paid more thoughtful attention to her own classical literature, the disgrace of the caste system would have been mitigated. Status in the four castes is to be acquired by behavior, not by birth.

20

So, because his life was in danger he took a drop of water and concentrated on those mantras even though he did not know how to restrain the weapon.

One should not do anything one cannot control. An attack one cannot restrain and balance should not be used by a warrior. Aśvatthāmā did not care for these principles because his only concern was for his own useless life. Therefore he put thousands of lives at risk by calling forth a magic weapon equivalent to a nuclear detonation without knowing how to restrain the explosion. Selfish people are always irresponsible, and when push comes to shove the implications are alarming. When such persons happen to be powerful, the implications are absolutely disastrous. Therefore the selfish must be kept from positions of power. Unfortunately, it is only they who desire power. Thus the world is invariably in turmoil.

21

Then a fierce life-threatening explosion erupted in all directions. Seeing it, Arjuna turned to speak to Kṛṣṇa.

There is a nice poetry in the Sanskrit that I cannot translate into English. Sūta names Kṛṣṇa “Viṣṇu” and Arjuna “Jiṣṇu” – creating a wonderful rhyme. Arjuna has the name Jiṣṇu because he was an ever-victorious warrior.

Operation Ivy, MIKE EVENT - Atomic bomb explos...

The fierce life-threatening explosion erupted in all directions.


The Beauty of the All Attractive

1.7.8

Having conceived of and polished that godly treatise, he taught it to his learned and renounced son, Śuka.

9

Śaunaka asked: He was dedicated to giving up everything, completely uninterested in acquiring anything. So why would a learned soul already immersed in spiritual bliss bother to take up such a vast study?

10

Sūta answered: From those immersed in spiritual bliss to those who are scholars and even to those who are lawless, everyone wants pure, unmotivated divine love. The qualities of Hari are that wonderful.

11

The thoughts of godly Badarāyaṇa’s son were enraptured by those qualities of Hari. Therefore he eagerly took up the study of that which is dear to those dedicated to Viṣṇu.

This section clarifies how Vyāsa passed the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam on to his son, Śuka. It is a topic of question because Śuka left home immediately upon being born with a fully developed youthful body. Vyāsa followed the boy calling for him to return home, but his calls were replied to only by their own echoes. Śuka had no interest in associating with Vyāsa and did not remain in his company for a moment. So how and when could Vyāsa have passed Śrīmad Bhāgavatam to Śuka?

In the current section, Śaunaka raises this very question: “We know Śuka was completely uninterested in anything his father Vyāsa had to say or offer, so how could he have learned Śrīmad Bhāgavatam from him?”

The answer is: The birth of Śuka took place before Vyāsa met Nārada. After Vyāsa learned about divine love from Nārada he deeply meditated upon it and personally realized it. Thereafter he composed the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. He then went out in search of his son. Upon hearing the change in his father’s level of realization, Śuka understood that Vyāsa had now come to fully appreciate divine love and therefore happily agreed to sit and learn Śrīmad Bhāgavatam from him.

The tenth text in particular is an extreme favorite of the great exemplar of divine love, Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya. He personally explained this text to a handful of fortunate people bringing out dozens of facets within it. The essence of all of them is that everyone is attracted to divine love. It doesn’t matter if you are learned or illiterate, self-realized or self-ignorant, saintly or sinful. The wonderful attributes of Hari are so delightful that everyone is attracted.

Hari is a name describing the All-Attractive as a being so captivating that he steals the heart and mind. Hari is All-Attractive to everyone, but especially to those who are pure, selfless and free from illusion, such as Śuka. Thus Śuka was even more powerfully attracted than anyone else would be to the proposition of learning Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, the Beautiful Exposition of the All-Attractive. Therefore he eagerly and attentively devoted himself to studying it under Vyāsa.


The Origin of Karma and Illusion

1.7.1

Śaunaka asked: After Bādarāyaṇa heard godly Nārada speak and then leave, what did he do, O Sūta?

Bādarāyaṇa is a name of Vyāsa, whose main headquarters is at Badarīk Ashram in the Himalayas.

2

Sūta answered: On the western shore of the sacred river Sarasvatī, in a place called Śamyāprāsa, is an ashram reputed to be ideal for spiritual research.

3

There, surrounded by Badarī trees, is Vyāsa’s personal ashrama where he sat, washed his hands and focused his mind within.

Vyāsa’s headquarter is called Badarīk Ashrama because it is surrounded by Badarī trees; a type of cotton shrub called Jujube. The Śrīmad Bhāgavatam does not agree with those who contend that Bādarāyaṇa and Vyāsa are entirely different people. The arguments of those who dissect the universe into slices which fit their preconceived misconceptions are endless and serve little purpose.

4-6

[4:] Perfectly linking his mind in pure devotion, he saw the Complete Original Person, with all energies at his command. [5:] These energies bewilder the transcendent soul to blindly conceive of itself as a product of matter; and to become caught up in the endeavor for useless things. [6:] This entanglement with useless things can be erased straightaway by linking oneself to the Supreme in divine love. Because people in general don’t know this, Vyāsa compiled this spiritual treatise.

7

Just listen carefully to it and devotion for the All-Attracative Paramount Personality, Kṛṣṇa, will take root, extinguishing the laments, confusions, and fears of humanity.

I will offer my insignificant but hopefully useful comments on texts one through seven.

Nārada told Vyāsa to personally realize the importance of divine love and then express that realization as a new addition to the Veda. So when Nārada departed, Vyāsa went to his ashram and sat in deep meditation.

Text 4 describes the type of meditation and the vision he obtained by it. Vyāsa meditated by the yoga of devotion. Thus he succeeded in attaining an absolutely perfect link from his mind to the Paramount Person (bhakti-yogena manasi samyak paṇihite ‘male). What he then beheld was a vision of that Supreme Person with all energies completely at his command (apaśyat puruṣaṁ pūrṇaṁ māyāṁ ca tad-apāśrayam).

Vyāsa saw that the Personal Being of Godhead is in control of every other energy. This directly contradicts the idea that a personal God is a figment, a myth, a primitive anthropomorphic impulse of simple minds. Even people within the modern religions of the world are infected with this concept. It is not the concept held by Vyāsa when he composed Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. Vyāsa saw that the creative and illusive powers that be are under the control of Godhead, not visa versa (māyām ca tad-apāśrayam).

Text 5 describes the illusion created by one of the Paramount Person’s energies. This energy bewilders not God, but the infinitesimal fragment of God, the soul (yasyā sammohito jīva).

Why does God want to bewilder anyone?

God loves everyone. Loving a person means that you want to fulfill their desires and care for their needs. God uses his energy for this purpose alone. When someone wants to experience existence from the point of view of being the center, the focal point of all attention and affection – God, as always, wants to fulfill that desire. Normally this is exclusively God’s experience of reality, but to share it with the souls who so desire God employs his energy to create a completely compelling and fully believable illusion. In this illusion the soul accepts an temporary identity like a role in a drama (ātmānaṁ triguṇātmakam paro ‘pi manute), and in that persona pursues various goals, which are props of no real value or use to us outside the context of the drama (anarthaṁ tat-kṛtaṁ cābhipadyate).

Love means to fulfill the beloved’s desires, and care for their needs. So God’s energies not only fulfill our desires, they tend to our needs. The soul may desire to be self-centered, but what it eventually needs is to be willingly harmonious with its essential nature. God’s energy bewilders the soul into a sensation which fulfills its impossible dreams, but also provides the possibility of reform. How? By responsibility. The energy of illusion (māyā) bewilders us, and the energy of responsibility (karma) offers us reformation.

Text 6 describes the best method of reform. Vyāsa saw that the best way to delete the complications of illusion is by divine love. We are also an energy of Godhead, so we should also place ourselves into his shelter and control. The best way to place oneself in the hands of another is by pure love. Thus Vyāsa understood that divine love (bhakti-yoga) is the best remedy for illusion.

So Vyāsa became personally inspired to do what Nārada asked of him: create a new spiritual treatise (sātvata-saṁhita) which would help the common man understand what Vyāsa has just personally understood in his mystical vision.

Text 7 tells us that if we just listen carefully to that treatise, divine love for the All-Attractive Paramount Personality, Kṛṣṇa, will take root in our heart (yasyāṁ vai śrūyamāṇāyāṁ kṛṣṇe parama-pūruṣe bhaktir utpadyate). The side effect of that divine love is to extinguish all human lamentation, illusion and fear (śoka-moha-bhayāpahā).

The River Sarasvati Closeby Vyasa's Ashrama in the Himalayas


Divine Visions

[1.6.21]

Alas, during this lifetime you will not be able to see me again. Your undissolved impurities interrupt our link, and I remain beyond your vision.

[22]

You saw my beauty once to increase your desires, O sinless. By increasing their desire for me, the saintly make their hearts completely pure.

[23]

This behavior of the saintly very quickly generates strong dedication to me. Casting off this deplorable world they become my personal associates.

We are given momentary glimpses of the infinite sweetness of the All-Attractive even when material impurities still remain encrusted around our pure being. These visions serve a purpose. They increase our desire to be rid of the impurities which interrupt the link that makes it possible for the infinitesimal soul to drink the beauty of the infinite Attractive One. Desire is the strongest impetus. Thus momentary glimpses of divine love increase our desire for pure love, and this increased desire causes the mind and intellect to become unyieldingly dedicated to again attaining realization of the All-Attractive. This complete dedication, fueled by desire, casts off the lasts remaining impurities and the pure soul goes into pure existence where it becomes a personal companion of the All-Attractive.

[24]

A mind dedicated to me can never be lost. Even when the universe is destroyed and created, all is remembered by my mercy.

This answers Vyāsa’s question, “How can you remember your previous life so vividly, especially considering that it was in a previous universe!?” The answer is that when intelligence is fixed in the eternality of the personality of Godhead, it can never be lost. Godhead himself protects the continuity of memory of a mind dedicated to him. Neither the creation and destruction of one’s own body nor the creation and destruction of the world itself can break the continuity of intelligence and memory rooted in Godhead.

 


The Boy Sees God

[1.6.16]

As I meditated upon his lotus-like feet, gradually all of my thoughts and emotions became enrapt in spiritual affection, I became very enthusiastic, tears rolled from my eyes, and Hari appeared within my heart.

[17]

O learned one, my body completely overwhelmed with ecstasies, an excess of incomparable divine love drowned me in a flood of spiritual bliss and I could not see a second thing.

[18]

The beauty of the All-Attractive charms the mind and makes everything else disappear. Suddenly losing sight of him, I stood up in distress like a person who has lost everything.

[19]

Desiring to find him, I again set my mind into my heart and searched. In spite of my effort, I could not see him and became tormented with dissatisfaction.

[20]

Seeing me struggling alone, he who is beyond reach spoke to me in a deep and delightful voice that pacified my sadness.

In 16 we see the six-year old boy’s spiritual practice begin and very soon attain bhāva, the eighth of nine stages of progress in bhakti-yoga. He began at this high stage because of his previous practice with the Kṛṣṇa Saṁkīrtanists during the previous rainy and autumn seasons, and his consequent contemplations and efforts.

In 17 we see bhāva maturing into prema, the final stage of progress. The nature of prema (divine love) is to completely submerge the consciousness in a deluge of ecstasy which is so all-consuming that one loses perception of anything and everything else.

In 18 we see that in the transition from bhāva to prema there are temporary perceptions of tangible spiritual reality. Losing touch with them causes extreme distress in the heart, which is the fire that finally burns off the last remaining impurities of self-centered ego.

In 19 we see the boy try to apply the same technique that previously worked, but this time it would not work. Text 20 answers the question of why it did not work: Godhead is beyond the boundaries of where our mind and senses can extend. Therefore by their own efforts they cannot directly perceive Godhead. The revelation of Hari’s divine beauty in text 17 came to the boy not directly as a result of his efforts to meditate, but as a result of those efforts invoking special mercy from Hari. In text 19 Hari is applying a different type of special mercy to prepare the boy for his full mercy. In text 20, merciful Hari feels compelled to speak to the child and explain all this.


Nārada’s Order To Vyāsa: “Make Them Become Like Śrī Rādhā”

[1.5.20-21]

The All-Attractive is one with everything, yet also distinct from it all. On him the world exists, is destroyed, and is created. You know all about this, my good man, but still I present a little synopsis. With your flawless vision you can discover the self of the self. You are a part of the Supersoul facet of the Supreme Person. Such unborn beings take birth only to improve the world, therefore please awaken the greatest divine love by describing it very vividly.

That the divine is simultaneously one with yet different from everything (bhedābheda-tattva), is not a novel invention of Śrī Caitanya in the 16th Century. It is the original timeless philosophy of Nārada, the sage of the gods, and Vyāsa, the sage of all other sages. Nārada’s exact words defining it are, idaṁ hi viśvaṁ bhagavān ivetaraḥ, “The All-Attractive is one with everything, yet also distinct from all of it.” He tells Vyāsa, tad dhi svayaṁ veda bhavān, “you already know and hold this same opinion.”

Vyāsa holds this philosophy because he has flawless vision of reality (amogha-dṛk) and is himself an incarnation of Godhead (paramātmanaḥ kalām). Thus, this conception is flawless and represents God’s own perspective on the nature of reality.

Nārada requests Vyāsa, “Godhead incarnates only the benefit the world, so please give the world the most beneficial thing.”

What is the most beneficial thing?

“Love, of course.” Nārada replies, “But even better, not just ordinary love – pure, true love. And not just any true love, but true love that springs from the true self for the true beloved. And not just any type of true divine love, but the very greatest zenith of it.”

This is the meaning within the Nārada’s words, mahā-anubhāva.

Divine love is called bhāva-bhakti, indicating that it is true and pure, springs directly from the pure and true self, and flows directly towards the pure and true divine beloved. Śrī Rūpa Goswāmī carefully explains, in his books Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu and Ujjvala-Nīlamaṇī, that this true divine love is called prema when fully realized in a tangible manner. Prema can then undergo several stages of further  intensification towards its infinite zenith. The Goswāmī calls this zenith mahā-bhāva. There is only one being who truly and fully experiences divine love at this level, the Supreme Goddess, who blesses the world with her name, “Rādhā.” Just as Śrī Caitanya’s philosophy is no novel invention, similarly his disciple Śrī Rūpa is not a fabricator of novelties.  Śrī Rūpa’s paradigms represent the paradigms of the great sage of the gods, Nārada. Nārada here directly instructs Vyāsa, with the words mahānubhāvābhyudayo ‘dhigaṇyatām,  that he must conceive of a way to glorify Śrī Rādhā’s extreme zenith of divine love and thereby make the world follow her example and become her assistants in the transcendental love affair. Śrīmad Bhāgavatam is the ultimate outcome of Vyāsa taking this instruction from Nārada to heart.

 [22]

The erudite certainly define this as the perfect goal of human efforts, inquiries, rituals, prayers, enlightenment, and selflessness: to give voice to the qualities of The Subject of Topmost Poetry.

Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum, , , .

Maha-anu-bhava

Vyāsa’s question after hearing the previous words of Nārada was, “How can I accomplish such an elevated deed – granting humanity access to the supreme and most intimate form of divine love?”

Nārada replies with this: “True love can’t be manufactured! So you cannot attain it by strenuous efforts, philosophy, ritual, prayers, liberation, or morality – as you have already wasted your efforts promoting in all the Veda you’ve compiled over these thousands of years.”

“I accept that,” Vyāsa would say. “But please tell me how I can succeed in granting such divine love to humanity?”

Nārada answers, “A person can attain topmost divine love only by coming into direct contact with it. You must give humanity that chance! Let them witness it! Tell them what it looks like in action, what it feels like, tastes, smells and sounds like! Describe to them how the All-Attractive Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, interacts with the All-Loving Fountainhead Goddess, Rādhā.”

That is what this book, Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, really is.


The Futility of Everything Besides Devotion

[1.5.16]

Only the learned can understand the great one beyond infinity, who is beyond the grasp of those who have no true self-concept and follow the path of material pleasures. Therefore you must clarify the activities of that Great One.

A particularly difficult subject requires a tutor. The name, form and activities of the All-Attractive Godhead are very difficult for a common person to appreciate correctly because they are beyond infinity (ananta-pārasya). Therefore Nārada encourages Vyāsa to become a tutor on this subject, for humanity.

Vyāsa may be doubtful, “How can I explain such a difficult subject? And what if people cannot grasp it properly and it causes them to prematurely abandon the other important principles of morality?Would this not be counterproductive?”

Nārada replies…

[17]

If one stumbles by prematurely abandoning one’s own duties to cultivate devotion to the lotus-like feet of Hari – what is inauspicious about that? If one sticks to one’s own duties but has no such devotion – what is the worth in that?

 [18]

The wise would therefore endeavor only for that aim – which is beyond anything they could find from the bottom of the universe to the top. They do not strive for pleasures, because one gains pleasure just as easily as displeasure: via the subtle workings of destiny, resulting from previous actions.

We do not have to strive for displeasure or pleasure. Both automatically come and go as a result of our being held responsible for the countless selfish actions we have performed in the past. We do, however, have to strive for divine love. Vyāsa’s efforts up till now did not reflect this truth. Nārada suggests that he must correct this mistake, by composing Śrīmad Bhāgavatam.

Nārada’s logic is that nothing is truly gained by striving for ordinary pleasures, and nothing can truly be lost by striving for divine love. Therefore Vyāsa should promote divine love more directly and clearly. Vyāsa may doubt, “You say that nothing is lost even by failure on the path of divine love. However I have practically seen and heard of what appears to be failures on that path.”

Nārada replies that such an opinion is superficial…

[19]

The striving devotee of the Lotus-Face may somehow remember his materialistic ways, but will never ever become like others. A person who tasted the mellow of embracing the feet of the Lotus-Face will never be able to give up the addictive desire for it.

This is quite practical.. A devotee who is still striving will of course remember his or her previous addictions and habits from time to time, and therefore may sometimes appear distracted from divine loving service. However, the taste of the sublime joy of divine love is so highly addictive that it cannot be removed from the heart even when one attempts to temporarily pursue other aims. Therefore one on the path of devotion always returns relatively soon to that path even when they sometimes stumble and divert their attention from it.

Lotus-Face is a name for the All-Attractive, “Mukunda” whose face is softer, more beautiful and attractive than any flower.


The Futility of Morality and Philosophy

[1.5.12]

Without heartfelt affection for the Infallible there is no beauty even in knowledge that liberates one from all karma. What to speak of laborious duties, be they selfishly intended or not, if they are not done in offering to The Master.

Nārada continues to explain Vyāsa’s failure, revealing why he felt depressed and incomplete even after creating the entire culture of Vedic knowledge. The bulk of Vyāsa’s work focused on duties (karma). A higher but smaller portion focused on philosophy (jñāna). He relatively ignored the most essential subject: heartfelt devotion to the Infallible Master (“acyuta-bhāva”).

[13]

Therefore – O greatly blessed man of perfect vision, famous for your purity, truthfulness and dedication – to liberate the people from bondage you must first enter a trance of constant contemplation upon the deeds of the Supernatural Doer.

Since deeds and knowledge are not satisfying unless connected to heartfelt devotion for the All-Attractive, to remedy his depression and accomplish his goal Vyāsa must make humanity more clearly aware of the beautiful deeds of the All-Attractive. To accomplish this he must first have perfect vision of those deeds, and so must enter a meditative trance upon them.

[14]

Do not discuss anything without connecting it to this. The myriad names and forms of such things will make the heart unsteady like a boat troubled by a storm.

Nārada will explain this concept in a more practical manner:

[15]

The instructions you gave about moral duties are condemnable because they will be completely misappropriated by humanity’s powerful natural attachments. “We are following religion,” they will say – as they completely ignore your prohibitions.

This is a practical explanation of how a storm of problems arises from discussion of anything – even morality and philosophy – without direct connection to heartfelt devotion for the All-Attractive. Vyāsa gave so much guidance on how to be moral and dutiful, how to be “religious.” But the powerful natural inclination of a human being is to exploit whatever we can for our own purposes. Unless this natural inclination is replaced with a natural inclination of divine love, humanity will take any morality and philosophy and twist it to serve our own agendas. While slaughtering men, women and children, and destroying centuries of accumulated study and knowledge we will hold aloft religious symbols and claim that our despicable deeds – great and small – are religious and just, completely ignoring all the parts of our morality and religion that state to the contrary.

Thus promotion of religion is a mistake, and Vyāsa himself made that mistake. To benefit humanity, direct heartfelt devotion for the All-Attractive that must be promoted first and foremost. Morality and philosophy must attend this devotion as loving servants. To reverse this ratio and put morality and philosophy before divine devotion is a catastrophic error – and Vyāsa made this error in his efforts prior to Śrīmad Bhāgavatam.


The Flaws of the Vedas

[1.5.5]

Vyāsa said, “O son of the self-born, everything you’ve said about me is true. I place this question yet again before your unlimited comprehension: what is the unknown root of my lack of satisfaction?

Nārada is the son of Brahmā, who is known as “self-born” because he has no mother or father but appeared atop a type of flower sprouted directly from Viṣṇu. Nārada already told Vyāsa why he was dissatisfied despite his monumental accomplishments, but the answer was so shocking that Vyāsa needed to ask Nārada to say it again unequivocally.

Truly great souls are sensitive to their limitations, not their greatness. This is how they continually become less limited and more great. So Nārada would naturally recoil from the praises of Vyāsa regarding his “unlimited comprehension.” Vyāsa therefore shows that he is not being sentimental and he considers Nārada’s greatness to be due to his connection to the Original Person. This is a proposition which a humble soul like Nārada can reluctantly accept.

[6-7]

“Certainly you know every secret truth! You are a devotee of the Original Person – who is the master of this realm and the spiritual realm as well; whose will alone creates and destroys everything; and who is beyond the embrace of limiting qualities. You move through the three worlds like the Sun. You enter within things like the air. Indeed you are like the Witnessing Soul. Please clearly elucidate the flaw I had in the all-encompassing pursuit of my spiritual path.”

The “Original Person” (Puruṣa Puāṇa) is the origin of the first incarnation: All-Attractive Kṛṣṇa. The “Witnessing Soul” (ātma-sākṣī) is the Supersoul, the third facet of the first incarnation.

Here Vyāsa reveals that his sentiment about Nārada being great and all-knowing is not sentiment alone. He is aware of the deep greatness of Nārada, which originally stems from his intimate devotional connection to the Original Person.

[8]

Nārada answers:

You basically neglected to give voice to the spotless fame of the All-Attractive. I think any such philosophical system is inferior and cannot satisfy anyone!

Vyāsa labored for thousands of years to create the five Vedic schools, which then developed six darśana (philosophical systems). Up till this encounter with Nārada Vyāsa considered his Vedanta-Sutra to be the crowning achievement of his labor. The Vedanta Sutra, however, does not really come right out and present the spotless glories of the All-Attractive. Vyāsa was also happy to have written the Mahābhārata, but even in that book, the glories of All-Attractive Kṛṣṇa are a sideshow, in a supporting role to illustrate religious and moral principles for the common man. The Veda barely mention the All-Attractive at all. The Purāṇa existing up till this encounter with Nārada do mention the glories of the All-Attractive, but insufficiently; being unfocused and diluted as they are mixed up with so many other glorifications and details.

So Nārada quite bluntly says, “Everything you have produced so far, including your elaborate philosophical expositions, is inferior and unsatisfactory because it neglects to properly glorify All-Attractive Kṛṣṇa.”

[9]

O Best of Scholars, again and again you described morality and so on as the goals of life. You certainly did not give similar attention to enunciating the greatness of Vasudeva’s son.

Vyāsa would submit that indeed All-Attractive Kṛṣṇa is the hidden subject within each and every word he wrote in each and every branch of the Vedas. Nārada counters with the practical truth: “You constantly stress how to achieve the four goals of life (pleasure, stability, morality, and emancipation). In comparison to the emphasis you gave these topics, you completely neglected Kṛṣṇa, Vasudeva’s son.”

[10]

I think words that do not pronounce the fame of Hari, the purifier of everything, however wondrous or poetic they may be are vacation spots for crows. Perfected spiritual swans do not delight there.

Vyāsa would submit that the four goals of human life are also important. But this would miss the point: Yes, they have relative importance, but developing a devotional relationship to the All-Attractive Kṛṣṇa is far more important. That fact is not at all borne out in the Vedas preceding Śrīmad Bhāgavatam – which elaborately stress every other goal of life and only here and there mention the true significance of spiritual devotion to the Original Person. Therefore Nārada becomes somewhat blunt and heavy with Vyāsa, saying, “I think what you have made so far amounts to a heap of garbage.”

[11]

The words which pronounce his names and depict his limitless fame will truly revolutionize the miseries of humanity. Even if each and every line is full of flaws – great souls embrace them, listen to them, and sing them.

Vyāsa would submit that purification is required before one can appreciate the All-Attractive. Therefore his efforts to gradually purify people might not be just “garbage.” Nārada counters that the All-Attractive is himself the purifier. No extraneous means of purification is required. Nārada says that Vyāsa should never have created all of those Vedas! He should have immediately put his full effort into directly announcing the names and famous deeds and qualities of All-Attractive Kṛṣṇa. The misdirection of his energy is why he feels incomplete despite all he accomplished.

Of course, Vyāsa’s works are extremely meritorious and monumentally outstanding accomplishments in human history. But Nārada says that to be monumental and outstanding is of no real consequence. Even if one is a terrible writer and a cloudy thinker – if one tries to speak or sing about the name and fame of Kṛṣṇa, whatever one produces however small or amateur is better than the entire corpus of Vedic literature cultivated over thousands of years by Vyāsa himself!

Swanlike people are repulsed by anything that is devoid of the All-Attractive, however beautifully it may be decorated. But they wholeheartedly embrace everything that contains the name and fame of Hari, however poorly it may be prepared.


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