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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

More Subal

Subal Das continues on

I have long wanted to read Govinda Lilamrita, which more fully describes the pastimes throughout the day. I just finished reading Advaita dasa’s translation last night. It was so disappointing. Radha is portrayed as extremely emotionally unstable. She’s always torn between loving Krishna and being angry at him and rejecting him, and there’s just far too much rejection for my taste.

Subal shows that he 1. Has no idea about prema tattva 2. Has a completely mundane view of transcendental matters. 3. Has no idea about the science of kāvya. Radha is of course mādanākhya mahābhava-vati, endowed with the highest mode of transcendental love of God. Her ‘emotional instability’ was later displayed by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu in his recent prakat līlā. It is the pinnacle of ecstatic love of God.

I might describe her as a drama queen, in need of life coaching, in need of Prozac, etc.

This is so offensive I wish I hadn’t read it but just for the sake of exposure I am posting it here.

I’m always thinking, “Come on, give the guy a break. You know that’s just the way he is and that he loves you the best. Look. He’s broken hearted. What more do you want?”

Rādhā’s transcendental rejection of Kṛṣṇa is of course a symptom of Her transcendental vāmya svabhāva, opposed nature, and this is what Kṛṣṇa relishes. So, indeed, give Him a break, let Him enjoy the way He wants to. That is what bhakti is all about – pleasing Kṛṣṇa  Perhaps Subal should first study the Ujjvala Nilamani so that he can get an idea of śṛṅgāra rasa, transcendental amorous mellows. Stressing the adjective ‘transcendental’ here…..

Then there’s the relationship between Kṛṣṇa and his mother. She’s always soaked by her tears and breast milk as she fondles him. And I thought Jewish mothers were a bit much.

This again is so offensive it beggars description. Subal in his 39 years of bhakti could not even grasp the basic principles of vātsalya bhāva, or perhaps he has no mundane vātsalya bhāva himself, since I believe he does not have any children himself.

There were certainly some good parts in the book that I would want to keep. However, what I would like is an electronic copy of the translation so that I could delete sections I don’t like and rewrite others. The book is in need of a major edit and rewrite. It would be even better if Advaitadasa did it.

No way, pal. Count me out, burn your own fingers on that.

I also have his translation of Raya Shekhara’s Astakala Lila Padavali which I can’t bring myself to read. In it Ray Shekhar mixes himself in the pastimes using his male practitioner name. It seems so inappropriate. So I’m looking for some good literature describing the erotic pastimes of Radha Kṛṣṇa that I, my wife and other Westerners can relate to. Post-modern feminine ideals are much different than 16-17th century Indian feminine ideals which I come out in the writings of that period. Some books are better than others.

This all confirms my regrets over publishing these intimate literatures at all. First Pītāmbar, then Jagat, now Subal – people with a completely mundane and thus inevitably offensive view of transcendental śṛṅgāra rasa  Let me exhaust myself by repeating this simple basic lesson – Rādhā Kṛṣṇa līlā is beyond time and space and is not a creation of some medieval Indians. To quote myself (madangopal.blogspot January 13, 2006:)

"I remember that, in 1988, when the late Rohiṇīndranāth Mitra of Keśī-ghāt found out that I had translated Govinda Līlāmṛta into English, he told me: "Very well done. And now you please put this book away." Then he went on reminding me how Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvati did not want his followers to read Ujjvala Nīlamaṇi and the like. I remember in 1983 Sadhu Baba told me not to read rasika books if/when I was in a non-celibate state (he also told me not to go out of our ashram as Navadvip is full of sahajiyas). Nevertheless I continued to read, translate and distribute rasika kathā. Now self-confessed sahajiyas like Pītāmbar Dās and Jagadānanda Dās are reading and passing out these books to wholly unqualified people. I feel some burden of responsibility here; I was too liberal in the past. Now what to do? When you fired the gun you cannot call back the bullet anymore! Of course many people also express gratitude at my translation work and some people will benefit from it, but the harmful side-effect of that past 'mission' of mine is that people who do not realise the spiritual nature of Rādhā and Madangopāl's loving pastimes are reading them and are - deliberately or otherwise - misrepresenting them. I deeply regret that....


  1. One wonders... What next? Just when you think you've seen someone go way out, the next guy comes and makes him look insignificant in comparison. Hail the orthodox, I say.

  2. So much for Aloha... Subal must be suffering of too much wind in that Island.

  3. It would perhaps be easier for Subal to just redo the story of Ken and Barbie with some universalist spice, rather than taking up the arduous task of having to practically do away with the whole theology underlying Vraja-lila, plus re-working the surroundings and characters of the story. "Write your own story."

    "Ken" sounds a bit like "Kanu", did anyone notice? If Ken also grew long hair like the "god of the 1600s' theologians", we could change the chant to "Hairy Ken Hairy Ken, Ken Ken Hairy Hairy": praise be to the post-modern human god, Ken. Barbie, that blond beauty of the pastimes, must not be forgotten: "Fair Barbie Fair Barbie, Barbie Barbie Fair Fair". Only through her blessings is Ken attained, for it is she, who loves Ken the most.

    The news is out that Ken may have had an affair with Cali, however. Whether it was Barbie's mAna that made the road go splitsville, or whether it was Ken that dumped her, is under debate. Some theologians attribute the split for Ken's attachment to parakiya-spirit that clashed with Barbie's desire for svakiya-bhava. The only public statement from the PR Prophets is that Ken and Barbie parted as friends.

    Somebody forward that to Subal Das Goswami. And everybody, chant together now:

    Hairy Ken Hairy Ken,
    Ken Ken Hairy Hairy !
    Fair Barbie Fair Barbie,
    Barbie Barbie Fair Fair !!

  4. When I read of Subal's UCRK church, why does my mind quickly go back to Kirtanananda's infamous "First Universal Church of Krishna"? Considering Subal's abuse of the divine lila, "First Universal Church of Krishna" might be a far more apt acronym.

    Ken and Barbie, however, are not exactly the culturally relevant icons Subal would wish to embrace. Way to 1960s. Maybe appropriate for an aging Baby Boomer like Subal, but not the stuff of relevant modern rasa-katha.

    I'm thinking that Subal's "divine couple" ought to be named Britney and Kevin, or maybe Katie and Tom. Modern readers already spend hours and hours meditating on the lila of these culturally relevant figures, so Subal should be able to leverage this for his church.

  5. Reverend Steve of the Marijuana Sacrament Church wrote somewhere that he recently gave up eating red meat, but that his wife was still enjoying it - which must make for some inconvience for them when it comes to planning what to cook for "honey" at meal time.

    Ahhh... the complexities of madhurya lila...... Ken and Barbie? Maybe they are. In the words of Frank Zappa: "plastic people".

  6. wow, five reactions - so the madangopal forum site became a reality after all, thanks to subal!

  7. Panem et circences, said Juvenal. People need bread and circuses.

  8. I myself am scratching my head on this one a bit, I'll be honest.

    I can understand the reasoning behind a post-modern approach wherein certain attitudes and rules are modified for western people.

    But actually changing the scriptural descriptions and lila is a new one for me that I dont follow.


  9. Advaitaji, I can understand your regret, but while caution in which books to translate is good I think it ultimately comes down to the adhikara of the reader. Unqualified people will abuse a good thing; how is that the translator's fault? That is their own choice and it's between them, their guru, and Krsna. If the sadhaka has done his or her work honestly and put the foundational stones of sambanha-jnana in place then they can understand rasa-sastra correctly. You didn't hold a gun to anyone's head for them to read the book.