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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

On siddha praṇālī

On siddha pranali, Muralidhara das states today in Audarya-fellowship:

In fact there is a situation where, generation after generation, the successive gurus in various "traditional communities" of Gaudiya Vaishnavas are giving instruction about "siddha-deha" to new initiates, with the gurus telling the disciples about their own "siddha name" and "siddha form", as well as the disciple's form and name: "you are such-and-such manjari"; but in reality these so-called gurus have no real vision of either their own real spiritual form or the spiritual body of their so-called disciples. The so-called gurus haven't realized their own real "siddha form". Nor have they attained the realized the stage of Prema (pure love). But they are initiating new disciples and telling the disciple "you are a manjari and your name is such-and-such-manjari". The practices of these people are in fact a mere imitation of the practices of Gopal Guru Goswami, Dhyanacandra Goswami and other devotees of the past who had a real and direct understanding of the transcendental form of their innermost self (swarup siddha).

This is objectionable. How does Muralidhara das know whether or not these 'so-called' Gurus are self-realized and have prema or not? It is insinuating, which is dangerous in relation to Vaiṣṇavas. There lies the chance of Vaiṣṇava aparādha. Let Muralidhara come forward and tell us which 'so-called Guru' is not realized and has no prema, yet gives siddha pranali.

"In his commentary (on Bhakti Rasamrita 1.2.291), Srila Vishvanatha Cakravarti Prabhu points out that in this verse Sri Rupa Gosvami has clearly defined raganuga bhakti. Here, Sri Rupa Goswami states that those individuals who in their intrinsic nature feel an intense longing and firm attachment for service following in the wake of the feelings and sentiments of the residents of Vrindaban, with no thought or attraction for the majesties of the Godhead, are alone eligible for following in the way of raganuga bhakti. The person eligible for raganuga bhakti may spontaneously follow Sri Radha and other Gopis in madhura rati, Nanda-Yasoda and others in vatsalya rati, Sridama-Sudama and others in sakhya rati, or Citraka-Patraka and others in dasya rati."

Factually, however, Viśvanātha Cakravartī says nothing of the kind. He says:

prasaṅgato rāgātmikāyā lakṣaṇam uktvā prastutayā rāgānugāyā lakṣaṇam āha - rāgātmikāyā iti. rāgātmika bhaktau eka-niṣṭhaṁ yeṣāṁ teṣāṁ vrajavāsināṁ śrī kṛṣṇe yo bhāvas tat sājātīya bhāvāptaye lubdha ityarthaḥ.


"In the course of discussing rāgātmikā bhakti, rāgānugā bhakti is also defined, in this verse rāgātmikaika etc. The greed to attain the same feelings towards Śrī Kṛṣṇa that the exclusively fixed rāgātmikā vrajavāsī bhaktas have (is called rāgānugā bhakti)."

The word 'spontaneous' is not there, 'attraction for the majesties' is not there, nor is there any mentioning of Yaśodā, Sudāmā and Patraka etc.

Also, it is not that the siddha deha comes just falling out of the sky, like it's pure divine revelation and no sādhana or preliminary meditation is involved. Śrī Kṛṣṇadās Kavirāja has written in his commentary on Kṛṣṇa Karnāmṛta, verse 3, that in the unripe stage, preceding bhāva, one may meditate on one's own desired siddha deha -

rāgānugā mārge anutpanna-rati sādhaka-bhaktair api svepsita siddha dehaṁ manasi parikalpya bhagavat sevādikam kriyate. jata ratīnam tu svayam eva tad deha sphūrteḥ

"In the ripe stage of bhāva it becomes manifest by itself." This is confirmed by Narottama Dāsa Thākur in his Premabhakti Candrikā:

sādhane bhāvibo yāhā, siddha dehe pābo tāhā

 pakkāpakka mātra sei vicāra 


'What I think of in my sādhana is what I will attain in my siddhi. The only difference is ripeness or rawness." On the other hand again, Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī says that one does need to be pure-hearted in order to be able to meditate on anything. So the truth lies in the middle. Nor the stern approach of Bhaktisiddhānta nor the 'anything goes'- approach of some bābājīs is balanced.

Muralīdhara then continues:

Baladeva quotes the Chandogya Upanishad, which states:
"Thus does that serene being, arising from this body, appear in its own form, as soon as it has approached the highest light, the knowledge of Self. He, in that state, is the highest person (uttama purusha). He moves about there laughing or eating, playing, and rejoicing in his mind, be it with women, carriages, or relatives, never minding that body into which he was born. - Chandogya Upanishad 8.12.3.
In his Govinda Bhasya commentary Sri Baladev Vidyabhusan then quotes the following verse from the Padma Purana:
anur nityo vyapti-silas cid-anandatmakas tatha
aham artho 'vyayah saksi bhinna-rupah sanatanah
The soul is atomic, eternal, is present by consciousness everywhere in the material body, is by nature full of spiritual bliss and knowledge, has a sense of individual identity, is unchanging, is a witness within the body, and is different from the Supreme.
Srila Baladev Vidyabhusan states that the spiritual form of bliss the liberated being attains is the original form of the soul that lay dormant within when the soul was in illusion. The Vedanta Sutra tells us that the spiritual body of the liberated being is the soul's original form. This form is a form of eternity, knowledge and bliss, as is mentioned in the verse above (cid-ananda-atma). It is not that the soul attains liberation and enters into a spiritual body or a form of existence which is an external imposition, an external state of being different from the self itsef. Not at all. The liberated soul realizes the spiritual nature of one's own inner being."


This, however, does not contradict the 'superimposition of a siddha svarūpa'. The above quotes of Narottama and Kṛṣṇadās Kavirāja make it clear that one does meditate on details of the siddha svarūpa in an unripe state. The quotes from Baladeva and the Upaniṣads simply state that the soul is unchangeable, intrinsically spiritual etc, and there is neither acceptance or rejection of meditating on the details of one's siddha-svarūpa in these quotes.

By saying It is not that the soul attains liberation and enters into a spiritual body or a form of existence which is an external imposition, an external state of being different from the self itsef. Not at all. The liberated soul realizes the spiritual nature of one's own inner being." Muralidhara contradicts himself, as in the beginning of his essay he did acknowledge the validity of the siddha praṇālī-process given by "Gopal Guru Goswami, Dhyanacandra Goswami and other devotees of the past who had a real and direct understanding of the transcendental form of their innermost self (swarup siddha)."

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Hindus, Vaiṣṇavas and the eating of meat.

While reading a thread on gaudiyarepercussions.com about meat-eating in the Vedic civilization I am wondering if the participants have ever been to India or they have any experience of Vedic life outside of Iskcon at all. No Vaiṣṇava ācārya has ever claimed that the Vedic civilization on the whole is one of pure vegetarianism, nor are Vedic- and Vaiṣṇava culture totally identical or even compatible. One who has lived in India will surely know that most Hindus are not vegetarians, though they will abstain from beef. Scriptures like Harivaṁśa and books about Rāmacandra (haven't seen that myself though, so I can't confirm or deny it) and Brahma Vaivarta Purāṇa (that I did read) may have described Rāma or the Brajabāsīs eating meat. One must understand here that, at least the Brahma Vaivarta Purāṇa (which I can judge) is a Purāṇa in the mode of passion (rajo-guna) and that colors its subjective depiction of Kṛṣṇa līlā as well.

However, the books quoted in that thread are not quoted in the Gosvāmīs' books. nānā śāstra vicāranaika nipuṇau saddharma saṁsthāpakau (Śrīnivāsācārya's Ṣaḍ gosvāmyaṣṭakam - 2) "The Gosvāmīs were expert in scrutinizing various (not all) scriptures to establish the sad-dharma, the true religion." The outcome of their studies is that meat, fish and eggs are not served during Vaiṣṇava feasts, not in Iskcon, but also not in the Gaudiya Maṭha, with the bābājīs, Gosvāmīs or anywhere. It is also mentioned in Bhagavad Gītā (9.26) and the Bhagavat (1.17.38. śūnaḥ prāṇī-vadhah...adharma - 'killing other living beings is adharma', Viśvanātha ṭīkā) that a Vaiṣṇava is to be a vegetarian. Nobody has ever claimed that Vedic civilization itself is or has ever been vegetarian.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Mahāprabhu about respect in general

From Caitanya Caritāmṛta (Antya 4. 135-169) we learn that junior devotees should not instruct senior devotees. In this narration we see that Jagadānanda Paṇḍit advised Sanātana Gosvāmī to go to Vṛndāvana, but when Mahāprabhu heard that he was very angry, because Jagadānanda Paṇḍita was junior to Sanātana Goswāmī not just vyavahāre, materially, by being younger in age, but also paramārthe, spiritually, because Sanātana Gosvami was like his Guru (CC Antya 4.159 vyavahāre paramārthe tumi - tāra guru tulya). Mahāprabhu thus set the standard for devotees of all time to act according to maryādā, or protocol. He will be very angry when junior devotees instruct senior ones - maryādā laṅghana āmi sohite nā pāri (C.C. Antya 4.166) "I cannot tolerate breach of the protocol."

One should note, however, that if a devotee senior in age is inferior in spiritual advancement one need not heed the instructions of such a senior devotee-by-age-only. After all, Mahaprabhu said of Sanātana Gosvāmī: kāhā tumi - prāmāṇika, śāstre pravīṇa; kāhā jagā - kālikāra batuyā navīna (CC Antya 4.167) "Where are you, expert in the scriptures and a great authority, and where is Jagadānanda in comparison, a new student?" Sanātana Gosvāmī was not just superior in age.…….

This paragraph is added to the end of my essay 'Who or what is a brahmin or a Guru?' on the 'Articles'- page of www.madangopal.com

More cautions by Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī

Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī said in Gopāl Campū (1.23.1) that the Rāsa-līlā is for private discussion, not public hearing: tad etad govinda vraja vijana kāntānuvacanam dadhadbhir yogyasya śravasi param arpyam na sadasi - 'This confidential Rāsa-līlā topic is to be heard by qualified people who carry Govinda in their hearts, not in a public assembly."

This cautionary note is added to the footnote on page 6 of my essay "Qualification for Raganuga Bhakti" under the linktab 'Articles' of www.madangopal.com.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Regrets

I remember that, in 1988, when the late Rohiṇīndranāth Mitra of Keśī-ghāṭ 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 Sādhu Bābā 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 āśram as Navadvīp is full of sahajīyas). Nevertheless I continued to read, translate and distribute rasika kathā. Now self-confessed sahajīyas 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....

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Egghead civil war?

www.gaudiyadiscussions.com went down in turmoil today and is unavailable after its moderator Jagat (J.K. Brzezinski/Jagadānanda dās Bābājī/Hiranyagarbha Mahārāja) came out of the closet as a sahajīya. Since June 2004 www.madangopal.com held a relentless but fruitless campaign against him, revealing him as an infidel, opportunist, offender, power-mongerer, mundane scholar, vow-breaker, diplomat, arrogant intellectual, defiant renegade and whatnot, but he turns out to be even more than that - a self-confessed sahajīya. That turned out too much even for his staunchest ally Mādhavānanda, who defended all his aparādhas until now through thick and thin, even to his Guru, who then had 2,000 copies of his book Mādhurya Kādambinī, re-translated by Jagat, printed in English. A hard rain is falling now on all those who supported Jagat all these years, ignoring all our warnings.....

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Orthodox

Trying to place the modern western term 'orthodox' into Vedic/Indian/Vaiṣṇava perspective has proven interesting and flattering indeed. The English-Bengali dictionary translates it into naiṣṭika, which is also a Sanskrit word. bhaktir bhavati naiṣṭhikī (S.B. 1.2.18) naiṣṭhikī niṣṭhā cittaikāgryaṁ tāṁ prāptā - "naiṣṭhikī means attaining niṣṭhā or a fixed mind." (Viśvanātha Cakravartī's ṭīkā) The V.S. Apte Sanskrit dictionary translates naiṣṭhika back into English as follows - "Final, last, concluding, decided, definitive, conclusive, fixed, firm, constant, highest, perfect, completely familiar with or versed in." Next time folks call me orthodox, I will blush of shyness at the flattery....

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Advaitācārya, the greatest Guru of madhura rasa

Today, as I browsed through Murāri Gupta's 'Caitanya Carita Mahākāvya', I found a beautiful verse in the introduction (1.20) which ends with this line:

śrī-yuktādvaita-varyaḥ parama-rasa-kalācāraya īśo vireje

(Syntax: śrī-yuktaḥ = resplendent; advaita-varyaḥ = the superexcellent advaita prabhu; parama = the supreme; rasa = relation with God; kalā = the arts; ācārya = teacher; īśaḥ = God; vireje = shines.

"The most glorious Advaita Ācārya is the Supreme Lord and the greatest teacher of the supreme rasa  (the divine amorous flavour in relation to Śrī Kṛṣṇa)."

This adds to the existing evidence that Advaita Ācārya is indeed the bestower of madhura rasa, despite claims to the contrary. This line has been added to page 1 of my essay 'In defense of the Advaita Vaṁśa' at the linktab 'Articles' on http://www.madangopal.com/.