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June 9, 1999   VNN4065  Comment on this story

Sri Gita: 'Sweet Devotion'


BY SWAMI B.V. TRIPURARI

EDITORIAL, Jun 9 (VNN) — (from Sanga wfd@efn.org)

"This devotion (Vraja bhakti) involves the ultimate manifestation of divinity relating intimately with his devotees, such that his ultimacy is concealed. Were it not concealed, such intimacy could not take place, nor would it be sweet if it did not manifest in relation to the ultimate feature of divinity."

Chapter 9, Texts 3 - 6, 'Bhagavad Gita: Its Feeling and Philosophy' by Swami B.V. Tripurari.

9:3 "People who do not have faith in this (prema) dharma, O destroyer of enemies, not attaining me, are reborn on the path of death and transmigration."

Sraddha (faith) that simply by serving Krishna one's life will be perfect indicates eligibility for bhakti. Rpa Goswami says, 'adau sraddha', bhakti begins with sraddha. Those lacking sraddha (asraddhadhanam) remain in samsara. They do not take to bhakti because they do not believe what Krishna says about it. It is, after all, hard to imagine that the highest thing is so easily attainable. The combination of these two things exalted status and accessibility makes for true magnanimity: giving the highest thing to the least qualified. Such magnanimity is nowhere better exemplified than in Sri Caitanya.

Here Krishna indicates that liberation by any means requires that the element of bhakti be present in one's practice, and when bhakti itself is unalloyed, one attains the highest form of liberation, prema dharma.

In the next three texts, Krishna begins to discuss the most confidential knowledge by first explaining its metaphysical basis in two verses followed by an example to help Arjuna understand the philosophical underpinning of this knowledge.

9:4. "This entire creation is pervaded by me in my unmanifest form. All created things are situated in me, but I do not abide in them."

In this chapter Krishna will reveal something about the nature of sweet devotion, Vraja bhakti. This devotion involves the ultimate manifestation of divinity relating intimately with his devotees, such that his ultimacy is concealed. Were it not concealed, such intimacy could not take place, nor would it be sweet if it did not manifest in relation to the ultimate feature of divinity. When the Supreme Godhead relates with his devotee as if he were not God, this is sweet devotion. Thus sweet devotion has as its background the opulence of the Absolute. In this verse through the tenth verse of this chapter, Krishna speaks of his opulence (aisvarya), knowledge of which is necessary for entering the realm of sweet devotion, wherein it is ultimately suppressed by the power of devotion itself. The philosophical basis for this loving devotion introduces Krishna's opulence. First philosophy (tattva), then love (bhava, prema). Baladeva Vidyabhsana says that knowledge of God's oppulence is a stimulus (udippina) for devotion.

Krishna says here that although his form is unmanifest, it is all-pervasive. The words 'avyakta mrti' are significant. Krishna is not ultimately formless and thereby all-pervasive. His form is all-pervasive, although unmanifest to mundane eyes. All beings exist in Krishna, but he is not in them, in that he is not attached to the mundane world as are the living beings. Otherwise, the sruti says, 'Having projected it (the world), he entered into it.' He is in the world, but not of it.

Krishna is the cause, the world the effect. The effect is present in the cause, and the cause invisibly pervades the effect.

9:5. "And yet beings do not abide in me. Behold my godly power ! While I am the sustainer and cause of beings, my Self is not contained in created beings."

Here Krishna appears to contradict himself. In the previous verse he said that all beings are within him, yet here he says the opposite. 'Beings do not abide in me.' Created beings of this world do and do not abide in him at the same time. How does Krishna accomplish this impossible task? He says, 'pasya me yogam aisvaryam,' 'Behold my godly power by which I do the impossible!' In the metaphysic of the Gaudiya Vaisnavas, Jiva Goswami has included the word 'acintya' (inconceivable), 'acintya bhedabheda.' Krishna's inconceivable sakti reconciles all apparent contradictions. He is one with the world while simultaneously different from it. He maintains all living beings without being within them! While created beings sustain their bodies by being within them due to becoming attached to them, Krishna, although entering and sustaining all, is not attached to that which he sustains. It is not out of a sense of self-preservation that Krishna sustains the world.

Krishna next gives an example to help Arjuna understand. However, in doing so, he appears to contradict himself again by saying that all beings do abide in him!

9:6. "As the mighty wind blowing everywhere abides in space, know that so do all beings abide in me."

While Krishna says here that all beings do abide in him, as opposed to having said they do not in the previous verse, he qualifies his statement to explain himself to Arjuna. All beings are in him inasmuch as the wind is contained in space. The idea here is that although wind is contained in space, space is not attached to or dependent on wind. Although the two, space and wind, have a relationship as sustainer and sustained, they are not in contact with one another. Just as the wind although everywhere is always in space, for without space nothing can exist, at the same time wind has no connection with space because space has no parts to be connected with, being all-pervasive.

Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura explains that Krishna's example does not entirely explain the nature of his relationship with the world, as Krishna himself has said he does so by his mystic opulence, or inconceivable power.

The example falls short inasmuch as while both the sky and wind are unconscious, Krishna and the living beings are conscious. Consciousness is the basis of attachment, yet Krishna remains unattached to that which he sustains. This is inconceivable, the mystic reality of Krishna's identity to and difference from the world and the living beings, to which Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura says we must simply fold our hands and offer respect, acknowledging Krishna's greatness.

Having explained his greatness in relation to the sustenance of the world, Krishna next explains his position in relation to its creation and destruction. He does so in accordance with Arjuna's mental question as to the state of affairs at the time of the cosmic dissolution. What happens to all the living being who abide in Krishna then?

'The Bhagavad Gita: Its Feeling and Philosphy' by Swami B.V. Tripurari is scheduled for release in Spring, 2000.

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