Bhakti Sandarbha 304-308 : Dasyam and Sakhyam


The last two of the nine limbs of bhakti.


Anuccheda 304

Dāsyam

अथ दास्यम्। तच्च श्रीविष्णोर्दासंमन्यत्वम्।

Now we will discuss dāsyam, or servitorship. This limb of devotion entails considering oneself a servant of Bhagavān Viṣṇu, as described below:

जन्मान्तरसहस्रेषु यस्य स्यान्मतिरीदृशी।
दासोऽहं वासुदेवस्य सर्वान् लोकान् समुद्धरेत्॥ इत्युक्तलक्षणम्।

If after thousands of births a person develops the attitude of being a servant of Bhagavān Kṛṣṇa, he can deliver the entire world.

अस्तु तावत् तद्भजनप्रयासः, केवलतादृशत्वाभिमानेनापि सिद्धिर्भवतीत्यभिप्रेत्यैवोत्तरत्र निर्देशश्च तस्य, यथोक्तं "जन्मान्तर" इत्येतत्पद्यस्यैवान्ते "किं पुनस्तद्गतप्राणाः पुरुषाः संयतेन्द्रियाः" इति।

By this attitude alone one attains perfection, what to speak of the actual effort to serve Bhagavān. This point is brought out in this statement immediately following the above verse: "So what to speak of those whose very life is Bhagavān and whose senses have been brought under control?"

श्रीप्रह्लादस्तुतौ "तत्तेऽर्हत्तम" (भा. ७.९.५०) इत्यादिपद्ये तु नमःस्तुतिसर्वकर्मार्पणपरिचर्याचरणस्मृतिकथा-श्रवणात्मकं दास्यं टीकायां सम्मतम्।

In his commentary on Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Śrīdhara Svāmī has affirmed that the attitude expressed by Prahlāda in his prayers to Bhagavān Nṛsiṁha in verse 7.9.50, is that of servitorship consisting of obeisances, eulogy, offering all karma, personal service, remembering Bhagavān's feet and hearing stories about Bhagavān.

श्रीमदुद्धववाक्ये च (भा. ११.६.४६) —

Servitorship is also portrayed in the words of Uddhava:

त्वयोपभुक्तस्रग्गन्ध वासोऽलङ्कारचर्चिताः।
उच्छिष्टभोजिनो दासास्तव मायां जयेम हि॥ इति।

We, Your servants, who are adorned with the garlands, sandalwood paste, garments and ornaments used by You, and who eat Your remnants, will surely conquer over Your māyā. (SB 11.6.46)

तत्र तत्र च कार्यद्वारैव निर्दिष्टम्। उदाहरणं तु—
स वै मनः कृष्णपदारविन्दयोः (भा. ९.४.१५) इत्यादौ,
कामं च दास्ये न तु कामकाम्यया (भा. ९.४.१७) इति।
In these and other instances, servitorship is indicated merely by the actions that constitute it, but direct mention of it is found in Śrī Śuka's description of Ambarīṣa given in this group of verses: “He engaged his mind in meditating on the lotus feet of Śrī Kṛṣṇa..., and his desire was fixed in the attitude of being a servant, not in the pursuit of sensual enjoyment.” (SB 9.4.18-20) [See Anuccheda 309 for complete verses.]

चकारः पूर्वेणान्वयः। कामं सङ्कल्पं च दास्ये निमित्ते एव। चकाराद्दासोऽहं तस्य दास्यमेतत् करोमीत्येवं सङ्कल्पितवान् इत्यर्थः, न तु कामकाम्यया स्वर्गादिभोगेच्छया तं चकारेति वासनान्तरव्यवच्छेदः॥

The conjunction ca (“and”) connects the final verse with the two previous, which describe the services Ambarīṣa performed. The word “desire” (kāma) means resolve, and this was rooted exclusively in servitorship to Bhagavān. So the use of the conjunction ca along with the statement that follows indicates that Ambarīṣa had resolved to be a servant of Bhagavān and that he performed each and every action previously mentioned for Bhagavān's service. In other words, he did not carry out these activities with any desire for personal enjoyment, such as the attainment of heaven. From this it can be concluded that he was devoid of all other desire.

॥ ९.४॥ श्रीशुकः॥३०४॥


Commentary by Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji Maharaj

In this anuccheda Srī Jīva Gosvāmī explains the next, i.e., the eighth, of the nine limbs of bhakti. Although the mood of servitude, dāsyam, should accompany every act of devotion yet this mood itself is an independent limb of bhakti. Having such a temperament is the basic characteristic of every devotee or Vaiṣṇava. Such an attitude of a devotee naturally leads him to engage in some act of service. To have such an attitude of servitude is the perfection of life. It nullifies the basic disease of a conditioned being to have a separative ego. Any activity performed with this attitude is an act of bhakti.

Service can also be done with a motive to attain some boon from Bhagavān. Many people approach Bhagavān for getting some material gain as acknowledged by Kṛṣṇa Himself in the Gītā (7.16). They do not have the attitude of service or dāsyam, and therefore cannot be said to perform this limb of devotion.




Anuccheda 305

Dāsyam Embellishes Every Action

तदेतद्दास्यसम्बन्धेनैव सर्वमपि भजनं महत्तरं भवतीत्याह (भा. ९.५.१६)—

All forms of service to Bhagavān become greatly enhanced only when performed with this attitude of being a servant, as the sage Durvāsā told King Ambarīṣa:
यन्नामश्रुतिमात्रेण पुमान् भवति निर्मलः।
तस्य तीर्थपदः किं वा दासानामवशिष्यते॥
Merely by hearing the name of Bhagavān, a person becomes free of all impurity. So what remains to be achieved by the servants of Bhagavān, whose feet are a holy shrine? (SB 9.5.16)
यस्य भगवतो नामश्रवणमात्रेण यथाकथञ्चित् तच्छ्रवणेन, किं पुनः सम्यक् तत्तद्भजनेनेत्यर्थः। तर्हि दासोऽस्मीत्यभिमानेन सम्यग् एव भजतां सर्वत्र साधने साध्ये च किमवशिष्यते ? तदधिकमन्यत् किमपि नास्तीत्यर्थः॥

The statement, “merely by hearing the name of Bhagavān,” means that regardless of how one may hear Bhagavān's name, he or she becomes free of all impurity, so what to speak of those who render service to Him properly. Therefore, what remains to be achieved either in the matter of practice or perfection for those who are rightfully worshiping Bhagavān with the disposition of being a servant? This means that there is nothing greater than the attitude of service.

॥ ९.५॥ दुर्वासा श्रीमदम्बरीषम्॥३०५॥


Commentary by Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji Maharaj

When a person accepts a Vaiṣṇava guru it is understood that they have surrendered themselves to Kṛṣṇa. The are no longer independent. In reality nobody is independent because there is only one independent reality, Kṛṣṇa. But under the influence of ignorance, avidyā or māyā a person considers himself as independent, an enjoyer of his deeds. This is the material conditioning and cause of bondage. Accepting a genuine guru means bringing about a transformation in one's awareness and accepting the reality of one's situation in material bondage as well as one's constitutional position as a dependant servant of the Supreme Reality. To accept that one is a servant of Bhagavān is the greatest achievement of human life. One's spiritual journey begins with this awareness. To remind a student of his new identity he is given a new name, suffixed with dāsa/dāsī, i.e., "servant".

In varṇāśrama system the title of dāsa is given to a śūdra. A dāsa is considered the lowest of the four varṇas but in spiritual circles this is the highest achievement. This is so because Kṛṣṇa is the highest Reality and therefore His servant occupies the highest position. A śūdra, thus, can easily turn his low birth into highest fortune if he can identify himself as a servant of Bhagavān, even while continuing his services to the other three varṇas. For the other three varṇas it is difficult to have the identity of a dāsa because ethey are not accustomed to it. Thus what is considered as ill-fortune materially is a great fortune spiritually.

Mahāprabhu says to those who think less of those who carry the title of dāsa,


alpa nā māniha kṛṣṇa dāsa heno nāma
alpa bhāgye dāsa nāhi karena bhagavān


Don't think less of someone because he has the name Kṛṣṇadāsa. The Lord does not make anyone His servant who has only small good fortune. (Caitanya Bhāgavata)


Anuccheda 306

Friendship (1)

अथ सख्यम्। तच्च हिताशंसनमयं बन्धुभावलक्षणम्। "यन्मित्रं परमानन्दम्" (भा. १०.१४.३१) इत्यत्र तथैव मित्रपदन्यासात्।

Now we will discuss sakhyam, or friendship with Bhagavān, which entails a feeling of friendship imbued with a desire to bring well-being. The word mitra, or friend, is used precisely in this sense in the following verse:

How greatly fortunate are the residents of Vraja, headed by Nanda Mahārāja, the chief of the cowherd people, whose friend is Bhagavān Kṛṣṇa, the eternal, the complete Absolute and the embodiment of supreme bliss. (SB 10.14.32)

यथा रामार्चनचन्द्रिकायाम्—

An example of friendship towards Bhagavān is given in the Rāmārcana-candrikā:

परिचर्यापराः केचित् प्रासादादिषु शेरते।
मनुष्यमिव तं द्रष्टुं व्यवहर्तुं च बन्धुवत्॥ इति।

Some people who are devoted to Bhagavān's service sleep in the temple of Bhagavān to regard Him as a human being and to deal with Him as a friend.

अस्य चोत्तरत्र पाठः प्रेमविश्रम्भवद्भावनामयत्वेन दास्यादप्युत्तमत्वापेक्षया। किं च, परमेश्वरेऽपि यत् सख्यं शास्त्रे विधीयते, तन् नाश्चर्यम्, "नादेवो देवमर्चयेत्" इति तद्भावस्यापि विधानश्रवणात्। किन्तु तद्भावस्तत्सेवाविरुद्ध इति शुद्धभक्तैरुपेक्ष्यते। सख्यं तु परमसेवानुकूलमित्युपादीयत इति।

In the list of the nine limbs of devotion given in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 7.5.23 [Anuccheda 169] The attitude of being a friend to Bhagavān comes after that of being a servant. This indicates that friendship is greater even than servitude because it is imbued with love and intimacy. Moreover, it is no surprise that scriptures have prescribed friendship even with the Supreme Ruler, because there is a scriptural injunction that one should not worship the Divine without first becoming divine. Nonetheless, the feeling of being on an equal footing with Bhagavān [implied in this statement] is contrary to the mood of service, and as such it is disregarded by pure devotees. The mood of friendship, however, is highly conducive to service and is therefore to be accepted.

तदेतत् साक्षाद्भजनात्मकं दास्यं सख्यं च टीकायामपि दर्शितमस्ति (भा. १०.८१.२९) —

These temperaments of servitude and friendship, which are of the nature of direct service to Bhagavān, have been mentioned in Śrīdhara Svāmī's commentary on this statement of Śrīdāma-vipra:

तस्यैव मे सौहृदसख्यमैत्री दास्यं पुनर्जन्मनि जन्मनि स्यात्। इत्यत्र श्रीदामविप्रवाक्ये।

May I be blessed with affection, goodwill, benevolence and servitorship towards Śrī Kṛṣṇa birth after birth. (SB 10.81.36)

यथा, "श्रीकृष्णस्य भक्तवात्सल्यं दृष्ट्वा तद्भक्तिं प्रार्थयते—तस्येति। सौहृदं प्रेम। सख्यं हिताशंसनं च। मैत्री उपकारिकत्वं च। दास्यं सेवकत्वम्च तत्समाहारैकवचनम्। तस्य तत्सम्बन्धिनो मे मम स्यात्, न तु विभूतिः॥" इत्येतत्॥

Śrīdhara Svāmī's commentary: “After witnessing Bhagavān Kṛṣṇa's affection for His devotees, Śrīdāma prays to attain devotion for Him in this verse. The word sauhṛdam means love, sakhyam means goodwill, maitrī means benevolence and dāsyam means servitorship. The singular case has been used because all four items have been grouped together as a single compound. Śrīdāma prays to be blessed with these four attitudes in relation to Kṛṣṇa, but not for any kind of opulence.”

तत्र नवविधायां साध्यत्वात् प्रेमा नान्तर्भाव्यते। मैत्री तु सख्य एवान्तर्भाव्येति दास्यसख्ये द्वे एव गृहीते।

In the nine types of devotion referred to previously, prema is not included because it is the goal, and maitrī is subsumed in sakhyam. Consequently, from the above four items only dāsyam and sakhyam have been accepted as distinct limbs of devotion.

अत्र च ताभ्यां कर्मार्पणविश्वासौ न व्याख्यातौ, साक्षाद्भक्तित्वाभावात्। कर्मार्पणस्य फलं भक्तिर्विश्वासश्च भक्त्यभिनिवेशहेतुरितीह पूर्वमुक्तम्।

Here dāsyam should not be interpreted to mean karma, nor should sakhyam be interpreted as faith because these are not directly part of devotion. In this regard it has already been explained that the offering of karma leads to devotion and that faith is instrumental in developing absorption in devotion.

तच्च भगवद्विषयहिताशंसनमयं सख्यम्, भगवत्कृतहिताशंसनस्य नित्यत्वात् , तेन सह तस्य नित्यसहवासाच्च। भजनविशेषेणापि विशिष्टं सम्पादयितुं नातिदुष्करं स्यादित्याह (भा. ७.७.३८)—

This sakhyam, constituted of the devotee's desire to bring welfare to Bhagavān, is a unique type of service. Yet it is not very difficult to execute, even by distinct practices, because Bhagavān's own feeling of welfare towards His devotees is eternal and because the devotee imbued with the mood of friendship eternally lives with Him. Prahlāda makes this point clear in his statement to the sons of the atheists:

कोऽतिप्रयासोऽसुरबालका हरे-
रुपासने स्वे हृदि छिद्रवत् सतः।
स्वस्यात्मनः सख्युरशेषदेहिनां
सामान्यतः किं विषयोपपादनैः॥
O sons of the asuras, what is the difficulty in worshiping Bhagavān Hari, who is present like the sky in one's own heart, who is one's very Self and a friend to all embodied beings without discrimination? So what is the point in striving for sense objects? (SB 7.7.38)
छिद्रवदाकाशवदलिप्तत्वेन सदा वर्तमानस्य। नातिप्रयासे हेतुः—सर्वेषां देहिनां य स्व आत्मा शुद्धं स्वरूपं तस्य, सामान्यतः सर्वत्र निर्विशेषतयैव सखा। यथावसरं बहिरन्तःकरणविषयादिलक्षणमायिक्या निजप्रेमादिलक्षणामायिक्याश्च सम्पत्तेर्दानेन हिताशंसी यस्तस्य हरेः। तस्मादारोपितानां नश्वराणां विषयाणां जायापत्यादीनामुपार्जनैः किमिति॥

The word chidra-vat, “like an empty space,” means that Bhagavān Hari is always present like the sky, untainted by anything. Prahlāda then states the reason why there is no difficulty in worshiping Him. He is the ātmā, or the Self, of all living beings. The word ātmā here implies pure nature, and as such in all circumstances He is a friend to all embodied beings without discrimination. The word sakhā, or friend, means that Bhagavān Hari is a well-wisher, because appropriate to the moment He supplies material opulence for satisfaction of the internal and external senses, as well as spiritual opulence in the form of His love. So what is the point in accumulating objects for sense enjoyment, such as a wife and children, which are artificial impositions, ephemeral in nature?

॥७.७॥ श्रीप्रह्लादोऽसुरबालकान्॥३०६॥


Commentary by Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji Maharaj

Friendship, sakhyam, is the eighth of the nine limbs of devotion listed by Prahlāda Mahārāja. The general concept of the bhakti schools is that a devotee is the servant of Bhagavān. In this anuccheda Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī explains that one can be more intimate with Bhagavān than a servant or dāsa. In the mood of a servant there is always a sense of hesitation and reverence towards Bhagavān. This is seen in the behavior of devotees like Hanumān towards Śrī Rāmacandra Bhagavān. But a devotee in the mood of a friend is more intimate with Bhagavān; he or she thinks of His welfare, considering Him vulnerable like a human being. It is out of excessive love that the devotee feels a need to protect and take care of Bhagavān.

Paramātmā Bhagavān is situated in everyone's heart (Gītā 18.61) like a dearmost friend. Although He is equal to all, He specifically favors His devotees, those who approach Him with a mood of love (Gītā 9.29).


Anuccheda 307

Friendship (2)

तद्यथा (भा. ९.४.६६)—
मयि निर्बद्धहृदयाः साधवः समदर्शनाः।
वशे कुर्वन्ति मां भक्त्या सत्स्त्रियः सत्पतिं यथा॥

A description of the friendship between Bhagavān and His devotees is referred to in Bhagavān Viṣṇu's statement to Durvāsā:

The sages who look upon all with equal vision and whose hearts are bound to Me captivate Me by their love, just as a devoted wife endears a virtuous husband. (SB 9.4.66)
अत्र दृष्टान्तेनांशतः सख्यात्मका भक्तिर्लक्ष्यते॥

Devotion constituted of friendship is partially represented by way of the analogy given in this verse.

॥ ९.४॥ श्रीवैकुण्ठो दुर्वाससम्॥३०७॥


Commentary by Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji Maharaj

Once, the sage Durvāsā visted the great devotee, King Ambarīṣa. The King received the sage with great honor. He was observing Ekādaśī and it was almost time to break the fast. The King invited the sage to honor some sacred food, prasāda, with him. The sage replied that he would first go and take a dip in the Yamunā River and then accept the invitation. Ambarīṣa agreed to wait for him. However, the sage took long time to return from his ablutions. In the meantime, the King needed to break his fast otherwise he would go against the rules of fasting, which requires taking something before a designated time on the following day. However, he had to bear in mind that it was improper for him to eat before feeding his honored guest. Being in a dilemma he consulted his court scholars who suggested to him that he could take a sip of water. That would break his fast and yet would not transgress the breach in etiquette that would come from eating before his guest. Ambarīṣa followed their advice.

A few moments later, the sage returned and by his yogic vision he could understand that king had drunk some water. He took this as a personal insult and decided to punish the king. Out of anger he created a fiend to kill the king. When the fiend attacked the King the Viṣṇu's discus called Sudarśna came to protect him. Sudarśana burned the fiend to ashes and then turned to kill the sage. In fear, Durvāsā ran for his life. But wherever he went the disc followed behind. The sage went to various divinities such as Brahmā and Śiva for help, but nobody could rescue him. Finally he approached Viṣṇu Himself. However, Viṣṇu also refused to help him. He spoke many verses to inform Durvāsā that He is not independent and is under the control of His devotees. The present verse is taken from that speech.

The example of a chaste wife is given here to indicate her mood of friendship towards her husband.


Anuccheda 308

Friendship (3)

एवं च (भा. ४.१२.३७) —
शान्ताः समदृशः शुद्धाः सर्वभूतानुरञ्जनाः।
यान्त्यञ्जसाच्युतपदमच्युतप्रियबान्धवाः॥

The sage Maitreya makes a similar statement:
Those who are serene, equally disposed towards all, pure, a source of joy for all living beings, and whose dearmost friend is Bhagavān Acyuta, easily attain the abode of the infallible. (SB 4.12.37)
अच्युत एव प्रियबान्धवो येषाम्। अच्युतस्य पदं तत्सनाथं लोकम्। अच्युतशब्दावृत्त्या फलस्य केनाप्यंशेन व्यभिचारित्वं नेति दर्श्यते॥

The compound acyuta-priya-bāndhavāḥ refers to those whose dearmost friend is none other than Bhagavān Acyuta. They attain acyuta-padam, the abode of Bhagavān, in which He is personally present as their Bhagavān and master. The word acyuta, “infallible,” is used twice, which indicates that there is no possibility of deviation from the result even to the slightest extent.

॥४.१२॥ श्रीमैत्रेयः॥३०८॥


Commentary by Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji Maharaj

This verse is spoken by sage Maitreya to Vidura while reciting the history of King Dhruva. Dhruva did severe austerities when he was a mere boy of five. Bhagavān Viṣṇu personally appeared before him and blessed him. He subsequently ruled over earth for 36,000 years. After that, when the time came for him to leave this world, the messengers of Viṣṇu came to carry him to His abode. The present verse describes the characteristics of the devotees who reach Vīṣṇu's abode.
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Bhakti Sandarbha 300-303 : Offenses in Deity Worship, Vandanam
Bhakti Sandarbha 296-299 : More on Arcana and Eligibility for It
Bhakti Sandarbha 295 : Adhiṣṭhānas of the Deity
Bhakti Sandarbha 287-294 : Eligibility for Honor
Bhakti Sandarbha 286 : Other Important Aspects of Arcana
Bhakti Sandarbha 285 : The Gods Named in Āvaraṇa-pūjā are Bhagavān's Associates
Bhakti Sandarbha 284 : The Difference Between Mantra and Name
Bhakti Sandarbha 283 : Pāda-sevā (Concluded) and Arcanam
Bhakti Sandarbha 280-282 : Service to Bhagavān (Pāda-sevanam)
Bhakti Sandarbha 275-279 : Smaranam

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