Question: I was going through the commentary on SB 5.8.26 where Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura talks about two kinds of prārabdha – śobhanam and aśobhanam. The śobhanam aspect produces bhakti which gives the pain of separation. This is like medicine applied to the eyes which might initially give irritation but results in good sight later. You had explained in your lecture on this verse that this is just a mere “appearance” and not real prārabdha because prārabdha never gives or leads to bhakti. In the commentary to verse 26, Kṛṣṇa’s message to the gopīs in SB 10.32.20 is mentioned where He says that He disappeared to increase the gopīs’ longing.
In the case of Bharata, his forgetfulness of Bhagavān and attention to a deer is explicit. In my understanding, forgetfulness of Kṛṣṇa is different from absence of Kṛṣṇa. In the case of the gopīs, they never forgot Kṛṣṇa. However, Bharata’s forgetfulness of Kṛṣṇa and attachment to deer is rooted in ignorance. Attachment to material objects is founded on this ignorance. How to understand then that Bharata’s forgetfulness of Kṛṣṇa and his attachment for the deer was a means to increase his longing for Kṛṣṇa? At best this seems to be case of niyamākṣamā or taraṅga ranginī.
Answer: Bharata’s forgetfulness of Kṛṣṇa and attachment to the deer resulted in a birth as a deer. But as a deer, he remembered his past life and his mistake. So then he became totally fixed on Kṛṣṇa and did not repeat his mistake. His absorption in Kṛṣṇa now was unbroken. He was then born as a brāhmaṇa boy. His absorption continued. Therefore, he took no interest in learning any karma-kāṇda, which his father wanted him to follow as a brāhmaṇa boy. So in this way the forgetfulness resulted in absorption in Kṛṣṇa. The absorption in Kṛṣṇa did not happen when he was in forgetfulness. It happened later, when he was born as a deer and then as a brāhmaṇaboy. In case of the gopīs, absence of Kṛṣṇa and absorption in Kṛṣṇa was simultaneous, but in case of King Bharata, the absorption happened in future births.
It was not a case of niyamākṣamā or taraṅga ranginī. These are stages before one reaches the stage of niṣṭhā. Bharata was beyond niṣṭhā. So it is understood that his attachment to the deer was either an outcome of some past offense or it was by the will of Kṛṣṇa to increase Bharata’s absorption in a future life. Kṛṣṇa first gave him the taste of bhakti, then made him attached to the deer, and then brought back his memory of Himself and the mistake that he had committed. So then Bharata became completely absorbed.
Ultimately an action should be judged by its outcome, phalena paricīyate. That is what makes Bharata’s forgetfulness is distinct from the forgetfulness of ordinary people.
Question: Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartī comments on Śrīmad Bhāgavata 4.19.2. “As Brahmā becomes blind by lust, Śiva becomes blind by anger, so the nature of Indra who is an avatāra of Viṣṇu is revealed to have envy and crookedness.” (Bhanu Swami’s translation)
It is mentioned in Śrīmad Bhāgavata (4.1.4) that Yajña is the Supreme Lord and that He became Indra (SB 4.1.8). How are we to understand that Indra, an incarnation of Viṣṇu, became envious?
Answer: If you accept this as the līlā of Viṣṇu, then there is no problem. Through His līlā, He is teaching us that those who follow the path of karma have lust, anger, and greed, as depicted by the behavior of Brahmā, Śiva, and Indra. The purport of the story is that only a bhakta is free from lust, anger, and greed, as depicted by the behavior of Pṛthu.
Indra, who is Viṣṇu, is not really envious but is playing the role of an envious person to educate us. This is the sense of Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura’s commentary. Someone has to take that role; usually such a role is played by asuras. But here it is shown that a nice person like Indra is still not free from his lower nature because he is not on the path of bhakti. Prahlāda (SB 5.18.12) says that a non-devotee does not have good qualities: harāv abhaktasya kuto mahad-guṇā.
Question: Generally, the Lord follows the rules of dharma in the role He plays. How are we to understand that Yajña married Dakṣinā when they were both born to Ruci and Ākūti (i.e., they are brother and sister)?
Answer: Were They born or were They manifested through them? Yajña and Dakṣinā did not take birth like ordinary persons; They are eternal and never separated. The very word anapāyinī (SB 4.1.4), meaning “never separated,” is used for Dakṣinā. If They are never separated, then where is the question of marriage? This marriage is another līlā to show that a yajña is not complete without giving a proper gift, which is called dakṣiṇā. Just as a gṛhastha is incomplete without his wife, so a yajña is incomplete without dakṣiṇā. Every līlā has a specific teaching behind it. We have to understand that teaching.
Question: Nārada speaks of his previous life as a Gandharva in Śrīmad Bhāgavata’s Seventh Canto. Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartī comments on SB 7.15.69:
“The Lord says: ‘A person fixed in jñāna and detached from external objects, or My devotee who is detached even from desire for liberation—both should reject the āśrama duties based on external rituals or paraphernalia and conduct themselves beyond the range of rules (SB 11.18.28).’
Thus the devotees, taking instructions of the Lord as proof, do not depend on the rules of varṇāśramaconduct. Nārada explains this in terms of his previous birth in five verses.” (Bhanu Swami translation)
My question is: How does Nārada’s explanation of his life as a Gandharva and his subsequent fall down establish the philosophical siddhānta that devotees do not depend upon the rules of varṇāśrama?
Answer: Nārada explains that as a Gandharva, he was cursed by Brahmā. As a result of the curse, he was born as a śūdra. But in that life, by the grace of devotees, he engaged in bhakti and then took birth as the son of Brahmā. Although he explained varṇāśrama dharma to King Yudhiṣṭhira, he concluded that the essence of varṇāśrama is bhakti and cites his own example. As the son of a maidservant, he did not follow varṇāśrama. He left home and engaged in bhakti. He did not engage in the duties of a śūdra.
One feels respite from sex desire in proportion to one’s surrender to one’s guru (Krishna). Without surrender one remains a puppet in the hands of sex desire.
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