19.28: SHLOKAS 29 TO 32 OF 36-SELECTION FROM NARAYANEEYAM
Sloka No. 29(Ref. nArAyaNIyaM : 98 - 7):
bhUShAsu svarNavad-vA jagati ghaTa-sharA-vAdike mR^ittikAvat
tattve samcintyamAne sphurati tad-adhunApy-advitIyaM vapuste /
svapna-draShTuH prabodhe timira-laya-vidhau jIrNa-rajjoshca yadvat
vidyA-lAbhe tathaiva sphuTamapi vikaset kR^iShNa tasmai namaste //
Tr. By reflecting on the true nature of things, it is recognised that even when this world of multiplicity is perceived, it is only Thy non-dual Self (as their material cause) that is apprehended, just as gold is seen when ornaments are perceived, and clay, when mud-pots are seen. When knowledge dawns, what happens is that this fact becomes crystal clear (through the total sublation of the objective world into Thyself, their substraturm) just as the true nature of dream objects becomes evident on awakening, and of the worn-out rope, on the disposal of darkness. To that Self, Oh Krishna, my salutations!
Comment. The right vision is that which sees the one-ness amidst the plurality of experience. ‘sarva bhUteShu yenaikaM bhAvam-avyayam-IkShate’ (Gita XVIII – 20). Perception of difference arises because of the recognition of name and form. The enlightened one sees the tile, the stone and the golden brick, all in the same way. This equanimity of vision is the ultimate goal of spirituality. When a wooden elephant is presented to a child the child is carried away by imaginations about the elephant. But we shall be only children spiritually if we cannot see the wood for the elephant. The normal human being is distracted by the multiplicity of appearances and is still, as it were, in a dream state, where he refuses to believe there is a more real world outside of his dream. Because, no dreamer realizes, while dreaming, that he is dreaming. He cannot rise beyond the glamour of plurality that confronts him and does not perceive there is an essential unity in all that he sees. This kind of knowledge sees the multiplicity of things only in their separateness and variety of operation. It looks at the jumble of pieces of knowledge as if they are forcefully put together. The scriptures prescribe, on the other hand, that perception wherein
Whatever you see, you see only the Lord’s presence in it;
Whatever you hear, it is the melody of His music, Krishna-flue-like;
Whatever you taste, it is the sweet nectar flowing from His Grace;
Whatever you smell, it is the fragrance of the dust of His feet; and
Whatever you touch, it is the touch of the divine hand of Fearless-ness (abhaya-hasta).
This is the advaita-bhakti. The contemplation of this sloka can be expected to lead to such advaita-bhakti.
Sloka No. 30 (Ref. nArAyaNIyaM : 94 - 6):
jIvan-muktatvam-evam-vidham-iti vacasA kiM phalaM dUra-dUre
tannAmAshuddha-buddher-na ca laghu manasaH shodhanaM bhaktito’nyat /
tan-me viShNo kR^iShIShTAs-tvayi kR^ita-sakala-prArpaNaM bhakti-bhAraM
yena syaM mankShu kimcid-guru-vacana-milat trvat-prabodhas-tvadAtmA //
Tr. Of what good are mere words defining the condition of one liberated in the embodied state itself, that is, even when alive? It is only a name as far as a person of impure mind (is concerned). Other than bhakti there is no easy way of attaining to purity of mind (needed for attaining to that state). Oh Vishnu! May Thou therefore deign to bestow on me intense devotion characterized by absolute surrender of all deeds to Thee. With the purity of mind gained thereby and the instructions of the guru I shall soon attain to true enlightenment and union with Thee.
Comment. The concept of jIvan-mukta is central to advaita. The blessed soul whose ignorance has been destroyed by the realization of Brahman in the nirvikalpa-samadhi becomes liberated at once from the body if there is no strong momentum of past actions (prArabhda-karma) left. But if there is, it has to be exhausted by the body experiencing it. Such a person is called a jIvan-mukta (liberated when alive). Though associated with the body he is ever untouched by ignorance or its effects. He is established in Brahman and recognizes no bondage. He has got the ‘dawn of knowledge’ mentioned in sloka #s 28 and 29 above. His physical body may experience anything. His sense-organs may be affected by blindness, weakness, incapacity, etc. His mind may be subject to hunger, thirst, grief, delusion, etc. Yet he does not consider any of these ‘experiences’ as real, for he has already known their nothingness. He is like the magician who knows that his performance is all magic and has no real validity. Sankara describes this state in his upadesha-sAhasrI (Metrical Section 10 Sloka 13): ‘He does not see anything in the waking state as in sound sleep; though seeing duality, he does not really see it as he sees only the Absolute; though engaged in work, he is really inactive; he and none other, is the knower of the Self’.:
suShuptavaj-jAgrati yo na pashyati dvayam na pashyan-napi cAdvayatvataH /
tathA ca kurvan-napi niShkriyash-ca yaH sa Atmavin-nAnya itIha nishcayaH //
Only a Sankara, a Ramakrishna, a Ramana, a Sadasiva Brahmendra, can describe this state; because theirs is a first-person-experience.
Now comes Bhattatiri’s punch-line: ‘So what? What is it to me?’! And Bhattatiri rightly says ‘Let me have the bhakti; and let the Lord decide whether I deserve this state of jIvan-mukta or not’. And the strategy of action that he describes is the classical surrender of all our deeds to the Lord. ‘nimitta-mAtraM bhava’ - be just My instrument of action’ – says the Lord. That is the recipe for us, says Bhattatiri.
Sloka No. 31 (Ref. nArAyaNIyaM : 94 - 7):
shabda-brahmaNy-ap-Iha prayatita-manasas-tvAM na jAnanti kecit
kaShTaM vandhya-shramAste cirataram-iha gAM bibhrate niShprasUtiM /
yasyAM vishvAbhirAmAH sakala-malaharA divya-lIlAvatArAH
saccit-sAndraM ca rUpaM tava na nigaditaM tA na vAcaM bhriyAsaM //
Tr. There are some with mind wholly absorbed in Sabda-brahman (or study and exposition of the Vedas and other scriptures). But they have no knowledge of Thee (in spite of all their learning). Alas! Their efforts are therefore sterile, and they are like owners of cows that never calve. May I not therefore indulge in the study, exposition or composition of works alien to the description of Thy blissful form and Thy sportive Incarnations, which are universally inspiring and destructive of all mental impurities.
Comment. There is a beautiful sloka in Sivananda-lahari (Sloka 6) of Sankara, which carries the same thought, however, in the Master’s inimitable style.
ghaTo vA mR^it piNDo’pyaNurapi dhUmo’gnir-acalaH
paTo vA tantur-vA pariharati kiM ghora-shamanaM /
vR^ithA kaNTakShobhaM vahasi tarasA tarka-vacasA
padAmbhojaM shambhor-bhaja parama-soukhyaM vraja sudhIH //
meaning, Whether it is the lump of clay (that is the truth) or the mud-pot,
or the atomic fragment of it, whether it is the smoke beyond the mountain (that is the reality) or the fire, whether it is the cloth (that is the ultimate) or the threads (of cotton), how does it remove (man’s) suffering? You are wasting your throat on such questions of logic, Oh! Man of intellect! Worship the lotus feet of Lord Shambhu and attain the highest bliss!
Sloka No. 32 (Ref. nArAyaNIyaM : 94 - 8):
yo yAvAn yAdR^isho vA tvamiti kimapi naiv-AvagacchAmi bhUman-
nevam-cAnanya-bhAvas-tvad-anu-bhajanam-ev-Adriye caidya-vairin /
tval-lingAnAM tvad-anghri-priya-jana-sadasAM darshana-sparshanAdir-
bhUyAn-me tvat-prapUjA-nati-nuti-guNa-karm-AnukIrty-Adaro’pi //
Tr.: Oh All-pervading Being! Oh Destroyer of Sishupala! I am not able to comprehend Thy greatness or Thy nature even in the least. But despite my imperfect understanding of Thee, I shall continue to serve Thee wholeheartedly, depending on Thee as my sole support. May I be always blessed with opportunities of seeing Holy Images and contacting congregations of Thy devotees, and be endowed with devotion to the worship, salutation and praise of Thee as also the recital of the deeds and excellences of Thy Divine Self.
Comment. The greatness ( yAvAn - who, what?) of the Lord is shown by the Lord Himself by opening out His cosmic form through a divine vision to Arjuna in the 11th chapter of the Gita. The nature (yAdRsho - how, of what nature?) of the Lord is described by Himself in the tenth chapter of the Gita. Both chapters are difficult to understand, says Bhattatiri.
There are two categories of people in the world: firstly, those who grant the supernatural status (10th and 11th chapters of the Gita) of Krishna and therefore all his miraculous deeds, but find it difficult to follow his spiritual teachings in the rest of the chapters of the Gita because of its philosophical nuances; secondly, those who seem to be comfortable in studying and learning the philosophy embedded in the Gita, but find it difficult to swallow his divine mischief-like miraculous doings. To both these types of people Bhattatiri addresses this sloka. He says whether you understand Him or not, whether you can imbibe His philosophy or not, worship Him with all the sincerity you can command. Go through any one of (if possible, all of) the nine forms (described in the Bhagavatam 7-5-23 by Prahlad) in which bhakti might be expressed:
Listening to recitals of the names and glories of God (shravaNa) as did King Parikshit;
Oneself reciting the names of God (nAma-sankIrtana) as did Narada, Chaitanya, Mira and Thyagaraja;
Recalling Him and His excellences (smaraNa) as did the sage Suka;
Waiting on Him (pAda-sevana), as did Lakshmana;
Worshipping Him (archana), as did King Ambarisha;
Prostrating before Him (vandana), as did Akrura and Uddhava;
Serving Him (dAsya), as did Hanuman and Garuda;
Befriending Him (sakhya), as did Arjuna and Sugriva; and
Dedicating oneself to Him (Atma-nivedana) as did King Bali and Kannappa Nayanar.