Param Padam; The Place Where There Are No Material Miseries

Radha Ramana Lotus feet

This morning, I stumbled upon the words; param padam, padam padam, when I was reading from the purport to Bhagavad-gita 2.51:

The liberated living entities seek that place where there are no material miseries. The Bhāgavatam says:

samāśritā ye padapallava-plavaṁ
mahat-padaṁ puṇya-yaśo murāreḥ
bhāvambudhir vatsa-padaṁ paraṁ padaṁ
paraṁ padaṁ yad vipadāṁ na teṣām

(Bhāg. 10.14.58)

“For one who has accepted the boat of the lotus feet of the Lord, who is the shelter of the cosmic manifestation and is famous as Mukunda or the giver of mukti, the ocean of the material world is like the water contained in a calf’s hoofprint. Param padam, or the place where there are no material miseries, or Vaikuṇṭha, is his goal, not the place where there is danger in every step of life.” (from purport to Bg 2.51)

I wanted to know the exact meaning of the words param padam, so I did a search and have included it here as a post and as another entry into our ‘Vaisnava Vocabulary’ category.

Bhagavad-gita As It Is 1972 Edition
By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Chapter Two, Text 51

karma-jaṁ buddhi-yuktā hi
phalaṁ tyaktvā manīṣiṇaḥ
janma-bandha-vinirmuktāḥ
padaṁ gacchanty anāmayam

karma-jam—because of fruitive activities; buddhi-yuktāḥ—being done in devotional service; hi—certainly; phalam—results; tyaktvā—giving up; manīṣiṇaḥ—devotees who are great sages; janma-bandha—the bondage of birth and death; vinirmuktāḥ—liberated souls; padam—position; gacchanti—reach; anāmayam—without miseries.

TRANSLATION

The wise, engaged in devotional service, take refuge in the Lord, and free themselves from the cycle of birth and death by renouncing the fruits of action in the material world. In this way they can attain that state beyond all miseries.

PURPORT

The liberated living entities seek that place where there are no material miseries. The Bhāgavatam says:

samāśritā ye padapallava-plavaṁ
mahat-padaṁ puṇya-yaśo murāreḥ
bhāvambudhir vatsa-padaṁ paraṁ padaṁ
paraṁ padaṁ yad vipadāṁ na teṣām
(Bhāg. 10.14.58)

“For one who has accepted the boat of the lotus feet of the Lord, who is the shelter of the cosmic manifestation and is famous as Mukunda or the giver of mukti, the ocean of the material world is like the water contained in a calf’s hoofprint. Param padam, or the place where there are no material miseries, or Vaikuṇṭha, is his goal, not the place where there is danger in every step of life.”

Owing to ignorance, one does not know that this material world is a miserable place where there are dangers at every step. Out of ignorance only, less intelligent persons try to adjust to the situation by fruitive activities, thinking that resultant actions will make them happy. They do not know that no kind of material body anywhere within the universe can give life without miseries. The miseries of life, namely birth, death, old age and diseases, are present everywhere within the material world. But one who understands his real constitutional position as the eternal servitor of the Lord, and thus knows the position of the Personality of Godhead, engages himself in the transcendental loving service of the Lord. Consequently he becomes qualified to enter into the Vaikuṇṭha planets, where there is neither material, miserable life, nor the influence of time and death. To know one’s constitutional position means to know also the sublime position of the Lord. One who wrongly thinks that the living entity’s position and the Lord’s position are on the same level is to be understood to be in darkness and therefore unable to engage himself in the devotional service of the Lord. He becomes a lord himself and thus paves the way for the repetition of birth and death. But one who, understanding that his position is to serve, transfers himself to the service of the Lord, at once becomes eligible for Vaikuṇṭhaloka. Service for the cause of the Lord is called karma-yoga or buddhi-yoga, or in plain words, devotional service to the Lord.

Srimad Bhagavatam
By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Tenth Canto, Chapter Two, Text 32
SB 10.2.32

ye ’nye ’ravindākṣa vimukta-māninas
tvayy asta-bhāvād aviśuddha-buddhayaḥ
āruhya kṛcchreṇa paraṁ padaṁ tataḥ
patanty adho ’nādṛta-yuṣmad-aṅghrayaḥ

ye anye—anyone, or all others; aravinda-akṣa—O lotus-eyed one; vimukta-māninaḥ—falsely considering themselves free from the bondage of material contamination; tvayi—unto You; asta-bhāvāt—speculating in various ways but not knowing or desiring more information of Your lotus feet; aviśuddha-buddhayaḥ—whose intelligence is still not purified and who do not know the goal of life; āruhya—even though achieving; kṛcchreṇa—by undergoing severe austerities, penances and hard labor; param padam—the highest position (according to their imagination and speculation); tataḥ—from that position; patanti—they fall; adhaḥ—down into material existence again; anādṛta—neglecting devotion to; yuṣmat—Your; aṅghrayaḥ—lotus feet.

TRANSLATION

[Someone may say that aside from devotees, who always seek shelter at the Lord’s lotus feet, there are those who are not devotees but who have accepted different processes for attaining salvation. What happens to them? In answer to this question, Lord Brahmā and the other demigods said:] O lotus-eyed Lord, although nondevotees who accept severe austerities and penances to achieve the highest position may think themselves liberated, their intelligence is impure. They fall down from their position of imagined superiority because they have no regard for Your lotus feet.

PURPORT

Aside from devotees, there are many others, nondevotees, known as karmīs, jñānīs or yogīs, philanthropists, altruists, politicians, impersonalists and voidists. There are many varieties of nondevotees who have their respective ways of liberation, but simply because they do not know the shelter of the Lord’s lotus feet, although they falsely think that they have been liberated and elevated to the highest position, they fall down. As clearly stated by the Lord Himself in Bhagavad-gītā (9.3):

aśraddadhānāḥ puruṣā
dharmasyāsya parantapa
aprāpya māṁ nivartante
mṛtyu-saṁsāra-vartmani

“Those who are not faithful on the path of devotional service cannot attain Me, O conqueror of foes, but return to birth and death in this material world.” It doesn’t matter whether one is a karmī, jñānī, yogī, philanthropist, politician or whatever; if one has no love for the lotus feet of the Lord, one falls down. That is the verdict given by Lord brahma in this verse.

There are persons who advocate accepting any process and who say that whatever process one accepts will lead to the same goal, but that is refuted in this verse, where such persons are referred to as vimukta-māninaḥ, signifying that although they think they have attained the highest perfection, in fact they have not. In the present day, big, big politicians all over the world think that by scheming they can occupy the highest political post, that of president or prime minister, but we actually see that even in this life such big prime ministers, presidents and other politicians, because of being nondevotees, fall down (patanty adhaḥ). To become president or prime minister is not easy; one must work very hard (āruhya kṛcchreṇa) to achieve the post. And even though one may reach his goal, at any moment one may be kicked down by material nature. In human society there have been many instances in which great, exalted politicians have fallen from government and become lost in historical oblivion. The cause of this is aviśuddha-buddhayaḥ: their intelligence is impure. The śāstra says, na te viduḥ svārtha-gatiṁ hi viṣṇum (Bhāg. 7.5.31). One achieves the perfection of life by becoming a devotee of Viṣṇu, but people do not know this. Therefore, as stated in Bhagavad-gītā (12.5), kleśo ’dhikataras teṣām avyaktāsakta-cetasām. Persons who do not ultimately accept the Supreme Personality of Godhead and take to devotional service, but who instead are attached to impersonalism and voidism, must undergo great labor to achieve their goals.

śreyaḥ-sṛtiṁ bhaktim udasya te vibho
kliśyanti ye kevala-bodha-labdhaye
(Bhāg. 10.14.4)

To achieve understanding, such persons work very hard and undergo severe austerities, but their hard labor and austerities themselves are their only achievement, for they do not actually achieve the real goal of life.

Dhruva Mahārāja at first wanted to achieve the greatest material kingdom and greater material possessions than his father, but when he was actually favored by the Lord, who appeared before him to give him the benediction he desired, Dhruva Mahārāja refused it, saying, svāmin kṛtārtho’smi varaṁ na yāce: “Now I am fully satisfied. I do not want any material benediction.” (Hari-bhakti-sudhodaya 7.28) This is the perfection of life. Yaṁ labdhvā cāparaṁ lābhaṁ manyate nādhikaṁ tataḥ (Bg. 6.22). If one achieves the shelter of the Lord’s lotus feet, one is fully satisfied and does not need to ask for any material benediction.

At night, no one can see a lotus, for lotuses blossom only during the daytime. Therefore the word aravindākṣa is significant. One who is not captivated by the lotus eyes or transcendental form of the Supreme Lord is in darkness, exactly like one who cannot see a lotus. One who has not come to the point of seeing the lotus eyes and transcendental form of Śyāmasundara is a failure. premāñjana-cchurita-bhakti-vilocanena santaḥ sadaiva hṛdayeṣu vilokayanti [Bs. 5.38]. Those who are attached to the Supreme Personality of Godhead in love always see the Lord’s lotus eyes and lotus feet, whereas others cannot see the Lord’s beauty and are therefore classified as anādṛta-yuṣmad-aṅghrayaḥ, or neglectful of the Lord’s personal form. Those who neglect the Lord’s form are surely failures on every path in life, but if one develops even a little love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one is liberated without difficulty (svalpam apy asya dharmasya trāyate mahato bhayāt). Therefore the Supreme Personality of Godhead recommends in Bhagavad-gītā (9.34), man-manā bhava mad-bhakto mad-yājī māṁ namaskuru: “Simply think of Me, become My devotee, worship Me and offer some slight homage to Me.” Simply by this process, one is guaranteed to return home, back to Godhead, and thus attain the highest perfection. The Lord further affirms in Bhagavad-gītā (18.54–55):

brahma-bhūtaḥ prasannātmā
na śocati na kāṅkṣati
samaḥ sarveṣu bhūteṣu
mad-bhaktiṁ labhate parām

bhaktyā mām abhijānāti
yāvān yaś cāsmi tattvataḥ
tato māṁ tattvato jñātvā
viśate tad-anantaram

“One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman and becomes fully joyful. He never laments nor desires to have anything; he is equally disposed to every living entity. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto Me. One can understand the Supreme Personality as He is only by devotional service. And when one is in full consciousness of the Supreme Lord by such devotion, he can enter into the kingdom of God.”

Also from Letters:

Letter to: Pradyumna
9 April, 1970

My Dear Pradyumna,

Please accept my blessings. I beg to acknowledge receipt of your special delivery letter dated 6th April, 1970.

…Regarding your 9th point, the exact verse is as follows:

samasrita ye padapallavamplavam
mahatpadam punyayaso murareh
bhavambudhir vatsapadam param padam
padam padam yat vipadam ne tesam
(Bh. 10/14/58)

Meaning for a person who has taken shelter of the lotus feet of Lord Murari (Krsna), which are the shelter of all great souls and are famous for being the reservoir of all piety, this great ocean of material existence shortens like the pit-hole created by the foot of a calf and for him the supreme abode of the Lord is quite fit place for living, but not this miserable material world where there is nothing but danger in every step….

Your ever well-wisher,
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
ACBS:db

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. touchn2btouched
    Nov 25, 2014 @ 09:54:15

    Reblogged this on touchn2btouched.

    Reply

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