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A post made while working on Volume 2 of Beautiful Tales of the All Attractive.
Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 2.7.17 presents an interesting conversation. There, Brahmā says that Vāmana claimed the entire world from Bali using three “deceptive steps” (tripada-cchalena). This is said in the third line of the śloka. The fourth line answers the anticipated question, “How can Viṣṇu’s avatāra, Vāmana, employ deceit, an immoral tactic?”
The answer Brahmā submits is that it was not an immoral deceit because Vāmana begged (asked) the three steps of land from Bali, and Bali (very) willingly gave it. If someone gives you something willingly, it is not theft. There was some deceit involved because Vāmana literally asked for three steps (tri-pada), which on the surface literally means “three paces of land” – but which he intended to mean tri-pada – the three sections of the world: heaven, earth, and the netherworld.
Vāmana’s wordplay was deceptive, but the fact that he openly asked it from Bali, who did…
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To Dance in the Downpour of Devotion
A Summary Study of Mādhurya Kādambinī
Exactly following Srila Vishvanatha Cakravarti Thakur’sMadhurya Kadambini, this book provides an inspirational and practical guide to each step along the road from ignorance to bliss. It vividly and enticingly describes each of the 9 progressive stages of developing divine love, prema-bhakti.
It is written in clear, simple, no-nonsense English.
The conversation between Brahmā and Nārada presented in the Second Canto (especially the part of that conversation described in the Sixth Chapter) is directly connected to a very important section of Ṛg Veda – 10.90, the puruṣa sūkta. You can say that the Bhāgavatam’s version of this conversation is a commentary or elaboration upon puruṣa sūkta, or that the Ṛg Veda contains a poetic summary of the conversation. In either case, the direct link between the two is important for demonstrating that (a) The bhakti approach presented in Bhāgavata Purāṇa is grounded firmly in the most ancient Ṛg Veda, and (b) The Ṛg Veda is not devoid of the fundamental principles of Vaiṣṇava-bhakti.
Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 2.5.27 explains the puruṣa sūkta line that begins with, “sahasra-śīrṣā” and its three verses that start with, “brāhmaṇi ‘sya mukham asit.” (Describing the Original Person as having infinite, omnipresent heads, arms, legs, etc. and being the original source of all the elements of the universe)
SB 2.6.13-16 explain the line, “puruṣa evedaṁ sarvam” (The Original Person is certainly everything that exists), and the line, “sa bhūmiṁ sarvataḥ spṛṣṭvā atyatiṣṭhad daśāṅgulam” (pervating everything in the world, he exists ten widths beyond it).
SB 2.6.18 explains the line, “utāmṛtatvasyeśāno uad annenāti-rohati” (He enjoys the greatest nectar, far surpassing mundane pleasures), and the line, “etāvān asya mahimāto jyāyāṁś ca pūruṣaḥ” (The greatness of the original person is extreme).
SB 2.6.19 explains the line, “pādo ‘sya viśva-bhūtāni tri-pādasy āmṛtaṁ divi” (All living entities exist within this one-fourth. Those in the three-fourths are divine and eternally joyful).
SB 2.6.20 explains the line, “tripād-ūrdhva udait puruṣaḥ pādo ‘syehābhavat punaḥ” (The three-fourths is above and beyond the one-fourth, which is repeatedly manifest and unmanifest).
SB 2.6.21 explains the line, “tato viṣvaṅ vyakrāmat sāśanāśanaśane ubhe” (They wander everywhere, in two directions, towards the real and unreal).
SB 2.6.28 explains the line, “yajñena yajñam ayajanta” (They worshipped by using Sacrifice to perform sacrifice).
SB 2.6.29 explains the line, “puruṣaṁ jātam agrataḥ tena deva ayajanta” (the gods came in front of the Original Person and worshipped him).
Srimad Bhagavatam 2.6.17
Nārada: It seems unusual that an entity so essential and fundamental to this world should have its true, original position beyond it.
Brahmā: It is not unusual. Take life-air (prāṇa) for example. It has its own energy, but it also lends its energy to other things. Another example is the Sun, it shines by its own power, but lends its radiance to all things. In a similar way, the Supreme Person is situated apart, within his own power, but lends his power to all things. Thus he is both within and beyond everything.
Nārada: I really want to know how the Supreme Person exists beyond this world. Please explain this to me!
Brahmā: He is the perfection of fearless nectar, far exceeding any mortal happiness! My dear spiritually inspired child, we cannot find any limit on his excellence!
Please understand that the place in which we all dwell reflects merely one-fourth of the Supreme Person. His true abode is beyond even what is beyond the three worlds – a place of nectar, security, and fearlessness.
That place beyond our world represents three-fourths of the Supreme Person. It is the abode of those who are not forced into rebirth. Those who instead take birth within our three worlds do so because they have a selfish bent, being without very strong convictions toward that Supreme Person.
Nārada: What happens to those souls?
Brahmā: They roam far and wide within our worlds.
Nārada: In what directions?
Brahmā: Those with some knowledge move towards emancipation. Those without knowledge move towards accumulation. In truth, the Supreme Person is the shelter for both of them.
Nārada: I can see why he would be the shelter of those striving towards enlightenment, but how is he also the shelter of those striving to accumulate material objects?
Brahmā: What are they searching for except him!? The egg of the universe comes from him. It produces elements, senses, and powers that allow the two to interact – everything they desire.
Nārada: Then, since they both seek the Supreme Person, are the those who strive for material objects on an equal footing with those who strive for emancipation?
Brahmā: No. Those who seek enlightenment are more evolved.
Brahmā: Their outlook is more like the divine outlook of the Supreme Person.
Nārada: How so?
Brahmā: The Supreme Person is uninterested in the material objects he manifests in this world.
Brahmā: All these things are simply like sunshine, but he is the brilliant sun!
Here is a summary of the main subject of Chapter 5 of Canto 2.
Viz. Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 2.5.22
Time (kāla) is the primary catalyst activating the three qualities (guṇa) by permitting the progress of evolution. The psychological inclinations (svabhāva) of living beings can then stimulate evolutions (pariṇāma) within the three qualities, creating a primordial destiny (karma) for the universe, which can thus evolve into its primeval form (mahāt-tattva).
The 5th chapter of Srimad Bhagavatam’s Second Canto gives a fascinating, intriguing description of how the All-Attractive creates the primordial universe. Here is a footnote from the manuscript I am currently working on:
Text [2.5.]21 explains that the All-Attractive desires to be many, because its inherent nature is bliss – which is enjoyed in the form of love, which requires relationships, which requires multiple independent beings. The All-Attractive causes many beings to manifest from itself as a result of its own “magic” or mystical power (māyā) using three tools, time, destiny, and psychology.
Text 22 elaborates on this. It states the All-Attractive becomes the Puruṣa (a.k.a. Viṣṇu) to use these tools upon our “material world.” He uses time (kāla) as a catalyst to activate (vyatikara) the three qualities (guṇa). He then uses psychology (svabhāva) to stimulate evolutions (pariṇāma) within those qualities. “Psychology” refers to the various unique predilections and preferences of the various unique living entities who will populate the world. Then, the destiny (karma) that arises from the living entities psychological interaction with the three qualities causes the world to evolve out of the abstract realm and become the primeval form of the tangible universe (mahāt-tattva).