Garbha Stotra Commentary (Prayers to Kṛṣṇa in the Womb)Garbha Stotra Verse Eight

Verse Nine

With the Sambandha Tattva Candrikā Commentary by Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura


sattvaṁ viśuddhaṁ śrayate bhavān sthitau
śarīriṇāṁ śreya-upāyanaṁ vapuḥ
tavārhaṇaṁ yena janaḥ samīhate

At the time of maintenance You manifest transcendental forms which are beyond the modes of material nature that exists in order to benefit all embodied creatures. People worship You through Vedic rituals, yoga and samādhi. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 10.2.34)

Sambandha Tattva Candrikā Commentary

If the transcendental form of Kṛṣṇa, the personified perception of divine bliss, is indeed the direct form of Bhagavān, then to dispel any doubt regarding the necessity of the form of Nārāyaṇa, the Lord of Lakṣmī, who resides in the spiritual sky, the Devatās said – “O Bhagavān! In order to award benefit to the bound jīvas, You accept forms comprised of viśuddha-sattva such as Nārāyaṇa, the sustainer, namely at the time of maintenance. That is because, through that four-armed form, the jīvas worship You with Vedic rituals, yoga, austerity, and samādhi-yoga. Through Vedic rituals, human beings become householders and attain dharma. Your Garuḍa, who serves Your form of Nārāyaṇa, is the embodiment of the Vedas and the personification of household dharma. Householders carry dharma, but the basis of that, bhagavad-bhakti in the form of rasa, is not quickly achieved. A comparison is seen between the Vedic dharma of the householders and the activity of carrying by Garuḍa. Even brahmacārīs, through the sādhana of physical yoga, worship Your splendorous nature as the Paramātmā – thus, even through yoga, aiśvarya-prema (divine love with a mood of reverence) for You arises. Vānaprastha munis also meditate upon Your opulence through mental austerities. Through the quality of gratitude, acknowledging the natural gifts bestowed by You, they give thanks to You and meditate upon You. All sannyāsīs following jñāna-yoga, immerse their consciousness in the supreme majesty found in Your position as Brahman, and through samādhi, they worship You as the highest reality.”

Through all these statements, it is fully understood that the community that follows the four kinds of varṇa and āśrama-dharma constantly worships Bhagavān’s divine opulence, desiring the fourfold goals of human life – dharma, artha, kāma and mokṣa. Although they may not be the ultimate goal for the jīva, there is no doubt that the means of attaining the highest good in the form of kṛṣṇa-prema is inherent in their very nature.

The servants of Nārāyaṇa identify five methods within these four kinds of āśrama-dharma, namely karma (action), jñāna (knowledge), bhakti (devotion), prapatti (surrender), and ācārya-abhimāna (reverence towards the guru).

Yajña (sacrifice), dāna (charity), tapa (austerity), dhyāna (meditation), sandhyā (chanting gāyatrī three times daily) and vandanā (prayer) are the five divisions of karma. Agnihotra (twice daily fire sacrifices), tīrtha-yātrā (travelling to holy places), puṇya-kṣetra-vāsa (residing in a sacred place), Kṛcchra-candrāyaṇa (eating according to the moon-phase), puṇya-nadi-snāna (bathing in holy rivers), vrata (ritual observances), cāturmāsya (a religious observance for the four months of rainy season), śāstrābhyāsa (study of the śāstra), ārādhana (Deity worship), japa (silent chanting), tarpaṇa (offering oblations of water), upavāsa (fasting), yama (following rules), niyama (following prohibitions), āsana (physical postures), prāṇāyāma (regulating the breath), pratyāhāra (retracting the senses from sense-objects), dhāraṇā (concentration), dhyāna (meditation) and samādhi (fully absorbing oneself in the Supreme) are all secondary divisions of karma.

Attaining and perceiving the form of Nārāyaṇa is called jñāna. Experiencing an uninterrupted flow of affection like a stream of oil is called bhakti-yoga. The result of such bhakti is called prapatti (surrender). This prapatti is of two types, namely ārta-rūpa-prapatti and dṛpta-rūpa-prapatti. That bhakti which arises through the instructions of an advanced ācārya, through the study of śāstra, which is causeless and is due to the grace of Bhagavān, is called ārta-rūpa-prapatti (surrender with patience). That bhakti which arises from the instructions of an advanced ācārya, which stems from fear of the miseries of the material world, through restraining the opposing tendencies of enjoying and renouncing is called dṛpta-rūpa-prapatti (surrender with impatience). Through prapatti it is established that the Lord is the master and the jīva is a servant, the Lord is the controller and the jīva is the controlled, the Lord is the life-force and the jīva is the possessor of the body, the Lord is pervading and the jīva is pervaded, the Lord is the supporter and the jīva is the supported, the Lord is the protector and the jīva is the protected, the Lord is the enjoyer and the jīva is the enjoyed, the Lord is omniscient and the jīva is in ignorance, the Lord is the possessor of all potencies and the jīva is weak, the Lord is complete and the jīva is incomplete.

The proper method of curbing the disease of material existence as shown by the mahā-bhāgavatas, is to follow a great personality – when one considers him to be their master, that is called ācārya-abhimāna.

All these methods are adopted by the servants of Nārāyaṇa. Within this, there is a difference in eligibility. The jñānī is superior to the karmī, the devotee is superior to the jñānī and karmī, and higher still is one who, being fully surrendered, possesses reverence for the ācārya. However, they are all servants of Nārāyaṇa. The prema that is solely in the form of servitude to Kṛṣṇa, is distinct from everything else, because it is attained by the jīva in his highest state. Aiśvarya-prema can hardly be pure because aiśvarya-prema is impure when seen from a neutral perspective. Those individuals who express gratitude in their prayers are actually self-motivated, if such words are spoken in prayer – “Bhagavān! You have shown me infinite mercy. You have nourished me from my infancy with milk from my mother’s breast. You have arranged all the means for my welfare and those of others. You have provided many kinds of benefits in this world, and You are providing eternal happiness for me. You are infinite knowledge, the embodiment of truth, and all-powerful. In this way it can be understood that if You didn’t do all this, and if Your powers were not so extensive, then You would not be worthy of my worship!”

How obnoxious is this type of prayer!

Although the servants of Kṛṣṇa are aware of all these things, they are never swayed by all such traits, namely wonder, gratitude, fear etc. They are naturally inclined towards prema, solely by the sweetness of the Supreme Lord. Even though opulence and mercy reside in the form of Kṛṣṇa, they are hidden by the light of sweetness. Even if Kṛṣṇa desires to create countless cowherd boys and cows, that power is insignificant compared to the sweetness of His flute. Even though wickedness in the form of Bakāsura, deceit in the form of Putanā, and sin in the form of Aghāsura are destroyed by the will of Kṛṣṇa, still, the superexcellence of His form as a cowherd is more attractive than that power. Even though Brahmā, the performer of severe austerities and devotee of opulence, and Indra, the enjoyer of opulence, express unprecedented words of praise by hitting their own jewelled crowns at the feet of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, what is the greatness of that opulence compared to the ankle-bells worn by the Lover of the gopīs?

In comparison to the bliss of mādhurya (sweetness), the bliss of aiśvarya has no dominance. Therefore, the Devatās said, “O Bhagavān! Although the form of Kṛṣṇa is superior in all respects, still the form of Nārāyaṇa is superior to Brahman, because Brahman is neuter, without rasa, and possesses the nature of a nīma fruit.” A crow who lacks rasa merely pecks at it because it has no prema within it. Through dry jñāna, persons who wish to achieve a state of neutrality, serve Brahman. However, within You, who are beyond Brahman, appearing in the form of Nārāyaṇa, there exists a blissful rasa in the form of servitorship. This form of Nārāyaṇa is like an attractive ripe mango blossom, and the rasikas are like cuckoos relishing that blossom, experiencing the rasa of servitorship. A person who gives up the position of a crow and adopts the position of a cuckoo becomes capable of ascending the staircase of infinite advancement. He is not merely confined to the bud – later, when that bud blossoms into a fruit, he also tastes its sweet nectar. Therefore, the servants of Nārāyaṇa are also fortunate, as they have become liberated from the knowledge of Brahman.

In the śloka where the word śrayate is present, it implies short-sighted individuals may perceive that Bhagavān’s form of viśuddha-sattva is not eternal. This fear is unfounded. Bhagavān’s transcendental form as Kṛṣṇa is beginningless and infinite, because it is nothing but sac-cid-ānanda. It cannot be considered that the Lord can accept or reject His form of sac-cid-ānanda at any time, since Bhagavān will never destroy Himself in any way. His form of sac-cid-ānanda transcends everything within material and eternal states. Even without all opulence, the existence of Bhagavān is unaffected. The existence of Goloka Vṛndāvana can be acknowledged even during universal dissolution, because the eternal nature of aprākṛta-tattva has been recognised. If and when it is the desire of Bhagavān, then during cosmic annihilation, this material entire universe along with the eternal spiritual sky may disappear, leaving behind only the supreme transcendental reality. The catuḥ-ślokī is the evidence for this. Even during mahā-pralaya, it is not possible for any transformation to occur in the abode of Para-vyoma (Vaikuṇṭha). Therefore, in this śloka, the term sthitiḥ refers to the condition of the abode of Para-vyoma, and the meaning of the word śrayate is to be accepted as referring to the form of Nārāyaṇa.* Who will accept that Brahmā, the compiler of the Vedas, and Mahādeva, the speaker of the Āgamas and Tantras, would declare that the transcendental body of Bhagavān is temporary?



* According to Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa, the word śrayate in this śloka suggests ‘manifestation’, therefore Ṭhākura Bhaktivinoda also states that śrayate refers to the manifestation of Nārāyaṇa and His various avatāras.

Garbha Stotra Commentary (Prayers to Kṛṣṇa in the Womb)Garbha Stotra Verse Eight

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