Vaiṣṇavas are gracious in general, but some go out of their way to pull others onto their way. I experienced this recently through a comment on my blog. I was made to realize that when it comes to understanding śāstra, I am an ignorant toddler. I was ignorant (anāḍi, which means foolish in Hindi) of the true meaning of the word “anādi [lit. beginningless].” What struck me most was that my ignorance about “anādi” was anādi. It was revealed to me that the word “anādi” actually means “sādi [with beginning].” Although it is nowhere explicitly said so, the Vaiṣṇava generously explained how it must be understood that way. Why is “anādi” not anādi but sādi? Because it is caused by “bhagavad-vimukhatā,” and anything that has a cause cannot be anādi. I thought “bhagavad-vimukhatā,” which literally means “averseness to Bhagavān,” was also anādi. But that is not true! It actually means “the choice of averseness to Bhagavān.” Again, how the word “choice” came into this meaning is not explained. It has to be like this because anādi things become sādi when they enter into the material world from the spiritual world. Some kind of magic happens at the entry point. I tried to break my head over it to understand it, but my head would not break. Then, it dawned on me that the head cannot break because it needs something solid to break it, but time is neither solid nor liquid. Indeed, not even gas. So how can it break my thick head? And this was a break for me. It was the only break I got. This whole process must be acintya. And we should not raise questions about acintya things; otherwise, they will become cintya and that will be a cause of big cintā [anxiety]. We should simply follow what the great people say—mahājano yena gataḥ sa panthāḥ. These mahājanas have already broken their mahā heads over these things and thus we can keep our heads intact.
Why doesn’t śastra use unambiguous terms or explain explicitly that anādi is actually sādi, and that bhagavad-vimukhatā has an element of choice in it? The answer is that śāstra does not teach common sense or common non-sense things. It is the very śāstra-ness of śāstra that it teaches only that which cannot be known by any other means:
pratyakṣenānumityā vā vastūpāyo na budhyate
etaṁ vidanti vedena tasmād vedasya vedatā
The forementioned gracious Vaiṣṇava explained that the real meaning of these terms is “self-understood.” Thus, śāstra does not explain them. “Self-understood,” I think, means that these meanings are understood by the “self.” I guess I was missing my “self” all this time and now I finally got it! I guess these are some of the secrets of śāstra that are revealed only to great personalities, as stated in Śvetāśvataropanisad (6.23):
yasya deve parā-bhaktir yathā deve tathā gurau
tasyaite kathitā hyarthāḥ prakāśante mahātmnaḥ
Obviously, I never had a clue that these words had such meanings. I then realized that I must have much more ignorance like this. I thought of writing this article, advising people not to take me seriously. And that applies even to this article!
The gracious Vaiṣṇava also opened my eyes to the teachings of Govinda-bhāṣya. I was mostly hooked on the work of Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī, but the gracious Vaiṣṇava revealed that Govinda-bhāṣya overrides Jīva Gosvāmī. That is why I say that I am an ignorant toddler, because I did not know even this simple fact, that a great luminary like Śrī Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa had set aside the siddhanta elucidated by Jiva Gosvāmī. Historically, it is believed that Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa was a great Mādhava scholar, and had accepted Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism, being influenced by the Ṣat Sandarbhas of Jīva Gosvāmī. However, the fact is that Govinda-bhāṣya was revealed to Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa by Govindadeva Himself, hence the name
“Govinda-bhāṣya.” It therefore has to be superior to the writings of Jīva Gosvāmi, who merely spun them from his head which was probably troubled by the extreme heat and mosquitos of Vrindavan. It is a pity that Jiva Gosvāmī did not have Govinda-bhāṣya available to him; if so, he would not have propagated apasiddhānta, such as no fall-down from Vaikuṇṭha, the conditioning of the jīva being beginningless, etc.
While studying Pāṇini’s Sanskrit grammar, we were taught Kaiyaṭa’s principle: yathottaraṃ hi munitrayasya prāmāṇya—“among the three munis, the latter muni is more authentic than the previous one.” In the world of Pāṇini grammar, there are three main munis who are considered as authorities. The first is Pāṇini himself, the author of the sutras; the second is Kātyāyana, who wrote the vārttikas on the sutras; and the third is Patañjali, who wrote the great commentary on the sūtras called Mahābhāṣya. It is accepted that if there is any contradiction among the three, then the latter is taken as the authority. I guess the gracious Vaiṣṇava must be following this principle because in our sampradaya, we also have three great ācāryas, mainly Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī (by lakṣaṇā vṛtti, Śrī Rūpa and Śrī Sanātana are included), Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura, and Śrī Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa. If there is a contradiction among these three, Śrī Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa is the most authoritative. So I am really thankful to this gracious Vaiṣṇava for opening my eyes. Now I can see the light entering inside me and dispelling the ignorance about anādi, which has been lying there since anādi, which is actually sādi.
Another revelation for me was some book called, “BB.” I had never heard of “BB” before, so when I read it in his comment, I scratched my head. What is this BB? Does it mean Big Ben, the clock in the London tower, or does it mean “Big Brother,” from George Orwell’s book 1984? Of course, these meanings don’t make sense. So, I took shelter of Google guru to figure out what this “BB” really means. And lo and behold! It is a book by Śrī Sanātana Gosvāmī, entitled Bṛhad-bhāgavatamṛta. Wow, I am truly blessed to have heard about this book and the story of some fellow named “Gopa-kumāra.” I am sure the story is quite mysterious because it is the story of a mysterious boy, Gopa-kumāra [gopa = secret, kumāra = boy]. There must be many secrets in the book which are unknown to me. I surely plan to read it and to get rid of any further anādi ignorance.
Finally, taking a clue from the following statement of Cāṇakya, I bow down my head to the gracious Vaiṣṇava for enlightening me. Otherwise my anādi ignorance about anādi would remain ananta.
ekākṣaraṁ pradātāraṁ yo guruṁ nābhivandati
śvāna-yoni-śataṁ bhuktvā cāṇḍāleṣvabhijāyate
“One who does not bow down to the guru who has taught [even only] one word, will be born as a dog for hundred lives and then become a cāṇḍāla.”
I do not mind being a dog in the west, even for one hundred lives. They lead better lives than most human beings. But, I am scared of being born a cāṇḍāla!!
So, my disclaimer again: Don’t take me seriously!
All material relationships, whether of love or hate, will change; they will either fizzle out, turn to its opposite, change in intensity or come to end completely.
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