Reality & the Transcendental Body of a Vaiṣṇava – Part 2

The two words pratyak and praśāntaṁ in the verse under discussion (SB 5.12.11) refer to Paramātmā, who is an expansion of Bhagavān to control and manage the phenomenal world. Paramātmā manifests as the Immanent Being in everyone’s heart. Yogīs meditate on Him. The word pratyak (the innermost being) is used for both the jīvātmā and the Paramātmā.  The word praśānta (peaceful, undisturbed by anything) in the verse is used to distinguish Paramātmā from the jīvātmā, the individual being who is always disturbed.

Bhagavān, or the supreme personal manifestation of the Absolute Reality, is the worshipable object of the devotees. He has the other two aspects (Brahman and Paramātmā) within Himself. Bharata says that learned scholar address Bhagavān as Vāsudeva – “son of Vasudeva,” i.e. Kṛṣṇa.

Śāstric Evidence about Kṛṣṇa

Next, Viśvanāth Cakravārtī Ṭhākura cites several scriptural evidences from Bhagavat Purāṇa to substantiate Bharata’s claim that Vāsudeva Kṛṣṇa is Brahman, Paramātmā and Bhagavān simultaneously:

•   In his prayers to Kṛṣṇa, as part of brahma-mohan-līlā, Lord Brahmā says that Kṛṣṇa is the eternal, complete Brahman (SB 10.14.32).

•   In the story of the killing of Pūtanā, Śrī Śukadeva refers to Kṛṣṇa as Paramātmā (SB 10.6.36).

•   While relating the childhood activities of Kṛṣṇa, Śrī Śukadeva calls Kṛṣṇa Bhagavān (SB 10.8.27).

•   In Bhagavad Gītā (14.27), Kṛṣṇa says that He is the support of Brahman.

•   Similarly, in the concluding part of His vibhūti or opulence, He says that He has entered the universe by one part of His, which means the Paramātmā feature (Gītā 10.42).

•   Similarly, while describing His opulence to Uddhava in Bhagavat Purāṇa, He says that among the various form of Bhagavān, He is Vāsudeva (SB 11.16.21).

From these statements it is clear that Kṛṣṇa, son of Vasudeva, has all three aspects of Reality, i.e. Brahman, Paramātmā and Bhagavān and is thus the most complete manifestation of the Absolute Reality.

The word bhaga as part of the term Bhagavān means aiśvarya - the controlling potency. It implies that there must be something to control, which encompasses the material as well as the spiritual world. The material world is a manifestation of māyā and according to the previous instruction of Bharata to Rahūgaṇa, it is mithyā (not eternally existent). Therefore, the real objects of Bhagavān’s control are the devotees living in His abode, which is an eternal place.

Transcendent and Mundane Activity

Next, Viśvanāth Cakravārtī Ṭhākura explains Jaḍa Bharata’s full message. He describes Bharata as saying, “O King, although you can directly perceive your worldly activities, they are all illusions – coming in and out of existence. They are perishable, limited by time and space.

“This implies that there is another type of activity of an altogether different class, beyond the guṇas and thus not bound by time and space. These are activities related to the Supremely Conscious Being and His devotees. I am trying to inform you about this, but being influenced by ignorance you have been unable to grasp it.

“Some scholars [Advaita-vādīs] call the world and all its activities mithyā – illusory. Giving this same philosophy I have called the world illusory, although in my opinion it is not exactly so. I call it illusory to help you become detached from your material experience and give you a glimpse of the Absolute Reality, in which I am situated.

“You think that I belong to the worldly illusion, but I do not. Therefore your logic does not comprehend me. You called me “fat”, “tired” and a “carrier of your palanquin” – but I told you I am not fat, nor am I tired, nor am I the carrier of your palanquin. I am not a part of these illusions because I do not identify with the material body and I am constantly situated in devotion to Kṛṣṇa. Even the Advaita-vādīs will not disagree with me on this.”

Two Opposing Schools of Thought

Viśvanāth Cakravārtī Ṭhākura describes that the King raises a doubt upon hearing this. He asks, “Bhakti is defined as the function of body, senses and mind only for the sake of Lord Kṛṣṇa. Yet, Lord Kapila states (in SB 3.29.12) that bhakti is nirguṇa – beyond matter.

“Some people (Śakti Pariṇāma-vādīs) say that the material world is a real transformation of the Lord’s external energy: that the effect retains the nature of the cause. If this is the case, I can see how it is possible for matter to become spiritualized by the power of bhakti – so I can understand how the activities of body, senses and mind of a devotee can be become spiritualized just as a touchstone can turn iron into gold.

“However another school of thought (Vivarta-vāda a.k.a. Advaita-vāda) says that the material world is only an illusion of reality: that the effect of the cause does not retain its qualities – and thus Reality can produce something wholly illusory. If this school of thought is adopted, bhakti must also be an illusion – since it is an activity done with the unreal body, mind and senses. It cannot be nirguṇa, as Lord Kapila claims. It does not even exist. If it does not exist, it cannot be given by the guru at the time of dikṣa (initiation); its sādhana is as meaningless and unreal as sowing a seed in the sky; Kṛṣṇa bhakti, its practice, and its perfection – love which can even control Bhagavān – must all be illusory.”

Jaḍa Bharata responds (from the Pariṇāma-vāda point of view, which is accepted by Bhagavat Purāṇa):

What you say is true, but nothing is impossible for Bhagavān who has trans-logical supreme power. Lord Kṛṣṇa Himself says (SB 11.29.22):

eṣā buddhimatāṁ buddhir

   manīṣā ca manīṣiṇām

yat satyam anṛteneha

   martyenāpnoti māmṛtam

“This is the wisdom of the wise, and cleverness of the clever: one can use the illusory, temporary body to attain Me, who am real and immortal.”

The meaning of this verse is: By that (yat) which is not real (anṛtena) – the mortal body (martyena) – one attains Me (mām), who is real (ṛtam).

The full sense of the verse is: Even by a false (anṛta) [because of being temporary] mortal body (martyena), one can attain Me, the Absolute Truth (ṛtam), who has a supremely blissful nature (satyam). Thus one can use the mortal material body to express devotion to Krishna by offering a leaf, flower, fragrance, incense, lamps, etc. This is the wisdom of the wise and the realization of those who are expert in deliberation.

(to be continued)

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