Children of Trust and Acceptance

Chapter One of Bhāgavatam’s Fourth Canto can read like a boring, irrelevant family tree. But if we dig into the names of all these parents and children – amazing revelations and wisdoms unfold. Here is an example of what unfolds from the simple family tree described in 4.1.34 & 35

Trust (Śraddhā) first bore four daughters for her husband, Acceptance (Aṅgirā). These daughters were like phases of the moon and are the four conditions that result from trusting and accepting something. The first daughter, named Unornamented (Sinīvālī), is like the new moon, when the sky is without ornament. She is the condition that arises when trust and acceptance are misplaced: nothing good results. Or, she is the first stage of trust and acceptance, which is somewhat “blind.” The second daughter, named Deceptive (Kuhū), is like the night after the new moon, during which we are told the moon is waxing, but it is still invisible. She is the condition that arises when we are uncertain about what we should trust and accept, and feel very vulnerable to deception and trickery. The third daughter, named Opulence (Rākā), is like the full moon, the night in which the sky has her greatest opulence. She is the condition that arises when trust and acceptance are well placed and generate the promised rewards. She is the condition attained when well-placed trust and acceptance survive their initial challenges and endure to produce good results. The fourth daughter, named Agreement (Anumati), is like the night after the full moon. She is what happens after we experience the tangible positive results of trusting and accepting something worthy: we then become agreeable to following that person or ideal even into further situations we may not yet be able to understand.

Later, in the Svārociṣa Period of history, Trust (Śraddhā) also gave Acceptance (Aṅgirā) two very famous boys. The first, named Ascent (Utathya), was an expansion of the All-Attractive himself. The second boy, named Expansive (Bṛhaspati) was an extremely learned person. These two sons illustrate that mature trust and acceptance allow us to rise higher that our individual limitations, and vastly expand our minds.

Enlightenment through Satisfaction of Desires

On the surface, the First Chapter of Canto Four of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam reads something like one of those books of the Old Testament, “Ruth begot So and So… So and So begot So and So.” But if we translate the names of the “So and Sos” in this chapter, amazing things happen.

I’ll show you one example in the first seven ślokas of the Chapter.

Hundred-beauty’d Śatarūpā gave Manu three daughters, who are famous by the names Desire (Ākūti), Invoker of Divinity (Devahūti) and Procreator (Prasūti). With his wife’s approval Manu wed his daughter, Desire (Ākūti), to the sage named Wish (Ruci) on the condition that Manu and his wife would raise the boy as their own son.

Ruci was a blessed progenitor with great spiritual realization. In an exalted trance, he produced twins with Ākūti: a boy named Effort (Yajña) who was Viṣṇu himself taking his own form, and a girl named Gift (Dakṣiṇā), an expansion of Goddess Bhū, Viṣṇu’s inseparable consort. [Thus wishes and desires can be fulfilled by ones efforts and by the kind gifts of others.]

Our wishes and desires are fulfilled by a combination of sādhana and kṛpā, effort and mercy. That is shown by Desire (Ākūti) and Wish (Ruci) producing Efforts (Yajña) and Gifts (Dakṣiṇā).

[A typical translation of Yajña is “sacrifice” but sacrifice is an effort to fulfill a wish (“I want a son or whatever, so I perform this or that Yajña”). Therefore I’m going straight to the bottom line and translating it as “effort.”]

Manu was delighted to bring his daughter’s extremely brilliant son into his own home. Ruci was delighted to keep the girl. Raised separately and bearing immutable, eternal love for each other, All-Attractive Yajña later married Dakṣiṇā. The two of them, Efforts and Gifts, were delighted to produce twelve children, collectively known as the Children of Delight, embodying the twelve effects of fulfilling ones desires and wishes through efforts and gifts: Satisfaction (Toṣa), Delight, (Pratoṣa), Content (Santoṣa), Generousity (Bhadra), Calm (Śānti), Refreshment (Iḍaspati), Inspiration (Idhma), Experience (Kavi), Mastery (Vibhu), Paradise (Svahna), Enlightening (Sudeva), and Luminous (Rocana).

We have desires and wishes, we fulfill them through effort and gifts, then what happens? Then we experience 12 states. Each state is successively more elevated, and comes by fulfilling ones desires and wishes with successively more exalted efforts and gifts.

The simplest result of fulfilling desire is (1) Satisfaction – its like scratching an itch, it stops bothering us for the time being.

A more exalted result is (2) Delight – its more than just filling a need or addressing a problem (scratching an itch), its a positive experience of pleasure. When this occurs, we may be able to rise to a higher level and become (3) Content. This means that the pleasure will be significant enough to eclipse the distractions we normally experience from the other competing desires and wishes in our minds. We experience Content when the pleasure is significant enough to absorb our whole concentration.

Then we can come to a still more exalted platform called (4) Generous (Bhadra). When we experience pleasure and cease to experience want, we attain this stage, where we feel generous. We experience a surplus of pleasure, so we attain the level of wanting to share it.

Directing our attention towards sharing pleasure, our own desires and wishes subside more permanently. This is called (5) Calm (Śānti). When we become truly Calm, then we begin to feel (6) Refreshed (Iḍaspati). We get energy naturally because we are not wasting it. By giving energy / happiness to others we are investing it into loops which cycle back to us. So we feel very easily refreshed.

After Refreshment comes (7) Inspiration (Idhma). We will want to continue to make the efforts and receive the gifts that lead us through Satisfaction, Delight, Contentment, Generosity Calm, and Refreshment.

The more we make such inspired efforts and receive such gifts, the more (8) Expert and Experienced we become in the arts of fulfilling Desires and Wishes. This expertise is the stage called Kavi. When this expertise advances still further it becomes (9) Mastery (Vibhu). Vibhu also means “pervasive” so the implication is that we learn to satisfy our desires more pervasively by finding their roots. When we are childish about it we simply try to fulfill whatever desire catches our attention, but as expertise becomes mastery we learn that there is a hierarchy of desire – some desires are built on others, leading down towards a single root desire, fulfilling which fulfills all those which stem from it.

When Mastery becomes significantly exalted it attains the state of (10) Paradise (Svahna) – it becomes like living in Paradise. Then, if we become still more expert, deep and pervasive in our efforts to recieve the gifts of fulfilled desires, we can finally come to understand the ultimate root of all desire: which is Sudeva,  the “happiness of consciousness” – directly implying bhakti/love (su-) for Bhagavān/ The divine beloved (deva). Realizing this we attain the stage of (11) Englightenment (Sudeva)

Attaining this stage, we become self-luminous and self-satisfying, for love itself becomes one with us. This is the ultimate stage, (12) Luminousity (Rocana).

Its very interesting that this sequence of 12 stages shows a Tantric path, in the sense that it demonstrates that enlightenment and self-realization is possible through fulfilling desires and wishes with efforts and gifts. The Veda does not at all propose renunciation as the only path to enlightenment, but the end results of all paths to enlightenment cause renunciation as a natural side effect (in other words one experiences satisfaction so deep that one stops looking for other sources of satisfaction). Thus renunciation is an effect of all spiritual paths, but not at all a requisite for most of them.

Beauty

“Beauty is the summary of all good qualities.”

- Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 4.1.52

[mūrtiḥ sarva-guṇotpattiḥ]

New Translation of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam Canto 3!

I’ve just published “Varāha, Vidura, & Kapila – Śrīmad Bhagavatam’s Third Canto.” Please visit vrajakishor.com to find out about it!

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Butterflies on a Mountain

Sciences, philosophies, and arts are like huge mountains of importance to humanity. All of them are clustered at the roots of the Vedas, whose peaks soar high in the far distance.

If all the mountains of the Vedas — even the enormous spire called Mahābhārata, with its golden summit called Bhagavad-Gītā — combined along with all their foothills of arts and sciences to create a single, monumental height, that mountain would merely be a hill standing in the shadow of the limitless enormity that is Śrīmad Bhāgavatam.

This gorgeous mountain, Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, is resplendent with parks, lakes and terraces created by the divine goddesses who reside upon it, bearing names like Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta, Bhakti-rasāmṛta Sindhu, Bhāgavata-sandarbha, Sārārtha-darśinī, and Bhaktivedānta Purports. The butterflies and bees who flutter amidst these parks on Mt. Bhāgavata are constantly intoxicated with enlightening joy. No one can reach high enough to touch their feet.

A Yogi’s Beauty Salon!

Devahūti felt unfit to live in such a beautiful place. Though she was naturally lotus-eyed and beautiful, after so many years of austerity her breasts and body were caked with dust, her hair was ruined and matted, and her clothes were worn-thin. “O Hesitant Lady,” her husband Kardama said, reassuringly, “Before ascending into this palace, please bathe in the sacred lake created by Śukla. This lake fulfills all desires.”

Following her husband’s suggestion, Devahūti entered the lake, which contains the auspicious waters of River Sarasvatī. Opening her eyes beneath the water, she saw a chamber. In it she found ten hundred youthful maidens, each as fragrant as a lotus flower. When they saw her, they immediately stood up, folded their hands, and said, “We are your maids. Please tell us what we can do for you.”

Those heavenly maids were Vidyādhara with super-human expertise in the arts. They bathed the most respectable Devahūti in very valuable oils, carefully dressed her in spotless silk cloth, decorated her with resplendent and incalculably priceless jewelry, and fed her the most healthy and delicious foods and drinks, including a powerful elixir of fertility known as āsavam.

When the maidens very respectfully brought a mirror, Devahūti saw her effulgent body bedecked with jewelry and dazzling clothing, and decorated with auspicious designs. Even her hopelessly matted har was restored to glossy beauty. Every part of her body was ornamented. On her neck hung a gold medallion and a pearl necklace. On her wrists were bracelets. On her ankles were tinkling, golden ankle bells. On her hips was a golden belt with many jewels. She wore fine cosmetics and her face beamed with beautiful teeth and eyebrows. Her lovely eyes glanced sideways, defeating the beauty of budding lotuses. Her curls of hair were like dark emeralds.

She thought of her beloved husband, the best of sages, and immediately she found herself at his side, along with all the young ladies. Seeing herself next to her husband and surrounded by a thousand young women, she became completely amazed by the extent of his mystical powers.