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Monday, July 31, 2006

Summerlawn satsaṅga.

For my private encounter with Śrīpad Satya-nārāyan Das I travel to the town of Amstelveen, where I meet him on the lawn of the spacious bungalow of his Dutch host. I step up to him to touch his feet but instead he warmly, blissfully and firmly embraces me.

There are clearly lots of similarities between the teachings of Sādhu Bābā and Haridās Śāstri - Satya-nārāyan proves from the Bhāgavata (7.15.25) that if the Guru wishes to engage the śiṣya in practical service at the total expense of his nāma bhajan then that is all right. According to the Guru's order the śiṣya either performs full-time sādhana and no practical service or full time service and no sādhana. The Guru decides. etat sarvaṁ gurau bhaktyā puruṣo hyañjaso jayet - everything is accomplished simply by serving the Guru. (There are other verses in Jīva Gosvāmī's Bhakti Sandarbha and a Bhāgavata-comment by Viśvanātha Cakravartī that confirm that in some cases only practical service to the Guru is rendered)

He confirms also that the Guru is beyond his flesh and blood and will act with his śiṣyas also after his 'death'. Even after the Guru is gone, his śiṣyas will realise their siddha svarūpa if he has not given them siddha praṇālī.

The word prasaṅga means chanting līlā to the Guru like Svarūpa Dāmodara and Rāmānanda Rāya chanted to Mahāprabhu, the mere presence of the Guru/sādhu, or hearing from him. It is all prasaṅga. The Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu verses that describe how 9 bhaktas like Hanumān, Śukadeva and Parīkṣit each attained perfection through just one of the 9 bhakti-limbs, while Ambariṣa Mahārāja attained perfection by practising all of them proves that it is optional and either way will do.

Another point of agreement is our japa-practise. Like us, they also chant japa only in private and not in public. Like us, they also insist you can only think of one thing at a time and there is also a thing called artha bhāvanā, meditating on the meaning of the mantra, described in śāstra (HBV 8.422 and 7.129), which is of course fully impossible while driving a car. Once some devotees challenged Satya-nārāyan "We never see you chanting! Do you really chant?" upon which he answered "You also never see me pass stool. Do you think I don't do that either?"

Staying with japa, he also says that the theories about the 108 beads on the mālā being 108 gopīs are hearsay, loka-paramparā. One would be massaging a gopī each time one fingers a bead! Of course, nonetheless the beads are made of Tulsī-wood and should therefore be fingered with clean hands.

Satya-nārāyaṇa confirms that the famous dau śraddhā tato sādhu-saṅga'-verses (1.4.15-16) and the three verses about the kaniṣṭha, madhyama and uttamādhikārī (divided by faith and knowledge, 1.2.17-19) in Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu count for both vaidhi- and rāga-bhakti and that before śraddhā already some satsaṅga had taken place. The first is without faith and the second is with faith.

The worship of the four-armed form being rāgānugā bhakti, as was claimed by Kuśakratha Dās in his translation of Bhakti Sandarbha 325 is wrong, rather it is just the other way around. Right after that Jīva Gosvāmī says tatra ca śuddhasya rāgasya śrī gokule eva darśanāt - pure rāga is only seen in Śrī Gokula, which means that Mathurā and Dvārakā may have some rāga, but it is not pure. rāga is there outside of Vraja for instance when Vasudeva takes Kṛṣṇa to Gokula from Mathurā, fearing He is in danger in Mathurā. According to the end of the Bhakti Sandarbha, even the prostitute Piṅgalā is nourishing a type of rāgānugā bhakti towards Kṛṣṇa.

His explanation of Bhakti Sandarbha's (283) sentence divyaṁ jñānaṁ hyatra śrīmatī mantre bhagavat svarūpa jñānaṁ tena bhagavata sambandha jñānam ca is also very interesting. He says that both revelationists (IGM) and siddhi-praṇālī-vādis (bābājīs) are vindicated in it. śrīmatī mantre shows that indeed the mantra does reveal the form of the Lord and one's relationship with Him, and bhagavata sambandha jñāna can also indicate siddha-praṇālī, which he acknowledges did not exist at the time of the Gosvāmīs, who did not need it because they were anyway nitya siddhas.

Finally when we end the discussion with the topic of āhāra śuddhi he reveals that not only grains cooked by impure persons will pollute the heart but ANY cooked food, like boiled veggies, will. Cooked grains will be more polluting though. He points out that the word anna in the verses that warn against eating cooked food from impure people does not only mean grains but food in general also.

(Edited 2.8.06 15.44 CET, 13.1.10, 9.30 CET]

Saturday, July 29, 2006

ā-laya

I checked the tikas to the Bhāgavata-verse 1.1.3 today, the verse which includes the words "pibata bhāgavataṁ rasam ā-layaṁ", "drink the nectar of the Bhāgavata until laya comes". Śrīdhara Swāmī and Jīva Gosvāmī both translate laya as 'until liberation comes', but Viśvanātha Cakravartī goes further and points out that laya refers to pralaya, or swoon, the 8th and last of the sāttvika vikāras mentioned by Rūpa Gosvāmī in Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu (2.3.58-60) as:

(8) atha pralayaḥ — pralayaḥ sukha-duḥkhābhyāṁ ceṣṭā-jñāna-nirākṛtiḥ atrānubhāvāḥ kathitā mahī-nipatanādayaḥ (58)

"Pralaya means a swoon caused either by happiness or distress.The symptom is falling to the ground." (That is why Satya-nārāyan Dāsjī quoted the 'drink till you drop'-verse).

tatra sukhena, yathā — milantaṁ harim ālokya latā-puñjād atarkitam jñapti-śūnya-manā reje niścalāṅgī vrajāṅganā (59)

Swoon due to happiness: "When Hari unexpectedly emerged from the vines, the gopīs' senses became numb and they lost consciousness out of joy."

duḥkhena, yathā śrī-daśame (10.39.15)—anyāś ca tad-anudhyāna-nivṛttāśeṣa-vṛttayaḥ nābhyajānan imaṁ lokam ātma-lokaṁ gatā iva (60)

Swoon due to sorrow: In the Bhāgavata-story of Kṛṣṇa leaving for Mathurā it is said: "Due to constant meditation on Kṛṣṇa  some gopis eyes, and other senses, stopped functioning. They were not aware of anything anymore in this world, like persons who have attained the Paramātmā."

Vṛndāvana Sādhu in The Hague

(Friday July 28, 2006)

Although The Hague (Den Haag), the political capital of the Netherlands, is home to a large Indian community, today was special - a genuine Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava Ācārya, Śrīpād Satyanārāyan Dās, was guest speaker in a neat middle-class house in a new housing plot here. First (Nimbarkī) ārati and (Rādhā-) kīrtan was held and then Satya-nārāyan Prabhu mounted a sofa and lectured, first in Hindi and then translating his own lecture in English. The first part of a pravacan that lasted for 100 minutes (when I left), was philosophical, and was translated, the latter part was rasik and was purely in Hindi, though he asked yours truly to give a brief translation afterwards. Although I could understand all of the (sādhu bhāṣā) Hindi lecture, his description of the Rāsa-līlā was quite elaborate and I had no idea how to explain the handful of Dutch guests, that were obviously brand new (the lady sitting next to me on the floor pointed her feet at Satya Nārāyan Dāsjī throughout the pāṭha) and as of yet quite alien to Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism, these elevated secrets, so Satya-nārāyan Prabhu finally asked me to speak on the basics of Divine Love for a few minutes.

As always, Satya-nārāyan Prabhu's lecture was filled with great humor - "Duryodhana wanted to woo Kṛṣṇa, knowing He is sva nama priya, fond of hearing his own names, so he had 4 kīrtan-parties singing for Kṛṣṇa  with mikes, Haribol haribol, but Kṛṣṇa saw through the charade and just laughed and walked away, leaving Duryodhana to think He was actually pleased with his 'service'", and: "When Rādhā got tired during the Rāsa dance and asked Kṛṣṇa to carry Her off, Kṛṣṇa said: "I have no horse cart or car here, so you might as well mount My shoulders!"

Some interesting things: he quoted a verse about drinking till you drop (in Sanskrit, perhaps by Carvaka Muni??) and then made a link to the 3rd verse of the Bhāgavata - pibata bhāgavatam rasam ā-layam. The secrets of the Bhāgavata - 'ā-layam' means 'until the devastation', or: relish the Bhāgavata until you enter samādhi.

He explained why Rādhārāṇī never changes the color of Her dress: These are Bhāva-kāpar, garments of feelings, as everything is conscious and full of feeling in the spiritual world, including the clothes and ornaments. All of Rādhā's ornaments are Kṛṣṇamayi, filled with Kṛṣṇa (-consciousness) and are thus not material but supra-natural. He also elaborated on the differences between the Nimbarkīs' (his hosts) svakīya upāsanā and the Gauḍīyas' parakīya upāsanā, during which I unfortunately had to leave because the journey from The Hague to my home town takes about 2 hours and it was already 10 p.m by then.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Transcript Nāṭaka

On request, here is a transcript of the new audio uploaded to www.madangopal.com (see linktab 'Sādhu Bābā audio there), in which Nirañjan Bābu and Sādhu Bābā read from his drama about Advaita Prabhu. The first 3 minutes describe how Sadāśiva petitioned Mahā-viṣṇu to save the helpless souls in the age of Kali (that made Them ultimately become Advaita Prabhu Together), the last 2 minutes describe a loving exchange between Advaita Prabhu and Haridās Thākur. The recording was not very clear and some words are not well audible, so the following translation is a rough sketch:


Niranjan Bābu, first minute:
“As the river of time rolled on, the age of Dwāpara came to an end. I dont know what is the plan of Fate now? I am very eager to know what will happen in the future. Who knows what will happen? There’s no need to worry or be unhappy. I saw Mahāviṣṇu reclining on the causal ocean while Sadāśiva was engrossed in meditation on its shore for 750 celestial years. Dressed in treebark, His head beautified by the crescent moon, terrifying snakes slithering around His armpits and flanked by His trident, He was meditating there with His head straight, worshipped by the Munis. How beautiful was the sight!”

Sādhu Bābā, next two minutes:
“The wheel of time cannot be stopped and is harsh. Nārāyan...Nārāyan... Who can stop the Great factor of Time? Wake up Lord, wake up! The age of Dwāpara has ended, King Kali is entering - he is very wicked and full of irreligion. All souls will have a bleak Fate now....(Sadāśiva) sits on the shore of the Causal Ocean in meditation, anticipating the arrival of King Kali. Your creation will be devoured by violence, vice and irreligion - what will be the remedy? Kali is merciless and hard as stone. What an awful fate...Your beautiful creation will be a abode of demons and will be filled with the pitiful cries of their innocent victims. There will be no more consolation of truthfulness in the three worlds. Anacaris (ill behaved people) will devour the world without thinking twice. How much can helpless and weak souls – men and women, their heads bowed down - tolerate this merciless thrashing? Will the clear light of virtue be polluted by the mud of sin? You promised (in Bhagavad Gītā 9.31) na me bhakta pranaśyati (“My devotee will never perish”)? Have you forgotten that, O Lord? That would be impossible for You. I am Sadāśiva – I will benefit helpless souls. I cannot tolerate Kali’s misbehaviour. You have the power of Mahāviṣṇu, I know. You wont break Your word. So rise, rise My Lord, O cause of the universe, O Paramātma of the Yogis! Give me the strength.... (Sādhu Bābā’s speech on this topic ends here on the tape..)

Then Niranjan Babu speaks for 1 minute on the relationship between Advaita Prabhu and Haridās Thākur, not well audible, but he basically describes how Haridās Thākur begs Advaita Prabhu for ruci for harināma japa and permission to seek a secluded place to relish harināma.

Sādhu Bābā, in the last 2 minutes, recites the rest of the dialogue:

“I am very happy to hear what you said. Whoever will do bhajan will speak like you. Unless you seek solitude you cannot do bhajan. Aha, are you so eager to enter solitude? Go then, I am very pleased. Its hard for me to bid you goodbye, but I know you must go.”
Haridās: “Dont touch me, Prabhu, dont touch me! I am a low and fallen Yavan.”
Advaita Prabhu: “If My caste is lost by touching you, then let it go, I dont care about that. I dont belong to any tradition, I am Sadāśiva. I have drunk the Kālakūt and Halāhala poisons (from the milk-ocean) and distributed nectar to the demigods – wouldnt I then be able to redeem even one human Yavan? And you are not a Yavan either, Haridās. You have attained the unstoppable japa of the holy name. Through you the glories of the holy name are revealed.....”
Haridās: “Prabhu, I have attained your blessing, the strength and your permission to accomplish my task – what more could I want?” (From here on the tape is quite inaudible. Hopefully in the future I will find out more)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

108 gopī-beads?


I was wondering if there is any scriptural evidence for the widespread belief that the 108 beads of our japa-mālā represent 108 gopīs or 108 Upaniṣads. A Google search brought up many such claims, not only from Vaiṣṇavas but also from jñānīs, yogīs and academics, but none of them quoted any evidence. A scan of Haribhakti Vilāsa also brought up nothing. Is anybody able to quote any scriptural evidence?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Śrī-Śrī-Guru Pūrṇimā



śvetāmbara paridhānaṁ śveta mālānulepanaṁ
varābhaya karaṁ śāntaṁ karuṇāmaya vigraham
vāmenotpala dhāriṇyā śaktyāliṅgita vigraham
smerānanaṁ suprasannaṁ sādhakābhīṣṭa dāyakam



Wearing white garments, garlands and unguents,
His hand, raised in benediction, bestowing fearlessness,
His figure peaceful and full of compassion,
embraced by a divine Shakti that holds a lotus flower in her left hand,
His countenance smiling in satisfaction,
He bestows all objectives to the spiritual practitioners.

This night, running up to Guru Pūrṇimā, I dreamt of Bābā, which is very rare.
Guru Pūrṇimā is celebrated in Sādhu Bābā's Ashram with harinām sankīrtan and abhiṣekh of Śrī-Śrī-Rādhā-Madangopāl...

Sunday, July 09, 2006

11-13?


Today I received this message:

Sorry if I am not giving you additional but I think you are one of the authority on this topic. This question was posed on a forum today:

Radhe!!
Yesterday I had a talk with a nice devotee who is pretty familiar with (Ananta Das) Babaji Maharaja´s books. He told me hat he was very very disturbed about the fact that Krishna actually has sexual intercourse with many many gopis who are between 11 and 13 years and that He only thinks of this to whole day. He said that he is totally uncomfortable with believing in "this aspect" of his deity, since (his words) here in this world we go to jail for having intimate relationships with persons under the age of 18. And he said: "Don't come with the "all-is-transcendental"-argument...


Since I am totally in maya, I could not say anything. In fact, I was feeling uncomfortable too. Any help???



This is a very basic question. The answer is given nicely by A.C. Bhaktivedānta Swāmijī in his books - this is the exchange of the Supreme Lord with His internal transcendental pleasure potency, which externally looks like a sexual affair of teenagers. And I DO come with the 'its-all-transcendental' argument, because it IS. Another correction which is needed is: The gopis are not 11-13, mañjarīs are of that age, but sakhīs, with the exception of Anaṅga Mañjarī, are 14. Most girls in the west, regardless of the age of consent, are either coveting boys or are already engaged with them at the age of 14. Vedic culture has girls married at such a young age exactly for that reason. Our friend's friend has no idea of Vedic culture and no idea of Vaiṣṇava theology either, so it is better he takes shelter of a sat Guru who will show him the light before he starts reading the most intimate literature in connection with Kṛṣṇa. Without a proper foundation of siddhānta (philosophy) there can be no real understanding of rasa or līlā. Again, it makes me feel uncomfortable at publishing these intimate books....

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