Bhakti Sandarbha 315-316 :: Bhagavān is not Disturbed by the Criticisms of the Ignorant

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Anuccheda 315

Bhagavān is Not Disturbed by the Criticisms of the Ignorant

तत्रोत्तरं श्रीनारद उवाच—अहो भगवन्निन्दकस्य नरकपातेन भाव्यमिति वदतस्तव कोऽभिप्रायः? भगवत्पीडाकरत्वाद्वा, तदभावेऽपि सुरापानादिवन्निषिद्धनिन्दाश्रवणाद् वा ?

Śrī Nārada replied to Yudhiṣṭhira’s inquiry as follows: “A blasphemer of Bhagavān is certainly destined for hell, so what is the actual intention behind your question? Are you suggesting that Śiśupāla should have gone to hell because his insults pained Bhagavān, or even if that were not the case, that the very act of hearing criticism of Bhagavān was sinful, like drinking wine or any other forbidden action?”

तत्र तावद्विमूढैर्जनैर्निन्दादिकं प्राकृतान् तमआदिगुणान् उद्दिश्यैव प्रवर्त्यते। ततः प्रकृतिपर्यन्ताश्रयस्य तत्कृतनिन्दादेरप्राकृतगुणविग्रहादौ तस्मिन् प्रवृत्तिर्नास्त्येव। न च जीववत् प्रकृतिपर्यन्ते वस्तुजाते भगवदभिमानोऽस्ति। ततश्च तेन तस्य पीडापि नास्त्येव।

Out of these two possibilities, the criticism leveled by foolish people is done with reference to the constituent qualities of material nature and, in particular, ignorance (tamas). Their criticisms do not apply to Bhagavān, whose body is devoid of material qualities and who is the shelter of everything, including prakṛti, the sum total of material nature. And unlike conditioned beings, Bhagavān has no identification with material objects, including prakṛti. Therefore, Bhagavān is certainly not pained by any criticism aimed at Him with respect to the material qualities.

तदेतदाह सार्धैस्त्रिभिः (भा. ७.१.२२)—

निन्दनस्तवसत्कार - न्यक्कारार्थं कलेवरम्।
प्रधानपरयो राजन्नविवेकेन कल्पितम्॥

This is described in the next three and a half verses:

O King, the material body, which is meant to experience the nature of criticism, praise, honor and dishonor, is created due to the inability to discriminate between matter and spirit. (SB 7.1.22)

निन्दनं दोषकीर्तनम्। न्यक्कारस्तिरस्कारः। निन्दनस्तुत्यादिज्ञानार्थं प्रधानपुरुषयोरविवेकेन जीवानां कलेवरं कल्पितं रचितम्॥

Criticism (nindanam) means to speak of others' faults; and nyakkāraḥ means to dishonor. The material bodies of living beings, which are meant to help one understand the nature of duality, such as praise and blame, are created due to the lack of discrimination between inert matter and the spirit that animates it.

Commentary by Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji

Sage Nārada begins answering Yudhiṣṭhira's question about why Śiśupāla was liberated instead of going to hell for abusing Kṛṣṇa. There were two good reasons for him to go to hell. The first is because of causing pain to Kṛṣṇa by hurting Him verbally. The second was that even though he may not have hurt Kṛṣṇa, he still engaged in a forbidden act by abusing Him.

Nārada refutes the first possibility by pointing out that Kṛṣṇa’s body is not material. Criticism is based on the defects in the object, his material body or character, which are manifestations of the guṇas of material nature. Because Kṛṣṇa’s body is not material, therefore, no criticism or abuse can apply to Him or cause pain to Him. Even wise people who understand the difference between body and self are not disturbed by any criticism. This is the nature of a person who has transcended the guṇas (Gītā 14.24-25).

Anuccheda 316

Criticism Affects Only Those in Bodily Consciousness

ततश्च (भा. ७.१.२३-२४)—

हिंसा तदभिमानेन दण्डपारुष्ययोर्यथा।
वैषम्यमिह भूतानां ममाहमिति पार्थिव॥
यन्निबद्धोऽभिमानोऽयं तद्वधात् प्राणिनां वधः।
तथा न यस्य कैवल्यादभिमानोऽखिलात्मनः।
परस्य दमकर्तुर्हि हिंसा केनास्य कल्प्यते॥

Nārada continues:

O King, in this world the living beings are subject to the delusions of "I" and "mine," arising out of misidentification with the body. They thus experience pain through punishments and harsh words. When one identifies with the material body and thus thinks in terms of "I" and "mine," the death of the body is mistaken for the expiry of the living being. But Bhagavān, who is the transcendence and the Soul of all living beings, does not have such an ego of duality, because He is the absolute unity. So how can anyone give pain to Him, who is the dispenser of punishment for all? (SB 7.1.23-24)

इह प्राकृते लोके। यथा तत्कलेवराभिमानेन भूतानां ममाहमिति वैषम्यं भवति, यथा तत्कृताभ्यां दण्डपारुष्याभ्यां ताडननिन्दाभ्यां निमित्तभूताभ्यां हिंसा च भवति, यथा यस्मिन् निबद्धोऽभिमानस्तस्य देहस्य वधात् प्राणिनां वधश्च भवति, तथा यस्याभिमानो नास्तीत्यर्थः। अस्य परमेश्वरस्य हिंसा केन हेतुना कल्प्यते ? अपि तु न केनापीत्यर्थः।

In this world (iha), i.e., in this material world, living beings experience the duality of "I" and "mine" due to identification with the body; they are subjected to violence (hiṁsā) through punishment and criticism as a result of the same bodily identification. And because their self-identity is bound to the body, when the body dies, it is experienced as the death of the living being. Yet this type of bodily identification does not exist in Bhagavān. So by what means can violence be done to Him? Not by any means whatsoever. This is the intention of the above verses.

तथाभिमानाभावे हेतुः कैवल्यात्, "देहेन्द्रियासुहीनानां वैकुण्ठपुरवासिनाम्" (भा. ७.१.३५) इति कैमुत्यादिप्राप्तशुद्धत्वात्, तादृशनिन्दाद्यगम्यशुद्धसच्चिदानन्दविग्रहादित्वादित्यर्थः। तस्य तदगम्यत्वं च "नाहं प्रकाशः सर्वस्य योगमायासमावृतः" (गीता ७.२५) इति श्रीभगवद्गीतातः।

The reason that Bhagavān is devoid of such ego is also stated in the verse: it is because He is “the absolute unity” (kaivalya), which means that He is pure, having a form consisting of existence, consciousness and bliss, which is not subject to any form of criticism or punishment. That Bhagavān’s form is pure can be understood by the a fortiori principle (kaimutya-nyāya) applied to this verse:

The residents of Vaikuṇṭha do not have material bodies, senses or life air [so how much more is this true in the case of Bhagavān of Vaikuṇṭha]. (SB 7.1.34)

The fact that Bhagavān is beyond the range of criticism is confirmed in the Gītā:

I am not manifest to everyone, being covered by the screen of My internal potency. (Gītā 7.25)

तादृशवैलक्षण्येन हेतुः—अखिलानामात्मभूतस्य। तत्र हेतुः—परस्य प्रकृतिवैभवसङ्गरहितस्य। हिंसाया अविषयत्वे हेत्वन्तरं—दमकर्तुः परमाश्चर्यानन्तशक्तित्वात् सर्वेषामेव शिक्षाकर्तुरिति॥

The reason Bhagavān is distinct from other living beings is that He is the Soul of everyone (akhilātmanaḥ). And the reason He is the Soul of everyone is that He is the transcendence (para), which means that He is devoid of contact with material nature and its various manifestations. Another reason why Bhagavān cannot be subjected to violence is indicated by the words, “He is the dispenser of punishment for all” (dama-kartuḥ). This implies that by His extraordinary, unlimited power, He disciplines and teaches all.

Commentary by Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji

In the case of conditioned beings there is a distinction between the self and the body that conditions it. Thus there is a duality in their experience. As soon as a self identifies with a material body it becomes liable to rāga and dveṣa related to sense experiences. Each sense has its own rāga and dveṣa, i.e., attractions and repulsions (Gītā 3.34). A person feels elated by praise and upset by criticism. But in the case of Kṛṣṇa, there is no such duality because He is not different from His body. His senses do not have any rāga or dveṣa towards material objects. Even a jīvanmukta is not disturbed by praise and criticism, so what to speak of Bhagavān!

Because Kṛṣṇa’s body is not material, conditioned beings do not really know Him. He can only be known by bhakti. For others He remains veiled by His yoga-māyā (Gītā 7.25). Therefore, whatever critical statements such people make about Him are not really about Him, but about some misconception they have of Him. In fact, every criticism of God is ultimately a straw man argument. Thus He is not disturbed by them, nor should His devotees be.


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