Bhakti Sandarbha 239: Sat-saṅga Brings Bhagavān Under Control
This anuccheda is based on Canto 11, chapter 12, in which a list is given of all the individuals who attained the Lord's lotus feet through association with devotees.
Sat-saṅga Brings Bhagavān Under Control
अस्त्वेवमङ्ग भगवान् भजतां मुकुन्दो
मुक्तिं ददाति कर्हिचित् स्म न भक्तियोगम् (भा. ५.६.१८) इति न्यायेन।
We return now to the topic begun in the previous Anuccheda [about how Bhagavān is brought under control by devotion, and in particular by the act of associating with devotees, as expressed in SB 11.12.1-2].
There are two levels of control to which Bhagavān willingly submits—primary and secondary. By the primary level of control, one attains love. This principle has already been discussed in regard to this verse [analyzed in Anucchedas 141 and 147]: “My dear King, Bhagavān Mukunda sometimes awards liberation to those who worship Him, but not love.” (SB 5.6.18) [i.e., Bhagavān does not award love unless He is first brought under the control of the devotee who worships Him.]
अत एव गौणेनान्यत् फलम्। अत्र मुख्यं श्रीगोप्यादौ। गौणं बाणादौ। उत्तरत्र वशीकरणत्वं फलदानोन्मुखीक-रणतयोपचर्यते।
Therefore, by the secondary level of control, one attains some other desired result [such as liberation]. Primary control [in which Bhagavān submits to the devotee’s love] is found in devotees like the gopīs. Secondary control [in which Bhagavān is moved to offer some some lesser benediction] is observed in people like Bāṇa [a devotee of Śiva, who originally opposed Kṛṣṇa in battle, but who was awarded the position of an eternal associate of Śiva when Kṛṣṇa became pleased with his devotion to the latter]. Secondary control impels Bhagavān to award the result desired by the worshiper.
तदेतद्वशीकरणे दृष्टान्तमाह (भा. ११.१२.३-६)—
सत्सङ्गेन हि दैतेया यातुधाना मृगाः खगाः।
गन्धर्वाप्सरसो नागाः सिद्धाश्चारणगुह्यकाः॥
विद्याधरा मनुष्येषु वैश्याः शूद्राः स्त्रियोऽन्त्यजाः।
रजस्तमःप्रकृतयस्तस्मिंस्तस्मिन् युगे युगे॥
बहवो मत्पदं प्राप्तास्त्वाष्ट्रकायाधवादयः।
वृषपर्वा बलिर्बाणो मयश्चाथ विभीषणः॥
सुग्रीवो हनुमान् ऋक्षो गजो गृध्रो वणिक्पथः।
व्याधः कुब्जा व्रजे गोप्यो यज्ञपत्न्यस्तथापरे॥
Now we will offer examples of these two types of control, as in this series of verses:
O Uddhava, simply by the association of devotees many different classes of beings attained my abode in different yugas, including the demons, Yātudhānas, animals and birds, Gandharvas and Apsarās, Nāgas, Siddhas, Cāraṇas, Guhyakas, and Vidyādharas. Among human beings, there were many vaiśyas, śūdras, women and those born outside the varṇāśrama system, and those influenced predominantly by the qualities of passion and ignorance. There were others like Vṛtrāsura, Prahlāda, Vṛṣaparvā, Bali, Bāṇa, Maya, Vibhīṣaṇa, Sugrīva, Hanumān, Jāmbavān, Gajendra, Jaṭāyu, Tulādhāra, Dharmavyādha, Kubjā, the gopīs of Vraja as well as the wives of the brāhmaṇas and others. (SB 11.12.3-6)
In this series of verses the word daiteyāḥ, literally ‘the descendants of Diti,’ indirectly implies various classes of demons, such as the Asuras and Dānavas. The word yātudḥānāḥ refers to the Rākṣasas, or evil demons. A brief list of those belonging to these classes of beings is given in the third verse of this group, beginning with Tvāṣṭra, which is another name for Vṛtṛāsura. In his previous life [as King Citraketu], Vṛtṛāsura was blessed with the association of the two sages, Śrī Nārada and Aṅgira, as well as that of Bhagavān Saṅkarṣaṇa.
The word kāyādhavaḥ refers to the son of Kayādhu, Prahlāda, who obtained the association of Nārada Muni while still in his mother’s womb.
आदिशब्दगृहीतान् पूर्वोक्तजातिक्रमेण कतिचिद्गणयति—वृषेति।
- वृषपर्वा दानवः। अयं हि जातमात्रमातृपरित्यक्तो मुनिपालितो विष्णुभक्तो बभूवेति पुराणान्तरप्रसिद्धिः
Vṛṣaparvā was a Dānava, or a particular class of demons. In one of the Purāṇas it is related that he was abandoned by his mother immediately after his birth, and having been brought up by a sage, he became a devotee of Śrī Viṣṇu.
- बलेः श्रीप्रह्लादसङ्गः श्रीवामनसङ्गश्च, तदनन्तरमेव भक्त्युद्बोधदर्शनात्।
- बाणस्य बलिमहेशभगवत्सङ्गः। अस्य भुजकर्तनानन्तरं ज्ञातविष्णुमहिम्नो महाभागवतमहेशप्राप्तिरिव स्वप्राप्तिरित्युच्यते।
- मयो दानवः। अस्य सभानिर्माणादौ पाण्डवसङ्गो भगवत्सङ्गश्च, अन्ते तत्प्राप्तिस्तु ज्ञेया।
- विभीषणो यातुधानः, अस्य हनूमत्सङ्गो भगवत्सङ्गश्च।
- सुग्रीवाद्या गजान्ता मृगाः।
- तत्र ऋक्षो जाम्बवान्, अस्य भगवत्सङ्गः।
- गजो गजेन्द्रः, अस्य पूर्वजन्मनि सत्सङ्ग उन्नेयः, उत्तरजन्मान्ते भगवत्सङ्गश्च।
- गृध्रो जटायुनामा खगः, अस्य श्रीगरुडदशरथादिसङ्गः, श्रीसीतादर्शनं श्रीभगवद्दर्शनं च।
Gaja refers to the elephant, Gajendra. It is to be inferred that he got the association of a devotee in his past life, and at the end of his next life as Gajendra, he obtained the association of Bhagavān.
Gṛdhra refers to the bird named Jaṭāyu, who got the association of Garuḍa and Daśaratha, and who also saw Sīta and Śrī Rāma.
- गन्धर्वादीस्त्वनतिप्रसिद्धत्वेनानुदाहृत्य मनुष्येषु वैश्यादीन् उदाहरति।
- वणिक्पथस्तुलाधारः, अस्य भारते जाजलिमुनिगन्धर्वप्रसङ्गे प्रोक्तमहिम्नः सत्सङ्गः अन्वेषणीयः।
Vaṇikpatha refers to Tulādhāra [a vaiśya, or merchant]. The fact that he obtained the association of devotees sshould be understood from his glories described in the account of Jājalī Muni and the Gandharva, from the Mahābhārata.
- व्याधो धर्मव्याधः शूद्रोऽन्त्यजोऽपि। अत्रादिवाराहे कथेयम्—क्वचित् प्राचीनकलियुगे वसुनाम्ना वैष्णवेन राज्ञा प्राग्जन्मनि मृगभ्रान्त्या निहतो ब्राह्मणो ब्रह्मराक्षसतां प्राप्तः। तस्य राज्ञः प्रापञ्चिकविष्णुलोकगमनसमये तच्छरीरं प्रविष्टः। पुनश्च तस्य तद्भोगान्ते राजतां प्राप्तस्य देहात् तत्कर्तृकब्रह्मपाराख्यस्तवपाठतेजसा निर्गतः, तत्कृतधर्मव्याधसंज्ञो हिंसातिशयविमुखः पर्यवसाने दृष्टनीलाद्रिनाथः, तं च स्तुतवान्। प्राप्ततदालिङ्गनस्तत्सायुज्यमवापेति।
- कुब्जाया भगवत्सङ्गः, पूर्वजन्मनि च नारदसङ्ग इति माथुरहरिवंशप्रसिद्धम्।
- गोप्योऽत्र साधारण्यः, श्रीकृष्णव्रजे तदानीं विवाहादिना समागताः। आसां तन्नित्यप्रेयसीवृन्दसङ्गः श्रीकृष्णदर्शनादिरूपो भगवत्सङ्गश्च।
- यज्ञपत्नीनां श्रीकृष्णगुणकथकलोकसङ्गस्तत्सङ्गश्च।
- अपरे दैतेयादयोऽन्ये च॥
The word gopyaḥ in the last line of the fourth verse is a reference to the general gopīs [and not to the eternal gopīs, in whom love is eternally manifest independent of any association or practice]. Through marriage they came to Vraja, where Kṛṣṇa was present. There they came into the association of the eternal beloveds [Gopīs] of Bhagavān Kṛṣṇa, and they also obtained the association of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, by seeing Him and exchanging in different ways.
The wives of the brāhmaṇas associated with those who used to recite the qualities of Bhagavān Kṛṣṇa, and they also got the association of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. The word apare, "others," refers to the sons of Diti and others.
Commentary by Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji Maharaj
Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī spoke about Bhagavān being brought under control while discussing the importance of service to a Vaiṣṇava. He cited a statement of Bhagavān Kṛṣṇa to Uddhava (11.12.1-2) in which the former explains the power of sat-saṅga to bring Him under the control of His devotee. Śrī Jīva elaborates on the controlling power of sat-saṅga in the present anuccheda.
He makes two division of the control. The prime control is in which a devotee has no motive to fulfill from Bhagavān. His or her intention is only to do loving service to Bhagavān. Such a devotee is very rare and is awarded love by Bhagavān. In this relation Bhagavān comes fully under the control of His devotee, as He told Durvāsā: “The sages control Me by devotion, just as a devoted wife controls a worthy husband.” (SB 9.4.66).
The other type of control is secondary in which Bhagavān satisfies the wish of the devotee but does not grant love.
Śrī Kṛṣṇa while stressing the importance of sat-saṅga in controlling Him gave numerous examples, cited in this anuccheda. From these examples it is clear that sat-saṅga is so powerful that it can influence even those born in demonic families, and even those born in animal or bird species. This is most amazing. No other path such as karma-yoga or jñāna-yoga claims any such power.
Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī describes the sat-saṅga experienced by a specific devotee in the present or past life, or in both lives. Some of these stories are found in Bhāgavata Purāṇa. Others are related in the Rāmāyaṇa of Vālmīki, in Mahābhārata, or in one of the Purāṇas. There is no clear mention of some of them having sat-saṅga in any scripture. Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī says that in such cases also it should be assumed that they must have had sat-saṅga in their present or past life. Without sat-saṅga no one can become a devotee. This was established in Anuccheda 179.
Śrī Jīva gives the example of Gajendra, the king of elephants, who was King Indradyumna in his past life. Once he was engaged in worship of Bhagavān while keeping a vow of silence. At that time sage Agastya came there along with his students. The King maintained his silence and thus did not receive the sage properly. This enraged the sage, who then cursed the king to become an elephant. As a result he was born as Gajendra. But because the king was engaged in the worship of Bhagavān it must be assumed that he must have had sat-saṅga.
The story of Tulādhāra is found in chapters 261 to 264 of the Śānti Parva of the Mahābhārata. He was a shopkeeper in Kāśī (Benaras) and very pious. One day, the sage Jājali became proud of his severe austerities. As soon as he had this thought, he heard a voice in the sky that announced, "You are not as pious as the shopkeeper Tulādhāra."
Hearing this, Jājali became jealous of Tulādhāra and went to see him. To Jājali’s surprise, Tulādhāra already knew everything about him. The shopkeeper then gave Jājali instructions on dharma. He especially glorified non-violence, karma-yoga and śraddhā. It is assumed that he must have had the association of some devotee to have attained such faith and devotion.
The story of Dharma-vyādha is described in the chapters 206-216 of the Vana Parva of Mahābhārata. There was a Brahmaṇa named Kauśika who was devoted to studying the Vedas and performing austerities. Once he was sitting in a forest under a tree, reciting the Vedas. A crane sitting atop the tree passed stool on his head. This enraged the Brāhmaṇa Kauśika and he looked at the bird with great anger, causing it to drop dead on the ground. When Kauśika saw this, he felt morose and repented at his act of anger. Later he went to a nearby village for alms. He went to a house and called out for alms from the door. The lady of the house asked him to wait. Kauśika waited and when the lady came out with some food to give to him he expressed anger at her delay. The lady begged for forgiveness and replied that she was busy taking care of her husband. This made Kauśika even more angry. He told her that a brāhmaṇa is superior to all and bragged about the greatness and prowess of brāhmaṇas. The lady again asked for forgiveness and replied that she knows about the greatness of brāhmaṇas, but for her service to her husband was superior to service to a Brāhmaṇa. She said indignantly that she was not some bird who would be made to drop dead by Kauśika’s wrath. She further advised him to visit Dharma-vyādha in Mithila to learn the intricacies of dharma.
Kauśika was humbled to hear all this and was amazed that the lady could know about the bird incident by the power of her service to her husband. Kauśika then went to Mithila to meet Dharma-vyādha who already knew about his arrival.
Dharma-vyādha was born in a hunter’s family and lived by selling meat. There is a lengthy discussion about dharma between Dharma-vyādha and Kauśika. In the end Kauśika asked the reason for Dharma-vyādha to be born in a hunter’s family. Dharma-vyādha said that in the previous life he was a great Brāhmṇa, a knower of the Vedas. He had been friendly with a king and from the king he learned the art of shooting arrows. Once the king went to forest for hunting and the Brāhmṇa accompanied him. By mistake the Brahmaṇa shot a sage with an arrow. The sage cursed him to be born as a śūdra.
Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī's account of Dharma-vyādha is a different one, however, found in the sixth chapter of Varāha Purāṇa.
The gopīs mentioned in the last verse are not the eternal gopīs of Vṛndāvana but those who attained the position a gopī through sādhana-bhakti. Such gopīs took birth as girls outside Vraja and came to Vraja as married wives of cowherd men, the associates of Kṛṣṇa.
In this way Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī establishes the importance of sat-saṅga in achieving the grace of Bhagavān. In the next Anuccheda he shows that sat-saṅga is not dependent on anything else.
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
Bhakti Sandarbha 231-233 : Svarūpa-siddhā Bhakti and the Three Gunas
Bhakti Sandarbha 228-230: Mixed Bhakti desiring only pure bhakti
Bhakti Sandarbha 226-227 : Kaivalya-kāmā Bhakti mixed with karma and jnana
Bhakti Sandarbha 225 : Three Divisions of Saṅga-siddhā Bhakti
Bhakti Sandarbha 224 : Three Motives Behind the Offering of Karma