Tag Archives: Brahmasutra

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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