[Advaita-l] Temple Worship by all

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Sun Jun 6 23:55:19 CDT 2010

On Thu, 3 Jun 2010, V Subrahmanian wrote:

> There is a verse in the Bhagavatam (which I forget, someone pl. provide it)
> where Shuka is asked by someone if the extremely odd behaviour of Shiva
> drinking the Halahala poison or Krishna indulging in Rasa with the women of
> the cowherds are all right.  Shuka cautions that it is fine if these great
> personalities did that but if anyone else did that by way of imitation, it
> would be a great sin.

This is part of a conversation towards the end of the rAsapa~nchAdhyAyI 
(bhAgavat 10.33.27-36.)  After hearing about Bhagavans lila with the 
gopis, King Parikshita asks Shukadevaji:

rAjovAcha |

"The king said"

saMsthApanAya dharmasya prashamAyetarasya cha |
avatIrNo hi bhagavAnaMshena jagadIshvaraH || 27 ||

"To establish dharma and to destroy its opposite, Bhagavan the lord of the 
world descended[1] a fraction of Himself.[2]"

[1] avatar is one who descends.  Bhagavan says in the gItA (4.8b) 
dharmasaMsthApanArthAya sambhavAmi yuge yuge | "To establish dharma I am 
born in every age."

[2] An avatar is a fraction of the power and glory of Bhagavan.  This 
is the Smarta understanding and this is what Shankaracharya says in the 
introduction to his gItAbhAShya. nArAyaNAkhyo viShNuH bhaumasya brahmaNo 
brAhmaNatvasya rakShaNArthaM devakyAM vasudevAdaMshena kR^iShNaH kila 
saMbabhuva. "Vishnu known as Narayana, to protect the Brahmanahood of the 
earthly Brahmanas, caused a fraction of Himself to be born as Krishna the 
son of Devaki and Vasudeva."  The TikAkAra Anandagiri further elucidates 
"caused a fraction of Himself to be born" to mean "took an illusionary 
form by His own will."

The North Indian Vaishnavas interpret these words to mean "Bhagavan and a 
fraction of Himself descended"  They say the fraction refers to Balarama 
and Krishna is not just a manifestation of Vishnu but Bhagavan in His 
totality Himself.

sa kathaM dharmasetUnAM vaktA kartta.abhirakShita |
pratIpamApanAya dharmasya paradArAbhimarshanam || 28 ||

"Then how is it that that the speaker, doer, and protector of the canons 
of Dharma acted so contrarily in associating with the wives of others?"

AptakAmo yadupatiH kR^itavAn vai jugupsitam |
kimabhiprAya etaM naH saMshayaM chhindhi suvrata || 29 ||

"If the Lord of the Yadus[3] is untainted by desire[4] then what 
justification is there for these contemptible deeds?  Crush my doubts oh 
doer of good.[5]"

[3] Krishna Bhagavan.

[4] Krishna Bhagavan says in  gItA 4.14: na mAM karmANi lipyanti na me 
karmaphale spR^ihA | "actions do not stain me nor do I desire the fruits 
of action."

[5] The actual word here is suvrata which literally means "one whos vows 
are fulfilled in a good way."

shrIshuka uvAcha |

"Shri Shuka said"

dharmavyatikramo daShTa IshvarANAM cha sAhasam |
tejIyasAM na doShAya vahneH sarvabhujo tathA || 30 ||

"We see[6] examples of deviation and non-performence of Dharma by the 
lords[7]. But, just as fire consumes all, the powerful ones do not suffer 

[6] In the shastras.

[7] Normally the word Ishvara is used in the singular and translated 
capitalized as "the Lord" to refer to God the ruler and regulator all. 
But here it is used in the plural and refers to those who have mastered 
their own mind, body, and senses.

[8]  When some combustible material come in contact with flames, it is 
affected not the fire.  There is also a nice play on words here.  teja 
meaning power also means heat.

naitatsamAcharejjAtu manasA.api hyanIshvaraH |
vinashyatyAchAranmauDhyAdyathA rudrobdhijaM viSham || 31 ||

"But one who is not lordly should not even think about emulating these 
actions.  Such a one acting from foolish understanding would die from 
drinking poison even though Rudra drank poison from the ocean.[9]"

[9] Shiva Bhagavan drank the halAhala during the amR^ita manthana with no 
ill effects except that His throat turned blue (which is why He is called 
nIlakanTHa or nIlagrIva.)  If you or I were to do the same we would surely 

IshvarANAM vachaH satyaM tathaivAcharitaM kkachit ||
teShAM yat svavacho yuktaM buddhimAMstat samAcharet || 32 ||

"The words of lordly ones are always true, their actions not always.[10] 
Therefore only those of their actions that match their speech should be 
emulated by the wise.[11]"

[10] One may have a doubt: isn't "Do as I say not as I do" a sign of 
hypocrisy?  What is meant is that sometimes the extraordinary 
circumstances cause the mahApuruSha to do something they would not 
normally recommend.  Shiva Bhagavan doesn't go around drinking poison 
every day, it was done because the welfare of the universe depended upon 
it."  If ones actions are habitually different from what they preach to 
others then only is it legitimate to call them hypocrites.

[11]  A rational person tries to base his actions on factual instructions 
rather than vague assumptions about events which may not even be fully 

kushalAchariterneShamiha svArtho na vidyate |
viparyayeNa vA.anartho niraha~NkAririNAM prabho || 33 ||

"good deeds have no benefit for those who have transcended the ego. 
and bad deeds cause no loss to them[12] oh king!"

[12] There may still be a doubt.  One might think "Well anyone can 
manufacture an extraordinary emergency to justify their own desires." 
This shloka addresses the issue.  The notions of "I am doing good" or "I 
am doing bad" are based on the foundation of "I".  The lordly ones have 
transcended the sense of "I".  They have no desires.  When they act it is 
not for any ulterior motive but only to do what needs to be done for the 
welfare of the universe.

kimutAkhilasattvAnAM tirya~NmartyadivaukasAm |
IshitushveshitavyAnAM kushalAkushalAnvayaH || 34 ||

"How then can we say that the abode of all purity, the creator of all 
animals, men, and Gods can have any relation to good and bad?[13]"

[13] The lordly ones described above conquered ego and desire with their 
knowledge (GYAna)  But Bhagavan never had ego or desire in the first place 
so what is said about the lordly ones also applies to Him.

yatpAdapa~NkajaparAganiSheva tR^iptA
 	yoga prabhAvavidhutAkhilakarmabandhAH |
svairaM charanti munayo.api na nahyamA
 	nAstasyechchhayA.AttavapuShaH kuta eva bandhaH || 35 ||

"Those sages who are satisfied by the dust on His lotus feet and who by 
the power of their yoga have destroyed all the bonds of karma are never 
affected by good and bad.  Then how can He who assumes bodies at will be 
in bondage?[14]"

[14] This shloka restates for emphasis what was said in shloka 33 and adds 
another argument.  karma whether good or bad is associated with the body. 
This is what causes the atma to be reborn in saMsAra over and over again. 
Bhagavan can assume different bodies as He likes so karma and rebirth 
simply do not apply to Him.

Finally, the answer to King Parikshita's question.

gopInAM tatpatInAM cha sarveShAmeva dehinAM |
yo.antashcharati so.adhyakSha krIDaneneha dehabhAk || 36 ||

"He who is the indwelling witness[15] of the Gopis, their 
husbands and indeed everyone took on a body to play in this world.[16]"

[15] sAkShi

[16] There was no question of illicit conduct because all the participants 
in this story were forms of Krishna Bhagavan.  It is Bhagavans' "play" 
(lIlA) which animates the universe.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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