Priti Sandarbha 13.1-2: Shruti Praman for the Siddha-deha

Jai Radhe. So I spent most of the last two days studying portions of the two oldest Upanishads, the Chāndogya and Br̥hadāraṇyaka. These are the principal sources that go into the Vedānta, though some of the other Upaniṣads figure strongly. We have already seen the importance with which certain passages of the Taittirīya are for understanding the Vaishnava mindset.

Nitai once pointed out something very significant -- that Hindu theism grew out of different roots than the Jewish monotheism. Philosophically, from the very beginning it had to accept the fundamental idea of non-duality and had to explain itself on that basis. That is why you get all the Vaishnava acharyas writing different "modified" non-dualities. Only Madhva bucks the trend, but you have to remember that ALL the Vaishnavas insist on the duality of worshiper and worshiped, part and whole, lover and beloved.

So today is really kind of a lesson in how to interpret the non-dual texts in a dualistic fashion, without really denying non-duality. It is a bit like yes/and rather than no/but.

So I don't know if I will get through the whole thing in one go. The first part has two portions: one is a final quotation from Chāndogya to prove the point he has been making about the existence of a siddha-deha after liberation. The text he uses takes a little work to see it as Jiva Goswami does. But actually, in the larger context of the Chāndogya, it fits rather nicely. There is a second Chāndogya quote a little further down which is used to support sārṣṭi mukti, and you will get an idea from this and other Upaniṣadic quotes how to read them as a Vaishnava. In fact, the ambiguity that remains relevant to the issue -- the acintya part of acintya-bhedābheda -- is an important element in extracting rasa. Adbhuta is the essential element in rasa.

13.1 Shruti Praman for the Siddha-deha

tad etat tāṇḍināṁ śrutāv apy uktaṁ—"aśva iva romāṇi vidhūya… dhūtvā śarīram akṛtaṁ kṛtātmā brahma-lokam abhisambhavāni" [chā.u. 8.13.1] iti |

This [i.e., the attainment of a transcendental body] is also being referred to in the following Tāṇḍinī Śruti passage: "Just as a horse shakes its hair [to clear the dust from it], so will I will take birth in Brahmaloka, shaking off the material body and attaining a transcendental one." (CHU 8.13.1)

Jiva Goswami does not give the complete mantra from Chandogya. So this class will mostly be spent analysing it. We will divide mantra into two parts:

Part I, Shankara:

śyāmāc chabalaṁ prapadye, śabalāc chyāmaṁ prapadye |

(1) śyāmāc chabalaṁ prapadye ity-ādi-mantrāmnāyaḥ pavano japārthaś ca dhyānārtho vā |

• This mantra-text, which is purifying in itself, is recommended for meditation or recital. The meter is an inconsistent triṣṭubh. 12-11-11-10

(2) śyāmo gambhīro varṇaḥ, śyāma iva śyāmo hārdaṁ brahma, atyanta-duravagāhyatvāt |

  • śyāma = dark (no color)
  • śabala = variegated, brindled, dappled, spotted (all colors)

(3) tad dhārdaṁ brahma jñātvā, dhyānena tasmāc chyāmāc chabalaṁ, śabala iva śabalo'raṇyādy-aneka-kāma-miśratvāt, brahma-lokasya śābalyaṁ, taṁ brahma-lokaṁ śabalaṁ prapadye, manasā śarīra-pātād vordhvaṁ gaccheyam | yasmād ahaṁ śabalād brahma-lokān nāma-rūpa-vyākaraṇāya śyāmaṁ prapadye, hārda-bhāvaṁ prapanno'smīty abhiprāyaḥ | atas tam eva prakṛti-svarūpam ātmānaṁ śabalaṁ prapadya ity arthaḥ |

From the dark (śyāmāt) I attain (prapadye) to the variegated (śavalam), from the variegated (śavalāt) I attain the dark (śyāmam).

From the dark I take refuge in the diverse. From the diverse I take refuge in the dark.

Going from the pure truth in my heart, I attain the divine above. From the divine above, I come again to the pure truth in my own heart.

From the Divine Dark to the manifest, To the Divine Dark I pass again

Here, the dark stands for Brahman seated in the heart (hārdaṁ), because Brahman is extremely incomprehensible.

• The variegated is the Brahmaloka whose grey shades are due to the mixture of desires, like a forest.
By meditation I go to the variegated, to Brahmaloka. After death by the mind I shall go upward, whence I go from the variegated I go to the dark, for the purpose of subjecting the names and forms to deconstruction. The intent is that I enter the inner world of the heart. So the variety here means the self in the material form.

Vaishnava interpretations.

These appear to have originated with Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur in his book Daśa-mūla-tattva (chapter 3). The subsequent English translations all appear to be renditions of his Bengali or expansions thereupon:

"In surrendering to Śyāma, Krishna, I take shelter of the essence of the pleasure potency. In taking shelter of the pleasure potency, I surrender to Krishna."

"For receiving the mercy of Krishna, I surrender unto His energy, and for receiving the mercy of His energy, I surrender unto Krishna."

Identifying the term śyāma with Shri Krishna Paramatma, he states, "Śavala means the variegated svarūpa śakti of Krishna. The abhidhā vr̥tti or primary meaning of the word śyāma is Krishna."

Here, Krishna is mentioned by his epithet Śyāma which means blackish, used in the Puranic literature for the Lord. The Sanskrit word prapadye-"I surrender", appears two times, in the same sense as in the Gita.

By the help of the black (śyāma), we shall be introduced to the service of white (śavala); by the help of the white (śavala), we shall be introduced to the service of the black (śyāma).’ Here black indicates Krishna and white indicates the fair complexioned Radha."

"Through the mercy of Śyāma, I seek the shelter of His internal potency, the hlādinī-śakti. And through the mercy of this potency I seek the shelter of Śyāma."

Sri Krishna’s (Śyāma's) variegated internal spiritual potency is called śavala. In the process of surrendering to Krishna, I take shelter of the embodiment of His internal, pleasure-giving potency. And under the shelter of the spiritual sentiments of the internal potency, I offer myself to Sri Krishna. 

In simpler terms, Through Krishna, I surrender to his internal energy. Through his internal energy, I surrender to Krishna.

By rendering seva to Śyāma, one attains His transcendental abode, which is full of spiritual bliss and astonishing, variegated lilas; and within that cit-jagat, one attains the eternal shelter of Śyāma. 

Another understanding of this sloka is that the word śyāma refers to Krishna, and the word Śyāma or Krishna, meaning black, describes the nirguṇa-para-tattva, which like black is colorless, while the word śabala, meaning gaura, refers to one who is endowed with variegated colors. In other words, when the para-tattva is endowed with all transcendental qualities, He is called gaura. The secret meaning of this mantra is that one attains Gaura by performing Krishna-bhajana, and one attains Krishna by performing Gaura-bhajana. This and other mantras describe the activities of the liberated and perfected jivas even after the stage of mukti.

Part II, Shankara:

Now this part is not nearly as widespread in the Bhaktivinoda dhara as the above portion.

aśva iva romāṇi vidhūya pāpaṁ pāṁsuṁ,
candra iva rāhor mukhāt pramucya,
dhūtvā śarīram akṛtaṁ kṛtātmā
brahma-lokam abhisaṁbhavāni ||

I dismiss all sin from within me, like a horse shakes off his hair (and dismisses dust). I put aside my attachments to my body like the moon getting freed from the clutches of Rahu. I attain Brahmaloka, which is never a product of action, after I integrate myself. I attain Brahmaloka.

kathaṁ śabalaṁ brahma-lokaṁ prapadye ? ity ucyate— aśva iva svāni lomāṇi vidhūya kampanena śramaṁ pāṁsv-ādi ca romato'panīya yathā nirmalo bhavati, evaṁ hārda-brahma-jñānena vidhūya pāpaṁ dharmādharmākhyaṁ, candra iva ca rāhu-grastas tasmād rāhor mukhāt pramucya bhāsvarā bhavati yathā, evaṁ dhūtvā prahāya śarīram sarvānarthāśrayam ihaiva dhyānena kṛtātmā kṛtakṛtyaḥ sann akṛtaṁ nityaṁ brahma-lokam abhisaṁbhavāmīti | dvir-vacanaṁ mantra-samāpty-artham ||1||

How do I surrender? By throwing off the dirt.

Rahu devours the moon during lunar eclipse but as he has a head only, without a trunk, the moon comes out safe after a while.

Like a horse shaking its body hairs [to remove the dirt], I will shake off whatever spot I may have on my character. Like the moon freeing itself from the mouth of Rāhu [and regaining its brightness], I will, having accomplished everything, lay down this body and attain that eternal Brahmaloka.

'Having obtained the soul, I become united with the uncreated world of Brahman'

"Shaking off evil, as a horse [the dust from its] hair, shaking off the body as the moon frees itself from the mouth of Rahu, I, with the self obtained, pass into the uncreated world of Brahman" (Chand. 8.13.1).

As here such an abandonment appears to take place immediately "Having shaken off the evils, as a horse his hair" (Chand. 8.13.1), such an abandonment appears to take place at the time of his separation from the final body, it follows that he abandons some of his good and evil deeds at the time of his separation from the final body, and of some on the way, both these texts being (equally) authoritative :

13.2 The material body can be transformed into a spiritual one

kvacit prākṛty api mūrtir acintyayā bhagavac-chaktyā tādṛśatvam āpadyate | yathoktaṁ śrī-dhruvam uddiśya, "bibhrad-rūpaṁ hiraṇmayam" [bhā.pu. 4.12.29] iti | "tad eva rūpaṁ hiraṇmayaṁ bibhrad" iti ṭīkā ca |

In certain cases, by the transrational potency of Bhagavān, even the material body transforms into a transcendental form. This was said of Dhruva, "Taking a golden form" (SB 4.12.29), which is confirmed by Śrīdhara Svāmī in his commentary: "That very same body was transformed into a golden one."

Commentary by SND

In the case of Dhruva, he did not have to give up his material body. His body was transformed into a spiritual one. The word hiraṇmayam (lit. "made of gold") implies a spiritual form, since a body made of gold does not make any sense. One may argue that it was not that his body turned into a spiritual one, but only that it acquired a golden hue, as in some commentaries (prakāśa-bahulam). If that were the case then the word should properly have been hiraṇya-varṇam.

The word hiraṇmaya is also sometimes translated as "effulgent" such as in Taittirīya Upaniṣad 1.6, where the Self is described as "immortal and effulgent" (amr̥to hiraṇmayaḥ).

It is to be understood that Dhruva's mother Sunīti must also have received a spiritual body like Dhruva because she too ascended with him to Vaikuṇṭha in another plane.

This is possible by Bhagavān's transrational potency, since for Him there is no absolute difference between His different energies and one can be transformed into another: matter can become spirit and vice versa. This idea has already been explained earlier when it was said that one needs spiritual senses in order to perceive Bhagavān's form (sākṣātkāra). In fact, the next verse quoted below by Śrī Jīva Prabhu has been used by Kr̥ṣṇadāsa Kavirāja as evidence for this transformation.

martyo yadā tyakta-samasta-karmā
niveditātmā vicikīrṣito me
tadāmṛtatvaṁ pratipadyamāno
mayātma-bhūyāya ca kalpate vai

When a mortal gives up all works and completely surrenders himself to Me, engaging in activities according to My desire, then he attains immortality by My grace, becoming equal to Me in spiritual quality. (SB 11.29.32)

śaraṇa lañā kare kṛṣṇe ātma-samarpaṇa
kṛṣṇa tāṅre kare tat-kāle ātma-sama

As soon as a devotee has taken shelter of Krishna and surrendered to Him, Krishna makes him equal to Himself. (CC 2.22.99)

dīkṣā kāle bhakta kare ātma samarpaṇa
sei kāle kṛṣṇa tāre kare ātma sama
sei deha kare tāra cid ānanda maya
aprākṛta dehe tāṅra caraṇa bhajaya

At the time of initiation, when a devotee surrenders to the spiritual master, Krishna makes him equal to Himself. He transforms the devotee's body into spiritual substance; the devotee then worships the Lord in that spiritualized body. (CC 3.4.192-3)

In view of this, then, there is nothing unusual about a pure devotee's entering the spiritual realm in a body that was originally material in nature, though it is most infrequent.


Prem Prakash said…
Jagadananda das, can you provide a translation for the verses you cite?

Your point about the development of theism in sanatana dharma as having a different basis than the Abrahamic religions is fascinating, and something I had never thought of before. It seems logical that some manner of theism would need to exist in a philosophy of non-dualism, otherwise it couldn't be full and complete non-dualism, something would be lacking. Even the great jnanais expressed a measure of Bhakti, though their Brava may have been different. Off the top of my head -- Shankara wrote hymns to Divine Mother, Ramana Maharshi worshipped Arunachala, Nisargadatta sang songs of praise to his gurus.

Perhaps it's truly is a manner of taste. Maybe the jnani likes his chai without sugar. Maybe it's a matter of choice, like Hanuman pushing Sri Rama away so he wouldn't get absorbed into His hug.
Jagadananda said…
Of course it is a matter of choice. But from the Vaishnava point of view there can really be no choice, if you understand what I mean.

i thought I provided translations. In this file, the translations were spread throughout but i put things closer together.
Prem Prakash said…
That matter of choice, well, it's still way beyond my ability to understand.

I was so enchanted by the post I missed the format of the translations!
Anonymous said…

उत्क्रान्त मुक्ति (ut-krānta mukti)

For उत् (ut) :

see उत (uta):

from √ वे (ve):

For क्रान्त (krāntá):

see क्रा (krā):

from √ क्रम् (kram):

and त (ta) see entry no. 3:
Anonymous said…

For कृत (kṛtá):

see कृ (kṛ):

from कृऋ (kṝ) [see entry no. 1] to “ fill,” “heap up,” "to throw off from one's self” and “pour out:”

and also त (ta) entry no. 3 (think “crossing” over to the “womb” of all creation):
Anonymous said…

सम (sama) → स (sa) + म (ma)

सम (sama) see 2 & 3:

स (sa) see 4, 5, 6 & 7:

म (ma) see 4:
Anonymous said…

श्याम (śyāmá) → श (śa) + या (yā) + म (ma)


श्याम (śyāmá):

See also श्यै (śyai):

श (śa):

See also शी (śī) 1, 2 &3 via शय (śaya):

या (yā) see 1, 2 and 3:

म (ma) see 4:
Anonymous said…

My person loves listening to you “live” (in the ancient oral tradition):

It is a privilege to learn at your feet.

With love and light,


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