Bhagavān

Śrī Jīva Goswami explains kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam

Śrī Jīva Goswami presents what he calls a paribhāsā sūtra of the Bhāgavata in Anuccheda 28 of Kṛṣṇa Sandarbha. He states that this sūtra, like a great heroic emperor (महावीरराज) overrules hundreds of opposing statements, assimilating them into itself. The emperor statement are the words kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayaṁ – but Kṛṣṇa alone is Bhagavān Himself – in the famous verse below:

ete cāṁśa-kalāḥ puṁsaḥ kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam
All these are either portions (āṁśas) or minute portions (kalās) of the Puruṣa, but Kṛṣṇa alone is Bhagavān Himself. (SB 1.3.28) 

The word ‘tu‘ here is important. Śrī Jīva Goswami writes that the word tu indicates that Bhagavān is distinct from the aṁśas and kalās of the Puruṣa and also from the Puruṣa Himself (atra tu-śabdo’ṁśa-kalābhyaḥ puṁsaś ca sakāśād bhagavato vailakṣaṇyaṁ bodhayati). Here Puruṣa refers to Paramātmā mentioned in previous verses.

The statement shows that Kṛṣṇa is the very source of the Puruṣa Himself. Kṛṣṇa has already been mentioned as the twentieth avatāra previously, but the fact that He is Svayam Bhagavān is unknown. This additional information is now provided in the present verse. The word svayam – in and of Himself – signifies that Kṛṣṇa is not an avatāra of some other Bhagavān, but is Bhagavān Himself – that is is His intrinsic quality.

Śrī Madhvācāryas interpretation of kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam

Śrī Madhvācārya and his followers vehemently disagree with Śrī Jīva’s explanation of the verse. One of his followers even writes that Śrī Jīva is confused (bhrānta). The Caitanya sampradāya is not really a continuation of the Madhvā sampradāya, as the two sampradāyas have fundamental disagreements, not only on this point but many other issues. Of course Śrī Jīva gives enormous respect to Śrī Madhvācārya throughout the Sandarbhas and so do Śrī Jīva’s followers. Here he notes that Śrī Madhvācārya disagrees with his interpretation, because he reads the words ete cāṁśa-kalāḥ puṁsaḥ as ete svāṁśa-kalāḥ puṁsaḥ. This makes a world of difference! So Śrī Madhvācārya’s translation would read as follows

ete svāṁśa-kalāḥ puṁsaḥ kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam
indrāri-vyākulaṁ lokaṁ mṛḍayanti yuge yuge
All these svāṁśa-kalās of the Puruṣa, are indeed the Supreme Puruṣa Bhagavān Himself, who engladden the world tormented by the asuras in every yuga (SB 1.3.28)

Note here that Śrī Madhvācārya reads the entire verse as one sentence. Further, he interprets the word ‘tu’ to mean ‘eva’. Śrī Jīva takes the literal meaning of the word ‘tu’. Thus he disagrees with Śrī Madhvācārya, because he notes that the word ‘tu’ – but – breaks the verse up into two parts. The first part was translated above where I purposefully omitted the second part. The second part stands by itself. The subject has to be supplied to this part which contains the plural verb mṛḍayanti; the subject is ‘the avatāras’.

As we will see below, Śrī Madhvācārya and his followers differ from Śrī Jīva owing to different reading of cāṁśa as svāṁśa. Owing to this reading, Śrī Madhvācārya is forced to interpret the word ‘tu’ as ‘eva’ (only) , and to interpret the word ‘Kṛṣṇa’ as ‘Parama Puruṣa’. As we see below, Śrī Jīva is aware that Śrī Madhvācārya reads cāṁśa as svāṁśa, and disagrees with this reading on the grounds that it renders superfluous the words kṛṣṇas tu.

Śrī Jīva’s comment on Śrī Madhvācārya’s reading
In Śrī Madhvācārya’s interpretation, he interprets the word ‘Kṛṣṇa’ in kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayaṁ as ‘Parama Puruṣa’. But Śrī Jīva does not accept this interpretation (Interpreting Kṛṣṇa as Parama Puruṣa does seem like a stretch of the imagination to me). Rejecting this interpretation, Śrī Jīva next notes that the word kṛṣṇas tu would become superfluous given that one could simply say,

ete svāṁśa-kalāḥ puṁsaḥ bhagavān svayam – All these svāṁśa-kalās of the Puruṣa are Bhagavān Himself.

Thus, he does not agree with reading cāṁśa as svāṁśa. Śrī Jīva cites a verse from the Varāha purāṇa which Śrī Madhvācārya quotes-

svāṁśaś cātha vibhinnāṁśa iti dvedhāṁśa iṣyate | aṁśino yat tu sāmarthyaṁ yat svarūpaṁ yathā sthitiḥ || tad eva nāṇu-mātro’pi bhedaḥ svāṁśāṁśinoḥ kvacit | vibhinnāṁśo’lpa-śaktiḥ syāt kiñcit sāmarthya-mātra-yuk || iti

Aṁśas, or portions, are of two types: self same (svāṁśa) and differentiated (vibhinnāṁśa). A svāṁśa is defined as a portion endowed with the same prowess (sāmarthya), the same intrinsic nature (svarūpa), and the same existential status (sthiti) as the whole (aṁśi) that encompasses it. There exists not even an atom (aṇu) of distinction (bheda) between a svāṁśa and its aṁśi. The vibhinnāṁśa, on the other hand, has minute potency and limited prowess.

Śrī Jīva writes –

atrocyate—aṁśānām aṁśi-sāmarthyādikaṁ tad-aikyenaiva mantavyam | tatra yathāvidāsina ity-ādau tasyākṣayatvena tāsām akṣayatvaṁ yathā tadvad aṁśāṁśitvānupapatter eva | tathā ca śrī-vāsudevāniruddhayoḥ sarvathā sāmye prasakte kadācid aniruddhenāpi śrī-vāsudevasyāvirbhāvanā prasajyate | tac ca śruti-viparītam ity asad eva | tasmād asty evāvatāry-avatārayos tāratamyam |

In this regard, the following is to be said: The aṁśa’s identity of prowess, nature, and so on with that of the aṁśi is to be understood as due specifically to their oneness [of categorical being, jātiyatva]. This situation is comparable to that of rivulets flowing from an inexhaustible lake, where the inexhaustibility of the rivulets is due to the inexhaustibility of their source; otherwise, it would be impossible to distinguish between the part (aṁśa) and its all-encompassing whole (aṁśi). 

In other words, there is a reason the words aṁśi and aṁśa are used in these contexts! Saying that the aṁśi and aṁśa are identical would render these words meaningless!  Further, Śrī Jīva cites direct statements which show hierarchy (tāratamya) between the avatāra and avatārīs. As such, a hierarchy definitely exists which is made explicit in this verse, and cannot be simply wished away. 

Śrī Madhvācārya’s explanation of kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam

I decided to examine Śrī Madhvācārya’s commentary, which is further commented on by his followers. I have provided slides below containing the commentaries, color coded by Śrī Madhvācārya’s own commentary and commentaries on his commentary by four of his followers. I also provide my English translation in separate slides, although I did not color code that, except for distinguishing between Śrī Madhvācārya’s commentary and those of his followers. My English commentary does not contain transliterations for the Sanskrit because I ran out of steam! Hope these are useful to understand their view.

Summary

Śrī Jīva Goswami, in my (biased) view, gives a very reasonable explanation of kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam which is consistent with the overall context in which the verse appears. Śrī Madhvācārya’s explanation relies on a different reading of the verse, which Śrī Jīva Goswami is aware of, and considers but rejects. This vākya acts as a paribhāsā sūtra for the Caitanya Vaiṣṇavas, which sheds light on how to interpret the entire Bhāgavata. Those who criticize Śrī Jīva Goswami have not fully understood his explanation nor his extensive treatment in the Sandarbhas.

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21 replies »

  1. Radhe Radhe!

    Even if the “svāmsha..” reading of the Mādhvas is taken, in my humble opinion, it poses nothing detrimental to the Gaudiya interpretation. IMO, I don’t think Sri Jiva had a problem with the Madhwa reading but only their interpretation. Gaudiyas can also interpret simply as “These are svāmshas and kalās of the Purushāvatāra, however Krsna is Bhagavan(the amshī of the Purusha) in His primary form(Svayam Bhagavān)”

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    • His reading of camsakalah is the same as Sri Jiva’s. But he explains it differently. For him, Bhagavan = Narayana in krsnas tu bhagavan svayam – see commentary below

      śrīdharaḥ: tatra viśeṣam āha—ete ceti | puṁsaḥ parameśvarasya kecid aṁśāḥ kecit kalā-vibhūtayaś ca | tatra matsyādīnām avatāratvena sarvajñatva-sarvaśaktimattve’pi yathopayogam eva jñāna-kriyā-śakty-āviṣkaraṇam | kumāra-nāradādiṣv ādhikārikeṣu yathopayogam aṁśa-kalāveśaḥ | tatra kumārādiṣu jñānāveśaḥ | pṛthvādiṣu śakty-āveśaḥ | kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān sākṣān nārāyaṇa eva | āviṣkṛta-sarva-śaktitvāt | sarveṣāṁ prayojanam āha | indrārayo daityās tair vyākulam upadrataṁ lokaṁ mṛḍayanti sukhinaṁ kurvanti ||28||

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  2. Radhe Radhe!
    Also how correct is it to say that “Krishna is the source of Narayana” or vice versa when all these forms are actually eternally existent according to Gaudiya Acharyas. “Source” kind of implies that one form existed and the other newly got created. What would be the proper translation for “ādhāra mūrti”?

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    • yes the word source is problematic if understood as producing something with a beginning. Generally the word should be interpreted to mean that Krsna is the sole independent person, while all other avataras derive their power from Him. Alternatively, one can think (which is how I see it) that Krsna appears as these different persons to reciprocate with the corresponding devotees of these persons. He is manifest in His fullness as Krsna, and manifests in decreasing degrees in other avataras.

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  3. Radhe Radhe,
    Could you please explain/translate the two Sanskrit commentaries(?)[in the footnotes] at the end of the group of slides which explain the Mādhva opinion?

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    • Here is my translation of the first footnote (on the left). Buyer beware- I dont have the original book or the context, so I did the best I could.

      In the mantra, सं ते प्राणो वायुना गच्छताम्। संयजत्रैरङ्गानि।संयज्ञपतिराशिषा, the word gacchatam is separated from Samyajatrairangani. Not being in proximity, isn’t connecting it together with Samyajatrairangani an adhyahara [which is not allowed]? If one responds that proximity [is not only when reading them but also] occurs from mental return [to the word meaning], then in the case of Samyajatrairangani, because of a lack of an obvious relation [with gacchatam], a mental return is disrupted and therefore proximity is not possible. [the response is] at that time, because there is still akanksha (expectancy), the adhyahara is established as appropriate.

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    • Here is my translation of the footnote on the right side of the slide

      If proximal words do not yield meaning, then the meaning is to be derived from words even though they may be separated from each other. Yogyata is stronger than sannidhi [asatti]. – candrika.

      In the third part, in the penultimate adhikarana called anantaryamacodana, the following two sentences are cited and considered: from the darsapurnamasa: हस्तावनेनिक्ते, उलपराजिं स्तृणाति – washes the hands and spreads the grass) and from the jyotistoma : मुष्टीकरोति, वाचं यच्छति, दीक्षितमावेदयति (makes a fist, offers speech and invites an intitate). Washing the hands is for purifying them. Making a fist and controlling speech is for offering the mind. By the linga that all three have the ability to be performed, they are subsidiary to the karma. Are these three the anga of the immediately proximal ’spreads the grass’ and ‘invites an intiate’ alone? Or are they the angas of the whole karma? The doubt is as follows: because they are immediately proximal to these statements [washes the hand is immediately followed by spreads the grass], and because they have eka-vakyata [they are part of one statement] and because they form an avantara-prakarana, they should be subsdiary to their proximal angas, and not the whole karma. [No, because] By the linga and prakarana, they appear to be part of the entire karma which is in the prakarana. Because proximity of text indicated by the starting word ‘anantarya’ [in anantaryamacodana] is weaker [than linga and prakarana], it is proven that these actions are part of the entire karma. And in the vartika, it is said: That word is related to another word, even though situated far away, if they are related in meaning. For those words which are not related in meaning, proximity is not a cause [for relating them].
      – Candrika prakasika, anukrtya adhikarana (Brahma sutra 1.3.6) – in the context of nullifying the defect of supplying a word where the meaning is split

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  4. https://ramanujramprapnna.blog/2018/02/28/explaining-krishnastu-bhagwaan-swayam-as-per-ramanuj-and-madhav-school-of-vedanta/

    I was just reading above link wherein opinions of Sri Sampradaya and Madhva Sampradaya on this verse is given. I didn’t understand it properly as I lack enough knowledge on Sanskrit Grammar. But one thing they were continuously stressing is that Mrdayanti is plural ,so Krishna is not used here as specific noun , but used to refer all the Svamsa avataras together. They are using some logic of subject verb agreement.

    Can you please shed some light on this? Is this issue of plural nature of the word mrdayanti addressed by Sri Jiva goswami?

    Regards
    Vighnesh

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    • I just took a look at it. They explain it well. Did you read the sentences under “presenting in simple words” ? I am not sure I can explain it any better.
      The plural issue does not arise for Sri Jiva Goswami because he says that the word ‘tu’ splits the sentence. That means eta ca amsa kala pumsa is one sentence, krsnas tu bhagavan svayam is another. So now what to do with the indrari vyakulam lokam? he says that part goes with the first sentence – you supply ‘ete ca’ to that sentence – ete goes with mrdayanti. This is allowed by purva mimamsa.

      Sri Jiva Goswami thoroughly analyzes Krsnas tu bhagavan svayam. Please read the anuccheda. Also he strengthens his argument further by providing many supporting statements from the Bhagavata.

      In essence, there is no problem with his approach as it is allowed by purva mimamsa.

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