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SRIMAD BHAGAVATAM NOTES

VISVANATHA CAKRAVARTI TIKA


CHAPTER 1
[SLOKA ONE] The opening sloka is very important as it indicates: the absolute truth [para tattva];
its relationship to the universe [efficient and material cause]; that he enlightened Brahma, the first
material being [in one particular cycle of creation] and that He is to be meditated on.
janmdy asya yato nvayd itarata crthev abhija svar
tene brahma hd ya di-kavaye muhyanti yat sraya
tejo-vri-md yath vinimayo yatra tri-sargo m
dhmn svena sad nirasta-kuhaka satya para dhmahi - Bhagavata 1.1
I meditate upon Lord r Ka because He is the Absolute Truth and the primeval cause of all
causes of the creation, sustenance and destruction of the manifested universes. He is directly and
indirectly conscious of all manifestations, and He is independent because there is no other cause
beyond Him. It is He only who first imparted the Vedic knowledge unto the heart of Brahmj, the
original living being. By Him even the great sages and demigods are placed into illusion, as one is
bewildered by the illusory representations of water seen in fire, or land seen on water. Only because
of Him do the material universes, temporarily manifested by the reactions of the three modes of
nature, appear factual, although they are unreal. I therefore meditate upon Him, Lord r Ka,
who is eternally existent in the transcendental abode, which is forever free from the illusory
representations of the material world. I meditate upon Him, for He is the Absolute Truth. - Srila
Prabhupada translation
***Due to the verse's ambiguity and the flexibility of the Sanskrit in this instance, there are a wide
variety of interpretations possible as will be noted later.
VISVANATHA CAKRAVARTI THAKURA ON THE FIRST SLOKA
Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura gives 5 different types of tika to this opening sloka. Some are more
literal commentaries than others. Some are on the basis of tattva and others on the basis of lila and
rasa. Before beginning proper, he offers prayer to Sri Krsna Caitanya [and Nitai and Advaita] he
also acknowledges Sanatana Gosvami's Vaisnava tosani tika, Jiva Gosvami's Sandarbhas and pays
homage to Sridhara Svami.
(1) A VEDANTIC EXPLANATION Cakravartipada connects the opening sutras from
Vedanta Sutra here. 1.1.1/1.1.2 [athato brahma jijnasa] and [janmady asya yatah]. That
Brahman is to be worshipped / meditated on and that Brahman is both the material cause
[upadana karana] and the [nimitta karana] efficient cause of the world. Bhagavan takes the
form of time to influence prakrti [to make it move and evolve] and therefore he is the
nimitta karana. (tad aiksata he glances).
VCT makes clear that this universe is different from Bhagavan's svarupa but non different
from his maya sakti. Hence he is the creator, maintainer and destroyer of the universe as it is
Bhagavan's maya sakti.
VCT raises a doubt. If Bhagavan is the material cause, does he undergo transformation?
No, as Prakrti is a sakti of Bhagavan. Sakti saktimatayor abheda [Vedanta sutra]. Bhagavan
is the material cause only through prakrti. [This relates to sakti-parinama-vada].

VCT cites SB 11.24.19 in support [Bhagavan says Prakrti is the material cause, Purusa the
foundational cause, and Time is the indirect cause and agitator of prakrti, I am all three].
VCT makes the point that prakrti can not alone be the cause as some think [samkhya
followers]. Only conscious Bhagavan can be the cause, not unconscious prakrti.
Brahman is describable by words from the Sruti. He is not fully beyond the description of
words. [This is in contrast to Advaita Vedanta].
VCT confirms that Brahma did not study the Vedas from anyone but instead they were
revealed in his heart/mind by Bhagavan.
Bhagavan's svarupa is also discussed. Doubts are raised. (a) Bhagavan could not have a
body to perform actions since the primordial matter [mahat tattva] had not arisen yet before
creation. Svetasvatara Upanisad is cited [Bhagavan has inherent knowledge, strength, action,
jnana bala kriyas ca verse]. Also this opening Bhagavata sloka says he is independent
[svarat].
(b) Another doubt is based on a lack of experience/understanding of transcendental form.
The objection is raised that form is always material and temporary [being made by the
mixture of the three gunas]. VCT states that this is just due to incorrect perception and
mistaking one thing for another. He cites several tapani upanisads such as Gopala, Rama,
Nrsimha. He also cites Brahmanda Purana, Maha Varaha Puranas. Many clear slokas are
cited from Bhagavatam and Narayaniya from Mahabharata showing that Bhagavan and his
associates have transcendental forms. VCT makes further convincing arguments based on
sastra yukti [logic based on sastra] to establish this point.
(2) KRSNA EXPLANATION VCT now interprets this verse to relate to Krsna more directly.
Satya is then identical to Krsna. His body appears temporary but is not. Knowing the Vraja
residents prema he decided to go to Vraja after appearing in Vasudeva's home. And he
revealed to Brahma that the cows and calves were the same as him, the parabrahman in the
lila of Brahma stealing the cows.
VCT cites SB, Mahabharata and Brahmanda Purana to show how Satya can refer to Krsna.
*Krsna's svarupa an objection is raised: What is seen by the material eye is temporary.
Because Krsna's form can be seen in the material world it must be temporary. - VCT
responds by saying The transcendental body is seen by the demons but they have no
realisation of its sweetness. Just as a person afflicted with jaundice doesn't experience the
sweetness of sugar candy. [Lack of realisation and anubhava of the object of perception].
Page 21 - Though Bhagavan is eternally invisible, he is seen by his own energy. Narayanadhyatma sastra. [His own mercy alone].
VCT gives another sub explanation of [tene brahma hd ya di-kavaye] that in his svamsa
form as Matsya, Bhagavan revealed his impersonal brahman feature to Satyavrata [adi
kavaye].
(3) MADHURA RASA EXPLANATION Let us meditate on Krsna from whom arises
madhura rasa through milana and viraha. He is beyond the material realm. He conveyed to
[adi kavi] Bharata Muni [author of natya sastra] the same madhura rasa.

Krsna is knowledgable of and skilful in all things suitable for rasa such as the 64 arts. Unlike
material nayakas such as Nala who are affected by time and karma, Krsna is independent
and spiritual [svarat].
NOTE* The story of Nala and Damayanti, his lover, is told in Mahabharata and has been
recreated by many poets since then. Damayanti chooses him in a Svayamvara, later King
Nala loses his kingdom in a game of dice to Pushkara his brother. They live in the forest for
3 years. Nala abandons Damayanti as he has bad luck and then he becomes an ugly dwarf.
Later, Nala is found by Damayanti when she prepares a 2nd false svayamvara and Nala
arrives riding a chariot with King Rituparna whose shelter Nala had taken temporarily.
VCT says that Rasa should not be accredited to other persons. Krsna alone conveyed the
truth about adi-rasa to Bharata Muni.
(4) YUGALA KISORA EXPLANATION We meditate on Radha and Krsna. By giving up the
other gopis and as a dhira lalita nayaka he showed his expertise in the chief aspects of rasa
and she [Radha] exhibited herself as an independent [svarat] lover. Here VCT says that
Sukadeva Muni is the adi kavi and knower of this rasa from birth.
VCT cites Bhagavata slokas from Rasa lila wherein the Gopis find their footprints and also
make inferences to other lilas such as Krsna collecting flowers for Radha. This shows
Krsna's obedience to her. VCT says Radha alone remains with her lover, Krsna as a svadhina
kanta, a woman who controls Krsna.
Brahma in the verse is interpreted as brahm/brahman [no long A at the end of the sanskrit
word]. Brahman [the absolute truth] is identical to Bhagavata, and it was revealed in the
heart of Sukadeva. Bhagavatam is known as the very form of brahman in SB 1.3.40 [idam
bhagavatam nama puranam brahma-sammitam This Bhagavatam is the essence of
Brahman].
VCT says by the influence of these two, Radha and Krsna [yatra dhamna svena] the creation
of the three consorts [Sri, Bhu and Lila OR the Gopis, Queens and Laksmis OR the
antaranga, bahiranga and tatastha saktis becomes factual [amrsa]. This is to show that those
consorts find their basis in Radha and Krsna but that they exist eternally also as the
relationship is an eternal one. In this way the first verse has been interpreted to show Radha
and Krsna as it's subject.
(5) BHAKTI EXPLANATION Let us meditate on the most beneficial spiritual process
beyond the gunas which brings about Bhagavata jnana as well as Brahman and Paramatma
anubhuti. It is independent [svarat] of all other processes. And was revealed by Narada [who
has Brahman/Krishna within his heart, brahma-hrda] to Vyasa [adi kavaye].
Other processes shown as incomplete/inferior - SB 1.5.12 cited - Even the stage of jnana
without bondage of karma is not glorious because it is devoid of Bhakti to Bhagavan.
Bhakti can bestow everything. The fruits of charity, karma [enjoyment], jnana [sayujya
mukti] etc. SB 11.20.31 - For a devotee engaged in loving service, jnana nor vairagya are
the means of achieving the highest perfection [na jnanam na ca vairagyam].
How does omniscient Vyasa's knowledge of Bhakti depend on Narada? Even rishis such as
Vasista are bewildered about nirguna bhakti yoga. Bhakti yoga can only be understood
through mahat krpa [mercy of devotees]. Understanding it by oneself, achieves only

ignorance.
VCT raises a doubt [on guna bhakti]. In 3rd Skandha, Bhakti is described as sattvika, rajasika
and tamasika. VCT says the idea that Bhakti is made by the three gunas is unfounded.
Although milk is not made by fire, water or dust in its natural state, it can be burned by fire,
diluted by water and contaminated with dirt. Similarly, Bhakti yoga is called sattvika,
rajasika and tamasika only due to the sattva, rajasa, tamas possessed by practitioners.
VCT OVERVIEW of SB 1.1
Visvanatha Cakravartipada says that the 1st explanation is like a light, in that is gives a general
understanding of Bhagavan. [Vedantic explanation].
The 2nd explanation is like the sun [Krsna explanation] and that it is more powerful as it destroys the
misconceptions of the demons and brings joy to the devotees. [My note: As it reveals a more
determinate perception, that of Svayam Bhagavan Krsna who possesses form and lila].
The remaining 3 explanations are the tasty rasa filled fruit [revealing madhura rasa, Radha and
Bhakti respectively].
In this way, VCT says Bhagavatam is like Mohini, she gives different things to different recipients.
The devotees are likened to the devatas since they receive the amrta of relishing these 5 meanings.
FURTHER DELINEATION
The LIGHT/LAMP is equated to verses describing primary creation and destruction [sarga and
nirodha] as they reveal only the general aspect of Bhagavan.
The SUN is equated to verses describing, the secondary creation [visarga], maintenance [sthana],
protection [posana], fruitive activities [uti], reign and change of Manus [manvantara], science and
activities of Bhagavan [isanukatha] and liberation [mukti]. This is because they reveal in addition,
the results of forbidden practices for bhoga and vairagya available in dharma, artha, kama and
moksa and their unlimited sub varieties.
The RASA LADEN FRUIT are the topics dealing with the appearance and lilas of Bhagavan
[asraya], his devotees, Bhakti and Prema.
However, in reality all the topics give joy to the devotees by taking on a meaning favourable to
Bhakti. Bhagavata takes on different meanings for different adhikaris.

VARIOUS OTHER TIKACARYAS


SRIDHARA SVAMI BHAVARTHA DIPIKA traditionally recognised as follower of Sankara's
Advaita. [Jiva Gosvami, Tattva Sandarbha states he is a Vaisnava in the guise of an Advaitin]
Para tattva [Brahman] is both immanent and transcendent in relation to the world. The Universe
originates from it. The world process [creation, maintenance and dissolution] is traceable to cosmic
illusion. The world, the creation of triguna appears real though is unreal just like a mirage. Brahman
should be distinguished from prakrti and pradhana. Prakrti, Jiva and Brahma are unworthy objects
to meditate on. Concludes that this purana deals with the science of the absolute truth.

SUKA-DEVA SIDDHANTA PRADIPA representing Nimbarka's Dvaitadvaita


States that this verse refutes, Samkhya theory [who think nature alone is the cause of the world].
Refutes vaisesika and mayavadis too by stating that the threefold creation is real. Owing to his own
brilliance, Brahman is never soiled by the faults of creation.
VALLABHACARYA SUBODHINI Suddhadvaita Vedanta
The world is real and subtly Brahman. Jiva and jagat are one in essence with Brahman. Brahman
can create the world without any connection with maya. Brahman is both karta [doer] and bhokta
[enjoyer]. (My note: Hence Brahman is not niskriya as Advaita Vedanta states).
The seed of the universe [namely Brahman] does not undergo modification. Just as a wish fulfilling
tree, kamadhenu or cintamani jewel remain unchanged after giving the desired object.
Brahman is both material cause [upadana karana] and instrumental cause [nimitta karana] of the
world.
Svarat is interpreted to mean he is self splendid and not interested in (material)objects of enjoyment.
And that he is absorbed in the joy of his own self and never has klesa.
***Check Vallabha Vedanta book to confirm in more detail***
More tikas to be added in the future