Let us meditate upon the Absolute Truth, Kåñëa, who is the cause of creation, maintenance and destruction of this universe, as the material and efficient cause, since he is the only knower of all objects and the only independent being; who revealed the Vedas to Brahmä within his mind; who is difficult to understand even for the learned; whose body is thought to be made of matter due to illusion just as one mistakes fire, water and earth for each other; and who negates all false arguments regarding his existence by possessing a transcendental, inconceivable form, and by the strength of devotees’ experiencing him though his svarüpa-çakti. COMMENTARY
The cloud of Çré-caitanya has rained a sweet shower of mercy, producing a river of devotion to himself where the jévas play like elephants in the Gaìgä. May the dark cloud of Lord Kåñëa Caitanya, made golden with flash of lightning, illuminate the sky of my mind!
I worship the one absolute truth, Kåñëa, who is eternal bliss and supreme consciousness, (Nityänanda, Advaita-Caitanya), incarnate as the eternal Bhägavatam which is the complete form of Brahma-sutra, in its most embellished form and who resides with eternal bhakti and the eternal devotees in the eternal spiritual abode.1
I take shelter of the eternal form, name and qualities of Kåñëa known from Bhägavatam, which I studied for a long time by the mercy of guru.After having studied the Vaiñëava-toñaëé of Sanätana and after having understood the conclusions of Lord Caitanya from the Sandarbhas of Jéva, by the mercy of Çrédhara Svämé, I produce this commentary to show the essence of Bhägavatam.
I am not learned. Oh! I am rash in this attempt! The cause, being either my own foolishness or the causeless mercy of the Lord, gives rise to its manifestation, even in an unqualified person. If its cause is my foolishness, it will produce mockery, and if its cause is mercy of the Lord, it will produce bliss with every word for the devotees.
I offer myself and everything I have to the absolute lord who is dearer than life to all the cowherd men and women, and to the service of his dear devotees.
It is not so surprising that this popularly read scripture has qualities of the absolute entity brahman, comparable to the fruit of a desire tree, a lamp and the sun. I praise this work which assumes the form of Mohiné in the assembly of devas and demons, giving the sweet topics of the Lord to the devotees, and denying them to the demons.
Svayam bhagavän, the sweet ocean of all auspicious qualities, the king holding the greatest power, the most splendid sun, shone and then disappeared at scheduled times over the earth. The meanings of the various scriptures, Puräëas and Itihäsas, placed in three groups just as men are classified into three groups, are like night watchmen (guarding the treasure of satisfaction of the heart), but through time, destiny, the appearance of irregularity, and even laziness, some of the meanings have fallen into deep sleep. Consequently, the great treasure - satisfaction of the heart of all people and the authors of the works - has been stolen by those who have appeared like thieves and given wrong interpretations to those scriptures. This is understood from the following:
jugupsitaà dharma-kåte ’nuçäsataù
svabhäva-raktasya mahän vyatikramaù The people in general are naturally inclined to enjoy, and you have encouraged them in that way in the name of religion. This is verily condemned and is quite unreasonable. SB 1.5.15
However, under these conditions the Lord makes his appearance:
yadä yadä hi dharmasya glänir bhavati bhärata |
abhutthänam adharmasya tadätmänaà såjämy aham || Whenever there is destruction in dharma, O Bhärata, and a rise in adharma, I manifest My own body. BG 4.7
As well, according to the Gétä, the Lord comes to save the devotees and destroy the demons. (BG 4.8) Just as he appears for these purposes as Matsya among the fish, as Varäha among the animals, as Haàsa among the birds, as svayam bhagavän Kåñëa among humans, and as Upendra among the devatäs, so the Lord has now appeared as the crown jewel of the scriptures, Çrémad-bhägavatam, among the Vedas, for restoring dharma and delivering the devotees.
kåñëe sva-dhämopagate dharma-jïänädibhiù saha |
kalau nañöa-dåçäm eña puräëärko ’dhunoditaù || This Bhägavata Puräëa is as brilliant as the sun, and it has arisen just after the departure of Lord Kåñëa to His own abode, accompanied by religion, knowledge, etc. Persons who have lost their vision due to the dense darkness of ignorance in the age of Kali shall get light from this Puräëa. SB 1.3.43
This indicates that Bhägavatam is another form of Kåñëa, similar to the oneness of I and mine (Kåñëa and the book about Kåñëa). Thus, it bears no comparison with other works. Kåñëa has appeared as Bhägavatam through Çukadeva and Parékñit, and like the sun among the planets, it shines among the Puräëas. It has twelve forms (volumes), just as the sun has twelve forms for each of the months of the year. With eighteen-thousand verses like its leaves, it has appeared like a desire tree to fulfill the goals of the great devotees.
First Explanation: In the beginning of the work, the author, Çré-kåñna-dvaipäyana - the crown jewel among äcäryas - invokes auspiciousness with meditation on his cherished deity.
Param means “to the highest limit.” Satyam means “that Supreme Lord who exists in all time and space.” Dhémahi means “let us worship or meditate on.” The plural indicates all the jévas continuing in time and space as part of one’s own group and thus indicates teaching them meditation by these instructions. The meaning of the sütra, athäto brahma jijïäsä (Vedänta-sütra 1.1.1) is indicated from this since meditation alone is the result of inquiry.
The lord’s supreme power is indicated in this verse with janmädy asya yataù. (Vedänta-sütra 1.1.2) (Let us meditate on the supreme lord) from whom (yataù) arises creation, maintenance and destruction (janmädi) of the universe (asya). Should they meditate on time, which causes all this?
No. The Lord is the cause because he is the material and efficient cause (anvyäd itarataç ca). Anvayäd itarataù (anvaya and its opposite) can mean anvaya-vyatireka, which, in talking about causality, can refer to cause and effect. The Lord in relation to the universe is like the earth which, as a material cause, is inherent in the pot, and the pot which, as an effect, is inherent in its material cause, the earth. Thus this phrase means that the Lord is the material cause (upädäna-käraëa). The word ca indicates the efficient cause (nimitta-käraëa) which is time, because the Lord takes the form of time to influence prakåti. Thus the Lord is the cause (janma) by being the material (anvayäd itarataù) and the efficient cause (ca).
Or the word anvaya (meaning inclusion or entrance into) can also indicate that the Lord is the cause and destruction (janmädi) because everything enters the Lord. The universes enter into the Lord at destruction (and issues from him at the time of creation). Itarataù then indicates divisions of matter taking place at the level of secondary creation outside the Lord. That means that the lord is the basis (adhisthätå-käraëa) of the whole universe, just as water is the basis of earth, and fire is the basis of water. Thus the Lord is that person from whom creation, maintenance and destruction takes place because everything is contained within him (anvayät) and everything in the secondary creation is outside him, but based on him (itarataù).
Or the word anvaya (meaning sequence) can mean that the Lord is creation and destruction (janmädi), because he is the whole sequence of creation, maintenance and destruction. The Lord enters into the universe, as the final agent of causality, in the process of creation; he enters the universe as the final agent for dispensing results of action in maintenance; and he enters the universe in the form of Çiva as the final agent in the process of destruction. In this explanation, it should be understood that the cause includes within itself the effect, and the Lord as cause enters into the effect, the universe. Thus the lord is identified as creation, maintenance and destruction of the universe. The universe itself is kept at a distance from the svarüpa of the Lord by the use of the descriptive word itarataù (different), since the creation, maintenance and destruction of the universe is different from the Lord’s svarüpa-çakti.Ca indicates it is non-different from the mäyä-çakti. Thus anvayäd itarataùca means the Lord is the creator, maintainer and destroyer since he is non-different from the universe in its phases of creation, maintenance and destruction, but this universe is different from his svarüpa, and non-different from his mäyä-çakti.
Thus in the first line the two Vedänta-sütras,janmädy asya (1.1.2) and tat tu samanvayät (1.1.3),2 have been spoken.
But if the supreme lord is said to be the material cause of the universe, he should be devoid of change. Therefore should one not say that the Supreme Lord is the efficient and prakåti is the material cause? No. It is not so. The çrutis say yaù sarvajïäh sarva-vit: he, who is omniscient, knows all. (Muëòaka Upaniñad 2.2.7) Sa ékñata lokän: he glanced over the worlds and then created (Aitareya Upaniñad); and tad aikñata bahusyäà prajäyeya; he glanced and said, “Let me be many, Let me create progeny.” (Chändogya Upaniñad 6.2.3) These verses indicate that only a conscious entity is the cause of the universe, and thus the lord is both the material cause and the efficient cause of the universe. Since prakåti is a çakti of the Lord and the çakti and possessor of the çakti are non-different, the Lord is the material cause through prakåti. But the lord remains unchanged inspite of being the material cause, because by his very nature he transcends prakåti. This is explained by the Lord:
prakåtir yasyopädänam ädhäraù puruñaù paraù |
sato ’bhivyaïjakaù kälo brahma tat tritayaà tv aham || Lord Mahä-Viñëu is the resting place of nature, the material cause of prakåti, which becomes manifest by the power of time. Thus nature, the almighty Viñëu and time are not different from Me, the Supreme Absolute Truth. SB 11.24.19
Scripture does not state that prakåti is the material cause independently. The Lord, conscious of all things, is alone the cause of the universe by his independence. Unconscious prakåti is not the cause. Thus the verse says that the Lord is fully conscious (abhijïaù) concerning all matters relating to the creation and destruction of all real objects (artheñu). This statement illustrates the meaning of ékñater näçabdam: being described in the scriptures, the Lord is not beyond the description of words (though he remains beyond the material). (Vedänta-sütra 1.1.5)
The meaning of the sütra is this. The brahman which was discussed is the cause of the universe. Why? Because of seeing; because of specialized conclusions arising from seeing, or in other words, from hearing about the Lord in the statements of çruti which describe him as the cause of the universe. Therefore brahman is not indescribable. It is not that the Lord cannot be proved by authoritative words. He can be proved by the scriptures.
The çrutis state that the conscious Lord is the cause:
tad aikñata bahu syäm prajäyeya
He glanced at prakåti. May I become many; let me create progeny. Chändogya Upaniñad 6.2.3
Sad eva saumyedam agra asét
O gentle one! The eternal lord existed before this universe. Chändogya Upaniñad 6.2.1
Ätmä vä idam eka evägra asét
The Lord existed before this universe. Chändogya Upaniñad 1.1.1
Tasmäd vä etasmäd ätmana äkäçaù sambhüta
From that lord arose the ether. Taittiréya Upaniñad 1
Yato vä imäni bhütäni jäyante
From the Lord all creatures arise. Taittiréya Brähmaëa 1
And the småti says:
yataù sarväëi bhütäni bhavanty ädi-yugägame |
yasmiàç ca pralayaà yänti punar eva yuga-kñaye || From the Lord all creatures arise at the beginning of the first yuga and in him they merge at the time of universal destruction.
One may object that the mahat-tattva and other elements had not arisen so that he could have a body which could perform actions. Therefore the verse says that the Lord is independent (svaräö). He controls everything by himself (svayam räjate) through his spiritual svarüpa (non-different from himself). Thus the çruti says na tasya käryam käraëaà ca vidyate… sväbhäviké-jïäna-bala-kriya ca: In the Lord there is no material cause and effect; he has his own inherent knowledge, strength and action. (Çvetäçvatara Upaniñad 6.8)
One may object that in the creation of the universe, one should understand that Lord Brahmä has independent powers, for in the çruti it is said hiraëyagarbhaù samavartatägre bhütasya jätaù patir eka asét: Brahmä was born before other creatures; he alone existed. (Mahä-näräyaëa Upaniñad 6) Åg-Veda 10.121.1 Therefore Brahmä should be the object of worship. The verse answers this objection in the second line. It is the Lord, satyam param, who revealed (tene) the Vedas (brahma) — knowledge of himself — to Brahmä (ädi-kavaye). Thus Brahmä is dependent on the Lord. One may object that it is well known that Brahmä did not study the Vedas from anyone. That is true. He received it in his mind (hådaye). This is stated in the Bhägavatam. pracoditä yena purä sarasvaté vitanvatäjasya satéà småtià hådi
sva-lakñaëä prädurabhüt kiläsyataù sa me åñéëäm åñabhaù prasédatäm
May the Lord, who in the beginning of the creation amplified the potent knowledge of Brahmä from within his heart and inspired him with full knowledge of creation and of His own Self, and who appeared to be generated from the mouth of Brahmä, be pleased with me. SB 2.4.22
As well sudåñöaà håòi me tadaiva: why did I not see him in my heart at that time? (SB 10.14.15) The meaning of the gäyatré mantra was revealed to him by that method. It is said in the Matsya Puräëa (53.20):
yaträdhikåtya gäyatréà varëyate dharma-vistaraù |
våträsura-vadhopetaà tad bhägavatam iñyate || He spoke the Bhägavatam where the killing of Våträsura is described and where, after starting with gäyatré, dharma is elaborately described.
In another Puräëa it is said:
grantho ’ñöädaça-sähasro dvädaça-skandha-saàmitaù |
hayagréva-brahma-vidyä yatra våtra-vadhas tathä |
gäyatryä ca samärambhas tad vai bhägavataà viduù ||
The Bhägavatam is understood to be that work starting with gäyatré mantra in which there are eighteen thousand verses and twelve volumes, and in which spiritual knowledge spoken by Hayagréva and the killing of Våtra are described.
Someone may argue: “Perhaps Brahmä realized the truth of the Vedas on his own (from within the mind) just as a person sometimes gets a realization during sleep.” To answer this argument, then it is said that Brahmä, independently, does not have the power to realize this knowledge, for even the greatly learned are bewildered about this (yad sürayaù muhyanti). This explains the following sutra.Etena netaro ’nupapatteù: a jéva is not described (in the mantra "satyam jïänam anantam brahma"), because such an interpretation of the mantra is illogical. (Vedänta-sütra1.1.16)
There is another objection. When we talk about meditation it indicates that we meditate on an object that has a form. Forms are made of the three guëas of matter, and must be therefore temporary. This objection is answered in the third line. It is like reversal; or one thing appearing as another (vinimayaù), just as light may appear to be water, or water may appear to be earth or earth in forms like glass may appear to be like water to an ignorant person. In this way one falsely (måñä) thinks that the perfect, spiritual form of the Lord to be made of the three guëas (tri-sargaù). Gopäla-täpané Upaniñad (1.33) says:
tam ekaà govindaà sac-cid-änanda-vigrahaà våndävana-sura-bhüruha- taläsénam I saw that one form of Govinda, a form of eternity, knowledge and bliss, seated at the base of desire tree in Våndävana.
Räma-täpané Upaniñad says:
ardha-mäträtmako rämo brahmänandaika-vigrahaù Räma is the half-syllable and form of spiritual bliss.
Nåsiàha-täpané Upaniñad says:
åtaà satyaà paraà brahma puruñaà nå-keçari-vigraham The form of Nåsiàha is the supreme brahman, the puruña, knowledge and truth.
niçcetanätmaka-çaréra-guëaiç ca hénaù |
änanda-mätra-kara-päda-mukhodarädiù ca |
The Lord has a form full of faultless qualities, which is independent. He is devoid of the qualities of lifeless, material bodies. All the parts of his body such as hands, feet, head and belly are bliss alone. Dhyäna-bindu Upaniñad nanda-vraja-janänandé sac-cidänanda-vigrahaù Kåñëa has a form of eternity, knowledge and bliss which gives joy to the people of Vraja. Brahmäëda Puräëa 2.36.25
sarve nityäù çäçvatäç ca dehäs tasya parätmanaù |
hänopädäna-rahitä naiva prakåti-jäù kvacit || The bodies of the Lord are all eternal, unchanging, and devoid of faults. They are never the product of matter. Mahä varäha Puräëa.
This is also understood from the Bhägavatam:
asyäpi deva vapuño mad-anugrahasya
svecchä-mayasya na tu bhüta-mayasya ko ’pi
neçe mahi tv avasituà manasäntareëa
säkñät tavaiva kim utätma-sukhänubhüteù
My dear Lord, neither I nor anyone else can estimate the potency of this transcendental body of Yours, which has shown such mercy to me and which appears just to fulfill the desires of Your pure devotees. Although my mind is completely withdrawn from material affairs, I cannot understand Your personal form. How, then, could I possibly understand the happiness You experience within Yourself? SB 10.14.2
taà matvätmajam avyaktaà martya-liìgam adhokñajam
gopikolükhale dämnä babandha präkåtaà yathä Being absolute, beyond relativity, He is free from distinctions between cause and effect, although He is the cause and effect of everything. That unmanifested person, who is beyond the perception of the senses, had now appeared as a human child, and mother Yaçodä, considering Him her own ordinary child, bound Him to the wooden mortar with a rope. SB 10.9.14
tasmäd idaà jagad açeñam asat-svarüpaà
svapnäbham asta-dhiñaëaà puru-duùkha-duùkham
tvayy eva nitya-sukha-bodha-tanäv anante
mäyäta udyad api yat sad ivävabhäti Therefore this entire universe, which like a dream is by nature unreal, nevertheless appears real, and thus it covers one’s consciousness and assails one with repeated miseries. This universe appears real because it is manifested by the potency of illusion emanating from You, whose unlimited transcendental forms are full of eternal happiness and knowledge. SB 10.14.22
tävat prasanno bhagavän puñkaräkñaù kåte yuge
darçayäm äsa taà kñattaù çäbdaà brahma dadhad vapuù Then, in the Satya-yuga, the lotus-eyed Supreme Personality of Godhead, being pleased, showed Himself to that Kardama Muni and displayed His transcendental form, which can be understood only through the Vedas. SB 3.21.8
aspåñöa-bhüri-mähätmyä api hy upaniñad-dåçäm The viñëu-mürtis all had eternal, unlimited forms, full of knowledge and bliss and existing beyond the influence of time. Their great glory was not even to be touched by the jïänés engaged in studying the Upaniñads. SB 10.13.54
Even the devotees in Çvetadvépa and Vaikuëöha have forms. These forms are not material, since the word aténdriya is used. Näräyaëéya says:
anindriyä anähärä aniñpannäù sugandhinaù |
ekäntinas te puruñäù çveta-dvépa-niväsinaù || The inhabitants living in Çvetadvépa, devoted completely to the Lord, are all fragrant, beyond the material senses, without any need for material food and without material movement. Mahäbhärata 12.323.26
deha-sambandha-sambaddham etad äkhyätum arhasi The bodies of the inhabitants of Vaikuëöha are completely spiritual, having nothing to do with the material body, senses or life air. Therefore, kindly explain how associates of the Personality of Godhead were cursed to descend in material bodies like ordinary persons. SB 7.1.35
What doubt can there be that their bodies are non-material? Some persons argue with all these conclusions. In answer to this, the following is said. Through the power of realization of the Lord fixed in the devotee’s heart by the svarüpa-çakti, or through the Lord’s form shining with power and sweetness increasing at every moment (dhämnä), which belongs only to the Lord and which is thus extraordinary (svena), throughout all three phases of time (sadä), all false arguments (kuhakam) about the Lord are negated (nirasta). This is indicated in tarko ’pratiñöhänät: argumentation is not accepted concerning the Lord, because it is insubstantial. (Vedänta-sutra 2.1.11) yam evaiña våëute tena labhyas tasyaiña ätmä vivåëute tanuà sväm: the Lord reveals his form to that person whom he chooses. (Muëòaka Upaniñad 3.2.3) The use of the word sväm to modify tanum, indicates that the body of the Lord arises from his svarüpa-çakti. That his mind and eyes are not material is also understood from the statements bahu syäm (let me become many) and sa aikñata (he glanced), since these senses are employed before the agitation of prakåti, which produces material mind and senses. As well paräsya çaktir vividhaiva çrüyate sväbhäviké jïäna-bala-kriyä ca (Çvetäçvatara Upaniñad 6.8) indicates that his knowledge, strength and actions arise from his own nature (sväbhäviké), not prakåti. acintyäù khalu ye bhävä na täàs tarkeëa yojayet |
prakåtibhyaù paraà yac ca tad acintyasya lakñaëam || One cannot use material reasoning on those things which are inconceivable. Inconceivable refers to those things existing beyond prakåti. Mahäbhärata 6.6.11
The potential mood indicates that material arguments are forbidden to be used against the Lord. It is just as strong as the prohibition: para-därän na gacchet: one should not have sex with other men’s wives. If the demons, who eagerly take up arrows of logic aimed at the Lord, fall to hell, let them fall there. Enough of their discussions!