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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Four levels of speech, nitya-siddha kṛṣṇa prema

Back in Vrindavan I visit the Jiva Institute, where I find my friend Krishnadas leaving to Delhi and then Slowakia. We speak briefly on the four levels of speech, since I have the impression that Sanskrit nouns are non-different from the objects they describe; but I get the full scope inside from Satya-nārāyan Prabhu. As usual it is all in the Bhāgavata, no need to browse through any Sāhitya-śāstra. The Bhāgavat 11.12.17, 11.21.36 and 12.6.37-40 explain that there are four levels of speech - vaikhārika (vocal, the most gross vibration), madhyama, paśyantī (words perceived on mental stages) and parā, which is only perceived by Ṛṣis and yogīs. This is connected with Haribhakti Vilāsa's teaching of the vācik, upāṁśu and mānasik japa, the vācik being equal to the vaikhārik speech. Above the vaikhārika level the words are non-different from the objects they describe.

Satya-nārāyan Prabhu says about nitya-siddha kṛṣṇa prema sādhya kabhu noy  that this verse speaks about nitya siddhas only, not about sādhakas like us. Otherwise there would be no sense in the verse guru kṛṣṇa prasāde pāy bhakti latā bīja. 'He gets the seed of devotion by the grace of Guru and Kṛṣṇa'. He confirms that hlādinī is the missing ānanda in the svarūpa of the jīva and that it is an external gift. He quotes the verse nitya siddhasya bhāvasya from the Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu (1.2.2) - this is the goal, the nitya siddha bhāva, it is not to be achieved artificially. Bhakti is guru kṛṣṇa prasāda. Then he quotes sevonmukhe hi jihvādau from Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu, too (the last 2 sentences are to be found in Mukunda Goswāmī's ṭīkā of BRS 1.2.2) and gives the examples of Gajendra and Bharata as a deer - they had animal tongues, but since they had a desire to chant the name of Kṛṣṇa, svayam eva sphuratyadaḥ - all this became spontaneously manifest. So the addition of hlādinī, or ānanda, completes the sac-cid-ānanda of the jīva. Otherwise, there are so many mundane meanings of the word ānanda as well. That is not what is meant here. ānanda is hlādinī.

Bhṛgunāth Miśra, who published the new Bengali Kṛṣṇa Bhāvanāmṛta, is not a Bengali himself; he does not know the svarūpas of Vṛndā, Mādhurikā, Paurṇamāsī, etc., mentioned in the footnotes to the book. He says they are 85 years old, from the time of Madhusūdan Dās Adhikārī, but is not sure whether it is he who added the footnotes at the time.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Iṣṭagoṣṭhī with Mahānidhi Swāmī (2)

To show appreciation for his generous dakṣiṇā I visit Mahānidhi Swāmī to present him with 2 copies of my Pañcakam book. He asks me about the dormant state of siddha svarūpa, mentioning the 10th paragraph of the Prīti Sandarbha (vasanti yatra puruṣāḥ sarve vaikuṇṭha mūrtaya). I explain that the word vasanti (they reside) is in present tense, which is proof of eternity for Jīva Goswāmī. Anyway, the siddha-svarūpa must be constitutionally eternal, and yet at the same time our conditioning is also beginningless (sei jīva anādi bahirmukha). We originate from Maha-viṣṇu only in the sense that we are stored in His giant form during the time of pralaya, not that we 'originate' as/in a beginning-point from Him or anyone for that matter.

I point out that the stage of bhāva is described in the famous Bhāgavat verse 1.2.21

bhidyate hṛdaya granthis chidyante sarva saṁśayaḥ
kṣīyante cāsya karmāṇi dṛṣṭa evātmanīśvare

'The knot in the heart is severed, all doubts are destroyed, all karmika reactions are gone, and one sees the Lord in one's self.' This is svarūpa-realization.

He asks me if I take disciples, so tell him of Bābā's final edict on this and that the new followers will all be Bābā's śiṣyas only, to which I will provide the śikṣā and Tapan Dā the dīkṣā. I tell him though that its unlikely many people will join, because we are so..... He fills me in 'occidental'. Yes, occidental. (Meaning we are too occidental, my lineage too oriental)

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Iṣṭagoṣṭhī with Mahānidhi Swāmī

Saturday afternoon I visit Mahānidhi Swāmi in his small but costly estate at the edge of Rādhākund.
When I enter the room he's reading to some śiṣyas from a new book by Śivaram Swāmi about Kṛṣṇa's meeting with the gopīs at Kurukṣetra.

I tell him I don't believe that the soul is sac-cid-ānanda, but only sat and cit. He quotes Navadwīp Dās in his intro to Bhakti Sandarbha, that the jīva is taṭastha śakti and bhakti is swarup-śakti; thus bhakti is infused, not intrinsic. I confirm it by quoting CC -

brahmāṇḍa bhramite kon bhāgyavān jīva
 guru-kṛṣṇa prasāde pāy bhaktilatā bīja

Every word is significant here - kon means some, not all. pāy means 'he gets', not that it's intrinsic, its coming from outside. prasād means that it is not deserved, but is causeless grace. One cannot work in advance to attain it. Only in this way the verse nitya siddha kṛṣṇa prem sādhya kabhu noy can be understood. I tell him how great Bhānu Swāmi's Bhakti-rasāmṛta Sindhu is, despite others' opinion he heard to the contrary.

About the origin of the jīva (kṛṣṇa bhūli sei jīva anādi bahirmukha) I tell him that forgetting (Kṛṣṇa) in the Vedic context isnt always like in the western context - it is beginningless, just as smaranam doesn't always mean remembering someone you have known in the past; like when you do līlā smaranam - you have never seen Kṛṣṇa, yet you 'remember'.

He asks me if everyone has adhikāra for manjari bhāva, but I quote Śrīmad Bhāgavata 6.14.5 to prove the contrary -

muktānām api siddhānām nārāyaṇa parāyana 
sudurlabhaḥ praśāntātma koṭiṣvapi mahāmune 

'Among millions of liberated souls a devotee of Nārāyan is very rare.' And that is only Nārāyan! For beginners we should keep upbeat mottos like 'Chant hare kṛṣṇa and be happy' and 'Back to Godhead in this lifetime'. Reality is different, though.

He accepts that Bhaktivinode, Bhaktisiddhānta and Bhaktivedānta appeal to the scientific, meritocratic western mind due to their English education, and that this is why their missions are so successful in the west. Traditional Indian Gurus would be more difficult to accept for westerners. Mahānidhi Swāmījī agrees that western devotees often need decades to transcend their rational, causal thinking to come to the point of simple Indian śāstrīya śraddhā.

Wholly contrary to maryādā, Swāmījī (who is senior to me in age, devotee-years and ashram) bows down to me, and offers me 1,000 Rs daksina - I'll remember this place if I ever get in dire straits! (I'll come and lecture there again!)

Krishna Das Madrasi Baba hagiography

Review. The life and teachings of Krishna Das Baba of Radhakund.

Recently Karuṇāmayī Dās gave me a copy of his book 'The life and teachings of Krishna Das Baba of Radhakund', published by Nitāi Dās. On pages xxvi and xxvii of the introduction Nitāi speaks in a way about the author of his own publication of which I wonder if it is Vaiṣṇava etiquette, as I've never read such comments before in any other introduction to a Vaiṣṇava publication. Nitāi speaks of Karuṇāmayī's 'bombastic style of writing', 'plethora of 'shri-s' and 'lotus-feet', 'filled with emotional effusiveness, enthusiastic declamations and hyperbolic exclamations'. I disagree with Nitāi and his fellow devotee/academics that such use of language is 'Indic' (culturally relative) and should be edited out - rather it is devotional language and devotion knows no culture or language - and if this is not 'western style' writing we'll simply MAKE it western style. It's better than so many other cross-cultural 'innovations' introduced in our sampradāya I'd say. On page xxxiii-xxiv he gives a nice example though, that literacy (let alone scholarship) or chanting millions of rounds like a machine is the (only) way to siddhi by quoting the example of Kṛṣṇa Prasād Dās Bābā, who attained siddhi by serving a householder Vaiṣṇava without being able to do any chanting or studying.

Having said all this, I admit that Nitāi's editing is done well and leaves the text devotional. He also did an excellent job on the glossary, the explanation of one word even spreading over 2 pages. 26 words are glossed over 14 pages! Along with his introduction these are great bonuses. Since I last read the Madrasi Baba hagiography (originally edited by yours truly), Karuṇāmayī Dās has edited many nice new things, too.

On page 97 it is said that the devotee in Vraja's dāsya rasa fears that Kṛṣṇa may not talk to him if he commits an offence. This is new to me and I wonder if there is any evidence for this.

Nitāi's invention of the word 'grace-food' for prasāda (p. 122-3) is interesting, though I think that most readers will know and prefer the word 'prasāda'.

On page 131 Nitāi Dās (this book is really half his) explains that the four yugas are named after the four throws at Indian dice - Kṛta (four dots), Tretā (triads, three dots), Dwāpara (deuce, two dots) and Kali (lose, one dot).

All in all this book is a sweet reminder of the Vaiṣṇava that I spent 5 years (1984-1989) with on the bank of Śrī Rādhākuṇḍa and who was appointed as my 'foster-Guru' by Śrī Sādhu Bābā for that time.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Śivarātri forgotten

Rādhākuṇḍa Harekṛṣṇa dhāma -
I completely forgot that it is Śivarātri today - I only find it out in the afternoon in the pāṭh. I took a normal meal of roti and kichuri - no fast, no pūjā. At least I hear Śiva Līlā from the Bhāgavat in the Gopīnāth Mandir. From Tulasīdās' Rāmcarita Mānas comes the continuation of the 4th canto story - after combusting herself Sati takes birth as Umā from Himālaya and Menakā. Nārada came there. Śiva had turned to Hari-bhajan. Umā did 10.000 years tapasya to get Śiva as her husband. The devatās tried to disturb Śiva's samādhi to get a son from him that would defeat the Rākṣasa Tārakāsura. Kāmadeva used his five arrows, Malayan breezes, pretty girls and Śiva burned him to a crisp. Rati complained that now she has no more husband so the devatās blessed her that he would be pervading everyone as anaṅga, the disembodied god of temptation and that later they would be reunited in Dwārkā, where Kāmadeva would become Pradyumna, the son of Kṛṣṇa.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Gaura in Haribhakti Vilāsa

In the "Journal for Vaiṣṇava Studies", fall 2003, page 151, Mans Broo writes that Haribhakti Vilāsa is written for all Sampradāyas, hence there is no worship of Gaura mentioned. He claims that non-Gauḍīyas would object or feel no need for it. This is not true. There ARE prayers to Gaura in the opening of each chapter, so it IS sectarean, and if worship of Gaura was to be done (in the elaborate separate way of the last few centuries), why isnt that mentioned in any of the other Gosvāmīs' books either, like Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu, Ujjvala Nīlamaṇi, Laghu Bhāgavatāmṛta, Bṛhad Bhāgavatamṛta, the Six Sandarbhas etc. etc.?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Pāṭha of February 7

Vṛndāvana, 7 february 2007 -
In today's Bhāgavata-pāṭh Satya-nārāyan Prabhu said that even tamoguna and rajoguna are useful - tamoguṇa brings sleep and sleep refreshes us and gives us a good start of the day with sādhana. rajoguṇa brings revenue and thus maintenance of our sādhana. Even universally, tamo-guṇa destroys the world and gives it a fresh start.

He compares Kṛṣṇa's killing of the demons with 'killing a mosquito with a nuclear bomb' - it is obviously not the main reason for Kṛṣṇa's descent - anybody else can do this too. He comes actually for pleasing His devotees.

About the online debate I have about talking and walking during japa, he agrees with me that it is obviously wrong (the basis of yukti or common sense), even if some apparent counter-evidence is quoted. That evidence has to be seen in context.

He says that śāstra may seemingly contradict itself but one has to see not just the context of the conflicting statements but also for which devotee, of which level of adhikāra it is spoken.

Interestingly he shows me from Bhāgavata 12th canto, chapter 11 (it is adhyātmika), that Kṛṣṇa is non-different from His apparel (when we speak about last year's outrage about Banki Bihari with the cellphone, see madangopal.blogspot in September 2006).

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Understanding the śāstra

Vṛndāvana, 5 february 2007 -
I had an interesting meeting with my friend Kṛṣṇadas from Slowakia, who just arrived. He is very tall and looks really tired, yet he spent hours with me, sharing his vast knowledge. He tells me the stern warnings against Rāsa-līlā may have been introduced just for westerners (I got them from 4 different mahatmas), because they don't have the natural acquaintance with Kṛṣṇa as Bhagavān and need more convincing than born devotees like the Hindus. Also, the morale of Indians is much more strict, so they're more likely to see it as divya līlā.

Interestingly, he proves that even Viśvanātha Cakravartī, the firebrand anti-māyāvāda preacher, gives ādhyātmik interpretations of the Bhāgavat - In the early 10th canto in 10.2.8, 10.9.18.

About Ganges-worship he says she can be seen on 3 levels - ādhibhautik (the gross river), ādhyātmik (spiritual liquid, impersonal jala-brahma) and ādhidaivik (the Goddess, in white colour). The three colours of Yamunā (indigo), Saraswatī (red) and Gaṅgā (white) are in one of the last 2 categories too. The three may be interchangeable too.

Of the three exchanges of the Bhāgavata, the one of Saunaka and Sūta is the lowest (during a yajña, as a chat), Nārada-Vyāsa is the middle (because Nārada told Vyāsa something was missing in his work) and the highest one was Śuka-Parīkṣit, because Parīkṣit gave up everything.

He says that Jīva Goswāmī doesn't agree that the ten items (sarga, visarga, nirodha) of the Bhāgavata belong each to one canto, they are also interchangeable, though each canto does have its special characteristics.

Devatās are ethereal beings that are in charge of their own element; they can only be perceived by Ṛṣis and highly gifted persons.

Mahābhārata has at least 3 layers of meaning - the surface historical meaning, the ādhyātmika meaning (very deep!!) and the moral one.

It is said in Rādhā-kṛṣṇa Gosvāmī's Paddhatī that Jīva Gosvāmī wrote his svakīya-vāda (in Gopāl Campūḥ, Saṅkalpa Kalpadruma and his Bhāgavat ṭīkā) just to please one person named Gopāl (hence perhaps Gopāl Campūḥ?)