Question: Bhāgavat Sandarbha, anuccheda 49 states: “lokavat tu līlā-kaivalyam,” the Lord’s pastimes, without motive, are similar to actions in this world. (Brahma-sūtra 2.1.33) In this world a madman out of intense bliss dances without a particular motive. Similarly the Lord acts without motive.
sṛstyādikaṁ harir naiva prayojanam apehsya tu I kurute kevalānandādyathā mattasyanartanam || pūrnānandasya tasyeha prayojana-matih kutah I muktā avyāpta-kāmāḥ syuḥ him utāsy akhilātmanaḥ ||
“Without a goal, the Lord carries out creation out of bliss alone, like a mad man dancing. What is the question of a goal for the Lord who is complete bliss? Persons who are liberated have no desires to be fulfilled. What then to speak of desires in the Lord, the soul of all beings?” (Nārāyaṇa-saṁhitā)
Answer: The example is used to show that the Lord enacts pastimes without considering His goal, simply out of great inherent bliss. Śruti says devasyaiva syabhāvo’yam āpta- kāmasya kā sprhā: the act of creation is the nature of the Lord; for one whose desires are fulfilled at all times, what desire does he have? (Māṅḍūkya Upaniṣad). The Lord’s actions in relation to creation of the universe are unmotivated, then what can one say about His actions in Vaikuṇṭha?”
Question: But the creation of matter is the prison house – durga. How is it bliss? Only long-term it leads to bliss if the souls get out of the prison, but that is a long way or roundabout; not directly bliss. We don’t say that a king creates a prison because he is blissed out; it is necessary evil. In bliss he creates a palace garden or holiday resort. You might say for Kṛṣṇa everything is bliss, but then why He has avatāra and śāstra here; no need for the bliss everyone is in, here.
Answer: An example is given to make a difficult point easily understandable. The point being made here is that the Lord does not create the world because He lacks something in Himself.
Our own experience is that we act only to get something that we lack, or we engage in an act to get pleasure such as in a hobby.
But the Lord is āptakāma and ātmārāma. So why does He act? It does not make sense that He creates this big universe. So the example is given to say that His act is not for achieving something for Himself. His action does not fall into the above two categories, i.e. achieving something that He lacks or to get happiness. He acts out of happiness, not for happiness.
But the question still remains: Why does He create a prison? He creates it so that people can become devotees. Of course, you may say, why make the jīva conditioned in the first place?
The answer is that the jīva’s conditioning is beginningless. Bhagavān did not make the jīva conditioned. He is only trying to help the beginningless conditioned soul to get out of the conditioning. And that is His bliss. And he also creates this world, which is like a prison house, in a blissful mood. He is not stressed over it and then has to rest. He can rest even while creating.
A side note: Unless we properly understand the anādi avidyā concept, which is very clearly stated in the Bhāgavatam, the above types of questions will keep coming up. Our minds are conditioned to think in cause-effect relations, and therefore it is natural for us to search for a cause of everything. But we must know by extrapolation that if there are things which have a cause and effect relationship, then there must also be some objects and activities which do not fall in the jurisdiction of cause and effect. Śāstra teaches us certain things which are beyond empiricism, and unless we accept this, we will keep on searching for the cause of causeless things and remain unsuccessful.
Marriages based on attraction to the partner’s nose, smile, hair or eyes may not last long because nose, smile and hair etc. are not the totality of the person. Moreover, these parts of the body have no bearing on the person’s character.
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