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śrī śrī guru gaurāṅga jayataḥ!
Year-4, Special On-line Edition
Posted: 10 February, 2012
nitya-līlā praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda
Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja
Inspired by and under the guidance of
nitya-līlā praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda
Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja
The Highest Process of Love is Hidden within Bhagavad-gītā
(Śrī Gītopaniṣad Ātma-nivedana)
by Śrīla Bhakti Prajṅāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja
The Nectarean Milk of Śrī Bhagavad-gītā
The most dignified seers of ancient India (ārya-ṛṣis) have glorified Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā as the crest jewel of all the philosophical treatises of Vedic India known as the Upaniṣads. In contrast to other Upaniṣads, Śrī Gītā specifically establishes that Bhagavān is inherently imbued with unlimited transcendental pastimes. Also, in the Gītā-māhātmya, which beautifully extols the Gītā, the Gītā has been described as the essence of all Upaniṣads:
pārtho vatsaḥ su-dhīr bhoktā
dugdhaṁ gītāmṛtaṁ mahat
The Upaniṣads are like a cow, and this Gītopaniṣad – Bhagavad-gītā, which is the essence of all the Upaniṣads – is just like nectarean milk from that cow. Lord Kṛṣṇa, who is renowned as a cowherd boy, is milking the cow, and Arjuna is just like a calf. Learned scholars and pure devotees drink the nectarean milk of Bhagavad-gītā.
Gīta, which is a part of Mahābhārata, is spoken by Śrī Vāsudeva, or Kṛṣṇa, the son of Queen Devakī. However, in the above verse it is said ‘dogdhā gopāla-nandana – He who milks the cow of the Upaniṣads, is Vrajendra-nandana Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the son of Śrī Nanda Mahārāja, the king of the cowherds of Vraja.’
It is thus clearly understood that the sole speaker of Śrī Gīta is in fact Vrajendra-nandana Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who is constantly playing in His eternal abode known as Śrī Vṛndāvana. Although He has spoken the Gīta in His form of Vāsudeva, His own statements have revealed His real form as the embodiment of the highest expressions of transcendental humour (rasamaya-svarūpa).
Our gosvāmīs have indicated in their literatures that another name of Mother Yaśodā is Devakī, and Devakī-putra (the son of Devakī), is therefore another name of Yaśodā-putra (the son of Yaśodā). Although Vāsudeva, the son of Devakī, is apparently the speaker of Śrī Gīta, Śrī Nanda-nandana Kṛṣṇa, the son of Nanda Mahārāja and Yaśodā Devī, is the actual speaker.
By discussing the beginning of Śrī Gīta, its conclusion, and all of its parts, it can be understood that Śrī Kṛṣṇa alone is the Supreme Absolute Truth and the topmost worshipful reality. He is worshipped only by bhakti, and prema-bhakti is the pinnacle of that worship.
Full Self-surrender is of Two Kinds
Now we will discuss the nature and development of complete self-surrender, or ātmanivedana, as explained in Śrī Gītā. From an external point of view, the instructions of Gītā are universal. Therein, in a condensed form, all topics related to bhakti have been expressed, from offering the results of one’s activities (karmārpaṇa) up to surrender(śaraṇāgati) all the way to full surrender of one’s very self (ātmanivedana).
There are two kinds of ātmanivedana – ordinary, or common, and extraordinary, or uncommon. In Śrī Bhakti sandarbha, Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmīpāda has delineated these two types of ātmanivedana. Ordinary ātmanivedana is bhāvam-vinā, devoid of any (sthāyi) bhāva or permanent, transcendental humour, and extraordinary ātmanivedana is bhāva vaiśiṣṭena ca, endowed with specific bhāva or permanent mellow – ṭadetātmanivedanam bhāvam vinā bhāva vaiśiṣṭena ca dṛśyate (Bhakti sandharbha 309 anuccheda).
To illustrate the first type of ātmanivedana, which, as just described, lacks permanent bhāva, Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmīpāda has quoted the following verse from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11. 29.34):
martyo yadā tyakta-samasta-karmā
niveditātmā vicikīrṣito me
mayātma-bhūyāya ca kalpate vai
A mortal being who gives up all fruitive activities and offers himself entirely unto Me, eagerly desiring to receive a special favour from Me, achieves immortality in the form of liberation from birth and death and becomes extremely dear to Me.
To illustrate the second type, which is endowed with a specific bhāva, Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmīpāda has referred to a verse spoken by Śrī Rukmiṇī devī:
tan me bhavān khalu vṛtaḥ patir aṅga jāyām
ātmārpitaś ca bhavato ’tra vibho vidhehi
mā vīra-bhāgam abhimarśatu caidya ārād
gomāyu-van mṛga-pater balim ambujākṣa
Therefore, my dear Lord, I have chosen You as my husband and I surrender myself to You. Please come swiftly, O Almighty One, and make me Your wife. My dear lotus-eyed Lord, let Śiśupāla who is like a jackal stealing the property of a lion, never touch the hero’s portion.
Here the word bhāva means relationship (sambandha) in spontaneous devotion (rāganuga bhakti) in the humours of servitude (dāsya-rasa), friendship (sakhya-rasa) and so on. According to Bhakti sandarbha verse 309, ‘bhāva vaiśiṣtena’ refers to four bhāvas: servitude, friendship, parenthood and transcendental amour (dāsya, sakhya, vātsalya, and madhura bhāva).
Full self-surrender at the lotus feet of Bhagavān that is endowed with any one of these four specific relationships is called bhāva-yukta ātmanivedana, and the full self-surrender that is performed at the lotus feet of Bhagavān before the awakening of any of these four relationships is called bhāva-hīna ātmanivedana.*
* Literally: full self-surrender (ātmanivedana) endowed with (yukta) transcendental humour (bhāva), and full self-surrender (ātmanivedana) devoid of (hīna) transcendental humour (bhāva).
Bhāva-hīna ātmanivedana is visible in the life of Śrī Bali Mahārāja, and Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmīpāda has shown this elsewhere in his Sandarbha. Śrī Bali Mahārāja’s service is devoid of any permanent transcendental humour, or fixed relationship. Furthermore, it cannot be considered a relationship of service in spontaneous devotion.
The most confidential and topmost instruction of Gītā (18.66) is:
mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja
ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo
mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ
Completely abandoning all bodily and mental dharma, such as varṇa and āśrama, fully surrender to Me alone. I shall liberate you from all reactions to your sins; so do not grieve.
martyo yadā tyakta-samasta-karmā
niveditātmā vicikīrṣito me
mayātma-bhūyāya ca kalpate vai
When a person renounces all types of karma and completely surrenders to Me, by My will he becomes more opulent than a yogī or a jñānī. Within no time, he attains liberation (mukti) and becomes qualified to receive opulences like My own.
This verse has been quoted by Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī as an example of the first type of ātmanivedana, which is devoid of any permanent bhāva (bhāva-hīna ātmanivedana). And the śloka quoted just before this verse, beginning “sarva-dharmān parityajya”, which is the topmost instruction of Gītā, conveys the same meaning. Moreover, the words “ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ – I shall liberate you from all reactions to your sins; so do not grieve” is only the special explanation of the words“vicikīrṣito me – desirous of receiving any special favour from Me” found in the Bhāgavatam verse just quoted. Hence, the Gita verse beginning “sarva-dharmān parityajya”, is clearly instructing the common masses to perform full self-surrender at the lotus feet of Bhagavān that is devoid of any relationship with Him.
The Gītā Indicates Superlative Self-surrender
Now we must determine whether or not bhāva-yukta ātmanivedana, full self-surrender at the lotus feet of Bhagavān that is endowed with one of the four previously mentioned eternal relationships, is hinted at or indicated in Gītā.
An intelligent lover who is adored by many will speak to a gathering in a general way about affectionately serving him. But when his beloved is also present, in the midst of general topics, he will hint to her in a hidden way about how to please him in a special way. Ordinary people, in this scenario, would be unable to understand such hints, but those who are extraordinarily dear to him would certainly be able to comprehend them.
Similarly, the crest jewel of intelligent lovers, Gopāla-nandana Śrī Kṛṣṇa, even in the midst of instructing ordinary people, has given hints about extraordinary service, or extraordinary ātmanivedana endowed with a permanent, specific transcendental relationship, for those who have such extraordinary desires to serve.
What to speak of fruitive workers (karmīs), even those whose bhakti is mixed with jñāna (jṅāna-miśra-bhaktas) cannot understand such hints. On the other hand, bhaktas who desire an extremely intimate relationship with Śrī Kṛṣṇa in a mood of spontaneous devotion (rāgānuga-bhāva), not only comprehend His hints about bhāva-yukta ātmanivedana, but also realize His clear instructions on the subject.
In the Tenth Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Śrī Rukmiṇī-devī prays to Śrī Kṛṣṇa in her letter: “tan me bhavān khalu vṛtaḥ patir aṅga jāyām – I accept You as my husband and fully dedicate myself (ātmanivedana) at Your lotus feet.” Here, full self-surrender is performed by embracing the humour of divine amour (kānta-bhāva) in the core of her heart.
Self-surrender endowed with a specific relationship is clearly expressed in Bhagavad-gītā 10.9–10 and 11.44. There, Śrī Bhagavān has said:
kathayantaś ca māṁ nityaṁ
tuṣyanti ca ramanti ca
dadāmi buddhi-yogaṁ taṁ
yena mām upayānti te
The meaning of these two verses is as follows: “Those whose minds and lives are devoted to Me and who always meditate on Me, always speak about Me and derive satisfaction in Me alone. Their minds feel relaxation and comfort only by thinking about Me, and they are constantly desirous of perpetual union with Me. I bestow upon such devotees transcendental intelligence and knowledge, by which they can attain Me.”
Most Gītā commentators, including Śrīla Śrīdhara Svāmīpāda, have provided purports to these two ślokas that pertain to common people only. However, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the crest jewel of all genius lovers, cannot stop Himself from uttering the deepest instructions, even in the midst of speaking general instructions, and that most profound instruction is that we should render intimate, loving service (viśrambha-seva) to Him.
The general meaning of the component “ramanti ca” provided by these commentators is found within their purports to the words “tuṣyanti ca” in Gītā 10.9. As a result, there remains no specific significance to the phrase “ramanti ca.” However, unless there is a specific meaning to these words, there would have been no reason for Kṛṣṇa to use them.
Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa Prabhu and Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura have therefore discarded the general meaning of “ramanti ca” and have only accepted its specific meaning, ascertained by examining its verbal root, which carries innate meaning. The verbal root ram, means ‘sport’ or ‘play’ (kṛīdā). Use of the verbal root ram not only indicates self-surrender endowed with a specific relationship (bhāva-yukta ātmanivedana), but in fact the topmost among all bhāvas – madhura-bhāva-yukta ātmanivedana.
Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa Prabhu has said in his commentary, “ramanti ca yuvati-smita-kaṭakṣādiṣu eva yuvānaḥ – these words refer solely to self-surrender characterized by accepting Bhagavān as the object of affection in the transcendental humour of amorous love. That humour of divine amour (kānta-bhāva) possesses the attributes of smiles, sidelong glances and so on.”
Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmīpāda quotes a part of Śrī Rukmiṇī-devī’s letter as an example of bhāva-yukta ātmanivedanam. Her letter expresses the same profound meaning as what is hidden within the words “ramanti ca” in the Gītā śloka.
Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura gives a similar meaning for “ramanti ca”. He explains that Bhagavān expresses rāgānugā bhakti in these words. The only satisfaction and delight of the single-pointed devotees is the performance of bhakti. This is the secret. Even in the stage of sādhana, they attain satisfaction by their uninhibited performance of bhajana. While meditating on their future stage of perfection, they experience great delight. In other words, they enjoy with their Lord and master, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, within their minds.
I Bestow Transcendental Knowledge By Which They Attain Me
Arjuna has said:
tasmāt praṇamya praṇidhāya kāyaṁ
prasādaye tvām aham īśam īḍyam
piteva putrasya sakheva sakhyuḥ
priyaḥ priyāyārhasi deva soḍhum
I therefore prostrate my body at Your lotus feet in obeisance. O adorable Supreme Lord, I entreat You to be gracious to me. O Lord, just as a father forgives his son, a friend tolerates a friend, or a lover excuses his beloved, You should forgive my offences.
Here, the subject of full self-surrender endowed with one of the four humours of servitude, friendship, parenthood or transcendental amour, has been clearly expressed. In Gītā 10.10 quoted formerly, Kṛṣṇa says, “dadāmi buddhi-yogaṁ taṁ yena mām upayānti te – to those who worship Me with love and yearn for My eternal association, I bestow that transcendental knowledge by which they attain Me.” The prominent mahājanas, Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa Prabhu and Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda, express that “buddhi-yoga”, or communion through transcendental knowledge, is suggestive only of sādhana endowed with relationship (bhāva-yukta sādhana).
Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa Prabhu explains/elucidates Kṛṣṇa’s statements in his commentary:
“I am the enjoyer of the rasa derived from the happiness of My own bhakti, and I bestow upon My devotees that transcendental knowledge by which they attain Me. I inspire their intelligence so that they can understand Me, with all My unlimited qualities and majesties. Thus, by their worship, they can attain Me.”
Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura has said in his purport to this verse:
“ ‘I bestow upon them transcendental knowledge, or buddhi-yoga. I inspire them according to their hearts’ tendencies. That transcendental knowledge cannot be achieved by individual efforts, nor can it be obtained from anyone else. It is bestowed by Me alone, and only such sādhakas who are aware of their specific relationship with Me can receive it.’ This is the meaning of Kṛṣṇa’s words.”
Translated from Śrī Gauḍīya Patrikā, Year 2, Issue 8
by the Rays of The Harmonist team