Srila Prabhupada on Srimad Bhagavatam, Part 9

BY: SUN STAFF

Bhaktivedanta Book Trust


Jan 27, 2011 — CANADA (SUN) — A serial exploration of Srila Prabhupada's preaching on Srimad Bhagavatam.

Today we continue exploring the Introduction to Srimad Bhagwatam -- 'A short life sketch and teachings of Lord Chaitanya, the Preacher of Srimad Bhagwatam'. In this section, Srila Prabhupada continues to describe Caitanya Mahaprabhu's pastimes with Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya, exchanging views of the Vedanta-sutras and understandings of the atmarama sloka from the Bhagavatam.


A short life sketch and teachings of Lord Chaitanya,
the Preacher of Srimad Bhagwatam

From Srimad Bhagwatam, Vol. I, First Part
(Continued)

The Lord continued to say, "Srila Vyasdeva has summarised the direct meanings of the Mantras in Upanishads in the Vedanta Sutras. Unfortunately you do not take the direct meaning of them and indirectly you interpret them in a different way".

"The authority of the Vedas is unchallengeable and goes with out any question of doubt. And whatever is stated in the Vedas must be accepted in toto otherwise it becomes a challenge to the authority of the Vedas".

"The conchshell and cowdung are bone and stool of two living beings. But because they have been recommended by the Vedas as pure people accept them as such and that is the authority of the Vedas".

The idea is that nobody can apply his imperfect reason on the authority of the Vedas. The orders of the Vedas must be obeyed as it is without any mundane reasoning. The so called followers of the Vedic injunction make out their own interpretations of the Vedic injunctions and thus they establish different parties and sect of the Vedic religion. Lord Budhda directly denied the authority of the Vedas and He established his own religion. For this reason only the Buddhist religion was not accepted by the strict followers of the Vedas. But those who are socalled followers of the Vedas are more harmful than the Buddhist. The Buddhist has the courage to deny the Vedas directly but the so called followers of the Vedas have no courage to deny the Vedas and indirectly they disobey all the injunctions of the Vedas. Lord Chaitanya condemned this class of followers of the Vedas.

The example of the conchshell and that of the cowdung given by the Lord is very much appropriate in this connection. If some body argues that cowdung is the stool of a living creature and there fore the stool of a learned Brahmin will be still more pure, that sort of argument will not be accepted. The cowdung will be accepted and the stool of a highly posted Brahmin will be rejected with equal abhorrence. The Lord therefore continued to say.

"The Vedic injunctions are self-authorised and if some mundane creature wants to adjust the interpretations of the Vedas certainly he will commit blunder upon the authority of the Vedas. It is foolish to think of oneself as more intelligent than Srila Vyasa deva. He has already expressed himself in his Sutras and there is no need of help from personalities of lesser importance. His set up of the Vedanta Sutras are as much dazzling as the midday Sun and when some body wants to give his own interpretations on the self effulgent Sun-like Vedanta Sutras, certainly such person attempts to cover the sun with a kind of cloud of one's own imagination."

"The purpose of the Vedas and Puranas are one and the same. They want to ascertain the Absolute Truth and the Absolute Truth is greater than everything else. The Absolute Truth is ultimately realised as the Absolute Personality of Godhead with Absolute Controlling Power. As such the Absolute Personality of Godhead must be completely full of opulence, strength, fame, beauty, knowledge and renunciation. And as such the transcendental Personality of Godhead is astonishingly ascertained as impersonal."

"The impersonal description of the Absolute Truth in the Vedas is meant for nullifying the mundane conception of the Absolute whole. Personal features of the Lord is completely distinguished from all kinds of mundane features. The living entities are all individual persons and they are all parts and parcels of the Supreme whole. If the parts and parcels are individual persons, the source of their emanation must not be impersonal. He is the Supreme Person amongst all the relative persons."

The Vedas inform us that from Him (Brahman) everything emanates and on Him only everything rests. And after annihilation everything merges in Him only. Therefore, He is the ultimate dative causative and accommodating cause of all causes. And all these causes cannot be ascertained to an impersonal object."

"The Vedas inform us that He alone becames many and when He so desires He puts His glance over the material Nature".

"Before His such glance over the material Nature, there was no material cosmic creation. And, therefore, His glancing over the material nature is certainly not one of material creation. Material mind or senses were unborn when the Lord placed His glance over the material Nature; and all these evidences of the Vedas prove it without any doubt that the Lord has transcendental eyes and mind distinguished from the material one. His impersonality there fore is negation of material but not denial of His transcendental Personality".

"Brahman means ultimately the Personality of Godhead. Impersonal Brahman realisation is just the negative conception of the mundane creations. Paramatma realisation is localised aspect of Brahman within all kinds of material bodies. Ultimately the Supreme Brahma realisation is the realization of the Personality of Godhead. Lord Sri Krishna is that Supreme Personality of Godhead according to all evidences of the revealed scriptures. He is the ultimate source of Vishnu Tatwas".

"The Puranas are also supplimentary to the Vedas. The Vedic mantras are too stiff for an ordinary man. Women, Sudras and the socalled twice-born higher castes are unable to penetrate into the sense of the Vedas. And thus the Itihasha or the Mahabharat as well as the Puranas are made easy to explain the truths of the Vedas. In the prayers of Brahma before the boy Sri Krishna He said that there is no limit of the fortune of the residents of Brajabhumi headed by Sri Nanda Maharaj and Yasodamayee; because the eternal Absolute Truth has become their intimate relative."

"The Vedic mantra describes that the Absolute Truth has no legs and no hands and yet goes faster than all and accepts everything that is offered to Him in devotion. These statements of going faster or accepting everything by hand definitely suggest the Personal features of the Lord, although He is distinguished from mundane hands and legs or other senses."

"Brahma is, therefore, never Impersonal but when such Mantras are indirectly interpreted it is wrongly established that the Abolute Truth is impersonal. The Absolute Truth Personality of Godhead is full of all opulences and therefore He has tanscendental Form of full existence, knowledge and bliss. How one can establish thus the Absolute Truth as impersonal."

"Brahman being full of opulences, it is understood that He has manifold energies and all such energies are classified under three headings under the authority of Vishnu Puranam (6.7.60). It says that the transcendetal energies of the Lord Vishnu are primarily three. His spiritual energy as well as the energy of the living entities are classified as superior energy whereas the material energy is inferior one which is sprouted out of ignorance."

"The energy of the living entities is technically called Kshetrajna Energy. This Ksehtrajna Shakti although equal in quality with the Lord, becomes over powered by material energy out of ignorance and thus sufferes all sorts of material miseries. In other words the living entities are marginal energy between the suprerior spiritual and inferior material energy and in proportion of the living being's contact with either of the material or spiritual energies, the living entities become situated in proportionately higher and lower levels of existence."

"The Lord is beyond the inferior and marginal energies as above mentioned and His spiritual energy is manifested in three different phases. They are manifested as eternal existence, eternal bliss and eternal knowledge. So far eternal existence is concerned it is conducted by the Samdhini potency, similarly bliss and knowledge are conducted by the Ahladini and Sambit potencies respectively. As the Supreme energetic Lord He is the Supreme controller of the spiritual marginal, and material energies. And all these different phases of energies are connected with the Lord in eternal devotional service."

"The Supreme Personality of Godhead is thus enjoying in His transcendental eternal Form and therefore it is astounding that one may dare to call the Supreme Lord as non-energetic?"

"The Lord is the controller of all the abovementioned energies and the living entities are parts and parcles of one of the energies. Therefore, there is a gulf of difference between the Lord and the living entities. How then one can say that the Lord and the living entities are one and the same thing."

"In the Bhagwat Geeta also the living entities are described to belong to the Superior energy of the Lord. On the principles of intimate co-relation between the energy and the energetic, both of them are non-different also. Therefore, the Lord and the living entities are non-different as the energy and the energetic".

"Earth, water, fire, air, sky, mind, intelligence and ego all these elements are inferior energies of the Lord but the living entities are different from all of them as superior energy and that is the version of the Bhagwat Geeta."

"The transcendental form of the Lord is eternally existent and full of transcendental bliss. How then such Form can be a product of the material mode of goodness? Any one, therefore, who does not believe in the Form of the Lord, such person is certainly a faithless demon and as such he is untouchable, not tobe seen person-nongrata and fit to be punished by the regulation of the Plutonic king."

"The Buddhist are called atheist because they have no respect for the Vedas but those who defy the Vedic conclusions as above mentioned under the cover of being follower of the Vedas, are verily more dangerous than the Buddhists."

"Sri Vyasdeva very kindly compiled the clause of the Vedic knowledge in his Vedanta Sutras and if somebody hears the commentation of the Mayavadi school (as representated by the Shamkara Sampradaya), certainly such audience will be misled on the path of spiritual realisation".

"The theory of emanations is the beginning for the Vedanta Sutra and as such all the cosmic manifestations are emanations from the Absolute personality of Godhead by His inconceivable different energies."

"The example of the touch-stone is verily comparable with the theory of emanation. The touchstone can convert unlimated quantity of iron into gold and still the touch stone remains as it is. Similarly the Supreme Lord can produce all the manifestive world by His inconceivable energies and yet He is full and unchanged. He is Purna (complete) and unlimited number of Purnas being emanated from Him, He is still Purna."

"The theory of illusion by the Mayavada school is advocated on the ground that the theory of emanation will cause transformation of the Absolute Truth. And in that case Vyasdeva will be put into error and to save this anomaly of the great Master, they have skilfully brought in the theory of illusion."

"The world or the cosmic creation is not illusion or false as it is advocated by the Mayavada school. But it has no permanent existence. A non-permanent thing cannot be called as false altogether. But the conception of the material body by the living being, as his self, -is certainly wrong."

"Pranaba (Om) or the Omkara in the Vedas is the primeval hymn and the transcedental sound is identical with the Form of the Lord. All the Vedic hymns are based on this Pranaba Omkara."

"Tatwamasi" is but a side word of the Vedic literatures and therefore this word cannot be the primeval hymn of the Vedas instead of the Omkara. Sripada Shankaracharya has given more stress on the side word Tatwamasi than the primeval principle "ONKARA".

The Lord thus spoke on the Vedanta Sutras and defied all the propaganda of the Mayavada school. The Bhattacharya tried to defend himself and his Mayavada school by jugglery of logic and grammer but the Lord was able to defeat all such jugglery of words by His forceful arguments. He affirmed that we are all related with the Personality of Godhead eternally and the devotional service is our eternal function to exchange dealings of our relations. And the result of such exchange of dealing is to attain Prema or Love of Godhead. When Love of Godhead is attained, love for all other beings automatically follows because the Lord is the sumtotal of all the living beings.

The Lord said except these three items namely eternal relation with god, exchange of dealings thereof and to attain to the stage Love of Godhead, all that are instructed in the Vedas are Superfluous only, and besides these three items everything is concocted imagination.

The Lord further added that the Mayabada Philosophy catered by Sripad Shankaracharya is something imaginary explanation of the Vedas but it had to be done by Him (Shankaracharya) because He was ordered to do so by the Personality of Godhead. In the Padmapuranam it is stated that the Personality of Godhead ordered His Lordship Shiva to deviate the human race from Him (the Personality of Godhead). The Personality of Godhead was to be so covered that people may be encouraged to generate more and more population. His Lordship Mahadeva said to the Devi "In the Kaliyuga, I shall preach the Mayavada Philosophy which is nothing but clouded Buddhism, in the garb of a Brahmin."

After hearing all these speeches of the Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the Bhattacharya was struck with wonder and awe and began to see Him in dead silence. The Lord then encouraged him with assurance that there was no cause of wonder, "I say that DEVOTIONAL SERVlCE UNTO THE PERSONALITY OF GODHEAD IS THE HIGHEST NEED OF HUMAN LIFE". He than quoted a sloka from the Bhagwat and assured him that even the liberated souls who are absorbed in the Spirit and spiritual realisation, do also take to the devotional service of the Lord Hari because the Personality of Godhead has such transcendental qualities as He attracts the heart of the liberated soul too.

Then the Bhattacharya desired to listen to the explanation of the "Atmarama" sloka from the Bhagwat (1.7.10) on which the Lord first of all asked Bhattacharya to explain it and after that He would explain. The Bhattacharya then scholarly explained the sloka with special reference to logic. He explained the sloka in nine different ways chiefly based on logic because he was the most renowned scholar of logic of the time.

The Lord after hearning the Bhattacharya thanked him for the scholarly presentation of the sloka and then on the request of the Bhattacharya the Lord explained the sloka in sixty four different ways without touching the nine different explanations given by the Bhattacharya.

Thus after hearing the explanation of the Atmarama sloka* from the Lord, the Bhattacharya was convinced that such a scholarly presentation of the sloka is impossible to be done by any earthly creature. Before this he was tried to be convinced by Sri Gopinath Acharya about the Divinity of the Lord but at that time he could not so accept Him. At the present moment the Bhattacharya was astounded by the Lord's exposition of the Vedanta Sutra and explanations of the Atmarama sloka. And thus he began to think within himself that he committed a great offence at the lotus feet of the Lord without recognizing Him to be Krishna Himself. He then surrendered unto Him repenting his past dealings with Him and the Lord was kind enough to accept the Bhattacharya. Out of His causeless mercy the Lord manifested before him first as four handed Narayana and then again as two handed Lord Krishna with the flute in His hand.

*The complete text of the explanation given by the Lord will form a booklet itself and therefore we have tried to present it in a different chapter in our Chaittanya Charitamrita Essays and Texts.

The Bhattacharya at once fell down on the lotus feet of the Lord and composed many suitable slokas in praise of the Lord by the Grace of Him. He composed almost one hundred slokas in praise of the Lord. The Lord then embraced him and out of transcendental ecstacy the Bhattacharya became unconscious of the physical state of life. Tears. tremoring, throbing of the heart, perspiration, emotional waves, dancing, singing, crying and all the eight symptoms of trance were manifested in the body of the Bhattacharya. Sri Gopinath Acharya became very glad and astonished on this marvellous conversion of his brother-in-law by the Grace of the Lord.

Out of the 100 celeberated slokas composed by the Bhattacharya in praise of the Lord, the following two are most important and these two slokas explain the mission of the Lord in gist. They are as follows.

1. "Let me surrender unto the personality of Godhead who has appeared now as Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. He is the ocean of all mercy and has come down to teach us material detachment, learning and devotional service of Himself."

2. "Pure devotional service of the Lord having been lost in oblivion of time, the Lord has appeared to renovate the principles and therefore I do offer my obeisances unto His lotus feet."

The Lord explained the word Mukti as equivalent of the word Vishnu or the Personality of Godhead. And to attain Mukti or liberation from the bondage of material existence is to attain to the service of the Lord.

[End of this section of Srimad Bhagwatam]


Our comments on the above excerpt:

In the segment above we again find some interesting comparables in the area of spelling revisions, including the following (Bhagwatam on the left, Bhagavatam on the right).

Describing the Lord's potencies, there is both spelling change and elimination of initial capital letters in: Samdhini / sandhini; Ahladini / hladhini; and Sambit / samvit.

Additional spelling changes include: Yasodamayee / Yasodamayi; Shamkara Sampradaya / Sankara-sampradaya; Pranaba (Om) / Pranava [om]; Omkara / omkara; Tatwamasi / Tat tvam asi; and Padmapuranam / Padma Purana.

The following pairs represent words that were originally capitalized, but changed to lower case in the later Bhagavatam edition:

Absolute Controlling Power; Absolute whole; Supreme whole; Kshetrajna Energy; Ksehtrajna Shakti; Supreme energetic; Supreme controller; Grace (of the Lord); and Mukti.

There is one important sentence that Srila Prabhupada had originally emphasized with all capital letters and bold text, which was revised to small case, no bold in the later edition:

    DEVOTIONAL SERVlCE UNTO THE PERSONALITY OF GODHEAD IS THE HIGHEST NEED OF HUMAN LIFE".

That sentence also includes word changes in the revised edition:

    "I say that devotional service unto the Personality of Godhead is the highest goal of human life."

We should also point out that there are PDF versions of the three-volume original Bhagwatams available on the Net, and we'll link them in from this series in a future segment. Unfortunately, we have discovered that these are not true copies of the actual hardcopy books. They contain a number of typos and slight changes, most likely because they were hand-typed rather than scanned and the errors were not caught. In the example given above, the bold text was missing from the PDF document, although it is present in the actual Bhagwatam.

There are quite a number of instances in today's segment of 'A short life sketch' in the category of revisions for which some degree of change in meaning might be ascribed, including the following (blue from Bhagwatam, red from Bhagavatam):

    The idea is that nobody can apply his imperfect reason on the authority of the Vedas. The orders of the Vedas must be obeyed as it is without any mundane reasoning.

    The idea is that one cannot set his imperfect reason above the authority of the Vedas. The orders of the Vedas must be obeyed as they stand, without any mundane reasoning.


    If some body argues that cowdung is the stool of a living creature and there fore the stool of a learned Brahmin will be still more pure, that sort of argument will not be accepted. The cowdung will be accepted and the stool of a highly posted Brahmin will be rejected with equal abhorrence.

    If one argues that since cow dung is pure, the stool of a learned brahmana is still more pure, his argument will not be accepted. Cow dung is accepted, and the stool of a highly posted brahmana is rejected.


    Personal features of the Lord is completely distinguished from all kinds of mundane features.

    Personal features of the Lord are completely different from all kinds of mundane features.


    Brahman means ultimately the Personality of Godhead.

    Brahman ultimately refers to the Personality of Godhead.


    Ultimately the Supreme Brahma realisation is the realization of the Personality of Godhead. Lord Sri Krishna is that Supreme Personality of Godhead according to all evidences of the revealed scriptures.

    Ultimately the Supreme Brahman realization is the realization of the Personality of Godhead according to all evidence of the revealed scriptures.


    The Vedic mantras are too stiff for an ordinary man.

    The Vedic mantras are too difficult for an ordinary man.


    And thus the Itihasha or the Mahabharat as well as the Puranas are made easy to explain the truths of the Vedas.

    And thus the Mahabharata as well as the Puranas are made easy to explain the truths of the Vedas.


    These statements of going faster or accepting everything by hand definitely suggest the Personal features of the Lord,

    The latter statements definitely suggest the personal features of the Lord


    In other words the living entities are marginal energy between the suprerior spiritual and inferior material energy

    In other words, the living entities are located in the marginal energy between the superior (spiritual) and inferior (material) energies,


    On the principles of intimate co-relation between the energy and the energetic, both of them are non-different also.

    According to the principles of intimate correlation between the energy and the energetic, both of them are nondifferent also.


    "Earth, water, fire, air, sky, mind, intelligence and ego all these elements are inferior

    "Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and ego are all inferior energies


    And in that case Vyasdeva will be put into error and to save this anomaly of the great Master, they have skilfully brought in the theory of illusion."
    "The world or the cosmic creation is not illusion or false as it is advocated by the Mayavada school.

    If that is the case, Vyasadeva is wrong. To avoid this, they have skillfully brought in the theory of illusion. But the world or the cosmic creation is not false, as maintained by the Mayavada school.


    "Tatwamasi" is but a side word of the Vedic literatures and therefore this word cannot be the primeval hymn of the Vedas instead of the Omkara.

    Tat tvam asi is but a side word in the Vedic literatures, and therefore this word cannot be the primeval hymn of the Vedas.

There are two anomalies found that have to do with footnotes, being an inconsistency in where the references and footnote texts are presented in the Bhagwatam and Bhagavatam versions, and also in the PDF version:

    *In our Chaitanya Charitamrita Essays and Text we have more elaborately explained all these philosophical intricacies Srimad Bhagwatam clears them all.

    *The complete text of the explanation given by the Lord will form a booklet itself and therefore we have tried to present it in a different chapter in our Chaittanya Charitamrita Essays and Texts.

At the end of this segment we find a very interesting and noteworthy difference in text between the Bhagwatam and Bhagavatam versions. This one occurs at the close of the atmarama pastime, when Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya composed 100 slokas in glorification of the Lord. Srila Prabhupada states that out of these 100 slokas, two are the most important, and he presents them in his Srimad Bhagwatam as follows:

    1. "Let me surrender unto the personality of Godhead who has appeared now as Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. He is the ocean of all mercy and has come down to teach us material detachment, learning and devotional service of Himself."

    2. "Pure devotional service of the Lord having been lost in oblivion of time, the Lord has appeared to renovate the principles and therefore I do offer my obeisances unto His lotus feet."

And following is how these same two slokas are presented in Srila Prabhupada's BBT edition of the Srimad Bhagavatam:

    1. Let me surrender unto the Personality of Godhead who has appeared now as Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He is the ocean of all mercy and has now come down to teach us material detachment, learning and devotional service to Himself.

    2. Since pure devotional service of the Lord has been lost in the oblivion of time, the Lord has appeared to renovate the principles, and therefore I offer my obeisances unto His lotus feet.

The most significant differences are shown in bold text (our emphasis). This example is a particularly interesting one. First, it is a very important sastric reference the two most important slokas of all 100 that the Bhattacarya composed in glorification of Mahaprabhu. Second is the fact that Srila Prabhupada authorized both versions.

While we might speculate as to the significance of a changed word here or there, this comparative example clearly illustrates that what is most important is not the words on the paper it is the Absolute Truth embodied in the sound vibration of the Sampradaya Acarya's instructions.

Our English language, imperfect at best, is no match for the transcendental perfection of the pure devotee's telling of the Lord's pastimes. And this fact should help us put into perspective all the editorial changes that have been made to Srila Prabhupada's books. The notion that noodling with a word here or a word there is somehow going to improve upon the potency of the message being presented is patently incorrect. Both of Srila Prabhupada's versions of the two key slokas of Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya are cent percent perfect.


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