How Yogamaya Influences Perfected Devotees – I
Questions & Answers Sandarbhas

How Yogamaya Influences Perfected Devotees – I

Jaya and Vijaya

Question: Regarding the ānukūlyena kṛṣṇānuśīlanaṃ verse in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, Jaya and Vijaya agreed to please Kṛṣṇa by fighting with Him and thus took birth as demons. In this condition, were they aware of this pleasing intention, or were they completely subjugated by yogamāyā so that they could fulfill this role?

Answer: They were under yogamāyā. Śrī Jiva Gosvāmī explains that their inimical mood was external, and so were their asurika bodies. I am citing my translation and commentary on Prīti Sandarbha, Anucchedas 7.6–7, where Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī explains how even perfected devotees can be influenced by Yogamāyā and act as if ignorant of the reality:


The Līlā-śakti’s Influence on Kṛṣṇa’s Associates and the Asuras 

Sometimes, however, the līlā-śakti itself, in order to nourish the sweetness of Bhagavān’s divine play, invests such power in both the favorable and unfavorable elements of its own design (ātma-upakaraṇa) that even those such as [the gopas] who are dear to Kṛṣṇa are made to experience a semblance (ābhāsa) of absorption in the object-field (viṣayāveśa). An example of this is seen in Śrī Śuka’s description of Pūtanā: “Seeing that lovely woman [Pūtanā], who captivated the minds of the inhabitants of Vraja by her sidelong glances and enchanting smiles, the gopīs thought her to be Śrī herself [i.e., Lakṣmī]” (SB 10.6.6).

With the intention of pointing out the mere “semblance” (ābhāsa) of absorption in the object-field [on the part of the Vraja-gopas], Śukadeva employs the words mano harantīm, “who captivated the minds [of the inhabitants of Vraja],” in the sense of a pun (śleṣa), signifying that Pūtanā behaved “as if” (iva) having captivated their minds. Earlier in the same chapter, it was hinted that Pūtanā’s power (śakti) was in fact bestowed by the līlāśakti:

“Fiends and witches [like Pūtanā] can extend their evil influence [prabhavanti, i.e., their śakti] only in those places where people, though devoted to their prescribed duties, do not engage in hearing and singing the names and līlās of Bhagavān Kṛṣṇa, the Guardian of His devotees, which are capable of destroying the fiends.” (SB 10.6.3)

Only in this manner [by empowerment of the līlā-śakti] was the following possible:

“Because she [Pūtanā] was holding a lotus flower in her hand and was exquisitely beautiful, the gopīs mistook her for Śrī [Lakṣmī], who had come there as if to see her husband (patim).” (SB 10.6.6)

The word śrīyam here refers to the presiding deity of material wealth, and the word patim, lit., “husband,” refers to someone who, on the basis of piety accrued from the past, is eligible to obtain such wealth. [The implication here is that without the support of the līlā-śakti, the hideous witch Pūtanā could never have been mistaken for Lakṣmī and especially not by Bhagavān’s eternal associates.] As in the previous case [wherein the captivation of the gopas’ minds by Pūtanā was merely an ābhāsa], so too in the following statement [Yaśodā’s and Rohiṇī’s bewilderment by Pūtanā was only an ābhāsa]:

“Seeing that beautiful woman suddenly present inside the house and behaving most agreeably [in the manner of an affectionate mother (valgu jananyā iva)]—though her heart was cruel, like a sword encased in a soft leather sheath—the two mothers [Yaśodā and Rohiṇī] stood awestruck [and did not intervene (na tu nivāritavatyau)], being overwhelmed by her splendor [i.e., by her display of motherly affection (mātṛvat sneha prākaṭya pratibhayā)].” (SB 10.6.9)

In the same manner, wherever even Bhagavān’s own associates are said to be overwhelmed by māyā, this is to be understood as but a mere outward appearance of such enthrallment (māyā-abhibhava-ābhāsa). This is exemplified in the case of Śrī Baladeva, when He said: “This must be the māyā of My master [Kṛṣṇa] and of no other, because it is bewildering even Me” (SB 10.13.37). 


Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī cites an instance where even Kṛṣṇa’s own associates seem to become absorbed in events or objects other than Him. He clarifies that wherever this type of scenario is described in śāstra, it should be inferred that Kṛṣṇa’s associates are impelled to behave in such manner by Bhagavān’s līlā-śakti because they are beyond all influence of the extrinsic potency. The līlā-śakti does this just to enhance the sweetness of Kṛṣṇa’s divine play. Consequently, the absorption in the object-field on the part of Kṛṣṇa’s associates is merely an ābhāsa.

Śrī Jīva gives the example of gopīs like Yaśodā becoming influenced by the beauty of Pūtanā. It is said that wherever the name of Kṛṣṇa is chanted, fiends and hobgoblins cannot enter, yet Pūtanā was able to enter Gokula itself, where He was personally present. This would not have been possible unless His līlā-śakti had arranged for it so that He could enact the divine play of liberating Pūtanā. Moreover, even Yaśodā was influenced by Putanā’s beauty and thus allowed her to take baby Kṛṣṇa in her arms and feed Him.

Bhagavān’s līlā-śakti can influence even His own direct expansions like Balarāma, as was the case during the Brahmā-mohana-līlā. When Brahmā stole Kṛṣṇa’s friends and calves, the latter expanded Himself into exact replicas of both the cowherd boys and the calves. This went on for an entire year without Balarāma’s knowledge because He too had been under the influence of the līlā-śakti.

In support of his explanation that Pūtanā was able to captivate the minds of the gopas and gopīs by the influence of the līlā-śakti, Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī comments that the words mano harantīm, “captivated the minds [of the inhabitants of Vraja],” are spoken by Śrī Śuka in the sense of a pun. The gerund noun harantīm can also mean harantīm iva, Pūtanā behaved “as if having captivated” their minds. This meaning is derived by applying the suffix kvip in the sense of kyaṅ, which is utilized when someone acts like someone else. Furthermore, he comments that the word Śrī, used for Pūtanā, does not refer to the transcendental Lakṣmī, the consort of Nārāyaṇa, but to the presiding deity of material wealth.