With commentary by Sri Srimad Jiva Gosvami and translation and purport by Paramahamsa Parivrajakacarya (108) Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami
[Editor’s Note: This is the first installment of the Brahma-samhita, the Hymns of Brahma, including a foreword by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, the translator and commentator, and the first two verses and purports of the Fifth Chapter of this work. Brahma is the first created entity in this universe, born out of a lotus flower sprouting from the navel of the Garbhodakasayi Visnu, the Great God, and he is the greatest of the demigods, being directly empowered by Lord Krsna to create the solar and planetary systems and all life that dwells therein. Despite his great power, at his birth Brahma knew neither his whereabouts nor his identity. Therefore the Supreme Lord, Sri Krsna, imparted Vedic knowledge into his heart, and these hymns are Brahma’s articulation of that knowledge. It is not surprising then that the Brahma-samhita is in praise of Govinda (Krsna), the primeval Lord who is the very origin of Brahma.
His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati renders, in his foreword and purports, detailed information which reveals his great scholarship and devotion. The greatest exponent of Vaisnavism in this century, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta founded the Gaudiya Mission in India. He is the spiritual master of His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami and therefore the grand spiritual master of the Krsna consciousness movement in the West.]
The materialistic demeanor cannot possibly stretch to the transcendental autocrat who is ever inviting the fallen conditioned souls to associate with Him through devotion, the eternal serving mood. The phenomenal attractions are often found to tempt sentient beings to enjoy the variegated position, which is opposed to undifferentiated monism. People are apt to indulge in transitory speculations even when they are to educate themselves about a situation beyond their empiric area or experimental knowledge. But often the esoteric aspect obliges them to trace out Immanence in their outward inspection of transitory and transformable things. This impulse moves them to fix the position of the immanent to an indeterminate impersonal entity, no clue of which can be discerned in moving earth and heaven through man’s organic senses.
The lines of this booklet will surely help such puzzled souls in their march towards the personality of the Immanent lying beyond their sensuous inspection. The very first stanza of this publication will revolutionize their conservative ideas when the nomenclature of the Absolute is put before them as “Krsna.” The speculative minds will tend to offer some other attributive name to designate the unknown object. They will prefer to brand Him by their own experience as the “creator of this universe,” or “the entity beyond phenomena,” which are far removed from any object of nature and void of all transformation. So they will urge that the very fountainhead should have no conceivable designation other than that which would indicate an invisible, inaudible, untouchable, non-fragrant and imperceivable object. But they will not desist from contemplating on the object with their poor fund of experience. The interested enquirer will be found to hanker after the records left by erudite savants in lieu of incompatible hallucinatory views of savage demonstration. In comparing different names offered by mankind’s different schools of thought, a particular judge would naturally decide in favor of some nomenclature which will suit best his limited and specific whims. The slave mentality of an individual will no doubt offer invectives to those who would appeal to him to explain his decision. To remedy this evil, the Hymns (Brahma-samhita) of the accepted progenitor of the phenomena would help greatly for they offer a nomenclature which is possessed of adequate power to dispel all imaginations conjured by those who experience phenomena through tentative exploitations.
The first hymn will establish the supremacy of the Absolute Truth, if His substratum is not shot by the bullets of limited time, ignorance and discomfort by those who recognize Him as an effect instead of accepting Him as the prime cause. But earnest seekers will be satisfied to note that the object of their determination is the par-excellent Supreme Lord Sri Krsna who has eternally embodied Himself in His ever-present, all-blissful, all-pervasive form of perfected knowledge, the very fountainhead of all prime causes, or unending non-beginning time, the supplying fosterer of all entities, namely, mundane and transcendental.
The subsequent lines will determine the different aspects of the Absolute, which are but emanations of the supreme fountainhead Krsna, the most attractive entity of all entities. Moreover, the etymology of the nomenclature “Krsna” indicates a plane of uninterrupted, unending, transcendental felicity and indicates that He Himself is the source of the two components which go by the names of “efficient” and “material” causes. The very transcendental name “Krsna” enotes the embodiment of all the transcendental eternal rasas (nectarean pleasures) as well as the origin of all eclipsed conceptions of interrupted rasas (perverted relationships) found in the mentality of animated beings which are successfully depicted by literati and rhetoricians for our mundane speculation.
The verses of Brahma-samhita are a full elucidation of the origination of phenomena and noumena. These hymns of the incarnated prime potency deal fully with the henotheistic speculations of different schools, which are busy giving the outer coverings of esoteric concoctions without referring to the true, eternal aspect of the transcendental, non-transformable and imperishable manifestation of the Immanent. These hymns also deal with different partial aspects of the Personality of the Absolute, who is quite separate from the conception of the enjoyers of this phenomenal world.
A very closely attentive comparative study of all prevailing thoughts and conceptions will relieve and enlighten all—be one a materialist, a downright atheist, an agnostic, a skeptic, a naturalist, or a pantheist—busy with knowledge of mere three dimensions by speculative exertions.
This booklet is only the fifth chapter of the Hymns of Brahma (Brahma-samhita) which were recorded in a hundred chapters. The Supreme Lord Sri Caitanya picked up this chapter from the temple of Adikesava at Tiruvattar, a village lying under the government of Travancore, for the assurance of all God-loving, and especially Krsna-loving, people in this conditioned world. This booklet can easily be compared with another book called Srimad-Bhagavatam. Though it has reference in the pantheon of Puranas, the Bhagavatam corroborates the same idea of this Pancaratra.
The devotees should note that these two books point to the identical Krsna who is the Fountainhead of all transcendental and mundane entities and who exhibits a manifestation of plenary variegatedness.
Aspersions and calumniation are confined to the limited world, for the Transcendence cannot admit such “angularities,” being at an angle of 180 degrees, that is to say, void of any angular discrepancies.
The publisher is carried away to the realm of gratitude when his stores of publication are scrutinized. Thakur Bhaktivinoda has given an elucidating purport to the conception of the most sublime fountainhead of all entities, and one of his devout followers has rendered that from Bengali into English for propagatory purposes. The background of the purports and translations are traced to the writings of Srila Jiva Gosvami, a contemporary follower of the Supreme Lord Sri Krsna Caitanya.
The materialists often go on to say that the provincial conception of theism has depicted the transcendental unity as diversity, but we differ from these erroneous considerations, for we get a prospective view of the manifested Transcendence which eliminates all historiographies and allegorical interpretations. Our enjoying mood should take a different direction when we take into account the Transcendental Entity who absorbs all the frailties and limitations of nature. So we solicit the happier mood of the scrutinizers and beg them to pay special attention to the importance of manifestive transcendence in Krsna.
It was found necessary to publish this small book for the use of English speaking people who are interested in the acme of transcendental truth in all its manifested phases. The theme delineated herein is quite different from the ordinary heaps of poetical mundane literature which are confined to our limited senses. This book was found in South India some four centuries ago, and it is again brought to light in the very same country after a long time. It is just like the worshiping the Goddess Ganges by offering her own water.
Siddhanta Sarasvati, Sri Gaudiya Math, Calcutta, August 1, 1932.
isvarah—the controller; paramah—supreme; krsnah—Lord Krsna; sat—comprising eternal existence; cit—absolute knowledge; ananda—and absolute bliss; vigrahah—whose form; anadih—without beginning; adih—the origin; govindah—Lord Govinda; sarva-karana-karanam—the cause of all causes.
Krsna who is known as Govinda is the Supreme Godhead. He has an eternal blissful spiritual body. He is the origin of all. He has no other origin and He is the prime cause of all causes.
Krsna is the exalted Supreme entity having His eternal name, eternal form, eternal attribution and eternal pastimes. The very name “Krsna” implies His love-attracting designation, expressing by His eternal nomenclature the acme of entity. His eternal beautiful heavenly blue-tinged body glowing with the intensity of ever-existing knowledge has a flute in both His hands. As His inconceivable spiritual energy is all-extending, still He maintains His all-charming medium size by His qualifying spiritual instrumentals. His all-accommodating supreme subjectivity is nicely manifested in His eternal form. The concentrated all-time presence, uncovered knowledge and inebriating felicity have their beauty in Him. The mundane manifestive portion of His own Self is known as all-pervading Paramatma, Isvara (Superior Lord) or Visnu (All-fostering). Hence it is evident that Krsna is sole Supreme Godhead. His unrivaled or unique spiritual body of superexcellent charm is eternally unveiled with innumerable spiritual instrumentals (senses) and unreckonable attributes keeping their signifying location properly, adjusting at the same time by His inconceivable conciliative powers. This beautiful spiritual figure is identical with Krsna and the spiritual entity of Krsna is identical with His own figure.
The very intensely blended entity of eternal presence of felicitous cognition is the charming targeted holding or transcendental icon. It follows that the conception of the indistinguishable formless magnitude (Brahman) which is an indolent, lax, presentment of cognitive bliss, is merely a penumbra of intensely blended glow of the three concomitants, viz., the blissful, the substantive and the cognitive. This transcendental manifestive icon Krsna in His original face is primordial background of magnitudinal infinite Brahman and of the all-pervasive oversoul. Krsna as truly visioned in His variegated pastimes, such as owner of transcendental cows, chief of cowherds, consort of milk-maids, ruler of the terrestrial abode Gokula and object of worship by transcendental residents of Goloka beauties, is Govinda. He is the root cause of all causes who are the predominating and predominated agents of the universe. The glance of His projected fractional portion in the sacred originating water viz., the personal oversoul or Paramatma, gives rise to a secondary potency-nature who creates this mundane universe. This oversoul’s intermediate energy brings forth the individual souls analogously to the emanated rays of the sun.
This book is a treatise of Krsna; so the preamble is enacted by chanting His name in the beginning.
sahasra-patra—possessing a thousand petals; kamalam—a lotus; gokula-akhyam—known as Gokula; mahat padam—the superexcellent station; tat—of that (lotus); karnikaram—the whorl; tat—of Him (Krsna); dhama—the abode; tat—that (Gokula); ananta—of His infinitary aspect, Balarama; amsa—from a part; sambhavam—produced.
[The spiritual place of transcendental pastimes of Krsna is portrayed in the second verse.] The superexcellent station of Krsna, which is known as Gokula, has thousands of petals and a corolla like that of a lotus sprouted from a part of His infinitary aspect, the whorl of the leaves being the actual abode of Krsna.
Gokula, like Goloka, is not a created mundane plane-unbounded character forms the display of His unlimited potency and His propagating manifestation. Baladeva is the mainstay of that energy. The transcendental entity of Baladeva has two aspects viz., infinite spiritual manifestation and infinite accommodating space for insentient gross things. The uniquadrantal delineation of material universe will be dealt with in the proper place. The triquadrantal extensions of the transcendental infinitary field of the almighty, unlamenting, nonperishing and nonapprehending unlimited situations of halo which are fully spiritual majestic foliation. This very majestical extension portrays the manifested lofty rich feature of the vaster unlimited region or greater atmosphere which has its resplendent location wholly beyond the realm of mundane nature, on the further shore of Viraja surrounded by the halo of Brahman or indistinguishable entity. This majestical power of unlimited spirit emanates on the upper portion of the luminous sphere into the most charming Gokula or eternally existing Goloka, exceedingly beautified by the assorted display of effulgence. Some designate this region as the abode of the Supreme Narayana, or the original fountainhead. Hence Gokula, which is identical with Goloka, is the supreme plane. The same sphere shines as Goloka and Gokula respectively by its upper or transcendental and lower or mundane situation.
Sri Sanatana Gosvami has told us as follows in his Brhad-bhagavatamrta which embodies the final essence of all the books of instructions: “He displays His pastimes here in this land as He is used to do in Goloka. The difference between the two planes lies only in their locations as high and low; that is, in other words, Krsna plays exactly the same part in Goloka as He exhibits on the mundane plane of Gokula. There is practically no difference between Gokula and Goloka save that this what exists in the shape of Goloka in the upper region is the same as Gokula on the mundane plane when Krsna showed His various activity there. Sri Jiva Gosvami has also inculcated the same in the Bhagavat-sandarbha of his ‘Six Treatises.’ ” To ascertain the plane of Goloka-Vrndavana is the eternal abode of Krsna and Goloka and Vrndavana are identically one, and though both are identical, yet Krsna’s inconceivable energy has made Goloka the acme of this spiritual kingdom and Gokula of Mathura province forming a part of the mundane plane which is also a manifestation of triquadrantal vibhuti (conducting majesty). Poor human understanding cannot possibly make out how the extensive triquadrantal, which is beyond human comprehension, can be accommodated in the limited nether material universe of a uniquadrantal disclosure. Gokula is a spiritual plane, hence his condescended position in the region of material space, time, etc., is in no way restricted but unlimitedly manifested with his full boundless propriety. But conditioned souls are apt to assert a material conception in regard to Gokula by their miserable senses so as to bring him below the level of their intellect. Though the eye of an observer is impeded by a cloud when gazing at the sun and though the tiny cloud can never really cover the sun, still the clouded vision apparently observes the sun as covered by the cloud. In just the same way the conditioned souls with their obscured intelligence, senses and decisions, accept Gokula as a piece of measurable land. We can see Gokula from Goloka which is eternal. This is also a mystery. The attainment of final beatitude is the success in attaining one’s eternal self. The success in identifying the true self is finally achieved when the screen of gross and subtle coils of conditioned souls is removed by the sweet will of Krsna. However, the idea of Goloka is seen to differ from Gokula till the success in unalloyed devotion is achieved. The transcendental plane of infinite spiritual manifestation having thousands of petals and corolla like those of the lotus, is Gokula, the eternal abode of Krsna.