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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

More Sādhu Bābā on arcana


An extra paragraph, all about deity-worship (arcanā), has been added to the biography of Sādhu Bābā, on page 40. Apart from what Bābā told me personally about it I have collected and added these authoritative statements too –

“Bābā did not encourage deity worship – he said that one should deeply realize that the deity is God Himself and that one must be keenly aware of the possibility of committing sevāparādha, offences in temple worship. He preferred the worship of pictures over the worship of statues and images, because worshiping pictures can only benefit and not harm the worshiper. A lapse in worship of a picture will not have reactions like a lapse of worship of a statue. His altar was simple – there was not a myriad of deities, pictures or images – just Gopāl, Śrī Gurudeva and Advaita Prabhu. That is enough. So many images will just create confusion. It is the mental faith and reverence that counts – one must actually be able to concentrate mentally on the deity. eka-niṣṭhā nā hole bhajan nā jāy rakṣaṇa – “Without one-pointedness bhajan cannot be maintained.”

It's at the link-tab 'Nikunja Gopal Gosvami' on www.madangopal.com!

Encouragement

In regards to the siddha-praṇālī controversy I found this letter today from my senior Guru-brother Śrī Nirañjan Prasād Dās, dated May 20, 1999 -

Advaitadās: “On the one hand Bābā forbade me to study advanced literature on Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa’s intimate pastimes if I was too afflicted by lusty desires, and on the other hand he gave me elevated things like siddha praṇālī and Vilāpa Kusumāñjali at the very beginning of my sādhana path. How can I understand this apparent contradiction?”

Niranjan Prasād Dās: “There is no contradiction. I think it is but a loving anuśāsan (advise, command) of a loving father (well-wisher) towards his beloved son, like the words of Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa uttered to His friend Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukṣetra –


klaibyam mā sma gama pārtha naitat tvayyupapadyate. 
kṣudraṁ hṛdaya daurbalyaṁ tyaktvottiṣṭa parantapah 

(Bhagavad Gītā 2.3) 

“O Arjuna, it’s not befitting you that you lose your prowess now. Give up this paltry weakness of heart and rise!”

In this new endeavor one must proceed, trampling all the anarthas (unwanted bad old habits) on the path of sādhana (spiritual practice). That was Bābā’s basic desire. He was doing this just for your benefit.”

Since he quoted the Gita verse 2.3, Nirañjan Bābu must have wanted to say that Bābā wanted to encourage me in this way. The text is inserted in page 13 of the file 'Satsanga with Niranjan Prasad Das' at the link-tab 'Opinions' on www.madangopal.com

Monday, May 22, 2006

Uttama adhikārī


Śrīla Raghunātha dās Gosvāmī's Prarthanasraya Caturdasakam, verse 3:


UDAÑCAT KĀRUṆYĀMṚTA VITARAṆAIR JĪVITA JAGAD
YUVADVANDVAṀ GANDHAIR GUṆA SUMANASĀṀ VĀSITA JANAM
KṚPĀṀ CEN MAYYEVAM KIRATI NA TADĀ TVAṀ KURU TATHĀ
YATHĀ ME ŚRĪ KUṆḌE SAKHI SAKALAM AṄGAṀ NIVASATI


udañcat - arisen; kāruṇya - compassion; amṛta - nectar; vitaraṇaih - by distributing; jīvita - enlivening; jagat - the world; yuva - youthful; dvandvaṁ - couple; gandhaiḥ - with fragrances; guṇa - attributes; sumanasāṁ - flowers; vāsita - scents; janam - people; kṛpāṁ - mercy; cet - if; mayi - to me; evaṁ - thus; kirati - does; na - not; tadā - then; tvaṁ - you; kuru - do; tathā - then; yathā - so that; me - my; śrī kuṇḍe - by Śrī Rādhākuṇḍa; sakhi - O friend!; sakalam - all; aṅgaṁ - body; nivasati - resides.


O sakhi (Rūpa Mañjari)! If this Youthful Couple, that enlivens the whole world by distributing the nectar of Their mercy and that scents all the people with the fragrance of Their flower-like attributes, do not bestow Their mercy on me, then please arrange for it that I can always stay at Śrī Rādhākuṇḍa!


Each verse of Śrīla Raghunātha dās Gosvāmī’s is laden with rasa and prema. He sees the Divine Pair pervading the whole universe. Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa are everywhere for the uttama adhikārī. It is said in Śrīmad Bhāgavata (11.2.45):

sarva bhūteṣu yaḥ paśyed bhagavad-bhāvam ātmanaḥ 
bhūtani bhagavatyātmāṇyeṣa bhāgavatottamaḥ 

“The uttamādhikārī sees Kṛṣṇa, the Self of all selves, in every creature and sees every creature in the Lord, who is the Self of all selves.”

So though the conditioned souls themselves can actually not experience the nectar of Their mercy or smell the flowers of Their attributes, the uttamādhikārī sees it that way. Śrīla Raghunātha dās Gosvāmī described similar visions in his Viśākhānandada-stotram (49) – āvaikuṇṭham ajāṇḍāli vataṁsīkṛta sad-yaśaḥ “Rādhā’s true fame is the flower which decorates the ear of each person in all the universes, all the way up to Vaikuṇṭha.” And one of the 108 names he gave to Rādhikā is jagadānandi sad-yaśaḥ “Her true fame delights the whole world.”

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Qualification for siddha praṇālī


Qualification for siddha praṇālī does not come by just being formally or socially initiated into the renounced order, since rāgānugā bhakti is not about social orders to begin with, it is all about ruci (taste). For example, in 1983, when I lived in a courtyard in Gokulānanda Ghat, Navadvip (not in Sādhu Bābā's ashram!), Jagat and me had a bābājī-guest staying in the garden-house for a while, who slept most of the day and night, and when awake spoke mostly on mundane matters like India's independence day. On the other hand, gṛhasthas like Bosāk Bābu, the founder of Vṛndāvana's Hārā-Bāri, or Ānanda Gopāl Gosvāmī Prabhupāda, my Gurudeva's father, who had 4 children and many disciples, used to get up at 3 a.m. and not speak with anybody, including wife and children, before finishing a strong bhajan until 8 a.m. So it is really all about anurāga, not about āśram. The Guru's personal judgement is the ultimate arbiter. If the Guru finds a householder fit he will give him siddha praṇālī, despite his many worldly responsibilities.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Inborn empirical world view

Though I am not a fan or ally of Kṛṣṇa-kīrti Dās, I did find this sentence on his blog siddhanta.com very much to the point:

"There are two problems most devotees in the West face: they have difficulty accepting the extent of their fallen nature, and their inborn empirical world view--inherited from their culture--naturally guides them to solutions that have no theistic premises. Devotees in the West, or who are Western by culture, are genuinely torn between the authority of the parampara and the authority of their culture's most capable, secular minds."

The addition "or who are western by culture" is interesting. It is unfortunate that Indians, and Asians in general, tend to give up their simple beliefs and start endless scientific analyses, seminars and whatnot, after migrating to Western countries, getting influenced by their western host-cultures. And "having difficulty accepting the extent of their fallen nature" is not exactly remedied by being in a society where everyone gets 'initiated' into the highest caste.

pramāda japa

Recently I heard a humble Vaiṣṇava admitting to driving his car with one hand and doing japa with the other. Since ignorance IS an excuse, let no one take personal offense at this comment: This is a most gut-wrenching example of pramāda japa, or inattentive japa. Japa is worship and meditation, and neither of these can be or should be done while steering a car through the traffic. In this way it is simply impossible to give the holy name of the Lord the attention and the worship it deserves, adding to it that one touches one's sacred beads to the steering wheel and gear-shift. Though strictly and officially speaking pramāda japa is not an offense to the chanting of the holy name, it obviously is (The 10th offense, śrute nāma-māhātmye'pi prīto'yaṁ rahitaḥ, "to be bereft of love of the holy name, despite having heard its glory", fits the best).

Suppose Śrī Gurudeva is coming to visit us in our home and we continue to watch TV, perhaps telling him to take a seat, telling one's spouse to offer him a glass of milk and occasionally saying something to him and half-listening to him, but at the same time continuing to watch the TV - this would certainly be offensive. Some attention may have been given to Śrī Gurudeva, but it is shared with attention to material things. So it is too with combining japa with any other activity, what to speak of driving a car!!! Instead, japa must be done sitting down in a lotus position in a solitary place, keeping one's japa mālā to one's heart, either murmuring or mentally repeating the syllables of the holy name. Sanātan Gosvāmī writes in his commentary to Haribhakti Vilāsa that murmuring (upaṁśu) is actual japa, while loud japa equals kīrtan and mental japa equals meditation.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Raghunātha Dās Gosvāmī's indigestion


The Bhakti Ratnākara describes in connection with Śrīla Raghunātha Dās Gosvāmī how siddha mahātmās show physical symptoms of their transcendental mental activities -

“Aha Śrīnivāsa! One day Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī mentally ate some offered sweet rice and thus got indigestion and overweight. No one could understand how he (such an austere person) could get obese like that. When Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī’s friend Śrī Viṭṭhalanātha, the son of Śrī Vallabha, heard this he called for two doctors who felt his pulse and confirmed time and again: “He has become obese due to overeating on sweet rice”. In astonishment Śrī Viṭṭhalanātha said: “It is impossible for him to eat sweet rice (let alone overeat). Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī, however, confirmed “They speak the truth – I ate sweet rice within my mind.” Everyone was astonished to hear this. Such are the activities of Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī – what more can I say?”

This translation is added to my anthology of Bhakti Ratnākara-translations at the tab-link 'Literature' on www.madangopal.com, followed by my old translation of the story of the leaf-cup.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Rādhākuṇḍa for siddhas?

Anonymous reply:

I heard that Radhakund is for siddhas, not for sadhakas, still, many people say it is very auspicious to live there. In my experience if we are too close to any sacred place or even the Guru, we tend to take everything for granted. I myself have met devotees who came back from holy plcaes after years and gave up bhakti altogether, they were crazier than before they met KC. What is your opinion? Thanks.

My response:
I don't believe that Rādhākuṇḍa is only for the outright siddhas, but I do believe that a great number of its residents better had done some more harināma before settling there now in their current state. Yes, familiarity breeds contempt, that goes for both the Guru and the holy dhāma. And purity is the force. I also know many people, personal friends, who dropped out of KC altogether after spending years in the holy dhāma non-stop. That may be more due to aparādha than due to sins committed there out of immaturity. Here I mean Vaiṣṇava aparādha and Guru aparādha, though committing sins in the holy dhāma is certainly also an aparādha. Where there are so many Vaiṣṇavas (like in the holy dhāma) there is also much more chance of getting familiar and committing Vaiṣṇava aparādha.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Going 'crazy' in Vraja

I have received the following response to a blog from last February:

haribol dear advaita, i have been reading your blog last time and would have one question considering one remark that some devotees, who spend more time in vraj tend to go mad. could you please send me some thoughts on how you meant it? i do not know from when the log is but i hope that does not matter. i was asking some friends of mine about it but no one could give any question on it. many thanks! jay sri radhe

My response:
Dear J,
You refer to a discussion I had with one devotee who, just like me, spent a long time continuously in Vraja and has seen many people go the wrong way. The point of that remark is that Vraja is a very sacred place and many people come there and decide to stay there permanently, being sincerely attracted and sincerely wanting to live a full lifetime of bhajan there. People like that devotee and me, however, have experience - with ourselves and with others - that it is not so easy and cheap as it initially seems, that most of us are much more conditioned and fallen as we initially think ourselves to be, and then the trouble starts. For 'going mad' you can fill in 'falling in māyā' (though some did go nuts indeed) - they start running after sexual partners, start big construction projects, start a Guru-career, start gossiping about their fellow devotees, listening to rock music, smoking pot etc. I have seen this going on, and it is going on now too. This is all a change of purpose and leads to offences to the holy dhāma. For the vast majority of new devotees it is better to make short visits to the holy places and otherwise remain at home. When one is purified by harināma and the senses and the mind are purified, peaceful and strong one becomes qualified to live full-time in Vraja or Navadvīp or wherever. I hope this answers your question. Rādhe Rādhe.  Advaitadās.

Posted with permission of the correspondent.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Did Śrī Advaita Prabhu support, preach or practise Gaura-nāgarī bhāva?

In his booklet « Rasarāja Śrī Gaurāṅga » Gadādhara Prān Dās quotes the following verses from the Śrī-Śrī-Gaurāṅga-Pratyanga-Varṇanākhya-Stava-Rāja, which is ascribed to Advaita Ācārya. Here he is trying to prove that Śrī Advaita Prabhu is following the line of worship of the Gaura Nāgarīs, in which Śrīman Mahāprabhu acts like a Nāgara or a flirtatious lover of married girls in Navadvīpa. Here is what Gadādhara Prān makes of the Pratyanga Varṇana, verse 6:

ardha-candrollasad-bhāla-kasturī-tilakāṅkitam
bhaṅgura-bhrū-latā-keli-jita-kāma-śarāsanam


Gadādhara Prān’s translation: "Gaurasundara´s forehead is like a brilliant half-moon adorned with beautiful musk tilaka; yet below lurks His flirting eyebrow-bows which defeat the might of Kāma-deva´s flower arrows."

My translation: « His forehead resembles a half moon and is marked with musk tilak; it has fragile creeper-like eyebrows which defeat the playfulness of Cupid’s arrows. »

Note that the word ‘flirting’ which Gadādhar Prān mentions is not mentioned in the original Sanskrit text. We must remember that to compare a great person with Cupid is standard Vedic poetic embellishment. Even the most renounced Six Gosvāmīs have been compared to Cupid in the Bhakti Ratnākara. No girls of Nadīya in sight in this verse.

Verse 17:

koṭi-kandarpa-lāvaṇya-keli-līlā-manoramam 
sākṣāl-līlā-tanuṁ keli-tanuṁ śṛṅgāra-vigraham


Gadādhara Prān’s translation: "Śrī Gaurasundara´s prema keli is absolutely manohara!— like that of millions of Cupids; for He is the Abode of prema keli and a śṛṅgāra rasa vigraha."

Advaitadas: The kandarpa mentioned in the last line of verse 17 (the whole verse is wrongly numbered as nr. 17 by Gadādhara Prān)  affects Mahāprabhu’s lābaṇya, which means luster, and does not prove that he is a lover. The words manorama keli, enchanting pastimes, do not prove that He was a nāgara or lover either – any līlā can be manohara (enchanting). Only the word śṛṅgāra vigraha in the first line of verse 18 could apply to Him being a Nāgara, but, as was already explained, to compare a great and beautiful person with Cupid is standard Vedic poetic embellishment. Otherwise the rest of that line says that He is the embodiment of playfulness, which does not point at Him being a nagara either. Next Gadādhara Prān takes verse 26:

nija-bhāva-rasāsvāda-vivaśaikādaśendriyam
vidagdha-nāgarī-bhavya-kalā-keli-manoramam 26


Gadādhara Prān’s translation: "Although Mahāprabhu´s eleven senses are completely overwhelmed by His own bhāva, rūpa and rasa — His divine keli vilāsa with the clever and rasa-skilled Nadīya nāgarīs is simply enchanting!"

My translation: “His eleven senses are overwhelmed by the relish of His own feelings (where are the words rūpa and rasa in the text?). His playful and artful pastimes are to be conceived of (bhavya) by a clever female lover.”

If you ask me this applies to the Rādhā-bhāva that Kṛṣṇa came to relish as Mahaprabhu, rather than any Nāgarī bhāva to be practiced by Him. I cannot find this sentence “His divine keli vilāsa with the clever and rasa-skilled Nadīya nāgarīs is simply enchanting!" in the verse. The word Nadīya Nāgarīs is not there, and the nāgarī which is mentioned is in the first case. If it was to be ‘with the nāgaris’ (plural, third case) the verse would have said ‘nāgarībhiḥ’.

gadādhara-prema-bhāva-kalākrānta-manorathaṁ
narahari-prema-rasāsvāda-vihvala-mānasam 27


Gadadhara Pran’s translation: "Gaurāṅga keenly desires to taste the sweetness of Gadādhara's prema bhāva and rasa keli skill. Moreover, Śrīman Narahari´s prema rasa enslaves Him."

My translation: “He wishes to be overcome (ākrānta) by Gadādhara’s loving feelings and His mind is overwhelmed by the relish of Narahari’s prema.”

Where is it mentioned here that Śrīman Mahāprabhu was practicing Nadīya Nāgarī bhāva?
Verse 28:

sarva-bhāgavatāhuta-kānta-bhāva-prakāśakam
prema-pradāna-lalita-dvi-bhujaṁ bhakta-vatsalam 28


Gadādhara Prān’s translation: "Bhakta-vatsala Śrī Gaurahari hankers to take up his splendid kānta bhāva with every bhāgavata associate. Using His graceful, two arms He embraces them to award (madhura) prema."

My translation: “Called or summoned (āhuta) by all the great devotees (sarva bhāgavata) He reveals the feelings of a lady-love.”

This verse clearly describes Mahāprabhu assuming the mood of Rādhā (rādhā-bhāva dyuti subalitaṁ naumi kṛṣṇa svarūpam). There is no mentioning of Mahāprabhu hankering to take up kānta-bhāva – where is that word ‘hankering’ in the verse? “ Gadādhara Prān Dās fails to translate the words ‘āhuta’ (called, summoned) and ‘prakāśaka’ (the revealer). There is also no one being ‘embraced’ in the second line of this verse. It simply says that Mahāprabhu is the lovely two-armed one (lalita dvi-bhujam) who bestows Prema (prema pradāna).”
And finally verse 32:

naṭa-rāja-śiro-ratnaṁ śrī-nāgara-śiromaṇim
aśeṣa-rasika-sphuryan-mauli-bhūṣaṇa-bhūṣaṇam 32


Gadādhara Prān’s translation: "Śrī Gaurāṅga is the Crown-jewel amongst all dancers, the Crown-jewel amongst all nāgaras (including Sri Krsna) — and thus the Ornament of ornaments amongst all rasika persons."

My translation: “He is the crownjewel and the king of dancers (nata) and the crownjewel of Nāgaras.”

Now this is the only hint given at Mahāprabhu being a Nāgara, but we must remember that the ācāryas, headed by Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī (f.i. in his Caitanyāṣṭakams), often see Kṛṣṇa within Mahāprabhu, who is, after all Kṛṣṇa, so it may point at Kṛṣṇa instead. That counts for verses 17-18, quoted above, as well.

“He is the ornament of the ornament of all countless rasikas.” That can apply to relishing the mellows of any devotional sentiment and does not prove Mahaprabhu thought or acted as a Gaura Nāgarī. And all this is only in case this text was actually composed by Advaita Ācārya at all.

This refutation is added to my essay 'The proof of Gaura-nāgarī-vāda' under Articles at madangopal.com