Brihad Bhagavatamrita (commentary)

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

The Brihad-bhagavatamrita Verse 2.2.196, 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). This is verse 2.2.196 contained in Chapter 2—Jnana (knowledge)—of Part two (prathama-khanda).

Sanskrit text, Unicode transliteration, Word-for-word and English translation of verse 2.2.196:

अस्मिन् हि भेदाभेदाख्ये सिद्धान्तेऽस्मत्-सुसंमते ।
युक्त्यावतारिते सर्वं निरवद्यं ध्रुवं भवेत् ॥ १९६ ॥

asmin hi bhedābhedākhye siddhānte'smat-susaṃmate |
yuktyāvatārite sarvaṃ niravadyaṃ dhruvaṃ bhavet || 196 ||

asmin–in this regard; hi–certainly; bheda-abheda–different and nondifferent; ākhye–named; siddha-ante–in the philosophical conclusion; asmat–of our (spiritual preceptors); su-sammate–concurred; yuktyā–through logic; avatārite–received through disciplic succession; sarvam–all; niravadyam–flawless; dhruvam–certainly; bhavet–it may be.

However, the principle of simultaneous oneness and difference (bhedābheda) as it relates to the Supreme Brahman is beautifully consistent and faultless. Great personalities who are devoted to the Lord have established the principle of bhedābheda using definitive, irrefutable logic.

Commentary: Dig-darśinī-ṭīkā with Bhāvānuvāda

(By Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī himself including a deep purport of that commentary)

The bhakti-śāstras say, “Such philosophic principles (siddhānta) or specific arguments elucidate the scriptures in supremely consistent and harmonious ways. Moreover, when the principle of bhedābheda, or simultaneous oneness and difference, is presented with logical supporting arguments, everything spoken and unspoken becomes absolutely free from defects and contradictions and the flawless siddhānta that is approved in every way by bhakti-mārga, the path of devotion, is established.” The word dhruva, meaning ‘definite,’ indicates the ability to remove all doubts.

“Some people hold that living beings, or jīvas, originate from Brahman and merge into Brahman. They say that Brahman and the jīvas are actually nondifferent from one another. However, even in the opinion of those who think this way, in the state of liberation, or mukti, one does not realize the infinite nature of Brahman. Therefore, the happiness experienced in that state is meager.

“An analogy to this type of mukti is that of a wave that manifests from a part of the ocean and then merges into it again. Because there is only water in all directions, the wave cannot be considered an entity separate from the ocean. It merges and becomes one with the ocean. Thus, from this perspective, all waves are nondifferent from the ocean. Yet certain qualities of the ocean, such as extreme depth and the presence of precious gems, are not found in waves. Thus, as waves do not contain all the ocean’s characteristics, they are different from the ocean. Just because they merge into the ocean, they appear inseparate from it. They merge into the same place they emerge from, and so are not seen as a separate form. Therefore, it is said that waves have the same nature as the ocean and they are one.

“Similarly, in the state of liberation, the living beings merge into a distinct part of the effulgent Brahman from which they originated, and therefore it is said that the jīva has become one with Brahman. However, because the living being is limited by his very nature, whereas Brahman is constitutionally unlimited, liberated jīvas cannot obtain the intense, boundless happiness found in the unbounded Brahman. So, the reason the jīvas are nondifferent from Brahman is just that their individuality is not visible in the state of liberation. Because they are finite, they are separate and distinct, even though they are situated as if merged in some portion of Brahman. By the special mercy of Śrī Bhagavān, at a certain point, some liberated living beings, because of their individuality, desire a separate existence to experience the joy of loving devotional service (bhakti-sukha). They are able to attain this in a body that is fit for worshiping the Lord, a sac-cid-ānanda body comprised of eternality, knowledge, and bliss.” This has been explained before.

In this regard, Śrī Śaṅkarācārya-pāda has said (Prārthanā-ṣaṭpadī 3):

सत्य् अपि भेदापगमे नाथ! तवाहं न मामकीनस् त्वम्
सामुद्रो हि तरङ्गः क्व-च न समुद्रस् तारङ्गः

saty api bhedāpagame nātha! tavāhaṃ na māmakīnas tvam
sāmudro hi taraṅgaḥ kva-ca na samudras tāraṅgaḥ

O Lord! I am Yours even when our difference (bheda) comes to an end. But You are not mine. When a wave merges into the ocean, it is said to belong to the ocean, but certainly, it can never be said that the ocean belongs to the wave.

This statement of Śrī Śaṅkarācārya-pāda, which presents the basic philosophy of oneness and difference (bhedābheda), is completely logical. The distinction between the jīva and Brahman is a product of ignorance (avidyā, or Māyā) by which the living being is bewildered and made forgetful of his real identity. When this illusion of selfforgetfulness is destroyed, the differentiation between the jīva and Brahman is removed. Although this is true, still, difference exists in the form of tadīyatā, the literal belonging of the living being to Brahman. In other words, the above prayer, “Nātha! tavāham–O Lord! I am Yours,” establishes distinction between the jīva and Brahman. If the jīva were to become one with Brahman, these words of Śrī Śaṅkarācārya would be inconsistent and meaningless.

The purport is that the limited stream of a river can never become the unlimited source of water and origin of exquisite jewels that is the ocean. The river only appears to be nondifferent from the ocean because, when they meet, its external presence disappears into the ocean. Therefore, if one carefully considers these ideas, he can certainly ascertain that because one’s existence vanishes in the state of liberation just like the flame of a lamp is extinguished, there is merely the absence of distress in that state. There is nothing but the absolute cessation of distress; there is no attainment of happiness. Further, the superior qualities of the self that are present during the state prior to liberation, such as the ability to think (buddhi), are not manifest in the state of liberation. Thus, of the four types of annihilation [constant, occasional, material, and final][1], even in the ultimate or final annihilation (ātyantika-pralaya), the jīvas’ liberation in the sense of becoming one with Brahman cannot be established.

Footnotes and references:


The four types of annihilation are: the constant degradation of matter (nitya-pralaya), the partial destruction of the universe at the end of Brahmā’s day (naimittika-pralaya), the total destruction of the universe at the end of Brahmā’s life (prākṛtika-pralaya), and the liberation of individual souls or final annihilation (ātyantika-pralaya).

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