Question: Does aprakata-līlā take place on earth in a form unmanifested to ordinary souls or does it take place in Goloka, which is beyond the earth?
Answer: Aprakata-līlā is in aprakata-prakāśa. Now the question is, where is this aprakata-prakāśa? One way of understanding is that it is in the spiritual realm. This is what you see in the commentary to Anuccheda 107. But, ultimately, the spiritual realm and material realm are not two isolated places. The spiritual realm is also here. But because we do not have spiritual consciousness, we do not perceive it. All our experiences are material, so it is explained that the spiritual realm is something beyond. However, beyond is also here; if we have the appropriate consciousness, we can perceive it here. It is like a TV screen, where the programs on different channels can be seen. But you see only the channel into which you are tuned. So you can say that the other channels are not there, or that they are there, but unmanifest. Similarly, the unmanifest Goloka is also here in the manifest Vrindavan and great devotees like Jīva Gosvāmī can see that Vrindavan right here. There are many stories of great devotees having the experience of the unmanifest Vrindavan while they were living in this manifest Vrindavan. When they had that experience, they were not physically transported from this realm to there.
Question: The Bhāgavata is a samadhi-grantha of Śrī Vyāsadeva—a case of vaiduṣa pratyakṣa. “Whatever is disclosed in that state is known not in the way of conceptual understanding but as direct feeling-awareness of, or identity with, what is known.” I would like to know if Vyāsa or Śukadeva saw “through bhakti yoga” and wrote Śrīmad Bhāgavata:
1.) as “what happened in the past?”
2.) as “what is happening eternally—as a live vision?”
Answer: This is true for the līlā of all avatāras.
3.) As “what is happening while Vyāsa or Śukadeva were present or were characters in Kṛṣṇa-līlā?”
Question: Is it an anubhāva grantha of one’s own or of someone else?
Answer: One’s own anubhāva. I would like to add that although it is their own anubhāva, it has been presented in sāhitya style.
Question: Are there any incidents from the Bhāgavata where Vyāsa or Śukadeva became one of the characters with whom Kṛṣṇa interacted?
Answer: There is no explicit mention of this anywhere in the Bhāgavata. But you can get hints from verses SB 1.7.11 (especially the qualifier nityam for viṣṇu-jana-priyaḥ); SB 10.12.39 (Bhāgavatīm gatim means becoming a Bhāgavata; if Aghāsura could attain this, then what can be said of Śukadeva? Kaimutya-nyāya); SB 10.12.44 (Śukadeva enters into the unmanifest līlā of Kṛṣṇa); SB 12.12.68, etc.
Note that Vyāsa is listed among the avatāras in the Third Chapter of the First Canto.
Question: I have a question regarding the episode when Bhagavān appeared at Dakṣa’s yajña.
You mentioned that Dakṣa was sarcastic towards Lord Śiva in his prayers to Lord Viṣṇu. How can the Lord appear and listen to insincere prayers?
Also, you mentioned that Dakṣa did not accept that this form of the Lord in front of his eyes was original and transcendental. Dakṣa thought it was a māyic form. Why is the Lord granting His personal darśana, sākṣat-kāra, to a non-devotee who doesn’t even believe in His supreme form? And on the other hand, the Lord doesn’t give His darśana to devotees who believe in His transcendental, beautiful form unless they develop bhāva. Could you please explain this? What kind of bhāva did Dakṣa possess that he was able to have a direct vision of the Lord?
Answer: Dakṣa is not a bhakta but a karma-yogī. Karma-yoga is also propounded by Bhagavān (see SB 11.20.6). Dakṣa believes in the karma-kanda section of the Vedas and is very devoted to that. That is why he is unable to understand bhakti. Bhagavān appeared in Dakṣa’s yajña because Dakṣa followed the karma-vidhi properly. But that does not mean that Dakṣa got His blessings. He only got material benefits, not spiritual benefits. Similarly, in this material world, many materialistic people prosper materially due to their good karma.
We must understand the difference between karma and bhakti. Because Dakṣa did not have bhakti bhāva, he did not receive spiritual benefits. However, on the path of karma, he is highly advanced. When people like Dakṣa see Bhagavān, they do not see His actual form. They see it as per their own concept, just as the people in Kamsa’s arena (see SB 10.43.17). Kṛṣṇa’s body is not hard like stone but this is how the wrestlers saw Him.
In Vyasa’s samadhi, he saw jiva, jiva’s conditioning, Maya, and Krishna. He also saw the solution, which is only by Bhakti yoga that we can get out of this conditioning. He composed Bhagavatam after knowing this. We should know that he wrote this book to propagate Bhakti yoga. It is very dear to Vaishnava devotees.
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