Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Vidyāvatāṁ bhāgavate parīkṣā

I am racing along trying to do a quick first edit of the translation and commentary to Kṛṣṇa-sandarbha. My thought for the day: I would say that by any objective measure, the six Sandarbhas are a chef d'oeuvre. It is said

dhanaṁjaye hāṭaka-samparīkṣā
mahāraṇe śastrabhṛtāṁ parīkṣā|
vipatti-kāle gṛhiṇī-parīkṣā
vidyāvatāṁ bhāgavate parīkṣā||
One tests gold in the fire, the wielder of weapons in battle, the wife in times of difficulty, but the test of the learned is in their mastery of the Bhagavatam.
What a book the Bhāgavatam is, and what mastery to make sense of it all!

First he argues, boldly, that this is the ultimate authority. Then he says, Now this is what the Bhagavatam says. There are many, many things in the Bhagavatam, but what is the consistent and fundamental teaching, and how do we deal with apparent contradictions? And how can you defend your position?

When you chop up the Bhāgavatam in this way, distilling the important elements, rejecting those portions that for whatever reason, do not fit into the global vision you have adduced from it, you end up with something that is really quite different from the original. As much as Brihad Bhagavatamrita is different from the Bhāgavatam. Or Vidagdha-mādhava and Lalita-mādhava, or Gopala-campu from the 10th canto.

It is interesting, in one sense, because you can look at the Sandarbhas objectively, without attachment, just seeing what Sri Jiva does, admiring first of all his knowledge and love for the Bhāgavatam. His overall grasp of the Bhāgavatam in minute detail. And then come his hermeneutical techniques, his arguments, sometimes almost gratuitous, from grammar or Mimamsa or Nyaya or Vedanta. Whatever suits the purpose.

Looking at things objectively naturally means isolating them from their context, or rather seeing the object of examination in its context, knowing the context, and seeing mutual influences, and only then attempting to draw out its essence, as though it could exist in total objective purity.

On the other side, there is the sense of ultimate concern, the attachment to the belief that "the Truth lies here." In one sense, this could automatically be a hindrance, because we start our endeavor with a commitment to a preconceived result, whereas the Bhāgavatam is a little more subtle than that. Pre-commitment to a dogma is always going to hamper your perception.

But if one honestly engages in the first exercise with the conviction that here lies my Ultimate Concern, the Truth can only reveal itself in the way that it will be revealed, as fully as one deserves.



Hari Parshad Das added the following comments, which I found good:

The only thing with Srila Jiva Goswami is that in writing the sandarbhas, he wants to specialize in a particular aspect (prakaraṇa) of the grantha, and that is the specialty of Sri Radha and her service. The entire mastery over the Bhāgavatam, and all the techniques are used to prove that the Bhāgavatam is the highest and the greatest, are done to bring one to the point that the ultimate entity in the Bhāgavatam is someone whose name is not even spoken in it (or at best, spoken indirectly).

The aim of the Sandarbhas is to say that the ultimate principle in the Bhāgavatam is Śrī-rādhā. A verse by verse commentary like Sridhar Swami helps you count the leaves of the trees in the orchard, but you had come to eat the mangoes, right?

even if one does not want to find Śrī Rādhā in the Bhāgavatam, one cannot but leave with the conclusion — yathā vraja-gopikānām.

If someone wants that, fine! Take that conclusion! But doesn't it haunt us that Sri Shukadev speaks all sorts of names of places, demons, kings, queens, their children, trees, oceans, planets, demigods, sages, hunters, prostitutes, and all sorts of people, but when it comes to the gopīs, not even one deserves her name to be mentioned? Not even one of them is important enough? Or are they so important and closely revered by him that he will never speak their names?

ātma-nāma guror nāma
nāmātikṛpaṇasya ca
śreyas kāmo na gṛhṇīyāj
jyeṣṭhāpatya-kalatrayoḥ


Should all the secrets be spoken of in the Bhāgavatam, or some of them should be left for a sampradāya ?

1 comment:

Reptilian Overlord said...

Remember when you were out walking today, and you saw that bright flash of light in the sky? Yep, that was us. We were trying to make contact with you.

The day of invasion draws nearer.