Short Questions and Answers

Samskāras

Question: What is a saṁskāra?

Answer: A saṁskāra is an impression in the unconscious mind (citta). Samskāras guide our thought processes and desires. 

Question: Can I consciously choose a saṁskāra?

Answer: Yes, if you are a master of your mind. 

Question: Can I edit, delete or modify saṁskāras? If yes, how?

Answer: Yes. That is the whole purpose of sādhanā. This needs to be learned from a qualified teacher. 

Practicing Bhakti in the West

Question: Can anyone involved in the worldly business reach the stage of anartha-nivritti by doing daily japa? I often think it is impossible to reach that stage for those in the West who are involved in business and regular life.

Answer: Bhakti is not dependent on place—East or West. It is the religion of the heart. Just as people can have a love affair in the West as much as in the East, so also bhakti is possible. But the main requirement is to understand bhakti. It is not a material activity and we do not have bhakti-saṁskāras. That makes it difficult to grasp. Once you understand it properly, then it becomes easy to practice it. 

How to Attain Kṛṣṇa’s Grace?

Question: Why am I not good enough for Kṛṣṇa’s grace? Why does He give His grace to some ātmā’s and not others? I think this is the root of my anger because this is all I have been asking and begging for. When I say “grace,” I mean liberation from this material world. 

Answer: Grace is at your doorstep but you need to accept it. If it is raining, in fact pouring, and you stay indoors, then you get no rain on your head. You can’t blame the clouds then.

You were already in the midst of bhakti but I think you did not open yourself to it. To accept something you need to make space for it. If your cup is full of wine and you want milk, you need to empty the cup. So please do not be angry at Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa gives His grace through His devotee. Kṛṣṇa is like an ocean and devotee is like a tap from which you can get drinking water. But you need to open the tap and put an empty cup under it to catch the water. The very fact that you are getting angry, which is a product of your ahaṅkāra,shows that your cup is not yet empty. 

Ontological Status of Nārada Muni

Question: According to Bhāgavata Purāṇa (Cantos 1 and 7), Nārada was a dāsiputra, son of a maidservant (1.5.23), and prior to that a Gandharva (7.15.69). From that, it seems that he is an excellent example of a sādhana-siddha. However, I have noticed that on some occasions he is referred to as a nityasiddha. Moreover, some say that according to Viśvanātha Cakravarti Thākura, he is partially a sadhana-and partially nityasiddha. However, I have been unable to trace where Viśvanātha Cakravarti claims this, nor do I understand what this status actually means. Furthermore, according to Jīva Gosvāmī’s Krama-sandarbha (tīkā to Bhāgavata 1.6.30), Nārada has an eternal form, and sometimes special jīvas are able to take up this eternal form of Nārada (atredaṁvivecanīyam–sarveṣu vaikuṇṭheṣu, sarveṣu kāleṣu ca, śrī-nāradasyanityatāśrūyata iti, yad yapyetannaghaṭate, tathāpinitya-śrī-nārada-sārūpyādikaṁ prāptaṁ mahā-bhāgadheyaṁ jīva-viśeṣam avalambyaghaṭata iti ||31||). Also, if jīvas do take up the form of Nārada, is then Nārada’s position considered to be a certain post (such as Brahmā’, Indra, etc.) meant to fulfill certain universal tasks? 

Answer: From Jīva Gosvāmī’s commentary it seems that there is an eternal associate of Kṛṣṇa in Vaikuntha called Nārada. The story in the 6th and 7th chapter of the 1st canto of  Ṡrimad Bhāgavatam is that of a sādhana-siddha, who also attains a form similar to Nārada. Thus it seems that there is a nityasiddha Nārada and a sādhana-siddha Nārada. I don’t know where Viśvanātha Cakravarti Thākura says he is a partial nityasiddha and partial sādhana-siddha, but assuming he says this, it is understood that the sādhana-siddha Nārada attains sāyujya with the nityasiddha Nārada.


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Comments ( 12 )
  1. bhakti-abhilashi

    I have question for Babaji. Translation of this verse in the Srimad Bhagavatam 3.28.34.
    Srila Prabhupada’s translation is “By following this course, the yogi gradually develops pure love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Hari. In the course of his progress in devotional service, the hairs on his body stand erect through excessive joy, and he is constantly bathed in a stream of tears occasioned by intense love. Gradually, even the mind, which he used as a means to attract the Lord, as one attracts a fish to a hook, withdraws from material activity.”

    However, if one sees Sri Bhanu Swami Maharaj’s translation of the commentary of Srila VCT, in the published book titled Sārārtha-darśinī commentary, we see this translation of the same 3.28.34 verse as being “The unfortunate yogi who has developed love for the Lord, full of all sweet qualities, whose heart is somewhat soft because of devotion, whose body hairs stand on end in ecstasy, who is constantly overcome with intense tears of joy, gradually withdraws his hook-like mind from the Lord’s form.”
    I love this latter explanation! Bhanu Swami Maharaj goes on translating and i quote the purport “Dravad-dhådaya means his heart has melted. However baòiça (fish hook) means it is
    still iron since the fish hook is made of iron. The bhäva that he attains and the melting
    of the heart are äbhäsas or semblances only, since he gradually withdraws the mind
    from the Lord. Why give up the Lord who is the real goal of life? By the bhakti in this
    meditation, he cannot be called a devotee but a yogé since he gives pain to the limbs of
    the Lord, the object of his meditation, by his fish hook heart, which is hard and bent.”

    Could Babaji Maharaj comment on which translation is right, or are both translated properly?

    • Babaji Post author

      The second translation is right according to the context. The whole chapter is a description of the path of Yoga and not of Bhakti.
      A yogi cannot attain success without the help of bhakti. This is the implied message of Kapiladeva. This is also indirectly accepted by Patanjali in his yoga-sutra wherein he accepts isvara-pranidhana – surrender to Isvara, as a compulsory part of Kriya-yoga as well as Astanga-yoga and as an option in raja-yoga.
      This translation is in line with all Sanskrit commentators of this verse.
      The yogi pulls away his mind from the form of Lord because his goal is samadhi and not the Lord. He uses bhakti asa means to attain samadhi.

  2. Malati

    First time to leave comments. I’m reading the translations by Swami Tapasyananda of the RamaKrishna Mission. Unfortunately theirs are straight translations no commentary.

    The verse is in the context of a devotee and not a yogi.
    3.28.34
    Through such meditation the devotee obtains absorbing love for the Lord. His heart melts in the sentiment of devotion and his tears of surpassing joy almost drown Him. The power of devotion then slowly melts the metallic hook of the mind which holds the Purusha in the bondage of Prakriti.

    35. Just as a flame gets extinguished when the oil, its sustenance, is exhausted, the mind is extinguished in the Lord, when renunciation deprives it of the sense enjoyments that form its support.Then, being liberated from the current of the gunas of prakriti, the Jiva has a direct and unobstructed perception of the Supreme Being, who is the one without a second.

    Before verse 34
    33 With the mind unwaveringly concentrated and the heart melting with love, one should meditate on that smiling face of the Lord as occupying the cavity of one’s heart …………..

    29. One should particularly meditate with deep attention on the face of the Lord, who has assumed this form for the good of the devotees.

    • T. Krsna dasa

      The first verse of this chapter is:
      śrī-bhagavān uvāca
      yogasya lakṣaṇaṁ vakṣye 
      Sri Bhagavan said, “I will now speak the characteristics of yoga”.

      Sri Sridhar swami writes in his commentary on this verse: having spoken briefly about bhakti (bhaktim sanksepitah procya) and in detail about sankhya (sankhyam akhyaya vistrtam) now Kapila who is Hari speaks about Astanga yoga (ata aha yogam astangam Kapilo harih)

      It is clear this chapter is on Astanga Yoga according to Sridhar Swami. It is important to be grounded in a commentary of a particular sampradaya before ascertaining what a chapter or verse is about. Just citing one or the other translation from another school does not establish the point under discussion. According to the Caitanya Vaisnava school- which includes Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti and Sridhar Swami, this is about astanga yoga.

    • Babaji Post author

      Can you also cite the translation of the first verse of this chapter i.e. 3.28.1 and the last verse i.e. 3.28.44 by Swami Tapsyananda?
      Then you can decide whether Kapiladeva is describing Yoga or bhakti in this chapter.

  3. bhakti-abhilashi

    I appreciate your invaluable guidance Babaji Maharaj.
    I had one more quick question, about a purport to verse BG 2.33, in Srila Prabhupadas Bhagavad Gita As-It-Is.
    In the purport to BG As-It-Is it is written and i quote “Arjuna was a famous fighter, and he attained fame by fighting many great demigods, including even Lord Siva. After fighting and defeating Lord Siva in the dress of a hunter, Arjuna pleased the lord and received as a reward a weapon called päshupata-astra.”

    I am puzzled, because every other translation or narration of this wonderful Leela i have read of heard, clearly talks about Lord Shiva testing Arjuna in the guise of a Kiraat (forest hunter), and in the ensuing fight over who gets to keep the wild boar, Sri Arjuna is quite soundly and categorically defeated. Sri Arjuna senses something extraordinary, and then prays to Lord Shiva, who is then pleased with Sri Arjuna and reveals Himself and blessed him with the Pashupatastra, for which Sri Arjuna was in the forest doing Tapasya. “So, Lord Shiva had to make Arjuna eligible for handling the weapon. This fist fight resulted in Lord Shiva embracing Arjuna and hence Arjuna gets qualified to handle the weapon.” says one quote.
    Could Babaji Maharaj comment if these is any other narration of this Leela in our Gaudiya literature where Sri Arjuna defeats Lord Shiva?

  4. bhakti-abhilashi

    I would like to broaden this reply to include the full quote from Bhanu Swami Maharaj’s translation of the commentary written by Srila Vishvanath Chakravarti Thakur Mahashaya on S.B. 3.28.34.
    Srila VCT writes as the purport for the verse, and i quote Bhanu SwamiJi’s translation:

    “The foolish yogé, who, receiving great mercy and experiencing the sweetness of meditation on the Lord’s pastimes, rejects it because he is not fixed in that taste, is considered low class among yogés, even though he is steady inyoga. He is cheated of bhakti-rasa. By bhakti alone, he attains liberation with realization of pratyag-ätmä (individual soul) while destroying twenty-one types of suffering. But he does not attain liberation with realization of Paramätmä. 1 That is explained starting in this verse and until the end of the chapter.
    This yogé has attained bhäva for the Supreme Lord , Bhagavän, full of the nectar of all sweetness and powers, since the Lord is most attractive (harau), possessing the six bhagas (bhagavati). Pratilabdha besides meaning “to attain” suggests that he receives, but does not response appropriately. The word api later in the verse applies to all the previous words. Thus the meaning is “Though he received bhäva for the sweet form of the Lord, though his heart melted, though his hairs stood on end, and though he was constantly afflicted with streams of tears caused by longing, he withdraws the hook of his mind from that form (tad api).” It is said that one should give up jïäna to attain liberation (jïänaï ca mayi sannyaset, SB 11.19.1), but there is no rule to give up bhakti to attain liberation. On the contrary, it is forbidden to give up bhakti, for it has just been said in the previous verse “One should not desire to see anything except the Viñëu who is present in one’s heart with a mind steeped in mature devotion.” Therefore, the yogé gives up that sweet form only by his own foolish decision. He does so without following rules. Because his heart is like a hook, he gives up that sweet form. This means that the heart which was inundated with the sweetness of the Lord then begins to negate that eagerness for sweetness of the Lord, in order to distance itself from eagerness for rasa for material objects. He does so gradually, because it is difficult to withdraw, since the heart has directly experienced that sweetness. Even if he has no direct experience of the sweetness, he can only withdraw his mind by repeated effort, two times, three times, four times, five times,
    seven or eight times. The hook is made of iron. It does not melt like gold, silver or butter. It softens a little by applying great heat, but immediately becomes hard again. Thus the verse states that his heart is in the process of melting (dravat), rather than being fully fluid. The hook, though always bathed in the waters of the sacred Gaìgä, remains permanently crooked, without appreciation of rasa. It is also a cheater, because it covers its point with bits of sweet food for attracting greedy fish. The yogé’s heart is thus condemned by this analogy.
    Though purified by the holy place, it remains hard and crooked, and makes a show, covering its nature with devotional meditation to attract the Lord.
    In commenting on dharamaù projjhita-kaitavaù (SB 1.1.2), Çrédhara Svämé says that the word pra indicates that even the desire for liberation, the desire for merging in the Lord, is rejected as cheating, for in that liberation, even Bhakti-devé, the highest object of meditation, worshipped as a mere aìga ofyoga, is finally rejected. The touch of that hook of the yogé’s heart is uncomfortable for the Lordas well. Thus, after the withdrawal from the Lord, the Lord gives liberation with realization of pratyagätmä while destroying twenty-one type o f suffering to the fishermanyogé with his withdrawn hook-like heart. He does not give liberation with realization of Paramätmä.
    The relishers of the Bhägavatam say that the yogé described in the Gétä does not reject meditation on the Lord, and thus the Lord awards him liberation with realization of the form of Paramätmä, since that yogé never desires to withdraw from the sweet form of the Lord, the object of his meditation. Parékñit says:
    dhautätmä puruñaù kåñëa-päda-mülaà na muïcati
    mukta-sarva-parikleçaù pänthaù sva-çaraëaà yathä
    A pure devotee of the Lord whose heart has once been cleansed by the process of devotional service never relinquishes the lotus feet of Lord Kåñëa, for they fully satisfy him, as a traveler is satisfied at home after a troubled journey. SB 2.8.6
    Uddhava says:
    taà tväkhilätma-dayiteçvaram äçritänäà
    sarvärtha-daà sva-kåta-vid visåjeta ko nu
    ko vä bhajet kim api vismåtaye ‘nu bhütyai
    kià vä bhaven na tava päda-rajo-juñäà naù
    What person who knows the mercy you show to your devotees could reject you, the most dear among all souls, the Supreme Lord of all, who give all possible perfections to the devotees who take shelter of you?
    Who would reject you and accept something for the sake of material enjoyment or liberation, which
    simply leads to forgetfulness of you? And what lack is there for us who are engaged in the service of the dust of your lotus feet? SB 11.29.5
    Närada says:
    na vai jano jätu kathaïcanävrajen
    mukunda-sevy anyavad aìga saàsåtim
    smaran mukundäìghry-upagühanaà punar
    vihätum icchen na rasa-graho janaù
    Oh! The person who serves Mukunda will never under any condition return to the material world, unlike practitioners of other processes. Remembering the embrace of the Lord’s lotus feet, eager for that taste he has experienced, he will not desire to give up those feet again. SB 1.5.19
    Even among the yogés, Çukadeva and others were pleased with hearing about the Lord. They were rasa-graha, enjoyers of the taste of the Lord. In the previous verse also it was said that yogé whose mind is offered up with bhakti should not see anything accept the Lord. If the yogé offers his mind to the Lord, the mind belongs only to the Lord. If that is so, how can that mind reject the Lord? And how can he, once giving the mind, take it back? Such a person can only be condemned! And the Lord resides only in the hearts of the devotees, not in the hearts of the yogés. Brahmä says:
    ye tu tvadéya-caraëämbuja-koça-gandhaà
    jighranti karëa-vivaraiù çruti-väta-nétam
    bhaktyä gåhéta-caraëaù parayä ca teñäà
    näpaiñi nätha hådayämburuhät sva-puàsäm
    O my Lord, persons who smell the aroma of your lotus feet, carried by the air of Vedic sound through the holes of the ears, accept your devotional service. For them you are never separated from the lotus of their hearts. SB 3.9.5
    Ävirhotra says:
    visåjati hådayaà na yasya säkñäd
    dharir avaçäbhihito ‘py aghaugha-näçaù
    praëaya-rasanayä dhåtäìghri-padmaù
    sa bhavati bhägavata-pradhäna uktaù
    He who binds the lotus feet of the Lord by ropes of love, and whose heart the Lord, destroyer of heaps of sin, called even unconsciously, does not leave, is called the best of devotees. SB 11.2.55”

    End quote of translation by Bhanu Swami Maharaj.
    I apologize for the rather long quote, but its the complete single purport to the SB 3.28.34, and its a sheer delight to read again and again. It also seems that Srila VCT wants to be completely unambiguous, and i think he makes it very clear in no uncertain terms.

    • Yes. The writings of the Goswamis and illustrious acaryas like Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti are completely unambiguous.

      This cant be said about everyone. Which is why one keeps going around in circles discussing the same things over and over again.

      Bhakti yoga is not the same as astanga yoga, jnana yoga and karma yoga. Bhakti is a distinct path.

  5. Malati

    Radhe Radhe

    3.28.1. The Bhagavan said: O Mother! I shall now describe to you the nature of meditation on the formful aspect of the Supreme Being. By practising it the mind is purified and established in the Divine consciousness.

    3.28.44 Following the path of devotion described above, the Jiva regains union with the Supreme Being, of whom he is a part (as a spark is of the fire) and overcomes the bondage of Prakriti, which is the Lord’s own power of manifestation represented by the manifold world in its subtle and gross aspects and which is difficult to overcome except by His grace.

    • Babaji Post author

      You can take whatever meaning suits you and pleases you, but according to the speaker of this chapter, Kapiladeva, he is describing the path of Yoga, and not bhakti. This is very clear from the first verse. He describes bhakti in the next chapter. Tapasyananda’s translations may be appealing but not accurate or in-line with the spirit of the speaker.

  6. Malati

    I like reading Swami Tapasyananda’s translations because the flow of the prose is quite beautiful.

    Personally I think there are practices and teachings in ISKCON that are quite different from that of the traditional.

    Btw. I’m not a RK member. But I know that like GV, RKrshna Mission accepts that SB is devotional in spirit.

    Have earlier posted Swami Tapasyananda’s translations of 3.28.1 & 44

    BTW, after finishing SB, next I’d like to delve into Satyanarayan Babaji’s translations of the Sandharva.

  7. Malati

    Sorry, my comments are all over the place and piece meal. Thoughts arose so had to write it.

    I think the positive aspect of reading a chapter with only the translations without commentaries is that you sort of get to look the whole thing from above, and see the focus of the chapter especially if the translations are relatively lucid enough, as sometimes the commentaries can get you digressed to other topics,

    I read the whole chapter 28. It describes what one should focus on when meditating and that is the sweet aspect of the Lord’s “body” or form. To me the descriptions are like raganuga sadhana. The chapter also discusses the nature of the jiva, some philosophical stuff. The beautiful part of the chapter is the last sentence, where it says you can only see our sweet Lord through His grace.

    Bhakt abhilasi above Jan 22 13.30 , second paragraph before a verse quote, seems to suggest that you must follow a sequence before you can meditate on the the Lord’s sweet features, like you must do vaidhi first before you can do raganuga sadhana or raganuga SURELY follows from vaidhi, like a reward.

    The sweet Lord can only be really known,perceived and seen through His grace.

    And if the guru is an extension of Krishna then His grace can come by way of a guru.

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