Verses 1 – 10
by Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura
(translated by Swami Bhakti Vijñāna Giri)
ku-buddhīnāṁ kutarkoktyā bhrāmyamāṇasya me manaḥ
vaśīkṛtaṁ purā yena vande taṁ prabhu saṁjñakam
I offer respects unto He who is known as ‘Prabhu,’ who subdued my mind which was occupied and agitated by the wicked sophistry of various evil-minded persons.
I offer respects to that Supreme Lord who is called ‘Prabhu,’ who steadied my restless mind which was engaged in deliberating upon many books of various doctrines, through paramārtha-tattva (spiritual principles).
kaler malam apākartuṁ caitanyo jīva-sad-guruḥ
granthasyāsya vidhāne tu mac-citte sa* pravarttakaḥ
Śrī Caitanya, the true preceptor of the jīvas, inspired me from within my heart to write this book in order to remove the contamination of Kali.
* mac-citte saḥ – ‘that which is transmitted within the heart.’
The purpose of the book is explained. Kṛtādiṣu prajā rājan kalāv icchanti sambhavam (‘Those persons of other yugas such as Satya etc. desire to take birth in the age of Kali’ – Bhāgavatam 11.5.38) – according to this statement of the Śrīmad Bhāgavata, there are no faults during the age of Kali. However, the fault of Kali is the contamination of the propagation of divine teachings – this is explained in Parīkṣit’s statement in the Bhāgavat-māhātmya of the Padma Purāṇa – evaṁ pralayatāṁ prāpto vastu-sāraḥ sthale sthale (‘In various places the essence of things has been destroyed.’). The word caitanya means Śrī Śacīnandana, the propagator of the philosophy which seeks that which is essential. Otherwise, the word caitanya means the function of the intelligence. Yadā yadā hi dharmasya glānir bhavati bhārata (“O Bhārata! Whenever dharma declines, I advent” – Bhagavad-gītā 4.7) – according to Śrī Bhagavān’s statement in the Gītā, the appearance of the consciousness of Śrī Bhagāvan within the jīva’s consciousness is recognised at all times.
sampradāye tathānyatra vartate hi sanātanam
heya-bhāva-vinirmuktaṁ sāragrāhī-mataṁ śubham
The philosophy of the sāragrāhīs (those that seek that which is essential), which is eternal, auspicious, and free from contempt, is present in various sampradāyas and elsewhere.
Karmīs, jñānīs and bhaktas are present in all places and at all times, and they are of various sampradāyas. In these sampradāyas there are worshippers who are Śaktas, Sauras, Gāṇapatyas, Śaivas and Vaiṣṇavas, or there are philosophical sampradāyas such as the Kāpilas (those that follow Kapila’s Sāṅkhya system), or there are the four Vaiṣṇava sampradāyas. Elsewhere there are those groups outside the sampradāyas. Also, in our country and in other lands, there are sampradāyas dedicated to the Bhagavān. Elsewhere, in the Bhaviṣya Purāṇa, śabarī bhaktas (aboriginal devotees) are described who did not belong to any sampradāya, and the Bhāgavata speaks of devotees such as Bharata. This is the philosophy of the sāragrāhis:
aṇubhyaś ca mahadbhyaś ca śāstrebhyaḥ kuśalo naraḥ
saravataḥ sāram ādadyāt puṣpebhya iva ṣaṭpadaḥ
(“Just as a honeybee takes the essence from all flowers, an intelligent man should take it from all śāstra, whether they are big or small.” – Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 11.8.10)
As the Bhāgavata states, the sāragrāhis take the essence from all those books that describe tattva at all times and in all places. This concept is eternal. Śrī Bhagavān, who is the essence of the essence, is also a sāragrāhi and He takes the essence, which is love, from those things offered by the devotees. The original jīva, Śrī Brahmā, who took darśana of Bhagavān through samādhi, received that essence. The Purāṇas state that personalities belonging to the sampradāya such as Nārada, Vyāsa, Parāśara, Parīkṣit etc. only accepted that essence. Śrimad Vedānta-sūtra is the essence of the Vedas. Sāraṁ sāram samuddhṛtam (‘Vyāsa drew out the essence of the essence’– Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 1.3.4). According to this statement, the essence has been collected within the Bhāgavata. What is the necessity of any more examples? By seeing the method of those who accepted the essence, all achievements are established in the sāragrāhi philosophy. The appearance of all those within the sampradāyas that arose from the sāragrāhi philosophy is accepted by śāstra and logic. Members of sampradāyas become extremely possessive of external rituals, such as the symbols of their particular sampradāya, and thus anarthas that reject the essence become a despicable aspect of that community. Hatred for those persons not within their sampradāya that mistake all the internal saṁskāras (purificatory ceremonies) prescribed by the guru within that sampradāya to be external is their despicable feature. Furthermore those members of the sampradāya become bound by rules, losing enthusiasm to achieve a higher status, and with no rules for granting any rights for those outside of their community – this is also despicable. The philosophy of the sāragrāhis is free from all this.
sarva-śāstrāt svayaṁ vidhvān gṛhnīyāt sāramuttamam
sambandhikaṁ svarūpañca pātra-bheda-vicārataḥ
Those who are learned should personally accept the highest essence from all the śāstra, along with its relative and inherent aspects, considering the different qualifications of the recipients.
There are two types of essence – relative (sāmbandhika) and inherent (svarūpa). The essence that transcends all place and time, which is within the pure jīva, is the inherent essence which is extremely rare. That which stems from an extremely inferior position, and is subject to the numerous qualifications of the jīvas, supported by laws for unlimited improvement – that essence is relative. This becomes more refined when one considers eligibility.
sva-deśa-niṣṭhatā-buddhiḥ svabhāvād dhi pravartate
tathāpi para-deśīye nā-śraddhā sāra-bhāginaḥ
It is natural for someone to have respect for their own country. However, the sāragrāhi shows no disrespect to other countries.
Due to impressions from their childhood, the jīvas have a strong attachment to their country. Everyone naturally appreciates the customs, knowledge, clothes, conduct etc. of their homeland. However, for fear of hatred towards the qualities of other countries, and of being attached to the faults of their own native land, the sāragrāhis do not become attached to those things.
yaj-jñāne sarva-vijñānaṁ manuṣyāṇāṁ prayojanam
labhyate cetasā sākṣāt tat-tattvaṁ viṣayo mama
That knowledge, by which one realises everything and which is the goal of mankind, is attained directly in the heart – this tattva is my subject matter.
That tattva, which is the sole aim of human life, is the subject matter of this book.
akhaṇḍaṁ tad-bṛhat-tattvam advaya-jñānam ucyate
sambandhāviṣkṛtaṁ śaśvac-ābhidheyena sādhitam
That great undivided tattva which is known as advaya-jñāna (knowledge of the non-dual Reality), is revealed through sambandha and always accomplished through abhidheya.
Now the tattva is described as being akhaṇḍa (undivided) etc. Jīvasya tattva-jijjāsā (‘The jīva is meant to inquire into tattva’ – Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 1.2.10), vadanti tat tattva-vidas tattvaṁ (‘Those that are conversant with tattva speak about it.’ – Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 1.2.11) – through these two statements of the Bhāgavata the non-duality of that tattva is established – because all upādhis terminate in pritī (divine love), because every element that exists terminates in the form of Parabrahma, and due to that tattva being the one form of consciousness in all beings which is devoid of māyika inferiority. This tattva is revealed through sambandha-jñāna. It must be understood that by taking refuge in sambandha-jñāna one attains this tattva through abhidheya (the methodology) of bhakti.
vicāre karttṛ-niṣṭhā yā samyagālocane kṣamā
karma-niṣṭha-vicāreṇa sarvamālocitaṁ na hi
One who is firm in deliberation (conversant with sambandha-jñāna) is capable of proper discernment. This is because, all matters cannot be deduced when one is attached to karma.
Now the method of understanding this book is being described in the ślokas beginning with ‘vicāre.’ The jīva is the evaluator in all acts of deliberation. If sambandha-jñāna is to be discussed in it’s entirety, one must be firm in deliberation. If one is focused on a subject matter, it is not possible to deliberate upon everything else, because there is a multitude of topics. Scholars who have written their own books on such topics as tithi (lunar days), mala-māsa (extra lunar month) etc. are all viewed as partial thinkers. Therefore we are writing this book by adopting a method in which the prayojana (goal), defined by deliberation upon sambandha, is successfully attained by means of a specific process.
na kāryaṁ kṣudra-jīvena vibhuti-gaṇaṁ prabhoḥ
yat tasyāvaśyakaṁ nityaṁ tadeva syāt prayojanam
It is not the duty of an insignificant jīva to measure the opulence of the Supreme. That which is the eternal necessity for the jīva should be the prayojana (the attainment or goal).
It is not the duty of the jīva, who is finite by nature, to calculate the opulence of Bhagavān, who is unlimited and infinite. The eternal requirement for him (the jīva) as regards Bhagavān is the prayojana. In this way, this tendency for the jīva, whose intelligence is extremely finite, in relation to the infinite tattva of the Supreme Lord, is a useless endeavour.
svaṁ paraṁ dvi-vidhaṁ proktaṁ pratyakṣañcendriyātmanoḥ
anumānaṁ dvidhā tadvat pramāṇaṁ dvi-vidhaṁ matam
It is said that there are two kinds of pratyakṣa (perception) in relation to ones own perception and the perception of others, through the senses and the ātma. There are also two types of anumāna (inference). Both these evidences are acceptable.
In this second section, pramāna (evidence) is defined through three ślokas defining tattvas (philosophical principles). Evidence is of two types – pratyakṣa (direct perception) and anumāṇa (inference). Direct perception by the ātmā and direct perception by the senses are the two types of pratyakṣa. Direct perception by the ātmā and the senses are of two kinds – perception of the self and perception of others. Anumāna also has these two types in relation to the self and others. According to the philosophy of the Vaiśeṣikas there is no direct perception of the ātmā because all their evidence culminate in material objects and (thereby) there is a lack of samādhi–darśana (divine revelation). Realisation in samādhi is not perceived through the material senses. In that perception there is sākṣāt-darśana (direct vision of the Supreme), so the characteristics of perception are unavoidable. Upamāna (analogy) does not differ from anumāna and is non-different from it – in other words, it is not a separate type of evidence. Differences are also seen in both evidences (pratyakṣa and anumāna) regarding the self and others, according to the seer.