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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Pramāda discussion

I recently had this e-mail discussion on inattentive practise, which I would like to share here:

Bhakta: “So far I know, there is in Śikṣāṣṭaka, nāmnām akāri bahudha... verse, which says of the nija sarva śakti invested in the holy name.”

Advaitadas: “That is true, but this does not mean it is devotional to think of other things while chanting. If you think of sex and you chant hare kṛṣṇa, it is obviously not pleasing to Kṛṣṇa. 100% attentiveness is hard for a beginner, but we should at least avoid circumstances ourselves that will cause or increase pramāda japa, like going out to the market or driving a car with our hand on a japa-mālā.

Bhakta: And it is well known that guṇa-rūpa-nāma are non-different from each other. So if we say of "pramāda japa", then it is worth mention the "pramāda līlā-smaraṇam", I think. Otherwise it comes one to think that līlā-smaraṇam is most powerful than nāma-smaraṇam.

Advaitadas: pramāda līlā smaraṇa is a contradiction in terms. When there is pramāda (inattentiveness) there can simply be no smaraṇa (remembrance) anymore. You can only think of one thing at a time, after all. Chanting with beads is a physical act, while the mind can be somewhere else. So there is a possibility of pramāda japa but not of pramāda smaraṇa.

Bhakta: “So far the beads are concerned, as I read in one recent post on your blog, then there is the method of counting on fingers, and I read that Mahāprabhu was counting nāma on his fingers, in that case there is no offence to the holy beads, so it can be outlined as a solution to that problem.”

Advaitadas: “Offenses to the holy beads occur when we bow to the ground to the deities or a sādhu while chanting japa – we hit the holy beads to the ground. Generally we are not to imitate Mahāprabhu. If we would use this argumentation we could also justify things like saffron sannyāsa with daṇḍas. Beads are described in the Hari-bhakti Vilāsa and are the regular tools for japa. I am not wholly against chanting on the fingers, though, provided there is a peaceful situation that allows concentration.”

The gist of the whole debate on japa has been uploaded to www.madangopal.com , linktab Articles, in a new file, "The Art of Japa".

22 comments:

  1. Dear Advaitadas you keep stressing pramAda japa, but generally this type of japa is really a form of nAmAbhAsa and that by constantly chanting at the stage of nAmAbhAsa the desired zuddha nAma will emerge as long as one is keeping good association.

    Of course, I am in no way condoning chanting japa while driving or while performing other such distracting activities. That is obviously not a good plan.

    You mention chanting while thinking of sex is not devotional, but the mind will certainly wander until one has reached a high level of nAma bhajan, and sex will likely be one of the mind's destinations at times. What is one to do except to keep chanting with an aim to serve zrI nAma?

    I feel that your comments regarding pramAda japa may be discouraging people in their pursuit of chanting a daily lakh instead of encouraging the practice.

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  2. Advaitadas, in your original post you mention thinking of other things while chanting. Other than what? What do you recommend one think of while chanting?

    Isn't sannyasa and the wearing of saffron mentioned in Haribhakti Vilasa?

    Last but not least, where in sastra is the word babaji to be found?

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  3. "Attention is given to this because many people are not so intelligent as your good self and may be misled by such people."

    What is it going to be Advaitadas? Is it ok to be intelligent or not?

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  4. "Advaitadas, in your original post you mention thinking of other things while chanting. Other than what? What do you recommend one think of while chanting?"

    There is nama smarana, rupa smarana and lila smarana. This is of course the highest thing. However this requires purity of heart. If that is not possible, I personally recommend to read something about Radha Krishna or Gaura, but not too much. I get the impression that the three comments are from the same person and I would appreciate it in general if all commentators would sign their comments.

    "Isn't sannyasa and the wearing of saffron mentioned in Haribhakti Vilasa?"

    No. Rather, it is forbidden in HBV to wear red or blue garments. It is said in HBV that to wear red cloth is like being naked. Red cloth is also forbidden in CC Antya 13.61 by the same Sanatan Gosvami.

    "Last but not least, where in sastra is the word babaji to be found? "

    I have not spoken a word about the babaji phenomenon on my blogspot and I am not a supporter of the babajis, period. I dont know where you got the impression that I am. The word babaji is Arabic. Anyone who lives in a European neighborhood with many Muslim immigrants will know it. Indeed the word Babaji is not mentioned in any shastra at all because it is Arabic and not Sanskrit.

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  5. "Of course, I am in no way condoning chanting japa while driving or while performing other such distracting activities. That is obviously not a good plan. "

    Then we are in agreement. So what is wrong with my objections against pramAda japa?

    "I feel that your comments regarding pramAda japa may be discouraging people in their pursuit of chanting a daily lakh instead of encouraging the practice."

    Regarding pramada japa - If a devotee has anarthas, what should one do - encourage them or discourage them? One must first know that there IS an anartha to start with, otherwise how can one even try to give it up? Chanting one lakh has been a different issue on my blogspot. I never discouraged it, rather in my reaction to the 64 rounds blog I have quoted 3 times that I think it is a great thing, under conditions.

    "What is one to do except to keep chanting with an aim to serve zrI nAma?"

    Did I say that one should stop chanting because one cannot keep on target? Do you think that it is encouraging if I said nothing instead?

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  6. "What is it going to be Advaitadas? Is it ok to be intelligent or not? "

    I have no idea what the point of this question is. Anonymous, why dont you have the courage to identify yourself? Anyway even if you dont, at least explain this question.

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  7. Advaitadas, in regard to red clothes (saffron, ochre, similar hues) what about these devotees who are wearing reddish clothes:
    http://www.gambhira.com/events.htm

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  8. "Advaitadas, in regard to red clothes (saffron, ochre, similar hues) what about these devotees who are wearing reddish clothes: "

    As you can read in an earlier blog, it is my policy not to affront any particular Vaishnava, any camp and especially not a senior Vaishnava acarya. But objectively speaking, the fact remains that the wearing of red/saffron clothes is forbidden in several places by Srila Sanatan Gosvamipad.

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  9. Ok, I just thought I would ask.

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  10. The question on intelligence is in regard statements of yours elsewhere. In general you give the impression that you strongly question the relevance of intellectualism in bhakti. However, in answering someone who questioned why you felt the need to expose SUbal's misleading ideas, you replied that less intelligent people may need such assistance. This obviously sounds contradictory of you, not to mention pratronizing even if well intentioned. If you trust intelligence in any way, just give it its due credit.

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  11. "However, in answering someone who questioned why you felt the need to expose SUbal's misleading ideas, you replied that less intelligent people may need such assistance."

    Janardan, please rephrase this sentence, because I am not intelligent enough to understand. If you refer to my opposition to Vaishnavas who abandon self-realised souls to take 'shelter' of mundane intellectuals, I think it is in line with my opposition to Subal's idea. The bottom line is the same - they harbour a mundane conception towards the divine.

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  12. Intelligence, as everything, can be used or misused. That much is obvious. I understand that Advaitadas objects to use of intellect that either:

    * Sways aside from the parameters of the scripture, or
    * Does not have the cultivation of bhakti as its object.

    Intelligence is a razor. Its haphazard use, especially when endowed with a false sense of self-esteem, obstructs the growth of devotion, or makes a bloody mess to keep with the metaphor.

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  13. Vashnavas do not abandon self-realised souls to take shelter of mundane intellectuals. This would be a contradiction. You might like to review your own concept of Vaishnava.

    Regarding my question, you have not answered why you contradict yourself. You either believe discrimination through intelligence is favorable to bhakti or not. You said, "many people are not so intelligent as your good self and may be misled--" Here you are clearly referring to intellect as in capacity of discrimination.

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  14. "Vashnavas do not abandon self-realised souls to take shelter of mundane intellectuals. This would be a contradiction. You might like to review your own concept of Vaishnava."

    Be a bit more merciful than that, Janardan. Be more gentle and soft please. You are being too strict (that sounds familiar to you?).

    "Here you are clearly referring to intellect as in capacity of discrimination. "

    As far as I can understand your challenge at all - You are confusing intellect and intelligence here. Intellect may lead to delusion as in the abovementioned class of Vaishnavas, intelligence is never misleading. If I knew any scriptural references I would provide them. Perhaps I can distinguish them with the word buddhi (one of the 8 external energies of the Lord as in BG 7.4) and buddhi yoga (as in BG 10.10) I am afraid, though, that even this attempt to reply to your skewed questioning will lead to another avalanche of misunderstanding on your side.

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  15. "Be a bit more merciful than that, Janardan. Be more gentle and soft please. You are being too strict (that sounds familiar to you?)."

    The only sure thing I can gather from this is that you are attempting at sarcasm. I don't mind the tone, but I am not sure I understand what you mean exactly. I will reafirm my position thought that I do not accept that a genuine Vaishnava ever takes shelter of mundane intellectuals. Hence I suggest you review your concept of Vaishnava. Sorry if sounds harsh. Its not intended thus.

    I also disagree with your idea that intellect and intelligence are necessarily distinct. Moreover, I don't think you understand the concept of budhi yoga in Bg. 10.10 as fully as you like to believe you do.

    But the issue is really something else. It is in regard you patronizing people in general. You did say that whoever is attracted to Subal's ideas are not intelligent enough and therefore may need your help.

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  16. "I am not sure I understand what you mean exactly."

    Indeed and that is likewise.

    "Sorry if sounds harsh. Its not intended thus."

    Oh but it is. It is not your opinion that bothers me - you may be right or wrong I dont know - it is your attitude.

    "Moreover, I don't think you understand the concept of budhi yoga in Bg. 10.10 as fully as you like to believe you do."

    Perhaps. You are invited to give your own tika if you want. I see here the words bhajatam priti purvakam - worshiping constantly with love. That results in buddhi yoga. tesaam hrdvrttisvaham eva udbhavayamiti sa buddhiyogah svato anyasmacca(Visvanatha tika) 'buddhi yoga is that I (Krishna) appear in the activities of their hearts. It is not attained from anywhere else" Do you think that equals taking a phD course (which is intellect as opposed to intelligence) from Professor J.Whiskey Beefsteak at College after being a babaji in Navadvip for 6 years? And yet I am still merciful enough to call such a person a Vaishnava. You arent.

    "You did say that whoever is attracted to Subal's ideas are not intelligent enough and therefore may need your help."

    You expect everyone to understand your own skewed understanding? WHERE HAVE I EVER SAID SUCH A THING THEN? Perhaps it is because of insufficient knowledge of English (by me or by you)?

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  17. The man of many objections is in the studio, I gather. It might be prudent to spend an introspective moment reflecting whether the current use of intelligence is devotionally conducive and in accordance with proper Vaisnava behavior.

    (That is, if I may be so audacious as to thereby question the genuinity of the anonymous author's Vaisnavatva by suggesting that his evidently active intellect might not be applied in a manner that elevates his bhajan.)

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  18. Alright then, please be so kind as to again explain your words here: "Attention is given to this because many people are not so intelligent as your good self and may be misled- "

    What do you mean by "not so intelligent as your good self-"? You mean not so honest, sincere, strict, careful, surrendered, fortunate--?

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  19. "You mean not so honest, sincere, strict, careful, surrendered, fortunate--? "

    Dear Janardan, that just takes a Russian-English dictionary. Intelligent doesnt mean these synonyms you mention. If you have been blasting me for the last 5 days or so for this small sentence it reeks of obsession. I just expressed my concern that some people will be misled by Subal because they may lack the training and background it takes to stand firm behind the conceptions of the Six Gosvamis. Does that finally answer your question to your satisfaction?

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  20. "Many people may not be as intelligent as..."

    "Many people may not be as practically experienced and scripturally knowledgeable as..."

    "Many people may not have the intelligence to discriminate between a genuine Vaisnava and a snake-oil salesman."

    I am a bit at a loss, seeing such extended wrangling over something like this.

    When the intelligence is unable to decipher anything clearly, it is overcome by tamas. When the intelligence is branching out in all directions, uncontrolled, it is overcome by rajas. When the intelligence is peaceful and illuminated, it is situated in sattva.

    To be able to exercise discrimination and self-analysis over the status quo of the intelligence, one should be situated beyond: yo buddheH paratas tu saH. Buddhi is born of rajas; to ravel on the platform of the buddhi without rising to buddhi-yoga, one is in a precarious situation. When the buddhi is established in yoga, one becomes established in sattva.

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  21. I'd like to state for the record that, by reading the earlier posts of this pramAda-japa discussion that Advaitaji kindly directed me to, I have discovered the identity of the humble devotee who spoke about his inclination to perform japa while driving.

    When I made my own comment elsewhere about knowing a devotee who does japa while driving, and made further comment on that, I was not referring to the humble devotee mentioned above. I was in fact referring to a devotee in my own locality. Just in case people take offence at my words or something, which was completely unintentional.

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  22. Good job Madhava on buddhi yoga. Thanks. Thanks Advaitadas also for your good intentions on protecting the integrity of gaudiya vaisnavism although, "the training and background it takes to stand firm behind the conceptions of the Six Gosvamis" is no one's particular trophy. Not yet, right?

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