Shrimad Bhagavad-gita

by Narayana Gosvami | 2013 | 327,105 words

The Bhagavad-gita Verse 15.18, English translation, including the Vaishnava commentaries Sarartha-varsini-tika, Prakashika-vritti and Rasika-ranjana (excerpts). This is verse Verse 15.18 from the chapter 15 called “Purushottama-toga (Yoga through understanding the Supreme Person)”

Sanskrit text, Unicode transliteration, Word-for-word and English translation of verse 15.18:

यस्मात् क्षरम् अतीतोऽहम् अक्षराद् अपि चोत्तमः ।
अतोऽस्मि लोके वेदे च प्रथितः पुरुषोत्तमः ॥ १८ ॥

yasmāt kṣaram atīto'ham akṣarād api cottamaḥ |
ato'smi loke vede ca prathitaḥ puruṣottamaḥ
|| 18 ||

yasmāt–because; kṣaram–to the fallible; atītaḥ–transcendental; aham–I; akṣarāt–to the infallible; api–even; ca–and; uttamaḥ–superior; ataḥ–therefore; asmi–I am; loke–in the world; vede–in the Vedas; ca–both; prathitaḥ–renowned; puruṣa-uttamaḥ–the Supreme Person.

Since I am transcendental to the fallible living entities and also superior to the other two infallible beings, brahma and Paramātmā, I am renowned both in this world and in the Vedas as Puruṣottama, the Supreme Person.

Commentary: Sārārtha-Varṣiṇī Ṭīkā

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

After explaining Paramātmā, the worshipable object of the yogīs, Śrī Bhagavān describes bhagavat-tattva, the fundamental truth of the Supreme Lord, who is the worshipable deity of the devotees. “I, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, am Bhagavān, and I am renowned as Puruṣottama. My svarūpa is superior to all other forms.” Śrī Bhagavān speaks this verse beginning with yasmāt to explain the term Puruṣottama and His supremacy. His form is transcendental to the fallible kṣara-puruṣa, the jīvātmā. He is also superior to impersonal akṣara-brahma and even to the immutable Paramātmā. According to the Gītā (6.47) “yogīnām api sarveṣāṃ mad-gatenāntarātmanā–he who constantly worships Me with full faith, always contemplating Me exclusively, is in My opinion the topmost of all yogīs.”

The superiority of the sādhaka establishes the superiority and speciality of his worshipable deity. Since Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the supreme manifestation of Absolute Reality, a person who worships Him is the topmost yogī. The use of the word ca establishes Svayam Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa as the topmost of all worshipable Realities (bhagavat-tattva), superior even to Śrī Nārāyaṇa, the Lord of Vaikuṇṭha. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.3.28) Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī says: “Some personalities are His portions, or parts of His portions, but Śrī Kṛṣṇa alone is Svayam Bhagavān.” According to this statement of Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī, Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Reality.

Although the three words brahma, Paramātmā and Bhagavān explain the one Transcendental Reality, who is sat, cit and ānanda, composed of eternality, knowledge and bliss, there is no difference in Their true constitutional natures. Also, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (6.9.36) states “svarūpa-dvayābhāvāt–within You there are not two svarūpas.” Yet, due to the differences in sādhana and also in the results obtained by those who worship brahma, Paramātmā and Bhagavān, there seems to be disparity in that one transcendental Reality. Jñāna, yoga and bhakti are the respective means by which the jñānīs, yogīs and bhaktas attain their particular goals: brahma, Paramātmā and Bhagavān. In fact, the result of jñāna and yoga is only to attain liberation, whereas the result of bhakti is to become a loving associate of Bhagavān. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.5.12), it is said, “Brahma-jñāna, spiritual knowledge in the form of freedom from material affinity, does not appear very beautiful or auspicious when it is bereft of bhakti to Bhagavān.” And in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.14.5), it is said, “O great Personality, in previous times, the yogīs of this world offered all their activities to Your lotus feet when, by the processes of yoga and so forth, they were unable to achieve You. After doing so, they attained bhakti to You, by which they realized Your eternal form and very easily attained Your supreme abode.”

From these statements, it is understood that without bhakti, one cannot attain liberation by the processes of jñāna and yoga. It is imperative for the worshippers of brahma and Paramātmā to perform bhakti to the Supreme Person in order for them to achieve perfection in their respective practices. But there is no need for the worshippers of Bhagavān to worship brahma or Paramātmā to attain perfection in their goal. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.20.31) states, “For a person in this world who is engaged in bhakti-yoga to Me, the processes of knowledge and renunciation are not considered the means to attain the highest perfection.” Furthermore, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.20.32–33) states: “Whatever result one attains by such processes as prescribed duties, knowledge, austerity and renunciation, My devotees can easily attain by the process of bhakti, be that result the attainment of the heavenly planets, liberation, My abode of Vaikuṇṭha or anything else they desire. A person who takes shelter of Śrī Nārāyaṇa achieves the four goals of human life (religiosity–dharma, material prosperity–artha, material sense enjoyment–kāma, and liberation–mokṣa) without performing separate practices to achieve them.”

It is seen that by the worship of Bhagavān, one can achieve residence in the heavenly planets, liberation or prema (love of God), but by the worship of brahma and Paramātmā, one cannot attain prema. Even though brahma and Paramātmā do not differ from Bhagavān on the basis of tattva, still, Bhagavān is considered superior.

A flame, a lamp and a big fire are all luminous objects and thus non-different in nature, yet to remove the miseries of those suffering from cold, the large fire is the most effective. And superior to the blazing fire is the sun. Similarly, Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the topmost Absolute Reality. Liberation, in the form of nirvāṇa, or merging with brahma, the efful-gence emanating from Kṛṣṇa’s form, is attained by perfectly worshipping brahma. Śrī Kṛṣṇa even grants this to those who are envious of Him and who are highly sinful, such as Aghāsura, Bakāsura and Jarāsandha. Therefore, Śrīla Śrīdhara Svāmī’s commentary on the statement, “I am the support of nirviśeṣa-brahma” (Gītā 14.27) is most appropriate.

Śrīla Madhusūdana Sarasvatī has also established the supremacy of Śrī Kṛṣṇa as follows: “Sādhakas who want to initiate their eternal good fortune should constantly perform worship of Śrī Kṛṣṇacandra, whose form is described in the Śrutis as composed of eternality, cognizance and bliss, whose complexion is the hue of fresh rain-clouds, who is the very ornament of the vraja-gopīs, who is the means by which intelligent people can cross over the ocean of the material world, and whose incarnations perform pastimes to remove the burden of the Earth. I do not know any other Reality superior to lotus-eyed Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who has a face like a full moon, who is adorned with a flute in His hands, who wears yellow garments and whose lips are reddish like a bimba fruit. Various scriptures give evidence of the wonderful glories of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Those who cannot tolerate this are fools and destined for hell.”

Śrīla Madhusūdana Sarasvatī has thus established Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s excel-lence. It is improper to voice one’s disagreement with this explanation of these three Gītā verses (15.16–18) beginning from dvāv imau.

Commentary: Sārārtha-Varṣiṇī Prakāśikā-vṛtti

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

This subject has been de-scribed more clearly in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.2.11):

vadanti tat tattva-vidas tattvaṃ yaj jñānam advayam
brahmeti paramātmeti bhagavān iti śabdyate

Those who know the Absolute Reality describe that ultimate non-dual substance as the Supreme Truth. Some know this same non-dual Absolute Truth as brahma, some as Paramātmā and others as Bhagavān.

Jñānīs, through their practice of jñāna-yoga, experience that same Absolute Truth as brahma. Yogīs realize that Reality as Paramātmā, and bhaktas, through their practice of bhakti-yoga, see Him as Bhagavān. By devotion that is filled with reverence for Bhagavān’s majestic feature, devotees realize Him as Śrī Nārāyaṇa, the Lord of Vaikuṇṭha, and render service to Him. And by pure loving devotion imbued with a mood of sweetness, or worship in the wake of the moods of Vraja, devotees realize and serve Him as Svayam Bhagavān Vrajendra-nandana Śyāmasundara. Realization of brahma, Paramātmā and Bhagavān is not one and the same. There is a gradation. By constitutional nature, water, ice and mist are one–water. Yet water is not called ice or mist, nor is ice called mist or water. In the same way, Svayam Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the pinnacle of para-tattva. The first realization of that para-tattva is brahma, the second realization is Paramātmā, and the third is Svayam Bhagavān. These three perceptions are not the same. Therefore, scripture describes Parabrahma as superior to brahma. This has been very clearly explained in the Gītā (14.27), “brahmaṇo hi pratiṣṭhāham–this is true because I alone am the basis and refuge of that undifferentiated, impersonal brahma.” The use of the adjective param before brahma and also before ātmā establishes the superiority of Parabrahma and Paramātmā over brahma and the ātmā respectively. But the adjective param is never used before the word Bhagavān. Therefore, Svayam Bhagavān alone is the topmost limit of para-tattva. Paramātmā and brahma are just His two manifestations. The bodily effulgence of Kṛṣṇa is called brahma, and the portion of His portion is called Paramātmā.

Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura quotes Kṛṣṇa as saying, “The third and topmost infallible being is called Bhagavān. I am that very bhagavat-tattva. I am transcendental to kṣara-puruṣa (the jīva), and I am even superior to the two other infallible beings, brahma and Paramātmā. I am therefore celebrated as Puruṣottama, the Supreme Person, both in this world and in the Vedas. This siddhānta should be understood: there are two puruṣas: kṣara (fallible) and akṣara (infallible). Akṣara-puruṣa has three manifestations. The general manifestation is brahma, a higher mani-festation is Paramātmā, and the supreme manifestation is Bhagavān.”

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