I am explaining to you the commentary of the first verse of Srimad-Bhagavatam, as Sri Svarupa Damodara explained it to Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. That verse is as follows:
janmady asya yato 'nvayad itaratas carthesv abhijnah svarat
tene brahma hrda ya adi-kavaye muhyanti yat surayah
tejo-vari-mrdam yatha vinimayo yatra tri-sargo 'mrsa
dhamna svena sada nirasta-kuhakam satyam param dhimahi
["O my Lord, Sri Krsna, son of Vasudeva, O all-pervading Personality of Godhead, I offer my respectful obeisances unto You. I meditate upon Lord Sri Krsna because He is the Absolute Truth and the primeval cause of all causes of the creation, sustenance and destruction of the manifested universes. He is directly and indirectly conscious of all manifestations, and He is independent because there is no other cause beyond Him. It is He only who first imparted the Vedic knowledge unto the heart of Brahmaji, the original living being. By Him even the great sages and demigods are placed into illusion, as one is bewildered by the illusory representations of water seen in fire, or land seen on water. Only because of Him do the material universes, temporarily manifested by the reactions of the three modes of nature, appear factual, although they are unreal. I therefore meditate upon Him, Lord Sri Krsna, who is eternally existent in the transcendental abode, which is forever free from the illusory representations of the material world. I meditate upon Him, for He is the Absolute Truth."]
In order to understand the meaning of this verse, you must first of all know the meaning of advaya-jnana para-tattva (the One-without-a-second, Supreme Absolute Truth):
vadanti tat tattva-vidas
tattvam yaj jnanam advayam
bhagavan iti sabdyate
["Learned transcendentalists who know the Absolute Truth call this nondual substance Brahman, Paramatma or Bhagavan." (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.11)]
What is advaya-tattva?
[Srila Narayana Maharaja called on a few devotees to give some explanation. As these were similar to the explanations of this verse given last year in Badger, we have included that as Endnote 1]
This is a very deep subject. Still, you should know something of it.
In this world there are unlimited jivas (living entities), unlimited species of life. You cannot count them, nor can you imagine the extent of the varieties of their natures, qualities and so on. In the transcendental world, Lord Krsna has so many associates. His parents, Nanda Baba and Mother Yasoda are there. Dama, Sridama, Subala, Madhumangala and so many other cowherd friends are there, and billions of gopis are there. Still, the above-mentioned verse states that the Absolute Truth is one, without a second (advaya-jnana). Why has this been told here?
The reason is that nothing, and no one, has any separate or independent existence from that Absolute Truth, Lord Sri Krsna. Everything and everyone depends on Him. In the transcendental world He expands and manifests as His own sakti (power), called cit-sakti, (transcendental power) or antaranga-sakti (internal power.) The jivas come from His jiva-sakti, (the marginal energy that is situated just between the transcendental and material worlds). Finally, in this maya-jagat (material world), maya manifests the many varieties of inert matter that we see. None of these powers or potencies has any independent existence, and therefore the Absolute Truth is called advaya-jnana – one without a second.
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura offers his obeisances: "I pray to Sri Svarupa Damodara, the associate of Lord Gauranga, who has inspired me to write about this topic, and in that connection to make a garland of verses from Srimad-Bhagavatam. He himself explained the first verse, beginning 'janmady asya yatah…' He explained how Sri Krsna is one without a second, and how His power is also one without a second. That power is called antaranga-sakti (the internal potency), hladini-sakti (the pleasure potency) and cit-sakti (transcendence). There are different names for that potency, but there is only one potency.
Tatastha-sakti and maya-sakti are not different from the cit-sakti (internal, spiritual potency), in the sense that they have no independent existence from the cit-sakti. When antaranga-sakti (also known as hladini-sakti or cit-sakti) manifests the millions of jivas, then it is called tatastha-sakti. When this material world manifests, then that very cit-sakti is called – according to its function – maya-sakti. In this world we are in maya, and there is a prominency of maya, so we say that maya-sakti is here. If we say that maya-sakti refers to Srimati Radhika, there will be some misunderstanding; but actually maya is ultimately svarupa-sakti or antaranga-sakti (whose embodiment is Srimati Radhika), because maya is a power and manifests as the shadow of cit-sakti.
How did this world come to be? The answer is given in this first verse, beginning "Janmady asya." There are many meanings to this verse, and Sri Svarupa Damodara is giving the general meaning here.
The svarupa-sakti (internal potency) of Sri Krsna manifests the infinitesimal jivas. That same svarupa-sakti is then called jiva-sakti (the living entities), or tatastha-jiva-sakti (the living entity called marginal energy, because this energy is situated between the spiritual and material worlds) – by function. The shadow of svarupa-sakti creates many varieties of inert matter, and it is called bahiranga-sakti, or the external energy (maya). Does this mean there are many saktis or energies? No, there is only one energy, but it has many names. This energy is named differently, according to its many different functions.
There is no duality in sakti (the power) and saktiman (the powerful, or the possessor of the power) – Lord Sri Krsna and His power are non-different. Sakti saktimatayor abhedah – they are non-dual; they are one. Jiva-sakti (the marginal energy) comes in contact with bahiranga-sakti (the external energy) and manifests as jaiva-jagat (the world of the living entities). Maya-sakti has manifested this world, with its varieties of bodies, minds, natures and so many other things.
Regarding the word "anvayad", meaning "direct", in this first verse of Srimad-Bhagavatam – the manifestation of maya-sakti and the other saktis is always direct. In other words these potencies manifest directly from Sri Krsna. The word "itaratas", meaning "indirect", indicates the existence of a very amazing and strange thing: The jiva is part and parcel of Krsna. He is cit, spiritual or conscious. How is it possible that he will be bound by maya, which is inert? Consciousness is superior to dull matter. Although it is not possible that the jiva will be bound by the inferior material energy, it never-the-less takes place. This is strange and amazing.
By the influence of this deluding potency called maya, even great demigods like Brahma and Sankara can become bewildered. No one can measure the depth of power of Sri Krsna's energy. Maya has covered the soul with its gross and subtle body. Though we are not this body, we now think, "I am this body." This is an amazing and strange thing, and it is due to the inconceivable power of Krsna.
Lord Sri Krsna has created the minute jivas. He has given them a very valuable thing called independence, and has told them, "If you properly use this independence, you will come to Me, serve Me, and be happy. If you misuse it, however, I will punish you.” We should try not to misuse our independence. We did so, and now we are in the prison of this world.
There are twenty-eight principals (tattvas) in the manifestation of this world – The jiva (purusa), the material nature (prakrti), the mahat-tattva, false ego, the five gross elements, the ten senses, the mind, the five subtle objects of perception and the three modes of nature *[see endnote 2] – and none of them have any separate existence from the Lord. The living entity has independence, even within the creation, but he does not know how this world was created and how he was covered by maya. Sri Krsna knows everything, however. He knows everything that even Brahma, Sankara and others like them do not know.
Lord Krsna is served by His svarupa-sakti (complete internal energy), Srimati Radhika, and therefore he is purna (complete):
om purnam adah purnam idam
purnat purnam udacyate
purnasya purnam adaya
["The Personality of Godhead is perfect and complete, and because He is completely perfect, all emanations from Him, such as this phenomenal world, are perfectly equipped as complete wholes. Whatever is produced of the Complete Whole is also complete in itself. Because He is the Complete Whole, even though so many complete units emanate from Him, He remains the complete balance." (Sri Isopanisad, Invocation)]
Lord Sri Krsna is always complete, infinite, and quite independent. No one can control Him. He has mercifully manifested the adi-kavi (original Vedic scholar), Lord Brahma. It may also be said that adi-kavi refers to Sri Sukadeva Gosvami or Srila Rupa Gosvami, but here it refers to Brahma. In his form as Lord Narayana, Sri Krsna instructed Brahma in the Catur-sloki of Srimad-Bhagavatam, Thus, by the Lords mercy, Brahma realized the glories of the Lord, and he then manifested the Vedas with its unlimited knowledge. Even very learned persons become bewildered in regard to this Vedic knowledge. They cannot understand it.
The word "tri-sarga" in this first verse of Srimad-Bhagavatam means that there are three kinds of creation: cit-sarga (the transcendental realm), jiva-sarga (the realm of the living entities) and jada-sarga (the material realm, the realm of inert matter). Cit-sarga is the transcendental world, beginning from Vaikuntha and going up to Goloka Vrndavana. There in Vrndavana, Nanda Baba, Mother Yasoda, the cowherd boys, the gopis, the trees, creepers, rivers, mountains and everything else are transcendental (sat-cit-ananda).
Have you seen fire? I have not seen it. When fuel is given, then flames and fuel and some dark smoke is seen; but is the smoke fire, or is the wood fire, or are the flames fire? What is fire? Fire is sakti, power. You cannot see it. It is hidden in wood, in oil, in the body and in all places. Thus it is invisible.
Transcendental things are like fire. Sometimes Krsna comes here. Even Vrndavana descends, and fortunate jivas can see it. By striking matches or rubbing two stones or two pieces of wood together, fire will come. When there is an appropriate or special cause or reason, the fire manifests. Similarly, Sri Krsna especially comes to show favor to His devotees. He comes to please His devotees and perform so many activities. The example of fire is therefore given to show that we cannot see the transcendental world or transcendental personalities, but they manifest here at certain times for certain reasons.
Fire is generally not seen, but sometimes, when there is a cause for it to be seen, it is seen. Similarly, the Lord's spiritual potency is transcendental, and in the transcendental realm, Goloka Vrndavana it is always present. As in this world there is sometimes a manifestation of fire, so Lord Krsna, Lord Rama and Lord Nrsmhadeva come here from time to time.
Regarding jiva-sarga, the world of the living entities, the example of water is given in this first verse. The living entities are compared to water. If an environment is too cold, the water will freeze and become hard ice. If you throw that ice, it may injure someone or fracture someone's bones. Or, if you are thirsty, you can suck it and find it very sweet. When it is hard its nature is covered; for when it is in its own nature, it is liquid.
Similarly, the jiva is the eternal servant of Krsna. By nature or constitution he is always serving Krsna and is happy in that service, But Krsna has given him independence. When he misuses that independence, maya throws him very far away from Krsna, and gives him two bodies – gross and subtle. Then he thinks, "I am this body, and the happiness and suffering of this body is mine." Actually, when we will advance somewhat in spiritual life, we will see that there is no bondage or liberation (mukti) from that bondage. The conditioned soul simply thinks like that. Without the mercy of Krsna – and first the mercy of Guru – we cannot come out of this bodily conception of bondage.
Jada-sarga means the creation of this material world, and in this first verse the analogy of earth is given to understand it. Regarding the word tri-sarga, the three types of creation, first the analogy of fire was given, then the analogy of water, and now the analogy of earth will be given.
In this material world, earth is prominent, and if you make a pot from that earth, you can carry water in it. However, if that pot is not placed in fire (baked in a kiln), the pot will melt and break and the water will gush out. From earth, so many things manifest in this world. Though there is also fire and water and all the other elements in this world, they are less. Earth is prominent. Most everything is made of earth. By the acintya-sakti – the inconceivable power of Krsna – although all those products of earth are perishable, they appear to be permanent truth.
[Question:] What is the idea of the pot and the water?
[Srila Narayana Maharaja:] The pot is "raw" until the potter puts it in fire (bakes it in the kiln). If you will try to carry water in the raw earth pot, the pot will break. However, if you put it in fire and it becomes reddish, then it can hold the water. Actually that pot is earth.
The analogy is given that you can make a variety of products with a variety of functions, but they are still earth. Gold, copper, coal and diamonds are all actually manifestations of the element earth. This analogy is given as an expression of maya-sakti, the maya creation.
By His power, sakti, Lord Sri Krsna is manifesting everything in the transcendental world, in the world of jivas and also here in this world – but He maintains His own separate or independent existence. He is very lovely and very sweet. He has an attractive, beautiful form in Goloka Vrndavana. Satyam parama dimahi – That parama-satya, Supreme Absolute Truth Sri Krsna, along with His svarupa-sakti (embodied in Srimati Radhika) and kaya-vuha (Radhika's bodily expansions) of that sakti, is always present, and sometimes He manifests in this world.
Srila Vyasadeva, the author of this verse, is thus offering obeisances to that Absolute Truth.
Today I am finishing here, and I will explain more daily. Though this subject is very deep, you should try to hear. When you take a bath, most of the water disappears from the body and goes down the drain; but something stays on the body, and that will be enough for you.
[*Endnote 1 – regarding the definition of advaya-jnana:
[Sundara Gopala dasa:] This verse mentions the words advaya jnana para-tattva. Tattva means truth and para means supreme or absolute. So para-tattva means Supreme Truth or Absolute Truth. Advaya means non-dual. In other words, this truth is not two or three or many – but one. There is nothing that has any existence separate or independent of that truth.
[Srila Narayana Maharaja:] This is important. Again.
[Sundara Gopala dasa:] Advaya-jnana para-tattva means that there is no object or entity, anywhere, that has any existence separate or independent of that Truth. Someone may put forward one or more of three objections. The first is "svagata-veda", the objection that, “In the transcendental form of Sri Krsna there is some duality.” In other words, Krsna has features, He has qualities and He has bodily limbs. A person may object that, “Any one of Krsna's bodily limbs is different from any other one”, but this is in fact not the case. Sri Brahma-Samhita states that unlike our material bodies, which are entirely limited, being made of gross matter, the transcendental limbs of Sri Krsna are interchangeable. In other words, with His eyes, Sri Krsna can accept the food-offering of His devotees. With any one of his senses, He can perform the function of any other sense.
Srila Gurudeva has explained the analogy of a small cow or calf made of sugar. This calf or cow has features, but every part of it is made of condensed sugar. Sri Krsna is raso vai saha (fully consisting of transcendental mellows). From this sutra, raso vai saha, we can see that there is no duality in Sri Krsna – in any of His qualities or limbs, or in any of the variety that He shows in his transcendental features.
The next objection is "svajatiya veda". This is the objection that, “Sri Krsna and His various avataras are different from each other.” There seems to be duality. There is Sri Nrsimhadeva, Sri Varahadeva and so many other incarnations. Someone may say, "These are different. There is duality here." This is not true, as we can undersand by the alalogy of the moon. The moon at different phases may appear to be different. Its shape will appear to be different. At a certain time, when the moon is new, it is very thin and small. It will eventually grow to a full moon, and then wane again. In the same way, the various avataras of Sri Krsna display certain qualities of Sri Krsna, but Svayam Bhagavan Vrajendra-nandana Sri Krsna (the original form of Krsna as the son of Nanda Maharaja in Vrndavana) displays all qualities to their maximum.
The next objection, "vijatiya-veda", is the objection that, “There are so many things in existence, in this world and out of this world, and they are in categories that are different from each other.” The jiva, for instance, seems to be different from matter. Many different categories of existence appear to be different from each other. Someone may say, "Here there is duality." But Srila Jiva Gosvami explains in his Sri Tattva-Sandarba that if two things have the same origin and they don't conflict with each other, it may then be said that they are one. In this world it does appear that things conflict with each other; but this is actually illusion, and that illusion comes from the tendency to want to enjoy matter. Actually, everything is fully under the direction of Sri Krsna. Nothing conflicts with anything. If there is any conflict, it is merely a conflict with our own desire to enjoy this world. So, these three objections have no standing, and the absolute non-duality, the non-duality of the Absolute Truth, is thereby established.
[Madhava Maharaja:] Srila Gurudeva has said that this verse is the basis of the entire Srimad Bhagavatam:
vadanti tat tattva-vidas
tattvam yaj jnanam advayam
bhagavan iti sabdyate
["Learned transcendentalists who know the Absolute Truth call this nondual substance Brahman, Paramatma or Bhagavan." (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.11)]
As you have heard from Sripad Sundara Gopala prabhu, “advaya” means non-dual, and “para-tattva” means Supreme Truth. He is "without second," but that does not mean that He is alone. Rather it means that no one is equal to Him, what to speak of being greater than Him. He is asamitisaya, asamaurdhva, and anurdhasamana. These words have the same meaning – no one is equal to Him and no one is greater than Him – and they are mentioned in relation to advaya-jnana para-tattva.
Sriman Mahaprabhu told Sri Sanatana Gosvami:
krsnera svarupa-vicara suna, sanatana
advaya-jnana-tattva, vraje vrajendra-nandana
["O Sanatana, please hear about the eternal form of Lord Krsna. He is the Absolute Truth, devoid of duality but present in Vrndavana as the son of Nanda Maharaja.
This consideration is called tattva-gata vicara. Vicara means consideration. The other consideration is called rasa-gata vicara. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu heard from Raya Ramananda:
`krsnera svarupa' kaha `radhara svarupa'
`rasa' kon tattva, `prema'--kon tattva-rupa
["Kindly explain the transcendental features of Krsna and Srimati Radharani. Also explain the truth of transcendental mellows and the transcendental form of love of Godhead.” (Madhya 8.119)]
When Raya Ramananda replied, he was speaking with regard to rasa-gata vicara, and Sriman Mahaprabhu replied to Srila Sanatana Gosvami on tattva-gata vicara. In this verse of Srimad Bhagavatam, "Vedanti tat tattva vidas…" the consideration of tattva-gata is being discussed, although rasa is also there.
So there are three features: Brahma (Brahman), Paramatma and Bhagavan. When Bhagavan is situated in all His power – but hiding this and only allowing something to manifest from His cit potency, that is called Brahma. Brahma is the most distant reflection of cit-sakti (the transcendental knowledge potency). Lord Krsna's effulgence is Brahma. No pastime is there; nothing is clear.
Srila Gurudeva gave the following example in Mathura when he was discussing this sloka: Once, when Vasudeva Maharaja was performing a yajna, and Sri Narada Rsi was descending there from a Vaikuntha planet. At first, everybody present thought that a light was coming. They could not understand that it was Narada. After that, when Narada Rsi came a little closer, everyone could understand further, that he was some kind of human being. Still, the situation was not clear. When he finally came down, everybody understood that he was Narada Rsi. The first vision was not clear. It was only light: Similarly Brahma is only the most distant reflection of cit, and Paramatma is the combination of sat and cit. He has no pastimes like Bhagavan. Bhagavan is complete – sat-cit-ananda (the embodiment of eternity, bliss and knowledge).
This Bhagavan is svagata-veda-rahit, as Sundara Gopala explained. We have many limbs on our body. Krsna also has various limbs, but in His body there is no difference between one limb and another. In this connection Srila Gurudeva has given an example. Once the king of Jagannatha Puri invaded Vidyanagara in South India, and he brought the Deities of Radha Kanta, Saksi-Gopala and Bhanda Ganesh back to Puri.
At first, the king kept Saksi-gopala in the Jagannatha temple. One day Jagannatha-deva came in a dream and said, "O King, from where have you brought this Thakura? Since He arrived, He has been eating everything, and I have been fasting completely – as if it was Nirjala Ekadasi. Please take him out, to another place." Gopala is a little boy, so Saksi-gopala can crawl very quickly on His knees, hands and elbows. Whenever an offering of foodstuffs comes to the door of the altar room, even before it is placed on the altar, He runs there and eats everything." So Sri Bhagavan can eat by His eyes, He can walk by His eyes, and He can do anything by any limb of his body. Lord Brahmaji has said in Sri Brahma-Samhita:
angani yasya sakalendriya-vrtti-manti
pasyanti panti kalayanti ciram jaganti
govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami
["I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, whose transcendental form is full of bliss, truth, substantiality and is thus full of the most dazzling splendor. Each of the limbs of that transcendental figure possesses in Himself, the full-fledged functions of all the organs, and eternally sees, maintains and manifests the infinite universes, both spiritual and mundane." (Sri Brahma-samhita 5.32)]
By any limb of His body, He can do the job of any other limb. Any limb can do anything. Svagata-veda-rahit. There is no difference between Krsna and His body, and there is no difference between one part of His body and another.
Svajatiya means the same type. God has many incarnations. Though externally they seem different, with different features, they are not. By tattva-gata vicara, the considerations of established philosophical truths, all the incarnations are krsna-tattva. We offer tulasi leaves and flowers to the lotus feet of Krsna. In the same way, we can offer tulasi to the feet of Visnu-tattva. They are svajatiya-veda-rahit – of the same type. There is no difference.
Vijatiya-veda-rahit. There is cit-jagat (the spiritual world) and jada-jagat (the material world). They both depend on Krsna, so they have no independence or different existence. Thus, Bhavagan is svagata-veda rahit, svajatiya-veda rahit and vijatiya-veda rahit.]
[*Endnote 2 – the first ten limbs of bhakti [from the book Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu Bindu, translation by Srila Narayana Maharaja:
1. Taking shelter of the lotus feet of Sri Guru (guru-padasraya);
2. Taking initiation and instructions from Sri Guru
3. Serving Sri Guru with faith and love
4. Following the path outlined by sadhus
5. Inquiring about the procedures for bhajana
6. Renouncing all enjoyment of sense objects for Krsna's sake
7. Residing in holy places and hearing the glory of those places
8. Accepting only as much money and other facilities as are required to sustain one's devotion
9. Observing Ekadasi
10. Offering respects to asattha, amalaki and other sacred trees, the cows, brahmanas and Vaisnavas.]
[Numbers 6-10 also relate to Sri guru, because their execution increases our desire to be under the shelter and guidance of the spiritual master.]
[*Endnote 3 – Regarding the twenty-eight principles of creation:
"The Lord is naturally endowed with His six opulences. Specifically, He is the richest, He is the most powerful, He is the most famous, He is the most beautiful, He is the greatest in knowledge, and He is the greatest renouncer as well. And for His material creative energies, He is served by four, namely the principles of prakåti, puruña, mahat-tattva and ego. He is also served by the sixteen, namely the five elements (earth, water, air, fire and sky), the five perceptive sense organs (the eye, ear, nose, tongue and skin), and the five working sense organs (the hand, the leg, the stomach, the evacuation outlet and the genitals), and the mind. The five includes the sense objects, namely form, taste, smell, sound and touch. All these twenty-five items serve the Lord in the material creation, and all of them are personally present to serve the Lord." (Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.9.17, purport by Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada)
"Purusa means enjoyer, and prakrti means enjoyed. So here the prakrti, this material nature – earth, water, air, fire, sky, mind, intelligence, and ego – these are eight material things. So in the Bhagavad-gita it is said, bhumir apo 'nalo vayuh kham mano buddhir eva ca, bhinna prakrtim me astadha. These are eight kinds of material energy. Material energy is one, mahat-tattva, but they have been divided. Mahat-tattva, when it is separated... Just like some philosopher says, "There was a chunk, and it became broken, and the creation took place." This can be applicable... The mahat-tattva is the total material energy, and when the three gunas "break" them, they become twenty-four elements – five material, and three subtle, and the ten senses, and the ten object of senses." (Srila Prabhupada's lecture of London in 1975)
"From all the authoritative statements of the great sages, the Vedic hymns and the aphorisms of the Vedanta-sutra, the components of this world are earth, water, fire, air and ether. These are the five great elements (mahabhuta). Then there are false ego, intelligence and the unmanifested stage of the three modes of nature. Then there are five senses for acquiring knowledge: the eyes, ears, nose, tongue and touch. Then five working senses: voice, legs, hands, the anus and the genitals. Then, above the senses, there is the mind, which is within and which can be called the sense within. Therefore, including the mind, there are eleven senses altogether. Then there are the five objects of the senses: smell, taste, warmth, touch and sound. Now the aggregate of these twenty-four elements is called the field of activity. If one makes an analytical study of these twenty-four subjects, then he can very well understand the field of activity. Then there is desire, hatred, pleasure and pain, which are interactions, representations of the five great elements in the gross body. The living symptoms, represented by consciousness and conviction, are the manifestation of the subtle body-mind, ego and intelligence. These subtle elements are included within the field of activities.
"The five great elements are a gross representation of the subtle false ego. They are a representation in the material conception. Consciousness is represented by intelligence, of which the unmanifested stage is the three modes of material nature. The unmanifested three modes of material nature is called pradhana." (Bhagavad-gita 13.6-7 purport)]
Editorial advisors: Sripad Madhava Maharaja and Sripad Brajanatha dasa
Transcriber: Vasanti dasi
Typists: Krsna-vallabha dasi and Anita dasi
Editor: Syamarani dasi
HTML: Bhutabhavana dasa