Saturday, April 11, 2009

Bhagavat-sandarbha 61

Finally sent off another installment of Bhagavata-sandarbha. This section was almost entirely about Vaikuntha and establishing its identity with Bhagavan.

Satya Narayan Baba does an extensive discussion of the phrase tato'skhalanam, "No one ever falls down from Vaikuntha," which is the thing that really launched his career. You can see that he was debating the issue a lot and knows every possible argument that Iskcon people came up with. He wrote Not Even the Leaves Fall with Kundali's help, which I haven't read, but I assume that this is the abbreviated version.


A lot of what I am doing is about retranslating the BBT verses, which Satya Narayan used in his original version. Copyright considerations are important, but they are not really appropriate to an edition that will hopefully stand the test of time as authoritative. The BBT translations tend to add a lot to the original Bhagavata text's meaning, which makes them pretty irrelevant to Jiva Goswami's commentary. So they need to be carefully redone with that in mind. Here is a passage I enjoyed.

What Jiva is really after here is the words "Atma-loka," which can be translated in many ways. He is worried about possible Mayavadi interpretations everywhere, so we have to start from a point that is both true to that possibility, in other words, the modern reader will see what Jiva saw, and the interpretation that Jiva will make, i.e., will make it possible for the modern reader to understand the reasoning that goes into Jiva's explanation.

Part of the original passage was not quoted in the Bhagavat-sandarbha, not being relevant to the discussion, which is Vaikuntha-tattva. Only the quoted portion is included here:

oM namas te’stu bhagavan ... paramahaMsa-parivrAjakaiH parameNAtma-yoga-samAdhinA paribhAvita-parisphuTa-pAramahaMsya-dharmeNodghATita-tamaH-kapATa-dvAre citte’pAvRta Atma-loke svayam upalabdha-nija-sukhAnubhavo bhavAn.

O Supreme Lord! I bow down to You. You are experiencing Your natural self-bliss in the abode of the Self, in the hearts that have been opened wide, as though the door leaves of darkness is opened wide by the practice of the paramahamsas, manifested and influenced by the yoga trance in the self. Your Lordship is realized by the topmost sannyasis, who wander about the world to preach Krishna Consciousness, fully absorbed in samadhi through bhakti-yoga. Because their minds are concentrated upon You, they can receive the conception of Your personality in their fully purified hearts. When the darkness in their hearts is completely eradicated and You are revealed to them, the transcendental bliss they enjoy is the transcendental form of Your Lordship. {SB 6.9.33}

You can see just how much got added in there. Practically the whole second half is just commentary. And of course there is nothing about preaching Krishna consciousness.

This is the Gita Press version:

You are the same as the realization of the bliss inherent in the self and revealed of itself in the region of the self when the gate leading to it in the shape of the mind is opened consequent to the door of ignorance being set aside through the practice of devotion to the Lord, the religion of the paramahamsas, ascetics of the highest order, which is awakened and realized by ascetics and recluses by means of supreme concentration of mind through meditation on the Self.

I think this one has been stripped of the parenthetical additions based on Sridhar's commentary. It is a little rough English wise. No mention of bhakti either in the original.

This is what I end up with:

O Bhagavan ! I bow down to You. You taste the bliss derived from Your own self in Your own abode (Atma-loke), which is the heart of the wandering ascetics, flung open wide after the gates of darkness (tamaH) have been unlocked through their practice of the highest level of yogic trance in the Self, which is the mature and realized religion of the paramahaMsas.

Jiva's commentary is:

TamaH means material nature or ignorance. Atma-loke means that abode which is His own svarupa, as shown in Sruti statements such as, “This is Atma-loka, this is Brahma-loka” {Brihad-aranyaka 4.3.32} and “This Paramatma is situated in the transcendental Brahma-pura” {MundakaU. 2.2.7}.

What Jiva seems to be avoiding [?], but which is obvious, is that Atma-loke is directly in apposition to citte apAvRte: Krishna's abode IS the pure chitta. I would not really say that Jiva is avoiding it; at least Satya Narayan seems to be aware that Vaikuntha is not a physical place, even though subsequent anucchedas say that Dhruvaloka, etc., are said to be a manifestations of Vaikuntha in the material world, appearing there like avatars do.

Anyway, it gets a little complicated. I kind of like the idea in this passage, though.

Note on the numbering: This is Anuccheda 61 in my new improved numbering. It is #71 in the Puridas edition.


Anonymous said...

Good to hear that this project is progressing! I am looking forward to eventually seeing the whole BS published.


Jagat said...

Actually, I am convinced that Satya Narayan's edition of the Sandarbhas will be the authoritative edition for many years to come.

I have said it before--there is not even a comparable edition in any Indian language. It will be necessary for someone to translate this from English.

I am just formatting the rest of the book before editing and going through section 82 (old 93) in which there is a really good analysis of Gita 14.27 and the Taittiriya Ananda-valli. I never quite understood that Ananda-valli, but his explanation is very good.