Beyond Matter and a Place of No Falldown (Bhagavat Sandarbha, 52)

In the following verse, Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī simultaneously describes both qualities of Vaikuṇṭha [discussed in the two previous sections]: It is beyond the visible or manifest world and is a place from which no one falls down:

In the following verse, Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī simultaneously describes both qualities of Vaikuṇṭha [discussed in the two previous sections]: It is beyond the visible or manifest world and is a place from which no one falls down:

ātapatraṁ tu vaikuṇṭhaṁ
dvijā dhāmākuto-bhayam

O twice-born, the Lord’s umbrella is His spiritual abode, Vaikuṇṭha, where there is no fear. (SB 12.11.19)

From the context in which this verse is found [i.e., within a description of the Lord’s form within the cosmos], it is understood that the umbrella referred to in the verse belongs to His form as seen in the material world. [Though appearing in the material world, even that umbrella is Vaikuṇṭha, which is to say that it is beyond matter.] Dvijāḥ, “twice-born,” is an address (“O brāhmaṇas”).

Commentary

Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī again discusses the characteristics of Vaikuṇṭha mentioned in the previous two anucchedas. Akuto-bhayam (where there is no fear) is a characteristic of Vaikuṇṭha. The term literally means, “where there is no fear from any direction, or from any cause.” Time is the most feared thing, as it devours everything; in the material world time ultimately means death and the fall from acquired status. As there is no such fear in Vaikuṇṭha, it is qualified by the word akuto-bhayam. Therefore, this word suggests two of Vaikuṇṭha’s qualities—it is beyond the material world and no one falls from there.

Again, it should be noted here that this second quality of Vaikuṇṭha is not restricted purely to those devotees who go to Vaikuṇṭha from the material world. Neither Sūta Gosvāmī nor Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī make any such distinction. The Lord’s umbrella is described as Vaikuṇṭha, for it protects the living beings from all kinds of suffering. Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura comments that when one experiences fearlessness in the material world, it is an effect of this umbrella of the Lord.

The Vaikuṇṭha described in this verse appears within the material world. This is understood from Śaunaka’s questions to Sūta Gosvāmī:

While serving (paricaryāyāṁ) the unique Lord, husband of the Goddess of Fortune, those following the tāntrika path conceive of Him with limbs, associates, weapons and ornaments. Could you explain to us, who are eager to know, how they do so, and in relation to which material elements, and how mortals can attain immortality through mastery of such practices (kriyā-yoga)? (SB 12.11.2-3)

Kriyā-yoga here refers to deity worship. Śaunaka Ṛṣi wants to know how devotees meditate on the limbs, ornaments, dress and so on, of the Deity in relation to the material elements. The umbrella mentioned in the verse under discussion is the one that is used in the deity worship of Lord Viṣṇu.

In the Krama-sandarbha commentary to these verses, Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī writes that the Vaikuṇṭha referred to here is situated above Brahma-loka and was manifested by the son of Vikuṇṭhā. It is to be thought of as the umbrella of Lord Nārāyaṇa. This was manifest during the reign of Raivata Manu, as Śrīla Śuka describes:

Vikuṇṭhā was the wife of the sage Śubhra. From them the Lord Himself appeared as Vaikuṇṭha, a partial manifestation, along with gods who were also known as Vaikuṇṭhas. Being requested by the goddess Ramā (Lakṣmī), in order to please her, the Lord manifested a planet named Vaikuṇṭha, to which all the universes bow down. (SB 8.5.4-5)

This verse will be discussed in greater detail in Section 63.

End of commentary

Gahvarvana

 

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