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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!