19.25: SHLOKAS 17 TO 20 OF 36-SELECTION FROM NARAYANEEYAM
Sloka No. 17 (Ref. nArAyaNIyaM : 98 - 9):
trailokyaM bhAvayantaM triguNamayam-idaM tryakSharasy-aika-vAcyaM
trIshAnAm-aikya-rUpaM tribhir-api nigamair-gIyamAna-svarUpaM /
tisrovasthA-vidantaM triyuga-jani-juShaM trikram-AkrAnta-vishvaM
traikAlye bheda-hInaM tribhir-aham-anishaM yoga-bhedair-bhaje tvAM //
Tr. You manifest the three worlds through the three guNas. You are the One who is implied by the three letters of the praNava. You are the one Being who manifests as the three Deities, Brahma, Vishnu and Siva. It is your Nature that is sung and glorified in the three Vedas. You are the Pure Consciousness that witnesses the three states of waking, dream and sleep. You incarnate yourself in the three yugas of treta, dvapara and kali. You measured the whole universe with your three strides. You are changeless in the three parts of Time, namely, past, present and future. I worship You always with the three forms of yoga – karma, bhakti and jnana.
Comment. The list of attributes (see sloka 15) of the Lord is continued here with poetic excellence. One cannot but recall an analogous poetic flourish from the Tamil poet Kamban in his Ramayana, ( yuddha-kANDa, iraNiyan-vadaip-paDalaM, verse 25), put in the mouth of Prahlad, the greatest devotee of all times: (in Tamil)
mUnru avan guNangaL cheigai mUnru avan uruvam mUnru
mUnru kaN chuDar kol jothi mUnru avan ulagam mUnru
tonralum iDaiyum Irum toDangiya poruLkaTku ellAm
sAnru avan-iduve veda muDivu idu sadam enrAn .
Meaning, His qualities are three (satva, rajas and tamas); His actions are three (Creation, Protection and Dissolution); His forms are three (Brahma, Vishnu and Siva); He has three eyes (Sun, Moon and Fire) ; His worlds are three (Earth, the nether-world and Heaven). All that have a beginning, a middle and an end constitute a monumental proof of His existence, This is also the bottom line of all the Vedas.
Sloka No. 18 (Ref. nArAyaNIyaM : 91 - 3):
bhItir-nAma dvitIyAd-bhavati nanu manH kalpitaM ca dvitIyaM
tenaikyA-bhyAsa-shIlo hR^idayam-iha yathAshakti buddhyA nirundhyAM /
mAyAviddhe tu tasmin punarapi na tathA bhAti mAyAdhi-nAthaM
tat-tvAM bhaktyA mahatyA satatam-anubhajan-nIsha bhItiM vijahyAM //
Tr. Fear arises from the consciousness of a second (thing) different from oneself. This consciousness of (such) a second is indeed an imaginary super-imposition of the mind. Therefore I am trying my best through discrimination to discipline the mind in the consciousness of oneness. But when this power of discrimination is overpowered by Thy mAyA, no amount of effort is of any avail in getting established in Unitary Consciousness. Therefore Oh Lord, I am trying to overcome the fear of samsAra by constant and devoted worship of Thee, the Master of mAyA.
Comment. This is one of the key slokas that trumpet the highest advaita concept, among the 36 of this selection. The sentence ‘manaH-kalpitam dvitIyaM’ (The consciousness of a second object is an imaginary superimposition of the mind) constitutes the ‘brahma-sUtra’ of advaita. Bhattatiri clearly makes the point that the unity of the jIva with the supreme Spirit is the ultimate goal. But he hastens to add that the same is not reachable by any one directly but only through the love and service of Him and His Grace. It is only by God’s Grace that non-dual consciousness is obtained. The devotee merges in His Being by His grace, The ‘I’ disappears in Him and ‘He’ is left. The becoming merges in the Being. It is not vice versa. This is what one might call Realistic advaita, to be subtly contrasted with ‘kevala-advaita’
Sloka No. 19 (Ref. nArAyaNIyaM : 98 - 5)
shabda-brahmeti karmety-aNuriti bhagavan kAla ityAlapanti
tvAmekaM vishvahetuM sakala-mayatayA sarvathA kalpyamAnaM /
vedAntair-yattu gItaM puruSha-para-cidAtmAbhidhaM tattu tattvaM
prekshA-mAtreNa mUla-prakR^iti-vikR^iti-kR^it kR^iShNa tasmai namaste //
Tr. Oh Lord! Being the One that has become the many and therefore conceivable in any form, You, the Cause of all the universe, are being identified by different names, such as, the Primeval Sound, Karma, Atom, Time, and Atman. Oh Krishna, salutations to that Supreme Truth also described in the Vedantic scriptures as Purusha (Indwelling Spirit), Para (Supreme Being), Pure Consciousness and so on, who by a mere glance have set the mUla-prakR^iti in motion to diversify itself into its various evolutes that form the manifested universe.
Comment. The Transcendence and Immanence of the Absolute, are the two foundational concepts on which the entire Vedanta rests secure. Without this philosophical understanding given to us by the Upanishads, as capsuled here by Bhattatiri, in beautiful poetry, a devotional attitude may degenerate into a narrow cult and fanaticism. An intellectual understanding of the Upanishadic doctrine of the Absolute Brahman with a concurrent identification with that Absolute of one’s Personal God, worshipped and loved, is what saves one from a limited understanding to which some devotees succumb, when they try to rationalize their devotion to their Personal God. However, thanks to the Hindu tradition, even the ordinary man has, in spite of his illiteracy, the necessary trace of this philosophical understanding passed on to him through osmosis by the very atmosphere in which he lives.
Note the words ‘prekshA-mAtreNa’ (by a mere glance) in the fourth quarter. The cosmic process of manifestation into a multiplicity from the ‘original’ single entity may cause a certain amount of confusion in our ‘rational’ thinking. Because it is difficult to coordinate this idea of creation, which has obviously a built-in duality in it, with the concept of non-duality of the Self irrespective of the so-called space, time, and causation – or, using Sadaji’s (post #15255) pregnant phrase, ‘in spite of duality’. There are several passages in the Upanishads which inspire Sankara to pour forth his thoughts on this subject in his commentaries. Let us quote one such passage, from his bhAshya on Aitareya Upanishad, where he meets the objection: Did the Self cease to be one? Why is the past tense used, in stories of creation, where it is said: ‘In the beginning this was but the absolute Self alone … It thought (sa IkShata) …’.
“Though even now that very same single entity (the Self) endures, still there is some distinction. The distinction is this: The universe in which the differences of name and form were not manifest before creation, which was then one with the Self and which was denotable by the single word and idea ‘Self’ has now become denotable by many words and concepts as well as by the single word and concept ‘Self’, because of its diversification through the multiplicity of names and forms. Foam is denoted by the single word and concept ‘water’, before the manifestation of names and forms distinct from water; but when that foam becomes manifested (as an entity) distinct from water, owing to the difference of name and form, then the very same foam becomes denotable by many words and concepts, viz., foam and water, as well as by only one word and one concept, viz., water. The same is the case here”.
Sloka No. 20 (Ref. nArAyaNIyaM : 1 - 3):
sattvaM yat-tat-parAbhyAm-aparikalanato nirmalaM tena tAvat
bhUtair-bhUtendriyais-te vapuriti bahushaH shrUyate vyAsa-vAkyaM /
tasmin dhanyA ramante shruti-mati-madhure sugrahe vigrahe te //
Tr. Sage Vyasa has repeatedly declared that Thy form along with its accessories is constituted of pure sattva, without any admixture of the others (rajas and tamas). Because of this absolute purity, Thy form gives an unobstructed revelation of its underlying essence of Consciousness-Bliss. Enlightened men delight to contemplate on this, Thy Divine formful manifestation, which is easy to grasp and which is all sweetness to those who think or hear about it.
Comment. Here Bhattatiri probably differs from advaita regarding the nature of the Ultimate Reality. Bhattatiri displays two different minds in his rendering of nArAyaNIyaM. Sometimes he talks as if he is an advaitin to the core (as in our sloka No.18). But some other times he talks, as in this sloka 20, as if he is identifying Brahman with God, that is, Ishvara. In other words, the saguNa Brahman (Brahman with attributes) is the Absolute Brahman, for him in this and many other slokas of his. Since the advaita view anyway is that saguNa Brahman is a means to the ultimate goal of nirguNa Brahman (attributeless Brahman), this sloka fits into our selection for contemplative practice.