Book Review:


Lāla Bihārī Miśra, Yakṣadūtam, Vārāṇasī, Sāhitya Prakāśan, 1996.

Śṛī Lāla Bihārī Miśra has been a celebrated āyurvedācārya and one of the paṇḍitas of Svāmī Karpātrī’s entourage. He lived in Vārāṇasī and passed away few years ago.

Among his publications, the book Yakṣadūtam is particularly remarkable. He composed one hundred eleven verses in saṃskr̥ta in which he investigated the real nature of the yakṣa, the key character of Kālidāsa’s Meghadūtam. In his poem, L. B. Miśra gives to the yakṣa the definition of jīva rūpa nāyaka. The verses are preceded by an ample foreword that reveals devotional and metaphysical perspectives of great depth and insight. Miśrajī illustrates them through aphorisms belonging to the Śruti and through verses composed by poets of the saṅta tradition.

L. B. Miśra opens the foreword recounting that Vedas regard Brahman as love (prema)[1], beatitude (ānanda)[2] and essence (rasa)[3]. The nature of prema is to offer, to share with one's dearest. In order to accomplish Its play of prema, the Brahman reflects itself in innumerable forms, appearances, rūpas. Being One, It desires to become many because when the theater (raṅgabhūmi) for the play of prema is ready, the player is alone.[4] So that universal ātmā (samaṣṭi ātmā) manifests from itself countless ātmās like the countless sparkles from blazing fire.[5]

It is clear from the Vedic references, that for the Author the manifestation, sr̥ṣṭi racanā, happens for the divine play (līlā). The Brahma Sūtra asserts in clear words that the only one purpose (prayojana) of the sr̥ṣṭi is līlā. Apart from līlā there is no other purpose.[6] According to L. B. Miśra, the Brahma Sūtra is that sūtra (sūta) in which blossoms are braided. So a question arises about which blossoms of Vedantic aphorisms (vedānta vākya) have been braided by the great sage Bādarāyaṇa. This peculiar Vedāntic aphorism is: [...] jgiÚmaR[ lIlya, prmaTmmyI zi−rÖEtEv ivj¯M-te.  (Mahopaniṣad, VI.62).

The Śruti declares explicitly that the production of the universe (jagat sr̥ṣṭi) is a līlā.

In his article “Phalarūpa (siddhi) prema” (in Bhagavatprema aṅka, Kalyāṇa, Gorakhpur,Gītā Press, January 2003, pp. 171-173), Lāla Bihārī Miśra reiterates that the essence of Lord (Bhagavān) is love (premarūpa). Bhagavān activates the play of prema with our three bodies (śarīras) purÇye ³Ifit (Kaivalya Upaniṣad, XIV). In the waking and dream states (jāgarita and svapna avasthā), our mind (mana) is intent on something else, therefore we cannot know the joy (sukha) of the play of prema which is going on with the gross and subtle body (sthūla and sūkṣma śarīras); but in deep sleep (suṣupti avasthā) our mind (mana) is absorbed (līna) in the subtle 'vein' (nār̥ī) called purītata hence in this avasthā we too obtain the joy (sukha) of the union with Bhagavān. In suṣupti avasthā, due to the ignorance (ajñāna) we don't know to be united with Bhagavān, nevertheless we have experience (anubhava) of the joy (sukha) in its fullness suomhmSvaPsm! . This is the reason why, waking up from deep sleep, we feel new power, freshness and fervor (śakti, sphūrti, umaṅga).

Therefore the Vedānta calls suṣupti avasthā as “the appropriate chance for fruition of beatitude”: susuptikale [...] anandabhogavasara (Kaivalya Upaniṣad, 13).

The Vedānta speaks about a similarity between suṣupti and Liberation (mokṣa) because in both there is an experience of joy (sukha anubhūti). “The difference is that in suṣupti avasthā the jīva is covered and obscured (āvr̥ta) by ignorance, ajñāna, while in mokṣa we completely realize (pariniṣtita) our true non dual nature of knowledge-consciousness (jnānasvarūpa), free from any obstructions and superimpositions (āvaraṇarahita)”[7].





[1] tSmat! àemanNdat! (therefore It is premānanda ); v. Sāmarahasyopaniṣad [L. B. Miśra does not provide the exact reference].

[2] AanNd< äü (Brahman is Bliss); Br̥hadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad, II.9.28.  AanNdae  äüeit Vyajanat! (He knows that Brahman is bliss); Taittirīya Upaniṣad, Br̥gu Vallī III.6.1. AanNdad!Xyev oiLvmain -Utain jayNte AanNden jatain jIviNt AanNd< àyNTyi-sivziNt (from Bliss everything has been generated, after birth it live in Bliss, it develops and merge in Bliss); TU III.6.1. That is to say, L. B. Miśra explains that all living beings are produced by the Brahman - whose true nature is beatitude (ānanda svarūpa brahma) - are living and, finally, departing from this world, they merge in bliss (ānanda). @; prm AanNd> (desiring Bliss);  BU IV.3.23.

[3] rsae vE s> (It is really the essence of Bliss); TU II.7.1.

[4] @k AasIt! (it is One); BU I.4.1.

[5] y AaTmda (Giver of life) R̥gveda, X.121.2.

[6] laekvt! tu lIlakEvLym! (it is a mere game as one can see in the world); Brahma Sūtra, II.1.33.

[7] @tavan! su;uPtaE mae]e c smae Nyay>, kae ivze;>? @tavan! tu ivze;> (tmae=i--Ut>) A}anav¯t> (suoêpm!) SvàkazmanNdaTmSvêpm! (@it) gCDit, Kaivalya Upaniṣad, XIII, Svāmī Śaṃkarānanda Bhāṣya.