The Sadhaka-deha: You are your body

Gauravani Dasa - March 20, 2019 9:38 am

Here in North Carolina, we recently celebrated Guru Maharaja's Vyasa-puja at Gaurangi-priya and Madan Gopal's home. We all shared how Guru Maharaja has had a profound effect on our lives (to say the least) and Madan Gopal brought up how Guru Maharaja teaches that as devotees, we are our bodies to the extent that we engaging our bodies and minds in service. Madan explained that many devotees have a jnana orientation to their mind and body, whereas Guru Maharaja talks about the sadhaka-deha from a different point of view, often stating "You are your body."

This morning in the Gita, I read this point expressed in Guru Maharaja's commentary on 2.56, in the context of an explanation of parabdha-karma:



The devotee’s status with regard to prarabdha-karma is slightly different from that of the self-realized jnani. Bhakti has the power to change one’s prarabdha-karma in this life. (Brs. 1.1.17-26) It uproots the foundation of ignorance that underlies all karma, but it also places one under the charge of God for the purpose of doing his bidding in this world. The unalloyed devotee is not concerned with liberation. His concern lies only in God’s service. Having destroyed his karma in the order of aparabdha, kuta, and bija, God arranges for him to remain in this world as long as he sees fit, be it for the remainder of this life or for several lives. He does so by preserving his devotee’s prarabdha-karma and infusing him with divine sakti. When God desires to take his devotee from the world, no longer able to bear the pain of separation from him, he distributes his devotee’s pious prarabdha-karma to those who love him and any impious prarabdha-karma to those who oppose him.

This is the opinion of Baladeva Vidyabushana, as explained in his Vedanata-sutra commentary (4.1.15–1) .Baladeva Vidyabushana’s remarks are in keeping with the sütras. They do not, however, stress the efficacy of bhakti in removing prarabdha -karma, as other acaryas’ comments have. Baladeva speaks more of the power of knowledge born of bhakti than he does the power of bhakti itself.

The Gaudiya position on the bodily status of a devotee is stated by Sri Caitanya himself thus: “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 to God, God makes the devotee 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.” (Cc. Antya 4.191–193)

Speaking of the spiritual nature of the devotee’s body, Sanatana Goswami recounts Siva’s explanation to Narada in Brhad-bhagavatamrta (1.3.60–61). Therein, Siva speaks of his own experience, stating that he feels no necessity of citing scriptural evidence in support of his opinion. Siva says that owing to their drinking the nectar of devotion to Krsna, devotees’ bodies become transformed into something spiritual, just as when drinking certain potions one’s body becomes transformed.