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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?)


  1. Can you ask Krishnadas what he meant by "it is philosophically too much for any acarya to give a full interpretation of shastra"? Does he mean that it takes too much time or did he mean something else?

  2. He meant there is no end to shastra, both in quality and quantity - in other words, one can have endless realisations about each verse. The verse that comes to my mind is Canakya Pandit's ananta sastram bahulasca vidya svalpasca kalo bahu vighnata ca.

  3. Like me, you are very passionate in defending, what you think are the conclusions of the shastra.
    Indeed we probably agree on more than 95% of the matter.

    I believe when there is difference of opinion or downright opposition, we should fight the idea, never the person propagating that certain idea. It is very important to understand the opposing idea and to know its origins, the line of thought leading to certain conclusions.
    This also helps in making your own faith more solid and feeling some compassion and understanding for the other person, his background.

    Quoting acaryas needs to go hand in hand with personal realization. Otherwise it feels empty to the listener. We should at least strive to realize and be modest with talking beyond our realization.

    I will not bother you with things you already know. I have actually something to ask. A radiorequest. If you have the time could you devote a post to the subject called sahayja. I am very interested.
    What is it ? How did you look at it in the past and how do you look at it now ? What did your respected Guru had to say about this matter ? Where differs your view on sahayja from the view and warnings from the Bhaktisiddhanta-group ? And where is there agreement ?
    Where differs your view on sahayja from the view of the RadharamanaCharan-group ? And where is there some agreement ?
    Why is it so very dangerous to our devellopment of real love ? How can we protect ourselves from being in a sahayjic mood ? What are the characteristics of a sahayja ? How subtle is it ?

    By the way, have a blessed stay in the Dhama.

  4. Dear Anuradha,
    I am sitting in a cyberjoint in Vrindavan with crappy connections and where time is money, so I will keep it short for now.
    What it is? It is an identification with Radha-Krishna by sadhakas who express it in tantrik sexual practise.
    I look at it more or less the way I always looked at it, of course when I left Iskcon I learned a different definition of it as the one of Bhaktisiddhanta.
    My Guru condemned it but didnt elaborate. I only remember he didnt want me to wander around in downtown Navadvip because it was 'teeming with sahajiyas'.
    Bhaktisiddhanta and his followers have the idea that one needs to be a pure devotee to engage in raga sadhana, and that automatically creates the bogeyman 'the sahajiya' who is practising it WITHOUT being a pure devotee. That is quite different from the abovementioned definition, you understand. As you know many descriptions have been given of sahajiyas in ACBS books, some true and some untrue. Agreement is there in the first definition I gave, of tantrik advaitins.
    BVT or BSS have made a list of 13 apasampradayas, I cant remember if my definition fits in there. I would agree with many of these 13 definitions, though I dont know them by heart.
    I do not know the definition of Radharaman Carandas group really.
    It is dangerous because one identifies oneself with the divine lover and beloved. This is condemned by Rupa Gosvami as ahangropasana. It is diametrically opposed to a service attitude.
    It can be quite subtle, that is why I presumed that my Guru and 3 other mahatmas urged me not to practise gopi bhava in a state of great sexual agitation or engagement - obviously one will then identify oneself with Radha Krishna more or less.
    Yes, I agree that empty words have no effect, but that can also happen with words full of realization, because it also depends on the adhikara of the audience.

  5. Anuradha -

    One of the frequent commenters here on Advaita-ji's blog, Jagat is a self admitted Sahajiya, claiming to have taken initiation in an 'authentic' Sahajiya lineage. If you are really interested in what sahajiya is, I suggest you approach him & ask - no need to be interested spiritually, just tell him you are curious about the practice. Get it from the horse's mouth and all that...

    This isn't an endorsement of Jagat's views by any means. I find myself on Advaita's side on this one, but he is at least knowledgeable about the topic...

  6. David

    Thanks for the tip. But I already asked this question on his own blog. I asked not so much about the practice, but more about an easier explanation of his Jagat-vada. Mainly because in general (not always) his explanations are abstruse and full of difficult words, making use of different languages a long the way.
    I got a polite answer, by the way.

    I asked Advaita das though, because I am not so much interested in the actual Sahajiya-practice, but more in his personal view on the matter in relation to other groups.
    I got a clear and polite answer.

    Why am I asking ?
    I personally try to follow in the line of Bhaktisiddhanta Thakur and in my own life I hold the broadest possible definition on Sahajiya, imitation that is, or fooling yourself. For me though this is more an internal struggle, a tendency of the mind, like an anartha. Some people institutionalized this anartha and made it into an organized religion, like some of the apasampradayas Advaita mentioned, but it can be present everywhere. Even in the outwardly strictest vaidhi-bhakta.
    Nonetheless the true raganuga-path intrigues me and I pay respect to the devotees on that path. They are my family.
    So that is why I am interested in different views on the matter.