bhāva

The meaning of SB 12.13.12

Reader Raj requested an explanation of SB 12.13.12. The verse is as follows:

sarva-vedānta-sāraṁ yad brahmātmaikatva-lakṣaṇam

vastv advitīyaṁ tan-niṣṭhaṁ kaivalyaika-prayojanam

Śrī Jīva Goswami brings this verse up first in the Tattva Sandarbha Anuccheda 52.1, where he mentions that the verse will be discussed in depth later in the Prīti Sandarbha. Note the planning that must have gone into the Sandarbhas! He had already decided what was going to be discussed in the final Sandarbha, in the first Sandarbha itself. Śrī Jīva Goswami had an amazingly organized mind!

Śrī Babaji’s translation of the verse from his upcoming Prīti Sandarbha Anuccheda 16.2 is below (I edited some words in parenthesis and brackets to bring out the conventional meaning of the verse first).

This Bhāgavata Purāṇa has for its subject (niṣṭham, i.e., viṣayam) the one nondual Absolute (vastu advitīyam), which is the essence of all Vedānta (sarva-vedānta-sāram) and is characterized by the constitutional oneness of the ātmā with Brahman (brahmātmaikatva-lakṣaṇam). Additionally, this book has for its one and only aim (eka-prayojanam) the state of kaivalya [lit. oneness]. (SB 12.13.12)

Seen in isolation from its context and everything that came before it, the verse by itself suggests that the essence of the Bhāgavata is Brahman, and the goal to be attained is oneness with Brahman or kaivalya. Kaivalya is a common word in Advaitin philosophy for mukti. Is the Bhāgavata’s purpose to teach Advaitavāda?

The meaning of the word kaivalya

Śrī Jīva Goswami hints at a solution in Anuchheda 52.1 of the Tattva Sandarbha itself. At issue is the word ‘kaivalya’. What does it mean exactly?

[..] śuddhatva-mātra-vacanatvena |

kaivalya means purity (śuddhatva)

He makes it clearer in the Prīti Sandarbha:

kevalaḥ śuddhaḥ, tasya bhāvaḥ kaivalyam

The word kevala means “pure” (śuddha), and hence the existential condition (bhāva) of being completely pure is kaivalya.

The verse states that this existential condition is the ultimate goal as explained by Śrī Jīva Goswami:

tad ekam eva prayojanaṁ parama-puruṣārthatvena pratipādyaṁ yasya tad idaṁ śrī-bhāgavatam iti pūrva-ślokasthenānvayaḥ |

Bhāgavata Purāṇa is that book in which this kaivalya alone is established as the ultimate attainment (prayojana), meaning the parama-puruṣārtha.

The question is then – what is that state in which one’s existential condition is completely pure? Śrī Jīva Goswami answers by first identifying the impure state (aśuddhatva):

doṣa-mūlaṁ hi jīvasya parama-tattva-jñānābhāva evety uktam—bhayaṁ dvitīyābhiniveśataḥ syād ity-ādau, īśād apetasya [bhā.pu. 12.2.37] ity-ādibhiḥ |

The root defect of the living being [i.e. impurity] is nothing other than the absence of awareness of the Absolute Reality. This was stated in SB 11.2.37, with the words: “Fear arises from absorption in duality…which is rooted in the perpetual diverting of regard away from Bhagavān” (bhayaṁ dvitīyābhiniveśataḥ syāt… īśād apetasya).

Thus, the state of purity is that in which a person is completely freed from all impurities of material conditioning and situated in its own essential nature (svarūpa-pratiṣṭhā—Yoga-sūtra, 4.34). This state is only possible when one experiences Bhagavān. This is because the root cause of the impurity is a lack of awareness of Bhagavān (see SB 11.2.37 above). Śrī Jīva writes:

atas taj-jñānam eva śuddhatvam iti kaivalya-śabdasyātra pūrvavat tad-anubhava eva tātparyam |

Therefore, only immediate awareness (jñāna) of the Absolute is the state of complete purity (śuddhatvam), and thus, as elaborated above, the sole import of the word kaivalya that is applicable here is direct experience (anubhava) of the Absolute.

So we have arrived at the following concept:

kaivalya = śuddhatva = the state of complete purity = bhagavad-anubhava= the state in which there is direct awareness of Bhagavān.

The final piece, then, is to recognize that direct awareness of Bhagavān is only possible in the state of bhakti or prīti for Him. One can experience Bhagavān incompletely as Brahman, and such a state will also be called kaivalya, because it is also śuddha. But experience of Bhagavān is even more pure, or parama-śuddha. Śrī Jīva writes:

yadi tatra kevala-śabdena śuddhatvaṁ vaktavyaṁ, tadā tat-prīty-eka-tātparyā eva parama-śuddhā iti tasyām eva tātparyam

If [..] the word kaivalya is taken to mean “purity” (śuddhatva), then that which has bhagavat-prīti for its one and only object (eka-tātparya) is alone supremely pure (parama-śuddha). Thus, the import of the word kaivalya is in prīti alone.

Śrī Babaji explains,
“SB 12.13.12 refers specifically to that prayojana which is not mixed with any other desire, anyābhilāṣitā-śūnyam (as seen in the definition of bhakti in BRS 1.1.11). This prayojana is nothing other than prīti because in prīti there is no duplicity and no desire other than to please Bhagavān, ānukūlyena kṛṣṇānuśīlanam (BRS 1.1.11). From this it is evident that according to Sūta Gosvāmī, the real purpose of Bhāgavata Purāṇa is to disclose prīti. ”

Śrī Jīva Goswami highlights the supremacy of prīti over conventional kaivalya further:

ata eva kaivalyān mokṣād apy ekaḥ śreṣṭho yo bhagavat-prīti-lakṣaṇo’rthas tat-prayojanam iti vyākhyāntaram |

Therefore, the statement, “This Śrīmad Bhāgavata has for its one and only aim (eka-prayojanam) the state of kaivalya”(kaivalyaika-prayojanam, SB 12.13.12), may be interpreted in an alternative manner as follows: “This Śrīmad Bhāgavata has for its aim (prayojanam) the ultimate good (artha) characterized as prīti for Bhagavān, which is superior (ekaḥ, i.e., śreṣṭhaḥ) even to kaivalya or mokṣa.” In reality, by the principle stated above, words such as kaivalya [and apavarga] primarily signify pure devotion alone (śuddha-bhakti).

These conclusions are also consistent with and supported by the previous verse, 12.13.11, which I did not present here.

Now, Śrī Jīva Goswami being Śrī Jīva Goswami, does not stop there. He gives two more meanings of the word kaivalya, and demonstrates that even then, the ultimate meaning is the same: kaivalya = prīti! I did not present those meanings here.

Based on all these considerations, we get:

kaivalya = śuddhatva = prīti

Summary

The final translation is as follows:

sarva-vedānta-sāraṁ yad brahmātmaikatva-lakṣaṇam
vastv advitīyaṁ tan-niṣṭhaṁ kaivalyaika-prayojanam

This Bhāgavata Purāṇa has for its subject (niṣṭham, i.e., viṣayam) the one nondual Absolute (vastu advitīyam, i.e. Bhagavān), which is the essence of all Vedānta (sarva-vedānta-sāram) and is characterized by the constitutional oneness [in love] of the ātmā with Brahman (brahmātmaikatva-lakṣaṇam i.e. Bhagavān). Additionally, this book has for its one and only aim (eka-prayojanam) the state of kaivalya [characterized as prīti for Bhagavān]. (SB 12.13.12)

Or

This Bhāgavata Purāṇa has for its subject (niṣṭham, i.e., viṣayam) the one nondual Absolute (vastu advitīyam, i.e. Bhagavān), which is the essence of all Vedānta (sarva-vedānta-sāram) and is characterized by the constitutional oneness [in love] of the ātmā with Brahman (brahmātmaikatva-lakṣaṇam i.e. Bhagavān). Additionally, this book has for its one and only aim (prayojanam) the ultimate good (artha) characterized as prīti for Bhagavān, which is superior (ekaḥ, i.e., śreṣṭhaḥ) even to kaivalya or mokṣa.


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9 replies »

  1. Radhe Radhe,
    Very nice explanation! Could you also give the explanation as per Krama sandarbha etc.? I think Sri Jīva also quotes Shruti etc. there as well for the phrase: ‘brahmātma-aikatva”

    Dhanyo’smi

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  2. Can u plz tell why Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.33.36) says “Kṛṣṇa manifests His eternal human like form”………………. Why ? “Humanlike”

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      • अनुग्रहाय भक्तानां मानुषं देहमास्थित: ।
        भजते ताद‍ृशी: क्रीडा या: श्रुत्वा तत्परो भवेत् ॥ ३६ ॥……………..*मानुषं देहमास्थित:* Here

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      • Thanks. That is 10.33.37 in the Bhagavata I refer to. The commentary to this verse is below from Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti:
        yāḥ śrutvā mānuṣaṁ deham āśrito jīvaḥ tat-paras tad-viṣayakaḥ śraddhāvān bhaved iti
        mānuṣaṁ deham āśrito = jīvaḥ, who becomes endowed with faith in Him upon hearing about His Lila.

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  3. Prabhuji! I have a doubt that: Some Advaitins say that there are three stages in Bhakti– in the FIRST stage, the devotee feels that Bhagavan is Different from him, this is the stage of Dvaita Bhakti; then in the SECOND stage, the devotee feels Bhagavan as Paramatma i.e. Self of his own self, this is the stage of Visistadvaita Bhakti; then finally in the THIRD stage, the devotee realizes that He is ONE with Bhagavan i.e. He is Bhagavan, this the stage of Advaita Bhakti. What are your views on it?

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    • Ojasji, call me ‘T. Krsna dasji’. There is only one prabhu, and its not me!
      The Advaitis have their own way to interpret scripture. The Vaisnavas have their own way to interpret it. I dont agree with the Advaiti interpretation.

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