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Monday, July 03, 2006

Worship of the mālā

Today I found the following personal correspondence in my archives, that are really applicable to the recent japa discussions:

Advaitadas:
"On the one hand Bābā has tought us “It is forbidden to take one’s japa-mālā out on the road, to the market, to the bathing-places, to public gatherings, wearing shoes, talking to others or chewing betelnuts – it will be disrespectful to Śrī Harināma. In this way ruci for hari-nāma will never come, rather there will be an increase of ego and it will create a big offence at the lotus-feet of Śrī-Śrī Hari-nāma.”

Yet on the other hand Śrīman Mahāprabhu says in Caitanya Caritāmṛta (Antya 20) khāite śuite yathā tathā nāma loy, kāla deśa niyama nāi sarva-siddhi hoy – “Whether you are eating or reclining, wherever you take the name of Kṛṣṇa, regardless of time or place, you will attain all perfection.” How can we understand this apparent contradiction?” (Letter, October 4, 1996)

Niranjan Prasād Dās:
The verse khāite śuite yathā tathā nāma loy, kāla deśa niyama nāi sarva-siddhi hoy (C.C Ch.20) deals with Śrī Hari-nāma kīrtana, which is a public affair – anytime – anywhere – loudly or within oneself, but: japa on one’s mālā is a hidden thing, it must be done in solitude (nirjane, ekānta); it is the order of the scriptures, and above all, of Śrī Gurudeva. The scriptures (Haribhakti Vilāsa 17.58) say:


bhūta rākṣasa vetālāḥ siddha gandharva cāraṇāḥ
haranti prakaṭaṁ yasmāt tasmāt guptaṁ japet sudhīḥ


"The ghosts, Rākṣasas, Vetālās, Siddhas, Gandharvas and the cosmic wanderers take the (benefit of the) japa of the public chanter. Hence the wise must do japa in secret."

japānya-kāle mālāṁ tu pūjayitvā sugopayet –

In times other than japa-time one should worship the mālā and keep it hidden.” (Haribhakti Vilāsa 17.57) (Letter, December 4, 1996)

The discussion has been added to both the 'Art of Japa' and the 'Satsanga wth Niranjan Prasad Das' files under the linktab 'Opinions' on www.madangopal.com

12 comments:

  1. Are we not supposed to do japa for the pleasure of the Lord and not for our benefit? So IF there is any benefit, why can't it go to ghosts, gandharva's etc.? It might help them...

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  2. haha Well I never thought of it like that - the verse, however, says haranti, 'they take it away' - They dont leave you a share of the benefit.

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  3. I've also heard this note of bhutas, raksasas and so forth. Could you please comment on whether you see it as factual in its direct literal sense, and if so, how does it go together with our theology? How can the results of devotional practice just be "taken" like that?

    (The reference is, in the GGM edition, 15.130-131. Yours must be the from the edition where verses are bundled together by theme and numbered as such.)

    ~ * ~

    What would you say to those who were of the opinion that such statements pertain to japa of the diksa-mantra, and not the maha-mantra, which does not have the "formal" structure of a mantra and is therefore less slack in its strictures? The 17th vilasa does, after all, also deal with themes such as purascarana, and the concept of receiving diksa as a prerequisite is mentioned in a couple of locations.

    With that, I would like to clarify that I am also not a supporter of "action japa", but though obviously sitting on the asana in solitude is always the best and the preferred option, I do not find walking in the forest or otherwise in non-crowded places free from distraction objectionable. (I do wish to cover my mala, however - I feel naked if even just the bead-bag is exposed.)

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  4. Madhava: "I've also heard this note of bhutas, raksasas and so forth. Could you please comment on whether you see it as factual in its direct literal sense, and if so, how does it go together with our theology? How can the results of devotional practice just be "taken" like that?"

    One way in which the results of practice can be taken is aparadha. If the acaryas forbid an open display of japa and one disobeys, what else is it?

    Madhava: "(The reference is, in the GGM edition, 15.130-131. Yours must be the from the edition where verses are bundled together by theme and numbered as such.)"

    Indeed, I am thinking of getting the properly numbered one next time I go to Vraja.

    Madhava: "What would you say to those who were of the opinion that such statements pertain to japa of the diksa-mantra, and not the maha-mantra, which does not have the "formal" structure of a mantra and is therefore less slack in its strictures? The 17th vilasa does, after all, also deal with themes such as purascarana, and the concept of receiving diksa as a prerequisite is mentioned in a couple of locations."

    I have asked this to Keshava Das from Australia, the ‘Incarnation of Arcana’ and an old friend. He replied to me (March 24, 2005 GD PM:)

    K - "Advaitaji, sorry for the late reply. Yes, the entire 17th vilasa is about purascaranam. However that does not mean that the things spoken of about japa do not apply to harinam japa also. I assume that the japa spoken of in this context is the japa of the diksha mantras which are given in the second vilasa. However I think that general points about japa like the three types of japa, types of malas, etc, etc, apply equally to harinam japa. Personally I don't make much distinction between these different types of japa. I know that Gaudiyas consider Harinam (in whatever form) to be distinct from other mantras but perhaps other Vaisnavas do not see such a distinction. It would seem to me that at the time HBV was written Vaisnava society in general and the authors in particular had not fully formed this distinct Gaudiya doctirne of difference between Harinam and other Visnu mantras. Perhaps if you look at later works you will see the distintion being made more clearly.

    Keshava[/QUOTE]

    Which of course brings up the question: "If the distinction has been created after HBV, then where, by whom (more authoritative than Sanatan Gosvami) and why?

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  5. One way in which the results of practice can be taken is aparadha. If the acaryas forbid an open display of japa and one disobeys, what else is it?

    Yes, I agree – I was specifically asking if your view was that the results are literally taken by bhutas, pretas and the such, and if so, how can such entities lay any claim on a devotional activity?

    ~ * ~

    Indeed, I am thinking of getting the properly numbered one next time I go to Vraja.

    Mahanambrata's edition is like this, and so is the other one I saw on the market, so be sure to see what you're about to get.

    ~ * ~

    Which of course brings up the question: "If the distinction has been created after HBV, then where, by whom (more authoritative than Sanatan Gosvami) and why?

    The obvious trouble here is that maha-mantra is not mentioned in Hari-bhakti-vilasa at all. The fact that it is hardly discussed in the Gosvamis' writings leaves us with a plurality of interpretations.

    A famous response to this would, of course, be Mahaprabhu's words, sarva kSaNa bolo ithe vidhi nAhi Ara, after his instruction to do japa (CBh 2.23.75-78).

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  6. Madhava: Mahanambrata's edition is like this, and so is the other one I saw on the market, so be sure to see what you're about to get.

    I have MNB's edition. Which is the other one? I wont take the old one
    with me to India to compare you see - too heavy. Some Bengalis in Iskcon Amsterdam showed interest in my old Bengali books.

    Madhava: I was specifically asking if your view was that the results are literally taken by bhutas, pretas and the such, and if so, how can such entities lay any claim on a devotional activity?

    It may well be a Puranic statement-of-intent, but does it matter?
    The point is well made all the same - tasmAd guptaM japed sudhIH

    Madhava: A famous response to this would, of course, be Mahaprabhu's words, sarva kSaNa bolo ithe vidhi nAhi Ara, after his instruction to do japa (CBh 2.23.75-78).

    Well this statement is a typical mahima kirtan, or glorification.
    Otherwise, 'ithe vidhi nahi ara' could mean one could take one's sacred mala into the stoolhouse too..

    Madhava: The obvious trouble here is that maha-mantra is not mentioned in Hari-bhakti-vilasa at all.

    I'd swear I saw it there back in the '80s when I was at Radhakund,
    but a Word-search through my e-copy indeed didnt produce any results. Perhaps it is in the tika then......

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  7. Advaitadas, I have heard that the nane of Sri Radha is not mentioned in HBV. Is that so? Again, is worship of Radha Govinda mentioned? Is the worship described worship of Vrndavan-candra or of Narayana?

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  8. Radha's name is not all over the place, for sure. I found Her just twice in this 11,000 verse book - 7.375-381 in the saptAvaraNa pUjA, and 11.154 in the zayana vidhi. Generally HBV does not deal with Radha-Govinda in Sweet Vraja, though the above quotes and perhaps a few more are exceptions. It is a huge, comprehensive body of ritual collected from various smriti shastras, dealing with Tulasi, Ekadasi, Mantras, all possible vows connected with Narayana, the ten avataras and also Krishna, annual vows etc. etc.

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  9. Thanks for that feedback.

    I was wondering, do you know of any English translations of the sections dealing with diksa which might be available in digital format(word, text etc).

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  10. I have a part of the HBV in e-format but not the diksa chapter. I believe the whole HBV English is now available as a book from Rasbihari Lal in Vrindavan. I dont know who published it and how reliable the translation is, though.

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  11. Very very interesting post. I like it, thank you.

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