Self-surrender in Bhagavad-gétä
by Çré Srimad Bhakti Prajìäna Keçava Gosvämé Mahäräja
[NOTE: This page uses Balarama font (available here)
for better transliteration of Sanskrit into English]
Arya-åñis have glorified Çrémad Bhagavad-géta as Upaniñad-cüòämaëi, the crest jewel of all the Upaniñads. In comparison to other Upaniñads, Çré Gétä specifically establishes Bhagavän's lélämayatva (being endowed with lélä). Also, in the verses that sing the glories of Gétä (Gétä-mähätmya), it has been described as the essence of all Upaniñads.
pärtho vatsaù su-dhér bhoktä
dugdhaà gétämåtaà mahat
“This Gétopaniñad, Bhagavad-gétä, the essence of all the
Upaniñads, is just like a cow, and Lord Kåñëa, who is famous
as a cowherd boy, is milking this cow. Arjuna is just like a
calf, and learned scholars and pure devotees are to drink the
nectarean milk of Bhagavad-gétä.” (Gétä-mägätmya 6)
The speaker of Gétä, which is a part of Mahäbhärata, is Devaké-nandana Çré Väsudeva. However, in the above verse it is said ‘dogdhä gopäla-nandana’ i.e. the milkman (speaker) is Goparäja-nandana Kåñëa. It is thus clearly understood that Vrajendra-nandana Våndävanabihäri Çré Kåñëa alone is the speaker of Çré Géta. Although He has spoken Géta in His Väsudeva form, His own statements have revealed His real rasamaya-svarüpa. Our gosvämés have indicated in their literatures that another name of Mother Yaçodä is Devaké, and Devaké-putra (the son of Devaké) is indeed another name of Yaçodä-putra. Although Devaképutra Väsudeva is apparently the speaker of Çré Gétä, Çré Nanda-nandana Kåñëa is the actual speaker.
By discussing the beginning, the conclusion, and so on of Çré Gétä, it can be understood that Çré Kåñëa alone is the Supreme (parama-deva), and the topmost worshipable reality. He is worshiped only by bhakti, and prema-bhakti is the climax of that worship.
Now we will discuss the nature and development of ätma-nivedana explained in Çré Gétä. From an external point of view, the instructions of Gétä are universal. From karmärpaëa (offering the results of activities) up to çaraëägati (surrender) and ätma-nivedana (full self-surrender)
—everything related to bhakti is sung there in condensed form.
Ätma-nivedana is of two kinds—ordinary (common) and extraordinary (uncommon). In Çré Bhakti-sandarbha, Çréla Jéva Gosvämépäda has classified these two types of ätma-nivedana: ordinary ätma-nivedana is bhävam vinä, devoid of any sthäyi-bhäva or permanent mellow, and
extraordinary ätma-nivedana is bhäva vaiçiñöena ca, endowed with specific bhäva or permanent mellow.
‘Tadetätma-nivedanam bhävam vinä bhäva vaiçiñöena ca dåçyate’ (Bhakti-sandharbha 309 anuccheda). To illustrate the first type, Çréla Jéva Gosvämépäda has quoted the following
verse from Çrémad-Bhägavatam (11. 29.34):
martyo yadä tyakta-samasta-karmä
niveditätmä vicikérñito me
mayätma-bhüyäya ca kalpate vai
“A person who gives up all fruitive activities and offers himself
entirely unto Me, eagerly desiring to render service unto
Me, achieves liberation from birth and death and is promoted
to the status of sharing My own opulences.”
To illustrate the second type, bhäva-viçiñta ätmanivedana, he has quoted the statement of Çré Rukmiëédevé in the verse:
tan me bhavän khalu våtaù patir aìga jäyäm
ätmärpitaç ca bhavato 'tra vibho vidhehi
mä véra-bhägam abhimarçatu caidya äräd
gomäyu-van måga-pater balim ambujäkña
“Therefore, my dear Lord, I have chosen You as my husband
and I surrender myself to You. Please come swiftly, O
Almighty One, and make me Your wife. My dear lotus-eyed
Lord, let Çiçupäla, who is like a jackal stealing the property
of a lion, never touch the hero's portion.” (SB 10.52.39)
Here the word bhäva means sambandha, relationship in terms of räganuga bhakti in däsya-rasa, sakhya-rasa and so on. According to Bhakti-sandarbha verse 309, ‘bhäva vaiçiñtena’ refers to four bhävas--däsya, sakya, vätsalya, and madhura bhäva. The ätma-nivedana at the lotus feet of Bhagavän which is endowed with any one of these four bhävas or specific relationships is bhäva-yukta ätmanivedana, and the ätma-nivedana that is performed at the lotus feet of Bhagavän before the awakening of any of these four bhävas is called bhäva-héna ätma-nivedana.
Bhäva-héna ätma-nivedana is visible in the life of Çré Bali Mahäräja, and Çréla Jévapäda has shown this elsewhere in his Sandarbha. Çré Bali Mahäräja's däsya is bhävahéna däsya, devoid of any bhäva or sambandha, and is not räganuga-däsya. The most confidential and topmost instruction of Gétä is:
mäm ekaà çaraëaà vraja
ahaà tväà sarva-päpebhyo
mokñayiñyämi mä çucaù
“Completely abandoning all bodily and mental dharma, such as
varëa and äçrama, fully surrender to Me alone. I shall liberate
you from all reactions to your sins. Do not grieve.” (BG 18.66)
The çloka of Çrémad-Bhägavatam beginning ‘martyo yadä tyakta-samasta-karmä,’ quoted by Çréla Jéva Gosvämé as an example of bhävahéna ätma-nivedana, and the cloak ‘sarva-dharmän parityajya,’ which is the topmost instruction of Gétä, convey the same meaning. Moreover, ‘ahaà tväà sarva-päpebhyomokñayiñyämi mä çucaù’ is only the explanation of the words ‘vicikérñito me’ (desirous of doing something special) clearly instructs bhävahéna ätmanivedana
for the common masses.
Now we have to consider whether or not the indication or hint of bhäva-yukta ätma-nivedana is given in Gétä. An intelligent lover, who is the object of love for everyone, will speak to common people in a general way about affectionate service to him. If his beloved is also present among the general people, then, in midst of his general topics, he will hint to his beloved in a hidden manner about how to please him in a special way. Although ordinary people will be unable to understand such hints, those who are extraordinarily dear to him will certainly be able to comprehend them.
Similarly, vidagdhacüòämaëi, the crest jewel of intelligent lovers, Gopäla-nandana Çré Kåñëa, while aiming at ordinary people, has given hints about extraordinary service or extraordinary ätmanivedana (bhäva-yukta ätma-nivedana) for those who are so desirous. What to speak of karmis (fruitive workers), even jïäna-miçra-bhaktas cannot understand such hints. On the other hand, bhaktas who desire an extremely intimate relationship with Him in rägänuga-bhäva not only comprehend His hints about bhäva-yukta ätma-nivedana, but also realize His clear instructions on the subject.
In the Tenth Canto, Çré Rukmiëé-devé prays to Çré Kåñëa in her letter: “Tan me bhavän khalu våtaù patir aìga jäyäm…, I accept You as my husband and fully dedicate myself
(ätma nivedana) at Your lotus feet.” Here, ätmanivedana is performed by possessing käntä-bhäva, a conjugal relationship, in the heart.
Bhäva-yukta ätma-nivedana is clearly expressed in Bhagavad-gétä (10. 9-10) and (11.44). There, Çré Bhagavän has said:
kathayantaç ca mäà nityaà
tuñyanti ca ramanti ca
“Those whose minds are absorbed in Me and whose lives are
wholeheartedly devoted to My service, derive great satisfaction
and bliss from constantly enlightening one another
about My tattva and performing kértana of My name, form,
qualities and pastimes.” (Gétä 10.9)
dadämi buddhi-yogaà taà
yena mäm upayänti te
“Upon those who perform bhajana to
with love, yearning for My eternal
association, I bestow the transcendental
knowledge by which they can
come to Me.” (Gétä 10.10)
Here, Kåñëa is saying: “Those whose minds and lives are devoted to Me and who always meditate on Me, always speak about Me and derive satisfaction in Me alone. Their minds feel relaxation and comfort only by thinking about Me, and they are constantly desirous of perpetual union with Me. I bestow upon such bhaktas buddhi-yoga, transcendental intelligence and knowledge by which they can attain Me.”
Gétä commentators, including Çréla Çrédhara Swämépäda, explained these two çlokas from the perspective of common people only. However, vidagdha-çiromaëi Çré Kåñëa cannot check Himself from speaking the core instructions, even in the midst of speaking His general instruction. That essential instruction is to render viçrambha-seva, intimate loving service unto Him. These commentators give a general explanation of the component ‘ramanti ca’ in their purport which is similar to the explanation of ‘tuñyanti ca’. Thus, there remains no specific significance to the phrase ‘ramanti ca’. However, unless there is a specific meaning to these words, there would have been no reason for Kåñëa to use them. Çréla Baladeva Vidyäbhüñaëa
Prabhu and Çréla Viçvanätha Cakravarté Öhäkura have therefore excluded the general meaning of ‘ramanti ca’ and have only accepted its specific meaning through its verbal root (which carries its innate meaning). Ram-dhätu i.e. the verbal root ‘ram’, means ‘kåédä’, sport or play. Use of the verbal root ‘ram’ not only indicates bhäva-yukta ätma-nivedana, but it indeed also indicates the topmost among all bhävas-- madhura-bhäva-yukta ätma-nivedana.
Çréla Baladeva Vidyäbhüñaëa Prabhu has said in his commentary: ‘ramanti ca yuvati-smita-kaöakñädiñu eva yuvänaù.’ Only that ätma-nivedana that is characterized by accepting Bhagavän as the object of madhura- préti is referred to here. That känta-bhäva (conjugal relationship)
has the attributes of smiles, sidelong glances and so on. Çréla Jéva Gosvämépäda quotes a part of Çré Rukmiëédevé's letter (tan me bhavän khalu våtaù patir…), as an example of bhäva-yukta ätma-nivedanam, which has the same meaning as the inner meaning of the ‘ramanti ca’ portion of the Gétä's çloka.
Çréla Viçvanätha Cakravarté Öhäkura gives a similar meaning for ‘ramanti ca’. He explains that rägänugabhakti is expressed in these words of Bhagavän. The only satisfaction and delight of the ananyä bhaktas is the performance of bhakti. This is the secret. Even in the stage of sädhana they attain satisfaction by the unobstructed performance of bhajana. While meditating on their future stage of perfection, sädhya-daçä, they experience delight. In other words, they enjoy with their Prabhu, Kåñëa, within their minds.
In Arjuna's words:
iteva putrasya sakheva sakhyuù
priyaù priyäyärhasi deva soòhum
“O Deva, just as a father forgives his son, a friend tolerates a
friend, or a lover excuses his beloved, please forgive all my
offences.” (Gétä 11.44)
Here, the subject of ätma-nivedana that is endowed with däsya, sakhya, vätsalya, and madhura bhävas, has been clearly expressed. ‘Dadämi buddhi-yogaà taà yena mäm upayänti te.’ Here, the prominent mahäjanas, Çréla Baladeva Vidyäbhüñaëa Prabhu and Çréla Cakravartépäda, express that ‘buddhi-yoga’ is suggestive only of bhäva-yukta sädhana, (sädhana endowed with bhäva [relationship]).
Çréla Baladeva Vidyäbhüñaëa Prabhu states in his commentary: “I am svabhakti-rasika, the enjoyer of the rasa derived from the happiness of My own bhakti, and I bestow upon My devotees that buddhi-yoga by which they attain Me. I inspire their buddhi in such a manner that they can understand Me, who am replete with unlimited qualities and majesties. Thus, they can attain Me by their worship.”
Çréla Viçvanätha Cakravarté Öhäkura has said in his purport to this verse: “I bestow upon them buddhi-yoga. I inspire that buddhi-yoga within their hearts’ tendencies. That buddhi-yoga cannot be achieved by individual efforts, nor can it be obtained from anyone else. It is bestowed by Me alone, and only such bhäva-yukta sädhakas can receive it. This is the meaning of Kåñëa’s words.”
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