The questions raised by Saunaka based on what Suta said in the last chapter: Why did Vyasa write the Bhagavata Purana and how is it that Vyasa's son came to recite it before Pariksit sitting on the bank of the Ganga.
I am doing it a bit slower in an effort to chant it more correctly. There are some real tongue-twisters in this Purana. I am starting to notice certain repetitions in phrasing. Once I get those down, I should be able to do it faster. It is more exciting perhaps when I do it faster, but more prone to mistakes. I am way out of practice.
Last Edit: Dec 19, 2009 5:12:29 GMT -6 by Nitaidas
Bhagavata 1.4 Second Half. Suta's answers to Saunaka. He describes how Vyasa was dissatisfied after having divided the Vedas and composing the histories and puranas for those qualified to hear the Vedas. Vyasa goes off and sits alone on the bank of the Sarasvati and ponders, wondering if it is because he has not yet sufficiently taught truths relating to Bhagavan that he does not feel satisfied.
Last Edit: Dec 19, 2009 5:09:21 GMT -6 by Nitaidas
Post by spiritualbhakti on Jan 9, 2010 14:48:47 GMT -6
I was listening to some lecture the other day about how sanskrit has multiple meanings. Like when the gopis speak, how it gives rise to so many bhavas, and how it produces so many emotions.I find that really interesting
Sorry for the delay in my posting of more chapters. Preparing for classes and getting underway has been more time consuming than I thought. I am a little rusty at it and there are a lot of accounting sorts of things to do. It is like riding a bike again after a long time. One is a little wobbly to start off with. But, it comes back quickly enough. Anyway, I have now taught two classes in the course and am beginning to get into the swing of it. I will post another chapter or part of a chapter today. No classes today.
I must admit, however, that there is another reason why I am facing some resistance to continuing the project. As soon as I started the project in London, I came down with an illness. I won't say what it was, so that no one will be grossed out. It is hard for even a rational and scientific mind like mine not to wonder about the coincidence of that. Was the chanting, the connection with the sounds of the Bhagavata, speeding up my karma in some way? One reads in the lives of the saints that often intense sadhana has that effect of speeding up the experience and burning up of one's karma. Sometimes great suffering is involved, but the end result is a purity that is ripe for the rapid growth of bhakti and its quickly issuing in the fruit of prema. As I say, even my skeptical mind was given pause. The only sensible course is to continue the chanting and see if I fall sick again. Turn it into an experiment. in other words. The very fact that I am discussing this, however, may affect the results. The mind is a strange and powerful instrument, largely operating beyond our awareness. Additionally, as all post-quantum inquirers should know, the observer affects the observed and vice versa.
Last Edit: Jan 14, 2010 8:55:12 GMT -6 by Nitaidas
I have to warn you about my coming commentaries on the Bhagava. They will not be like other commentaries that are available out on the net. I won't feed any baloney about the text. I will try to present the truth about it as I see it. Baloney amounts to claiming the text is by Vyasa and was written five thousand years ago. If you want to believe that you will want to avoid my commentaries. I am going to present the text as the work of an unknown author or authors who for one reason or another felt they had to present it as the work of Vyasa. For me the reasons why they did so are part of what is truly fascinating about the text. I am also going to suggest that the text was composed in the community of South Indian brahmanas that Sankaracarya came from and about the same time that Sankara was active. That was (and still is) an extraordinarily learned community steeped in Vedic texts and ritual and almost all, like Sankara, are Vaisnava. If anyone could pull off the feat of creating the Bhagavata with its archaic Vedic language, they could. And that would also explain the unmistakable advaita qualities of the text. Advaitic Vaisnavism with a strong dose of ecstatic bhakti or mysticism is how I would describe the text.
So the Bhagavata as far as I can see was created in pretty much the same milieu that produced Sankara and at about the same time. It is an interesting fact that Sankara never refers to the Bhagavata, though there are many similarities between his thought and that found in the text. That suggests for me that it did not exist before him and that because of the similarities it is was composed either at roughly the same time or shortly after him and in the same community. Of course, Puranas are always composite texts, so there may be parts that are earlier and were taken up and incorporated into the final work. My chanting of the text systematically may reveal which those parts are and then we can reflect on what those parts tell us about the production of the text and perhaps about its pre-Sankara existence in some form.
Already it seems clear to me that there are two parts of the Purana by two different authors or groups of authors. The first two skandhas and the 12the skandha are by a different author and are more like a commentary on the main text. They refer to the Bhagavata in the third person and even to the author in the third person. The author of those skandhas was very sophisticated and almost certainly later than the author of the rest of the Purana starting with the 3rd skandha, which is where Sukadeva begins his teaching to Pariksit. Everything before is clearly introductory, introducing us to the text, praising the Purana, supplying the context for its first recitation, and interpreting the text for us.
The author of those first two skandhas had a much more sophisticated understanding of rasa than the author of the rest of the Purana. Rasa is used in the first two skandhas and the 12th in its sense as aesthetic experience or rapture. This probably means that it was written after Anandavardhana's Dhvanyaloka (9th cent.) or even after Abhinavagupta's development of the rasa theory in the 10th cent. Rasa is used in the rest of the Purana primarily in the meaning of juice, not in its more sophisticated sense of aesthetic experience.
At any rate, if you don't to hear about the Bhagavata discuss in this fashion, I would avoid my commentary videos. At some point I will take up some of the traditional commentaries and discuss what writers like Sridhara Swami, Sri Natha Cakravartin, Sri Jiva, Sri Visvanatha Cakravartin and others have to say about text. There too however I will reflect on who they are addressing and why they might take the positions they take.
Last Edit: Jan 14, 2010 10:00:36 GMT -6 by Nitaidas
Here is the first half of Chapter Five of the First Skandha. I got stuck a couple of times, but it is more or less pronounced correctly. I stopped where Narada begins to tell his own story. I will put that up tomorrow.
Hopefully they will come regularly from now on. Another reference to rasa in this chapter (5.19). Here, too, the reference is to the more sophisticated conception of rasa as aesthetic enjoyment.
I had a nice conversation the other day with Sri Subrataji who is currently in the USA for work. He reminded me of a small work by Baladeva called the Siddhanta-darpana in which Baladeva raises and answers many of the questions about the Bhagavata that were being debated in his day (18th century). For instance, Baladeva cites a verse from the Devibhagavata in which the word "bhagavata" is used to describe that Purana. From this, he says, Saktas have pushed the argument that the real Bhagavata is the Devi-bhagavata. He answers by pointing out that the Devibhagavata does not match the characteristics of the Bhagavata described in the other Puranas like the Matsya, the Skandha, or the Padma. Later in the text he also responds the claim that the Bhagavata is not authentic because it was written by Bopadeva. In the course of responding to that, he points out that there are commentaries on the Bhagavata by people who lived before Bopadeva like Hanumat and Citsukha. Baladeva's commentator, Nandamisra who was one of his disciples, adds a reference to Sankaracarya saying that in the Govindastaka of Sankara Krsna's mud-eating and his clothes stealing lilas are described and the only source of those lilas is the Bhagavata. Thus, he argues that though Sankara did not write a commentary on the Bhagavata, he did draw lilas from it for his Govindastaka. Nanda Misra also unfortunately says in the next sentence that Sankara and Madhva lived at the same time. We know that not to be true, though it may have been believed in the days of Baladeva and Nandamisra. Nevertheless, if the Govindastaka is indeed by Sankara, then there may be reason to believe that the Bhagavata existed before him and that he knew it. Now Sankara is usually assigned to the years 788-820 CE. But this appears to be wrong according some more recent research. He is now thought to have lived around 650-700 CE (see Allen Thrasher's work, for instance). So if the Govindastaka is really by Sankaracarya then the Bhagavata can be dated to earlier than 650. The problem is that the Govindastaka is one of those works that more recent scholarship places in doubt as a genuine work of Sri Sankara. It is a beautiful poem praising Krsna, but it may not have actually been by Sankara. Anyway, the scholarship could be wrong. Still, there seems very little chance, imho, that Bhagavata, because of the more sophisticated understanding of rasa in some parts, could be much earller than that.
Does its being relatively recent and not by Vyasa really affect the authenticity of the text? I think not. Even if the text were composed by someone from the Nambudri Brahmanas of Kerala (Sankara's community) in the 7th century, the text gives us its own grounds for accepting it as a genuine vehicle of knowledge of and bhakti for Krsna. That happens in the very place that I am preparing to recite: 1.5-7. I will explain more after I finish chanting those chapters.
Last Edit: Jan 19, 2010 1:19:55 GMT -6 by Nitaidas
It seems very unlikely that Adi Shankara composed the Govindastaka (does somebody seriously believe he wrote the Bhaja Govindam?), and the fact - which is feebly contested only by Walther Eidlitz - that Ramanuja never quotes the Bhagavata puts the Bhagavata after Ramanuja (1077 ? – 1157 ?).
Legend has it that Ramanuja once walked all the way from Sri Rangam to Kashmir only because he had heard there was an interesting manuscript (not the Bhagavata) so if it was around in his time he would certainly have known about it and quoted it.