The Process of Meditation

Radha Ramana Lotus feet

…The process of meditation recommended in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is not to fix one’s attention on something impersonal or void.

The process of meditation should begin from the lotus feet of the Lord and progress to His smiling face. The meditation should be concentrated upon the lotus feet, then the calves, then the thighs, and in this way higher and higher. The more the mind becomes fixed upon the different parts of the limbs, one after another, the more the intelligence becomes purified. (SB 2.2.13)

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam
By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda
Canto Two, Chapter 2, Text 13-14

ekaikaśo ’ṅgāni dhiyānubhāvayet
pādādi yāvad dhasitaṁ gadābhṛtaḥ
jitaṁ jitaṁ sthānam apohya dhārayet
paraṁ paraṁ śuddhyati dhīr yathā yathā

eka-ekaśaḥ—one to one, or one after another; aṅgāni—limbs; dhiyā—by attention; anubhāvayet—meditate upon; pāda-ādi—legs, etc.; yāvat—until; hasitam—smiling; gadā-bhṛtaḥ—the personality of Godhead; jitam jitam—gradually controlling the mind; sthānam—place; apohya—leaving; dhārayet—meditate upon; param param—higher and higher; śuddhyati—purified; dhīḥ—intelligence; yathā yathā—as much as.

TRANSLATION

The process of meditation should begin from the lotus feet of the Lord and progress to His smiling face. The meditation should be concentrated upon the lotus feet, then the calves, then the thighs, and in this way higher and higher. The more the mind becomes fixed upon the different parts of the limbs, one after another, the more the intelligence becomes purified.

PURPORT

The process of meditation recommended in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is not to fix one’s attention on something impersonal or void. The meditation should concentrate on the person of the Supreme Godhead, either in His virāṭ-rūpa, the gigantic universal form, or in His sac-cid-ānanda-vigraha [Bs. 5.1], as described in the scriptures. There are authorized descriptions of Viṣṇu forms, and there are authorized representations of Deities in the temples. Thus one can practice meditating upon the Deity, concentrating his mind on the lotus feet of the Lord and gradually rising higher and higher, up to His smiling face.

Visnu Form

According to the Bhāgavata school, the Lord’s rāsa dancing is the smiling face of the Lord. Since it is recommended in this verse that one should gradually progress from the lotus feet up to the smiling face, we shall not jump at once to understand the Lord’s pastimes in the rāsa dance. It is better to practice concentrating our attention by offering flowers and tulasi to the lotus feet of the Lord. In this way, we gradually become purified by the arcanā process. We dress the Lord, bathe Him, etc., and all these transcendental activities help us purify our existence. When we reach the higher standard of purification, if we see the smiling face of the Lord or hear the rāsa dance pastimes of the Lord, then we can relish His activities. In the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, therefore, the rāsa dance pastimes are delineated in the Tenth Canto (Chapters 29–34).

 Rasa Dance

The more one concentrates on the transcendental form of the Lord, either on the lotus feet, the calves, the thighs or the chest, the more one becomes purified. In this verse it is clearly stated, “the more the intelligence becomes purified,” which means the more one becomes detached from sense gratification. Our intelligence in the present conditioned state of life is impure due to being engaged in sense gratification. The result of meditation on the transcendental form of the Lord will be manifested by one’s detachment from sense gratification. Therefore, the ultimate purpose of meditation is purification of one’s intelligence.

Those who are too engrossed in sense gratification cannot be allowed to participate in arcanā or to touch the transcendental form of the Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa or Viṣṇu Deities. For them it is better to meditate upon the gigantic virāṭ-rūpa of the Lord, as recommended in the next verse. The impersonalists and the voidists are therefore recommended to meditate upon the universal form of the Lord, whereas the devotees are recommended to meditate on the Deity worship in the temple. Because the impersonalists and the voidists are not sufficiently purified in their spiritual activities, arcanā is not meant for them.

Universal Form

TEXT 14

yāvan na jāyeta parāvare ’smin
viśveśvare draṣṭari bhakti-yogaḥ
tāvat sthavīyaḥ puruṣasya rūpaṁ
kriyāvasāne prayataḥ smareta

yāvat—as long as; na—does not; jāyeta—develop; para—transcendental; avare—mundane; asmin—in this form of; viśva-īśvare—the Lord of all worlds; draṣṭari—unto the seer; bhakti-yogaḥ—devotional service; tāvat—so long; sthavīyaḥ—the gross materialist; puruṣasya—of the virāṭ-puruṣa; rūpam—universal form; kriyā-avasāne—at the end of one’s prescribed duties; prayataḥ—with proper attention; smareta—one should remember.

TRANSLATION

Unless the gross materialist develops a sense of loving service unto the Supreme Lord, the seer of both the transcendental and material worlds, he should remember or meditate upon the universal form of the Lord at the end of his prescribed duties.

PURPORT

The Supreme Lord is the seer of all worlds, both material and transcendental. In other words, the Supreme Lord is the ultimate beneficiary and enjoyer of all worlds, as confirmed in the Bhagavad-gītā (5.29). The spiritual world is the manifestation of His internal potency, and the material world is the manifestation of His external potency. The living entities are also His marginal potency, and by their own choice they can live in either the transcendental or material worlds. The material world is not a fit place for living entities because they are spiritually one with the Lord and in the material world the living entities become conditioned by the laws of the material world. The Lord wants all living entities, who are His parts and parcels, to live with Him in the transcendental world, and for enlightening conditioned souls in the material world, all the Vedas and the revealed scriptures are there—expressly to recall the conditioned souls back home, back to Godhead. Unfortunately, the conditioned living entities, although suffering continually the threefold miseries of conditioned life, are not very serious about going back to Godhead. It is due to their misguided way of living, complicated by sins and virtues. Some of them who are virtuous by deeds begin to reestablish the lost relation with the Lord, but they are unable to understand the personal feature of the Lord. The real purpose of life is to make contact with the Lord and be engaged in His service. That is the natural position of living entities. But those who are impersonalists and are unable to render any loving service to the Lord have been advised to meditate upon His impersonal feature, the virāṭ-rūpa, or universal form. Some way or other, one must try to reestablish one’s forgotten relation with the Lord if one at all desires to gain real happiness in life, and to reclaim his natural unfettered condition. For the less intelligent beginners, meditation on the impersonal feature, the virāṭ-rūpa, or universal form of the Lord, will gradually qualify one to rise to personal contact. One is advised herewith to meditate upon the virāṭ-rūpa specified in the previous chapters in order to understand how the different planets, seas, mountains, rivers, birds, beasts, human beings, demigods and all that we can conceive are but different parts and limbs of the Lord’s virāṭ form. This sort of thinking is also a type of meditation on the Absolute Truth, and as soon as such meditation begins, one develops one’s godly qualities, and the whole world appears to be a happy and peaceful residence for all the people of the world. Without such meditation on God, either personal or impersonal, all good qualities of the human being become covered with misconceptions regarding his constitutional position, and without such advanced knowledge, the whole world becomes a hell for the human being.

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