Monday, December 11, 2006

Brief account of Gaudapadacharya and Govinda Bhagavatpadacharya - 03

Hare Krishna Dear Friends,

Continuing further. In this portion, the Mahasvami explains the exalted state of Shukacharya.

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One is born as a result of residual karma. In the life that is thus acquired, one must perform good karma; get one’s mind purified and then gain knowledge of the Self. Without these procedures, how was it that Shuka was a Jivanmukta even at birth? Even for jnanis there would be the body as long as Prarabdha-karma (karma that has begun to fructify) lasts. And then there comes to them liberation from the body (Videha-mukti). Such being the case, how did Shuka take birth as a liberated soul? Were there others like him?

Vamadeva was a jnani (sage) even while he was in his mother’s womb. We come to know this from the statement: “Even while I was in the womb I knew the crores of births taken by all the gods.” He further says “How was I before this birth? I had countless births enveloping me like fortresses of iron. But now he wings have started growing. They have grown as for an eagle. I have started flying out from those bonds. Now I am able to know all sorts of births”. Vyasa too cites in the Brahma-sutra the example of Vamadeva:

sastradrishtya tupadesho vamadevavat (BS – I-i-30)

Shuka and Vamadeva are given as examples of he liberated ones. Scripture itself cites them as examples. They were sages even at birth.

In the hymn of praise relating to Govinda Bhagavatapada, in the Guru-ratna Maalika stotra, there is a verse praising Shuka:

jnanijathara eva cyavan yo jagato nadravad atmavid vipadhyah
anahantam aham tam atmavantam bhagavantam shukam ashraye prashantam

In this verse it is stated that Shuka, even when he came out of the mother’s womb, was unaffected by the sufferings of the world and that he was free from ego. I am dependent on such an atma jnani and bhagavata shresta.

We go to a place in order to accomplish something. If that something has been accomplished we leave that place. In the Bhagavatam it is stated that Shuka knowing that what had to be accomplished had been accomplished, even before being invested with the sacred thread, started to leave his home. Vyasa, Shuka’s father had great love for his son therefore, when Shuka started leaving, Vyasa cried out: “Oh son! Please stop.” But Shuka had started leaving because there was nothing to be done. Why did he not have anything to do?

What is doing work? Doing work is for gaining something or for rejecting something. These constitute work. One must gain something which is not there or something which is not already accomplished or one must reject what one does not desire. A bad servant is to be sent away; a good servant is to be taken to service. Enemies are to be removed, friends should be welcomed. Thus, all actions in the world are in the form of rejection and acceptance, grasping and giving up. This is what is called work. In order to acquire wealth, one must work. In order to remove misery, one must work. Any work is done for the sake of attaining happiness and removing misery. What is it that cannot be accepted or rejected? It is only we. We cannot reject ourselves or accept ourselves. We are not that which is rejected. All else which is different may be rejected or accepted. It is only he that believes in the existence of something else that has work to do. He works in order to reject or accept that something else. If all that we see is realized to be us, then there is not work at all for us. There being nothing else, which are we to accept and which to reject? In that state neither is possible. There is no work. Pain, hunger, misery, happiness, if all these are us then how is work possible? Now we imagine we are skin. If the skin is dark we say “we are dark”. If the skin is fair we say “we are fair” and we feel proud. We have the notion “we, we” in all such usage. When we have the nothing we are these (dark, fair etc) why should we not have the notion “we” in all things? In fact, we are that way but we do not know that we are as all. If we come to know that, how will there be action then? It is only when there is something other than us that we can gain it or get rid of it. If all are we i.e. if all are the Self, the true Reality, then there will be no work at all.

Shuka had realized his identity with all. He became the Self which is in all things. When he was running away, Vyasa called him. But who is to respond? Shuka had become all things. Should not all things respond? All the trees there responded saying “Why do you call us?” All the animals there responded in the same manner. Shuka was in the form of all beings. It was because he was all, that there was no work for him and he ran.

Gauda thought that he should approach such a preceptor and receive his grace. He came to know that Shuka was living in Badarikashrama on the Himalayas. He went there and received sanyasa from him. He came to be known as Gaudapadacharya. From him started the Shishya-parampara of our tradition. Gaudapada after taking sanyasa from Shukacharya remained stationed in the Self.

Now to continue the story: Chandra Sharma got down from the tree that was on the banks of the Narmada. He walked from there a little distance. He was very tired because he had spent several days and nights without food and sleep. He left the bundle of leaves which he had been carrying at the place and slept soundly. During that time a goat came along and ate a portion of the bundle of leaves. The Maha-bhashya, which is now extant, consists only of the uneaten portion of the leaves. The part that is missing in the Maha-bhashya is known as Aja-bhakshita-bhashya (the portion eaten by the goat). Chandra Sharma got up from him sleep. He saw that a portion of the bundle of leaves was missing. He came to know that a goat had eaten it. He tied up the leaves that were undamaged, and taking the bundle with him he reached Ujjain.

He went to the house of a Vaishya (Merchant Class). He laid himself down on front of the house and slept off. He was in deep sleep for a long time. Many days passed. The Vaishya had a daughter. She saw Chandra Sharma and tried to wake him up. But he did not wake up. She realized that he was in an unconscious state without food and loss of blood (remember, Chandra Sharma had made an incision in his body and was writing down the Maha-bhashya with his blood). She thought within her “This person seems to be very brilliant. His life should be preserved.” Immediately, following the medical science (Ayurveda), she smeared over his body cooked rice crushed in buttermilk. The essence of the rice entered his body through the hair orifices. This was repeated every day. After some days Chandra Sharma woke up.

A technique like this is taught in our medical texts. Now-a-days the essence of food is injected into the body through a needle. This involves injury and also creates a new orifice. The method taught in our medical texts consists in making the essence of food enter into the body naturally, making use of the hair orifices. In Kerala, even today there is a treatment similar to this; it is called Navara-kili.

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We will see the last part of the story in the next posting.



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