Bhakti Sandarbha 216 : Ahaṅgrahopāsanā and Sādhanā Bhakti Defined

After the short interlude about jñāna-mārga, Sri Jiva turns to the sāmmukhya of the Absolute with attributes. Ahaṅgrahopāsanā is not of great importance, but is mentioned in passing. Then Sri Jiva turns to Sādhanā Bhakti, which will be the theme developed in the subsequent anucchedas. This is where we begin the discussion of different kinds of bhakti, by defining the subject. This will then be expanded on in the next anucchedas.

Babaji's comment has some essential elements that are basic knowledge for anyone reading Jiva Goswami and needing a bit of background in Indian logic (nyāya).

Anuccheda 216

Sāmmukhya: (2) Ahaṅgrahopāsanā and (3) Sādhanā Bhakti

216.1 Non-dual awareness in the Gītā

तदेवं ज्ञानमुक्तम्। इदमेव "स्वभावोऽध्यात्ममुच्यते" (गीता ८.३) इत्यनेन श्रीगीतासूक्तम्। स्वस्य शुद्धस्यात्मनो भावो भावना, आत्मन्यधिकृत्य वर्तमानत्वादध्यात्मशब्देनोच्यत इत्यर्थः।

We have thus explained the nature of jñāna, or non-dual awareness. It is this very matter that is spoken of in the Gītā (8.3), where the word adhyātma is defined as sva-bhāva, [which is usually translated as "Spirituality means the true nature of the self "], where sva should be taken to mean the pure self , and bhāva means contemplation thereof. The word ātmā again means Self, and the prefix adhi refers to the establishment of something as one’s chief subject . Thus because non-dual awareness is rooted in the Self, it is known as adhyātma.

Commentary by Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji Maharaja

Śrī Jīva while citing Gītā says that the words svabhāva and adhyātma also refer to jñāna . Svabhāva means self-consciousness, and adhyātmā means related with the self, and that is self-consciousness. In jñāna one considers everything to be nothing but the self, and thus jñāna can be called self-consciousness, just as God-consciousness means to see everything as a manifestation of God.

216.2 Ahaṁgrahopāsanā

अथाहंग्रहोपासनं तच्छक्तिविशिष्ट ईश्वर एवाहमिति चिन्तनम्। अस्य फलं स्वस्मिंस्तच्छक्त्याद्याविर्भावः, यथा विष्णुपुराणे नागपाशादियन्त्रितः श्रीप्रह्लादस्तादृशमात्मानं स्मरन् नागपाशादिकमुत्सारितवान्। अत्रान्तिमफलं च कीटपेशस्कृन्न्यायेन सारूप्यसार्ष्ट्यादिकं ज्ञेयम्।

Now we will discuss ahaṁgrahopāsanā, or worship of oneself as supreme. To think: “I am God, who is endowed with such-and-such potencies,” is called ahaṁgrahopāsanā. The outcome of this type of contemplation is that those potencies of God become manifest in the practitioner. An example of this is found in the Viṣṇu Purāṇa. When the devotee Prahlāda was bound by snake-ropes, he released himself from such bondage by meditating on himself as the Supreme. The final attainment on this path is to acquire a form and opulence like that of Bhagavān. This is achieved by the principle known as kīṭa-peśaskṛt nyäya.

[This is the principle whereby one is transformed into the thing upon which he dwells upon with great intensity, especially fear. The example is that of the potter wasp, which captures another insect and keeps it prisoner there. Some time later, another wasp comes out of the nest, so it appears that the captive has been transformed into a wasp by constantly meditating on its captor out of intense fear. Similarly, one who constantly meditates on oneself as the Supreme becomes a manifestation of the Supreme endowed with specific attributes of God. See SB 7.1.27, Anuccheda 319. ]

Commentary by Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji Maharaja

Just as in jñāna one identifies with Brahman, in ahaṅgrahopāsanā one identifies with Bhagavān. It has been counted separate from bhakti because in bhakti the distinction of devotee and Bhagavān is always preserved, no matter how intimate the love. An example of ahaṅgrahopāsanā can be found in the life-history of Prahlāda. When he instructed his father about devotion to Viṣṇu his father was furious and considered Prahlāda, his own son, to be his enemy and ordered for him to be killed. However Prahlāda was immune to death. He was tied with divine ropes called snake-rope. At that time he meditated on himself as the Supreme, as described by sage Parāśara:

Because infinite Bhagavān is all pervading, I am He. Everything emanates from me, I am everything, and everything is in me, the eternal. I am imperishable, eternal, Paramātmā, the support all selves. I am also known as Brahman. I am the Supreme Person who existed before [creation] and will exist in the end [after dissolution]. (Viṣṇu Purāṇa 1.19.85,86)

When Prahlāda meditated in this way he could break the snake-ropes.

Jñāna and ahaṅgrahopāsanā, although considered to be means for sāmmukhya, are not the recommended process of śāstra, the abhidheya. The reason is that the sāmmukhya they give is not very beneficial, nor is it complete because there is no reciprocation with Bhagavān. Bhakti is the only abhidheya and it awards the perfect sāmmukhya. Therefore Śrī Jīva begins a new topic, the definition of bhakti.

216.3 The practice of bhakti defined

अथ भक्तिः। तस्यास्तटस्थलक्षणं स्वरूपलक्षणं च, यथा गरुडपुराणे—

विष्णुभक्तिं प्रवक्ष्यामि यया सर्वमवाप्यते।
यथा भक्त्या हरिस्तुष्येत् तथा नान्येन केनचित्॥ (ग.पु. १.२२७.१)

भज इत्येष वै धातुः सेवायां परिकीर्तितः।
तस्मात् सेवा बुधैः प्रोक्ता भक्तिः साधनभूयसी॥ (ग.पु. १.२२७.३) इति।

We will now discuss bhakti, or devotion to God. The extrinsic and intrinsic characteristics of bhakti are referred to in the Garuḍa Purāṇa:

[taṭastha-lakṣaṇa] I will describe devotion to Bhagavān Viṣṇu, by which everything is attained. Bhagavān Hari is not pleased by anything as much as He is by devotion. (GP Pūrva-kaṇḍa 227.1)

[In the next verse bhakti is defined in terms of its etymological root, bhaj. ]

[svarūpa-lakṣaṇa] The root bhaj means to offer service. Therefore the wise have described bhakti, which is the pre-eminent path of attainment, as service. (GP Pūrva-kaṇḍa 227.3)

"यया सर्वमवाप्यते" इति तटस्थलक्षणम्। अत्र च "अकामः सर्वकामो वा" (भा. २.३.१०) इत्यादि-सिद्धत्वादव्याप्त्यभावः।

In the first of these two verses the statement that everything is attained by devotion is an extrinsic characteristic of devotion. That everything is attainable by devotion is evident from statements such as this:

akāmaḥ sarva-kāmo vā mokṣa-kāma udāra-dhīḥ
tīvreṇa bhakti-yogena yajeta puruṣaṁ param

An intelligent person whether desireless, full of desire, or desiring liberation, should worship the Supreme Person with fervent bhakti-yoga. (SB 2.3.10)

This statement shows just how comprehensive the assertion is that everything is attainable by devotion, and thus this part of the definition is free from the defect of being too narrow.

यथा भक्त्या इत्याद्युक्तत्वादतिव्याप्त्यभावः। बुधैः प्रोक्तत्वादसम्भवाभावश्च।

The second line of the first verse from the Garuḍa Purāṇa (227.1) states that Bhagavān is pleased only by devotion and not by anything else. This part of the definition is free from the defect of being too broad [since it certainly excludes ahaṁgrahopāsanā from the definition of bhakti]. Furthermore, the definition is free from the defect of infeasibility, because the second verse from the Garuḍa Purāṇa states that this is the declaration of the wise.

सेवाशब्देन स्वरूपलक्षणम्। सा च सेवा कायिकवाचिकमानसात्मिका त्रिविधैवानुगतिरुच्यते। अत एव भयद्वेषादीनामहङ्ग्रहोपासनायाश्च व्यावृत्तिः। साधनभूयसी साधनेषु श्रेष्ठेत्यर्थः।

The intrinsic characteristic of devotion is referred to by the word sevā, or service, and this service implies loving responsiveness to another with the three faculties of body, mind and speech. Therefore, this definition excludes all service performed out of fear and enmity, as well as the worship of oneself as Supreme. The adjectival compound "the pre-eminent path of attainment" (sādhana-bhūyasī), qualifying the word bhakti, means that devotion is the best of all spiritual paths.

तदेव लक्षणद्वयं प्रकारान्तरेणाह (भा. ११.२.३४) —

ये वै भगवता प्रोक्ता उपाया ह्यात्मलब्धये।
अञ्जः पुंसामविदुषां विद्धि भागवतान् हि तान्॥

The extrinsic and intrinsic characteristics of devotion are expressed in another way by the sage Kavi:
All those means that were spoken of by Bhagavān so that unenlightened humanity could easily attain realization of the Self you should know to be bhāgavata-dharma. (SB 11.2.34)
अविदुषां पुंसां तन्माहात्म्यमविद्वद्भिरपि कर्तृभिः। आत्मनः—ब्रह्म परमात्मा भगवान् इत्याविर्भावभेदवतः स्वस्य कर्मभूतस्य अञ्जः अनायासेनैव लब्धये लाभाय ये उपायाः साधनानि स्वयं भगवता (भा. ११.१४.३)

कालेन नष्टा प्रलये वाणीयं वेदसंज्ञिता।
मयादौ ब्रह्मणे प्रोक्ता धर्मो यस्यां मदात्मकः॥ 

इत्यनुसारेण प्रोक्ताः।

The term "unenlightened humanity" refers to those who are unaware of the glory of God. The implication is that the methods spoken of by Bhagavān are conducive to realization of the Self even when performed by such people. Realization of the Self here refers to the revelation of God’s own nature, manifest in the three features of Brahman, Paramātmā and Bhagavān. This realization is easily achieved by the methods spoken of by Bhagavān Himself. That Kṛṣṇa Himself spoke this knowledge is indicated in verses such as this:

In due course of time, during the period of annihilation, this speech of Mine, known as the Veda, was lost. It contains duties by following which one's mind becomes fixed on Me. I spoke this to Brahmā at the beginning of creation. (SB 11.14.3)

तान् उपायान् भागवतान् धर्मान् विद्धि । हि प्रसिद्धौ। तत्र साक्षाद्भक्तेरपि भागवतधर्माख्यत्वं, "एतावान् एव लोकेऽस्मिन्" (भा. ६.३.२२) इत्यत्र परमधर्मत्वख्यापनया दर्शितम्।

In the previous verse (11.2.34) the methods spoken of by Bhagavān refer specifically to the knowledge indicated in Kṛṣṇa’s statement. Direct devotion is also called bhāgavata-dharma, because the word parama-dharma [a synonym of bhāgavata-dharma] is used to describe bhakti in this verse:

This alone is said to be the supreme duty (parama-dharma) of humanity in this world: to engage in bhakti to the Supreme Bhagavān by chanting His names and other such activities. (SB 6.3.22)

अत्र आत्मलब्धये प्रोक्ता इति तटस्थलक्सणम्, अन्येन तदलाभादव्यभिचारि। आत्मलब्धय उपाया इति स्वरूपलक्षणम्, तल्लाभोपायो हि तदनुगतिरेव॥

Returning again to the verse under discussion (11.2.34), the words, “spoken by Bhagavān to attain realization of the Self,” refer to the extrinsic characteristic of devotion [because such realization is a by-product of devotion]. And because one cannot attain this realization of all three aspects of Bhagavān by any other means, this definition is free from the defects previously discussed. The words, “the means to attain realization of the Self,” refer to the intrinsic characteristic of devotion [because these methods constitute the essential nature of devotion]. The means to attain Him refers to nothing other than offering favorable service to Him.

॥११.२॥ श्रीकविर्निमिम्॥२१६॥

Commentary by Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji Maharaja

To get an object one has to know its distinct characteristics. Every object has many qualities. Some of them are general, which it shares with some other things, and some quality or qualities are special to it, not found in any thing belonging to a different class. For example, a cow has four legs, two ears and a tail. A dog also has that. But a cow has some characteristics that make it distinct from every other animal. Those distinctive qualities constitute its definition. It is necessary to know those distinct features to understand what it is so that we do not mistake a horse or a donkey for a cow. Lakṣaṇa-prāmāṇabhyām vastu-siddhih, na tu kevala-pratijñā-mātreṇa: an object is established by giving its definition and the process to know it, and not by merely by making a declaration about it. Therefore, Śrī Jīva begins to define bhakti.

A definition has two parts to it, internal (svarūpa) and external (taṭastha). The internal is that which explains the constitution of the object defined, and the external describes its effect or influence. The extrinsic characteristic of devotion refers to that which is attained as a by-product of devotion. The intrinsic characteristic of devotion refers to that which is its essential nature, described further ahead as loving service. The definition of bhakti is given by Sūta Gosvāmī to Śaunaka .

According to the Nyāya school of philosophy, definitions of technical terms must be free from three defects: avyāpti, being too narrow and thus excluding elements that should fall within the definition; ativyāpti, being too broad and thus including elements that should be excluded from the definition; and asambhava, infeasibility of the validity of an assertion. Jīva Gosvāmī shows that the definition of bhakti given here is free from these three defects.

The internal definition of bhakti is favrorable service to Kṛṣṇa by mind, body and speech. This excludes bhakti that is done out of some other reason, such as fear. In some parts of India the phrase bhaya-bhakti is popular. In Rāma-carita-mānasa Tulasidāsa also makes a similar mention, bhaya bin hohi na prīti, there is no love without fear. Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī, however, rejects such concepts of bhakti. Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī makes it very clear while defining bhakti (BRS 1.1.11), “To perform favorable action for pleasure of Kṛṣṇa without having any desire such as for liberation, material pleasure or some material positions, is called pure bhakti.”

Śrī Jīva cites a statement of sage Kavi to give an alternative definition of bhakti. In this verse the word upāya, "the means," is the intrinsic definition because this refers to the actual limbs of bhakti spoken by Bhagavān Himself. These means are such as chanting the names of Bhagavān. The compound word ātma-labdhaye gives the extrinsic definition of bhakti because it describes the influence or effect of bhakti. The word ātmā in this word refers to Brahman, Paramātmā and Bhagavān. This implies that bhakti is the means to realize the three manifestation of tattva, and there is no other process for it. This also implies that the perfection on the path of jñāna as well yoga is not possible without bhakti.

Bhakti Sandarbha 214-215 : The Process of Brahman Realization
Bhakti Sandarbha 212-213 : The Spiritual Guru is the Manifestation of Bhagavān
Bhakti Sandarbha 210-211: The Mantra Guru is Also Compulsory
Bhakti Sandarbha 209 : The bhajana-śikṣā guru is also necessary
Bhakti Sandarbha 208 : There is No Possibility of Knowledge Without Guru
Bhakti Sandarbha 207 : Dīkṣā Guru is Only One
Bhakti Sandarbha 206 : The śravaṇa- and bhajana-śikṣā-gurus are usually the same person
Bhakti Sandarbha 204-5: Proper Deliberation on Śāstra Brings About Śraddhā in Bhajana


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