Krishna and gopis

Kartika Reading from Krishna Sandarbha at Jiva Institute

Jagat and Babaji
Jagat and Babaji

During the month of Kartika, from October 27th until November 25th, Babaji Satyanarayana Dasa and Sandarbha editor Jagadananda Das will read from Kṛṣṇa Sandarbha at the Jiva Institute in Vrindavan. This fourth book of the Sandarbha series  is scheduled to be published end of next year after Paramātma Sandarbha.

“I gave myself a deadline (October 23rd) to finish my part of the work, and then the plan was that Babaji and I would sit down together (as we did with the previous volumes), reading through the Sanskrit and translation together, making refinements in the translation, commenting and clarifying sticky points, raising philosophical questions and so on.

The seminar idea came up later when I suggested that we open up our sessions to other Vaishnavas and scholars who might be interested in having a crash course in the Sandarbhas. Sanskrit knowledge will not be required, since the translation is the main focus of attention, but it would definitely be of great help. Babaji and I greatly enjoyed reading through the entire Sanskrit text of the previous Sandarbhas together, which gave us a chance once again to relish Jiva Goswami’s prose in a more concentrated way.” (from Jagat’s blog)

What follows is an appetizer from the introduction of Kṛṣṇa Sandarbha:

Śrī Kṛṣṇa is one of the most popular gods among Hindus. Even among Non-Hindus He is well-known for His Bhagavad Gītā, the Hindu’s most popular scripture, and for His fascinating life-stories. Despite this great popularity, His personality is a great enigma. No other Hindu deity is shrouded in as much mystery as He. People have diverse conceptions about Him, many of which seem contradictory:  They consider Him a great lover, a great statesman, and a great mystic. As a lover, he is famous for stealing the clothes of the young gopīs while they were bathing in the Yamunā River, and for marrying 16,108 princesses. Yet, as a great mystic, He is famous as the speaker of Bhagavad Gītā, and for being Yogeśvara, the “Master of Yoga” (of which celibacy is a fundamental principle). He is famous as a cow-herder, yet is also famous as the most respected royal scion, who received the principal honors at Emperor Yudhiṣṭhira’s Rājasūya yajña,  in the presence of the world’s foremost kings, scholars, and sages.

His enigmatic nature notwithstanding, to have a clear picture of Kṛṣṇa’s true nature is essential to grasping Bhāgavata Purāṇa and it’s system: bhakti-yoga. As established in Tattva Sandarbha (Anuccheda 50 – 52), this Purāṇa (SB 1.1.2) states that the supreme duty of humanity, our parama dharma, is love for Bhagavān – our very source. To love Bhagavān, clear knowledge about Him and His nature is of utmost importance. Bhagavān has many forms – Viṣṇu, Rāma, Kṛṣṇa, Nṛsiṁha, etc. Are they equally worshipable or is there some hierarchy among them? To answer this, Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī wrote this book, Kṛṣṇa Sandarbha.

The most general understanding is that Kṛṣṇa is simply an avatāra of Viṣṇu. In Kṛṣṇa Sandarbha, Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī uproots this misconception. Although he already explained the nature of Bhagavān in Bhagavat Sandarbha, there he did not clearly identify Bhagavān’s original form and Kṛṣṇa’s position among the various avatāras. Kṛṣṇa Sandarbha follows after Bhagavat Sandarbha to address these points in detail. Jīva Gosvāmī’s primary conclusion in Kṛṣṇa Sandarbha is that Kṛṣṇa is the source of all other avatāras of Bhagavān, and He has no source other than Himself.

Jīva Gosvāmī’s primary purpose in writing this book is to reveal Kṛṣṇa as the supreme object of worship and love. In Tattva Sandarbha, he specifically stated that he is writing the Six Sandarbhas for those who desire to worship Kṛṣṇa. He even declared that the Sandarbhas should be studied only by such devotees. Kṛṣṇa Sandarbha is surely in line with this declaration. A devotee must have clear understanding about his/her object of worship, and in Kṛṣṇa Sandarbha, Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī provides this systematic and esoteric knowledge about Kṛṣṇa, the supreme worshipable deity.

This book is truly the work of a genius. No other book can compare to it. There have been essays or short treatises written about Kṛṣṇa, but no one else has given this subject such a thorough and systematic treatment. Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī traces out the true position of Kṛṣṇa among all the avatāras of Bhagavān based upon his careful study of Bhāgavata Purāna. Not only does he demonstrate that Kṛṣṇa is the original form of God, Svayaṁ Bhagavān, he also establishes a hierarchy within Kṛṣṇa’s own multifaceted manifestations – explaining that Kṛṣṇa as a cow-herder and lover in Vraja is superior to His manifestation as a royal statesman in Mathura and Dvārakā. This fact is so esoteric that even some Vaiṣṇavas have difficulty in comprehending and accepting it. However, precisely this realization is crucial for the practice of pure, natural devotion, rāgānugā bhakti – which will be the subject matter of the next book of this series, Bhakti Sandarbha. Krsna Sandarbha is therefore the most important of all books in the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava School because it unravels the mystery about the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava’s worshipable deity, which gives the school its unique identity.

Kṛṣṇa Sandarbha is the fourth book in the series of the Six Sandarbhas. Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī wrote the first three Sandarbhas—Tattva, Bhagavat, and Paramātma Sandarbhas, based on Bhāgavata Purāṇa’s famous “vadanti” verse (SB 1.2.11).  In these three books, he explained the key words used in this verse: Tattva, Brahman, Paramātmā, and Bhagavān. These first three Sandarbhas can be likened to an introduction for the present fourth book, Kṛṣṇa Sandarbha, in which Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī ascertains the identity of the original form of Bhagavān, and explains the true meaning of another key phrase from the vadanti verse: advaya-jñāna (lit., “non-dual consciousness”). He conclusively establishes that this phrase is a reference to Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Absolute Reality.

Krishna and gopis (Jiva painting)
Krishna and gopis (Jiva painting)