The Bhagavata Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 780,972 words | ISBN-10: 8120838203 | ISBN-13: 9788120838208

This page describes Notes regarding the words (verbal nature) of Shruti (the Vedas) of the English translation of the Bhagavata Purana, one of the eighteen major puranas containing roughly 18,000 metrical verses. Topics include ancient Indian history, religion, philosophy, geography, mythology, etc. The text has been interpreted by various schools of philosophy. This is the of the Appendices of the Bhagavatapurana.

Notes regarding the words (verbal nature) of Śruti (the Vedas)

Verse 1 (extracted from Chapter 87 of Book 10 the Bhāgavata Purāṇa):

ब्रह्मन् ब्रह्मण्यनिर्देश्ये निर्गुणे गुणवृत्तयः ।
कथं चरन्ति श्रुतयः साक्षात् सदसतः परे ॥ १ ॥

brahman brahmaṇyanirdeśye nirguṇe guṇavṛttayaḥ |
kathaṃ caranti śrutayaḥ sākṣāt sadasataḥ pare || 1 ||

“O Brāhmaṇa sage! How is it possible for the Vedas, conditioned as they are with guṇas and their products, to carry out their function directly with reference to the Supreme Brahman which is beyond specific indication and hence indefinable, devoid of guṇas and (beyond the range of perceptibility) is transcendental to the causal (cause-effect) relation”


Bhāvāratha Dīpikā explains: The Śruti texts are expressed in and consist of words. Words are characterised by their ‘powers’ technically known as Mukhyā, Lakṣaṇā and Gauṇī, or by their power by which it expresses, indicates or suggests the implication either by means of (i) abhidhā (denotation, the meaning belonging to the word by social consensus or convention (Saṅketa) which primarily made the word at all), (ii) Lakṣaṇā (the secondary signification. The standard SK. example is Gaṅgāyām ghoṣaḥ—‘The cowherd colony is in or on the Gaṅgā’. Here in or on means not on the water-current of the river but on the bank of the river (technically called Jahallakṣaṇā). Or Kuntāḥ Praviśanti “spears enter” i.e. ‘persons bearing the spears enter’. Something additional to the thing mentioned viz. spear-bearers is implied. This is called a-Jahal-Lakṣaṇā. The 3rd power of the word is Vyañjanā—‘suggested or insinuated sense.’ Thus if a cool breeze is implied by saying ‘the cowherd colony is on the Gaṅgā’, it will be Vyañjanā.

KD has explained in details Bhāvāratha Dīpikā’s commentary adding his illustrations to elucidate it. Thus he gives the sub-division of abhidhā viz. rūḍhi, yoga and yoga-rūḍhi. Thus names of persons Rāma, John, etc. are by social convention (rūḍhi) but nṛpati. ‘The protector of the people’ ‘a king’ is etymological (Yoga or Yaugika). But Pāṅka-ja (born out of mud) may mean a lotus or a frog but is by convention and etymology used for a lotus flower. This is Yoga- rūḍha.

The thrust of Parīkṣit’s submission is “How can Brahman which is transcendental to Padārtha can come with the range of words of Śruti.

As Bhāvāratha Dīpikā succinctly states it:

evam padārthatvāyogād apadārthasya ca vākyārthatvāyogān na śruti-gocaratvam brahmaṇaḥ /

The position taken by other important annotators may be briefly summarised as follows:—

Bhāgavata Candrikā: The Supreme Brahman is indefinable either as a cit (conscious) or acit (unconscious, material) entity. It is beyond three guṇas. It is absolutely different and distinct from other intelligent or unintelligent existence. How could the Śrutis being verbal in nature, denote or describe Brahman directly.

Padaratnāvalī: The Supreme Brahman is indefinable, void of guṇaṣ, distinct from Sat and asat (The causal matter and its product). While Śrutis are words and as such can connote qualities or denote things having qualities. This being the case how could Śrutis speak of the Supreme Brahman? Did they directly describe it or indicate its properties?

By Śuka’s epithet—BrahmanPadaratnāvalī takes ‘a sage whose all desires are accomplished.’

KD: Śuka concedes that when after the withdrawal of the universe, the Prakṛti ceases to be and there exists only formless, attribute less Brahman, this Brahman is beyond the power of Śrutis to describe. But when the universe is created and the individual souls (Jīvas) which lay dormant or dissolved in the Prakṣti are granted their subtle-bodies (liṅga Śarīra) and are given scope to achieve their purpose in life, be it dharma, artha, kāma, or mokṣa, God is the Controller of Māyā and is hence called the Almighty- Lord (Prabhu). To such Jīvas, Śrutis describe That (Brahman) thou (art) etc. But when the power of words ceases to be and the Śrutis find it beyond their capacity to speak about Brahman, they assume silence which is an eloquent guidance (87.60-112).

Bhāgavata Candrikā: The controller of the universe invested the Jīvas (individual souls) with their bodies for favouring them with the opportunity of propitiating him as well as attaining their prosperity here and attainment of Mokṣa or niḥśreyas hereafter, and for gaining the knowledge of the self which leads to mukti (Final Emancipation), and removing the notion of difference about their essential nature. Bhāgavata Candrikā: alternately explains Kalpanāya as “for the sake of the sportive activities regarding the creation, etc. of the universe.”

Padaratnāvalī: The Lord has created the intellect, the senses, the mind and the vital breath for Jīvas so that words (mātrās) indicate him directly that he is distinct from Sat and asat (or subtle and gross Prakṛtis) and in order that they should take to meritorious activities (bhavārtham) such as svādhyāya and Pravacana. The ‘words’ do not indicate attainment of heaven but obtaining merits for realization of the Supreme Self. Padaratnāvalī interprets Kalpanāya as “for knowledge of the Supreme Self’s (Paramārtha jñānāya).”

VT: The Lord has created the intellect, the sense-organs, the minds and the vital breaths of various categories of jīvas like the human beings who were lying dormant or ṃ a dissolved state along with the Prakṛti after the great Pralaya (dissolution of the universe) for the sake of understanding the Vedas and thereby to make them realize their Self (the principle of jīva) and for visualizing the Supreme Self (the bhāgavat-tattva) called here as akalpana (that which is devoid of māyā).

Subodhinī: The logically established view (Siddhāntā) is that Brahman should be regarded of that nature as it is described in Upaniṣads (Vedānta). In the evolution of the world, the Lord created (1) Intelligence, (2) Sense-organs, (3) the mind and (4) vital breaths (Prāṇas) in this serial order and their respective function is (1) mātrā (2) another transmigration of the soul (3) for ātman and (4) akalpana. He insists that this order of the objects of Intelligence, etc. should be observed.

sa krama'trāpi grāhya evaṃ sarvopayogārtham, yato bhagavāṃścatuṣṭayam utpāditavān, anenaiva sarvānupapattiḥ parihartavyā—iti śukahṛdayam /

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