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Saturday, April 29, 2006

Updates of madangopal.com

On pages 18-19 of the biography of Sādhu Bābā a new paragraph is created, all about japa. In it are known teachings of Sādhu Bābā to which I added this famous one:

"One should not trade on the market with a bead-bag in the hand and one should not go on parikramā (when one visits a holy place) with one’s beads, because each time one sees a saint or a temple one has to bow down and touch one’s beads to the ground, and that is a great offence to the sacred chanting beads."

And this golden memory of Sādhu Bābā, also on page 18:

Krishnā Dās: "Bābā never bestowed the title Mahārāja, Bābājī or Mātājī to any of his disciples."

On page 2 an index has been added to facilitate browsing in this file too.

More golden sayings of Niranjan Prasād Dās added to his file 'Satsanga with Niranjan Prasād Dās' (link-tab 'Opinions'), page 2:

“To remember the Guru – that is human life. I have not seen Bhagavān – how will I remember Him? I have never seen Him, but I have got (seen) my Gurudeva.”

page 3: “(Considering how central Advaita Prabhu was to Bābā) See how much he loved you by giving you the name ‘Advaita’!”

This, and much more, at www.madangopal.com!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Explanation of 'Ignorance IS an excuse"

I have received the following reaction to my last blog and I am posting the essence of it here in case it is not properly understood:

“I can't seem to work out the implications of Vijay Krishna Goswami's thoughts. I can understand that varnashram would be difficult to practice in the western world in its strictest meaning. We can also do away with samskaras or ritualistics rites that are a part of the Hindu tradition....And while in the west for myself, I will wear the clothing preferences of the women in the west, which I consider decent. On the other hand, I am sure you are not advocating for Vaishnavas living in the western country to take to meat eating again nor to practice the permissive stance of many people in the west in regard to personal relationship. Therefore can you please explain a bit more of your thoughts about the quote of Vijay Krishna. I am thinking of the absolutes and relatives lines within this particular quote.”


My response:
“Hmm there is a misunderstanding here. I was not trying to make the point that WE Western Vaiṣṇavas should be assimilating with western culture (I myself live a combination of Indian and western lifestyles, wearing Indian clothes at home and western clothes outside). When in the opening text I spoke of westerners, I meant non-devotee westerners, and the point of the blog was that Western Vaiṣṇavas are trained to think that all 'karmis' they meet on the street while on 'sankirtan' are going to go to hell because they eat meat, drink alcohol, cohabit without marriage etc. (At least we were trained like that in the 1970s, I don’t know about nowadays) The point that Sādhu Bābā and his predecessor Vijay Kṛṣṇa Gosvāmī make is that people are judged by God according to their own level of realization, their own culture and their own religious principles. Note that Vijay Kṛṣṇa Gosvāmī said that they are not sinning unless and until they realized that it is wrong what they are doing.

“Whatever is thus considered decent is accepted, and unless and until it is understood and realized to be wrong and unjust it should certainly be followed.”

And we western Vaiṣṇava-converts are certainly aware of the wrongs of alcohol and meat-consumption. Ignorance is an excuse but western converts are no longer in ignorance….

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Ignorance IS an excuse


Although most western devotees have been initially taught that all westerners go to hell because they don’t follow the Vedic principles and that ‘ignorance is no excuse’, when I told this to Sādhu Bābā he laughed and thought I had told him the joke of the year. Later, when studying the teachings of Vijay Kṛṣṇa Gosvāmī, I understood why –

“Although not every human being has the same duties, obligations and ethics, there is morality according to country, society and time. Whatever is thus considered decent is accepted, and unless and until it is understood and realised to be wrong and unjust it should certainly be followed. Whatever I believe to be my duties and propriety that is my religious principle. If one doesn’t follow one’s fundamental religious principles one meets with woe and commits sin according to one’s local, social and temporal customs and ethics. Whatever obligation and ethics one believes in and accepts with a simple heart, that is one’s religious virtue and should certainly be followed. In some places the eating of fish and meat is established custom and at other places it is rejected as a sin as if it is poison.” Vijay Krishna Goswami, June 1891.

Friday, April 14, 2006

ebe yaśa ghuṣuk tribhuvana

In my archives I found some more nectarean examples of my beloved and revered Guru-brother Śrī Nirañjan Prasād Dās’ Guru bhakti. On a tape I recorded of him in March 2000 he said:

“I was not a young man when I met the sat-Guru – When I was 60 years old I had this amazing vision – I saw the Guru - Guru, Guru. Whatever I had heard before that was at once erased. I erased everything. He pulled me to his lap – behold the vision of the Guru!”

When I wrote Nirañjan Bābu about my misgivings about preaching Bābā’s glories, quoting a warning by Kavi Karṇapura in this regard, Nirañjan Bābu wrote back (November 12, 2002):

“I became ecstatic by learning that you will preach Baba’s glories and are already engaged thus. Why do you consider scriptural statements such as guror nama na grhniyat (“One should not utter the Guru’s name”)? There will be no fault in this, because you are not doing this for spreading your own fame – this is for the benefit of all living beings, for the whole world. Indeed, you will benefit yourself to the utmost too by preaching the glories of a saint!”

This brings back the memory of how Narottam Dāsa Thākur Mahāśay closed off his famous exaltation of the Guru: ebe yaśa ghuṣuk tribhuvana – “Now let all the three worlds proclaim your fame!” (If the macrocosm of the larger world wont then let at least the microcosm of my own mind and heart do so!)

The anecdotes have been added to the file "Satsanga with Niranjan Prasād Dās", under the link-tab 'Opinions' on www.madangopal.com

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Bengalizing

I just found this post by Chanahari in Gaudiya-repercussions (Academic, controversial, eclectic) of one year ago. Never noticed this one until now: Apr 15 2005, 12:26 PM Post #2

"Advaitadas is the Westerner who reached maybe the most far away point both in effort and in faith in Bengalizing himself. I always wondered how can one so much immerge himself in a culture he is not native in (setting aside the topic whether it is needed or not in reaching Radha-Krishna...). If he is right, of course, then only Bengali and quasi-Bengali* Vaishnavas would reach the highest goal of GV, so there is no point in practicing Vaishnavism in the West at all - most of us can simply give up with any effort and fall back to the samsara, and just wait a few million lifetimes until by happenstance get a Bengali birth (maybe firstly as a monkey or a cow, and then as a woman, and then as a man ).
.....*Quasi-Bengali is, subjectively, one who lives with the Bengali cultural customs, eats the Bengali foods, wears the Bengali clothes, reads the Bengali literature (besides technical instructons), in full or nearly full exclusion of the Western correspondants, despite being not born in a Bengali family. "


This is very funny. (One wonders, of course, how much Chanahari actually knows about Bengali culture because you won't find much of it in Iskcon, not even in Māyāpur, and only a few western devotees have gone beyond such realms into the real Bengal). So let us analyse this 'Bengalizing' : Bengali cultural customs? If sadācāra or ritual purity is referred to, this is from the Vedic smṛti-scripture, and is not culturally Bengali. If fast and late eating is referred to (this is typically Bengali culture), no I don't indulge in that because I don't want to have an ulcer (last time I ate late with Bengalis was one month ago at Rādhākuṇḍa and I had the runs for two days, causing me to shift to a Brajabāsī place). Bengali cuisine is certainly the most delicious in the world, especially if prepared and offered by a Bengali brahmin! I wouldn't scrap it for a fortune!!! Bengali clothes? What is Bengali about a dhoti and a t-shirt? A dhoti is pan-Hindu/vedic and a t-shirt can be bought anywhere in the world. Bengali literature? OK, Caitanya Caritāmṛta and Advaita Prakāśa are favorites of mine, the others are all written in Sanskrit, not Bengali. Yes, I am fluent in Bengali but I only speak it when I am in the company of Bengalis and even then not always. I mostly speak English and Dutch actually.....

On the positive side, virtually all Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava ācāryas, modern or ancient (that have not fallen down) are Bengalis, Mahāprabhu and nearly all His associates appeared in Bengal, would that be coincidental? Indeed, the word Gauḍīya itself means Bengali.

I myself, however, loathe the Bengali chauvinism about being born or having to be born not only in Bengal but even in certain districts of Bengal. No one has uttered more sarcasm about this tribalism than yours truly, but I leave the last word to Śrī-Śrī Sādhu Bābā (yes, a Bengali brahmin!). When I asked him, in 1984, if a westerner could attain Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa in this lifetime he enthusiastically roared 'ek śo bār!' (Bengali for 'you bet!'). I do insist it is a safe bet to take dīkṣā from a Bengali rather than an American Guru. History has vindicated me on this point. Personally I find it even astonishing that a person can still take dīkṣā from a westerner after all his predecessors have fallen down. It is like not believing you will one day die despite seeing all older people die before you. That the Guru's birth matters is of course elaborately insisted upon by Śrīla Sanātan Gosvami and Śrīla Gopāl Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī in the opening chapter of Śrī-Śrī Hari-bhakti Vilāsa..............