Shrimad Bhagavad-gita

by Narayana Gosvami | 2013 | 327,105 words

The Bhagavad-gita Verse 18.54, English translation, including the Vaishnava commentaries Sarartha-varsini-tika, Prakashika-vritti and Rasika-ranjana (excerpts). This is verse Verse 18.54 from the chapter 18 called “Moksha-yoga (the Yoga of Liberation)”

Sanskrit text, Unicode transliteration, Word-for-word and English translation of verse 18.54:

ब्रह्म-भूतः प्रसन्नात्मा न शोचति न काङ्क्षति ।
समः सर्वेषु भूतेषु मद्-भक्तिं लभते पराम् ॥ ५४ ॥

brahma-bhūtaḥ prasannātmā na śocati na kāṅkṣati |
samaḥ sarveṣu bhūteṣu mad-bhaktiṃ labhate parām
|| 54 ||

brahma-bhūtaḥ–one who is situated in spiritual realization; prasanna-ātmā–a fully joyful soul; na śocati–he does not lament; na–nor; kāṅkṣati–hanker; samaḥ–equal; sarveṣu–to all; bhūteṣu–beings; mad-bhaktim–My pure bhakti; labhate–he attains; parām–which is blessed with the symptoms of prema.

A person thus situated in realization of brahma becomes fully joyful. He neither laments nor hankers for anything. Being equally disposed to all beings, he attains My pure bhakti, which is blessed with the symptoms of prema.

Commentary: Sārārtha-Varṣiṇī Ṭīkā

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

“A sādhaka-jīva attains the nature of brahma (brahma-bhūta) when the contaminating coverings–the impure designations of goodness, passion and ignorance–are removed. In other words he attains a state of pure consciousness that is free from any covering, and thus he becomes fully joyful (prasannātmā). Having achieved this higher consciousness, he neither laments for what he has lost nor hankers for what he does not have, and he is free from the false ego of considering the body to be the self. Sarveṣu bhūteṣu means ‘in all beings, good or bad’. Samaḥ means that, like a child, he sees everything equally, and by this he becomes free from external considerations. His desire for jñāna becomes satiated, just as a fire dies down when fuel runs out. He then attains My imperishable bhakti in the form of śravaṇam and kīrtanam, which is inherently full of knowledge.

Bhakti is a function of My internal potency, the svarūpa-śakti. Because it is separate from My illusory potency, it continues to exist when ignorance and knowledge cease. The word parām therefore means ‘separate from or superior to jñāna’. In other words, it means pure devotion, which is devoid of niṣkāma-karma, jñāna, etc. The word labhate means that the bhakti which was partially situated in knowledge and renunciation and aimed at liberation, is not intelligibly realized, just as the indwelling Supersoul, situated in all beings, cannot easily be perceived. For this reason, the word labhate (obtain) has been used instead of the word kurute (does). The bhakti that was previously mixed with knowledge (jñāna) and renunciation (vairāgya), can be recovered intact when jñāna and vairāgya are dispelled, just as a golden gem that has been mixed into some mūng or urad dāl can be retrieved when the pulses are burned, because the gem is comparatively imperishable.”

This is the most opportune time to attain prema-bhakti. The result of such bhakti is never the liberation of becoming one with the Lord’s effulgence, so here, parām means bhakti endowed with the symptoms of prema (prema-lakṣaṇā-bhakti).

Commentary: Sārārtha-Varṣiṇī Prakāśikā-vṛtti

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

Having attained brahma-bhūta, the state of transcendence, it is still necessary that one have transcendental devotion (parā-bhakti) in order to understand Parabrahma Śrī Kṛṣṇa. This is explained in the present verse. The explanations of various commentators of the word brahma-bhūta convey almost the same meaning. Only a living entity who is free from all the material modes and situated on the spiritual platform of brahma is called brahma-bhūta. Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura writes that brahma-bhūta is the pure state of transcendence a jīva attains when he is free from all gross and subtle designations. This completely refutes the understanding that brahma-bhūta means to totally lose one’s individual existence by merging into and becoming one with brahma, the Lord’s effulgence. This idea opposes scriptural conclusions and has therefore been unanimously refuted by Śrīla Śrīdhara Svāmī, Śrī Rāmānujācārya, Śrī Madhvācārya, Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura, Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa and others.

The kevala-advaitavādīs, or absolute monists, declare the following four statements to be the Vedas’ supreme axioms: ahaṃ brahmāsmi (I am brahma);tat tvam asi (You are that); sarvaṃ khalv idaṃ brahma (indeed everything is brahma); and prajñānaṃ brahma (real knowledge is brahma realization). They attempt to establish māyāvāda philosophy with an erroneous interpretation of these statements, but their deceptive propaganda simply cheats the common people.

These four statements of the Vedas are actually peripheral statements only. Oṃ alone is the supreme statement and the intrinsic nature, or svarūpa, of brahma. Tat tvam asi actually means ‘You belong to Him’, or ‘you are His servant’. This was also clarified earlier. The māyāvādīs, however, interpret it as ‘You are also that (Him)’, which is completely distorted and misleading. Furthermore, it is simply because the jīva is qualitatively similar to brahma that he is referred to as brahma in the statement “ahaṃ brahmāsmi–I am brahma”. The jīva is a separated part of brahma, and therefore, he is a conscious entity and spiritual by nature. But because he is only a separated part, he can be controlled by the deluding potency. Parabrahma, however, is the controller of that potency. The jīva is an atomic entity and Parabrahma is an infinite entity. Therefore, these two can never become one.

The entire creation, which contains both conscious energy and inert energy, has manifested from Parabrahma. Consciousness and inert matter are transformations of brahma’s potency. Although partially one with Him, they are not completely one.

Only when someone has considered the precise meaning of each and every Upaniṣad mantra can he understand the true import of the Vedas. He first contemplates each mantra in isolation, and later he deliberates upon the mantras collectively, to comprehend their meaning as a whole. The conclusion of one who unnecessarily speculates to interpret the peripheral statements of the Vedas is bound to be erroneous. It is for this reason that Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu scrutinized the Vedas from every angle before He imparted instruction on acintya-bheda-abheda-tattva, which declares that matter and the living entity are simultaneously one with and different from the Supreme Lord.

The Vedas abound with various mantras that establish the difference between the jīva and brahma:

(1) “pradhāna-kṣetra-jña-patir guṇeśaḥ–He is the controller of the modes of material nature and the master of the living entities, who are kṣetra-jña, or knowers of the field of their respective bodies” (Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad 6.16).

(2) “tam āhur agryam puruṣaṃ mahāntam–sages declare Him to be the foremost and greatest of persons” (Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad 3.19).

(3) “yāthātathyato’rthān vyadadhāt–it is He who fulfils the living entities’ many requirements” (Īśopaniṣad 8).

(4) “tenedaṃ pūrṇaṃ puruṣeṇa sarvam–by the arrangement of the Supreme Person, this universe is complete in every respect” (Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad 3.9).

(5) “nityo nityānāṃ–He is supreme among all eternal beings” (Kaṭha Upaniṣad 2.2.13, Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad 6.13).

These statements clearly reveal that the living entity can never merge, or become one with, brahma. Therefore, brahma-bhūta actually refers to the living entity in his eternal constitutional position. Jīvas who have achieved the brahma-bhūta stage manifest the following symptoms:

(1) prasannātmā–they remain ever joyful, being free from the effects of the subtle body, which is composed of the three material modes.

(2) na śocati –they never lament for what they have lost.

(3) na kāṅkśati –they do not hanker for any material object. They do not identify with the body and as a result, they do not desire material enjoyment. They only desire devotion to Bhagavān.

(4) samaḥ sarveṣu bhūteṣu –like a child, they look upon all living beings equally, be they good or bad

(5) mad bhaktiṃ parām –they have a burning desire to attain supreme, transcendental bhakti to Me.

In the association of exalted, saintly persons possessed of these symptoms, the practitioner achieves parā-bhakti, supremely pure loving devotion to Śrī Bhagavān. At this point, it is necessary to understand the true meaning of the word parā-bhakti.

anyābhilāṣitā-śūnyaṃ jñāna-karmādy-anāvṛtam
ānukūlyena kṛṣṇānuśīlanaṃ bhaktir uttamā

Uttamā-bhakti means the cultivation of activities that are meant exclusively for the pleasure of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. In other words, it means the uninterrupted flow of service to Śrī Kṛṣṇa, performed with all endeavours of the body, mind and speech and through the expression of various spiritual sentiments (bhāvas). It is not covered by knowledge of oneness with brahma, or by nitya-karma, naimittika-karma, yoga, tapasyā and so forth. And it is devoid of every other type of desire other than the aspiration to bring happiness to Śrī Kṛṣṇa.

Uttamā-bhakti is certainly the quintessence of all scriptures. Famous proponents of pure monism (kevala-advaitavādīs), such as Ācārya Śaṅkara, Ānandagiri and Madhusūdana Sarasvatī, have stated in their commentaries on the present Gītā verse that parā-bhakti refers to that bhakti which is characterized by jñāna. In this verse from Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, however, it is worth noting that parā-bhakti is attained after the brahma-bhūta stage. In other words, it is achieved by one who has become situated on the brahma-bhūta platform and is therefore superior to that platform. It is quite apparent that it does not refer to bhakti mixed with jñāna and aimed at achieving brahma-jñāna, realization of the Lord’s effulgence. Upon attaining this stage, one needs to acquire full knowledge of Parabrahma Śrī Kṛṣṇa. A brahma-jñānī can achieve that knowledge if by good fortune, he takes shelter of transcendental devotion to Śrī Kṛṣṇa, in the association of devotees.

At this point, it is necessary to clearly understand the difference between parā-bhakti, which gives knowledge of the truth of Śrī Kṛṣna (kṛṣṇa-tattva), and the bhakti employed to achieve knowledge of the impersonal aspect of the Absolute (brahma-jñāna). The word parā (supremely transcendental) has been used to clarify this point. Furthermore, there is a confidential reason why labhate (obtains) was used instead of kurute (does). It is only possible to attain parā-bhakti when one has realized the insignificance and inferiority of brahma-jñāna, as attained by a brahma-jñānī. Since parā-bhakti can only be obtained by the causeless mercy of Bhagavān or His devotees, the word labhate has been used. The word kurute (does, or makes) would have been applicable if parā-bhakti were achievable by one’s own endeavour, but Śrī Bhagavān has not used this word. This observation serves to clarify the meaning of parā-bhakti: Its only aim is pure devotion (also known as śuddhā-bhakti, kevalā-bhakti and ananyā-bhakti); it does not aim at bhakti mixed with jñāna.

Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu proclaimed that even this brahma-bhūta stage is external, because one thus situated, although free from the modes, cannot realize or attain Goloka or Vaikuṇṭha. These realms can only be realized by parā-bhakti. The brahma-bhūta platform is therefore not topmost; it is merely the initial stage of supreme spiritual attainment.

Here it should be understood that two types of persons attain the brahma-bhūta stage. The first type endeavours to merge with the brahma effulgence (sāyujya-mukti), and they continue to do so, even after attaining the brahma-bhūta platform. They disregard Bhagavān’s devotees, as well as His name, form, qualities and pastimes, and they do not listen to hari-kathā, transcendental narrations about the Supreme Lord. Thus they are offenders. They never achieve mukti but continue to wander in bodies in the demoniac species of life within this material world. The second type respects the devotees, as well as Bhagavān’s name, form, qualities and pastimes. Taking shelter of the devotees, they easily achieve parā-bhakti due to their inoffensive attitude.

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