Bhakti Sandarbha 251-253 : Hearing About Bhagavan's Attributes and Pastimes
We are in the discussion about hearing, which continues up to 257.
Hearing About Virtues of Bhagavān Purifies Even The Desire For Liberation
र्मतिं सतीं यच्छति वासुदेवे॥
Moreover, Jaḍa Bharata told King Rahūgaṇa:
In the assembly of devotees, there are always talks about the virtues of Bhagavān, who is praised in choice poetry. Such talks put an end to mundane topics. If a person desiring liberation hears these descriptions of Bhagavān's qualities every day, they bestow pure insight into Bhagavān Vāsudeva. (SB 5.12.13)मुमुक्षोरपि, किं पुनर्भक्तिमात्रेच्छोः । सतीं मुमुक्षाद्यन्यकामनारहिताम्, तदन्या तु व्यभिचारिणीति भावः॥
The implication of this statement is that if talks of Bhagavān’s qualities awaken such pure insight in even a person desiring liberation, then of course it will do so for the one who desires only bhakti. The word satim, “pure,” qualifying the word matim, “insight,” means that the person’s realization of Vāsudeva is devoid of all desire other than devotion, such as the hope of liberation. Any understanding other than this is impure.
Commentary by Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji Maharaj
From the bhakti point of view even the desire for liberation is considered as an impurity because it is also seen as a type of selfishness. The beginning point of real purity is complete surrender to Bhagavān.
Only Animal-killers Are Not Attracted To Hearing
पुमान् विरज्येत विना पशुघ्नात्॥
The importance of hearing Bhagavān’s qualities is indirectly supported by recognition of the deficiency of those who fail to do so, as King Parīkṣit said to Śrī Śuka:
Who, other than a slayer of animals could desist from the recitation of the virtues of the glorious Bhagavān, which is partaken of constantly by those who are free from the thirst for sense pleasure, which is the cure for the disease of material existence, and which is pleasurable for the ears and mind? (SB 10.1.4)"निवृत्त-" इत्यादिविशेषणत्रयेण मुक्तमुमुक्षुविषयिजनानां ग्रहणम्।
पशुघ्नो व्याधः। तस्य हि—
राजपुत्र चिरं जीव मा जीव मुनिपुत्रक।
जीव वा मर वा साधो व्याधो मा जीव मा मर॥
इति न्यायेन विषयसुखेऽपि तात्पर्यं नास्ति।
O prince, may you live long [because while alive, you will enjoy royal pleasure, but you will have to suffer in the next life]; O son of the sage, may you die immediately [because you are undergoing great austerity now and will attain felicity in the next life]; O sage, you may live or die [because you have awakened, and thus, you experience joy in all conditions]; but, O hunter, you should neither live nor die [because while living you create misery for yourself and others, and after death you will suffer more].
The killer of animals has no understanding of Bhagavān’s narrations. In particular, he has no capacity to fathom the mystery of the relishable sentiments connected with those narrations, because of his complete bewilderment by the material nature.
यद्वा, दैत्यस्वभावस्य यस्य निन्दामात्रतात्पर्यं, स एव हिंसकत्वेन पश्यघ्नशब्देनोच्यते। पशुघ्नो व्याधः। सोऽपि मृगादीनां सौन्दर्यादिकगुणमगणयन्नेव हिंसामात्रतत्पर इति। ततो रसग्रहणाभावाद्युक्तमुक्तं विना पशुघ्नादिति। उभयथापि तद्बहिर्मुखेभ्यो गालिप्रदान एव तात्पर्यम्।
Alternatively, the word paśughna may refer to a person of demonic nature whose only purpose is to criticize and thus inflict pain upon them. An animal killer is focused only on committing violence, not caring for the beauty and qualities of the deer and other animals that he kills. Therefore, because of his inability to taste the relishable sentiments connected with Bhagavān’s narrations, the verse rightly asks, “Who other than a slayer of animals could desist from the recitation of Bhagavān’s virtues?” In either case the import of the verse is to castigate those who are disinterested in hearing narrations about Bhagavān.
यथा तृतीये श्रीमैत्रेयस्य (भा. ३.१३.५१) —
अहो विरज्येत विना नरेतरम्॥ इति।
As Śrī Maitreya said in the Third Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam:
What person in this world, knowing the essence of all human potentiality, and having drunk through the ears, among the many tales I have already related to you, the nectar of Bhagavān’s stories, which terminate the flow of material existence, could ever desist from such hearing other than a non-human? (SB 3.13.52)
In this Anuccheda Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī stresses the importance of hearing about the virtues of Bhagavān by negation, vyatireka. Hearing about Bhagavān is the most natural activity for the true self because it is part of Him. But being influenced by ignorance, the self identifies with the material body and becomes deluded by material sense pleasures. Then in such a state of ignorance one takes pleasure only in hearing about mundane activities. One becomes averse to hearing about Bhagavān. Those who, however, are free from the conditioning caused by ignorance and have given up all desire for sense pleasure (nivṛtta-tarṣa) regularly hear about Bhagavān. Those who want to get relief from material suffering and bondage also hear about Bhagavān knowing it to be the panacea for their disease. The virtues of Bhagavān are so wonderful that they captivate the mind even of a materialstic person also if he or she is not malicious at heart. Thus those who are liberated, who seek liberation and who are interested in material pleasure but are simple-hearted are all attracted by hearing the virtues of Bhagavān.
However, a person who takes pleasure in causing pain to others does not take interest in hearing about Bhagavān. Such a person is compared a hunter who kills animals without considering the suffering he is causing them. Śrī Jīva comments that those people who criticize others unnecessarily are like hunters because they cause pain by their sharp criticism. Their words pierce the hearts of people whom they criticize and cause more pain than physical arrows. The wound caused by an arrow can be healed, but the wound caused by sharp words can stay for the rest of one’s life and thereby give immense pain. The heart of such a hunter-like person does not have the sensibility to capture the confidential meaning and subtle sentiment of the narrations about Bhagavān’s virtues. If such person has to incidentally hear such narrations then he feels utterly bored or falls asleep.
Hearing About Bhagavān’s Līlā
आत्मप्रसाद उत यत्र गुणेष्वसङ्गः।
को निर्वृतो हरिकथासु रतिं न कुर्यात्॥
Now we will cite an example of hearing about Bhagavān’s pastimes, as Śrī Śuka said:
From that [by hearing Bhagavān's pastimes], one develops knowledge by which the waves of the material guṇas are completely quelled, the mind becomes delighted, the senses become detached from sense objects, and one attains kaivalya, or liberation. It is the approved path leading to bhakti-yoga. Therefore, who would not develop attachment to the pastimes of Bhagavān Hari after taking joy in them? (SB 2.3.12)यत् यासु कथासु ज्ञानं भवति। कीदृशं ? आ सर्वतः प्रतिनिवृत्तं उपरतं गुणोर्मीणां रागादीनां चक्रं समूहो यस्मात्। यतो यत्र यासु कथासु तद्धेतुरात्मप्रसादश्च तत्प्रसादहेतुर्विषयानासक्तिश्च।
"From that" (yat) here refers to the pastimes of Bhagavān. Knowledge is awakened in the midst of hearing such pastimes. What is the nature of this knowledge? It completely quells the sum total of the waves of the material guṇas, which manifest as attachment and other forms of bondage. As a result [of the cessation of the waves of material existence], the self attains satisfaction through hearing the stories of Bhagavān. From this inner satisfaction, one develops detachment from sense objects.
किं बहुना ? तत् फलं यत् कैवल्यं, तदपि "ब्रह्मभूतः प्रसन्नात्मा" (गीता १८.५४) इत्याद्युक्तानुसारेण सम्मतः पन्थाः प्राप्तिद्वारं, यत्र स प्रेमाख्यो भक्तियोगोऽपि।
What more shall I say? The result of this detachment is liberation (kaivalya), which is the approved path or the gateway leading to bhakti-yoga, also known as prema. That kaivalya is the gateway to bhakti is expressed in the Gītā:
Having realized Brahman, one becomes tranquil and neither grieves nor hankers for anything. Having equal vision towards all beings, one attains the supreme devotion to Me. (Gītā 18.54)
यासु श्रुतमात्रासु तत् तदनपेक्ष्यैव भवति, तासु हरिकथासु तच्चरितेषु कः श्रवणसुखेन निर्वृतः सन् अन्यत्रानिर्वृतो वा रतिं रागं न कुर्यात् ?॥
All of this happens simply by hearing the pastimes of Bhagavān, even without a desire for such achievements. Consequently, who would not develop love for hearing Bhagavān’s pastimes after experiencing the bliss of hearing such pastimes, or of being displeased with everything else?
Commentary by Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji Maharaj
Our likes and dislikes depend upon our past experiences of happiness and pain. Anything we have enjoyed in the past appeals to us and that which gave us pain repels us. If we are deeply entrenched in such experiences then we do not place any stock in hearing the pastimes of Bhagavān. However, if we get faith in them by the grace of a devotee then we would hear them although in the beginning we may not relish them. Such hearing will cleanse the heart of past attachments to material pleasure and we will attain spiritual knowledge. Such knowledge leads to detachment from material objects and gives one a sense of self-satisfaction. Then we would like to hear more and more. This will grant us prema for Bhagavān.
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Bhakti Sandarbha 248-250 : Introduction to Śravaṇam
Bhakti Sandarbha 246-247 : Honor Should be Given to All Vaiṣṇavas
Bhakti Sandarbha 243-245 : More Benefits of Sat-sanga
Bhakti Sandarbha 240-242 : The Power of Sat-saṅga to Grant Love for Krishna
Bhakti Sandarbha 239: Sat-saṅga Brings Bhagavān Under Control
Bhakti Sandarbha 238 : Sat-saṅga Captivates Bhagavān
Bhakti Sandarbha 237: Guru-sevā is the Key to Success
Bhakti Sandarbha 236 : Sharanagati or Surrender
Bhakti Sandarbha 235 : Vaidhī Nirguṇā Bhakti
Bhakti Sandarbha 234 : Svarūpa-siddhā Niṣkāmā Bhakti