Bhakti Sandarbha 284 : The Difference Between Mantra and Name and the Need for Initiation


This is another important passage that discusses the necessity for initiation in relation to deity worship. Jiva Goswami raises the question of necessity for initiation if the mantra is stated to transcend such requirements. Note that the famous śruti-smṛti-purāṇādi verse is the principal response.




Anuccheda 284

Difference Between Mantra and Name

ननु भगवन्नामात्मका एव मन्त्राः। तत्र विशेषेण नमःशब्दाद्यलंकृताः श्रीभगवता श्रीमदृषिभिश्चाहितशक्तिविशेषाः, श्रीभगवता सममात्मसम्बन्धविशेषप्रतिपादकाश्च। तत्र केवलानि श्रीभगवन्नामान्यपि निरपेक्षाण्येव परमपुरुषार्थफलपर्यन्तदानसमर्थानि। ततो मन्त्रेषु नामतोऽप्यधिकसामर्थ्ये लब्धे कथं दीक्षाद्यपेक्षा ?

A question may be raised as follows. Mantras contain only the names of Bhagavān. The difference between the name and mantras is that the latter contain certain special words, such as namaḥ, “obeisances to You.” Furthermore, they are infused with specific power, either by Bhagavān or the great sages, and establish a unique relationship with Bhagavān. So when even the name alone is independent of any process and can bestow all results up to the supreme goal of life, how can a mantra, whose power is greater even than the name, be dependent upon dīkṣā?

उच्यते—यद्यपि स्वरूपतो नास्ति, तथापि प्रायः स्वभावतो देहादिसम्बन्धेन कदर्थशीलानां विक्षिप्तचित्तानां जनानां तत्तत्संकोचीकरणाय श्रीमदृषिप्रभृतिभिरत्रार्चनमार्गे क्वचित् क्वचित् काचित् काचिन् मर्यादा स्थापितास्ति। ततस्तदुल्लङ्घने शास्त्रं प्रायश्चित्तमुद्भावयति। तत उभयमपि नासमञ्जसमिति तत्र तत्तदपेक्षा नास्ति।

This may be answered as follows: By constitution, mantras are not dependent on dīkṣā. Nonetheless, human beings are by nature prone to non-virtuous behavior and mental agitation due their bodily identification. In order to curb these tendencies, the ṛṣis have established certain regulations [related to certain mantra] to be followed on the path of arcanā. So if those regulations are not followed, scripture prescribes various forms of atonement. Thus there is no incongruity between the name and mantras, in that neither one by nature is dependent on dīkṣā.

यथा श्रीराममन्त्रम् उद्दिश्य रामार्चनचन्द्रिकायां—

वैष्णवेष्वपि मन्त्रेषु राममन्त्राः फलाधिकाः।
गाणपत्यादिमन्त्रेभ्यः कोटिकोटिगुणाधिकाः॥
विनैव दीक्षां विप्रेन्द्र पुरश्चर्यां विनैव हि।
विनैव न्यासविधिना जपमात्रेण सिद्धिदाः॥ इति।

That mantra is independent of dīkṣā, is stated in the Rāmārcana-candrikā in reference to Bhagavān Rāmacandra:

Even among Vaiṣṇava mantras, the mantra of Bhagavān Rāma bestows greater benefit. It is millions of times more powerful than mantras such as that of Gaṇeśa. O best of brāhmaṇas, this mantra awards perfection simply by chanting it, even without dīkṣā, preparatory rites (puraścaryā) or the mental assignment of deities to different parts of the body (nyāsa).

एवं साध्यत्वादिपरीक्षानपेक्षा च क्वचित् श्रूयते। यथोक्तं मन्त्रदेवप्रकाशिकायाम्—

सौरमन्त्राश्च येऽपि स्युर्वैष्णवा नारसिंहकाः।
साध्यसिद्धसुसिद्धारिविचारपरिवर्जिताः॥ इति।

Similarly, we also sometimes find references that there is no need of any considering of whether the mantra is siddha or sādhya, as in the Mantra-deva-prakāśikā:

The mantras of the Sun God, the Vaiṣṇava mantras and the mantras related to Nṛsiṁha are independent of any consideration of the relative stages of efficacy of mantras, known as sādhya, siddha, susiddha and ari.

[See commentary for explanation of these terms.]

तन्त्रान्तरे—
नृसिंहार्कवराहाणां प्रसादप्रवणस्य च।
वैदिकस्य च मन्त्रस्य सिद्धादीन् नैव शोधयेत्॥ इति।

And in another Tantra:

Purification of mantras is forbidden in the case of the mantras of Śrī Nṛsiṁha, the Sun God and Varāha, the self-manifest syllable Oṁ, and the mantras of the Vedas.

सनत्कुमारसंहितायाम्—
साध्यः सिद्धः सुसिद्धश्च अरिश्चैव च नारद।
गोपालेषु न बोद्धव्यः स्वप्रकाशो यतः स्मृतः॥

In the Sanat-kumāra-saṁhitā, it is said:

O Nārada, because the Gopāla mantra is self-manifest, it is independent of any consideration of sādhya, siddha, susiddha and ari.

अन्यत्र (क्र.दी. १.४) —
सर्वेषु वर्णेषु तथाश्रमेषु नारीषु नानाह्वयजन्मभेषु।
दाता फलानामभिवाञ्छितानां द्राग् एव गोपालकमन्त्र एषः॥ इत्यादि।

And elsewhere:

This Gopāla mantra swiftly delivers the results coveted by people of all castes and stages of life, by all women, and by those born under any constellation. (Krama-dīpikā 1.4)

[As pointed out earlier, although Vaiṣṇava mantras are independent, sages have established regulations to counteract the unsupportive tendencies within human beings. This will now be established here.]

मर्यादा, यथा ब्रह्मयामले—

श्रुतिस्मृतिपुराणादिपञ्चरात्रविधिं विना।
ऐकान्तिकी हरेर्भक्तिरुत्पातायैव कल्पते॥

The need for following regulations in regard to mantra is implied in this statement of the Brahma-yāmala:

Even one-pointed devotion to Bhagavān Hari becomes a source of disturbance, if performed without adhering to the injunctions of the Śruti, Smṛti, Purāṇas or Pañcarātra.

इत्थमभिप्रेतं श्रीपृथिव्या चतुर्थे (भा. ४.१८.३-५)—

अस्मिन् लोकेऽथवामुष्मिन् मुनिभिस्तत्त्वदर्शिभिः।
दृष्टा योगाः प्रयुक्ताश्च पुंसां श्रेयःप्रसिद्धये॥
तान् आतिष्ठति यः सम्यग् उपायान् पूर्वदर्शितान्।
अवरः श्रद्धयोपेत उपेयान् विन्दतेऽञ्जसा॥
तान् अनादृत्य योऽविद्वान् अर्थान् आरभते स्वयम्।
तस्य व्यभिचरन्त्यर्था आरब्धाश्च पुनः पुनः॥

The Earth Goddess spoke with precisely the same intention in the fourth canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam:

Sages who have realized the Absolute have devised and implemented many means to bring about the welfare of human beings both in this life and the next. Anyone who faithfully and wholeheartedly follows the path revealed by the sages of yore easily achieves his or her desired goal. But the unwise who disregard these methods and take to their own concocted processes find that their efforts and the means they apply meet with failure again and again. (SB 4.18.3-5)

अत एवोक्तं पाद्मे श्रीनारायणनारदसंवादे—

मद्भक्तो यो मदर्चां च करोति विधिवदृषे।
तस्यान्तरायाः स्वप्नेऽपि न भवन्त्यभयो हि सः॥ इति।

Thus it is said in a dialogue between Śrī Nārāyaṇa and Nārada from the Padma Purāṇa:

O sage, a devotee of Mine who duly worships My deity form according to scriptural injunctions faces no obstacles even in dreams; indeed he or she is fearless.

तदेतदर्चनं द्विविधं—केवलं, कर्ममिश्रं च। तयोः पूर्वं निरपेक्षाणां श्रद्धावतां दर्शितमाविर्होत्रेण, "य आशु हृदयग्रन्थिम्" (११.३.४७) इत्यादौ।

This arcanam is of two types—pure, and mixed with karma. The first of these, executed by devotees who are full of faith and devoid of motive, is described by the sage Āvirhotra:

A person who desires to quickly cut the knot of the heart that binds the self should worship Bhagavān Keśava according to the Vedic injunctions and Tantric rites. (SB 11.3.47) [See Bhakti Sandarbha 62]

उक्तं च श्रीनारदेन (भा. ४.२९.४6) —
यदा यस्यानुगृह्णाति भगवान् अत्मभावितः।
स जहाति मतिं लोके वेदे च परिनिष्ठिताम्॥ इति।

Pure worship is also referred to by Śrī Nārada:

When the Supreme Bhagavān manifests within the heart and thus graces a devotee, the devotee gives up attachment to material affairs as well as to the duties prescribed in the Vedas. (SB 4.29.46)

अत्र श्रीमदगस्त्यसंहिता च—
यथा विधिनिषेधौ च मुक्तं नैवोपसर्पतः।
तथा न स्पृशतो रामोपासकं विधिपूर्वकम्॥ इति।

And in the Agastya-saṁhitā:

Just as rules and regulations do not apply to a liberated person, similarly they have no bearing on a person who worships Bhagavān Rāma according to the proper procedure.

उत्तरं व्यवहारचेष्टातिशयवत्तायादृच्छिकभक्त्यनुष्ठानवत्तादिलक्षणलक्षितश्रद्धानां, तथा तद्वैपरीत्यलक्षितश्रद्धानामपि प्रतिष्ठितानां तद्भक्तिवार्तानभिज्ञबुद्धिषु साधारणवैदिककर्मानुष्ठानलोपोऽपि माभूदिति लोकसङ्ग्रहपराणां गृहस्थानां दर्शितम्।

The other [i.e., worship mixed with karma] is observed in householders whose faith in worship is based either on blind adherence to social norms or on devotional practices picked-up haphazardly, through family tradition, or similar means. In contrast to this, there are householders whose faith is rooted in the true understanding of scripture, but who are established in society. They too engage in worship mixed with karma, simply to set an ideal for people in general, so that those who are ignorant of bhakti may not abandon the routine performance of Vedic duties.

यथा "न ह्यन्तोऽनन्तपारस्य" (भा. ११.२७.६) इत्यादौ (भा. ११.२७.११)—

सन्ध्योपास्त्यादिकर्माणि वेदेनाचोदितानि मे।
पूजां तैः कल्पयेत् सम्यक्सङ्कल्पः कर्मपावनीम्॥
इत्यादि।

This topic is discussed by Bhagavān Kṛṣṇa:
O Uddhava, since there is no end to the branch of the Vedas dealing with ritualistic ceremonies, which is limitless in scope and volume, I shall briefly discuss this topic in due order. There are three types of systems for worshiping Me—Vedic, Tantric and mixed. According to one’s personal liking, one should duly worship Me by adopting one of these three systems. (SB 11.27.6-7)

Hear from Me how a person should worship Me with faith and devotion after first attaining the status of being twice-born, by following the scriptural injunctions appropriate for his or her own level of qualification. One should worship Me as one’s teacher with devotion and free from duplicity. Thus, with appropriate paraphernalia one should worship Me in the form of the deity, in the land cleared for sacrifice, in the fire, in the sun, in water, in one’s own heart, or in one who is twice-born. After cleaning one’s teeth, one should first of all bathe in order to purify the body. This bathing should be done both by reciting mantras and by smearing the body with mud. Undertaking a serious vow, one should worship Me, which purifies one of all karma, while simultaneously carrying out the duties enjoined in the Vedas, such as reciting sandhyā prayers. (SB 11.27.8-11)
स्पष्टम्।

The meaning of this description is clear.

॥११.२७॥ श्रीभगवान्॥२८४॥


Commentary by Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji Maharaj

In the previous Anuccheda Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī wrote that dīkṣā in Vaiṣṇavas mantra is necessary to worship a deity of Bhagavān. This condition was not stated for hearing, singing and remembrance of the Name. A mantra consists of Bhagavān's names, usually inflected in the dative or some other case, with few extra words such as namaḥ ("I bow down"), prapadye ("I surrender"), svāhā ("I offer"). Thus, there is essentially no difference between the Name and a mantra. Then why is one required to have dīkṣā for the mantra but not the name?

Śrī jīva says that the sages like Nārada have put certain regulations on mantras so that people who chant them will not become unclean and lethargic in their habits. If one does not follow the rules, then one will not get the desired perfection. Moreover, one would have to do some prescribed atonement, prāyaścitta.

Mantras are of four types: siddha, sādhya, susiddha and ari. The siddha-mantra gives results in the due course of time, sādhya by doing japa and homa; susiddha gives perfection just through dīkṣā alone, and ari-mantra brings destruction. They have further 16 subdivisions of siddha-siddha, siddha-sādhya, siddha-susiddha, siddha-ari and so on. Based on one’s birth star there is a way to know which type of a particular mantra is fit for a particular person. It is for this reason that the birth constellation (janma-bheṣu) is mentioned in the verse cited from Sanat-kumāra-saṁhitā. But this type of calculation is not applicable for the Vaiṣṇavas mantras, especially the Gopāla mantra.

Although the Vaiṣṇavas mantras do not have the above-mentioned type of consideration one must still follow the rules and regulations set up by the sages and those followed in one’s school. Otherwise one will be disrespectful to the previous acāryas and not gain success. Ignorance of the principles is also not excused. Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī advises to follow the path of the sādhus (sādhu-vartmānuvartanam, BRS 1.2.74).

There are two divisions of arcanam. The first are those who do it purely for the pleasure of Bhagavān and do not mix it with any duties related to one’s status in society based on varṇa and āśrama, such as brāhmaṇa or brahmacārī. Those who have taken complete shelter of Bhagavān follow this type of arcanam.

The other type of arcanam is mixed with karma or duties related to social status. There are three categories in it. The first are those who like to be popular in society and so will not give up their social duties. Though doing arcanam, they want to remain part of the mainstream society. It shows their lack of faith in the path of bhakti. The second type are those who may have gotten arcanam as part of their family tradition. They do not have complete faith in the process of bhakti and so they will also perform their social affairs along with arcanam. The third type are those who have complete faith in the path of bhakti and yet perform their social duties so that the common people who are not devoted to Bhagavān do not give up their duties by following their example. Well-established people in society are taken by common people as their ideal, so if these leaders do not follow their worldly duties, then the common people will not only not follow them in this matter, but will not engage in deity worship either because they lack faith in bhakti.

DISCLAIMER: All the posts related to Bhakti Sandarbha are not the final product. This version will be refined by other readers and editors, including Babaji himself. Please do not use this material without reference to this disclaimer. This material is copyrighted by the Jiva Institute.

Bhakti Sandarbha 283 : Pāda-sevā (Concluded) and Arcanam
Bhakti Sandarbha 280-282 : Service to Bhagavān (Pāda-sevanam)
Bhakti Sandarbha 275-279 : Smaranam
Bhakti Sandarbha 273-274 : Conclusion of Kirtan Section
Bhakti Sandarbha 270-272 : Kīrtana in the Kaliyuga
Bhakti Sandarbha 266-269 : Rupa, Guna and Lila Kirtan, Glories of Kirtan
Bhakti Sandarbha 265 : Offenses to the Holy Name
Bhakti Sandarbha 263-264 : Kirtan of the Holy Name
Bhakti Sandarbha 260-262 : More Glories of Hearing the Bhagavatam
Bhakti Sandarbha 257-259 : Hearing the Bhagavatam


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