Shrimad Bhagavad-gita

by Narayana Gosvami | 2013 | 327,105 words

The Bhagavad-gita Verse 9.32, English translation, including the Vaishnava commentaries Sarartha-varsini-tika, Prakashika-vritti and Rasika-ranjana (excerpts). This is verse 32 from the chapter 9 called “Raja-guhya-yoga (Yoga through the most Confidential Knowledge)”

Sanskrit text, Unicode transliteration, Word-for-word and English translation of verse 9.32:

मां हि पार्थ व्यपाश्रित्य येऽपि स्युः पाप-योनयः ।
स्त्रियो वैश्यास् तथा शूद्रास् तेऽपि यान्ति परां गतिम् ॥ ३२ ॥

māṃ hi pārtha vyapāśritya ye'pi syuḥ pāpa-yonayaḥ |
striyo vaiśyās tathā śūdrās te'pi yānti parāṃ gatim
|| 32 ||

mām–of Me; hi–certainly; pārtha–O son of Pṛthā; vyapāśritya–by taking shelter; ye–who; api–even; syuḥ–may be; pāpa-yonayaḥ–born of sinful parentage; striyaḥ–women; vaiśyāḥ–merchants; tathā–and; śūdrāḥ–manual labourers; te–those; api–even; yānti–attain; parām–the supreme; gatim–destination.

O Pārtha, by taking shelter of Me, even low-born women, merchants, śūdras or whoever, are certain to attain the supreme destination.

Commentary: Sārārtha-Varṣiṇī Ṭīkā

(By Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura; the innermost intention of the commentary named ‘the shower of essential meanings’)

“In this way, devotion to Me does not consider the incidental discrepancies of a person who behaves improperly due to the result of their karma. What is the wonder in this? My bhakti does not consider the natural, inherent defects in those who are badly behaved, simply because of their caste.” Antyaja (those outside the varṇāśrama system), mlecchas (meat-eaters), etc., are called pāpa-yonayaḥ (those of sinful birth). As it is said in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (2.4.18), “I pay my obeisances to that omnipotent Bhagavān, who is so merciful that by taking shelter of the lotus feet of a bona fide guru, who is His representative and who has taken shelter of Him, one can become free from the defects born of caste or action, be he a Kirāta, Hūṇa, Āndhra, Pulinda, Pulkaśa, Ābhīra, Śumbha, Yavana, Khasa, etc. All of these are miscreants because of their caste and are sinful due to their actions.”

Moreover, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (3.33.7) states, “Any person whose tongue has chanted Your name even once is most worshipable, even though he may be born in a family of dog-eaters (caṇḍāla). Those who chant Your name have already performed all types of austerities and sacrifices, bathed at all the holy places, studied the Vedas and performed all other prescribed actions.” This also refers to impure and untruthful women, prostitutes, etc.

Commentary: Sārārtha-Varṣiṇī Prakāśikā-vṛtti

(By Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja; the explanation that illuminates the commentary named Sārārtha-varṣiṇī)

In the previous verse, Śrī Bhagavān explained that a sādhaka who devoutly engages in the practice of ananyā-bhakti should be considered saintly, even if externally some incidental, poor behaviour is seen in him. Now, in the present verse, Bhagavān is explaining that those who take shelter of Him by engaging in exclusive devotion–even if born in sinful caṇḍāla or mleccha families, in low-class śūdra families, or prostitutes and other women who are naturally engaged in illicit activities–all very quickly attain the supreme destination by the influence of bhakti to Śrī Kṛṣṇa, which is rare even for yogīs.

In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (2.4.18), Śrī Sukadeva Gosvāmī says, “Kirāta, Hūṇa, Āndhra, Pulinda, Pulkaśa, Ābhīra, Śumbha, Yavana, Khasa, etc., as well as all others addicted to sinful activities can be purified by taking shelter of the devotees of Śrī Hari. I offer my obeisances to Him.” While commenting on this verse, Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura writes: “Just by becoming endowed with a scent of kevalā-bhakti, or exclusive devotion, even the most sinful attain perfection. Those who are low by caste or birth, such as the Kirātas, and those who perform sinful actions, become purified by bhakti only when they accept a pure Vaiṣṇava as their guru. A person becomes supremely pure and free from the defects coming from his birth as well as his actions, merely by accepting the shelter of the lotus feet of a bona fide spiritual master.

In Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī says that bhakti destroys both sinful reactions that have manifested within the present material body (prārabdha) and sinful reactions that have not yet manifested (aprārabdha) at their very root. The Kirātas, for example, are impure because of their birth in a low caste. Sin in the form of a low caste birth is prārabdha-karma, and it is removed by just a scent of bhakti.

In this regard, Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura further says: “In practical life, ignorant persons identify those who have accepted Vaiṣṇava dīkṣā by their dynasty, or caste.” From the spiritual perspective, none of the defects of caste and birth remain in a person who has taken dīkṣā. This is the reality. Yet such ignorant persons place undue emphasis on the birth and caste of one who has taken dīkṣā from a bona fide spiritual master. As a result, they themselves become fallen. Such condemnation, however, brings no harm to the person who has taken initiation. A person who criticizes Vaiṣṇavas is required to atone for it himself.

Devahūti also said:

yan-nāmadheya-śravaṇānukīrtanād yat-prahvaṇād yat-smaraṇād api kvacit
śvādo’pi sadyaḥ savanāya kalpate kutaḥ punas te bhagavan nu darśanāt

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (3.33.6)

Simply by hearing and chanting Your name, paying obeisances to You and remembering You, even a dog-eater immediately becomes qualified to perform soma-yajña (a celestial Vedic sacrifice), without waiting for another birth to be able to do so. O Bhagavān, what, then, can be said about the incomparable influence of having Your audience?

Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Prabhupāda writes: “This verse is not spoken for common caṇḍālas (dog-eaters), who have taken birth in a fallen family according to their prārabdha-karma and who remain engaged for the rest of their lives in abominable acts fit for their caste. Rather, it is spoken for Vaiṣṇavas who, after taking birth in a family of dog-eaters, become disinterested in the abominable activities of their family tradition and, after taking dīkṣā from a bona fide guru, remain engaged in the service of Śrī Bhagavān.”

It is certain that those who are gifted with a saintly nature have in their past life followed with staunch faith all the behaviour of a brahminical tradition. In their previous birth, these people have completed austerities and sacrifices, bathed in the holy places, studied the Vedas and so forth. They have merely acted out taking birth in a demoniac family so as to bewilder the foolish and teach the ideal amongst learned persons.

Bhagavān has also said in Itihāsa-samuccaya:

na me’bhaktaś caturvedī mad-bhaktaḥ śva-pacaḥ priyaḥ
tasmai deyaṃ tato grāhyaṃ sa ca pūjyo yathā hy aham

It is not that a brāhmaṇa who knows all the four Vedas will necessarily be a devotee. But My devotee, even if born in a caṇḍāla family, is dear to Me and is the proper recipient of charity and the proper person from whom charity should be accepted. Even if born in a caṇḍāla family, My devotee, like Me, is respected by all, even by the brāhmaṇas.

Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura says that, in this way, the reason a person who has taken shelter of the holy name of Śrī Kṛṣṇa takes birth in the house of a caṇḍāla is to perfect the quality of humility, which is favourable for bhakti. From this verse, we can also understand more about the deliverance of the hunter by the mercy of Nārada Muni, of Jagāi and Mādhāi by the mercy of Śrī Śrī Gaura-Nityānanda, and of the prostitute by the mercy of Ṭhākura Haridāsa.

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