Tag Archives: Sat Sandarbha

Vaikuṇṭha Is Part of the Lord’s Svarūpa (Bhagavat Sandarbha, 49 – Part 1)

 

The following in an excerpt of Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji’s translation and commentary of Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī’s BHAGAVAT SANDARBHA. We are starting with anuccheda 49 [editor’s choice] and will weekly post consecutive sections.

Srila Jiva Gosvami
Srila Jiva Gosvami

It was previously established that the Lord’s abode is also part of His essential nature, in verses such as, “He showed [Brahmā] His own planet, Vaikuṇṭha” (SB 2.9.9).  Nonetheless, for the sake of clarifying the topic for those who would otherwise misconstrue the Absolute through aberrated intellectualism, we will demonstrate it here once again, as follows:

1.    The Lord’s abode, being identical with the nondual Reality, cannot be attained by dualistic action, which is to say, by result-oriented action of any kind (karma);
2.    It is described in the Vedas as transcendental to the manifested cosmos;
3.    It is glorified for the reason that those who attain it, being pervaded by its intrinsic nature, do not fall down to the material world;
4.    It can be attained only by one permanently established in freedom from the guṇas of material nature;
5.    The abodes of the Lord within the material world are also said to be transcendental to the guṇas because of the Lord’s presence in them; this being the case, Vaikuṇṭha is certainly ascertained to be transcendental by the a fortiori principle;
6.    Scriptures declare that the Lord’s abode is, by Its very nature, beyond material nature;
7.    They declare it to be eternal;
8.    It is attained only by pure devotion, [or in other words, by nondual action that is causeless, uninterrupted, produces no extraneous effects and is one in nature and orientation with the nondual complete whole, Śrī Bhagavān.] Such nondual devotion belittles even the bliss of liberation, which is merely the negation or absence of dualistic or result-oriented action;
9.    It is referred to as saccidānanda-ghana, a highly compact mass of eternal being, consciousness and bliss.

(1) The first of these, the characteristic of being unattainable by dualistic or result-oriented action of any kind (karmādibhir aprāpyatvam) is stated by Lord Kṛṣṇa as follows:

devānām eka āsīt svar bhūtānāṁ ca bhuvaḥ padam
martyādīnāṁ ca bhūr-lokaḥ siddhānāṁ tritayāt param
adho’surāṇāṁ nāgānāṁ bhūmer eko’sṛjata prabhuḥ
trilokyāṁ gatayaḥ sarvāḥ karmaṇāṁ triguṇātmanām
yogasya tapasaś caiva nyāsasya gatayo’malāḥ
mahar-janas-tapaḥ-satyaṁ bhakti-yogasya mad-gatiḥ

Svarloka is the residence of the celestial beings; Bhuvarloka is that of the spirit entities; Bhūrloka is the world of mortals. The worlds attained by the Siddhas, or those who have attained mastery over the paranormal powers, exist beyond these three divisions. Lord Brahmā created the region below the Earth for the ungodly (asuras) and the serpent race (nāgas). In this manner, the various destinations available within the three worlds have been arranged in accordance with the scale of action conducted under the influence of the three guṇas. Through yoga discipline, severe austerities and adherence to the renounced order of life, the spotless destinations of Maharloka, Janoloka, Tapoloka and Satyaloka can be reached. One who embraces the yoga of unalloyed devotion, however, attains My abode. (SB 11.24.12-14)

The Siddhas, or those perfected in paranormal ability, by processes such as yoga, attain planets like Mahar, which are beyond the three planetary systems. The region below the Earth refers to the group of planets beginning with Atala. Included in the three planetary systems are Bhūḥ, Bhuvar, and Svaḥ, with Pātāla and the other lower planets counted as part of Bhūrloka.

Actions conducted under the influence of the three guṇas is a reference to the duties of a God-centered married life, embedded in a social network (gārhasthya-dharma). Tapas, or austerity, refers to the duties associated with retirement from household life and the related social network (vānaprastha). It also refers to the duties of student life, involving education, character formation and grounding in truth (brahmacarya). Of these, those who follow the two types of brahmacarya, i.e., upakurvāṇa and naiṣṭhika, attain to Maharloka and Janoloka respectively. By following the vānaprastha duties, one reaches Tapoloka, and by sannyāsa, Satyaloka. But all these can be attained by different degrees of advancement in yoga.

Mad-gatiḥ (lit., My destination) means Vaikuṇṭha-loka and can be reached only by the yoga of unalloyed devotion (bhakti-yoga), as substantiated by the verse yan na vrajanti (SB 3.15.23), which will be quoted [in Section 57] below, as well as by this present description of the planets.

In the Third Canto, Lord Brahmā said to the devas:

Vaikuṇṭha abounds with air-ships, which are available to the devotees merely as a result of bowing down at the feet of the Lord. (SB 3.15.20)
Śrīdhara Svāmī also comments, “[Brahmā] further distinguishes the Vaikuṇṭha world: Tat-saṅkulam means ‘abounding with them.’ With what? With the air-ships of the devotees, which have become available to them simply by offering obeisances to Lord Hari’s lotus feet, and not by means such as dualistic or result-oriented action.”

The Śruti also confirms this:

After passing through all the worlds attainable by karma, a learned brāhmaṇa becomes indifferent to it all, realizing that the akṛta world, or in other words, the world that is prior and transcendental to dualistic action [Vaikuṇṭha], cannot be achieved by such action, kṛta. (MuU 1.2.12)
In this mantra, the word akṛta, prior and transcendental to dualistic action, qualifies the word “world” (loka) and not anything else, as worlds, or lokas, are the subject under discussion.

Lord Kṛṣṇa also confirms that the eternal abode is attainable only through His shelter [and not through dualistic effort] in the Gītā, in the series of verses beginning with, “The Supreme Lord resides in the hearts of all beings” (18.61),  which is followed by:

O Bhārata, take shelter of Him alone with the totality of your being and awareness. By His grace you will attain supreme peace and the eternal abode. (Gītā 18.62)

Commentary

After confirming that the body, dress, weapons and ornaments of the Lord are part of His svarūpa, Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī demonstrates that the same applies for Vaikuṇṭha. Anuccheda 7 briefly touched on this point with reference to Brahmā’s vision of Lord Kṛṣṇa and His abode, wherein it was shown that Vaikuṇṭha is free from māyā, the material nature and her by-products. Because māyā and the guṇas are absent in Vaikuṇṭha, time has no influence. Vaikuṇṭha is a manifestation of śuddha-sattva, or nondual being, free from the guṇas of nature (PP, Uttara-khaṇḍa 227.58).  Anuccheda 7 also stated that this pure sattva, or nondual being, is not just material sattva emptied of any tinge of passion and ignorance, but is the Lord’s own internal potency.

While Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī incidentally discussed the transcendental nature of Vaikuṇṭha in Section 7, he will now focus his attention on this topic for the next twelve anucchedas. He begins by listing nine characteristics of Vaikuṇṭha:

1.    It is not attainable by dualistic action, or in other words, by result-oriented action of any kind (karmādibhir aprāpyatvam, discussed in this anuccheda);
2.    It is beyond the visible or manifested cosmos (prapañcātītatvam, Anucchedas 50, 52);
3.    Its residents are infallible (tato’skhalanam, 51, 52);
4.    Only a person permanently established in freedom from the guṇas of material nature can attain it (nairguṇya-prāpyatvam, 53);
5.    It is the seat of unalloyed being, free from the guṇas (nairguṇyāśrayatvam, 54);
6.    It is transcendental to material nature (prakṛteḥ paratvam, 55)
7.    It is eternal (nityatvam, 56);
8.    It is attainable only through bhakti, or unalloyed devotion, which belittles the bliss of liberation, since that bliss is no more than the absence of dualistic action (mokṣa-sukha-tiraskāri-bhakty-eka-labhyatvam, 57);
9.    It is by nature eternal, full of consciousness and bliss (sac-cid-ānanda-rūpatvam, 58).

Śrī Jīva Prabhu provides evidence for these nine characteristics in twelve anucchedas, beginning with this one, showing that Vaikuṇṭha is not a manifestation of the external energy but belongs to the Lord’s svarūpa.

Jiva Gosvami’s Sandarbhas

Sri Jiva Gosvami
Sri Jiva Gosvami

Question  1):  I am highly appreciating the depth of your work on the Sandarbhas and very much honoring Sri Jiva for his organization of the Bhagavat Siddhanta.  Thank you so much for this offering.  A few quick questions:

You speak of merging the buddhi into the ksetrajna, ‘the witness,’ and then merging the ksetrajna into the self, or atman (and then this self into the Supreme Self).  I thought the ksetrajna WAS the atman, as in the Gita, Mahabharata and other Samkhya texts. If it is not, then what other intermediate self is there between the buddhi and the atman, and why is this not mentioned in this way elsewhere?

Answer:  Ksetrjna is the conditioned soul with upadhi. Atman is the pure soul, free of upadhi. Ksetrajna is the witness. All knowledge or experience happens in the vrittis. So witnessing is a vritti. It seems strange that this distinction between ksetrajna and atman is made, but this is done to make the point very clear. The soul per se does nothing but gives consciousness to the body.

Question 2) Also, how does the prakritic buddhi ‘merge’ into the ksetrajna/atman? How can prakriti merge into Brahman?  Both are eternal and never come into being or cease to be.  Besides, they are differents sorts of stuff.

Answer: Merging does not mean getting lost or changing its svarupa. It means becoming ineffective or unmanifest. Just remember satkaryavada. No question of anything coming to an end. All it means that buddhi does not influence anymore.

Question 3)  Following on the last point,  is our siddhanta actually that prakriti can be transformed into Brahman?  Is that what happens in mantra?  Does Isvara enter into mantra, or does he transform the prakrit syllables of the vacaka into himself?  Put differently, does entity A enter into entity B, or is B transformed into A?  Or were B and A always the same, in which case how to understand the prakritic dimension of mantra audible to the akasha in the physical ear? After all, the gross senses cannot perceive Brahman, otherwise our eyes could see the atman in the first place.  And if B is transformed into A, then does that not violate the jnanaposition that Brahman is neither created, nor does it cease to be, and likewise, the Samkhya position with regards to prakriti’s eternality too? Is this question relegated to acintya-ness which abandons claims to have a philosophical position on this particular question?

Answer: No, prakriti is not transformed into Brahman. In case of mantra, the syllables are pronounced with the tongue or thought of in the mind, but according to the purity of the chanter and the grace of the Lord, the spiritual potency becomes manifest in it. Atah sri-krsna-nAmAdi na bhaved grAhyam indriyaih/ sevonmukhe hi jihvadau svayameava sphurati adah [The transcendental nature of the name, form, quality and pastimes of Sri Krsna cannot be understood through the materially contaminated senses. Only when one becomes spiritually saturated by transcendental service to the Lord, are the transcendental name, form, quality and pastimes of the Lord revealed] So, although it appears to be generated by the tongue,  it is self-manifest. It is akin to the Purva-mimasa theory which considers words to be eternal.

It is a mixture of two types of energies. In the beginning stage, we do not feel the spiritual energy, but only our effort in chanting. But really speaking, two energies are fudged or one is superimposed onto the other. As one advances, one will feel the spiritual side more and more. At a pure level, one will feel the complete spirtual potency working, even though he will use his tongue to chant. This is the mystical part in the mantra. Yes, it is acintya, but has an explanation.

It is like Krsna taking birth. He appears to take birth like an ordinary baby, but it is a totally different phenomenon. When Lord Krsna comes on earth, He is dealing only with His internal potency, but He appears to be like other human beings. The material energy follows His spiritual energy. The two seem to be fudged together. That is why He says, avajAnanti mAm mudhA manusim tanum Asritam [Not knowing My supreme existence, fools deride Me, Who have appeared in the human form, and Who is the great Lord of all beings]. But when He performs acts like lifting Govardhan or bewliderin Brahma, the material energy is unable to follow the spiritual energy.  So then is bhagavattA becomes apparent. It is not hidden anymore. Something similar happens in case of mantra chanting.

Question 4)  In our sampradaya, we find statements  about atman having iccha [desiring] shakti , kartritva [acting] shakti and bhoktra [enjoying] shakti.  From where are these categories coming?  Wouldn’t this imply that iccha is also in the atman (Gita says katrtva and bhoktritva are?)  Then how does this fit with desire being in the mind, senses and buddhi of Gita chapter III?

Answer:  What is the meaning to kartrtva and bhoktrtva without iccha shakti? Can you even imagine it?  It only means the potential, the actual iccha manifests only in the upadhi. The soul in the conditioned state only has the potential which becomes manifest in the upadhi. Therefore you will find both types of statements, i.e. that these three or mainly two are in the soul, as well as that they are in the upadhi. 

 

 

Experience of Rasas

Question: I am trying to understand if a liberated jiva in the spiritual world is bereft of any aspect or Rasa of the Supreme lord. As per Sri Vaishnavism, a mukta jiva is all FIT to experience all rasas with the lord.  To understand the Gaudiya concept better, I came across the Govinda bhasya. Srila Baladeva Vidyabhusana seems to talk about this in Govinda Bhasya  (tad-bhava-bhavitvadhikaranam, VS 3.3.56). The Adhikarana starts with a reference from Candogya and the commentator says:

“cchandata ubayavirodhad ity adibhyam darsitam

This means two features of the Lord (sweetness and opulence) are not incompatible with each other.

Answer: According to Sri Rupa Gosvami in Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, and to Sri Jiva Gosvami in Sat Sandarbha, before a jiva enters into the spirtual world he/she attains sthayi bhava also called bhava bhakti, which leads to prema bhakti. Sthayi bhava means the permanent mood. This does not change in the spiritual world. There are five primary and seven secondary bhavas.

They do not accept that a mukta jiva experiences all the bhavas. In fact, in Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu Sri Rupa Gosvami writes that some bhavas are not compatible and just do not get along together. For example dasya bhava and madhurya bhava are incompatible. A dasa would not and can not relish the intimate relation of Bhagavan with His consort. So is also the case with vatsalya and madhurya. How can parents feel happy to hear the bedroom exploits of their son?

Yatha avesha tatha pravesha: Whatever is the absorption while living as a sadhaka that is what you enter into.  Sri Krsna also says a similar thing in the verse yam yam vapi smaran bhavam tyajate ante kalevaram. This is the general principle. In any case a jiva can never taste all the sweetness and bliss of the Lord because it is unlimited.

Question: Thank you for the response. However I am unable to understand or accept that rasa of a jiva is adhyatmika or integral with a soul. If so, the jiva can not express any kind of relationship than that rasa. Then how does the jiva interact with other friends and relatives than the Lord?

Answer: May be you are not clear what rasa means. A wife has a relation with husband. How does she deal with the parents, brothers, sisters or husband? In the same way a devotee has a specific rasa with the Lord and deals with everyone else in relation to the Lord. It is a big family with Lord being the center.

Question: Also, this concept of a mukta jiva being stuck or limited to one experience contradicts the very definition of moksha bhogamatra samya. A mukta jiva should experience completely all aspects of the Lord. He becomes sarvajna as well.

Answer: No, we do not accept that in our philosophy. There is no need for it. Why does Yashoda have to know that Krishna is God? If she does, her vatsaly bhava will diminish. Even Krishna does not know that He is God when He is with Yashoda. Yogamaya covers them so that they can relish pure vatsalya.

Bhogamatra samya and sarvjna are used in a limited sense, at least in Chaitanya school. No one can have bhoga equal to Krsna, or be a sarvjna like him. In fact Krishna Himself does not know Himself fully because He is unlimited. How can anything unlimited be known fully? So the meaning of the word sarvjna has to be contracted even in case of Krishna.

Question: It is however logical to indicate that in one service, the rasa is contained with one aspect, like it is the same water that takes many forms. In fact Candogya says a mukta takes multiple forms to enjoy the Lord. However as per Govinda bhasya at least, there is no difference in the enjoyment of the muktas.

Answer: No, that is not true. How can a jiva who is atomic in size enjoy like the Lord?  That is akin to Advaitavada which claims that at the time of liberation you are Brahman. I cannot refer to any book at present but in the commentaries of Bhagavata these things are explained time and again.

Question: Thank you so much for the response. I agree I am not well versed in Rasa sastra. Which one should I read?

Regarding bhogamatra samya, at least Srila Baladeva agrees that the enjoyment is same unless there are other texts where he mentions about this.

Answer: First of all, there is no concept of material enjoyment for a devotee. A devotee wants to serve. That is the basic difference between a devotee and non-devotee, and the basic qualification to go to Vaikuntha. So even if it said that there is samya it has to be understood from a devotional point of view. Why does a devotee want bhoga samya? What is indicated is that the devotee is eligible to serve the Lord in all ways and in all forms. He has paripurna brahmanubhava from nitya niravadhya kainkaryam.

Sahitya Darpana is a good book to begin.