maJjarI-svarUpa-nirUpaNa of zrI kuJjabihAridAsa bAbAjI mahArAja
11.2 The spiritualization of the devotional aspirant’s body
In the meantime, the body of a devotee (whether male or female) engaged in chanting the Holy Names and other devotional practices becomes progressively free from the material qualities. I am explaining this with evidence from the scriptures for the ultimate and greatest benefit of the devotional aspirants. One who is aware of the spiritual nature of the devotee’s apparently material body will keep free from offences and will thus protect himself on his path to spiritual achievement. Thinking a devotee’s body to be material is the cause of unlimited offence, with the result that one falls deeper into material consciousness and loses all hope of attaining pure devotional service. Narottama DAs ThAkur sings in his PrArthanA, “An offense at the lotus feet of the Lord can be counteracted by chanting his Holy Names, but an offense at the feet of the devotee has no remedy.” KRSNadAsa KavirAja also says, “If the mad elephant of offense to the VaiSNavas should chance into your garden, then your carefully nurtured seedling of devotion will be uprooted and all its leaves torn to shreds.”
In this Age of Quarrel, in which Caitanya MahAprabhu himself has appeared, even the most sinful persons like drunkards, etc., in some birth attain purification and liberation, but one who is offensive to devotees will never have such fortune. The Caitanya-bhAgavata says, “Lord Gaurasundara delivers everyone except for the blasphemer who is the most heinous sinner of all.” Blasphemy is specifically mentioned here, but it should be considered as an indicator of the six different types of offence to the devotees. “Even a drunkard will sooner or later attain the Lord’s mercy, but one who spends his time criticizing others is not destined for such good fortune. The blasphemer of the devotee will have to suffer the torment of a thousand hells over and over again.”
Here the following question arises: When a devotee attains prema and enters the eternal pastimes of the Lord then his body composed of the five elements “dies.” This is seen practically and is mentioned also in connection with the story of NArada. Still some knowledgeable VaiSNavas say that this death of the devotees is false, how is this possible? How can one deny the death of the material body?
The answer is that factually the devotee has no material body. As Lord zrI Caitanya MahAprabhu himself says in the Caitanya-caritAmRta:
A devotee’s body should never be thought of as material. It is transcendental and made of spiritual substance. At the time of initiation, when the devotee offers himself up to the Lord, then the Lord makes him equal to himself. He makes the devotee’s body spiritual like his own so that the devotee can engage in the service of his lotus feet [otherwise, how can he serve him?]
In the BRhad-BhAgavatAmRta also, Maheza says to NArada,
Oh NArada! I consider that wherever there are devotees, that is VaikuNTha. Even if they are in the material world, it is not to be considered inferior to VaikuNTha. This is my own realization from direct experience and I don't feel it necessary to offer proofs from scripture. My experience is sufficient evidence. Due to drinking the nectar of devotion to KRSNa they have completely forgotten the material body and everything connected with it and thus that body becomes transformed into something other-worldly or spiritual, just as took place in the case of Dhruva MahArAja. It is just as with the drinking of certain potions—the body becomes transformed.
The transformation of the devotee’s body is a gradual process. In his commentary on the words “they gave up their bodies of material elements” in BhAgavata-purANa (10.29.10), VizvanAtha presents the following argument:
Other than a devotee surrendered to the Lord, no one, not the jJAnin, nor the yogin, nor any other transcendentalist is actually completely free from the material qualities. This was stated by the Lord to Uddhava (BhP 11.25.26). One should understand this in the following way: the devotee’s body is considered to be nirguNa because, on the order of his spiritual master, all of his senses are engaged in the transcendental service of the Lord, his ears in hearing about KRSNa, his tongue in chanting the Lord’s names and glories, his mind in remembering KRSNa, his entire body in prostrating himself in supplication to the Deity and his hands in various types of service. Thus, because all his senses are engaged in receiving transcendental materials connected with the Supreme Lord, they also become transcendental. On the other hand, as much as the senses receive non-spiritual data, they will be influenced by material qualities. As a result, from the beginning of the devotional process, the devotee’s body is partly material and partly spiritual. According to the indications of the BhAgavata verse (11.2.40) which compares advancement in devotional service to the satisfaction felt by a hungry man while eating, his gaining of strength and relief from the discomforts of hunger, one can understand that the process is progressive, for as much as one has eaten, that is the proportion to which he will feel these beneficial effects. Thus, as one progresses in spiritual life, the spiritualized portion of his body increases and the material portion is gradually reduced. When one reaches the stage of prema then his body is completely spiritualized and there is no mundane portion left. Thus the death of a devotee that is seen by all is to be known as nothing more than a kind of illusion and not at all real. The non-devotees consider that the devotee’s body must also die. This false doctrine is maintained by the Lord just to keep devotional service closed to atheistic and self-interested persons. An example of this is the so-called “Club Pastime” of the Lord in which he created the illusion of the demise of the Yadu dynasty. One should know that this too is non-factual. On some occasions, the Lord does not make such an illusory show but rather seeks to illustrate the glories of devotional service, as in the case of Dhruva. Dhruva went to VaikuNTha in the selfsame body, thus it is to be concluded that the apparent death of NArada was also an illusion created by the Lord.
The next question then is, what is to be gained by thinking that a devotee’s body is beyond the material qualities? And conversely, what is lost by thinking it to be material? Why do disease, etc., manifest in a devotee’s body if it is transcendental?
The response to these questions is as follows: By thinking a devotee’s body to be transcendental, one’s material existence comes to an end. To think it material results in increasing material entanglement and hellish suffering. Evidence is the Padma-purANa verse beginning with vaiSNave jAti-buddhiH. The Lord allows the appearance of death and diseases in a devotee’s body just to increase the materialists' entanglement: it should be considered a test of faith. Caitanya MahAprabhu said the very same thing in connection with the appearance of sores on SanAtana GosvAmin’s body: “The Lord KRSNa made these pus-filled sores appear on SanAtana’s body just to test me. If I had not embraced him due to disgust at seeing them, I would have committed an offense and been punishable by the Lord.”
Anyone, whether male, female, boy or girl, brAhmaNa or any other caste or nationality, immediately rises above the material qualities when he engages in the service of the Lord. For this reason, all devotees should be treated with the greatest affection and reverence; not doing so will result in hellish existence, even if one performs one’s devotional activities most perfectly. This is the conclusion of the devotional scriptures.
The Lord said, “If I hear the Holy Name coming from the lips of any person at all, I consider him to be worshipable, for he is far better than the rest of the people. Whoever utters the Holy Name even once is to be considered a VaiSNava and I offer him the greatest respect.”
From this statement of the Lord, it is evident that any person, whoever he may be, if he says the Lord’s name even once, is worshipable and the best among men. This shows the glory of the Holy Name and devotional practice more than anything else.
In the Caitanya-bhAgavata, VRndAvana DAsa writes,
If someone does not worship the devotee but approaches the Lord with obeisances, the Lord does not forgive his offences. The Lord will deliver everyone except the rascal who blasphemes the devotees. 84,000 gods of death wait to punish the blasphemer again and again. The Lord says, “If someone speaks ill of my devotees, even if they chant my name that is like a desire-tree, that Name will be the cause of his demise.”
Thus the conclusion is that because the body of a devotee is not material, to blaspheme him is a greatly punishable offense. JIva GosvAmin says in his comments on the verse etAn nirvidya-mAnAnAm (BhP 2.1.11) in which the Holy Name is glorified as the best process of spiritual realization that even a great devotee if he commits offenses to the Holy Name can be relegated to a hellish existence. Therefore one should engage in devotional life avoiding the ten offenses to the Holy Name amongst which the six types of offenses to the VaiSNavas are included.
hari-sthAne aparAdhe tAre hari-nAm |
tomA-sthAne aparAdhe nahika eDAn || PrArthanA
yadi VaiSNava-aparAdha uThe hAti mAtA |
upADe vA chiDi yAy zukhi yAy pAtA || CCA 2.19.156
sabhAre karibe gaurasundara uddhAr |
vyatirikta vaiSNava-ninduk durAcAr || CBh
madyapera gatio Ache kona kAle |
para-carcakera gati dekhi nAi bhAle || CBh
sahasra saMkhyaka yama yAtanA yateke |
punaH punaH kari bhuJje vaiSNava-nindake || CB
prabhu kahe vaiSNavera deha prAkRta kabhu nay |
aprAkRta deha bhaktera cid-Ananda-may ||
dIkSA-kAle bhakta kare Atma-samarpaN |
dei kAle kRSNa tAre kare Atma-sam ||
sei deha tAGr kare cid-Ananda-may |
aprAkRta dehe tAr caraNa bhajay || CCA 3.4.191-193
nAradAham idaM manye tAdRzAnAM yataH sthitiH |
bhavet sa eva vaikuNTho loko nAtra vicAraNA ||
kRSNa-bhakti-sudhA-pAnAd deha-daihika-vismRteH |
teSAM bhautika-dehe 'pi sac-cid-Ananda-rUpatA || BBhA 1.3.60-61.
Translation in pursuance of SanAtana GosvAmin’s commentary.
ayam atra vivekaH | gurUpadiSTa-bhakty-Arambha-dazAta eva bhaktAnAM zravaNa-kIrtana-smaraNa-daNDavat-praNati-paricaryAdi-mayyAM zuddha-bhaktau zrotrAdiSu praviSTAyAM satyAM nirguNo mad-apAzraya iti bhagavad-ukter bhaktaH sva-zrotrAdibhir bhagavad-guNAdikaM viSayI-kurvan nirguNo bhavati vyavahArika-zabdAdikam api viSayI-kurvan guNamayo 'pi bhavatIti bhakta-dehasyAMzena nirguNatvaM guNamayatvaM ca syAt | tataz ca bhaktiH parezAnubhavo vivraktir iti tuSTiH puSTiH kSud-apAyo 'nughAsam iti nyAyena nirguNa-dehAMzAnAm Adhikya-tAratamyaM syAt | tena ca guNamaya-dehAMzAnAM kSINatva-tAratamyaM syAt sampUrNa-premNy utpanne tu guNamaya-dehAMzeSu naSTeSu samyak-nirguNa eva dehaH syAt tad api sthUla-deha-pAtas tu bahirmukha-matotkhAtAbhAvArthaM bhakti-yogasya rahasyatva-rakSaNArthaM ca bhagavataiva mAyayA pradarzyate yathA mauSala-lIlAyAM yAdavAnAm | kvacit tu bhakti-yogotkarSa-jJApanArthaM na darzyate yathA dhruvAdInAm | atra pramANam ekAdaze paJcaviMzatitamAdhyAye zraddhAdayo nirguNA guNamayAz ceti pradarzayatA yeneme nirjitAH saumya guNa jIvena cittajAH | bhakti-yogena man-niSTo mad-bhAvAya prapadyate || ity anena bhaktyaiva guNa-mayAdi-vastUnAM nirjayo nAza evokto bhagavatA |
sanAtanera dehe kRSNa kaNDu upajAJA | AmA parIkSite ihAG dilA paThAiyA || ghRNA kari AliGgana nA karitAG yabe | kRSNa-ThAJi aparAdha-daNDa pAitAG tabe || CCA 3.4.195-6
prabhu kahe yAra mukhe zuni ekabAr |
kRSNa-nAma pUjya sei zreSTha sabAkAr ||
ateva yAra mukhe eka kRSNa-nAm |
sei vaiSNava kari tAra parama sammAn || CCA 2.15.110-111
vaiSNava nA pUje yei namaskAra kari |
tAra pApa kadAca nA kSamA kare hari ||
sabhAre karibe gaurasundara uddhAr |
vyatirikta vaiSNava-ninduka durAcAr ||
caurAzi sahasra yama yAtanA yateke |
punaH punaH kari bhuJje vaiSNava ninduke ||
mora dAsere ye sakRt nindA kare |
mora nAma kalpa-taru tAhAre saMhAre || CBh