Tattva Sandarbha – Section 1

November 28, 2006 at 9:10 am Leave a comment


Sri Jiva Toshani Commentary

In Vedic culture every undertaking begins with an invocation, technically called Mangalacarana. The purpose is to invoke the blessings of the Supreme Personality of Godhead for removing any obstacle to the completion of the work. This book, Sri Shat Sandarbha, being a detailed treatise on the Lord’s name, fame, abode, qualities, pastimes, and associates, is already all-auspicious. As such it needs no invocation. Following in the footsteps of the previous acaryas, however, and to set an ideal for his reader, Srila Jiva Gosvami performs Mangalacarana.

Mangalacarana is of three types and it may have one or more verses. The three types are:

    Namaskriyatmaka: paying obeisances to one’s worshipable deity, to one’s teacher(s), or to both.

    Asirvadatmaka: praying to the Lord for His blessings or bestowing blessings upon the readers, or pronouncing “All glories to the Lord.”

    Vastu-nirdesatmaka: summarizing the subject matter of the book.

The Mangalacarana also indicates the following four items, called anubhandha catushtaya, or the four introductory subjects:

“The right person (adhikari), relation (sambandha), subject (vishaya), and purpose (prayojana), these four must be expressed at the beginning of a book.” Adhikari explains the qualification of the reader. Sambandha explains the relationship between the book and the topic it explains. Vishaya, sometimes called abhidheya, is the specific subject matter of the book. Prayojana explains what the reader will attain by reading the book. In modern times these four items are usually covered in the Introduction of a book.

That Srila Jiva Gosvami begins his mangalacarana by quoting Srimad Bhagavatam (11.5.32) and not by composing an original verse is significant. By this he shows his reverence for Srimad Bhagavatam and his surrender to the words of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, for whom Srimad Bhagavatam was the supreme scriptural authority. Srila Jiva Gosvami also implies that in the Shat-sandarbhas he will analyze the Bhagavatam and establish its superiority over all other scripture. In addition, this verse establishes that his worshipable Deity is Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

This opening verse, from the Eleventh Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam, explains the Lord’s incarnation in Kali-yuga. Karabhajana Rishi spoke it in response to Maharaja Nimi’s enquiry about the color, name, and mode of worship of the Lord in the various yugas. In this verse he specifically describes the Lord’s incarnation in Kali-yuga. It indirectly describes the identity of Lord Sri Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu as Lord Sri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Krishna varnam means one who describes the pastimes of Lord Krishna to others, or one who always chants “Krishna, Krishna.” Varnam also means class or category. So Krishna varnam may also mean one who is in the same class as Krishna. Sri Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu is non-different from Lord Sri Krishna and thus He is Krishna varnam. Varnam also means letter or word, thus Krishna varnam also means one whose name has the word Krishna in it, Krishna Caitanya.

Other meanings of varnam are fame, figure, outward appearance, quality, and a religious observance. All these meanings may be applied to mean Sri Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu, such as one who has fame like Krishna, a figure like Krishna and so on.

In Sarvasamvadini, a supplementary work to Sri Shat Sandarbha, Srila Jiva Gosvami explains that Lord Caitanya is referred to as Krishna varnam, because just by seeing Him people were reminded of Lord Sri Krishna. Another reason is that although Sri Caitanya appeared in a golden complexion to the common man, to His intimate associates he appeared blackish. Thus Sri Caitanya is Krishna in all respects. Finally, Krishna varnam also means one who is black like Krishna, but within. This Srila Jiva Gosvami explains in the next anuccheda.

Tvishakrishnam may be broken as tvisha-akrishnam to mean whose bodily hue is not blackish. In Srimad Bhagavatam (10.8.13), Gargamuni tells Nanda Maharaja:

    “In previous Yugas your son was white, red, and yellow respectively. Now He is blackish.” (S.B. 10.8.13)

According to Srimad Bhagavatam, the Supreme Personality of Godhead had a white complexion in Satya-yuga, a reddish one in Treta-yuga, and was blackish in Dvapara-yuga. So by the process of elimination the word akrishnam, non-blackish, indicates the yellow incarnation, which is the complexion of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Gargamuni’s mention of His yellow color “in previous yugas” may refer to Lord Caitanya’s previous appearance. Or it may refer to His future appearance, but the past tense is used because it is being mentioned along with other incarnations that had occured in the past. Just as if a householder and 15 brahmacaris are walking on the road people may say, “The brahmacaris are coming.”

Yet another consideration is that Gargacarya may have used the past tense to hide Krishna’s future incarnation as Lord Caitanya, to avoid confusing Nanda Maharaja and to play along with the Lord’s plan to appear in Kali-yuga as the channa avatar, or the hidden incarnation. That is why Lord Caitanya’s incarnation is only referred to indirectly in Vedic scripture.

In Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krishna says, naham prakasa sarvasya yogamaya samavritah, “Being covered by the veil of My internal potency, I am not manifest to everyone, as I am.” This declaration specifically applies to His appearance in Kali-yuga as Sri Krishna Caitanya. Prahlada Maharaja says in Srimad Bhagavatam (7.9.38): channah kalau yadabhavas triyugo’tha sa tvam. “O Lord, Your incarnation in Kali-yuga is hidden or confidential and therefore you are called Triyuga, one who incarnates in three yugas namely Satya, Treta and Dvapara.” Here the word channa (covered) also signifies that Lord Caitanya is Lord Krishna covered by the mood and color of Sri Radhika. The Lord’s appearance as a devotee is also foretold in the Naradiya Purana (5.47):

    “The Lord said: O Vipra (Markandeya Rishi), in Kali-yuga, I, concealing My identity, appear in the garb of a devotee and always give protection to My devotees.”

Tvishakrishnam may also be broken as tvisha krishnam, who is blackish in color. Although Lord Caitanya appeared in yellow color, He is Lord Krishna Himself and thus tvisha krishnam explains His original form as Lord Krishna, which He revealed only to certain devotees, such as Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya.

Sangopangastra parsadam means limbs, ornaments, weapons, and associates. According to Srila Baladeva Vidyabhushana, the limbs of Lord Caitanya are Lord Nityananda Prabhu and Advaita Acarya. His ornaments are Srivasa Thakur, Srila Haridasa Thakur, and others. His weapons are the holy names, which dispel ignorance. His associates are Gadadhara, Govinda, and the many other devotees that stayed with Lord Caitanya in Jagannatha Puri.

Sangopangastra prasadam may also refer to Lord Caitanya’s form as Sri Krishna, which He showed to His devotees, having beautiful limbs decorated with ornaments such as the Kaustubha gem. These ornaments act as weapons by attracting the mind of a person towards Lord Krishna and thus killing his demoniac mentality. The ornaments are also associates of the Lord as they are individuals and are His devotees.

Yajnaih sankirtanaprayair yajanti hi sumedhasah. There are many processes prescribed in the Vedas to worship the Supreme Lord, but in Kali Yuga the wise worship Him by congregational chanting. This process was started by Lord Caitanya and thus He is called the father of the sankirtana movement.

Sumedhasah means people of fine intelligence. This means less intelligent people will take to other processes and outright foolish people will oppose the sankirtana movement. Sankirtana is very dear to Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He is always absorbed in it and He preached to everyone to participate in sankirtana, for it is the panacea for all the defects of Kali yuga. Sukadeva Gosvami says in Srimad Bhagavatam (12.3.51,52):

“My dear King, although Kali-yuga is an ocean of faults, there is still one good quality about this age; simply by chanting the names of Krishna, one can become free from material bondage and be promoted to the transcendental kingdom. Whatever result was obtained in Satya-yuga, by meditating on Vishnu, in Treta-yuga by performing sacrifices and in Dvapara-yuga by serving the Lord’s lotus feet can be obtained in Kali-yuga simply by chanting the Hare Krishna Maha-mantra.”

Lord Krishna Caitanya is the worshipable Deity of Srila Jiva Gosvami. He begins his topmost literary achievement, therefore, by quoting a verse about Sri Caitanya from Srimad Bhagavatam, the supreme scriptural authority for all time. This is a vastu-nirdesatmaka mangalacarana.


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