Brihad Bhagavatamrita (commentary)

by Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyana Gosvāmī Mahārāja | 2005 | 440,179 words | ISBN-13: 9781935428329

This page relates ‘Introduction (from the Hindi Edition) [Volume 1]’ of the Brihad-bhagavatamrita, English translation, including commentary (Dig-darshini-tika): an important Vaishnava text dealing with the importance of devotional service. The Brihad-bhagavatamrita, although an indepent Sanskrit work, covers the essential teachings of the Shrimad Bhagavatam (Bhagavata-purana).

Introduction (from the Hindi Edition) [Volume 1]

By the causeless mercy and divine inspiration of our founder- ācārya of Śrī Gauḍīya Vedānta Samiti, ācārya-keśarī nitya-līlā praviṣṭa oṃ viṣṇupāda aṣṭṭotara-śata Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja and for his transcendental pleasure, we feel great satisfaction in publishing this present scripture entitled Śrī Bṛhad-Bhāgavatāmṛtam, composed by the compassionate benefactor and eternal associate of Śrī Śacīnandana Gaurahari, bhaktisiddhānta cakravartī Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī, along with his own commentary.

The ancestry of Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī resided in the Karṇaṭaka region of south India. They ruled there for an extensive period of time. For some reason, their forefathers left that region and settled in Bengal. Śrī Sanātana took birth in a family of brāhmaṇas in a yajurvedīya bhāradvāja gotra in Śaka 1410 (1488 ce). His father’s name was Śrī Kumāra-deva. His childhood was spent in Fateyabada near Bakla Candradvīpa in East Bengal. There were three brothers: Amara, Santoṣa and Anupama. Later on their names, respectively, became Śrī Sanātana, Śrī Rūpa and Śrī Vallabha. Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī was the son of the youngest brother, Śrī Vallabha. Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmi is among the principal branches of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. In his previous manifest-līlā he is Sanātana among the Four Kumāras, and in śrī kṛṣṇa-līlā he is Lavaṅga mañjarī.

In only a short time he expertly studied all the scriptures under Vidyavacaśpati and thus developed a deep adoration for Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. Seeing his vast learning, sharp intelligence and providential qualities, the king of Gauḍa, Husain Shah, appointed the youthful Sanātana to be Prime Minister and his younger brother, Śrī Rūpa, to be the Deputy Minister. These two persons had such a strong affection for the Bhāgavata that despite being the Prime Minister and Deputy Minister, they would constantly devote themselves to the study of such books of devotion as Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam while residing in their homes. When Śrīman Mahāprabhu first came to the village of Ramakeli, at that time these two brothers gave up their royal attire and appeared for a darśana at His lotus feet in humble dress. By the mercy of Mahāprabhu their life became fully successful and from then on their detachment from sense gratification, although perfect from the beginning, became stronger and their attachment towards Bhagavān more intense. They performed the puraścarana (purificatory ceremony) with the Kṛṣṇa mantra twice and they became absorbed in remembrance day and night to achieve the lotus feet of Śrī Gauracandra. On being acquainted with the news of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s journey to Vṛndāvana, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī traveled with Anupama to Vṛndāvana and met Him in Prayāg. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, after staying there for ten days, gave Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī instructions on rasa-bhakti, prema-tattva and so on and after empowering him, sent him to Vṛndāvana.

With the event of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī’s relinquishing his royal duties, Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī also began to follow the sacred Bhagavata exclusively and pass his days discussing Mahāprabhu’s teachings by making excuses of illness and in this way he neglected his royal duties. In spite of countless attempts by the king of Gauḍa, Husain Shah, to persuade Śrīla Sanātana to return to his post, he would not accept. When Śrīla Sanātana did not accept the appointment for royal work, he was arrested and incarcerated. With great ingenuity, he freed himself from the prison and approached Śrīman Mahāprabhu while walking alone in Kaśī dhama. In that particular place Śrīman Mahāprabhu gave him shelter at His lotus feet for two months and gave him instructions on tattva about one’s divine relationship, practice and ultimate goal of life. He thus empowered Śrīla Sanātana and installed him in the position of ācārya. He gave the special responsibilities of these four activities to Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī: 1) to establish pure devotional conclusions (bhaktisiddhānta) in the world; 2) to reveal the hidden tīrthas of vraja-maṇḍala;3) to illuminate the service of the deity of Śrī Kṛṣṇa; and 4) to propagate the vaiṣṇava smṛtī-śāstras.

Moreover, Śrīman Mahāprabhu directed him by composing the sutras Himself in relation to the vaiṣṇava smṛtī. Thereafter, Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī appeared in Vṛndāvana. At that time Vṛndāvana was only a forest, there were no temples there. He began to reside on the bank of the Yamunā by making a hut at Madana-tera. He would travel to Govardhana everyday, perform His circumambulation and from there, having accepted alms in Mathurā, he would return to Vṛndāvana.

One day He saw Śrī Madana-mohanajī playing with the son of a Chaube’s wife. The deity of Śrī Madana-mohanajī thereupon insisted on going with him to Vṛndāvana. Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī regretfully said, “I eat only a little ball of heated wheat with no salt, so I would not be able to satisfy you by feeding you this dry bread.”

However, Bhagavān is hungry only for love. He accepted the words of Sanātana Gosvāmī and that night orderd the wife of the Chaube by dream. The next day, Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī, on the request of the wife of the Chaube, brought Śrī Madana-mohanajī to Vṛndāvana with him and installed him in a hut. Shortly after this, the deity of Śrī Madanamohana began to say, “I cannot eat bread without salt, please bring some salt at least.” Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī said, “I told you previously that you would have to eat the same roti without salt. If you want something else then you should arrange it yourself.”

No sooner than Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī said this, the Thakurajī made arrangements. Suddenly, at that time a jewelry merchant named Kṛṣṇadāsa from the city of Mulatana was passing down the Yamunājī toward Vṛndāvana and his boat became stuck in the sand near the shore of Yamunājī. Despite trying laboriously, the boat would not budge at all. Seeing the situation, Śī Madana-mohana presented Himself near the shore of the Yamunā in the form of a child and said, “Here one great soul named Sanātana Gosāñī lives. If you receive his grace, then your boat can come out.”

Upon Hearing these words, Kṛṣṇadāsa approached Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī and began to beg for his mercy. Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī said that he would have to pray to Śrī Madana-mohana and only by His grace will His boat become dislodged and free. Thereafter Kṛṣṇadāsa prayed to Śrī Madana-mohana for this. The boat quickly came dislodged from the sand and thereupon he received great wealth for selling his boatload of jewelry. The merchant returned to Vṛndāvana and offered everything at the feet of Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī. However, he did not accept anything. In the end, understanding the desire of Śrī Madana-mohana, Śrīla Sanātana Goswāmī ordered the merchant to construct a temple for the Deity. Kṛṣṇadāsa made a beautiful temple for Śrī Madana-mohana and also arranged for its offerings. (That temple is still famous as the old temple of Śrī Madana-mohana.)

While Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī lived in Govardhana, he would circumambulate Śrī Govardhana daily. However, due to old age he began to have trouble with his daily circumambulation. Śrī Kṛṣṇa could not tolerate his trouble. Thus He appeared in front of Him in the form of a cowherd boy and granted Him a govardhana śīla marked with His foot impressions and insisted that by performing four circumambulations of this śīla, the entire circumambulation of Girirāja would be accomplished. Thereafter, Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī began to circumambulate that same śīla four times daily. Nowadays that śīla is being kept in Śrī Rādhā Damodara temple in Śrīdhāma Vṛndāvana.

Once upon a time a brāhmaṇa worshiped Śrī Śiva in order to obtain the blessings of the marriage of his daughter. By that worship Mahādevajī was pleased and ordered him to approach Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī in Vṛndāvana and his desire would be fulfilled. Walking some distance, that brāhmaṇa reached Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī in Vṛndāvana and revealed to him the order of Mahādevajī. On hearing the entire account, Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī replied, “Yes, a touchstone had appeared to me and I discarded it in the sand at that same place. You should search that place and if you find it, thus your desire will be fulfilled.”

The brāhmaṇa removed the sand from that place and discovered the touchstone. Upon discovering the touchstone, the brāhmaṇa became exuberant. However, he thought that despite having obtained such a priceless jewel, Sanātana Gosvāmī has thrown it away. Thus he thought it seems that he possesses a more valuable jewel than this. Therefore, he went back to Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī. Understanding the desire of the brāhmaṇa, Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī explained that if you desire an even more precious jewel than this, then throw this touchstone in the Yamunā. Then Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī ordered him to bathe in the Yamunā and granted him the devotional wealth of harināma. His life henceforth became completely successful.

Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī resided for some time at Pāvana Sarovara in Nanda-gaon. He used to become so fixed in bhajana that he never came out for madhukari or to beg a little food cooked by the vrajavāsīs. Once when this happened, Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself took the dress of a cowherd boy and approached him with milk and He insisted that he should accept the milk. On the departure of the boy, he drank the milk and became fully immersed in ecstatic love for Kṛṣṇa. From this he could realize that the boy wearing the dress of a cowherd boy was Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself.

In this way, Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī had many wonderful pastimes. Fearing that this introduction may become too extensive, not all of them are mentioned here. Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī entered into his unmanifest pastimes in 1558 CE at about 70 years of age.

Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī composed the following books:

  1. Śrī Bṛhad-Bhāgavatāmṛta (with the Dig-darśinī-ṭīkā)
  2. Śrī Hari-bhakti-vilāsa (with the Dig-darśinī-ṭīkā)
  3. The commentary on Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Tenth Canto, entitled Bṛhad Vaiṣṇava-toṣaṇī
  4. Śrī Kṛṣṇa-līlā-stava
  5. Śrī Laghu-harināmāmṛta vyākaraṇa (a grammar)

The present scripture of Śrī Bṛhad-Bhāgavatāmṛta is divided into two parts: purva or former and uttara or latter. Part One is entitled: “Search for the Essence of Śrī Bhagavān’s Mercy”; and Part Two is entitled: “Search for the Glories of Śrī Goloka.”

There are seven chapters in Part One:

  1. Bhauma;
  2. Divya;
  3. Prapañcatīta;
  4. Bhakta;
  5. Priya;
  6. Priyatama;
  7. Pūrṇa.

And there are seven chapters in Part Two:

  1. Vairāgya;
  2. Jñāna;
  3. Bhajana;
  4. Vaikuṇṭha;
  5. Prema;
  6. Abhīṣṭa-lābha;
  7. Jagadānanda.

The essence of all scriptures such as the Vedas, Vedānta-sūtras, Purāṇas, Itihāsas and so on is Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. By the churning of this Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam the present book has manifested. Therefore, its name is Śrī Bṛhad-Bhāgavatāmṛta. In this book, the subject matters pertaining to devotional service are manifest in every place.

The setting is based on a conversation between Śrī Jaimini and Śrī Janamejaya and Śrī Parīkṣit and Śrī Uttara. On hearing Śrīmad Bhāgavatam from the mouth of Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī and before the arrival of the Takṣaka serpent, the mother of King Parīkṣit, Śrī Uttara-devī, asked him a question, “O Son, whatever you have heard from Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī, tell me its essence in a simple, easy-to-understand language.” This book begins with that same question.

This book has two parts. In each part there is one history. The author has not only written these two histories, but through these he has fully analyzed the true nature of worship of the divine couple, Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa.

In the First Canto, while describing the truth of the nature of Śrī Rādhikāji, this history has begun like this. Śrī Nārada initially appeared in Prayāga in order to determine who the recipient of Śrī Bhagavān’s topmost mercy is and to broadcast that devotee’s glories throughout the universe. At that time many saintly persons, great souls and a multitude of common people gathered in Prayāga on account of bathing in the months of Māgha, or January-February. Among them one great brāhmaṇa had also arrived and in a timely and appropiate manner he worshipped śālagrāma bhagavān with great festivity. Then he offerered prasādam and faithfullly distributed it to the brāhmaṇas, the saintly persons, the great souls and even to the birds and animals.

Upon observing this behavior, Śrī Nārada became very pleased and began to say to the brāhmaṇa, “You are the recipient of Bhagavān’s mercy.” Hearing his glories, the brāhmaṇa began to speak humbly, “How am I fit for this? What service can I render to the Lord? If you want to see the recipient of the mercy of the Lord, then take darśana of the devotee king of the region of South India.” Hearing this, Śrī Nārada went to South India and seeing the way of services by the king and seeing the opulence of his festivals, he began to similarly glorify him. However, despite being a sincere devotee, the king did not show any symptom of being the recipient of mercy in himself. He began to say, “In the celestial plane the devotee Bhagavān Upendra, or Indra, is the recipient of Bhagavān’s mercy. You should receive his darśana.” Upon hearing this Śrī Nārada went to the celestial plane.

Śrī Nārada began to glorify Lord Indra as he had heard glorified before. Indra humbly presented his frailities and did not accept himself to be the recipient of Bhagavān’s mercy. Thereafter, on the instruction of Indra, Śrī Nārada went to Satyaloka to Śrī Brahmā. He was worshipping with great pomp His worshipable Bhagavān Śrī Sahasra-śīrṣā (thousand-headed Bhagavān). When Śrī Nārada began to glorify him, Brahmājī did not accept himself as the recipient of Bhagavān’s mercy. Rather, in humble words, he manifested the signs of being devoid of the mercy of Bhagavān by describing his offenses in the brahma-vimohana-līlā. He then described Śrī Śaṅkara to be the only recipient of Bhagavān’s mercy.

On hearing the words of Śrī Brahmā, Śrī Nārada went to Śivaloka. At that time, Śrī Śiva danced the taṇḍava dance in the presence of his worshipable deity, Saṅkarṣana, while performing Saṅkīrtana. Though Śrī Nārada glorified Śrī Śiva, still Śiva also did not accept himself to be the recipient of the mercy of the Lord. He sent Śrī Nārada to the abode of Sutala to receive darśana of Śrī Prahlāda.

On going to Sutala, when Śrī Nārada began to glorify Śrī Prahlāda Mahārāja and describe him to be the recipient of Bhagavān’s mercy, then he humbly said, “O Prabhu, why do you say so? The recipient of the Lord’s mercy is he who serves the Lord. The Lord saved me from so many calamities; actually He even served me in one divine form; therefore, how am I such a devotee?” Then he described Śrī Hanumānjī as a more superior recipient of mercy than himself.

By his order Śrī Nārada went to Śrī Hanumānjī in Kimpuruṣavarṣa. Also out of deep humility he did not accept himself to be the recipient of Bhagavān’s mercy and described Śrī Yudhiṣṭhira and the other Paṇḍavas to be the topmost recipients of Bhagavān’s mercy.

Then Śrī Nārada went to the Paṇḍavas; however, they also in deep humility remarked “We have made the Lord perform so many different activities such as being our messenger, our charioteer and so on. Are these the characteristics of the true recipient of Bhagavān’s mercy?”

In the end Śrī Nārada was told by them, “If you want to receive darśana of the true recipient of the Lord’s mercy, then receive the darśana of the Yādavas in the city of Dvārakā.” Śrī Nārada also reached Dvārakā and first all of he met Ugrasena and others who were present in the assembly.

Following His instructions Śrī Kṛṣṇa met Śrī Uddhava in Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s palace. When Śrī Nārada announced that Śrī Uddhava is the topmost recipient of Bhagavān’s mercy, Śrī Uddhava, with a choked voice said “Where is the mercy of Bhagavān on me? Factually, the gopīs of Vraja are the topmost recipients of Bhagavān’s mercy. Therefore, again and again I prayed to receive their footdust.”

That same day due to the remembrance of the associates of Vraja, Śrī Krsna became very agitated. When he could not keep his patience, Brahmāji created an artificial or New Vṛndāvana near Dvārakā and Śrī Kṛṣṇa was brought there. There the replicas of all the associates of Vraja were present. Śrī Krsna Himself in the ecstasy of Vraja as usual entered for grazing the cows and then on seeing the ocean his ecstasy was somewhat reduced, He then asked Śrī Baladevaji, “Where are we?” Śrī Baladeva described the account of events in full. Seeing this pastime, Śrī Nārada was convinced that, despite being ātmārāma and pūrṇa-kāma, the Lord forgets the bliss of His svarūpa or original nature and becomes submerged in the ecstasy of the love of the associates of Vraja. The love of the gopīs is the topmost among these associates. Therefore, it is said that the gopīs are the pinnacle or standard of divine love. Among the gopīs of Vraja, the daughter of Vṛṣabhānu Śrīmatī Rādhikā is the most prominent. Śrī Kṛṣṇa, being controlled by her love, always worships her. In the Śrī Rādhopaniṣad there is this description, tāsyā hlādinī varīyasī paramāntaraṇgābhūta rādhā kṛṣṇeṇa ārādhyate.

While elaborating upon the excellence of the brāhmaṇa worshipping śrī śālagrāma and the excellence of the love of other devotees, the author gradually proceeds to the description of the prema of Śrī Rādhikā. She who possesses mahābhava is of the essence of the pleasure potency. It is not only the description, rather through history he has indicated the svarūpa of Śrī Rādhikājī. In other words, whatever prema-bhakti a devotee possesses, that prema-bhakti of his is a portion of the pleasure potency. Therefore, in this Canto Śrī Rādhājī’s nature only is narrated.

In the Second Canto the author has analyzed all the forms and incarnations of Bhagavān from śrī śālagrām bhagavān to Śrī Nandanandana. This history is begun by Gopa-kumāra. He is one who has obtained the gopāla mantra from guru, and by whose influence received the most direct way to go and come from all the planets without hindrance. Gopa-kumāra, on receiving darśana of all the forms of Bhagavān–śrī śalagram bhagavān, the Deity form situated in that palace and the worshipable Deities situated in Śrī Jagannātha and other temples -gradually describes their glories. Then by the influence of these mantras he went to the Svarga, Mahar, Jana, Tapa and Satya planetary systems, and from those planetary systems gradually also experienced their excellence on receiving the darśana of the worshipable forms of Bhagavān.

However, he did not experience complete happiness in those places. Thereafter, on taking darśana of the forms of Bhagavān in the eight layers, he went to the abode of liberation. There he had the darśana of the unlimited Supreme Personality of Godhead; however, he also did not feel happiness there. Then, with proper procedure he executed the nāma-sankīrtana, which is the most prominent of the ninefold limbs of devotional service. By the influence of nāma-saṅkīrtana, he gradually went to Vaikuṇṭha, Ayodhya and Dvārakā-purī. However, due to the prominence of opulence in all those planets, he did not receive a chance to behave without hesitation. In the end Gopa-kumāra, having come to the manifest Vṛndāvana by becoming the follower of the associates of Vraja, executed the rāgānugā process of spontaneous devotional service and by such influence reached Goloka Vṛndāvana. There, having received the opportunity to serve Vrajendra-nandana Śrī Kṛṣṇa, his desires were fulfilled.

From the description of these histories it should be under stood that there is no difference in the truth about the various forms of Bhagavān. The forms of Bhagavān from śrī śālagrām bhagavān to Śrī Nanda-nandana are all complete and one in truth. However, from the consideration of transcendental mellows, Śrī Nanda-nandana is the most excellent among all the forms of Bhagavān for two reasons: 1) the speciality of His assoc iates; and 2) the super-excellence of the transcendental mellow.

(1) tāratamyaś ca tac-chakti-vaktavyakti-kṛtam bhavet (Prameyaratnāvalī 1.21)

(2) parikara-vaiśiṣṭena āvirbhāva vaiśiṣṭyam (Bhakti-rasāmṛtasindhu)

(3) siddhāntas tva bhede’pi śrīśa-kṛṣṇa-svarūpayoḥ rasenokṛṣyate kṛṣṇa-rūpam eṣā rasa-sthithiḥ (Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, purva 2.59)

Although there is no difference among the different forms of Bhagavān according to tattva, wherever the scripture describes the plenary portions, portion of the plenary portions and so on, the analysis is made from the point of view of the manifestation of the śakti of Bhagavān only. That power manifests according to the associates of the Lord.

Just as someone may be expert in the art of singing the six scriptures and so on, all those potencies are manifest according to the ability of the receptive audience. Similarly, all the forms of Bhagavān are full of all qualities and complete, still His potencies manifest according to the ability of His associates. There are no such associates anywhere other than the associates of Śrī Nanda-nandana. Therefore, only in that svarūpa all His potency is manifest. In the other forms of Bhagavān the complete potency is not manifest. Therefore, the associates of Vraja are the best. This is described in the First Canto itself. Among them also Śrī Rādhikājī is the most prominent. She always resides on the left side of Śrī Nanda-nandana.

Secondly, concerning the excellence of mellows, or the specialty of tasting the mellows; wherever Śrī Gopa-kumāra went, in all the various forms of Bhagavān, aiśvarya or the opulence mood prevailed. Therefore, he could not taste the complete mellow without abandoning the propriety of the opulent nature of Bhagavān. However, on meeting Śrī Nanda-nandana all the desires of Gopa-kumāra were fulfilled. Therefore, among all the forms of Bhagavān the excellence of Śrī Nandanandana is the most supreme. By these two histories, while glorifying the excellence of the svarūpa of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, it is the intention of the author to give the order to worship them.

Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmīpāda himself has written the com mentary on this book named Dig-darśinī-ṭīkā. The endeavor has been made here to present the bhāvānuvāda or deep purport of that commentary. According to the bhāvānuvāda style of the commentary, by raising an objection, its solution has been shown. By understanding the relationship of every verse before and after it, the reader is able to understand the entire book as a linked chain. Even though the attempt has been made to keep the language simple and easily understandable, however at some places, due to fear of loss of the bhāva or sentiment, some difficult vocabulary has been included. For the ease of the readers at the end of this book, their simple meanings have been given through the glossary.

The original book is in the Sanskrit language and Bengali script. Śrīman Bhaktivedānta Tīrtha Mahārāja presented the commentary in the devanāgarī script. Śrīman Kṛṣṇa-kṛpā, Śrīman Sundara-gopala, Śrīman Subala-sakhā, Śrīman Uttama-kṛṣṇa, Śrīman Madhumangala, Śrīmatī Vṛnda and Bhakta Sanjīva have done the composing. Śrīman Bhaktivedānta Mādhava Mahārāja, Śrīman Oṃ Prakāśa Vraja-vāsī and Śrīman Vijaya-kṛṣṇa have performed the arduous tasks of proofreading. Śrīmatī Santi with her untiring service performed the layout services. Śrīman Mādhava Priya, Śrīman Kṛṣṇa-karuṇya and Śrīman Amalakṛṣṇa contributed also towards various services for publication. The endeavor of service of all these devotees is extremely commendable and noteworthy to mention. May Śrī Guru-Gaurāṅga-Gandharvikā Giridhārīś shower an abundance of mercy and blessings upon my request at their lotus feet. Alam iti viṣṭareṇa.

Akṣaya Tṛtiya, Candana Yatra of Śrī Jagannātha-deva,
Wednesday, 11 May 2005, 519 Gaurabda
Aspiring for a drop of mercy from Śrī Guru and the Vaiṣṇavas,
Śrī Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa

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