by Swami B.G. Narasingha
“Conversations on Oṁ,” written in 1996 by Śrīla Narasiṅgha Mahārāja, gives an explanation derived from the Gopāla Tāpanī Upaniṣad on the orgin of oṁkāra, as accepted by the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava sampradāya.
Question: Mahārāja, how do we answer the doubt that the following explanation contradicts the one given in the Gopāla-tāpanī? In that explanation, A, U, and M are said to be the catur-vyuha, which are ontologically different from Rādhā and the jīvas. (H. Kṛṣṇa Susarla)
Narasiṅgha Mahārāja: I believe you are referring to verses 55&56 of the Gopāla-tāpanī. The business of Gopal-tāpanī in verses 55 & 56 is to establish the Kṛṣṇa conception in general way. Verses 55 & 56 are establishing the Vaikuṇṭha Nārāyaṇa/Kṛṣṇa conception:
rohiṇī-tanayo rāmo a-kārākṣara-sambhavaḥ
taijasātmakaḥ pradyumno u-kārākṣara-sambhavaḥ
ardha-mātrātmakaḥ kṛṣṇo yasmin viśvaṁ pratiṣṭhitam
“The letter ‘A’ denotes Balarāma, the son of Rohiṇī, who is the substratum of the entire universe, who is the supersoul of the universe. The letter ‘M’ denotes Aniruddha, who is the Supersoul of each individual being in the universe. And the ‘dot’ above the ‘M’ denotes Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the fountain head of all Viṣṇu incarnations.”
Then as Mahāprabhu used to say, eho bāhya (go further, go deeper); the Gopāla-tāpanī in verse 57 is establishing the Dvārakā conception which is above Vaikuṇṭha in that it has its touch with Goloka Vṛndāvana:
kṛṣṇātmikā jagat-kartrī mūla-prakṛti-rukmiṇī
“Rukmiṇī Devī, the Queen Consort of Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the svarūpa-śakti, the essential potency of Kṛṣṇa and She is the Queen of the Divine World, Dvārakā/Vaikuṇṭha. The śrutis which are closely associated with the narrations of the pastimes of the vraja-gopīs with Svayaṁ-rūpa Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Parabrahma, have declared this truth.”
The Gopāla-tāpanī introduces us to the Vṛndāvana conception in verse 57 via the introduction of the svarūpa-śakti as Rukmiṇī. Śrīmatī Rukmiṇī is the svarūpa-śakti or hlādinī-śakti. In Dvārakā Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī has appeared as Satyabhāmā and Candrāvalī has appeared as Rukmiṇī. In dvārakā-līlā the higher position appears to be given to Candrāvalī as Rukmiṇī, but that is adjusted in that Candrāvalī, and thus Rukmiṇī, is a prakāśa or expansion of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī.
In verse 58 the Gopāla-tāpanī establishes that both the prākṛti, Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī and Viśvanātha, Kṛṣṇa the Creator, Sustainer and Destroyer of the universe are identical with AUM (OṀ). Of course the name of Rādhārāṇī is not directly written in the verse but according to other śāstra the mūla–prākṛti is Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. The higher subject is always hidden. It rarely directly shows Itself. Those who have the vision (rāsikas) however, can see many hidden truths where others cannot.
praṇavatvena prakṛtiṁ vadanti brahma-vādinaḥ
tasmād oṁkāra-sambhūto gopālo viśva-sambhavaḥ
“The wise and enlighten sages declare that the svarūpa-śakti of Bhagavān, Śrī Rādhā, being the prime mūla–prākṛti is non-different from Oṁ. Gopāla, Śrī Kṛṣṇa who is the Creator, Sustainer, and Destroyer of the universe is also non-different from Oṁ.”
From verse 55 to verse 58 there is a progression or development in conception. So, now we are only missing the jīva, correct? If we start from verse 58 and work it back to verse 55, still we don’t locate the missing jīva. Or do we?
There are different types of jīvas. Ultimately they are all manifest from Kṛṣṇa and can thus be said to be always present in AUM. That is a general statement. But there is deeper conception also. These different types of jīvas which I mentioned are not simply the two categories which devotees generally acknowledge, namely liberated and conditioned. These two, liberated and conditioned jīvas, are actually from the same category namely the taṭasthā-jīva. This taṭasthā-jīva is manifest from Mahā-Viṣṇu/Kāraṇa-Viṣṇu and is either liberated or conditioned. The Viṣṇu manifestations are manifest from Baladeva Prabhu. From Saṅkarṣana, a manifestation of Baladeva Prabhu also, the pārṣada–jīvas, eternal associates of Nārāyaṇa in Vaikuṇṭha are manifest. These pārṣada-jīvas of Vaikuṇṭha constitutionally cannot associate with Māyā. They can never even be tested what to speak of fall down.
Then from Baladeva Prabhu directly a categorically higher type of pārṣada-jīva are manifest to eternally serve the Lord at Goloka and Gokula respectively. This means the pārṣada such as Mother Yaśodā, Nanda Baba etc. The pārṣada-jīvas for the four rasas; vātsalya, sakhya, dāsya, and śānta are all manifest from Baladeva Prabhu.
For the mādhurya-rasa the mādhurya-pārṣada-jīvas are manifest from Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. There are hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds of millions, of millions, of millions of these pārṣada-jīvas in both vaikuṇṭha–rati (Love of God) and vṛndāvana-rati (love of Kṛṣṇa) who never associate with māyā.
The jīva of the taṭasthā only have a place in either Vaikuṇṭha or Goloka when they have achieved the āśraya or shelter of an eternal servitor (pārṣada) of the Lord.
Because Gopāla-tāpanī contains the conception of Mahāprabhu it is accepted and valued by all Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas. In Mahāprabhu’s conception there is always gradation. Not all one but gradation of everything; the jīva, the name, the devotee, everything. So in AUM there is also gradation. From AUM comes gāyatrī and there is gradation in conception of gāyatrī between the different sampradāyas also. From gāyatrī manifest the Veda, the Vedānta, and Śrīmad Bhāgavatam and there are gradations of conceptions there also. And after Bhāgavatam there have been many rasa-śāstra in different levels also.
If someone has doubt, then we should try to get them to see the ontological progression and then everything can be adjusted. But without qualification these matters are not possible to understand. The highest qualification for a fallen soul like myself is to have the shelter of higher Vaiṣṇavas.
I forgot to mention in our previous exchange that Jīva Gosvāmī is the tattvācārya. Whatever truth/conceptions the Six Gosvāmīs presented, Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī upheld with reference to the śāstra. Everything has been presented with śāstrika references in the Sandarbhas by Jīva Gosvāmī. I think that you are already aware of these facts.
More Articles by Swami B.G. Narasingha
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‘This Saṅkīrtana Movement Is the Līlā of Mahāprabhu’ by Swami Narasingha was first published on March 30th 2002. This article was based on class by Narasingha Maharaja given in 2001 wherein Maharaja discusses gaura-līlā in relation to kṛṣṇa-līlā and how by engaging in Mahāprabhu’s saṅkīrtana movement, one attains Vṛndāvana.