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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Did Śrī Advaita Prabhu support, preach or practise Gaura-nāgarī bhāva?

In his booklet « Rasarāja Śrī Gaurāṅga » Gadādhara Prān Dās quotes the following verses from the Śrī-Śrī-Gaurāṅga-Pratyanga-Varṇanākhya-Stava-Rāja, which is ascribed to Advaita Ācārya. Here he is trying to prove that Śrī Advaita Prabhu is following the line of worship of the Gaura Nāgarīs, in which Śrīman Mahāprabhu acts like a Nāgara or a flirtatious lover of married girls in Navadvīpa. Here is what Gadādhara Prān makes of the Pratyanga Varṇana, verse 6:


Gadādhara Prān’s translation: "Gaurasundara´s forehead is like a brilliant half-moon adorned with beautiful musk tilaka; yet below lurks His flirting eyebrow-bows which defeat the might of Kāma-deva´s flower arrows."

My translation: « His forehead resembles a half moon and is marked with musk tilak; it has fragile creeper-like eyebrows which defeat the playfulness of Cupid’s arrows. »

Note that the word ‘flirting’ which Gadādhar Prān mentions is not mentioned in the original Sanskrit text. We must remember that to compare a great person with Cupid is standard Vedic poetic embellishment. Even the most renounced Six Gosvāmīs have been compared to Cupid in the Bhakti Ratnākara. No girls of Nadīya in sight in this verse.

Verse 17:

sākṣāl-līlā-tanuṁ keli-tanuṁ śṛṅgāra-vigraham

Gadādhara Prān’s translation: "Śrī Gaurasundara´s prema keli is absolutely manohara!— like that of millions of Cupids; for He is the Abode of prema keli and a śṛṅgāra rasa vigraha."

Advaitadas: The kandarpa mentioned in the last line of verse 17 (the whole verse is wrongly numbered as nr. 17 by Gadādhara Prān)  affects Mahāprabhu’s lābaṇya, which means luster, and does not prove that he is a lover. The words manorama keli, enchanting pastimes, do not prove that He was a nāgara or lover either – any līlā can be manohara (enchanting). Only the word śṛṅgāra vigraha in the first line of verse 18 could apply to Him being a Nāgara, but, as was already explained, to compare a great and beautiful person with Cupid is standard Vedic poetic embellishment. Otherwise the rest of that line says that He is the embodiment of playfulness, which does not point at Him being a nagara either. Next Gadādhara Prān takes verse 26:

vidagdha-nāgarī-bhavya-kalā-keli-manoramam 26

Gadādhara Prān’s translation: "Although Mahāprabhu´s eleven senses are completely overwhelmed by His own bhāva, rūpa and rasa — His divine keli vilāsa with the clever and rasa-skilled Nadīya nāgarīs is simply enchanting!"

My translation: “His eleven senses are overwhelmed by the relish of His own feelings (where are the words rūpa and rasa in the text?). His playful and artful pastimes are to be conceived of (bhavya) by a clever female lover.”

This applies to the Rādhā-bhāva that Kṛṣṇa came to relish as Mahaprabhu, rather than any Nāgarī bhāva to be practiced by Him. I cannot find this sentence “His divine keli vilāsa with the clever and rasa-skilled Nadīya nāgarīs is simply enchanting!" in the verse. The word Nadīya Nāgarīs is not there, and the nāgarī which is mentioned is in the first case. If it was to be ‘with the nāgaris’ (plural, third case) the verse would have said ‘nāgarībhiḥ’.

narahari-prema-rasāsvāda-vihvala-mānasam 27

Gadadhara Pran’s translation: "Gaurāṅga keenly desires to taste the sweetness of Gadādhara's prema bhāva and rasa keli skill. Moreover, Śrīman Narahari´s prema rasa enslaves Him."

My translation: “He wishes to be overcome (ākrānta) by Gadādhara’s loving feelings and His mind is overwhelmed by the relish of Narahari’s prema.”

Where is it mentioned here that Śrīman Mahāprabhu was practicing Nadīya Nāgarī bhāva?
Verse 28:

prema-pradāna-lalita-dvi-bhujaṁ bhakta-vatsalam 28

Gadādhara Prān’s translation: "Bhakta-vatsala Śrī Gaurahari hankers to take up his splendid kānta bhāva with every bhāgavata associate. Using His graceful, two arms He embraces them to award (madhura) prema."

My translation: “Called or summoned (āhuta) by all the great devotees (sarva bhāgavata) He reveals the feelings of a lady-love.”

This verse clearly describes Mahāprabhu assuming the mood of Rādhā (rādhā-bhāva dyuti subalitaṁ naumi kṛṣṇa svarūpam). There is no mentioning of Mahāprabhu hankering to take up kānta-bhāva – where is that word ‘hankering’ in the verse? “ Gadādhara Prān Dās fails to translate the words ‘āhuta’ (called, summoned) and ‘prakāśaka’ (the revealer). There is also no one being ‘embraced’ in the second line of this verse. It simply says that Mahāprabhu is the lovely two-armed one (lalita dvi-bhujam) who bestows Prema (prema pradāna).”
And finally verse 32:

naṭa-rāja-śiro-ratnaṁ śrī-nāgara-śiromaṇim
aśeṣa-rasika-sphuryan-mauli-bhūṣaṇa-bhūṣaṇam 32

Gadādhara Prān’s translation: "Śrī Gaurāṅga is the Crown-jewel amongst all dancers, the Crown-jewel amongst all nāgaras (including Sri Krsna) — and thus the Ornament of ornaments amongst all rasika persons."

My translation: “He is the crownjewel and the king of dancers (nata) and the crownjewel of Nāgaras.”

Now this is the only hint given at Mahāprabhu being a Nāgara, but we must remember that the ācāryas, headed by Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī (f.i. in his Caitanyāṣṭakams), often see Kṛṣṇa within Mahāprabhu, who is, after all Kṛṣṇa, so it may point at Kṛṣṇa instead. That counts for verses 17-18, quoted above, as well.

“He is the ornament of the ornament of all countless rasikas.” That can apply to relishing the mellows of any devotional sentiment and does not prove Mahaprabhu thought or acted as a Gaura Nāgarī. And all this is only in case this text was actually composed by Advaita Ācārya at all.

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