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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".

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Adjusting?

"Our process is to show Kṛṣṇa Consciousness as it is, not as others want to see it. By showing Kṛṣṇa Consciousness in this way, you are making the thing less important. It is not that we should change to accommodate the public, but that we should change the public to accommodate us."

Sripad A.C. Bhaktivedānta Swāmi, Bombay 28 December, 1971

This is a bold statement, which I applaud. It is very relevant in this day and age, where so many - especially western - devotees try to 'adjust' or 'modernise' Absolute Immutable Transcendence and make it "understandable/acceptable to 'intelligent' people (sic)."

"Kṛṣṇa is God - you are not." Is another bold statement of Swāmijī. You will have to adjust to Kṛṣṇa, He does not have to adjust to you. Why should He have to play Your game - does He owe you money or so?

Friday, June 23, 2006

Boring or inexhaustibly delicious?

Subal says in Jyotidham, 22 june 2006:

"Is the nitya leela an eternal repitition of the same day described in asta kala leela smarana books like the movie Groundhog Day? Sounds like it would get boring. I think an eternal leela would be eternally evolving."

Rev. Subal Das has been a devotee for about 14,000 days, so he must have chanted the maha-mantra some 14.000 x 1728 = 24,192,000 times, that is about 387 million names of Kṛṣṇa, yet he continues to chant hare kṛṣṇa and could continue to chant it trillions of times over. This is called transcendence or timelessness, as opposed to mundane ideas of evolution, exhaustion, time and space. The rūpa guṇa līlā of Śrī-Śrī-Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa (embodied by that hare kṛṣṇa mantra) is similarly inexhaustible, as we can find in Śrīmad Bhāgavat 1.1.19 -

vayaṁ tu na vitṛpyāma uttamaśloka vikrame
yacchṛṅvataṁ rasa-jñānam svādu svādu pade pade


"We for our part are never sated with the hearing of the pastimes of the Lord, who is praised with the best verses. They are delicious to hear at every step for the knowers of rasa."

Indeed, the fifth verse of that very Govinda Līlāmṛta reads:

"All glories to Śrī Govinda Līlāmṛta  the immortal nectar pastimes of Śrī Govinda, that defeats the nectar of the demigods, or the desire for liberation, constantly bestows a wonderful thirst to the ears, words and mind whenever it is drunk, that cures the disease of material life, yet produces delusions and blindness of loving intoxication, and gives inexhaustible relish, even if it is consumed again and again, nourishing even the body."

When Sādhu Bābā first gave me "Vilāpa Kusumāñjali" to read (a mere 104 verses, without purports) he told me each single verse could keep me mesmerized for eternity - "Dive deep into the ocean", he said, "you will find jewels on the bottom."

That is not to say that the Lila in the spiritual sky is necessarily static, indeed Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa can do as They please but even if They would always do the same thing, it will always be exciting, blissful and full of love.

Regrettably the link to Jyotidham is lost and no backup can be found of the original text by Subal there.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

64 rounds

The problems with the hard and fast rule that devotees all have to chant 64 rounds are -

1. It is a huge bulk- often it becomes a drag to daily do such a mountain of sadhana, and when one gets upset with it that results in nāmāparādha (prīti rahita, having no love for the chanting).

2. The mind is fickle and is hard to concentrate for so many hours.

3. Humans are created in the mode of passion – rajasi pralayaṁ gatvā karma-saṅgiṣu jāyate (B.Gītā 14.15) karma-saṅgiṣu karmāsakta manuṣyeṣu (Viśvanātha ṭīkā) The body is passionate and restless and when one has such a huge quota to do one starts wandering around with one’s beads, combining japa with other things, thus making the offense of pramāda japa, inattentive chanting.

4. One may get into a mechanical daily routine (again the prīti rahita-aparādha)

5. Often one becomes proud of one's high quota of chanting, and
5.a. when pride comes in the whole sacrifice is lost or becomes little more than a pious activity.

6. One often simply lacks the ruci and thus the spiritual energy to chant 64 rounds.

7. Chanting one lakh of japa is completely impracticable for a busy householder or even for a sādhu who is busy serving the Guru, the deities, the Vaiṣṇavas or the cows in an āśram.

8. Quantity does not guarantee quality. It is not like karma yoga. Vallabhācārya teaches – na hi sādhana sampattyā hariḥ tuṣyati karmavat – ‘It is not a huge amount of sādhana that will please Hari, as if it is karma.’ bhaktānāṁ dainyam evaikaṁ hari-toṣana sādhana – ‘It is only the devotees’ humility that can satisfy Hari.’ This point is also made in Caitanya Caritāmṛta –

heno kṛṣṇa nāma yadi loy bahu bāra,
tabe yadi prema nohe nohe aśru-dhāra
tabe jāni aparādha tāhāte pracura;
kṛṣṇa nāma bīja tāte nā hoy aṅkura

“If one takes that Kṛṣṇa-nāma many times but there is no love and one sheds no tears, then I know that there is ample offence there, that blocks the sprouting of the seed of the Kṛṣṇa-nāma.”

Sādhu Bābā was not against chanting a high quota of japa, but he cautioned: mūla-kathā lakṣya bhraṣṭa hoiyā lakṣa nāme-o lakṣya pauñchāno jāy nā  “When one loses track of the essence one can chant 64 rounds but will still not attain that target.” With that he meant that one must continue to think of the mantra-devatā (Kṛṣṇa) while chanting the mantra, otherwise what is the use?

If one is able to sit down in peace and chant 64 rounds then that is great. Sādhu Bābā taught his followers:

japārthe śrī-śrī hari-nāmera mālā loiyā pathe ghāṭe hāṭe bājāre loka saṅgharṣe pādukā pāye, golpo juḍiyā tāmbūla carvaṇa korite korite colā niṣedha. tāhāte śrī śrī nāmera maryādā-hānī hoy nāme ruci to kasmin-kāle-o āse nā, baraṁ 'ahaṁ' abhimāna bṛddhi pāy evaṁ śrī-śrī nāmera caraṇe mahā aparādha ghaṭe

“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 betel-nuts – it will be disrespectful to Śrī Harināma. In this way ruci for harināma will never come, rather there will be an increase of ego and it will create a big offence at the lotus-feet of Śrī Harināma.”

If one can still do 64 rounds, within such parameters, then what could be greater than that?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Nitya Kiśora or Nitya Yauvana?

Comment by Gaurasundara on blog 'No obsessions no witchhunts':

Regarding adjusting the lila, I was wondering what exactly is meant by "updating" the lila. For example, would Radha and Krishna (using Subal's updated ages of 20 and 21 resepctively) still live in the village? Perhaps They have now moved to the big city and have office jobs, even working for the same company! The issue of separation is there because They work on different floors. Although They are hopelessly in love with Each Other, they manage to steal a few secret moments whenever and wherever possible.Then tragedy strikes because Krishna is such a good worker and He is headhunted by another bigger company (Mathura Inc.) who offer Him a big package of incentives if He moves over to their side. Plus, the boss of Mathura Inc. (Kamsa) is hated by all and Krishna could possibly manage a hostile takeover. At the end of it all, Krishna goes on to found His own company (Dvaraka Inc.) and it is very successful. And so on..I wouldn't know if any of this is offensive, this is just what passed through my mind when I first heard of Subal's "update" ideas. It may be funny in some ways but I still prefer the original version. :-)

Well all I know about ages is that 20 and 21 are clearly beyond Kiśora-age, which is described in śāstra as being between 10-15 years old. The Yugal Kiśora would be Yugal Yauvan then (yauvana age is 15 and higher), which would require a huge overhaul of the Gauḍīya sāhitya. One could also stretch up the age limits of kumāra, paugaṇḍa and kiśora of course...

(For those who have just tuned in, this is JEST!!!)

Monday, June 19, 2006

Leach?

A few days ago an anonymous person posted this remark on Audarya fellowship, addressed to Madhavananda Das:

"You, just like Jagat, Advaita, and Neal Demonic are all the same useless criticizers who can only leach off of Prabhupada's followers for support."

As far as I am concerned: I am sad at this perception of myself. I never grab people out of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami's goṣṭhi to drag them out of their faith, not even subtly or passively. Whoever was informed by me about conventional Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism approached me on his/her own accord with questions about Iskcon and/or Gaudiya Maṭh-controversies and I find it my duty to inform such sincere inquirers of the difference between the original Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava doctrine and theirs. I do not see myself as a competitor of A.C. Bhaktivedānta Swāmi or anyone for that matter. No one is forced to log onto my weblog, website or forums that I participate(d) in.

(The post has been removed now from Audarya, but it may be a good idea to keep my statement here anyway, as a matter of principle, to cover all such challenges in the past and the future)

Saturday, June 17, 2006

No obsessions, no witchhunts

Mādhava, commenting on the last blog:

It is good that Advaitadas explains in his blog, especially to those who are searching for the path proper, the shortcomings in the theories of the likes of Subal, that the seekers would not dive into an ocean of acid, mistaking the bubbling phenomena for the waves of the prema-ocean. Of course being obsessed with such topics is unfavorable, but I am yet to see that happening in the Madangopal blog.

madangopal.com and madangopal.blogspot.com are guided by the teachings of Śrī-Śrī Sādhu Bābā and the 6 Gosvāmīs. In modern issues they will be guided, with the help of God, by common sense and clean conscience. They are not meant as an affront to any particular Vaiṣṇava camp and will be evenhanded, based on the above guidelines. Just now Subal happens to be the talk of the day, so more attention is given to him, but there will be no witch-hunt conducted on anyone here. When we differ in opinion from a major modern Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava ācārya this will be expressed in a polite, non-offensive manner, respecting the maryādā. Anyone who feels that the above statement of purpose is ever violated by me, should certainly and promptly remind me of that in the comments box. Rādhe Rādhe!

Other talks

Anonymous said...
Subal is pagal at best. I fail to understand why you draw attention to his absurd statements. Why don't you present Hari Katha instead of a topic like this? In the words of Srila Thakur Mahasaya:
Ana kathA nA bolibo, Ana kathA nA zunibo, sakali koribo paramArtha prArthanA koribo sadA, lAlasA abhISTa kathA, ihA vinA sakali anartha (PBC 101)
"I will not say or hear anything else, but I will live a completely spriritual life (devoted to Sri Krishna). I will always pray for this coveted topic, without which everything else is useless."

sudhA kaNikA vyAkhyA:"I constantly pray that I may always hanker for topics concerning my most beloved Sri-Sri Radha-Madhava, for anything other than those dearmost topics is simply harming my bhajan," For practitioners of raganuga bhajan, who are absorbed in lila rasa, anything other than topics of the beloved deity is a mishap.

Attention is given to this because many people are not so intelligent as your good self and may be misled by such people - I have seen it with other preachers of apasiddhānta - they take advantage of a huge amount of personal charisma to deviate people from the pure teachings of the Gosvāmīs. By the way, that same Narottama Dās Thākura Mahāśaya that you are quoting has filled that same Premabhakti Candrikā you are quoting with cautions and warnings against so many misconceptions and wrong practices, so that particular statement of his you are quoting has to be seen in context. With "other talks" he does not mean dismissing and refuting apasiddhāntas, since he has done that himself so often - and not only him, all śāstras are filled with such warnings and refutations - with "other talks" he means the Football Worldcup, the war in Iraq and what have you. These topics wont be discussed on madangopal.blogspot - that is a promise! Besides, thanks to this blogspot no one can accuse me of being a 'selfish bhajanānandī who only thinks of his own liberation'.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Tapo-bhūmi and bhoga-bhūmi

Osho: "In the East people have condemned the body, condemned matter, called matter 'illusory', maya--it does not really exist, it only appears to exist; it is made of the same stuff as dreams are made of. They denied the world, and that is the reason for the East remaining poor, sick, in starvation. Half of humanity has been accepting the inner world but denying the outer world. The other half of humanity has been accepting the material world and denying the inner world. Both are half, and no man who is half can be contented."You have to be whole: rich in the body, rich in science; rich in meditation, rich in consciousness. Only a whole person is a holy person, according to me."

Sādhu Bābā: "India's poverty is not the result of bad karma (the conduct and culture of India is far superior to that of westerners). It is a question of purpose: Here (in India) is tapo-bhūmi (a place meant for penance that leads to enlightenment) and over there (in the west) is bhoga-bhūmi (a place meant for enjoyment that leads to darkness)."

Sri Viśvanātha Cakravartī's comment on Srimad Bhāgavata 10.88.8 (the famous verse yasyāham anugṛhnāmi hariṣye tad dhanaṁ śanaiḥ, wherein Kṛṣṇa says that if He is truly kind upon His devotees he takes away their wealth so that his relatives will abandon him and he can truly dedicate his life to Him):

satyaṁ bhoḥ bhrātas tvaṁ na rasābhijño'si śrūyatāṁ yāminyāṁ satyām eva sūryodayaḥ śobhate grīṣme satyeva śītalāmbhaḥ sukhadaṁ śīte satyevoṣṇāmbhaḥ tamasyeva dīpaḥ śobhate na tu prakāśe. kṣuṭ-pīḍāyāṁ satyām evānnam ati svādu bhavati.

“Truly, brother, you don’t know anything about rasa! Only at (the end of the) night the sunrise is really beautiful, only in the hot summer coolness brings joy and only in the cold winter warmth gives joy. Only in darkness the lamp shines beautifully, not in the light, and only when one is hungry and thirsty, food and drink are relishable.”

(not from the above Sanskrit text, but another part of Viśvanātha’s 10.88.8 ṭīkā:)

“Because devotees are so dear to the Lord their suffering is never extreme. Karmic reactions are like being beaten by an enemy but the devotees’ suffering is like being beaten by the mother. One is like poison and the other like nectar. An affectionate father restricts his child’s play and sends him to school, that is his love, though the child may not appreciate it as such.”

Layers of the tradition

More Subala on Jyotidhama:

"I don't like the Chotta Haridas story. I wonder what layer of the tradition it comes from. I was a friend of Vishnujana Maharaj, and from what I hear, he took this story too strictly. I would edit this story out. Sure it may support renunciates, but why do we want to encourage persons to be renunciates? I've seen the damage done. That's why I say we need revised, edited, reimagined scriptures for today. "

He doesn't like it - understandably, because it may make him feel a bit uncomfortable since he himself took a vow of lifelong abstinence once upon a time, considering what was Chota Haridāsa's fate. And 'layer of the tradition'? - well that is another novel concept. I gather it is Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu's layer, what other layer is there? He will 'edit the story out' - wonder what will remain of the Absolute Reality of Nitya Līlā (yes, eternal pastimes) then in the end? And what means 're-imagined'? Are the original scriptures 'imagined' to start with?

Regrettably the link to Jyotidham is lost and so is the original text involving Subal.

Plagiarism, concurring realizations or devotional copying?

At Audarya (post 12 and beyond)* the issue of Nārāyaṇa Maharaja using Ānanda Gopāl Gosvāmī’s and Ananta Dās Bābājī’s Vilāpa Kusumāñjali-purports is being discussed. The question is, is it plagiarism, concurring divine realizations or devotional copying due to 100% agreement?

For instance, all three comments on Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu 1.2.182 – by Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī, Mukunda Dās Gosvāmī and Viśvanātha Cakravartī - are verbatim the same (the famous story of the Brahmin burning his fingers on the mentally offered sweet-rice). Now certainly Mukunda and Viśvanātha were not illiterate and they had access to Jīva Gosvāmī’s ṭīkās, so the explanation that they had concurring, parallel transcendental realizations is, however devotionally it is meant, not realistic. As a matter of fact, many of Viśvanātha Cakravartī’s ṭīkās of Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu are verbatim copies of Jīva Gosvāmī’s, and mostly without acknowledging him. Senior followers of Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja already conceded that he took purports from Ānanda Gopāl Gosvāmī and Ananta Dās Bābājī, so the ‘concurring realizations’ explanation does not work. There are also Mukundāṣṭakams by Rūpa Gosvāmī and Raghunātha Dās Gosvāmī that are verbatim the same, of which some say they were concurring realizations. And the Caitanya Caritāmṛta purports of Bhaktivinode and Bhaktisiddhānta were not ‘parallel realized’ by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swāmi either, but simply translated by him. Just some thoughts......

* Unfortunately Audarya Fellowship folded and the link died, so it is deleted March 13, 2010

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Stealing in the name of the Lord

“Stealing from the karmīs engages them in devotional service” is an abominable apasiddhānta which isn’t supported by śāstra and logic. A gift consciously and voluntarily given with love and devotion – only that engages the ‘karmīs’ in devotional service! Stealing by a ‘devotee’ is rather a sin for which the devotee will have to suffer reactions, period. In Caitanya Caritāmṛta we find the story of Gopīnāth Paṭṭanāyaka, who was corrupt and stole royal revenue. Due to his family ties with Rāmānanda Rāya, Kāśī Miśra got him [quite literally] off the hook with the king, which could be seen as proxy protection by Mahāprabhu, but only just. Still Mahāprabhu said that he should not steal. In Caitanya Caritāmṛta, Antya 9.88-92, Kāśī Miśra quotes Mahāprabhu to Mahārāja Pratāpa-rudra:

‘Gopīnāth lost control over his senses and misappropriates the king’s revenues for that. The king’s property is more sacred even than the property of a Brahmin, and this great sinner has stolen it for his own enjoyment. He should be punished by the king – that is the verdict of the śāstra. The king is very lenient and pious that he does not punish him. He does not pay his revenue to the king and now he is being punished he is crying out to Me for help – who can tolerate this?”

Later, when Gopīnāth got amnesty, everyone was relieved, but Mahāprabhu reiterated:

“You must follow this order of Mine – Do not misappropriate the king’s wealth. If anything is left after paying dues to the king then spend it on religious affairs. If you are corrupt you will perish in this life and the next.” (CC Antya 9.142-144)

There is nothing ‘transcendental to mundane morality’ in stealing by a Vaiṣṇava, as Śrīla Raghunātha Dās Gosvāmī warns in Manaḥ Śikṣā, verse 2 – na dharmaṁ nādharmaṁ – “Do not perform mundane virtue, but also no mundane sins!” Crime in devotional service is not ‘transcendental’, rather it is an offence to the chanting of the holy name called nāmno balād yasya hi pāpa buddhiḥ: “Sinning on strength of the holy name” thinking that the sin will be obliterated by chanting the holy name after, or even during the crime.

When I returned from the 1983 Ratha-Yatra Festival in Puri, I told Sādhu Bābā that the Orissa Railway Police took boys and men that were riding without ticket off the train and beat them up. Bābā said: “Very well – and when they are finished they can send them to me and I will beat them up again!” Bābā also forbade his merchant disciples to cheat in the marketplace.

Friday, June 09, 2006

adhikāra for Rāsa-Līlā

In response to Keśavānanda’s question in the previous blog's comments box, about adhikāra for hearing of the Lord's intimate pastimes:

My Guru Sādhu Bābā, Kṛṣṇa dās Madrasi Bābā, Rohiṇīndranāth Mitra and Madan-mohan Dās Bābājī, all great souls, told me, independently from each other, it is better not to read rasa śāstra when one is too lusty. I understood that is because when one is an emotionally and physically active lover one will identify with the līlā of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa and that is an offence called ahaṅgropāsana, meditating on oneself as the deity.

Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī says in Bhakti Sandarbha (276) that smaraṇa (even just of the holy name, let alone Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa’s intimate līlā) requires a pure heart – nāma smaranaṁ tu śuddhāntaḥ-karaṇatām āpekṣate. Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī has also written (Bhakti Sandarbha 275): atha śaraṇāpattyādibhiḥ śuddhāntaḥkaraṇas cet....nāma saṅkīrtanāparityāgena smaranaṁ kuryāt "When the mind is purified by the process of surrender, one should practise the devotional item of recollection without giving up nāma saṅkīrtana." kintu rahasya-līlā tu pauruṣa-vikāravad indriyaiḥ……nopāsya “But the intimate pastimes should not be meditated upon by (those whose) senses are affected by masculine transformations.” (Bhakti Sandarbha 338)

When one is less heated one can read these books, and the topic will work as a medicine, as has been promised by the Bhāgavata in the final verse of the Rāsa līlā-narration (10.33.39). There are subtle desires, called vāsanā, cherished by people who actually control their outer senses. That can be there, OK, and one can still read rasa śāstra, but to be grossly active in sex and read rasa śāstra, is not something approved by the mahātmās I knew. Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī says in Gopāla Campū (pūrva 23.1): tad etad govinda vraja vijana kāntānuvacanaṁ dadhadbhir yogyasya śravasi paramāpyam na sadasi 'This confidential Rasa-lila topic is to be heard by qualified people who carry Govinda in their hearts, not in a public assembly."

As to your query why certain devotees fell down even after hearing and reading lots of Rāsa-līlā, that may not have been caused by that but by other factors - I do not believe, for a start, that westerners qualify for sannyāsa, and the past 40-year western Vaiṣṇava history has vindicated me in that. However, there can be other reasons as well - false show-bottle renunciation for pratiṣṭhā will not work in the long term (how long can one stand on one's toes before collapsing?), one gets proud of one's position, vaiṣṇava aparādha, who knows? Only God knows it.
Hope this helps.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

svārasikī elaboration

Muralīdhara commented on my last blog:

Reverend Steve of the Marijuana Sacrament Church wrote somewhere that he recently gave up eating red meat, but that his wife was still enjoying it - which must make for some inconvience for them when it comes to planning what to cook for "honey" at meal time.

Seriously, of course svārasikī-elaboration on the existing theme of Rādhā Kṛṣṇa aṣṭakāliya parakīya līlā is just fine and very welcome, however, as Murali indicated with his description of Subal's level of ācāra, great purity is required to qualify to do so. Secondly one must be expert in kāvya, nāṭaka śāstra, alaṅkāra, rasa-siddhānta and what have you. Thirdly there are the parameters given by Śrīman Mahāprabhu - rasābhāsa hoy yadi siddhānta virodha - such compositions must be in good taste, not just aesthetically, but according to the terms of kāvya, alaṅkāra etc, and must be philosophically sound. It is unfortunately certain that Subala does not qualify in any of these categories, so it is better I don't give him an e-copy of Govinda Līlāmṛta just yet...

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

More Subal

Subal Das continues on jyotidham.com:

I have long wanted to read Govinda Lilamrita, which more fully describes the pastimes throughout the day. I just finished reading Advaita dasa’s translation last night. It was so disappointing. Radha is portrayed as extremely emotionally unstable. She’s always torn between loving Krishna and being angry at him and rejecting him, and there’s just far too much rejection for my taste.

Subal shows that he 1. Has no idea about prema tattva 2. Has a completely mundane view of transcendental matters. 3. Has no idea about the science of kāvya. Radha is of course mādanākhya mahābhava-vati, endowed with the highest mode of transcendental love of God. Her ‘emotional instability’ was later displayed by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu in his recent prakat līlā. It is the pinnacle of ecstatic love of God.

I might describe her as a drama queen, in need of life coaching, in need of Prozac, etc.

This is so offensive I wish I hadn’t read it but just for the sake of exposure I am posting it here.

I’m always thinking, “Come on, give the guy a break. You know that’s just the way he is and that he loves you the best. Look. He’s broken hearted. What more do you want?”

Rādhā’s transcendental rejection of Kṛṣṇa is of course a symptom of Her transcendental vāmya svabhāva, opposed nature, and this is what Kṛṣṇa relishes. So, indeed, give Him a break, let Him enjoy the way He wants to. That is what bhakti is all about – pleasing Kṛṣṇa  Perhaps Subal should first study the Ujjvala Nilamani so that he can get an idea of śṛṅgāra rasa, transcendental amorous mellows. Stressing the adjective ‘transcendental’ here…..

Then there’s the relationship between Kṛṣṇa and his mother. She’s always soaked by her tears and breast milk as she fondles him. And I thought Jewish mothers were a bit much.

This again is so offensive it beggars description. Subal in his 39 years of bhakti could not even grasp the basic principles of vātsalya bhāva, or perhaps he has no mundane vātsalya bhāva himself, since I believe he does not have any children himself.

There were certainly some good parts in the book that I would want to keep. However, what I would like is an electronic copy of the translation so that I could delete sections I don’t like and rewrite others. The book is in need of a major edit and rewrite. It would be even better if Advaitadasa did it.

No way, pal. Count me out, burn your own fingers on that.

I also have his translation of Raya Shekhara’s Astakala Lila Padavali which I can’t bring myself to read. In it Ray Shekhar mixes himself in the pastimes using his male practitioner name. It seems so inappropriate. So I’m looking for some good literature describing the erotic pastimes of Radha Kṛṣṇa that I, my wife and other Westerners can relate to. Post-modern feminine ideals are much different than 16-17th century Indian feminine ideals which I come out in the writings of that period. Some books are better than others.

This all confirms my regrets over publishing these intimate literatures at all. First Pītāmbar, then Jagat, now Subal – people with a completely mundane and thus inevitably offensive view of transcendental śṛṅgāra rasa  Let me exhaust myself by repeating this simple basic lesson – Rādhā Kṛṣṇa līlā is beyond time and space and is not a creation of some medieval Indians. To quote myself (madangopal.blogspot January 13, 2006:)

"I remember that, in 1988, when the late Rohiṇīndranāth Mitra of Keśī-ghāt 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 Sadhu Baba 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 ashram as Navadvip is full of sahajiyas). Nevertheless I continued to read, translate and distribute rasika kathā. Now self-confessed sahajiyas 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....

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

When Kṛṣṇa accepts the offering?


PATRAṀ PUṢPAṀ PHALAṀ TOYAṀ YO ME BHAKTYĀ PRAYACCHATI
TAD AHAṀ BHAKTYUPAHṚTAM AŚNĀMI PRAYATĀTMANAḤ


(Bhagavad Gītā 9.26)

“Whoever offers Me with love a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, if it is offered with devotion by a pure soul, I will eat it.”

The services of cooking and serving prasāda are for the oldest and most mature devotees, not for the youngest and least mature devotees, because they are not yet pure enough, either physically or spiritually. The purity of the donor, the server, the cook – everything goes into the consciousness of the eater. The older devotees may be too proud or too lazy to serve or cook, or may consider it ‘menial service’, but it isn’t. Śrīdhara Svāmī comments on Bhagavad Gītā 9.26 :

prayatātmanaḥ śuddha-cittasya niṣkāma-bhaktasya tat-patra-puṣpādikaṁ bhaktyā tena upahṛtaṁ samarpitam aham aśnāmi

(Kṛṣṇa says) “The word prayatātmanaḥ means a devotee who is pure-hearted and free from desires. What is offered by him I will eat.”

Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartī comments on this verse:

kiṁ ca mad-bhaktasyāpy apavitra-śarīratve sati nāśnāmīty āha prayatātmanaḥ śuddha-śarīrasyeti rajaḥsvalādayo vyavṛttaḥ 

(Kṛṣṇa says) “I will not eat even from My devotees if their bodies are impure. Prayatātmanaḥ means with a pure body, not polluted by menstruation and so.” Too often western devotees cook for their deities with blue jeans on, that they may have worn while riding in buses or trains or while passing stool. Before cooking and offering one should shower and put on special clean clothing. In the Caitanya Caritāmṛta (Antya 6) it is mentioned that Raghunātha dās Gosvāmī decided to stop inviting Mahāprabhu for prasāda because the money that bought the prasāda came from mixed Vaiṣṇavas (his parents). Even that was considered a pollution, let alone the servers. In India the topmost devotees serve prasāda, not the newcomers, let alone polluted guests. The word prayata in the Gītā-verse means:

- piously disposed , intent on devotion , well prepared for a solemn rite, ritually pure (also applied to a vessel and a place) , selfsubdued , dutiful , careful , prudent
- a holy or pious person
- purity , holiness

(Monier Monier Williams Sanskrit dictionary)

Retraction on Vṛṣṇis

On page 14 of my essay ‘Qualification for raganuga bhakti’ on my website www.madangopal.com , linktab 'Articles', I rejected the following notion of Sripad A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, in his book The Nectar of Devotion:

“Spontaneous love of Kṛṣṇa as exhibited by the Vṛṣṇis and the denizens of Vṛndāvana is eternally existing in them.”

“Persons desiring to follow in the footsteps of such eternal devotees of the Lord as the Vṛṣṇis and Vṛndāvana denizens are called rāgānugā-devotees, which means that they are trying to attain to the perfection of those devotees.”

I have, however, learned from Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu that Swāmiji was actually correct. BRS 1.2.275 (BRS 1.2.270-309 deal exclusively with rāgānugā bhakti) mentions the Vṛṣṇis in sambandhānuga rāgānugā bhakti, quoting SB 7.1.30:

sambandhād vṛṣṇayaḥ snehād yūyaṁ bhaktyā vayaṁ vibho

“The Yādavas attained Kṛṣṇa through their relationship with him.”

śrī-jīvaḥ: gopya iti—pūrva-rāgāvasthā jñeyaḥ evaṁ vṛṣṇādayo’pi 275

Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī’s ṭīkā: “So also with the Vṛṣṇis”

Again the same in verse 288 of the same chapter:

sambandha-rūpa govinde pitṛtvādy-abhimānita atropalakṣaṇatayā vṛṣṇīnāṁ vallava mataḥ yadaiśya-jñāna-śūnyatvād eṣāṁ rāge pradhānata

„It is not only the Vṛṣṇis but also the cowherds who have sambandha bhakti, on account of their parental self-esteem. On account of their predominance of rāga (as they consider Him his relative) they are devoid of the knowledge of Kṛṣṇa's aiśvarya."

And in verse 307

tathā hi śrūyate śāstre kaścit kurupuri-sthitaḥ
nanda-sūnor adhiṣṭhānaṁ tatra putratayā bhajan
nāradasyopadeśena siddho’bhūd vṛddha-vārdhakiḥ


"It is heard in scripture that an old man in Hastināpura attained perfection by considering Nanda’s son to be his son and being instructed in this by Nārada.”

The refutation is deleted from the essay.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Madhura Milana on the Arizona Freeway

Today this appeared on jyotidham.com, written by Subal Das:

"I am looking for some devotee scholars and poets who would like to collaborate with me to update the Radha Krishna devotional literature. The GV corpus was put together based on 16th century Indian asthetic theory. What would it look like with 21st century, Western asthetics? How can the philosophy be developed in such a way that post-modern critical thinkers and seekers can be devotees without having to compromise their intelligence? How can we take and adapt the best and leave the rest? This is a major undertaking."

Subal Das takes Jagat’s mission of ‘rationalizing’ and ‘modernizing’ the Gosvāmīs books even a step further. ‘without having to compromise their intelligence’ means what, that Rūpa, Sanātan, Jīva, Jayadeva, Viśvanātha and all the other nitya siddha ācāryas don’t have any intelligence? Or perhaps they fail to cater to people who have ‘intelligence’? Now we will see what Subal means with ‘intelligence’:

"One thing I think is needed is to make Radha Krishna and their friends older--like Radha is 20 and Krishna 21. We don't have 12 year old married women here. What's with this obcession with illicit love being higher than married love anyway? I'm talking about a major reimagining of the myth to make it more relevant today and in the future."

This is my proposal: Rādhā Kṛṣṇa meet on the Arizona Freeway, after making an appointment on MSN messenger or by cellphone. Kṛṣṇa is now called Blacky and wears blue jeans and a T shirt and Rādhā is now called Starry and wears a miniskirt. She is the cheerleader in the local high school of course, 20 years old and had a score of boyfriends before meeting up with Blacky, anxiously hiding from him that she already scored an STD from one of them. Subal (renamed Muscles)’s Manjari Svarūpa (bud-body) is now 17 years old, to adjust to modern times, and she had scores of boyfriends too, yeah from her high school of course.

BUT SERIOUSLY FOLKS –“The GV corpus was put together based on 16th century Indian asthetic theory.”

Well. for starters the GV corpus was not ‘put together’ but revealed from within the heart by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu (hṛdi yasya preraṇayā, BRS 1.1.2). But then Śrī Caitanya is just a 16th century Indian sādhu I suppose. Subal seems to forget that Rādhā-kṛṣṇa Līlā appeared in Purāṇas like the Brahma Vaivarta Purāṇa, (Rāsa līlā in Bhāgavata Purana), if not 5000 years old then at least a lot older than 16th century, and even that is material calculation, since Narottama Dās Thākur says about those unintelligent 6 Gosvamis “rādhā-kṛṣṇa nitya līlā korilen prakāśa” – “They revealed (not ‘put together’) Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa ‘s nitya līlā - that’s right, nitya means eternal – neither 500 nor 5000 years old, just nitya. Perhaps Narottama wasn’t so intelligent either….

Sunday, June 04, 2006

avatāras, asuras, rādhākund-śyāmakund

'Incarnation' is not the right translation for the word avatāra. It is Latin for 'in the flesh' and is thus a māyāvādī-translation because, according to Vaiṣṇava-siddhānta, God never goes in the flesh. The word avatāra is better translated as 'descent'. Instead it is us conditioned souls who are incarnations - incarnations of the individual souls.

'Demon' is often a way-too-heavy translation of the word asura, which means ungodly (a=un sura=godly). We must remember that asuras, the ungodly, are sinning out of ignorance (ityajñāna vimohitaḥ, B.Gītā 16.15)

Iskcon's Gopīnāth Dās (kīrtanīya) explains that one first bathes in Rādhākuṇḍa otherwise Kṛṣṇa will not accept you in Śyāmakuṇḍa then you bathe in Śyāmakuṇḍa and then again in Rādhākuṇḍa because only then Rādhārāṇī will really accept you.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Special service to the Guru

Yesterday, on vilasa kunja (public section!), Krishna Das wrote:

“Otherwise why would the acharyas say that simply service to guru is sufficient, one does not have to do anything else, that one can even give up one's bhajan? (e.g. Visvanath Cakravarti writes it somewhere in his commentary on Bhagavatam, but I cannot remember where exactly.)”

Here are some references to such exclusive Guru seva:

In Bhakti Sandarbha (237) Śrīmat Jīva Gosvāmīpāda has written :

tatra yadyapi śaraṇāpattyaiva sarvaṁ siddhyati. śaraṇaṁ taṁ prapannā ye dhyāna yoga vivarjitāh. te vai mṛtyum atikramya yānti tad vaiṣṇavaṁ padam. iti gāruḍāt tathāpi vaiśiṣṭya lipsuḥ śaktaś cet tataḥ bhagavac chāstropadeṣṭṛṇāṁ bhagavan mantropadeṣṭṛṇāṁ vā śrī guru-caraṇānāṁ nityam eva viśeṣataḥ sevāṁ kuryāt. tat prasādo hi sva sva nānā pratikāra dustyājyānartha hānau parama bhāgavat prasāda siddhau ca mūlam.


"Although the sādhaka achieves all perfection by surrendering to the Lord's lotus feet, still if a person wants to attain special perfection, then he must always specially serve the Guru who instructs him in the scriptures as well as the Guru who initiates into the Lord's mantras. By his grace all one's personal anarthas, that are otherwise hard to give up through other means, are conquered. It is the greatest cause of receiving the grace of the Lord."

In Padma Purāṇa, in the Śrī Devahuti-stava, it is seen —

bhaktir yathā harau me'sti tad variṣṭhā gurau yadi;
mamāsti tena satyena sandarśayatu me hariḥ

"If I have more devotion for the Guru than for Śrī Hari Himself, then through this truth Lord Hari will surely reveal Himself to me."

Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda’s comments on Śrīmad Bhāgavata 4.28.34 :

sutāt hitveti pativratā patyur iva guroḥ sevāyāṁ pravṛttaḥ śiṣyaḥ śravaṇa kīrtanādīnyapi bhogān tad utthāna premānandān api gṛhān tad ucita vivikta sthalam api naivāpekṣate. śrī guru sevayaiva sukhena sarva sādhya siddhyartham ityupadeśa vyañjitaḥ..........guru sevāyā eva vedena sarvādhikasyoktatvā

“A disciple deeply absorbed in the service of the Guru does not even depend on hearing and chanting, knowing that by guru-sevā he can easily attain complete perfection in devotion. Just as a devoted wife does not want any sense enjoyment and home comfort, a disciple completely absorbed in guru-sevā does not seek even premānanda arising out of hearing and chanting nor even seek secluded places suitable to his bhajana. The Vedas say that service to the Guru is the greatest.”

Hope this helps!