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Thread: amshas, gross, and subtle form as per bhAgavata purANa 1.3

  1. #1

    amshas, gross, and subtle form as per bhAgavata purANa 1.3

    Pranams,

    I have recently been reading 2nd and 3rd chapters of 1st canto of shrImad bhAgavatam in 3 different translations (ISKCON, Gita Press, and J.L. Shastri's translation from the AITM series). Some interesting questions came up which I would like to clarify with the vidvaans of the forum. I am primarily interested in understanding the bhAgavatam from vishishtAdvaita point of view and will thank responders to confine themselves to that school of thinking.

    SB 1.3.5: Here it is stated that this form of the Lord is the seed of the various avatAra-s and the place which They all return. Per J.L. Shastri, vIrarAghavAchArya (vishishtAdvaita commentator) says that this refers to the aniruddha form of the Lord. If I remember correctly from my readings of vishishtAdvaita - vAsudeva, sankarshana, and pradyumna forms of the Lord reside in nitya-vibhUti (spiritual realm) while aniruddha is the form of the Lord residing in lIlA-vibhUti (material universe) As per the verse, "amshAmshena" (by means of the parts of His parts or rays of His rays), the various devas, men, and other species are born. From all this, several questions arise:

    1) Is this form the same form referred to in SB 1.3.2-4, as the vishuddha-sattva form upon which the universe is situated, the form from whom chatur-mukha-brahmA is born, and who is seen by the yogis as having thousands of faces, arms, legs, etc? Although Prabhupada appears to take each shloka as referring to a different form, it seems cleaner and more conservative to assume the verses are referring to the same form of the Lord.

    2) What is an "amsha" in this context? Does it refer to the Lord Himself manifesting only a portion of His qualities and potencies, or does it refer to an empowered jIvAtmA? Is Lord brahmA an "amsha" in this context or is He an "amsha of an amsha?"

    SB 1.3.23: Here it is stated that bhagavAn appeared in the family of the Vrishnis as balarAma and kRiShNa. Sri Prabhupada says that the use of the word "bhagavAn" here indicates that the Lord Himself appeared as Krishna, or in other words that Krishna is the original bhagavAn while other avAtaras are not bhagavAn Himself (more later on discusison of SB 1.3.28). Strictly from a grammatical standpoint, it's not at all obvious to this unqualified reader that the sentence construction confers any special status on Sri Krishna. All this verse is saying is that bhagavAn (which, as per SB 1.2.11 is synonymous with "brahman" and "paramAtmA") appeared as balarAma and kRiShNa. It does not imply that only kRiShNa is bhagavAn.

    SB 1.3.28: Here again it is clearly mentioned that Krishna is svayam bhagavAn, in contrast to "all these" who are amsha-s and kala-s. It's open to interpretation who "all these" refer to. Per gauDIya commentators "all these" refers to all the avatAra-s and vibhUti-s mentioned previously in the chapter beginning with the first shloka, but other commentators take "all these" to refer only to the manus, devas, prajApati-s mentioned in verse 1.3.27. Again, the question of amsha-s and kala-s arise. What is the difference between an amsha and a kala? What are examples each of amshas and kalas in this context? Also, it is my understanding that Sri Vaishnavas explain Krishna's identity as svayam-bhagavAn by citing "chatri nyAyam." Can someone elaborate on what this means?

    SB 1.3.30-33: These verses refer to a gross form of the Lord who in reality has no form, and another, subtle, unseen/unheard form of the Lord who is equated to the jIva. The superimposition of these gross and subtle forms on the AtmA is unintelligent, and when one no longer sees them as superimposed on the AtmA, then at that moment the brahma-darshanam takes place. Now, some questions arise here:

    1) The "gross form" of the Lord is not clearly spelled out. The Gita Press translator takes it to refer (1) to the material universe, while the ISKCON translator takes it to refer (2) to the virAt-puruSha whom they consider an imaginary, mental conception of the Lord pervading the universe, while J.L. Shastri appears to take it as referring (3) to all the forms/avatAra-s mentioned previously. Now, #3 seems unlikely because in SB 1.3.3 it is stated that the Lord is vishuddha-sattva, and is visualized as having innumerable limbs by the yogis in SB 1.3.4. Since the yogis behold Him as having form with countless attributes, this has to be the vishuddha-sattva form, right? Why would yogis see a material form when the conception of a material form is clearly false? Similarly, is it logical to assume that the virAt-puruSha is being referred to as a kind of mental conception, when Arjuna required divine eyes to see this form in gItA 11th chapter? After all, the Lord does in fact pervade the universe as stated many times in shruti. It seems to me that this really refers to the misconception that the gross, material universe taints the Lord because He pervades it, when in fact He pervades it and yet remains unaffected by it. Is this a logical reading of the shlokas?

    2) What is meant here by the word "AtmA" when it is mentioned that people incorrectly see the gross and subtle aspects of the AtmA, and gain brahma-darshanam when this vision is removed? It seems that AtmA here could refer to either the jIvAtmA or paramAtmA, since the the gross and subtle forms of the jIvAtmA are also the body of paramAtmA as per vishishtAdvaita-siddhAnta, and the devotee must see both the Self and the paramAtmA as transcendental to the gross and subtle coverings in order to get liberation.
    Philosoraptor

    "Wise men speak because they have something to say. Fools speak because they have to say something." - Plato

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    Re: amshas, gross, and subtle form as per bhAgavata purANa 1.3

    I will answer your questions one by one:

    1) Yes. The form lying down on the ocean of milk is Aniruddha, the preserver. But the form with thousands of eyes, etc only represents the fact that the universe with all its forms is the sarIram of bhagavan and that all forms are therefore his. Furthermore, since Aniruddha is the source of the vibhava avataras like Rama, Krishna, etc which are also seen in the VishvarUpa (along with other forms of bhagavan indicated by the garlands, etc), that is stated there as well.

    2) amSha just refers to the jivA as a vibhUti of bhagavan. Devas are amShas in the sense that Brahma and Rudra are shaktyAvesa, ie empowered with certain powers of Bhagavan. But the jivAs as 'amShena' refer to them being is vibhUti. In other words, the jnAnam of the jivA, its kartrutvam, its sAdhana, etc are all due to vAsudeva's grace.

    At this point, I am reminded of a beautiful sloka from the Hayagriva stotra of Vedanta Desika, which is relevant:

    daakShiNya ramyaa girishasya muurtiH devii sarojaasana dharmapatnii/
    vyaasaadayo.api vyapadeshcha vaachaH sphuranti sarve tava shakti leshaiH/
    /

    Meaning: The flawless speech and knowledge of the vedas possessed by DakshinamUrthy, Saraswati the wife of Brahma and VedavyAsa arise from a portion of your (Hayagriva's) shakti, which you bestowed on them by your grace.

    3) The sri vaishnava explanation of amShas and kala-s, as well as chatri nyAyA can be read here, I do not need to write about it:

    http://www.ramanuja.org/sv/bhakti/ar...ug98/0342.html

    4) I do not have the Bhagavatam commentary in hand (typing this from office), but I believe that the verses 1.3.30-32 are referring to the jivA only. My take:

    - 1.3.30 refers to the fact that the jivAtmA, described as ArUpasya (having no material form) and cit-AtmanaH, and having the satta, rajas and tamasa gunams superimposed on it (viracitam) by prakrti (maya), is the form (rUpam) of Bhagavan. Ie, jivA is the sarIra of bhagavan and hence, his form. The context is established thus - after describing the avatars of bhagavan and the amShas like rishis, devas etc., the jivAtmA is also described as a form of bhagavan.

    - 1.3.31 refers to how the jivAtmA does not suffer changes in its essential nature due to being associated with matter. The changes only happen due to karma vAsanas and gunas like sattva, rajas and tamas contracting the dharma bhUta jnAnA.

    - 1.3.32 is once again describing the jivA, which is param (beyond/greater than prakrti), avyaktam (imperceptible), guna brhmitam (affected by triguna in its dharma bhUta jnAnA), adrsta/asruta (as per Gita 2nd chapter, unseen, unheard, etc) that takes birth repeatedly.

    Sri Ramanuja explicitly interprets Paramam gatih in the Gita (occurs somewhere in the 1st 6 chapters) as referring to jivA, ie, aksharOpAsakas attain that gati (jivA) which is param (greater than prakrti).

    - 1.3.33 refers to the drshti obtained by a yogi who has succeeded in jnana yOga, ie, jivAtma sAkshAtkAram via panchAgni vidyA, where he sees jivA as the sarIram of bhagavan. This leads to bhakti yOga, where he will then focus on Bhagavan as the Atma of JivAtmA. You can see the difference. In jnAna yOga, ie, jivAtma upAsaNa, importance is given to jivAtmA by meditating on its sarIratvam, anandatvam and amalatvam. But when this becomes bhakti yOga, the focus is on bhagavan by meditating on him as the Atma of the jivAtmA and the realisation of seshatvam, which is due to its being the sarIra of bhagavan.
    Last edited by Sri Vaishnava; 08 May 2013 at 12:57 AM.
    [CENTER][COLOR="Black"][COLOR="Red"][COLOR="DarkRed"]No holiness rules over my freedom
    No commands from above I obey
    I seek the ruin, I shake the worlds
    Behold! I am blackest ov the black

    Ov khaos I am, the disobediant one
    Depraved son who hath dwelt in nothingness
    Upon the ninth I fell, from grace up above
    To taste this life ov sin, to give birth to the "I"[/COLOR][/COLOR][/COLOR]

    [B]~ "Blackest Ov the Black" - Behemoth.[/B]

    [url]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3P-JdwtK1DY[/url] [/CENTER]

  3. #3

    Re: amshas, gross, and subtle form as per bhAgavata purANa 1.3

    Quote Originally Posted by Sri Vaishnava View Post
    I will answer your questions one by one:

    1) Yes. The form lying down on the ocean of milk is Aniruddha, the preserver. But the form with thousands of eyes, etc only represents the fact that the universe with all its forms is the sarIram of bhagavan and that all forms are therefore his. Furthermore, since Aniruddha is the source of the vibhava avataras like Rama, Krishna, etc which are also seen in the VishvarUpa (along with other forms of bhagavan indicated by the garlands, etc), that is stated there as well.
    Pranams,

    Thank you for the response. So as I understand it, the form of the Lord from whom brahmA was born, and who resides on milk ocean is the same Aniruddha. But if the form having thousands of heads, eyes, arms, etc is merely a representation of the universe as the sharIram of bhagavAn, then is it a real form? I ask this because, I am inclined to believe it is a real form, given that Arjuna needed divine eyes to see it in gItA 11th chapter. Yet, I note that gauDIYas take it as an imaginary form.

    2) amSha just refers to the jivA as a vibhUti of bhagavan. Devas are amShas in the sense that Brahma and Rudra are shaktyAvesa, ie empowered with certain powers of Bhagavan. But the jivAs as 'amShena' refer to them being is vibhUti. In other words, the jnAnam of the jivA, its kartrutvam, its sAdhana, etc are all due to vAsudeva's grace.
    That is very clear - amshas are jIvas empowered by bhagavAn. But then, what are amshas of amshas? The Sanskrit has "amshAmshena" which all three translators are taking as a genitive (ShaShThi-vibhakti) compound. For example, if brahmA is an amsha, then is an amsha of this amsha referring to his immediate progeny?

    Also, what exactly is a kala? I reviewed the link you provided. It makes it very clear about chatri-nyAya and how the "ete" in SB 1.3.28 does in fact refer to the avatAra-s mentioned previously, minus the pUrnAvatAra-s. But it does not really specify what a kala is - is it just another synonym for amsha or does it refer to a differently empowered amsha? Or something else?

    regards,
    Philosoraptor

    "Wise men speak because they have something to say. Fools speak because they have to say something." - Plato

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    Re: amshas, gross, and subtle form as per bhAgavata purANa 1.3

    Quote Originally Posted by philosoraptor View Post
    Pranams,

    Thank you for the response. So as I understand it, the form of the Lord from whom brahmA was born, and who resides on milk ocean is the same Aniruddha. But if the form having thousands of heads, eyes, arms, etc is merely a representation of the universe as the sharIram of bhagavAn, then is it a real form? I ask this because, I am inclined to believe it is a real form, given that Arjuna needed divine eyes to see it in gItA 11th chapter. Yet, I note that gauDIYas take it as an imaginary form.
    It is a real form. It consists of the infinite number of universes and all the things contained in it, as the body of Bhagavan. "Vishvarupam" - the Vishvam is his rUpam. It is the body of Bhagavan.

    The Universe is real.

    One can also see the various avatara-s of bhagavan in that rUpa and the indweller in the hearts of all creatures. Meditation of the vishvarUpam, thus, is a meditation on the indweller only.

    That is very clear - amshas are jIvas empowered by bhagavAn. But then, what are amshas of amshas? The Sanskrit has "amshAmshena" which all three translators are taking as a genitive (ShaShThi-vibhakti) compound. For example, if brahmA is an amsha, then is an amsha of this amsha referring to his immediate progeny?
    I also forgot to mention that the word 'amSha' denotes inseparability of jivA to brahman. AmSha-AmShi bhAva, as it occurs in the upanishads and gita, is the same as sharIrAtma bhAva. Because jivA and Brahman are both dravyas and also the jivA is an inseparable attribute of brahman. The latter part is a trait of amSha-amShi and the former part equates it to sharIra-sharIri.

    'amshAmshena' refers to the other jivAs. Brahma, the devas, rishis and manus are declared to be amShas because they are invested with some powers. The other jivAs are declared by 'amshAmshEna'. It is only to illustrate the decreasing order.

    Also, what exactly is a kala? I reviewed the link you provided. It makes it very clear about chatri-nyAya and how the "ete" in SB 1.3.28 does in fact refer to the avatAra-s mentioned previously, minus the pUrnAvatAra-s. But it does not really specify what a kala is - is it just another synonym for amsha or does it refer to a differently empowered amsha? Or something else?

    regards,

    There are two types of avesa avatAra-s - shaktyAvesa and svarUpavesa. The former involves Vishnu investing some shaktis in a jiva, whereas the latter involves the direct descent of Vishnu in a jivA and acting through the jivA.

    In the list mentioned in the bhagavata, we have Brahma, Rishis, Manus, etc who are shaktyAvesa, and hence, denoted by 'kala-s'. They have specific gunams or shaktis of bhagavan. But the list also contains Veda Vyasa and Parashurama who are termed amshas because they are svarUpAvesa.

    This is not always the standard. Here, it is only used to differentiate the two types of avEsa avataras. In some places depending on context, even shaktyAvesa are described as amshas when svarUpAvesa is not mentioned. For that matter, even pUrnAvataras are described as amshas of nArAyaNa in Vishnu Purana to illustrate his ease in taking an avatArA.
    Last edited by Sri Vaishnava; 09 May 2013 at 10:18 AM.
    [CENTER][COLOR="Black"][COLOR="Red"][COLOR="DarkRed"]No holiness rules over my freedom
    No commands from above I obey
    I seek the ruin, I shake the worlds
    Behold! I am blackest ov the black

    Ov khaos I am, the disobediant one
    Depraved son who hath dwelt in nothingness
    Upon the ninth I fell, from grace up above
    To taste this life ov sin, to give birth to the "I"[/COLOR][/COLOR][/COLOR]

    [B]~ "Blackest Ov the Black" - Behemoth.[/B]

    [url]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3P-JdwtK1DY[/url] [/CENTER]

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