Bhakti Sandarbha 240-242 : The Power of Sat-saṅga to Grant Love for Krishna
The discussion of sat-saṅga continues on until 245. From 238 to 242 covers the first part of Canto 11, chapter 12. This subject then morphs into a glorification of the gopis, which was covered in Kṛṣṇa Sandarbha 175-177. The first of those verses is quoted at the end of Anu. 242.
Sat-saṅga is Independently Potentतेषां सत्सङ्गव्यतिरिक्तसाधनाभावमाह (भा. ११.१२.७) —
ते नाधीतश्रुतिगणा नोपासितमहत्तमाः।
अव्रतातप्ततपसो मत्सङ्गान् मामुपागताः॥
In the verse that follows this group of four, Śrī Kṛṣṇa declares that these individuals or groups did not undergo any form of spiritual discipline other than the association of devotees:
नाधीताः श्रुतिगणाः यैः। तदर्थं च नोपासिता महत्तमा यैः। किं च, अकृतव्रता अकृततपस्काश्च। पूर्ववदध्ययनादिकं भगवत्प्रीणनमेव ग्राह्यम्।Although they did not study the Vedas, worship great devotees, observe vows or undertake austerities, they attained Me through association with Me or My devotees. (SB 11.12.7)
This verse states that they did not study the anthology of the śrutis; neither did they render service to enlightened beings in order to realize the meaning of the Vedas. Furthermore, they did not observe any vows nor engage in austerity. As discussed earlier, it is to be understood that the various disciplines mentioned in this verse are meant exclusively for the satisfaction of Bhagavān.
अत्रैकेषां वृत्रादीनां प्राग्जन्मादौ साधनानन्तरं यत्, तदपि सत्सङ्गानुषङ्गसिद्धमित्यभिप्रेत्य सत्सङ्गस्यैव तत्तत्फलमुक्तम्। धर्मव्याधादीनां तु केवलस्यैव तस्येति ज्ञेयम्।
Vṛtrāsura and a few others did actually perform other spiritual practices in their previous lives. Nonetheless, even these practices were a result of sat-saṅga. Even with this in view, it is stated here that the results achieved by them were due simply to sat-saṅga. Dharmavyādha and others like him, however, attained Bhagavān exclusively through sat-saṅga.
मत्सङ्गशब्देनात्र मम सङ्गो मदीयादीनां च सङ्ग इत्यभिधाप्यते। उभयत्रापि मत्सम्बन्धित्वादित्यभिप्रायेण। तत्र स्वस्यापि सत्त्वात् सत्सङ्गोऽप्यन्तर्भावितः। यत् तु पुरा भागवतसङ्गेनैव भगवत्कृपा भवतीत्युक्तं, तत्तु तत्साम्मुख्यजन्मन्येव।
The word mat-saṅga in the verse means "My association" as well as "the association of My devotees,’ because both interpretations connote a relation with “Me” [Kṛṣṇa]. Bhagavān is also sat, "the real, or the wise" and therefore where there is discussion of the association of the wise (sat-saṅga), it also includes the association of Bhagavān. Previously it was explained [in Anuccheda 180], that one obtains the mercy of Bhagavān only by the association of devotees. What this means is that the association of devotees is essential to facilitate the initial shift in a person’s focus towards an awareness of Bhagavān. In this section, however, the very same association of devotees is being described as a specific means to attain perfection, and thus there is no discrepancy.
अत्र तु स एव भागवतसङ्गः साधनविशेषत्वेनोच्यत इति न दोषः। यदि वात्र कुत्रचित् साम्मुख्यजन्मकारणमपि भगवत्सङ्गो भवेत्, तदाप्येवमाचक्ष्महे—सच्छब्दार्थमवतारमङ्गीकृत्य यत् कदाचित् सर्वत्र कृपां वितनोति भगवान्, तच्च सत्सम्बन्धेनैवेत्यतो नाभ्युपगमहानिरिति॥
Even if it is acknowledged that the association of Bhagavān may sometimes even be the cause of a person’s shifting his awareness towards Him, such an occurrence is to be understood in this way. When Bhagavān descends into the material world and occasionally distributes His mercy everywhere, He does so only due to His relation with His devotees. This is the true significance of the word sat [i.e., those whose saṅga causes Bhagavān to appear and bestow His mercy]. Therefore, there is no defect in the principle stated above [that one obtains the mercy of Bhagavān only by the association of devotees].
Commentary by Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji Maharaj
In Anucchedas 179 and 180 Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī established that sat-saṅga is the primary cause of turning one’s awareness towards Bhagavān. In this anuccheda he shows that sat-saṅga is potent enough to bring perfection on the path of bhakti. Sat-saṅga does not depend on anything else. It is the beginning point of bhakti and can lead one to the end result of prema. Although sat-saṅga includes both the association of a devotee or Bhagavān, its primary meaning is “association of a devotee.” The reason for this is that the association of Bhagavān is ultimately caused by a devotee. We saw in Paramātma Sandarbha (Anu. 100) that Bhagavān acts only for the pleasure of His devotees. Therefore, His descent into the material world is also because of His wish to bestow His grace on His devotees. As a concomitant effect of that, He may also give it to the non-devotees. Thus the ultimate cause behind such grace is also a devotee, although it appears to be an independent act of grace.
Sat-saṅga is the Only Means to Attract Kṛṣṇaअथ मुख्यं वशीकरणमसम्भावितसाधनान्तरेण सत्सङ्गमात्रेण श्रीगोप्यादीनां दर्शयति (भा. ११.१२.८)—
केवलेन हि भावेन गोप्यो गावो नगा मृगाः।
येऽन्ये मूढधियो नागाः सिद्धा मामीयुरञ्जसा॥
In the next verse Kṛṣṇa demonstrates that primary control, such as that found in the gopīs,is achieved only by sat-saṅga, and not by any other means:
Indeed, the cowherd damsels, cows, trees, animals, snakes and other beings of undeveloped consciousness realized the object of their lives and easily attained Me only through love. (SB 11.12.8)
In this verse the word bhāvena means by love, which is attained only through sat-saṅga, as understood from the context. Bhāva is the symptom of primary control, as indicated in statements such as these: “The sages control Me by devotion, just as a devoted wife controls a worthy husband.” (SB 9.4.66) And, “I can be achieved only by bhakti.” (SB 11.14.21)
गावोऽपि गोपीवदागन्तुक्य एव ज्ञेयाः। नगा यमलार्जुनादयः। मृगा अपि पूर्ववत्। नागाः कालियादयः। यमलार्जुनकालिययोः प्राप्तिस्तदानीन्तनतत्क्षणिकभगवत्प्राप्त्यावश्यम्भाविनित्यप्राप्तिमपेक्ष्योक्ता।
It should be understood that the cows mentioned in SB 11.12.8 also came from outside of Vraja, just like the gopīs [as pointed out already in Anuccheda 239]. The word nagāḥ refers to trees like the pair of Arjuna trees [which attained Kṛṣṇa through the mercy of Nārada]. The word mṛgāḥ means the animals, which also came from outside of Vraja, like the others already mentioned. The word nāgāḥ refers to snakes such as Kālīya.
Although the twin Arjuna trees and the Kālīya snake attained Kṛṣṇa only momentarily during His manifest pastimes, it is understood that as a result of the awakening of love, they will certainly achieve Kṛṣṇa in the future. Thus they have been included in this verse, considering their brief association of and opening toward Bhagavān as an eternal attainment.
सिद्धाः पूर्ववद्द्विविधात् सत्सङ्गात्। स तु तेषां भावो योगादिभिरप्राप्य एवेति, "यथावरुन्धे" (भा. ११.१२.२) इत्यत्र यथाशब्दार्थस्य पराकाष्ठा॥
The word siddhāḥ, “having realized the object of their lives,” means that all those mentioned in the verse attained love through two types of sat-saṅga—either the association of Bhagavān or His devotees. And the love they attained is impossible to achieve by any other means, such as yoga. This is the significance of the statement already cited [SB 11.12.2, quoted in Anuccheda 238]: “No other practice, including yoga, can captivate Me in the same way as the association of saints.” Therefore, the correlative pronoun of manner yathā, “in the same way as,” used in this verse, indicates that love awakened through the association of saints is being used to its most extreme limit, i.e., so here this means the highest limit of attainment.
Commentary by Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji Maharaj
Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī gives a very special interpretation to the verse spoken by Kṛṣṇa to Uddhava cited in this anuccheda. He says that the bhāva mentioned in this verse, which means love, has been attained only by sat-saṅga and not by any other means. This is understood from the context in which the verse was spoken. The context is the prowess of sat-saṅga.
Kṛṣṇa began this chapter to explain the most confidential process to attain Him. He proclaims this in the last verse of the previous chapter (cited in Anu. 238). In verse 11.12.2, He said that nothing else controls Him as intensely and firmly as sat-saṅga. This is the sense of the relative pronoun yathā used in this verse. According to the Amara-koṣa lexicon this pronoun means “equal” (3.4.9). Thus the sense is that no other process equals sat-saṅga in controlling Kṛṣṇa, yathā avarundhe.
Another point to be noted is that like the gopīs, the cows, trees, animals and snakes mentioned in this verse are not the eternal residents of Vraja but those who came into Vraja from outside. The gopīs, cows, trees and animals of Vṛndāvana are eternal associates of Kṛṣṇa and have eternal love for Him. It would be wrong to say that they attained perfection by sat-saṅga. Thus the gopīs, cows and others mentioned in this verse are those who came to Vraja from outside.
The twin arjuna trees, standing in the courtyard of Nanda, were two sons of Kubera. When the trees were uprooted by baby Kṛṣṇa, the two gods were released from their tree form and they returned to their previous state as sons of Kubera. But later they must have attained Kṛṣṇa. According to Gopāla Campū they became Madhukaṇṭha and Snigdhakaṇṭha in the aprakaṭa-līlā. The same can be assumed about the Kāliya snake who was asked to leave the Yamunā River and go to Ramaṇaka island.
Love For Kṛṣṇa Is Attained Only By Sat-saṅgaतामेव व्यनक्ति (११.१२.९)—
यं न योगेन साङ्ख्येन दानव्रततपोऽध्वरैः।
व्याख्यास्वाध्यायसन्न्यासैः प्राप्नुयाद्यत्नवान् अपि॥
In the next verse, Kṛṣṇa clarifies the fact that this love for Him is not attained through any other means [only through sat-saṅga]:
One cannot attain love for Me through yoga, an analytical study of conceptual truths, charity, sacred vows, austerities, sacrifice, exposition of sacred texts, study of the Vedas, or renunciation, even if one strives with great endeavor. (SB 11.12.9)
In this verse, the relative pronoun yam refers to the love mentioned in the previous verse. The various practices specified in this verse, such as yoga, are understood here to be related to Bhagavān, because the Kṛṣṇa’s statement that love for Him cannot be attained by yoga and other means even if one strives with great endeavor implies a situation in which such methods are employed for the purpose of attaining Him.
एष्वपि श्रीगोपीनां परमकाष्ठाप्राप्तिं दर्शयितुम्—"अथैतत् परमं गुह्यं शृण्वतो यदुनन्दन" (भा. ११.११.४९) इत्येतत्पूर्वोक्तपरमगुह्यत्वस्य परमकाष्ठां दर्शयितुं "रामेण सार्धं" (भा. ११.१२.९) इत्यादिप्रकरणमनुसन्धेयम्॥
Even among those who attained love for Kṛṣṇa through sat-saṅga, as mentioned in the previous verse (SB 11.12.8), only the gopīs attained the highest development of this love, which is shown by Kṛṣṇa’s own statement: “Therefore, O descendant of Yadu, Uddhava, just hear this topmost secret.” (SB 11.11.49) To realize that this love of the gopīs is the highest expression of the most confidential secret referred to in this passage, one should study the section of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam that begins with this verse:
When Akrūra brought me to Mathurā along with Balarāma, the gopīs, whose minds were attached to Me through intense love and who suffered acute pangs of separation, did not consider anything other than Me as a source of happiness. (SB 11.12.10)
Śrī Kṛṣṇa confirms that the bhāva or love that the gopīs and others attained was only because of sat-saṅga. All other processes such as yoga, even if executed in relation to Kṛṣṇa, do not have the potency to grant love. Certainly if these other processes are performed independently then they do not have any potency to give love. They cannot even grant liberation. This was described earlier (Anu. 65-84).
Love is the only thing that controls Bhagavān fully. The highest limit of this love is found in the gopīs. This limit is called mahābhāva. Some of the symptoms of mahābhāva are the inability to tolerate separation even for a moment (nimeṣāsahatā) and to feel a moment of separation as equal to a kalpa, kalpa-kṣaṇatvam (Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi 15.147).
Śrī Kṛṣṇa here informs Uddhava about the state of gopīs after having left Vraja to go to Mathurā and then to Dvārakā.
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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
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