Bhakti Sandarbha 321 : Five Examples of Attaining Bhagavān
N.B. E-books are now available from jiva.org, as are the other first four Sandarbhas.
Also anyone interested in taking Sanskrit with me or participating in the continuing Jiva Tirtha course (Oct. 2020) can register here.
Anuccheda 321 : Five Examples of Attaining Bhagavān
अथ "बहवस्तद्गतिं गताः" (भा. ७.१.२९) इत्यत्र निदर्शनमाह (भा. ७.१.३०)—
गोप्यः कामाद्भयात् कंसो द्वेषाच्चैद्यादयो नृपाः।
सम्बन्धाद्वृष्णयः स्नेहाद्यूयं भक्त्या वयं विभो॥
In the next verse Nārada Muni elaborates on the statement “many attained Him” mentioned in the previous verse (SB 7.1.29):
O powerful King, the gopīs attained Bhagavān through erotic desire , Kaṁsa through fear, Śiśupāla and other kings through hatred, the Vṛṣṇis through relationship, you Pāṇḍavas through affection, and we [Nārada and other sages] through devotion. (SB 7.1.30)
गोप्य इति साधकचरीणां गोपीविशेषाणां पूर्वावस्थामेवावलम्ब्योच्यते। वयमिति यथा श्रीनारदस्य हि "प्रयुज्यमाने मयि तां शुद्धां भागवतीं तनुम्" (भा. १.६.२८) इत्याद्युक्तरीत्या पार्षददेहत्वे सिद्धे तेन स्वयं वयमिति पूर्वावस्थामवलम्ब्योच्यते। तत्रैव वैधी भक्तिः।
The specific gopīs mentioned in this verse were aspirants undergoing practice (sādhana) prior to the stage of attainment [and not the eternally perfect gopīs ]. The same applies to Śrī Nārada, who describes his attainment of a spiritual form as an associate of Bhagavān in these words:
When I was awarded a pure transcendental body as an associate of Bhagavān, my material body made of the five elements fell down because the karma which had set it in motion came to an end. (SB 1.6.29)
So when Nārada says, “we attained Bhagavān through devotion,” he is referring to his own stage of practice prior to this attainment. It was only at that time that he practiced vaidhī bhakti.
अधुना लब्धरागस्य तस्य "न मय्येकान्तभक्तानां गुणदोषोद्भवा गुणाः" (भा. ११.२०.३६), "गुणदोषदृशिर्दोषो गुणस्तूभयवर्जितः" (भा. ११.१९.४५) इति न्यायेन विध्यनधीना रागात्मिकैव विराजत इति।
Having attained rāga, Nārada's bhakti is now rāgātmikā, no longer subservient to any sort of injunction, as implied by the principle enunciated in these two statements:
Virtue and vice resulting from good and evil are not found in devotees who are exclusively fixed on Me. (SB 11.20.36)
To estimate the virtues and faults of others is itself a defect, whereas to be free from this tendency is real virtue. (SB 11.19.45)
अत एव "तद्गतिं गताः" (भा. ७.१.२९) इति तेषां फलप्राप्तेरप्यतीतत्वनिर्देशः। अत्र ता गोप्य इवाधुनिक्यश्च तद्गुणादिश्रवणेनैव तद्भावा भवेयुः।
Therefore when Nārada said, “many attained that destination” (bahavas tad-gatiṁ gatāḥ, SB 7.1.29), the result attained by them is spoken of as having taken place in the past. The implication of the above verse (SB 7.1.30) is that just as these practicing gopīs attained perfection through amorous feelings, current practitioners will also attain the gopīs’ bhāva just by hearing about their virtues, their love and so on.
श्रुतमात्रोऽपि यः स्त्रीणां प्रसह्याकर्षते मनः।
उरुगायोरुगीतो वा पश्यन्तीनां कुतः पुनः॥ (भा. १०.९०.२६) इति।
उरुगायोरुगीतो वा पश्यन्तीनां कुतः पुनः॥ (भा. १०.९०.२६) इति।
This was stated by Śrī Śuka:
The pastimes of the glorious Bhagavān have been sung in innumerable ways through exquisite songs and poetry. Simply by hearing these songs, the minds of women are irresistibly drawn to Him, so what to speak of those who see Him directly. (SB 10.90.26)
अथवा पार्षदचरस्यापि चैद्यस्यागन्तुकोपद्रवाभासनाशदर्शनेनैव साधकत्वनिर्देशः।
Śiśupāla, on the other hand, was previously an eternal associate of Bhagavān in Vaikuṇṭha [and thus cannot be said to have attained Bhagavān through practice]. To facilitate Bhagavān’s pastimes, he temporarily manifested an antagonistic disposition. So offering Śiśupāla as an example of someone who attained Bhagavān through animosity is only in the sense that one can observe the destruction of his apparent antagonism.
सम्बन्धाद्यः स्नेहो रागस्तस्माद्वृष्णयो यूयं च इत्येकम्, "तस्माद्वैरानुबन्धेन" (भा. ७.१.२५) इत्यादौ, "कामात्" (भा. ७.१.२९) इत्यादौ चोक्तस्यैवार्थस्योदाहरणवाक्येऽस्मिन् तदैकार्थ्यावश्यकत्वात्, "पञ्चानाम्" (भा. ७.१.३१) इति वक्ष्यमाणानुरोधात्।
The “affection” (sneha) [by which the Pāṇḍavas attained Kr̥ṣṇa] means the rāga that develops through relationship (sambandha). Both the Vṛṣṇis and the Pāṇḍavas attained Bhagavān through this affection. As such, the two of them are actually examples of one thing. This conclusion is required to preserve consistency with earlier verses, since only five attitudes have been mentioned in SB 7.1.25, and in the verse immediately following the one under discussion (SB 7.1.31), Śuka says: “Out of these five [bhāvas]” (pañcānām).
[The above verse, however, which gives examples of those who attained perfection through these five attitudes, mentions six groups of individuals. In order to find agreement between all these verses one must take the Vṛṣṇis and Pāṇḍavas as having the same attitude.]
उभयत्रापि सम्बन्धस्नेहयोर्द्वयोरपि विद्यमानत्वाच्च सम्बन्धग्रहणं रागस्यैव विशेषत्वज्ञापनार्थम्। गोपीवदत्रापि साधकचरा वृष्णिविशेषाः पाण्डवसम्बन्धिविशेषाश्च पूर्वावस्थामवलम्ब्य साधकत्वेन निर्दिष्टाः। अतः सम्बन्धजस्नेहेऽपि तदभिरुचिमात्रं ज्ञेयम्।
Furthermore, both the Vṛṣṇis and the Pāṇḍavas are related to Kṛṣṇa and have affection for Him, thus both these attitudes are present in them. The word sambandha [which is found only in SB 7.1.30] is mentioned to show the specific nature of this rāga.
Just as the gopīs mentioned in this verse were sādhikās and not the eternally perfect gopīs, the Vṛṣṇis referred to were specific members of that dynasty similarly still undergoing practice. And in the case of the Pāṇḍavas, the reference is to some of their relatives who were also practitioners prior to the stage of attainment. Therefore, the affection born out of relationship here actually only means the taste (ruci) for such a relationship.
भक्त्या विहितया। अस्या एव प्रतिलब्धत्वेन भावमार्गं निर्देष्टुमुपक्रान्तत्वात्॥
The words “through devotion” (bhaktyā) mean “through the path prescribed by scriptural injunctions, i.e., vaidhī bhakti.” This is understood because Nārada took up this topic to instruct about the path of bhāva that can be attained through the maturation of devotion cultivated in accordance with scriptural codes.
Commentary by Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji
In this Anuccheda Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī cites the next verse spoken by sage Nārada in which he gives five examples of people who attained Bhagavān by the means stated in previous verses. In verse 7.1.25, the means mentioned are vairānubandha, nirvaira, bhaya, sneha and kāma. In verse 7.1.29, the means mentioned are kāma, dveṣa, bhaya, sneha, and bhakti. In these two verses, kāma, sneha and bhaya are common to both. Vairānubandha is the same as dveṣa, and nirvaira refers to bhakti. Thus the five means are kāma, dveṣa, bhaya, sneha and bhakti. In the verse cited in the present anuccheda there is an extra means mentioned, i.e., sambandha. This makes it six. But in the next verse (7.1.31) the number five is mentioned explicitly. To resolve the contradiction between the present verse with the two earlier and the one following, Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī proposes that sambandha and sneha are not two separate means, but only different varieties of sneha. Sambandha refers to the specific sneha because of sambandha. Thus there is no contradiction.
The other thing to be kept in mind is that the gopīs, Pāṇḍavas and Vṛṣṇis are all eternal associates of Kṛṣṇa. Śiśupāla was also a doorkeeper in Vaikuṇṭha before undergoing temporary forgetfulness for the sake of the Lord's pastimes. Then how can it be said that they attained Kṛṣṇa by some specific means? Śrī Jīva replies that the gopīs, Pāṇḍavas, and Vṛṣṇis mentioned in this verse are not a reference to the eternal associates but to sādhakas who attained that position through practicing rāgānugā bhakti by following in their mood. In the case of Śisupāla it means that he gave up his temporary mood of animosity and became installed in his original position as the Vaikuṇṭha doorkeeper.
Śrī Jīva also hints that just as in the past these people attained Kṛṣṇa, contemporary sādhakas can also attain him by listening to the stories of devotees like gopīs. Therefore, one should regularly hear books like Bhāgavata Purāṇa.