Prasthanatrayi Swaminarayan Bhashyam (Study)

by Sadhu Gyanananddas | 2021 | 123,778 words

This page relates ‘Guru-sharanagati’ of the study on the Prasthanatrayi Swaminarayan Bhashyam in Light of Swaminarayan Vachanamrut (Vacanamrita). His 18th-century teachings belong to Vedanta philosophy and were compiled as the Vacanamrita, revolving around the five ontological entities of Jiva, Ishvara, Maya, Aksharabrahman, and Parabrahman. Roughly 200 years later, Bhadreshdas composed a commentary (Bhasya) correlating the principles of Vachanamrut.

The Indian Vedic tradition invariably acknowledges the Gurus śaraṇāgati, taking refuge at the feet of the Guru. To realize the glory of Parabrahman and to cultivate one’s faith in Parabrahman, Guru-śaraṇāgati is inevitable. Especially when Parabrahman is not present in his own form on earth, then the Guru, who is the manifest form of Parabrahman, is the only choice for the revelation of Parabrahman.

Svāminārāyaṇa proclaims:

“However, when Parabrahman Puruṣottama Nārāyana is not manifest on this earth, one should seek the refuge of the santa who has the realization of Parabrahman -because the jīva can also accomplish liberation through him.” (Vacanāmṛta Vartāl 10, p.550)

Svāminārāyaṇa reiterates the power of Guru-śaraṇāgati:

“Therefore, by seeking the refuge of the satpuruṣa, regardless of how terrible a sinner a person may be, he becomes extremely pure, untainted, and attains samādhi.” (Vacanāmṛta Vartāl 10, p.558)

In the Svāminārāyaṇa Vedanta, it is declared that Parabrahman perpetually manifests (pragaṭa, pratyakṣa) on earth, whether He is in the guise of a monarch or a sādhu, He is the subject and object of the highest contemplation and meditation. Both the forms are equally adorable and worshipfully admirable. The two (Parabrahman manifest as a monarch and as a sādhu) do not seem to have resemblance in terms of overt appearance and conduct; still, both are the same because both of them definitely have the power and excellence to redeem the ātman who seek refuge at their feet. Accordingly, the two forms of Parabrahman seem to differ in external appearance (body-figure), ways of working, and life-style. They nevertheless have the same power and transcendental divinity to redeem the seekers of their refuge. They, as such, are nondifferent despite differences seen in them from our conditioned perspective. In this manner, The ancient scriptures also corroborate the Guru-śaraṇāgati.

The Bhagavad-Gītā extols:

tadviddhi praṇipātena paripraśnena sevayā |
upadekṣyanti te jñānaṃ jñāninastattvadarśinaḥ ||

“Acquire this ultimate knowledge from the Brahmasvarūpa Guru by humble respect, by sincere inquiry, and by service. The wise who have realized Parabrahman will teach you.”

Bhadreśadāsa provides a unique principle by commenting on this verse:

yadyapīdānīntu sākṣādahameva tava gurūpadeṣṭṛbhūtaḥ kintu bhaviṣyati kāle mannaranāṭyalīlāsamāptyanantaramapi mamātmabhūtān matparamaprītimataḥ mannikaṭatamān sākṣādakṣarabrahmasvarūpajñānigurūn dvārīkṛtya tatkāryaṃ kariṣya iti |” (Bhagavad-Gītā 4/34, p.110)

“The use of the future tense ‘upadekṣyanti’ reveals a sublime principle. Parabrahman wants to say to Arjuna that at present, I am here, as your Guru and Parabrahman both, but in the future, when I finish all my human-like activities and will return to the abode of mine, I will accomplish my work of granting liberation to the jīvas and īśvaras through the Brahmasvarūpa Guru succession, since they are utmost near to my beloved devotees and me.”

Human nature, however offensive (pāmara) and fallen (patita) may be, but if the aspirant submits himself totally to Parabrahman or His best devotee (sādhu), he too becomes qualified for the final release. Hence, śaraṇāgati with firm faith in the feet of Parabrahman is the best of all means to please Parabrahman.

Even Nārada accepts the refuge of Guru Sanatkumāra for peace and happiness:

adhīhi bhagava iti hopasasāda sanatkumāraṃ nārada:”387

“Nārada takes refuge of Sanatkumāra and said, ‘Teach me, Sir”

Similarly, the Mundaka-upaniṣad also confirms this fact, where the Guru-śaraṇāgati is consolidated:

tadvijñānārthaṃ sa gurumevābhigacchetsamitpāṇiḥ śrotriyaṃ brahma niṣṭham ||[2]

“The pupil must go and take refuge under the Brahmasvarūpa Guru, who has the revelation of all scriptures and has a firm conviction of Parabrahman.”

Bhadreśadāsa comments here:

brahmavidyā tu akṣarabrahmagurusamāśrayeṇa eva saṃpādayituṃ śakyā” (Mundaka-upaniṣad 1/2/12, p.256)

Brahmavidyā is accomplished only through the refuge of the Akṣarabrahman Guru.”

In this manner, like Parabrahman, the Brahmasvarūpa Guru is also the appropriate person to whom a seeker can approach and take refuge at his feet in order to free from the clutch of māyā, since the Guru is the manifest form of Parabrahman.

Footnotes and references:


Bhagavad-Gītā 4/34


Mundaka-upaniṣad 1/2/12

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