Monthly Archives: January 2012

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


The Perfect Carefree Musician

1.6.34

Those with hearts troubled by the ceaseless hunger of the senses for sensual objects can cross that oceanic depth on the boat of hearing about the activities of Hari. I have seen it myself.

35

Following the rules of yoga can also destroy tenacious lust and greed, but does not truly satisfy the soul as does loving service of the Lotus Faced.

36

I’ve said all this to answer your questions, sinless one. These secrets behind my birth and activities will also bring you satisfaction.

As Nārada prepares to depart Vyāsa’s company, he leaves him with the most important instructions, “You are depressed because you feel you haven’t truly fulfilled your vow of truly helping humanity, despite your legendary efforts. You have even presented wonderful mystical and philosophical paths (Yoga, etc.) which can alleviate pain, but cannot grant positive pleasure. Your efforts are still incomplete because you have not yet adequately stressed the importance of divine love, which is cultivated and experienced through loving discussion of the glorious name and fame of the All-Attractive, Hari. That is how I became free from sadness and immersed in joy. That is how you will also overcome your depression and incompleteness and experience bliss, as will all of humanity.”

37-38

Sūta said: having said all this, the learned and blessed Nārada Vāsavī’s-son began playing his vīṇa and left to go wherever he might. Ah! The sage of the gods is so fortunate! He delights in playing this instrument and singing the kīrtan of the Bow-Carrier. Thus he brings pleasure into the world of distress.

Sūta expresses his honest and natural admiration of Nārada, whose sole duty is to go wherever he likes playing a divine musical instrument and singing in a manner that brings pleasure to a world otherwise thoroughly beset with distress and anxiety. Many musicians are envied by those who work hard, but none know the secret as well as Narada. To be the perfect carefree bard and musical genius, and to thus bring the highest joy constantly to oneself and one’s audience, one must sing the name and fame of the All-Attractive.

According to Vedic martial sciences, the finest human bows cannot match the weight and size of the bows of heaven, and in turn those heavenly bows cannot compare to one unique bow called Śārnga, which is the sole property of Vishnu. One name for Godhead therefore is “Bow-Carrier.”

English: Lady with Musical Instrument in Bengal

Bengali Lady Plays a Vina

 


The Reincarnation of Nārada

[1.6.25]

Having said that, that great master of beings known by sound not sight, stopped speaking. Feeling grateful for his favor I bowed my head to the glorified of the great.

The second time the boy directly experienced the All-Attractive was not visually, but aurally. However by analogy it is also true that God can be heard in sound more easily than seen by sight.

[26]

Shamelessly chanting the names of the Unlimited and remembering his auspicious and mysterious deeds I travelled the world with a mind full of satisfaction and void of desires, awaiting that time without pride or hatred.

After this second encounter with the All-Attractive, the boy received the news that they would not again meet until he was fully purified. So Nārada set out to accomplish that objective. It is quite essential for a spiritualist to be shameless. We cannot get far by feeling embarrassed of our affection for the All-Attractive. Without embarrassment the boy went about everywhere chanting the names of the Unlimited All-Attractive. By this chanting he constantly remembered the very confidential, mysterious, auspicious and purifying deeds of Kṛṣṇa. He knew that by doing so he would soon attain complete purity, and therefore kept no space in his heart reserved for pride or hatred.

[27]

Thus by keeping my mind on Kṛṣṇa I remained free from attachments and my soul became completely pure. In due course of time, that time appeared, like lightning from a cloud.

In due course, the boy attained complete purity by chanting the names of the All-Attractive and remembering his divine deeds. When that time came there was a very sudden illumination. The purified child was like a cloud, and suddenly the divine energy of Godhead appeared like a flash of golden lightning.

[28]

A pure body fit to associate with Godhead was awarded to me, and the limiting body of five elements fell away.

The flash of lightning of Godhead’s energy granted to the boy a form that is on a par with God’s own limitless form. The limiting, restrictive body created by earth, water, fire, air and ether just fell away unnoticed. This spiritual body is Nārada.

[29-30]

At the end of the kalpa, during devestation, Nārāyaṇa lay upon the ocean and recalled everything within himself by inhaling, including Brahmā and I. When this creation had expired for a thousand ages the desire to create caused the sages, headed by Marīci to appear from his exhalation. I too appeared.

A kalpa is a very long measure of time defined as a thousand revolutions of the four ages. By celestial reckoning this comes to roughly 4.32 billion years. This duration is equal to one day for the creator, Brahmā; just a day, not a night. At the end each day, Brahmā must sleep and during that time everything in his universe disintegrates. The Purusha (Original Incarnation of Godhead) from which Brahmā was born inhales and thus recalls within himself all the components of creation, including Brahmā. Not everything is destroyed by this inhalation. The very highest entities in the universe, like Brahmā and Nārada merely rest within the Purusha for another kalpa. When the kalpa of rest is completed, Purusha exhales and a new kalpa of creation begins.

 [31]

By the kindness of Mahā Viṣṇu I keep my unbroken vow going anywhere whenever I like, inside or outside of the three worlds.

What vow? The next text says…

[32]

I move about carrying this vīṇā given to me by God, which resonates ornate spiritual notes, singing about Hari.

This is the vow begun in Nārada’s previous life which remains still unbroken – to constantly sing the name and fame of the Heart-Stealer, Hari. In appreciation of this loving vow, Hari gave Nārada a special divine musical instrument.

[33]

When I sing of the heroism of the Delightful Topic, who feet create sacred places, he quickly appears in my consciousness and grants audience as if responding to my call.


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 Begins his Sādhana

[1.6.1]

Sūta said: O brahmins, hearing all this about the Sage of the Gods – the incarnation of the All-Attractive, Vyāsa Satyavatī’s-son asked more questions about his birth and deeds.

[2-4]

Vyāsa asked: What did you do between the departure of the wanderers who instructed you and the beginning of your present life? O Son of the Selfborn, how did you spend the rest of that lifetime? How did you eventually give up that life and attain your current body? O supermost of the learneds, all these things happened in a previous creation, but the annihilation of time seems to have not touched your memory at all. Why?

[5]

Nārada answered: This is what I did between the departure of the wanderers who instructed me and the start of my present lifetime.

[6-7]

I was my mother’s only child, a simple and low-born woman, a servant with no status. She had nothing but me. So she firmly embraced me in bonds of affection. She only wanted to care for and protect me, but she couldn’t. Like everyone, she is not independent, but is just like a puppet in the hands of fate.

[8]

I did not know left from right, before from after, I only knew my mother. But when I was five years old I went to live with a teacher for my schooling.

[9]

At that time, the poor woman went out at night to milk the cows. On the path a snake bit her foot, and thus time struck her down.

[10]

‘Fate is but a vehicle through which God expresses his affectionate blessings upon the devoted.’ Making up my mind like that, I departed towards the north.

The meeting with the Kṛṣṇa-saṁkīrtanists which awakened his spiritual enlightenment uccured when the boy was roughly four or five years old. After they left, the boy did not abandon his loving and dependent mother. He continued to be indebted to her affection. When he turned five, his mother enrolled him with a local teacher for education. While the boy was living there, his mother had to do his chores, such as going out at night to milk the cows. Once while doing so she was bitten by a snake and died. The young boy realized that the loss of his loving mother, though sad, represented the end of his normal responsibilities and duties. Therefore he left everything behind and began walking due north.

The four directions represent the four goals of life. North is the final direction, counted by following the Sun’s path beginning from sunrise in the northern hemisphere. Thus the north represents the final goal: liberation. That is why it is an ancient custom to walk due north without possessions to renounce ones material existence.

[11-15]

I passed flourishing populations, towns, villages, farms, mines, plains, valleys, gardens, nurseries and forests. I entered the hills and mountains of many precious metals. All around were trees with branches broken by huge elephants, and pure lakes with lotus flowers that would attract the hearts of the citizens of heaven, decorated with birds and bees. I also roamed through rows of bamboo, and pens of sharp grass and weeds; alone in inaccessible caves; in fearsome forests, the playgrounds of dangerous snakes, owls, and jackals. Exhausted body and soul, thirsty and hungry, I bathed and drank in the pool of a river and got relief. There, in an uninhabited forest, I sat beneath the shelter of a banyan tree, focused myself upon the self within myself, and contemplated what I had learned that time.

“That time” refers to the rainy season the boy spent with the Kṛṣṇa-saṁkīrtanists. As one walks due north in India one eventually enters the Himalayan peaks. It seems Nārada has retraced that path for us, a path gradually becoming less civilized and passing into the wonders and horrors of raw nature. The experience of leaving behind humanity and making peace with the raw forces of nature is an important pre-requisite to deep spiritual contemplation.


Nārada’s Previous Life

Nārada has just finished explaining to Vyāsa why if he really wants to accomplish his goal of benefitting humanity he must give direct voice to the names, forms, qualities, and activities of the All-Attractive. Now he tells the story of his past life to illustrate how powerfully purifying it is to hear about the All-Attractive.

[1.5.23]

O scholar, in a previous creation I was the child of an insignificant maidservant. During the rainy season she was assigned to carefully attend the domestic needs of philosophers and mystics.

Nārada is one of the first children of the first being in the universe, Brahmā. So the words Nārada uses to mean “a previous life” also mean “a previous universe.”

[24]

I was not like most children, obsessed with frivolous games. I had discipline, was quiet, and listened carefully to instructions. Therefore I could make good use of the impartial mercy the learned bestow.

Divine mercy is infinitely ever-present. It is only lack of humility which causes us to close ourselves off from it. This boy had natural humility, and thus made very good use of the time he spent with saintly people.

[25]

For example, they allowed me to eat what remained on their plates. This erased all my karma and made my heart very pure. Thus I became naturally attracted to their way of life.

Eating the food left behind after one has served a pure person infects one with purity. When the heart is pure its constitutional attraction to the spiritual becomes self-manifest.

[26]

So I would go and listen to them; and they would affectionately sing to me about Kṛṣṇa. With great interest and care I paid attention to everything they described. Thus I acquired a real taste, O dear one, for the Beloved Subject of Discussion.

The boy found, among all the philosophers and mystics gathered during the rainy season, a special group of people who always enthusiastically sang about All-Attractive Kṛṣṇa (kṛṣṇa-kathāḥ pragāyatām).  One name for the All-Attractive is Priyaśrava, “The Beloved Subject of Discussion.”

[27]

O genius, when I got that taste my attention could not waver from the Beloved Subject. I saw that I was bewildered by thinking of myself as something temporary. I came to know myself as transcendental spirit.

[28]

So, throughout the rainy season and into the autumn I continued hearing the saṁkīrtan of those learned great-souls glorifying the pure fame of Hari. My devotion began to flow and the passion and ignorance that had covered me eroded.

Both the boy and the great souls were enjoying their kīrtana so much that they could not part when the time came at the end of the rainy season. All the other philosophers and mystics departed but the boy and the great souls continued hearing and chanting about All-Attractive Kṛṣṇa. This soon caused a river of divine love to begin pouring from what was previously the glacier of the boy’s spiritual heart. That river quickly and powerfully eroded the dirt of passion and ignorance which had covered his pure, clear spiritual existence.

[29]

I really loved them, and so listened to and followed them carefully. All the impurities of that faithful boy were destroyed I began to behave like them.

[30]

Being affectionate and compassionate towards the needy, before leaving me they instructed me on the most confidential knowledge that the All-Attractive himself gives.

[31]

By this instruction certainly I understood the powerful influence of the true creator – the Son of Vasudeva – and became prepared to attain him.

[32]

O Brahmin, the instruction was this: ‘The learned know that the best remedy for all miseries is to dedicate ones duty to the All-Attractive Master.’

When finally departing, the great souls told the boy how to perfect what he had begun to attain in their company. They gave him the same knowledge that Kṛṣṇa himself gives in Bhagavad-Gītā: Do not renounce active life, but change your activities so that their motive is to please the All-Attractive Master.

Vyāsa may be surprised that such great souls gave such an apparently simplified instruction to a boy who had already attained so much spiritual advancement. After all, action and duty is the very first rung on the Vedic ladder of spirituality. So Nārada said…

[33-34]

O man of good action, can’t same thing that causes a disease cure it when administered properly? So, activities cause our material bondage, but activities can also destroy it when they are dedicated towards spiritual ends.

This is a homeopathic principle.

[35]

Whatever one does to please the All-Attractive thoroughly links one to the All-Attractive with the bonds of divine love. What we call “knowledge” is but a dependent of this link.

Normally duty purifies one of selfishness, and thus allows one to more clearly perceive knowledge. Thus normally duty is subservient to knowledge. But when duties are dedicated to the pleasure of Godhead the paradigm is reversed. Knowledge becomes a maidservant facilitating the link of divine love.

[36]

By endeavoring to please the All-Attractive by following his instructions, one naturally always remembers and embraces the qualities and names of Kṛṣṇa.

Activities dedicated to pleasing Kṛṣṇa are so purifying because they cause one to always remember Kṛṣṇa. It is actually the remembrance of Kṛṣṇa which is purifying, not the action itself. But the action is a catalyst.

[37]

‘Now hear this transcendental message: I focus on you, the All-Attractive, and contemplate you. Vāsudeva, Pradyumna, Aniruddha and Saṁkarṣaṇa are the focus, not I.’

To validate that duties properly performed cause one to remember Kṛṣṇa, Nārada here quotes a Vedic mantra to be invoked when doing regular duties.

 [38]

A person with perfect vision worships the Object of Sacrifice in the form of sound.

The “Object of Sacrifice” is Yajña, another name for Viṣṇu. God “in the form of sound” (mantra-mūrti) is especially the Saṁkīrtan Yajña singing of the mahā-mantra:

hare kṛṣṇa, hare kṛṣṇa, kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa, hare hare
hare rāma, hare rāma, rāma rāma, hare hare

Since the power of divine action is in its ability to inspire remembrance of the names and forms of the All-Attractive, one with good vision wants to spend as much time as possible directly engaged in discussing and singing the names and qualities of Kṛṣṇa. Therefore the best action to perform for Kṛṣṇa’s pleasure is to discuss and sing about the Subject of Topmost Poetry.

[39]

O brahmin, that is how I obtained realized knowledge of Godhead. I acted upon it and was granted knowledge of Godhead’s opulent and multifarious powers. This lead me to personal affection for The Most Beautiful.

Nārada attained his status by Kṛṣṇa-saṁkīrtana: singing and discussing the names and qualities of the Divine Beloved. Keśava is a name for the All-Attractive indicating his beauty, especially due to his beautiful hair.

[40]

You also have learned by compiling the vast Veda that the wise who always seek knowledge try to please the Almighty. Describe this, and the miserable masses will get liberated from their constant suffering and sadness; from which there is no other escape.

Nārada concludes his story of his past life by saying, “Give direct voice to the names, forms, qualities, and activities of the All-Attractive. Thus accomplish your goal of liberating people from suffering. I am the proof that it works. Make them attracted to the All-Attractive.”


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.


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