Priti Sandarbha 11-12 : Examples of Attaining the Siddha-deha

Anuccheda 11: An Example of Attaining the Siddha-deha

yathaivāha [bhā.pu. 1.6.29] —

prayujyamāne mayi tāṁ śuddhāṁ bhāgavatīṁ tanum |
ārabdha-karma-nirvāṇo nyapatat pāñcabhautikaḥ ||

Similarly, [about the attainment of a spiritual body after giving up the material body,] Nārada told Vyāsa,

When I was awarded that pure spiritual body, my prārabdha-karma being extinguished, my body made of the five material elements was dropped. (SB 1.6.29)

"hitvāvadyam imaṁ lokaṁ gantā majjanatām asi" [bhā.pu. 1.6.24] iti yā tanuḥ śrī-bhagavatā dātuṁ pratijñātā, tāṁ bhāgavatīṁ bhagavad-aṁśa-jyotir-aṁśa-rūpāṁ śuddhāṁ prakṛti-sparśa-śūnyāṁ tanuṁ prati śrī-bhagavataiva mayi prayujyamāne nīyamāne ārabdhaṁ yat karma tan-nirvāṇaṁ samāptaṁ yasya sa pāñcabhautiko nyapatad iti |

Bhagavān alone brought (prayujyamāne) Nārada the divine body (bhāgavatīṁ tanuṁ) that is a part of His partial effulgence and untouched by matter (śuddhām) and which He had earlier promised him [in SB 1.6.24, when He said], "Casting off this defective body, you will attain the position of being My associate." At that time Nārada's previous (prārabdha) karma was extinguished (nirvāṇam) and as a consequence his material body made of five elements (pāñcabhautikam) was dropped.

prāktana-liṅga-śarīra-bhaṅgo’pi lakṣitaḥ | tādṛśa-bhagavan-niṣṭhe prārabdha-karma-paryantam eva tat-sthiteḥ | ittham eva ṭīkā ca—"anena pārṣada-tanūnām akarmārabdhatvaṁ śuddhatvaṁ nityatvam ity-ādi sūcitaṁ bhavati" ity eṣā |

This further indicates that the previous subtle body was also demolished. In those who are devoted to Bhagavān, like Nārada, the subtle body exists until the prārabdha-karma is finished. Śrīdhara Svāmīpāda has also commented in the same way: "By this it is being pointed out that the bodies of Bhagavān's associates are free of prārabdha-karma, pure and eternal."

॥ १.६ ॥ श्रीनारदः श्रीव्यासम् ॥ ११ ॥

Commentary by SND

The present verse was spoken by Nārada to his student Vyāsa while recounting his previous life to give an example of attaining perfection on the path of bhakti. Nārada had been the son of a maidservant who did menial service in the house of a brāhmaṇa. There he heard stories about Bhagavān from saintly devotees who were guests there and so took to the path of bhakti. Later his mother died from snakebite, leaving him orphaned. He immediately left that place and went to North India where he meditated on Bhagavān, who gave him a vision of Himself (1.6.17-23). Bhagavān told Nārada to continue his practice and promised that in due course he would give up his present body and attain an eternal form as an associate of Bhagavān, a pārṣada-deha (1.6.24). The present verse describes the fulfillment of that promise.

Ārabdha-karma or prārabdha-karma is the principal factor in determining one's present material body. As soon as one's prārabdha-karma is over, his or her body drops. Then one gets a new birth depending upon one’s karma. In the case of a perfected devotee, there is no karma left so they do not get another material body but ascend to Vaikuṇṭha. The word bhāgavatī tanu refers to the body that is awarded by Bhagavān. This was called vaikuṇṭha-mūrti in the previous anuccheda.

In the next anuccheda Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī gives one more example of this.


Anuccheda 12 : Bhagavān Gives the Eternal Form

etāṁ mūrtim uddiśyaivāha yaṁ dharma-kāmārtha [bhā.pu. 8.3.19] ity-ādau rāty api deham avyayam iti | ṭīkā ca—"deham apy avyayaṁ rāti" ity eṣā |

In reference to this very form [i.e., a spiritual body] Gajendra prayed: "He gives an imperishable body also." (SB 8.3.19)

Svāmī also confirms in his commentary, "He also gives an imperishable body."

॥ ८.६ ॥ श्रीगजेन्द्रः ॥ १२ ॥

Commentary by SND

This verse from the Eighth Canto is spoken by the elephant Gajendra. He was previously a king named Indradyumna but took birth as an elephant as a result of being cursed by the sage Agastya. Once when going to drink water in a lake, Gajendra's leg was caught by a crocodile and he was unable to release himself. When he was exhausted from the struggle he helplessly called out to Bhagavān, speaking a number of verses. From the particular verse he quotes, Śrī Jīva Prabhu only extracts the portion relevant to the subject of a spiritual body. The full verse reads:

yaṁ dharma-kāmārtha-vimukti-kāmā
bhajanta iṣṭāṁ gatim āpnuvanti
kiṁ cāśiṣo rāty api deham avyayaṁ
karotu me'dabhra-dayo vimokṣaṇam

Those who worship You for the four goals of life – dharma, artha, kāma and mokṣa – attain what they desire. But You also give other benedictions, up to and including an imperishable spiritual body. May You, who are plentiful in Your mercy, give me liberation [from the crocodile and from birth and death in this world]. (8.3.19)#

The commentary of Śrīdhara is only to clarify the syntax of the verse, since the world api ("also") is to be read with "imperishable body" and not only with "other benedictions."


Numerous articles have appeared on this blog focusing on the siddha-deha, most of them related to the role it plays in Gaudiya Vaishnava sādhana. Indeed, it is impossible to imagine rāgānugā sādhana without it. In yesterday's class, I spoke briefly about the historical gap that separates the Bhāgavatam tradition from the later developments in not only Gaudiya Vaishnavism, but in all the rasika sampradāyas. The Gaudiyas were pioneers in this practice but maintained their fealty to the Bhāgavatam, even knowing that ultimately one has to settle on a clear identity in the siddha-deha in order to attain perfection in sādhanā. We have also tried to show in several of these articles that this is the tradition that Bhaktivinoda Thakur preserved and that any claims that say the contrary are not true to the Thakur's heartfelt desire.

In Bhajana-rahasya, the Thakur makes it clear that prematurely trying to meditate on the siddha-deha may have undesirable effects. Using the eight verses of the Śikṣāṣṭaka as a guide to the development of one's spiritual qualifications, he identifies the fifth verse (ayi nandatanuja, etc.) with āsakti, as the appropriate moment to begin meditating on the siddha-deha, quite a high standard no doubt.

cāri śloke kramaśaḥ bhajana pakva kara
pañcama ślokete nija-siddha-deha bara
ai śloke siddha-dehe rādhā-padāśraẏa
ārambha kariẏā krame unnati udaẏa

One should next become mature in one’s bhajan on the basis of the first four verses, before accepting one’s spiritual body with the fifth verse. with this verse, one begins to take shelter of Srimati Radharani’s lotus feet in the siddha-deha and then to make gradual progress.

chaẏa śloka bhajite anartha dūre gela
tabe jñāna siddha-dehe adhikāra haila
adhikāra nā labhiẏā siddha-deha bhābe
viparyaẏa buddhi janme śaktira abhābe

By the time one has reached the sixth verse, one’s contaminations have disappeared and one therefore has the right to worship in one’s siddha-deha. If anyone tries to meditate on his spiritual body without having this qualification, his intelligence will be perverted due to his lack of spiritual potency.

sābadhāne krama dhara yadi siddhi cāo
sādhura carita dekhi śuddha-buddhi pāo
siddha-deha peẏe krame bhajana karile
aṣṭa-kāla sebā-sukha anāẏāse mile

If you want success in bhajan, then carefully follow the step-by-step process. Purify your intelligence by observing the activities of saintly devotees. If you engage in bhajan after attaining your spiritual body, in keeping with the progressive path, you will easily enjoy serving the Divine Couple, throughout the eight periods of the day and night.

And indeed, in the fifth chapter of that book, the Thakur presents his own verse,

abhimānaṁ parityājya prākṛta-vapur-ādiṣu
śrī-kṛṣṇa-kṛpayā gopī-dehe vraje vasāmy aham
rādhikānucarī bhūtvā pārakīya-rase sadā
rādhā-kṛṣṇa-vilāseṣu paricaryāṁ karomy aham

I have given up my identity with this material body and everything connected with it, and by Krishna’s mercy now live as a gopi in Vraja. I am Radharani’s maidservant, and I always engage in serving Radha and Krishna as they engage in their love affairs in the mood of paramours.

Giving up my identification with the gross and subtle bodies, I have taken a gopi body by the grace of Krishna. When will I attain the joy of constantly serving Radha and Krishna in their paramour love?

Anyway, whatever high standards Bhaktivinoda Thakur set, his son decided to award me initiation and ekādaśa-bhāva, and though one may point a finger and say that I am an example of how one's intelligence becomes perverted, but I trust that he knew what he was doing. One has to have an objective in sādhana, and the fact is that this is a sādhana of identity. You decide what you want to be. In that respect, the Thakur is quite explicit in Harināma-cintāmaṇi. The disciple's ruci has to be taken into consideration even by the guru when bestowing the siddha identity. In a little book, Subhajana-prakaraṇa written by my Gurudeva, he uses the example of Shyamananda Prabhu, who went against his guru's wishes and changed his spiritual goals after getting the mercy of Jiva Goswami. He writes:

e caitanya abatāre yogyatā o āra
adhikārerita haẏa prabala bicāra |
sbaruci biruddha anya bhāba yata haẏa
sādhaka prathame yāhā sbīkāre-i raẏa |
tāhāi tāhāra pati grahaṇa baliẏā
bujhite haibe jībe buddhi prakāśiẏā |
kintu tad-uttara śuddha gurura kṛpāẏa
sbaruci sammata kṛṣṇa sebā lābha pāẏa |
tāhāi parama parakīẏa rasa jñāna
uhāi parama bhāba bali tumi māna |

In this age of Chaitanya's avatara, qualifications and worthiness are very much to be taken into consideration. However, if an aspirant is at first engaged in practices that go against his personal taste (ruci), then this should be likened to an arranged marriage and will so be understood when his intelligence awakens. Later on, however, when he comes in contact with a pure guru and gets his mercy, then he is awarded a service to Krishna that is in line with his tastes. One should then know that this is a perfect case of the parakiya rasa, and so you should accept it as being the ultimate mood. (page 18)

In another place, my Prabhu writes;

āpana bhajana kathā yekhāne sekhāne | prakāśa na kari raba āpanāra mane |150
mahājana śikṣā ihā bhula nāhi kari | nacet bhajana mora nirantare dhari |151
yogya sthāne yogya pātre bhajanānurāgī | sādhu bṛtti yebā dhare nā ha̮iyā bhogī |152
āra śraddhāpara haye yadi keha yāce | tabe ei saba bali tāhākei beche |153

I do not talk to anyone and everyone about my bhajan, but keep it to myself. I never forget this teaching of the Mahajanas, but keep my mind fixed on my own bhajan. If a person is eager for bhajan and is a worthy candidate, worthy of receiving this knowledge, who follows the path of the saintly and is not interested in sense gratification, if he has faith and asks for instructions in this bhajan, then I freely give it to him.

Though I could not be more undeserving, perhaps when he saw me coming to him in the dress of an Iskcon sannyasi, he considered me worthy to receive the mercy of the guru-paramparā and to get its blessings. Whatever the case, this is a bold statement that takes the idea of commitment to guru in a direction that is definitely subversive to general understanding..

In the famous incident of the "Gopi Bhava Club" Prabhupada was angry when some of his disciples started studying the passages of the Caitanya-caritāmr̥ta that discussed Radha and Krishna's pastimes. He discouraged them, saying, "First deserve then desire!" But desire is the essence of rāgānugā bhakti. It requires giving up dharma, where such dharmas go against the essential spirit of attraction to Krishna.

rāgātmikāika-niṣṭhā ye vraja-vāsi-janādayaḥ
teṣāṁ bhāvāptaye lubdho bhaved atrādhikāravān

The residents of Vraja have unflinching commitment to spontaneous loving devotion (rāgātmikā). One who becomes anxious to have that same mood is eligible to perform rāgānugā bhakti sādhana. (BRS 1.2.291)

tat-tad-bhāvādi-mādhurye śrute dhīr yad apekṣate
nātra śāstraṁ na yuktiṁ ca tal lobhotpatti-lakṣaṇam

Upon hearing about the sweet moods and activities of Kṛṣṇa and his devotees in Vraja, one whose mind becomes attracted in such a way that he is no longer beholden to the instruction of revealed scripture, logic or argument [that restrain him from following this path], then that is the symptom indicating the outbreak of greed. (BRS 1.2.292, CC 2.22.155)



Prem Prakash said…
What a beautiful post and commentaries to read on Guru Purnima. Thank you so much.

Popular posts from this blog

"RadhaKrishn" TV serial under fire

Getting to asana siddhi

What is sthayi-bhava?