Friday, December 16, 2016

Siddha-deha meditation: A look at Bhakti Sandarbha 312

I found this which appears to be an old Gaudiya Discussions posting. I will probably revisit this when I get to Bhakti Sandarbha 312 in my editing work.
QUOTE (Madhava @ Jun 17 2004, 11:21 AM)
The injunction for a disciple to hear of his eternal pārṣada-form from the guru is there in the writings of Sri Jiva.

kecid aṣṭādaśākṣara-dhyānaṁ go-dohana-samaya-vaṁśī-vādya-samākṛṣṭa-tat-tat-sarvamayatvena bhāvayanti | yathā caike tādṛśam upāsanaṁ sākṣād vraja-jana-viśeṣāyaiva mahyaṁ śrī-guru-caraṇair mad-abhīṣṭa-viśeṣa-siddhy-artham upadiṣṭaṁ bhāvayāmi || Bhakti-sandarbha 312

"Some, while remembering the eighteen-syllable mantra, meditate on the pastimes of tending cows and playing flute, becoming attracted and absorbed in them. In such upāsana (worship), in order to attain my specifically desired perfection, I should meditate on that unique form of a resident of Vraja my revered guru has instructed me in."

Satyanarayana Dasaji has this as:

Some devotees, while meditating on the eighteen-syllabled mantra, visualize Śrī Kṛṣṇa accompanied by all His associates, who are attracted by the sound of His flute at the time of milking the cows. Others, while performing such worship through the mantra, contemplate in this way: “I am directly a specific resident of Vraja, and although I am meditating on this mantra, taught by my guru, so that I may attain the specific service of Kṛṣṇa for which I aspire, I am directly a servant of Vrajendra-nandana, Śrī Kṛṣṇa.”

Further on in the same anuccheda:

Therefore, the best course is to disregard both knowledge and ignorance of Bhagavān’s supremacy and simply engage in pure rāgānugā devotion, as stated in this verse:

“Those who worship Me with pure devotion, whether they know or don’t know the extent of My being, who I am, and of what My nature is constituted, I consider to be the best of all devotees.” (SB 11.11.33)

Thus, because rāgātmikā devotion exists in its pure form only in Gokula, it was rightly said that only that rāgānugā-bhakti, which follows the rāgātmikās of Gokula is supreme. So from the point of view of the greatness of rāgānugā, which is determined by the absence of rāgātmikā devotion outside of Gokula, and from the point of view that the complete opulence of Godhood is manifest only in Śrī Kṛṣṇa, it is proven that the greatness of worshiping Kṛṣṇa is supreme. This applies even more so to Kṛṣṇa in the midst of His Gokula līlā.

It is learnt from scripture that even if one imitates with ill-motive, the devotees who have rāgatmika-bhakti, he or she attains perfection. This was the case with Pūtanā, who disguised herself as a nurse in order to kill Kṛṣṇa when He was just a baby. Pūtanā’s attainment of perfection is referred to by Brahmā: “Merely by disguising herself as a devotee, Pūtanā also attained You along with her family members.” (SB 10.14.35)

If such was the attainment of Pūtanā, then what to speak of those who have a natural taste for bhakti and are always fully engaged in the execution of devotion?
Oh for a long life, good translations, the guidance of learned and pure souls....

--o)0(o--

First: The specific context of this statement is that it comes immediately after the famous lines:

ajāta-tādṛśa-rucinā tu sad-viśeṣādara-mātrādṛtā rāgānugāpi vaidhī-saṁvalitaivānuṣṭheyā | tathā loka-saṁgrahārthaṁ pratiṣṭhitena jāta-tādṛśa-rucinā ca | atra miśratve ca yathā-yogyaṁ rāgānugayaikīkṛtyaiva vaidhī kartavyā |

Those who have not achieved this kind of ruchi may still engage in rāgānugā bhakti simply due to their association with a particular devotee who has this kind of attraction, but he should engage in such practice combined with vaidhī bhakti. Furthermore, those who have already attained a well-established ruchi of this sort should still [follow the rules of vaidhī bhakti] in order to set an example for others. The meaning of mixed rāgānugā and vaidhi is that one [externally] practices vaidhi bhakti by making it one with rāgānugā to the extent one is able.
Haridas Shastri reads pratiṣṭhitena jāta-rucinā as "one who is established in a position of leadership and has awakened ruchi."

*****

So, it would appear that the above instruction is about mixed vaidhī/rāgānugā. The entire section is an introduction to the discussion found in Bhagavatam 7.1.

Haridas Shastri's interpretation of the above passage goes:

Some people while engaged in japa on the 18-syllabled mantra meditate on Krishna with his seven coverings. (See the Gopala Tapani commentary for that.) At that time, Krishna plays his flute, Radha and the gopis, Nanda and his parents, Balaram and other associate are all simultaneously present. How can this be possible? Wouldn't there be a conflict of moods? In order to resolve this question, Jiva Goswami says--

Krishna plays his flute, and all these other personalities are attracted by it. This is how one group of devotees conceives of it. But other, rāgānugā practitioners, while meditating on the mantra think as follows: "I am an eternal Vrajavasi, but due to some misfortune I find myself in this illusory world. My most merciful spiritual master has instructed me in the mantra so that I can achieve what is most dear to me." Though they are chanting in this fashion, they feel that they are in fact directly engaged in serving Krishna.
I'll have to dwell on this some more, but Haridas Shastri's contextualization seems totally irrelevant to what has gone on previously. However, his translation does appear to be somewhat more accurate.

Certainly there is something unusual about the syntax. But here's my grammatical explanation: kecit and yathā caike have to mean two contrasting approaches to the practice of mixed vaidhī and rāgānugā bhakti. The word bhāvayanti completes each full thought, so (1) kecit bhāvayanti, (2) eke bhāvayanti.

So what do the first group think of while meditating on the mantra? They think of it in terms (-tvena) of being (this has to be the mantra itself, not something else) the composite of everything (sarva-maya) that is there when Krishna plays his flute at the time of milking the cows (that's an odd combination) and attracts all the residents of Vraja. [In other words, a very general view, combining indiscriminately numerous elements of the Vraja lila.]

Others think, "I am thinking that I am engaged in this kind of worship [i.e., of the mantra] which was instructed directly to me, who am a specific resident of Vraja, so that I may realize my specific desired perfection, but at the same time, Vrajendrananda is being directly served [by me]."

The subject now changes, so we get no further clues from what follows.

*****

So what is the point here? First of all, nothing is being said about the guru instructing the disciple in a specific Vrajavasi form. Nevertheless, the second category of devotees is clearly engaged in rāgānugā worship while chanting the mantra (i.e., following a vidhi), whereas the former is purely engaged in vidhi, or at least in a vidhi that has less elements of rāgānugā.

Why? The second set of practitioners, though knowing full well they are engaged in a sadhana (gurūpadiṣṭa upāsanā), they (1) attribute to themselves a specific identity as Vrajavasis, (2) they have a specific spiritual goal (mad-abhīṣṭa-siddhi), and (3) they have faith that both on the level of external practice and through their internal meditation, Krishna is being served directly.

The first category of practitioners, though meditating on Vrindavan lila in the mantra, lacks these three specifics: identity, intention and meditation on direct service.

As such, Haridas Shastri's interpretation is somewhat clarified, though his way of contextualizing the question remains unclear. The first category of practitioner definitely fits into the category of ajāta-ruci, in that such practitioners have no clear affinity for a particular sthāyi-bhāva, i.e., a preliminary undeveloped stage, like the sāmānya-bhāva described in BRS 2.5.9. The latter, though perhaps technically ajāta-ruci, clearly shows signs of the specific desires that characterize the rāgānugā devotee.

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