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Thursday, June 08, 2017

Rāgānugā-study sequence and who gets lusty from Rāsa-līlā?

Vaiṣṇava –
Can you give a link or verses that establish the superiority of Rādhā’s mañjarīs over Her sakhīs? (Of course according to age, maryādā etc. the sakhīs are superior)

Advaitadās –

pādābjayos tava vinā vara dāsyam eva nānyat kadāpi samaye kila devi yāce 
sakhyāya te mama namo'stu namo'stu nityaṁ dāsyāya te mama raso'stu raso'stu satyam 

"O Goddess! I shall never pray to You for anything else but the excellent service of Your lotus feet! I offer my constant obeisances to the idea of becoming Your friend, but I really relish the idea of becoming Your maidservant!”  (Vilāpa Kusumānjali verse 16)

vihārais truṭitaṁ hāraṁ  gumphitaṁ dayitaṁ kadā
sakhīnāṁ lajjayā devi  saṁjñayā māṁ nidekṣyasi

O Devi! When will You, being shy before Your girlfriends, order me through a hint to restring Your dear necklace which broke during Your loving pastimes with Kṛṣṇa? (Vilāpa Kusumānjali verse 92)

tāmbūlārpaṇa-pāda-mardana-payo-dānābhisārādibhir
vṛndāraṇya-maheśvarīṁ priyatayā yās toṣayanti priyāḥ 
prāṇa-preṣṭha-sakhī-kulād api kilāsaṅkocitā-bhūmikāḥ
kelī-bhūmiṣu rūpa-mañjarī-mukhās tā dāsikāḥ saṁśraye

"I take shelter of Śrī Rādhikā’s maidservants, headed by Rūpa Mañjarī, who always engage in serving betel leaves, massaging the feet, serving water, and arranging for the Divine Couple’s secret trysts. These maidservants are even more dear to the great Queen of Vṛndāraṇya (Śrī Rādhikā) than the prāṇa-preṣṭha-sakhīs (the girlfriends who are dearer to Her than life), and She is therefore not at all shy before them!" (Vraja vilāsa stava 38)

Vaiṣṇava –
You often mention that “attitude i.e. humility is most essential in bhakti bhajana, more so than big numbers and big sevā-accomplishments etc. Can you supply pramān to establish this point? I remember hearing bhāva grāhi janārdana, “Krṣṇa accepts the feeling mood and attitude more than sevā”, but don’t know if this applies. 

Advaitadās –

na hi sādhana sampattyā hariḥ tuṣyati karmavat; 
bhaktānāṁ dainyam evaikaṁ hariḥ toṣaṇa sādhanam 

 ‘Hari is not pleased with a mere huge amount of sādhana, it is not like karma. Hari is only pleased with the humility of the devotees.’ (Subodhini ṭīkā of Bhāgavat, Vallabhācārya]
Yes, bhāva grāhī janārdana also applies.

Vaiṣṇava –
Could you provide a sequential reading list of books one must read, study and understand to progress in rāgānugā bhakti?

1 Bhakti rasāmṛta sindhu, Rūpa Gosvāmī - Sādhana bhakti chapter;
2 Śikṣāṣṭakam commentary by Śrī Ananta Dasji Mahārāja
3 Mādhurya-kādambinī-commentary by Śrī Ananta Dasji Mahārāja
4 Raga Vartma candrikā-commentary by Śrī Ananta Dasji Mahārāja
5 Rādhā-Krṣṇa ganoddeśa dipikā – Rūpa Gosvāmī
6 Vraja Vilāsa Stava  - Śrī Raghunātha Dāsa Goswāmī
7 Stavamālā – Rūpa Gosvāmī
8 Utkalikā Vallari – Rūpa Gosvāmī
9 Śrīmad Bhāgavatam canto 10 with Śrīla Visvanatha Cakravarti’s Tīkās
10 Stavavali - Śrī Raghunātha Dāsa Goswāmī
11 Vilāpa Kusumānjali - Śrī Raghunātha Dāsa Goswāmī
12 Govinda Līlāmṛta – Kṛṣṇadās Kavirāja
13 Krṣṇa Bhāvanāmṛta - Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī
14 Bhāvanā Sāra Sangraha - Siddha Kṛṣṇadās Bābājī

Advaitadās - Before I put a sequence to this list, first this – Sādhu Bābā gave me Vilāpa Kusumānjali with his very own lotus-like hands, just weeks after my dīkṣā – kṛpā does not wait for a study sequence. Many of the titles you listed I read after the Vilāpa Kusumānjali. The first 4 on the list I agree should come first, in that sequence. Rādhā-Krṣṇa Ganoddeśa Dīpikā is more an index than a book, not really for systematic study but for consulting on case-by-case basis. After that one can read Sārārtha Darśinī 10th canto, though chapters 5-39 will suffice, for those who aspire for rāga bhakti, plus chapters 46-47. Then come nrs. 6-7-8-10-12-13. The Bhāvana Sāra Sangraha can be scrapped because it is an anthology of Govinda Līlāmṛta and Krṣṇa Bhāvanāmṛta rather than a separate work. Vilāpa Kusumānjali should come last.

Vaiṣṇava –

The phala-śruti (concluding benediction) of the Rāsa-līlā-narration in the Bhāgavata says –

vikrīḍitaṁ vraja-vadhūbhir idam ca viṣṇoḥ
śraddhānvitaṁ nu'śṛṇuyed atha varṇayed yaḥ
bhaktiṁ paraṁ bhagavatiṁ pratilabhya kāmaṁ
hṛd rogam āśv apahinoty acirena dhīraṁ

"Anyone who faithfully hears and describes the pastimes of Lord Viṣṇu (Kṛṣṇa) with the ladies of Vraja (the gopīs) will attain supreme devotion to God and will soon become free from the heart's disease of lust. " (Śrīmad-bhāgavata 10.33.39)
Does this verse apply to everyone or to no one?

Advaitadās – Liberals say this verse is a blanket benediction, while conservatives say everyone gets lusty from hearing rasika kathā. They don’t know what to do with this verse. Neither are right. It is all a matter of bhāgya, luck. Śrīla Ānanda-gopāl Goswāmī said in his lecture on Vilāpa-kusumāñjali, verse 15 - līlā-kothā śunte śunte jāhār kāmodrek hoy, se hata-bhāgyo – “He who gets lusty from hearing about these pastimes, is unlucky.”

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Vaiṣṇava-dress, part 3


Inspired by this excellent blog of Panditji Śrī Satya-nārāyanjī, I added a paragraph to my paper on Vaiṣṇava-dress on my website (it is at the end). I will post it here too.

KṚṢṆA IS PLEASED WITH SĀDHU-DRESS –
In Śrīmad-bhāgavata (10.14.35) Lord Brahmā prays to Lord Kṛṣṇa – sad-veṣād iva pūtanāpi sakulā tvām eva devāpitā – “O Lord, although the witch Pūtanā came to kill You, she and her whole family were redeemed by You and attained You just because of her sad-veṣa, her dressing like a saint.”

Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī comments: satāṁ sad bhāva yuktānām vrajavāsiviśeṣāṇām dhātrī janānāṁ veśāt lebhe gatiṁ dhātryucitaṁ - “She wore the dress of the saints, those with true bhāva, the nurse of the specific Vrajavāsī style and thus attained the destination of the nurses (as an eternal, liberated associate of Kṛṣṇa).”

Śrīla Śrīdhara Swāmī comments: sad-veṣād iva satāṁ bhaktānāṁ yo veṣas tad-anukaraṇa-mātreṇa pāpiṣṭhā pūtanāpi tvām evāpitā prāpitā – “Simply by imitating the dress of the saints, of the devotees, even the sinful Pūtanā attained You (Kṛṣṇa).”

Then what to speak of those who dress like devotees to actually please Kṛṣṇa?

This blog is a sequel to the first two 'Vaiṣṇava-dress' blogs, here and here, posted in March, 2012.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

25 most essential ślokas

25 most essential ślokas

I was asked, for the benefit of hard-working devotees who have little time to study, what are the 25 most essential ślokas from śāstra, so as far as possible I compiled this list of the most impressive verses I learned from guru, śāstra and sadhu. I added an explanation to most of them.

1.
ārādhyo bhagavān vrajeśa tanayas taddhāma vṛndāvanaṁ
ramyā kācid upāsanā vrajavadhū vargeṇa yā kalpitā
śāstraṁ bhāgavatam pramāṇam amalaṁ prema pumārtho mahān
śrī caitanya mahāprabhor matam idaṁ tatrādaro naḥ para

“The worshipable Lord is Kṛṣṇa, the son of king Nanda of Vraja. The abode in which we worship Him is Vṛndāvana. The delightful method of Worship is that of the cowherd wives of Vraja (the gopīs). The holy scripture the Bhāgavata is the spotless authority. The greatest pursuit of human life is prema, love of God. This is the opinion of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. This deserves our highest respect, care and love.

(By Śrīnātha Cakravarti, disciple of Śrī Advaita ācārya and guru of Kavi Karṇapura, giving a synopsis of sambandha, abhidheya and prayojana).

2.
gurau goṣṭhe goṣṭhālayiṣu sujane bhū-sura-gaṇe
sva-mantre śrī-nāmni vraja-nava-yuva-dvandva-śaraṇe
sadā dambhaṁ hitvā kuru ratim apūrvām atitarāṁ
aye svāntar bhrātaś caṭubhir abhiyāce dhṛta-padaḥ 

O mind! O brother! I hold your feet and I pray to you with flattering words:
Always give up hypocrisy and develop wonderful love for your Guru, the abode of Vraja, the people of Vraja, the saintly devotees, the brāhmaṇas, my initiation-mantra, the Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa and the shelter of the eternally youthful Couple of Vraja, Śrī-Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa! (Manaḥ Śikṣā – 1)

We cannot see Kṛṣṇa while we are sādhakas, but we can recognize Him in and find Him through the above divinities. It is also the synopsis of the whole Manaḥ-śikṣā.

3.
tṛṇād api sunīcena taror iva sahiṣṇunā;
amāninā mānadena kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ

“One should chant the Holy Name of Lord Hari in a humble state of mind, being more humble than a blade of grass, as tolerant as a tree, giving all respect unto others and not expecting any honor for oneself." (Śrī Caitanya-śikṣāṣṭakam – 3)

4.
janmādy asya yato’nvayād itarataś cārtheṣv abhijñaḥ svarāṭ
tene brahma hṛdā ya ādi-kavaye muhyanti yat sūrayaḥ
tejo-vāri-mṛdāṁ yathā vinimayo yatra tri-sargo’mṛṣā
dhāmnā svena sadā nirasta-kuhakaṁ satyaṁ paraṁ dhīmahi

The essential definition of Bhagavān comes in the opening śloka of Śrīmad-Bhāgavat, 1.1.1 – “We meditate on the Supreme Truth, from whom all this is born, Who is both present in everything and aloof from it, Who is omniscient and independent. It is He who revealed the Veda to Brahma, the first sage, within his heart. He deludes even the great gods, makes this threefold unreal world seem real, just as the sun’s rays are mistaken for water (in a mirage), water for earth or earth for water, but who is Himself forever free from illusion due to His divine energy (dhāmnā).”

5.
barhāpīḍaṁ naṭa-vara-vapuḥ karṇayoḥ karṇikāraṁ
bibhrad-vāsaḥ kanaka-kapiśaṁ vaijayantīṁ ca mālām 
randhrān veṇor adhara-sudhayā pūrayan gopa-vṛndair
vṛndāraṇyaṁ sva-pada-ramaṇaṁ prāviśad gīta-kīrtiḥ

The essential Kṛṣṇa-meditation is in Śrīmad-Bhāgavata (10.21.5) –
“A peacock feather crown (on His head), His body shaped like the best of dancers, Karṇikāra-flowers on His ears, wearing a garment colored gold and a garland of (five kinds of) victory flowers, filling the holes of His flute with the nectar of His lips, and the cowherd boys singing His glories, He entered the forest of Vṛndā, making its soil lovely with His footprints.”

6.
smartavyaṁ satataṁ viṣṇor vismartavyo na jātūcit
sarva vidhi niṣedha syur etayor eva kinkarāḥ

“Always remember Kṛṣṇa and never forget Him – all other rules and prohibitions are subservient to this.”

7.
anarpita carīṁ cirāt karuṇayā avatīrṇa kalau
samarpayitum unnatojjvala rasa sva bhakti śriyaṁ
hariḥ puraṭa sundara dyuti kadamba sandīpitaḥ
sadā hṛdaya kandare sphuratu vaḥ śacī-nandanaḥ

 “May the son of mother Śacī, who is Hari Himself, appearing in a splendid beautiful golden form, and who has descended in the age of Kali to mercifully bestow the wealth of His own bhakti, which was never bestowed before, and which is endowed with the elevated amorous flavour, always be manifest within the cave of your heart.”

This is the paribhāṣa-sūtra of Caitanya-līlā, the bottom line of Gaura-līlā – what it’s really all about, beyond His external harināma-mission. It is the opening shot of Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Ādi 1.4), comparable to the opening verse of Śrīmad-bhāgavata.

8.
man manā bhava mad bhakto mad yāji māṁ namaskuru
mām evaiṣyasi satyaṁ te pratijāne priyo’si me

“Think of Me and be My devotee. Worship Me and offer your respects unto Me. Thus you will truly and certainly come to Me. I promise you this because you are dear to Me.”

This comes after Bhagavad-Gītā 18.64, where Kṛṣṇa announces that He will now reveal the greatest secret of the Bhagavad-Gītā. This verse summarizes all the items of bhajan. Nowhere is preaching mentioned, so whence the claim that bhajan is selfish and only thinking of one’s own liberation? Secondly, Arjuna was a gṛhastha, with a large family and retinue, yet Kṛṣṇa promises solemnly that he will attain Him, simply because he is dear to Him, so whence the claim that one must be a sannyāsī to attain Kṛṣṇa? To stress the importance of these points, Kṛṣṇa speaks it twice in the Gītā.

9.
anyābhilāṣita śūnyaṁ jñāna-karmādy anāvṛtam
ānukūlyena kṛṣṇānuśilanaṁ bhaktir uttamā

 “The topmost devotion is devoid of other desires, not covered by practices of jñāna (for impersonal liberation) and karma (fruitive activities), and is practiced deliberately and actively for Kṛṣṇa’s pleasure.” (Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu 1.1.11)

10.
ananyaś cintayanto māṁ ye janāḥ paryupāsate
teṣāṁ nityābhiyuktānāṁ yoga kṣemaṁ vahāmyaham

 “Whoever constantly worships Me, exclusively meditating on Me, I will provide him with all his needs and will preserve what he has.” (Bhagavad-gītā 9.22)

Devotees should just do sādhana without worrying about maintenance.

11.
cañcalaṁ hi manaḥ kṛṣṇa pramāthi balavad dṛḍham
tasyāhaṁ nigrahaṁ manye vāyor iva suduṣkaram

“O Kṛṣṇa! The mind is so restless, agitating, powerful and obstinate – it seems harder to check than even the wind.” (Bhagavad-gītā 6.34)

12.
īśvaraḥ paramaḥ kṛṣṇaḥ saccidānanda vigraha
anādir ādir govinda sarva kārana kāranam

All the points are there – Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme God, His body is sac cid ānanda, full of awareness, reality and bliss, He is beginningless, He is the greatest of all and He is the cause of all causes.” (Brahma Samhitā 5.1)

13.
ananta-śāstraṁ bahulāśca vidyāḥ svalpaśca kālo bahu-vighnatā ca;
yat sāra-bhūtaṁ tad-upāsanīyaṁ  haṁso yathā kṣīram ivāmbu-madhyāt

"The scriptures are infinite and the branches of knowledge are many. Our time is limited and our lives full of obstacles. Therefore we should worship the essence, just as the swan extracts only the milk from the water." (Canakya-nīti-darpanam 15.10) 

Showing one should not waste precious time in useless and shoreless studies, but just concentrate on the śāstras’ essence.

14.
yaḥ śāstra-vidhiṁ utsṛjya vartate kāma kārataḥ
na sa siddhim avāpnoti na sukhaṁ na paraṁ gatiṁ

"He who rejects scriptural injunctions and acts according to his own whims, will not attain perfection, nor will he become happy or attain the Supreme Abode." (Bhagavad Gītā 16.23)

Śrī Kṛṣṇa warning heterodox teachers and their followers that they are not going anywhere.

15-16.
bāhya antara ihāra dui to sādhana; bāhya — sādhaka dehe kore śravaṇa kīrtana
mane — nija siddha deha koriyā bhāvana; rātri dine kore vraje kṛṣṇera sevana 

"There are two kinds of devotion in practise — external and internal. In the external practitioner's body devotional practices of hearing and chanting Kṛṣṇa's glories are performed, and internally, in the mentally conceived spiritual body, one renders mental service to Kṛṣṇa in Vraja day and night." (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya 22.155-156)

Śrīman Mahāprabhu teaches here that siddha deha-meditation is not just for liberated souls, but is a sādhana, showing also that there is more to sādhana than just external things like chanting, practical external service etc.

17.
vṛndāni sarva mahatām apahāya dūrāt vṛndāṭavīm anusara pranayena cetaḥ
sattāranī kṛta subhāva sudhā rasaugham rādhābhidhānam iha divya nidhānam asti

Prabodhānanda Saraswati teaches how to live in Vraja (Rādhā Rasa Sudhānidhi – 9)-
cetaḥ! “Oh mind! Dwell in Vṛndāvana! (mental residence in Vraja is essential).
sarva mahatām – “All Vraja’s residents are saints”, but…
apahāya dūrāt – “Keep them far away.”
Q: Is that not an offence?
A: No it isn’t, otherwise the word mahatā (“great souls”) would not have been used.
Q: Why then keep them at bay?
A. 1. In order not to find faults in them and to continue to appreciate them.
2. In order not to get entangled and to peacefully do bhajan.
3. No mutual hurt will arise if there is any difference of opinion or style of worship.
“There is a great divine treasure there named Rādhā, a vast ocean of nectar-rasa and good feelings that redeems the saints!”

18.
śanakair bhagaval-lokān nṛ-lokaṁ punar āgataḥ.
vimṛjya netre viduraṁ prītyāhoddhava utsmayan

"Gradually Uddhava returned from Bhagavān's world to the human world. Rubbing his eyes, he lovingly told Vidura in amazement..." (Quoted from Śrīmad-bhāgavat 3.2.6 in Kṛṣṇa-sandarbha 106) showing that Goloka is not a ‘planet’ but a world. It is not attainable by material travel through space with a rocket. Uddhava’s return was a mental one, not a physical one.

19.
krome krome pāye lok bhava sindhu kūla

“Slowly and gradually the people will reach the shore of the ocean of material existence.” (Caitanya Caritāmṛta Madhya 16.237) 

Against fanatic dreaming and instant liberation-vāda of neophytes passionately imagining themselves to be able to attain perfection or liberation in 5 minutes or less. Of all people, Śrīman Mahāprabhu spoke it to the greatest vairāgī, Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī. Even he was told to wait.

20.
dhyāyaṁs taṁ śikhi piñcha maulim aniśaṁ tan nāma saṅkīrtayan
nityaṁ tac caraṇāmbujaṁ paricaraṁs tan mantra varyaṁ japan
śrī rādhā pada dāsyam eva paramābhīṣṭaṁ hṛdā dhārayan
karhi syāṁ tad anugraheṇa paramodbhutānurāgotsavaḥ

“I always meditate on Kṛṣṇa, who wears a crown of peacock feathers, I always sing His name in saṅkīrtana, I always serve His lotus feet (the deity) and repeat His best of mantras, holding the desire for the supremely cherished service of Śrī Rādhā's lotus feet in my heart. When will that great festival of divine love arise in my heart by His grace?”

Śrīla Prabodhānanda Saraswatī explaining (in Rādhā-rasa sudhānidhi 259) why there is no need for separate rādhā-kīrtan and rādhā-mantra…

21.
ataeva gopī-bhāva koro angikāra

“Therefore, accept the mood of the gopīs.”

Showing that gopī-bhāva is not sahajiya, otherwise Caitanya Mahāprabhu, who spoke this (in Caitanya-caritāmṛta Madhya 8.228), would also be a sahajiya.

22.
dīkṣā-kāle bhakta kore ātma-samarpaṇa; sei-kāle kṛṣṇa tāre kore ātma-sama
sei deha kore tāra cid-ānanda-moya; aprākṛta-dehe tāṅra caraṇa bhajoya

Mahāprabhu vāṇī (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Antya 4.192-193) “At the time of initiation the devotee surrenders his very self – at that time Kṛṣṇa makes him equal to Himself and makes His body transcendental. In such a spiritual body he can serve Kṛṣṇa’s lotus-feet.”

Showing that dīkṣā is not just a ritual, but an act of surrender and it ultimately yields the spiritual body.

23.
rādhā kṛṣṇa-praṇaya-vikṛtir hlādinī śaktir asmād
ekātmānāv api bhuvi purā deha-bhedaṁ gatau tau
caitanyākhyaṁ prakaṭam adhunā tad-dvayaṁ caikyam āptaṁ
rādhā-bhāva-dyuti-subalitaṁ naumi kṛṣṇa-svarūpam

"The transformations of love between Śrī Rādhā and Śrī Kṛṣṇa are manifestations of the hlādinī-śakti. These two, although one soul, have manifested in this world in separate forms since ancient times. He, who is known as Caitanya, has now manifest as Their union. Obeisances to Him, who is Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself, beautifully endowed with the feelings and lustre of Śrī Rādhā!" 

Here Svarūp Dāmodar Gosvāmī offers his obeisances to Gaura’s svarūpa, explaining that Mahāprabhu is not a merger of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, but Kṛṣṇa only.

24.
vikrīḍitaṁ vrajavadhūbhir idaṁ ca viṣṇoḥ
śraddhānvito’nuśṛṇuyed atha varṇayed yaḥ
bhaktiṁ paraṁ bhagavatiṁ pratilabhya kāmaṁ
hṛd-rogam āśvapahinotyacireṇa dhīraḥ

“Whoever faithfully and continually hears and describes the pastimes of Viṣṇu (Kṛṣṇa) with the brides of Vraja (the gopīs) attains the highest devotion to Bhagavān, will swiftly become free from the heart’s disease of lust and become calm.”

The phala śruti (final benediction on the reciter and audience) of the Rāsa-līlā narration in Śrīmad-bhāgavata (10.33.39). It does not contradict warnings against possible sexual agitation from hearing or chanting the Rāsa-līlā. Getting sexually agitated from this topic happens to the unfortunate sādhaka.

25.
tavaivāsmi tavaivāsmi  na jīvāmi tvayā vinā
iti vijñāya devi tvaṁ naya māṁ caraṇāntikam

“ I am Yours, I am Yours! I cannot live without You! O Devi!  Knowing this, please take me to Your lotus feet!”

Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Goswāmī’s ultimate surrender at Swāminī Rādhikā’s lotus-feet in Vilāpa-kusumāñjali (96) – the manjari bhāva mahāmantra!

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Bahulāṣṭamī-question


Vaiṣṇava – “In his Vaiṣṇava Toṣani ṭīkā of Śrīmad-bhāgavat 10.45.3 Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī says that ariṣṭa-vadha (the slaying of Ariṣṭāsura, which prompted the appearance of Rādhākuṇḍa) took place on CAITRA PURNIMA. (ekādaśasya caitra paurṇamāsyam ariṣṭavadhaḥ, ed). Does that prove then that Caitra purṇimā is the ACTUAL APPEARANCE DAY OF Rādhākuṇḍa, because Rādhākuṇḍa manifested after the death of Ariṣṭāsura? Why then are Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas bathing on Kārtika Bahulāṣṭamī if IT IS NOT THE APPEARANCE DAY OF Rādhākuṇḍa? What are they celebrating?? What is so special about Bahulāṣṭamī, that the Padma Purāṇa glorifies bath then in Rādhākuṇḍa, and our Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī quotes that in Mathurā Māhātmyam??"

Advaitadās – In the Kārtika Māhātmya of the Padma Purāṇa, it is said:

govardhana girau ramye rādhākuṇḍaṁ priyaṁ hareḥ      
     kārtike bahulāṣṭamyāṁ tatra snatvā hareḥ priyaḥ

"Anyone who bathes in Rādhākuṇḍa, which is situated by the charming Govardhana Mountain, on the day of Bahulāṣṭamī (the eighth day of the dark lunar quarter) in the month of Kārtika becomes very dear to Lord Hari, to whom this kuṇḍa is also very dear." Possibly this statement caused the tradition of Rādhākuṇḍa snān as we know it now. When this has become mixed up I do not know, but probably not too long ago as the current shape of Rādhākuṇḍa, with concrete steps, only exists since, I believe, 1864.

Vaiṣṇava – “I heard that we are bathing then to honor the discovery day of Rādhākuṇḍa by Mahāprabhu. But I thought Mahāprabhu arrived in Mathurā on Kārtika pūrṇimā, so how could He have been here on aṣṭamī? I was told that’s Mathurā, but BEFORE going to Mathurā while Mahāprabhu was on Vraja parikramā, Mahāprabhu came here on Bahulāṣṭamī and discovered Rādhākuṇḍa. Advaitajī, it seems that Bhakti Ratnākara says the VERY FIRST PLACE Mahāprabhu saw in Vraja-maṇḍala was Mathurā… He took Viśrāma Ghāṭ bath, Keśavji darśana, AND THEN Vraja-dhāma parikramā? Is there any pramāṇa to prove that Kārtik pūrṇimā was the first day that Mahāprabhu touched Vraja-maṇḍala, be it Mathurā or elsewhere?"

Advaitadās - Not only Bhakti Ratnākara, also Caitanya Caritāmṛta (Madhya 17.155) says that Mahāprabhu first came to Mathurā, then (Madhya 17.193) He saw the 12 forests, and only then (Madhya 18.3) He came to Rādhākuṇḍa. Yes, there can also be something wrong with the traditional celebration of Mahāprabhu’s first arrival in Braja on Kārtika Pūrṇimā, as far as I know there is no mentioning of Mahāprabhu entering Vraja on Kārtika Pūrṇimā, but that would still not solve the problem with the Caitra Pūrṇimā date of Rādhākuṇḍa’s appearance.

Vaiṣṇava - Who is Bahulā, and what is her/his relationship with Kārtika Bahulāṣṭamī?

Advaitadās - Bahulā is described as Hari’s wife in Mathurā Māhātmyam 342 (quoting from Skānda Purāṇa without any details) and-

The story of Bahulā Devi is recounted in a number of Purāṇas and in some versions the details of the story vary, but the essence of the story is the same. In the Padma Purāṇa, it says that in her previous life, before attaining the position as the consort of Lord Śrī Hari, Bahulā had taken birth as a cow in the forest of Bahulāvana, and her character was severely tested by the Lord Himself. One day, Bahulā was taken to the pasturing ground by her master, a local brāhmaṇa, so that she could feed on the fresh grass of Bahulāvana forest. Suddenly a very hungry tiger appeared from the jungle and was preparing to attack and eat Bahulā. Seeing that the end was near, Bahulā requested the tiger to wait just a moment so that she could feed milk to her hungry calf waiting nearby. Bahulā promised to return as soon as the calf was fed. The tiger agreed to the proposal and waited for Bahulā to return. Within a short time, after feeding her baby calf, Bahulā returned as promised. To her amazement she found that the tiger had disappeared and Kṛṣṇa was standing there along with Yamarāja, who had appeared as the tiger just to test her truthfulness. Being pleased with Bahulā’s honesty, even in the face of death, Kṛṣṇa gave her the benediction that in her next life she would attain the position as one of the goddesses of fortune and achieve the Supreme Lord as her husband.

I guess this līlā took place on Bahulāṣṭamī and the bathing in Rādhākuṇḍa coincides with this without further mutual relationship.

Vaiṣṇava - “According to the śāstra pramāṇa of Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī’s ṭīkā on Śrīmad-bhāgavat 10.45.3, which is rock safe evidence for Vaiṣṇavas, it seems perfectly justified and correct that all Vaiṣṇavas should honor Rādhākuṇḍa appearance by bathing at midnight on Caitra pūrṇimā in Rādhākuṇḍa?”

Advaitadās - That seems logical and fair but somehow that’s not how the tradition developed.

Vaiṣṇava - That would save a lot of crushed ribs and bruises experienced by our gentle  brothers and sisters in those rugby-match midnight Kārtika-baths.

Advaitadās - Most people who bathe in Rādhākuṇḍa at midnight on Bahulāṣṭami want good offspring, a dowry for their daughter and a new motorcycle. In all the 35 years I did rāgānugā bhakti I went in only once on such a night, in 2002. Rūpa Gosvāmī writes in Upadeśāmṛta (11) that rādhā-prema awaits a bather in Rādhākuṇḍa on any day of the year, at any time. tat premedam sakṛd api saraḥ snātur aviskaroti. Who needs a motorcycle anyway?

Vaiṣṇava – “And on the other hand to honor Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī’s pramāṇa for a Bahulāṣṭamī-bath in Rādhākuṇḍa, one could just bathe easily during the day in Rādhākuṇḍa. Is this true or false?” 

Advaitadās - Yes, bathing on Bahulāṣṭamī can be done in the daytime as well, as there is no mentioning of night or midnight in those Padma Purāṇa ślokas (kārtike bahulāṣṭamyāṁ, Haribhakti-vilāsa 16.207-208) at all. In his Dig-darśinī-ṭīkā to that verse, Sanātan Goswāmī also does not mention the slaying of Ariṣṭāsura or the appearance of Rādhākuṇḍa being connected with the Bahulāṣṭamī-bathing. He merely writes: śrī rādhā-prāṇa-nāthāya śrīmad dāmodarāya te; sarvaṁ caitanya-devāya gurave’rpitam eva me. tatra kuṇḍe naraḥ snātvā hareḥ priyatamo bhavet. hi yataḥ. tatra tatra snānaṁ tasya hareḥ pratosaṇaṁ prakarṣeṇa toṣayatītyarthaḥ - "This is all dedicated to the Lord of Śrī Rādhā's life, Śrī Dāmodara, to Caitanya-deva and Guru. Having bathed there, in the kuṇḍa, should be dearmost to Hari. Bathing there is most pleasing to Hari."

Monday, February 13, 2017

pradakṣiṇa


I had some interesting realization about the word pradakṣiṇa -

This is the dictionary meaning -

The prefix ‘pra’ means: forward, in front, on, forth, motion, or prakṛṣṭa, excellence, and 'dakṣiṇa' means: to the right.

प्रदक्षिण pradakSiNa adj. circumambulation from left to right of a person or object as a kind of worship
प्रदक्षिण pradakSiNa adj. standing or placed on the right
प्रदक्षिण pradakSiNa adj. turning the right side towards
प्रदक्षिण pradakSiNa adj. to the right side
प्रदक्षिण pradakSiNa adj. respectful
प्रदक्षिण pradakSiNa adj. auspicious
प्रदक्षिन pradakSina n. circumambulation  [ in clockwise direction ]
प्रदक्षिणम् pradakSiNam ind. so that the reverential side is turned towards a person or object

In the story of the lifting of mount Govardhana, in chapter 24 of the 10th canto of the Bhāgavata, the supreme pradakṣiṇa, or Girirāja parikramā, was introduced -

10.24.29 pradakṣiṇaṁ ca kuruta go-viprānala-parvatān

Kṛṣṇa said - "Keep the cows, brahmins, fire and the mountain [Girirāja Govardhana] on your right as you go round them."

10.24.33 go-dhanāni puraskṛtya giriṁ cakruḥ pradakṣiṇam

“The Vrajavāsīs kept Girirāja Govardhana to their right during their parikramā."

As also after the completion of the Uddhava Gīta at the end of the 11th Canto:

11.29.45  sa evam ukto hari-medhasoddhavaḥ  pradakṣiṇaṁ taṁ parisṛtya pādayoḥ

“Uddhava went round the Lord, keeping Him always to his right.”

In Vedic culture the superior is on the right and the subordinate on the left.

śrīdāma subalau vāme puro'sya madhumangalaḥ
dakṣiṇe śrī balascānye paritaḥ samupāviśan

(Govinda Līlāmṛta 4.22)

"(During Kṛṣṇa's breakfast) Śrīdāma and Subala sat on Kṛṣṇa's left, Madhumangala faced Him and Balarāma sat on His right........”

Balarāma, Kṛṣṇa's superior, sits on the right, and Śrīdāma and Subala, His subordinates, on the left.

dakṣiṇe'syāgrajau vāme'nujau putrau puraḥ sthitau; 
subhadrādyā harer vāme baṭavo bala dakṣiṇe

(Govinda Līlāmṛta 20.44)

(During supper) "Nanda's older brothers (Upananda and Abhinanda) sat on his right, his younger brothers (Sananda and Nandana) on his left and Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma faced him. Subhadra and others sat on Kṛṣṇa's left and the brāhmaṇas sat on Balarāma's right."

I first learned the principle of junior to the left and senior to the right during my initiation from Sādhu Bābā in Vṛndāvana in 1982. I was asked to sit to Sādhu Bābā's left during the private ceremony.

The most famous verse mentioning pradakṣiṇa is: yāni kāni ca pāpāni brahma hatyādikāni ca tāni tāni pranaśyanti pradakṣiṇa pade pade (Which I cannot find in Haribhakti Vilāsa)

There is also a pradakṣiṇa māhātmya (glorification of pradakṣiṇa) in the 8th vilāsa of the Haribhakti Vilāsa.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Foot-lac, inherent svarūpa, love him or leave him and the Hare-kṛṣṇa mantra.


Devotee - Śrī Rādhikā wears red lac on bottom of Her lotus feet or only on the sides and up the heels like seen among Indian ladies?

Advaitadās - yasyāṅka rañjita śiras – lākṣā-rasaḥ sa ca kadā padayor adhas te nyasto mayā (Vilāp-kusumānjali 43) – Kṛṣṇa’s head is colored by Rādhikā’s footlac when She puts Her foot / feet on His head. She does not sweep across His head with Her heels. padayor adhaḥ means ‘under both feet’. So the lac is proven to be on the footsoles.

Devotee - A proponent of the Inherent-svarūpa vāda, that the jīva’s siddha-svarūpa is inherently dormant in the heart, quoted this ṭīkā to Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta 2.4.190 by Sanātan Gosvāmīpāda: 

nanu sarva-jñāna-kriya-śakti-pravartakaḥ hṛśīkeśo’yaṁ sarvotkṛṣṭa-tāratamya upāsanam eva sarvebhyo’pi tebhyaḥ sāmyena kiṁ na dadyat tatrāha vicitreti vicitrāṇāṁ vividhānāṁ tāsaṁ tāsāṁ rucīnāṁ bhāva-viśeṣāṇāṁ rasānāṁ vā dānaṁ tebhyo vitaraṇam. tāneti pāṭhe vistāraṇaṁ tad eva līlā tasya vibhūtim vaibhavaṁ ko janaḥ ut ucchais tarkayituṁ prabhuḥ śaktaḥ. api tu na ko’pi tatra hetuḥ samudra-koṭibhyo’pi gahano gambhīra āśayo’bhiprāyo yasya tasya. vicitra ruci vistāraṇe hetuḥ vicitra līlāyā vibhavā vaibhavāni yasya tasya anyathā vividha līlā-vaibhava-mādhurya-sampatter iti bhāvaḥ.

Advaitadās - Since no English translation was given, I will present it here –

‘If you say that Lord Hṛśīkeśa prompts all energies of action and knowledge, then why does He not give the highest type of worship to all devotees? To that it is said ‘vicitra’, there is a variety, and to different devotees He gives taste for different particular bhāvas or feelings. He distributes different rasas to them. Can anyone ascertain the prowess of the Lord’s līlā through false logic? No one can. His desires are deep (incomprehensible) like millions of oceans. Another reason for His bestowing different tastes is that the prowess of a variety of līlās is a treasure of sweetness.”

Inherent-svarūpa proponent: “Taste in a particular rasa is the action of jñāna- and kriyā-śakti of the Lord. The jñāna and kriyā-śaktis are always working on the jīva-śakti in both the conditioned and liberated states. So the śaktis responsible for the taste are already present in the jīva. They are never not present.”

Advaitadās - That’s not at all what this ṭīkā is about. It’s about why the Lord doesn’t bestow the highest rasa to everyone. It doesn’t say at all that the śaktis responsible for the taste are already present in the jīva.

Inherent-svarūpa proponent:  The Lord knows past present and future. He knows what taste will manifest at a particular point, from the relative perspective of material time. So, from the absolute perspective, the taste is fixed and the potencies responsible for it are already present. aga-jagad-okasām akhila-śakty-avabodhaka te "O Lord, you awaken all the śaktis of the living entities." (Śrīmad-bhāgavata 10.87.14) Viśvanātha Cakravartī comments that the Lord awakens the ability of the jīva to pursue the path of bhakti. Just a tip. Remember that material reason is conditioned by the concept of time, whereas transcendence is an eternal present.” 

Advaitadās - That is exactly the opposite of a svarūpa or prema being dormant in the heart. If I plan to give someone a donation next month, the receiver doesn’t own that money until next month, though I decided to donate it right now. With the same logic we can also all call ourselves liberated because it’s just a matter of time. This about Destiny, not dormancy. Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta 2.4.190 doesn't say that prema is dormant but that it is given by the Lord. The added value is that Sanātan Goswāmī names the śaktis that bestow the mercy - big deal. It doesn't speak of inherent svarūpa at all. Viśvanātha Cakravartī comments on Bhakti Rasāmṛta-sindhu 3.2.77: pārṣadānāṁ rati-janmani tu anādi-siddha-saṁskāra eva hetuḥ. “Only nitya siddhas have an anādi-siddha-saṁskāra for bhakti rasa, while sādhana siddhas do not. The latter only attain rasa by sādhana and mercy (puraivokta, as described in verse 1.3.6).“ Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta 2.4.190 doesn’t mention some taste already being present and later being awakened by Krsna. The verse and the commentary clearly use the word "dāna" which is glossed as "vitaraṇam", distribution. It is about giving different ruci (devotional taste), vicitra-tad-ruci-dāna-līlā, that leads to different upāsanā (types of worship) and different siddhi. If this ruci is already there in the jīva then there is no question of dāna-līlā (the pastime of giving). 

Devotee – I’m curious about the grounds for rejecting a Guru. I heard that Narahari Sarakāra’s ‘Kṛṣṇa Bhajanāmṛta’ speaks about this?

Advaitadās - Regarding ‘Kṛṣṇa Bhajanāmṛta’, I am not a fan of this booklet. Those who quote it as authoritative usually oppose Gaur Nāgari bhāva, which was so loudly preached by Narahari, and should contemplate their double standards. In other words, one cannot oppose Gaur-nāgarī and at the same time slam someone on the head with Kṛṣṇa-bhajanāmṛta, written by the same Narahari, as authoritative śāstra.
Narahari advises us in Kṛṣṇa Bhajanāmṛta - kintu yadi gurur asamañjasaṁ karoti tarhi yukti-siddhaiḥ siddhāntais tasya rahasi daṇḍaḥ karaṇīyaḥ na tu tyājyaḥ - ‘But if the Guru does something inappropriate, he should be punished (rebuked) in private with the proper reasonable philosophy. He should not be rejected, though.” The 3rd offence to harinām is guror avagya, disregard of the Guru, and Śrīmad Bhāgavata 7th and 11th canto clearly condemn a human conception of Śrī Gurudeva - yasya sākṣād bhagavati jñāna dīpa prade gurau martyāsaddhiḥ śrutaṁ tasya sarvaṁ kuñjara śaucavat (Śrīmad Bhāgavata 7.15.26) “Whoever has the foolish notion that the Guru, the bestower of the lamp of divine knowledge, who is God Himself, is a mere mortal, has all his learning lost, just as an elephant throws dust all over himself after bathing.” ācāryaṁ māṁ vijānīyān nāvamānyeta karhicit na martya buddhyāsūyeta sarva devamayo guruḥ (Śrī Kṛṣṇa in Śrīmad Bhāgavata 11.17.27) "You should know the ācārya to be Me, never slight or disrespect him or find faults in him, considering him to be an ordinary mortal, for Śrī Gurudeva is the aggregate of all the Gods."  
How then can a śiṣya approach Guru and get on his case, even in private? Narahari even uses the word daṇḍya, Guru is punishable. I find that hellishly offensive. Either love Guru or leave him. Narahari later writes - loka-sva stavaiḥ kṛṣṇam anukaroti – “If the Guru praises himself to the people as Kṛṣṇa, or imitates Kṛṣṇa”. This must be judged on a case-by-case basis. If this refers to a sahajiyā who has His private Rāsa-līlās, then such a Guru can be abandoned. But in other cases it can be accepted. My Guru accepted Śiva-abhimāna, which is onthologically correct, considering his family lineage. 

Devotee – Some say the hare-kṛṣṇa mantra should be chanted, in kīrtan, completely, and not in 2 halves or so.

Advaitadās – Śrīman Mahāprabhu said in Śikṣāṣṭakam – nāmnām akāri bahudhā nija sarva-śaktis tatrārpita niyamitaḥ smaraṇe na kālaḥ - ‘You have invested all Your transcendental energies within Your holy name and there are no hard and fast rules for chanting them.’

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Doership in sādhanā

In Śrīmad Bhāgavata (12.8.40) Mārkaṇḍeya Ṛṣi said:

kiṁ varṇaye tava vibho yad-udīrito 'suḥ saṁspandate tam anu vāṅ-mana-indriyāṇi
spandanti vai tanu-bhṛtām aja-śarvayoś ca svasyāpy athāpi bhajatām asi bhāva-bandhuḥ

“O Almighty Lord, how can I possibly describe you? You propel the vital air, which impels the mind, senses and power of speech to act. This is true for all embodied souls including Brahmā and Śiva and even me. Still, you become the intimate friend of those who worship you.”

This verse jams the post of non-free-will and non-doership again deeper into the ground. It shows that even our sādhana is not done by us, but also by Kṛṣṇa. The mind is remembering Kṛṣṇa’s rūpa-guṇa-līlā, the senses perform active devotional service to Kṛṣṇa and the speech chants the holy name in japa or kīrtan. They are all propelled, pulsated, by Kṛṣṇa however, as is clear from this verse. You are chanting the holy name because the holy name, which is non-different from Kṛṣṇa (abhinnatvān nāma-nāmino), allows you to chant it. Śrīla Rūpa Goswāmīpāda quotes the Padma-purāṇa in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhuḥ (1.2.234) -

ataḥ śrī-kṛṣṇa-nāmādi na bhaved grāhyaṁ indriyaiḥ
sevonmukhe hi jihvādau svayam eva sphuraty adaḥ

“Kṛṣṇa and His names cannot be grasped by the material senses, but when a person develops a service-attitude, or the tendency to accept the Lord’s name and form, Kṛṣṇa spontaneously appears on the tongue and in the other senses.”

In his commentary on this Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu-verse, Śrīla Jīva Goswāmīpāda quotes examples of even animals to whom the holy name appeared. There is a description of Bharata as he gave up the body of a deer. This illustrates this spontaneous appearance of the Lord’s name.   

nārāyaṇāya haraye nama ity udāraṁ hāsyan mṛgatvam api yaḥ samudājahāra

“He gave up his body of the deer while smiling broadly saying, “All respects to Lord Nārāyaṇa Hari.” (Śrīmad Bhāgavata 5.14.45)

There is also the case of Gajendra:

evaṁ vyavasito buddhyā samādhāya mano hṛdi
jajāpa paramaṁ jāpyaṁ prāg-janmany anuśikṣitam  

“Thereafter, the King of the elephants, Gajendra, fixed his mind in his heart with perfect intelligence and did japa of a mantra which he had learned in his previous birth as Indradyumna and which he remembered by the grace of Kṛṣṇa.  (Śrīmad Bhāgavata 8.3.1)

So the holy name isn’t chanted by us, it descends to the surrendered soul.

The description of ‘the mind and speech being pulsated or propelled by Kṛṣṇa’ should serve as consolation for any devotee who is nervous before having to give a class. I experienced many times while giving class that Kṛṣṇa was speaking through me, and, after he gave class, Sādhu-bābā used to say ‘āmi ki bollām? Āmi ki bollām?’ ‘What did I say? What did I say?’ It was like he came back from another planet. He was not aware of any control that his own mind or speech had had on the lecture. 

Śrīla Jīva Goswāmī comments on this verse in the Bhakti-sandarbha (144), quoting Bṛhad-āraṇyaka Upaniṣad (4.4.18): prāṇasya prāṇam uta cakṣuṣaś cakṣur uta śrotasya śrotraṁ manaso manaḥ “He is the life of the vital air, the sight of the eye, the audibility of the ear, and the mental discernment of the mind.” The fact that the life air, mind and senses function only on the inspiration of the Lord is true not only for materially conditioned beings but for Brahmā and Śiva also. Therefore, Mārkaṇḍeya Ṛṣi acknowledges that it is certainly the case for himself as well. Thus, although nobody is independent in any respect, the Lord is the bhāva-bandhu, or the loving friend, of those who serve Him. The significance of the Lord being referred to as bhāva-bandhu is that even devotees have no independent power to serve the Lord. But the Lord is their friend because He gives them bhāva, meaning that He gives them bhakti by which they are able to serve Him. Furthermore, the speech and other senses with which they serve Him are also impelled by Him. Thus, the devotee is like a wooden puppet moved by the strings of the puppeteer.”

Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda comments – “By you, the life air is made to move, and the voice, mind and senses.  Śruti says śrotrasya śrotram:  "The Lord is the ear of the ear." (Kena Upaniṣad 1.2) yadyapyevaṁ tathāpi bhajatām janānāṁ bhāvena premṇā bandhur bandhur iva vaśyo'si. prāṇa buddhīndriyādibhis tvam eva sva bhajanaṁ kārayasi punas tādṛśa bhajanasya pratyupakāre'samartho ṛṇīva bhūtvā tat prema vaśyo bhavasītyadbhutaṁ tava kṛpā vaibhavam iti bhāvaḥ.  “Like a friend, you are controlled by the love of those who worship you. You alone enable them to worship you by enlivening their minds and senses, yet you feel unable to repay the debt of their worship and become indebted and controlled by their love. That is most astonishing. That is the greatness of your mercy.“

It once again confirms there is no such a thing as minute independence. It reveals why souls take to bhakti, why they leave bhakti, why they may be weak and why they may be strong devotees. 

One should also understand that spiritual advancement cannot be planned, scheduled or forced down. It all happens at its own pace.