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Thread: Srimad Bhagavatam - A Yogc interpretation

  1. #1

    Srimad Bhagavatam - A Yogc interpretation

    This is one way of interpretation of Srimad Bhagavatam beyond its literal meanings and stories, and explains the Bhakti Yoga of liberation. Here, the tenth and eleventh canto of Bhagavatam is interpreted in a yogic way. The interpretation is advaitic. The interpretation can be justified using a number of puranas, upanishads and other texts, but the aim of this article is only to present the idea and not work with polemics. The article is copyrighted to me, but maybe used freely for non commercial purposes.

    Two distinct stages of Bhakti Yoga are identified, one starting with the beginning of the tenth canto upto the killing of Kamsa, which indicates the crossing over of Kali.

    The second stage starts after the killing of Kamsa and ends in the eleventh canto. ( This is the actual Bhakti Yoga)

    The major difference between Karma Yoga and Bhakti Yoga is that in Karma Yoga the Yogi is solely resposible for safegaurding himself against enemies ( like Arjuna in Mahabaratha who does all the fighting), but in Bhakti Yoga the Lord himself does it on behalf of the devotee due to the overwhelming love.( Lord Krishna himself does the fighting in Bhagavatam). Thus Krishna in Bhagavatam stands at a much higher plane than the Krishna in Mahabaratha. Arjuna sees Krishna as a friend and saviour, while in Bhagavatam, Yashoda sees him as her son, the gopis sing and dance with him, and the intimacy is much more, thus reducing the dualty between the Yogi and the Almighty. Mahabaratha is still very much on the plane of dualty, while Bhagavatam is about attaining the non dual union with God.



    The narration assumes familiarity with the story of Srimad Bhagavatam.

    Part I - The Killing of Kamsa

    The story begins with mother earth, taking the shape of a cow and complaining to Brahma about her unbearable burden in the form of asuras who had taken kingly shapes. The earth is symbolic of the human body of an individual who begins to feel that even good actions lead to bondage only. At best they are only golden fetters. The asuras are the powers accrued from the punya karmas. The asuras cannot be anything worse because that is automatic disqualification of Bhakti Yoga. Brahma is the mind. The mind feels that all punya karmas are to be done with the idea that the real object of worship is the Almighty Krishna and the fruits of such punyakarmas should be left undesired. This is the transition from the Karma-kanda of the vedas to the Jnana-kanda of vedanta. By this, Vishnu will incarnate on this earth, meaning the Lord will get a strong hold on the mind of the Yogi.

    Evil qualities like desire, anger, lust, ignorance, jealosy and pride are to be overcome as the first step in the union with God.These are the asuras in the human body or earth. To overcome them, we need the help of heavenly qualities like contentedness, love for all beings, generosity, knowledge and modesty. These are the devas who reside in the heaven or Mount Menu. Mount Menu, as used in itihasas always refer to the sushumna nadi. The devas residing in heaven simply mean they are in the unmanifested state. The manifestattion of the above divine qualities is the incarnation of the devas. Without the incarnation of the devas(divine qualities), even Krishna will be powerless against the powerful asuras. That is to say that, it is your sole responsibility to develop these divine qualities to fight against your asuric qualities, without which the Lord will not be able to help you in Yoga. The death of asuras means their change of state. Desire for material objects is converted into that of salvation, anger against others is turned into anger against our own passions etc.

    (to be continued)

  2. #2
    When once a man gets this turn of mind ( that is, he sacrifices the fruits of punya karmas), he is on the path of Eternity or Timelessmess and so finite Time represented by Kamsa ( Kala-nemi) begins to shake to his foundation. When Yoga or union with God begins finally, Kali (absence of Yoga) and kalanemi ( finite time of the material world) will cease to exist. Therefore, with the consolation of Brahma to mother earth, Kamsa's downfall has begun and he knows that he would be killed by the eighth child of Devaki, the daughter of Brahma. Thus Devaki, who represents Saraswathi or Brahmvidya is also symbolic Devayana of the path leading to salvation. Vasudeva the father of Krishna is symbolic of veda and knowledge of Brahman. The result is Kamsa's fear and the consequent imprisonment of Devaki and Vasudeva. Thus, with the acquirement of both the path to salvation (Devaki) and knowledge of the Brahman( Vasudeva), the war with Kali has finally begun.

    The next stage is the sacrifice of the six kinds of powers resulting from punya karmas represneted by the murder of the six children of Devaki by Kamsa. Kamsa is instigated into doing this by sage Narada, who represents the Mahat tattvam or Sattvik nature( Narada's veena is called Mahati for this reason), which helps to sacrifice siddhis that obstruct the path to salvation. This is followed by the incarnation of Saguna Brahman as Ananta (Balarama), Krishna (Isvara) and Devi (Maya). These are symbolic of the thoretical knowledge of Brahman as concieved as Anantam, Jnanam and Satyam. All these are curiosuly children of Rohini, which is the ascending path to salvation. Balarama is the son of Rohini, while Krishna and Devi are children born with the asterism Rohini. Theistic tendency takes a firm root now, symbolized by the vanishing of Yogamaya, who is the curtain hiding Brahman. The Yogi is thus qualified to have a view of Krishna, the Isvara.

    The position of Kamsa is now precarious. Many obstacles are faced by the Yogi which are discussed next. The first of these obstacles is the temptation for the fruits of action, which shower propserity. Thus, Karmsa sends Putana (pure and holy one) to destroy Krishna. But when Krishna has take such a firm root on the mind of the devotee, how can Putana succeed?

    Next, the fickle mind years for the enjoyment of materials pleasures indicated by the asura in the form of Sakata. He is also destroyed by Krishna. The devotion to the Lord destroys material instincts on its own.
    Next, Trnavakra, the atheistic tendency tempts the Yogi. The Yogi's firm faith denoted by Krishna beoming very heavy, helps him overcome the obstacle. Firm faith in Krishna destroys all doubts about the Lord and his greatness.

    When these asuras have been finally subdued, the Yogi is able to grasp that the infinite nature of Brahman as bigger than the biggest. This is symbolized by Yashoda being able to see everything within his body. A second experience of the same is repeated.

    This is followed by Krishna breaking the pots containing curds. This is symboklic of the purification of the mind, represented by the milk ocean. The result is his being bound to a mortar, which representing Kasyapa, the mind by a rope representing Aditi or Samastijnana. Diti means breaking up and Aditi means taking together as one. So the asura sons of Diti refer to Vyastijnana and deva sons of Aditi refer to Samastijnana. Both the devas and asuras are the children of Kasyapa( the mind) which percieves. { pashyati iti kashyapa:} Since the entire material world is said to be the result of perception, all beings are said to be children of Kashyapa. Asuras and Rakshasas represent contentedness with the existing stage and Yakshas dissatisfaction with present stage and thirst for further progress.

    (raxamEti ca yairuktam Bhavantu: va:
    jaxAma iti yairuktam yakshA Bhavantu va: - Uttara Kanda, Ramayana

    This stage is represented by Krishna releasing two Yakshas from curse(sons of Kubera), which means Bhakti Yoga is proceeding steadily along the path of involution, instead of stagnating. Intense devotion to Krishna has taken root now. This is represnted by Krishna going to the Brindavana forest. Brinda means Bhakti.

    brnda Bhakti: kriya buddhi: sarvajantuprakAshini ( Krishnopanishad)

    This high devotion causes many asuras to destruct one by one through the grace of Krishna. They are Vatsa, representing greed, Baka representing decietfulness and Agha denoting diseases. This is the stage of Bhakti Yogi where the Yogi becomes immune to physical diseases and discomforts by the practice of Bhakti.

    (to be continued)

  3. #3
    It is at this stage that the mind represented by Brahma gets confused regarding the power of the Almighty.Sri Krishna manifesting himself in the form of all cows, calves and shepherds is symbolic of the mind realizing that He is the Sabda Brahman represented by the vedas which have taken the forms of everything in Gokula. The idea of the whole universe being the manifestation of the Brahman is also realized. This is followed by forest fires which are symbolic of the material desires trying again and again to overcome the Yogi, but twice saved by Sri Krishna.

    The incident of Kaliya the serpant being ousted out of Kalindi which carries the nectar of Susumna is symbolic of purification of nadis. This is symbolically represented by the Gopis becoming enamoured of Krishna and his venugana and resorting to the worship of Arya.( the intellect). The various mantras in vedas have various dieties. However all mantras really refer only to the Absolute. So the gopis who represent the mantras are said to have thier husbands, the sages or the dieties of the mantras, as these sages are really fragments of the Absolute, who is the real Lord of all gopis. This is the meaning of married Gopis becoming enamoured of Krishna. ( which is immoral in the ordinary sense). With the help of the Intellect, the Yogi understands that the natural meanings of the vedas is Krishna. The natural result is the incident of Yanjapatnis symbolizing the idea that mere Karmas which confer wealth and prosperity are infinitely inferior to the knowledge of the Brahman.

    After this, how can Indra and other dieties get homage? Govardhana, the purified mind with Krishna reflected in it gets the worship.The wrath of Indra spends itself by great rains. This refers to the purification of the ten indriyas.(karma and jnana) The crowning of Govinda comes in natural succession. This is the stage where complete paroxa jnana is attained. Rasakrida succeeding this refers to the enjoyment of bliss from the knowledge that Brahman is the pervading spirit in the vedas represented by Krishna placing himself between Gopis and in the center of the circle.
    How can Kamsa last long after obtaining paroxa? Narada representing the Mahat goads him to hasten his destruction. Balarama and Krishna are brought to Mathura ( Gopalapurvatapini says Mathura is the heart of the Brahmajnani). Now Chanura representing hatred is destroyed. Mu****ika denoting jealosy is destroyed. Kuvalayapida, representing pride is destroyed. This is followed by the death of Kamsa. Thus, the first stage of Bhakti Yoga ends with the death of Kali represented by Kamsa. Thus far, through the practice of Bhakti and great mental purity the Yogi has had a few visions of Virat Purusha(Jagrat). After this, the higher Bhakti Yoga which comprises Jnana Yoga begins. The final stages of liberation thus begins now.

    (to be continued)

  4. #4
    Part 2 - The Self Realization Through Bhakti Yoga

    First, the goal is introduced in the narration. The first step towards Self realization is conquest over old age and passing to the absence of Time sense. First Sri Krishna leaves Mathura and goes to Dvaraka, an island beyond the reach of Jarasandha. Dvaraka, sorrounded by ocean represents the intellect. Thus, this refers to the escape from Jara or old age. Kalayavana's death by Mucukunda, who has lost touch with Time refers to going beyond Time or Isvara, namely the Absolute Brahman.
    The marriage with the eight consorts refer to the knowledge of Brahman as the controller of the eight divisions of prakriti. In the mean time, Pradyumna representing Taijasa, and Aniruddha representing Pranja are born.

    taijasAtmaka: pradhymna ukArAxarasamBhava:
    pranjAtmako-aniruddho-asou makarAxarasamBhava: ( Gopalottaratapini)

    Aniruddha is born as the son of Pradyumna here because the process is involution where Pranjna comes only after Taijasa. Thus, the Bhakti Yogi has attained to the state of sushupti by now.

    Annihilation of Naraka is the next step. Naraka as the son of Bhumidevi represents the fruits of punyakarma on earth. The 16000 damsels of this Naraka are the 16000 gopalamantras and their siddhis.

    ashtavastasahasre dve shatAdhikyA: striyastaTha
    rchopaniShadasta vai brahmarUpa rcha: striya: (Krishnopanishad)

    A mleccha or one having low desires can with the help of these mantras achieve his material object. These mantras can also be used to worship Krishna, the Absolute. Their transfer from Naraka to Krishna refers to a Yogi changing from being a mleccha to a Yogi, who no longer cares for the mantra siddhi. Thus, unlike the other eight divine consorts, these damsels belong to mlecchas also. The damsels being taken away by mlecchas after the death of Krishna also alludes to the same fact.

    (to be continued)

  5. #5
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    Re: Srimad Bhagavatam - A Yogc interpretation

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    Last edited by Omkara; 17 August 2012 at 10:01 PM.
    namastE astu bhagavan vishveshvarAya mahAdevAya tryaMbakAya|
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    Om shrImAtrE namah

    sarvam shrI umA-mahEshwara parabrahmArpaNamastu


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  6. #6

    Re: Srimad Bhagavatam - A Yogc interpretation

    || om namo bhagavate vAsudevAya ||
    || om para-bramhaNe namah: ||
    || om paramAtmane namah: ||
    || shri kRshNArpaNamastu ||
    vasudeva sutam devam kauMsa chANura mardanam
    devaki paramAnandam kRshNam vande jagat-gurum

    Namaste Truth-Seeker (and others)

    This pinDa-BramhAnDa relation that you have presented here, has been experienced and sensed, acknowledged over the years. Swami Chinmayananda also uses this approach in his book on Bhagvat.


    Today, ever-kRpALU Gurudev and prANanAtha Mukunda was pinned into a no-movement position saying He has to answer some important questions
    and no evasive answers please. (As if the mercy and grace He had been showering since morning in terms of the reward of His transcendental association wasn't enough!).
    After feigning a mock-surprise at this behaviour, He conveyed the Truth without words, speech, conversation, as always.


    As it is said, the individual body (pinDa) is a replica of the BramhAnDa (Universe). Therefore, the Yogic interpretation is right in its own light.

    A more accurate and specific mapping of each aspect inside the individual
    is given in Bhagavatam itself - e.g. SB 3.26.21 - 39, 68,69,70(chaturvyuha upAsana). (found notes from last year - fortunately)
    ( Table:
    vyuha (whorl) # | adhishthAtri devatA (presiding deity) | upAsya devatA (worshipable Deity) | Adhibhautik (physical element) | adhyAtmik ( inner element)

    vyuha 1 | kshetrajn~a AtmA | VAsudeva | mahattattva | chitta
    vyuha 2 | Rudra | sankarshaNa (balarAm) | panchabhUta(5 elements) + indrIya(senses) + mana(mind) | ahaMkAra (ego)
    vyuha 3 | chandra | aniruddha | mana (mind) | mana (mind)
    vyuha 4 | bramhA | pradyumna | buddhi (intellect) | buddhi (intellect)

    (The asuras are also explained as aspects of vices in detail in VANipedia (as explained by the GauDIya VaishNav AchAryas).


    All 14 material lokas (worlds), all devatA (presiding over the sense organs (indrIya), mind, ego, intellect, all daivI guNa (divine qualities) personified, all asura (demoniac instincts), KRshNa, RAdhA, Gop-Gopis,
    the chaturvyuha, SadAshiva, Gauri, go-mAtA, VAsudeva-KRshNa(DwArakAdheesh) as Guru, the disciple, NArAyaNa,
    Shri, all pArshads, HanumAn, all reside in this deha.

    This appearantly local deha (body) is a universe in itself, and that was [re-?]realized in a flash. Want to preserve this flash-moment, a precious chintAmaNi-gift from that Govinda Mukunda DAmodara MAdhava.
    There is no I in this deha. The whole exercise of finding or [re]discovering the "I" is futile, because the moment you put a finger on one saying "This is I", that is not "I" anymore.

    Yes, the sAkshi(witness) is I... but there is more to it. The SAkshI is VAsudev and therefore VAsudeva = I. However, when VAsudeva says the highest sAkshi in you is Me, He is using that same logic to convey to us.
    The devotee in this mini-universe is dissappointed by that being the end of story, because then who will taste and experience the sweetness of that sweet Mukunda, the granter of muktI (liberation) ? Who will be left to express tears of gratitude to that most compassionate JanArdana, the innermost compassionate Guru Who showed the disciple the moon?

    Therefore, the good news is, Mukunda, Radha, RukmiNi, all forms of Shri, Nanda Yashoda, GaruDa, SankarshAN, Aniruddha, SadAshiva, Gauri, GaNesh, all share one AtmA - inside the deha (body) as well as outside pervading the Universe.

    This AtmA "transcends" the gross effects of PrakRtI (inside and outside), therefore,
    Just as AtmA is alipta - aloof from the [material] body-pinDa ;
    Goloka dhAm, VaikunTha and BramhajyotI are "beyond" the [material] BramhAnDa-universe;
    Beyond does not mean spatially beyond. It means in a plane of consciousness, a platform of existence untouched by the gross aspects of the universe. And birds of a feather flock together. Consciousnesses of one kind flock together in their loka.

    To play leela, some form of pure subtle ego is necessary. This ego can be the disciple, a form-fraction of Shri, a manjari of Radha, a servant of Lakshmi-NArAyaNa, a follower of Hanuman, etc.
    However, the jnAni-ego knows that this is just a role that gives AtmAnanda, bliss and satisfaction to the AtmA. This is why we are taught that the purpose of devotional service is to give pleasure to Shri KRshNa, and not for some selfish ego-centric entertainment.

    One's Guru also lives in the body-universe. There is no need to just simply wipe the board off till there is no board left. Turn off the external world-TV. Watch the internal-movie. Don't eat too much transcendental
    popcorn. Even if it was made in Vraja, with corn harvested by the Gopis.

    _/\_

    Kartik navami, 11 Nov 2013
    Last edited by smaranam; 11 November 2013 at 11:46 PM. Reason: mahattattva - typo ; typo ; turned a similie (as a precious chintamani-gift) to metaphor (a precious chintamani) 'cause it is one; added ref verse#s
    || Shri KRshNArpaNamastu ||

  7. #7

    Re: Srimad Bhagavatam - A Yogc interpretation

    Devotion is like a raging fire, or like gasoline that causes a fire... people who only do bhakti get caught in a web of concepts.
    Bhakti is only safe when there is jnana, essentially, one needs to break through the "ego barrier" that is set up, and POP, so that they see the genuine divinity behind all things; ie Brahman, Krishna, Devi, etc.

    Only after realization of the supreme an utter faith be put into use. Blind faith does not lead one to liberation

  8. #8

    Re: Srimad Bhagavatam - A Yogc interpretation

    Quote Originally Posted by the sadhu View Post
    Bhakti is only safe when there is jnana, essentially, one needs to break through the "ego barrier" that is set up, and POP, so that they see the genuine divinity behind all things; ie Brahman, Krishna, Devi, etc.
    Namaste,

    Yes, it is called dnyAnottar bhakti - bhakti after(uttar) dnyAna/jn~Ana.

    Only after realization of the supreme an utter faith be put into use. Blind faith does not lead one to liberation
    Yes, certainly, no one recommends blind faith without knowledge. However, bhakti should be there before during and after knowledge. The bhakti before knowledge is work-in-progress, important, and not necessarily blind. Bhagvan graces the devotee with knowledge (see BG 10.10,11)

    Bhakti after knowledge is parA bhakti.

    _/\_
    || Shri KRshNArpaNamastu ||

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