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Srimad Bhagavatham:Commentaries-2

From: A. Bharat (kbharat_at_giasbg01.vsnl.net.in)
Date: Thu Sep 02 1999 - 07:09:37 PDT

Now,as an addition to my previous posting on this subject
I would like to share with other Sahrdayas some of the
beauties of the Commentaries mentioned therein.

One name which is basic to the list of commentators
and which keeps recurring is SrIdharaSwAmI's(S).He also 
wrote commentaries on Sri VishnuPurANam and GItA.But
the BhAgavatam commentary is his magnum opus.On even
a cursory study of the work one gets a clear knowledge
in respect of three qualities of S - his abundant sense
of humor,his analytical ability and his obvious devotion
to the Lord.

Just  before the birth of Krishna,the devas led by Brahma
and Siva come to DevakI's cell to hail the advent of the
Lord.After the famous stOtra beginning with,<Satya-vratam
satya-param>,they greet DEvakI also and depart.Describing
their exit the text says-
<..yathA/ BrahmESAnau purOdhAya dEvAh prati-yayur divam>
-in the proper manner(or, as before),keeping Brahma and Siva
in front,the devAs returned to heaven.

S,taking the meaning of <yatha> as "as before", comments
as an aside,
<asmAn vanchayitvA EtAviha sThAsyEta iti manyamAnA
brahmESAnau puratah krtva yayuh>
- the devas,suspecting that their leaders may fool them
and linger on for a glimpse of Krishna,made sure
by keeping them in  front during their retreat also (as
during their arrival)!

Earlier,we're told that VasudEva,keeping his promise
made to Kamsa,brought the first baby of DEvakI
called KIrtimAn to Kamsa to be killed.The text
here has a SlOka made up of four general statements
(arthAntara-nyAsAs)-
<Kim dussaham nu sAdhUnAm ? VidushAm kim apEkshitam?
 Kim-akAryam kadaryANAm? Dustyajam kim DhrutAtmanAm?>

-What indeed is there that the good will not suffer
patiently? or the wise can long for?What the base
will blench from? or the resolute cannot renounce?
(Tr.by N.Raghunathan)

S. connects up the four statements with reference to
the context thus in his commentary:
" If one were to ask-How could Vasudeva have presented his own
son to Death?-the reply is- What indeed will not the Good that is those
who believe in keeping their word suffer in patence? But how
could he relinquish his natural longing to fondle his child?
For the Wise,that is,for those who know that the
Lord is the only worthwhile Being,is there anything
else to long for? But-Why can't it be that VasudEva
thought in his heart that Kamsa will be touched by
his sacrifice and hence  may spare the child's
life? No. What will the base like Kamsa blench from?It may
be so for VasudEva,but how  could DEvakI give away
her newborn? What is it that the resolute cannot
renounce?"

You come across the following stanza which clearly
needs an interpretation:
<KAlEna snAna-SauchAbhyAm samskArair-tapasEjyayA
Sudhyanti dAnaih santushTyA dravyAN-yAtmAtmavidyayA>

-Things get purified through Time,bathing,
cleansing,purificatory rites,austerities,offering
of sacrifices,charity,contentment;but AtmA through
AtmavidyA .

S states clearly- "land etc through lapse of time;body
thro bathing;impurities and harmful things thro cleansing;
womb thro purificatory rites;senses thro austerities;
brahmins etc thro offering of sacrifices;objects and
gifts thro charity;mind thro contentment gets purified.
AtmA thro knowledge of AtmA only."

SrI Veera RAghava (VR) the ViSishTAdvaita commentator of
SrImad BhAgavatam was an equally great scholar who however
like Sri VishNuchitta(EngaLAzhwAn) the commentator of SrI
VishNuPurANam,preferred to retain S's commentary wherever
possible and added and modified only where he felt the
need.

There is a beautiful description of the homelife of Nanda
wherein it is stated that YaSOdA and ROhiNI,what with the
multifarious daily chores cutting into their time,and the
equally distracting responsibility of keeping a constantly
vigilant eye on the two toddlers who were determined to get
into all sorts of dangers,constantly wore a harried look
and most of the time did not know whether they were coming
or going!At this,S,who was a SanyAsI,comments( with a  line
uncannily similar to SrI KulaSEkhara AzhwAr's-"ASOdai
tollai inbattiRudi kanDALE!")-
<grha saukhyasya parA kAshThA darSitA!>
-thus is shown the ultimate joy of a householder's
existence!
And VR in his commentary retains this line intact.

Let us end with a passage where the two commentators differ.
In the StOtra of Brahma referred to earlier,occurs the
following SlOka-
<Tvam Eka Eva asya satah prasUtih
 tvam sannidhAnam tvam-anugrahaScha
 Tvan-mAyayA samvrta-chEtasas tvAm
 paSyanti nAnA na vipaSchito yE>

About the first line there is no dispute,Both
commentators say,"You alone are the creator,
protector and destroyer of this universe."
Then S says regarding the second half-
"KrishNa asks:how can you say this when
Brahma,VishNu  and Rudra are famous for
the above activities? Brahma replies:Only
those persons whose knowledge is covered by
your MAyA believe in multiple deities.Those
who are really learned do not think on those
lines"
VR gives two meanings for the second half:
"Krishna asks-how can you ascribe all these great
activities to me when people think me to be no
different from other human beings?and Brahma
replies:because they are befuddled by your
MAyA.-as KrishNa  himself says in GItA-
<mOhitam nAbhijanati mAm-Ebhyah param
avyayam>'
"or alternatively another meaning could be:
Thus in the first half having stated that
Krishna is the cause for everything in creation,
in the second half he says that there is no
difference between cause and effect.That is,
those who believe that created things have a
distinct existence apart from Him are merely
befuddled by His MAyA."

EmberumAnAr TiruvaDigaLE SaraNam!