Live from Sri Mayapur Candrodaya Mandir!
Date: February 24, 2008 Verse: Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.12.49-52 Speaker: HH Bhanu Swami
By Ananda Tirtha (das) PVS (Mayapur – IN)
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tato ‘param upadaya sa sargaya mano dadhe
TRANSLATION: Thereafter Brahma accepted another body, in which sex life was not forbidden, and thus he engaged himself in the matter of further creation.
PURPORT: In his former body, which was transcendental, affection for sex life was forbidden, and Brahma therefore had to accept another body to allow himself to be connected with sex. He thus engaged himself in the matter of creation. His former body transformed into fog, as previously described.
rsinam bhuri-viryanam api sargam avistrtam jnatva tad dhrdaye bhuyas cintayam asa kaurava
TRANSLATION: O son of the Kurus, when Brahma saw that in spite of the presence of sages of great potency there was no sufficient increase in population, he seriously began to consider how the population could be increased.
aho adbhutam etan me vyaprtasyapi nityada na hy edhante praja nunam daivam atra vighatakam.
TRANSLATION: Brahma thought to himself: Alas, it is wonderful that in spite of my being scattered all over, there is still insufficient population throughout the universe. There is no other cause for this misfortune but destiny.
evam yukta-krtas tasya daivam caveksatas tada kasya rupam abhud dvedha yat kayam abhicaksate
TRANSLATION: While he was thus absorbed in contemplation and was observing the supernatural power, two other forms were generated from his body. They are still celebrated as the body of Brahma.
PURPORT: Two bodies came out from the body of Brahma. One had a mustache, and the other had swollen breasts. No one can explain the source of their manifestation, and therefore until today they are known as the kayam, or the body of Brahma, with no indication of their relationship as his son or daughter.
Bhanu Swami: So this whole chapter and many other chapters in the Third Canto are concerning the creation of the universe. This, of course, if we think of our ultimate philosophy, with Krsna as svayam bhagavan and the other forms of the Lord like Rama and Nrsimha and Vamana and other forms in the spiritual world, the material world is not very significant. It is like a small cloud in the vast sky. We may sometimes wonder, what is the use of describing this whole creation? If we examine the Bhagavatam, we will see there is a lot of description of creation.
In fact, if you go to the Second Canto and the Third Canto, there are about six descriptions of the Visvarupa and how the different senses and elements and devas arise from the body of Visvarupa. So we have a very elaborate description of matter when our whole process is actually to go beyond the material world to the spiritual world and become detached from matter and simply absorb ourselves in Krsna.
So we may wonder how the Bhagavatam can discuss these material things since the Bhagavatam is the highest literature, the highest pramana, the summary of all the Vedic literatures, and ultimately, indicating the Absolute Truth in its highest aspect as Krsna. So why do we have to spend so much time on discussion of these mundane things like the creation of the material world and the sex life of Brahma and others?
That is a good question, but if we examine closely, we will see that actually the Third Canto and the Second Canto, where a lot of these descriptions of the universal form take place, are actually the words of Sukadeva Goswami, who is one of the most exalted devotees, even more exalted than Vedavyasa. So there must be some very good reason for this preponderance of topics on creation, etc. Of course, if we look closely, we will see there are good answers to this problem also.
So here we have the description of the creation and our acaryas have actually explained some of the reasons for this. Of course one reason is– that is explained in the Tenth Chapter of the Second Canto–there is a description of the topics of the Bhagavatam. There are ten topics. Of course the ten topics are also topics of Puranas in general. At least the Maha Puranas, the major Puranas, have ten topics in general. The minor Puranas, the secondary Puranas, have five subject matters in general.
There are ten subject matters which a Purana should more or less conform to if it is a major Purana. So in that sense, Srimad Bhagavatam is also classed as a Purana, so Vedavyasa and Sukadeva Goswami have put it into that sort of form where we have ten subject forms. Why? Because they are also following some sort of formality. Of course Vedavyasa composed the Bhagavata Purana along with the other eighteen. He classed it as a Purana in the very beginning.
There are ten subject matters there, beginning with sarga, which means creation of the material world. The spiritual world is never created, so it is the material world which is created. So we have what is called sarga. This sarga is actually not the creation of Brahma even. The sarga is the creation by Mahavisnu when he glances over material energy and prakrti transforms into mahat-tattva, mahat-tattva transforms into ahankara, ahankara transforms into mind and the senses and sense objects and the gross material elements and we get the whole elements. So that is the sarga, first creation.
Then we have the second creation called visarga. Visarga is actually the creation of Lord Brahma which is explained here. So this is after the universe is formed, then we have to make bodies for the jivas and make planets, places for the jivas, the jivas have to live somewhere. So they need bodies and they need places. So we have material elements in the universe, so they have to form together into certain facilities so that the jivas can enjoy. So we have the visarga, that is, Brahma creates all the bodies for the living entities, that is actually described in these chapters here, and the places for them. Each particular body has a certain place in the universe according to his karma. He is stuck in that, limited in that particular place, in that particular loka for a certain period of time. Then according to his activities he can change to another loka. So all of this is the creation of Lord Brahma, this is called visarga. So that is a topic of a Purana in general also, so if you look at the Visnu Purana, they will have similar types of things.
Then we have the sthana. Sthana actually is part of that creation; that means the places. Of course it refers to the condition of the living entities, or the places of the living entities, that we will find discussed particularly in the Bhagavatam in the Fifth Canto.
Actually, Visvanatha Cakravarti says that from the Third Canto, this is how we can classify things. So he says Third Canto is about sarga, Fourth Canto is visarga, and Fifth Canto is sthana. Sthana means the description of the planetary systems, the hellish planets, the heavenly planets, the earth planet, bhu-mandala, the dvipas, all these dimensions, etc, the shell of the universe. This is called sthana, the geography of the universe. This is where the living entities live. There they maintain themselves and enjoy and commit sinful activities or pious activities and circulate within the universe. So that is the place.
Then we have other topics after that. Once Brahma creates that universe with the bodies and the lokas, then we have the jivas in those bodies doing their activities. So we have topics like posana, how the Supreme Lord protects the devotees in the universe. That is in the Sixth Canto, we see the story of Ajamila, who was in one sense was not a devotee, but the Lord took him as a devotee because he chanted the name of Narayana accidentally, so he protected him. We have other stories in Sixth Canto as well, like Indra, who was also in a sense an aparadhi. That is the posana, another topic.
Then we get uti, which is defined in the Second Canto actually as karma-vasana, or impressions of karma. According to our activities, we get certain results; we are born in certain bodies, in certain lokas in the universe. Then we do more activities, then we die, then we get another body. Seventh Canto is about uti. That is explained in terms of people like Hiranyakasipu, a big demon, commiting all sorts of sinful activities and getting a bad destination. And someone like Prahlad, who gets the mercy of Narada Muni and becomes a great devotee of the Lord. So that is uti.
We get manvantara, which means actually the description of the Manus. This is what happens here–we get the first Manus created by Lord Brahma. These two bodies become Svayambhuva Manu and his wife. Every day of Brahma, there is a creation of Manu and his wife. Then throughout the day of Brahma, there are more Manus. There are actually a total of fourteen Manus appearing, usually descendents of the first Manu, Svayambhuva Manu. There are fourteen of these in the day of Brahma, which means seventy-one yuga cycles they preside over the universe, residing on Bhumandala. These are discussed in the Eighth Canto. There is a whole description of the different genealogies in the Eighth Canto.
Then there is isanukatha. That means talks about the Lord and his devotees. That is Ninth Canto of Bhagavatam. Then there is another topic called mukti, which means liberation. Liberation, of course, means the bad liberation, that is sayujya. That is there, but liberation also technically means to be situated in your svarupa. Your svarupa can also be in the spiritual world. So that liberation refers to getting out to the material world and going to Brahman or going to the spiritual world. That is the topic of the Eleventh Canto.
And nirodha means destruction. We see a description of destruction in the Twelfth Canto. So these are the nine topics. Then there is the tenth topic, which is called asraya, which means the shelter. So all of the other topics actually involve the universe, starting from sarga onwards, then the destruction of the universe, everything, the jivas in the universe trying to get out of the universe, with mukti. Ultimately asraya means what is beyond the universe. So that is the Supreme Lord, then all of his expansions, Brahman, Paramatma, Bhagavan, all the forms of the Supreme Lord in the spiritual world and finally Krsna. And the devotees, they are also nirguna, they are beyond the material world as is the process of bhakti.
So all these topics are all over the Bhagavatam, it’s not that they are all isolated but we can somewhat classify them in this way. So we can understand that the Bhagavatam is presenting ten different topics that are distributed throughout the Bhagavatam with a little bit of prominence in each of the different cantos. In this way we can see that the Bhagavatm is conforming to the Puranas and therefore also has these ten topics.
Why should the Puranas have ten topics in the first place? Ultimately the whole point of scripture is to point out the Supreme Lord and the process to get to the Supreme Lord and the result of that. That is sambandha, abhideya and prayojana. That is the whole essence of scripture. So Bhagavatam does that. Of course it could be made very simple. We could just say Krsna is the Supreme Lord, don’t worship anybody else, peform bhakti, that’s it, that’s the end of the scripture. The greatest things are actually very simple. That is the truth. As Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita surrender unto me, that’s it.
However, scriptures understand that all people are not qualified immediately at least. Therefore they present things step by step according to qualification. And you’ll see that even in Bhagavad-gita. In Bhagavad-gita even though Krsna says reject everything and just simply surrender unto me, he explains a lot about karma yoga and jnana yoga and astanga-yoga when actually it’s not really necessary. Only bhakti is necessary. But he explains all these things. Why? Because Bhagavad-gita is also reflecting the whole of the Vedic literature, as Srimad Bhagavatam summarises everything, puts everything in there, which means it doesn’t reject anything else in the Vedas, it doesn’t say everything else is wrong, but it also must indicate what is the highest thing. So the Vedic literatures do contain things that are not the absolute highest truth. Therefore we’ll have discussions of karma and jnana and yoga besides bhakti. We have all these different things. That is because all people are not qualified for bhakti. If one has no faith in the Lord what is one to do? But if we get the association of the devotees and by the mercy of them you can develop faith and get bhakti. But if you don’t get that association and mercy then what do we do? Therefore you go into these other things; you do karma, practice varnasrama and do all these things. Or you do jnana if you are qualified. You go through varnasrama and get up to be a brahmana and once you are a brahmana then you do jnana. And once you’ve done jnana then you go into yoga and once you’ve done yoga then you do bhakti.
Then you are qualified. Of course you’re not really qualified like that also, but hopefully on the way because there is a mixture of bhakti in everything–you can’t do karma-yoga without a little bhakti, one percent bhakti must be there–you must also worship Visnu in karma-yoga and not disrespect him. And in jnana you also have to worship Visnu, and if you don’t you’ll never get liberation, you’ll never get sayujya-mukti even. And of course in astanga-yoga you have to worship Visnu also as Paramatma.
So there is a little bit of bhakti somewhere in there. But it is very little so it is not called bhakti. Hopefully through all that gradually they develop, they get through yoga and all this and they get association then they are ready for bhakti. That is one way of developing and that is why we’ll find in the Bhagavatam and in the Bhagavad-gita all these different methods mentioned for differently qualified people.
Unfortunately that doesn’t work in Kali-yuga. And in the Twelfth Chapter of Bhagavad-gita Arjuna asks Krsna, “Well, what should I do? Should I do this gradual process and come up to the Brahman level and then come to bhakti or should I just do bhakti?” To which Krsna said, “Just do bhakti, it’s easier, it’s quicker.”
This is the recommendation in Kali-yuga. We are not qualified to go through this whole process of starting with karma-yoga and then becoming brahminical and then doing jnana and youga and then coming to bhakti. It’s a very long process over many births when there is a varnasrama system intact and ideal kings like Pariksit around, then you can gradually develop and become a devotee eventually. That’s not practical in Kali-yuga where people are short lived, there are lots of distractions around and there is no varnasrama system and there are no ideal kings so the system doesn’t really work too well.
Krsna is very merciful and he says that even if you don’t have that whole gradual system you can just do bhakti-yoga also. But it looks like a contradiction because I said if people aren’t qualified for bhakti, then they have to go through this other system. The question is how to make people qualified for bhakti without having to go through that system. It is possible one doesn’t have to go through that system but it depends upon devotees. If one has association of devotees then one can gradually develop that faith and then one becomes qualified.
That is why Lord Caitanya has emphasized the preaching aspect. Since these other methods don’t work in Kali-yuga it is up to the devotees to spread bhakti everywhere by giving mercy to everyone in the material world. And thereby we can develop.
As far as the Bhagavatam is concerned and these different topics like sarga and visarga they are all there because it is a Purana and it is reflecting the Vedic literature, etc. and these topics are all ultimately related with Krsna. Sukadeva Goswami will not speak anything that is not related to Krsna somehow or other. Everything must be related to him because he is completely absorbed in him. Pariksit will also not accept anything which is other than Krsna. These things are related to Krsna. We cannot give the argument that “I will only read the pastimes of Krsna in the Bhagavatam because that is the Absolute Truth and all these other topics are secondary, sarga and visarga and all kind of material things so we don’t listen to that.”
Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakur has made the point that Sukadeva Goswami has recited this. If he is talking about this and Pariksit is listening to it then we should do that to. We should follow their good example. There is some value in this sarga, visarga, etc.
So it will appear to be one thing, if we look at it very critically we may think, “Why is this so necessary; it is all material,” but then we examine again that Sukadeva Goswami is reciting this and Pariksit is listening in rapt attention so there must be something more than we think.
So all these topics are there and as I said the most important one is asraya, that is the Supreme Lord, his devotees, and bhakti. These things are all somehow related to that. They have a relationship. By understanding these topics, we will also understand the nature of the Supreme Lord and the devotees and devotional service. They are not unrelated at all, there is a relationship there.
Of course, it will take us time to understand the significance of this. On one level we can read this and technically we can understand something but not everything because this type of creation does not exactly fit into our present experience or the experience of modern day scientists who base their observations on their experiences. It is a little bit of a different type of creation. It may be difficult for us to understand this. Nevertheless, we accept this as the truth.
It is also described in the Bhagavatam that the truth, the Absolute Truth, the Vedas, the scriptures, are a type of sound, but the sound is different. The sound we hear is one type of sound, but there are four levels of sound. When we hear sound, it is called vaikari, to hear with the ear coming from the voice. That is our sense perception working. That is the gross level of sound and information and knowledge, etc.
Then there are three higher levels. We go downwards into the heart and we get madhyama and pasyanti and para. Para is the original sound. That is where sound is equal to realization, object. “Krsna” means Krsna. Gradually, as that sound transforms and comes out in our visible sound, then it becomes vaikari. There is a little bit of difference between what we perceive in the world and the actual information there which means ultimately that we can read scripture and get something from it but the more realized we become, then the more meaning we will get out of it. That’s why I say we can read this and understand something of the mechanics of it but probably won’t understand everything.
In the Fifth Canto of Bhagavatam, our scientists are trying to figure out how to represent that in the planetarium because it doesn’t quite make sense to our modern thinking process. It looks a little bit contradictory in many ways and if we present that as absolute truth, people are going to freak out when they see that, “What does it mean? What does it mean?” That’s why I said we can read things and technically we can adjust things a little bit and understand it, but we may not understand it completely because there are levels of understanding from the grosser level, vaikari, up to para, then we get the actual thing, the actual vision.
So we need a proper realization or a proper vision to see the things of Bhagavatam. That’s not only for the creation, that’s for even obviously Krsna and everything else in the Bhagavatam. So Visvanatha Cakravarti has explained that actually the Bhagavatam presents itself in many ways. One is it is described as a lamp, adhyatma-dipa, a lamp which reveals adhyatma, which means, generally, soul, spirit, God, Brahman, this type of thing. We understand God like that, athato brahma-jijnasa, janmady asya yatah, God in general. So Bhagavatam presents that for people who are qualified for that.
Bhagavatam is also considered to be like the sun, that is a common example, Bhagavatam is the rising sun. So what does the rising sun do? The rising sun obviously brings light and it destroys darkness. When it’s light out all the thieves run away and the devotees rejoice. So in other words it is a little more personal. We have aspects of God where God, the Supreme Lord, pleases the devotees and protects the devotees, and destroys the demons and destroys ignorance and delivers the devotees. So we get a personal idea of God.
Then the other thing presented in the Bhagavatam, what is the Bhagavatam, the Bhagavatam is like a fruit, phalam, a very ripe fruit which is very, very sweet, like a big mango with no skin and no seed and no fibres and very liquid so that you don’t have to chew it even, you can just drink it, drink it through the ears. Bhagavatam is therefore a tasty fruit also. That refers to the Supreme Lord in his most personal aspect full of rasa, full of personal relationships, full of personal qualities in which we serve the Lord and develop a relationship with the Lord and we relish those qualities and we experience prema and love for Krsna.
Of course that develps also because we see that Bhagavatam is meant to show that not only God is there and not only Brahman is there and not only Paramatma and Bhagavan who has many forms and avataras etc., but that Krsna is svayam bhagavan. That is actually what Narada Muni told Vedavyasa, “You missed the point in this Purana. So you write the whole Bhagavatam and show that Krsna is the svayam bhagavan.”
That is ultimately shown in the Tenth Canto of Bhagavatam. That is all rasa. The philosophical aspect is secondary. The creative aspects, sarga, visarga, all that is put into the background and there we simply have Krsna as svayam bhagavan, in the sweetest aspect. That is the fruit of the Bhagavatam.
Bhagavatam presents all these things. It presents the general aspect of God and Brahman, Paramatma, etc., then it also gets into Bhagavan and all those different forms then it also gets into the sweetest aspect of Krsna and his pastimes. All of these things are there in the Bhagavatam for different types of people. Sometimes if we read, particularly the Eleventh Canto, this sounds very impersonal [laughs]. There are all talks of merging and Brahman and jnana and atma, etc. Bhagavatam presents statements like this.
So Visvanatha Cakravarti says not only is Bhagavatam a mango or a lamp or a sun, it is also mohini-avatara. So mohini-avatara is famous because the Lord took the form of Mohini and she bewildered the demons. She was very nice to the demons and the demons thought, “Yes, we will do anything she says.” Then Mohini says, “Give me the nectar.” The demons thought, “Oh, yes, we will give you the nectar. She will give it back to us anyway because she likes us so much.” So they gave her the nectar and what did she do? She gave the nectar to the devatas. That was the end of the demons.
In other words, Bhagavatam fools the demons and the materialists and other people or even the impersonalists. . . the jnanis will read the Bhagavatam and say, “Ah, look after the Tenth Canto we have the Eleventh Canto where we have jnana, we have Brahman. This is ultimate.”
Bhagavatam is tricky. So we will not understand everything immediately. We are devotees so we are not going to go for the Brahman aspect anyway, so the devotees get the nectar and the demons get cheated. They get another whole meaning of Bhagavatam. Similarly people who are not demons but are also part devotees will get something from it. They may appreciate karma or jnana or whatever, the but devotees will appreciate bhakti as supreme in the Bhagavatam. Even that is hidden. Even bhakti is hidden sometimes. Why? Because the Lord likes it like that. Bhagavatam itself says that the Supreme Lord likes to be indirect, paroksa-vada. He doesn’t like to speak directly. We’ll find the whole of the Upanisads are like that, that God walks but doesn’t walk, he’s inside but he’s outside, all these sort of things. Very ambiguous statements.
Even though Bhagavatam is supposed to be the highest truth, it is meant for the devotees. If you are qualified as a devotee you get the very highest truth. If not, you will be puzzled by many things in the Bhagavatam. That is why even devotees will be puzzled: “Why did Krsna disappear like that. Why did he get shot in the foot and suddenly disappear like that? Why did the Vrsnis get drunk and fight amongst themselves?” We find various strange incidents in the Bhagavatam. Or even why did Krsna leave Vrindavan and never come back? We will find very contrary things and even devotees will get disturbed by that sometimes. That’s because Krsna hides things, and Sukadeva hides things, Vyasadeva hides. They hide something.
If you are a great devotees, then you understand the meaning of it and the appreciation of Krsna is more. Bhakti is confidential and it is somewhat rahasya, but it is not completely hidden because Sukadeva is writing for the people of Kali-yuga and this is supposed to be the sun that gives everybody knowledge. But still, aspects of bhakti are hidden sometimes so we cannot simply get the truth by reading it very superficially.
We can study, that’s good, but also one has to develop spiritually. As we develop spiritually, we will have the proper eyes to see everything. As I said, we have these different levels of hearing sound and only according to your qualification you get to a certain level. So in terms of bhakti, by developing our bhakti and going through the different stages of bhakti, the more we advance and the more taste we have for Krsna, then the more truth we will get out of the Bhagavatam. We will understand why things are like this or like that. In this sense that is why we have discussion of all this creation and Brahma and material things in the Bhagavatam. We will understand it more the more we advance.
As I said, Pariksit and Sukadeva Goswami went through nine cantos before they got to the Tenth Canto and they were relishing all this along the way. So there is something here that is very connected with Krsna even if we cannot understand it completely. We should go through the Bhagavatam with great devotion. Rupa Goswami says in the Nectar of Devotion that one of the angas of bhakti is sravanam. That is not just hearing. It is hearing Bhagavatam, because Bhagavatam is the ultimate scripture. Of course we don’t disrespect any other scripture, but Bhagavatam is the ultimate scripture. Not only we hear Bhagavatam, but with great relish, with taste, with devotion. According to that devotion then we have realization or understanding of what everything is.
So back to here, we have a description of Brahma carrying out his creation. This is technically the visarga, the secondary creation. Intellectually we can explain why we have to do this and that is part of sambandha jnana–we have to understand that there is a Lord and there is us and we are not with the Lord, we are conditioned souls in the material world. We don’t become the Lord. We are servants of the Lord but we don’t understand that because we are covered up a gross body and a subtle body and we are thinking this is it, this is everything. We are in great illusion. So this creation of Brahma is what does that. It creates the big illusion for everybody in the material world.
That is not something done whimsically. There is also a purpose behind that. Therefore we do have a discussion of karma and why the jivas are in the material world and how we can also get out. So we have mukti and the different process of advancement. We have the instructions of dharma given by the Manus and the kings. It is not that the jiva is trapped. We have methods for getting out. The reason the jiva is here is also explained because he likes to enjoy in the material world so he is given a place and a body by Brahma to do that.
In other words, this whole creation, sarga, visarga, and other topics are there to show the nature of the jiva in the material world and how the Lord interacts with the jiva in the material world to get him out. The Lord is not unmerciful, he is merciful even to the jivas in the material world. Therefore we will have topics like posana and isanukatha and mukti. The Lord is instrumental in all that. So in this way we can begin understand a little bit of why these topics are there like creation and all the different material aspects explained in Bhagavatam.
OK, any questions? Need a microphone or something?
Visuddha Sattva Das: You mentioned that in topics of Bhagavata Purana, sarga visarga, creation and secondary creation, you made a comment about the Temple of Vedic Planetarium that we should do that in a very solid way because sometimes there are complexities in the Fifth Canto and difficult to understand. . . ? My point is that when Srila Prabhupada gave instructions how to make the whole draft of the planetarium, the Temple of Vedic Understanding, to Svarupa Damodara Maharaja and to the scientists of Bhaktivedanta Institute, he says that we are not expecting that because the scientists will not accept the Bhagavatam we make some compromise [unclear]. We are doing now a work in progress on this research and having some success. My point is that if there are difficulties to understand the high topics of the Bhagavatam we should be straightforward and not compromise for the scientists . Bhanu Swami: Yes, obviously modern science is not the authority, so we don’t have to conform or have our explanations conforming with theirs. As I said, all this depends on higher realization, not on scientists, whatever the truth is.
Visuddha Sattva Das: Even Sukadeva Goswami said even at the time of Brahma it was hard to understand.
Bhanu Swami: Even Brahma doesn’t know how to create [laughs]. He can’t figure it out at the beginning of his every day he gets puzzled. Yes.
Gokulananda Das: Thank you, Maharaja. That was a brilliant overview of the Bhagavatam in full scope. Wonderful, thank you. It brought to mind that in his introduction to Srimad Bhagavatam, Prabhupada makes a very hopeful and glorious declaration that if one assiduously or systematically goes through all the cantos, then he says one is guaranteed to become a God-realized soul. . . . You gave us a glimpse of that progression. Bhagavatam is Krsna himself and Krsna says in Gita, ye yatha mam prapadyante tams tathaiva bhajamy aham. So the Bhagavatam is revealed according to one’s sraddha and one’s bhakti. Gradually, it works differently for different souls, therefore, every part of it is somehow nourished by one’s state. You cannot understand Krsna’s supreme lila if you don’t understand his potencies or his greatness in the creation. So I don’t know if you want to comment on Prabhupada’s statement, but I’m very inspired to know that Bhagavatam is the answer to all our aspirations and hopes. . . ?
Bhanu Swami: Yes, the Bhagavatam is complete in two ways, one is simply because Krsna is complete and Bhagavatam and Krsna are non-different so if we realize Bhagavatam, we realize Krsna and that means everything, in that sense. Of course, that is very high, and that is the esoteric aspect of Bhagavatam. The other is that Bhagavatam is meant for the people of Kali-yuga as the ultimate literature so it must contain all the pertinent information that is valuable for us and reject all those other things. It is not for material stuff it is for paramahamsas. It is giving ultimate information so it should present that to us. Everything we need for spiritual advancement is there.
Ekalavya Das: Hare Krsna. Prabhuji was quoting the verse ye yatha mam prapadyante, so as Krsna reciprocates, so the Srimad-Bhagavatam also reciprocates. How do we know if we are receiving the real message of Srimad Bhagavatam, the highest message of Srimad-Bhagavatam in our hearts and in what way can we enhance our own benefits of studying Bhagavatam?
Bhanu Swami: One answer I’ve had is if we go through acaryas, we go through guru. That’s one thing. The meaning in general is on line. It is not completely off in the wrong direction(?). Secondly, we do have to follow our sadhana. We have rules of sadhana to follow. We have to act within that. If we do that within the sampradaya, we are following rules and acting properly, then we have our own development. As Bhagavatam also says, bhakti is something that is experienced. It is not a theoretical thing, it is an experienced thing. Everyone must have an experience of bhakti.
In the beginning there is sraddha, and then it goes to bhajana kriya and anartha-nivrtti and you get to nistha and ruci and asakti. These are actually experiences of the atma developing. It is not the mind, it is not the intelligence, it is not the senses, it is not the body obviously. Because Bhakti is spiritual so it can only reside in the atma. It is a development of the atma. So as that develops obviously your perceptions are going to change. Actually what happens is your perceptions become spiritual perceptions, and your senses become spiritual in the process of bhakti. Bhakti is non-material so anything you do in bhakti has to be a spiritual thing with spiritual senses.
Of course, sometimes we may think we are doing bhakti but maybe we are not doing bhakti because our attitude is not correct and it’s actually not coming from the atma, it’s coming from the mind or the intelligence or somewhere else. So it is not really the highest type of bhakti. The highest type of bhakti is that which is favourable to Krsna but is coming from the atma. When that happens that is nirguna-bhakti and your senses are transcendental. If you can continue on that level for more time, then you get higher realization. Ultimately, it is a personal experience. Prabhupada said you go through the guidelines of the acarya, the guru, and the process. Ultimately it is you that have to decide. This is the thing.
Bhakti Charu Swami: First of all, thank you very much, Maharaja, for the brilliant class. I was wondering, you went to isanukatha, the Ninth Canto, then you skipped the Tenth Canto and went to mukti and asraya, the Eleventh and Twelfth. Can you explain why?
Bhanu Swami: This is actually Visvanath Cakravarti’s explanation of how he classifies things. It’s very general of course because in every canto you get all the topics anyway. He doesn’t explain exactly why that order is there. I would assume it is similar to Bhagavad-gita where we get six chapters on karma and a little bit of astanga-yoga at the end, a little bit of jnana there, and the last six chapters are predominantly jnana. And the middle six chapters are bhakti. Why not bhakti be at the end, because it is the highest thing, or at the beginning, then you could forget everything else, but why is sit stuck in the middle like that?
The explanation of Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura is that it is confidential, bhakti, so it is stuck between something else, hidden. He gives the example that the Bhagavad-gita is like a box, you have a cover and then you have a jewel inside the box. So the first six chapters of Bhagavad-gita are a base, and the last six chapters are the cover and the middle six chapters are the jewel inside. So the bhakti is a little bit covered up by the two aspects. So we can apply the same thing to Srimad-Bhagavatam. The Tenth Canto is the asraya, it’s the ultimate thing, but it’s stuck a little bit in the middle with other things around it.
Bhakti Charu Swami: Thank you very much.
Kavicandra Swami: When Devananda Pandit became humble and approached Lord Caitanya to ask him to explain the Bhagavatam, he said the Bhagavatam is all bhakti, there is nothing but bhakti. How do we understand that?
Bhanu Swami: Yes, as I said, the Bhagavatam has faces, it’s like Mohini and it tricks the demons so that they think there is just jnana or whatever. But it’s somehow related because Brahman is an aspect of Bhagavan. So for us then we take that simply as an aspect of God, that’s all, but we also understand that Krsna is the highest. Everything is included in Bhagavan: Brahman and Paramatma. So the devotee can take it like that, others will take it different and be perplexed by it also.
Prahlad Nrsimha: Maharaja, please correct me if I’m wrong. Also because we are coming to the material world with the idea that we are the creators. . . ? We start making children, making things, even with saktis we can make planets, etc. So we forget who is the original creator. So the purpose of the Bhagavatam is to first create this awe and reverence so we can develop bhakti, we can understand who is the real creator, who is really inside everything. That is why the Bhagavatam is all bhakti because it is his compassion towards us to make us remember who we really are. Is that correct?
Bhanu Swami: Yes. As I said, there are different levels of understanding God. One level is God as the creator. That is the most basic thing we have in Christianity, we have in Islam, we have it in Bhagavatam, Bhagavad-gita, “I create everything; everything comes from me.” So that is a very basic level, it is not incorrect. Of course, in the Vedanta sutras: janmady asya yatah. “I am the source of the creation.” God is the creator. That is one aspect and that is what this is about, sarga, visarga, etc. God is the ultimate creator, not Brahma, and not any of the devatas and not the human being. Behind everything is Brahma and behind Brahma is the Supreme Lord, Garbhodakasayi Visnu and Maha Visnu. And behind Maha Visnu we get the spiritual world and Krsna.
That is one aspect of it but of course it’s not the ultimate aspect. God has powers by which he creates the material world but the material world is (?) insignificant for the Lord. The spiritual world is more significant for the Lord. Beyond the powers of God, which are basically the powers of Paramatma, we have Bhagavan who is independent from the material world and exists in his pastimes, or his lila. That is even higher. So these topics are therefore secondary and asraya is considered the ultimate aspect. But it’s all included in Bhagavan in one sense because everything is part of God.
I think we have to close here. Our meetings start at 10 ‘o clock and I have to meet at 9:30. Thank you very much. Hare Krsna.[Applause] [Jai, grantharaja Srimad Bhagavatam ki jai! Srila Prabhupada ki jai! His Holiness Bhanu Swami Maharaja ki jai!]
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