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Friday, May 25, 2007

alpāṁśa and sarvāṁśa


After reading Anādi Dās’ interpretation of the last sentence of Paragraph 338 of Jīva Gosvāmī’s Bhakti Sandarbha, I consulted my friend Kṛṣṇa Dās on it.

Dear Kṛṣṇadas,
Rādhe Rādhe
I have here two translations of Jiva Gosvami’s Bhakti Sandarbha 338’s last sentence:

rahasyatvaṁ ca tasyāḥ kvacid alpāṁśena kvacit tu sarvāṁśeneti jñeyam.

(note: Bhakti Sandarbha 338 contains the quotation of the last verse of the Rāsa līlā in the Bhāgavata, promising readers of the Rāsa-līlā they will be freed from lust. After that, however, Jīva Gosvāmī cautions that one should not study or meditate on this if one gets male transformations – puruṣa vikāra. The Sanskrit sentence quoted above follows that warning)

Translation of Kuśakratha Dās:

“In one sense, some parts of these pastimes are especially confidential. In another sense, all of these pastimes are very confidential.”

Translation of Anādi Dās, Germany:

“They misuse the meaning of the word intimate or confidential – rahasya, and they forbid any devotee which is not at least on the level of niṣṭhā from hearing any of the pastimes of the Lord with the gopis. In the quoted Bhakti Sandarbha (338) these words kvacid alpāṁśena kvacit tu sarvāṁśeneti jeyam, you didn`t translate, are also important, because they convey the meaning given by Jīva Gosvāmī to the word rahasya in connection to the gopī līlā, and they say that in this connection confidentiality refers to the fact: in which extent (complete- all, sarvāṁśeneti or less, alpāṁśena) the limbs of the hero and heroin touch. The meaning is that if līlā contains descriptions of touching of all the limbs, than it is confidential.”

I think both are wrong, especially the second one. My Gauḍīya Maṭh Bengali translation says that ‘in some places the pastimes are partially (alpāṁśa) rahasya (confidential) and in other parts completely (sarvāṁśa).” I feel that is the right one. I guess that the siddhānta here is that distinction must be made between adhikāra for hearing/reading partially intimate and fully intimate pastimes. What is your opinion?
advaitadas

Kṛṣṇadās replied:

Dear Advaita,
"I agree with you that neither Kuśakratha's or Anādi's translation are accurate. Kuśakratha evidently mistranslates the word kvacit and Anādi reads things into the sentence that aren't there. The Gauḍīya Maṭh translation makes sense to me. And it seems probable that Jīva Goswāmī wants to say, as you wrote, that a distinction must be made between adhikāra for hearing/reading partially intimate and fully intimate pastimes. The word nopāsya used in the previous sentence indicates adhikāra."
kd

Advaitadas: “What is actually the conclusion of this alpāṁśa and sarvāṁśa? That some stories can be read even with puruṣa vikāra as long as they are alpāṁśa rahasya? Seems hard to draw the line here... Any clues?

Kṛṣṇadās:
"As far as I have understood, it can happen that if people who have material nature (bhāva), ie. they consider the material body as their self and oneself as the enjoyer, and consequently do not see themselves as servants of Kṛṣṇa, if they read the descriptions of rahasya-līlā, their material bhāva gets excited. This is obviously something that should be avoided. However, it is natural for bhaktas to taste the rasa of bhakti in such descriptions. Those who have material bhāva will experience only their own material saṁskāras. They miss the whole point of the lila. Therefore, it is better if they don't read about rahasya-līlā. Sexual bhāva is dominant in man and requires very little to be stimulated. Nevertheless, nowadays, after the sexual revolution, it seems to me that the descriptions of rahasya-līlā are quite innocent in comparison to what can be found in contemporary literature (which, of course, is mostly devoid of rasa).

As we were talking back then in Vrindaban, previously, people had to learn vyākaraṇa and Sāhitya śāstra to be able to read all the wonderful books about Kṛṣṇa-līlā. At present, when there are translations it has become very easy for anybody to read them without proper training. Thus, it can also happen very easily that they become misunderstood. Therefore, proper education is very important. The problem which I see as quite important in relation to reading Kṛṣṇa-līlā is that devotees lack the understanding of the poetics that underlies the līlā-descriptions. The main purpose of those descriptions is rasa but very few know what rasa is and look for something else. They read books about Kṛṣṇa-līlā but are hardly able to read them over and over again. And even if so, they are, so to say, looking for information (details of the transcendental world or whatever) in the books and not for rasa. They are excited about them, no doubt, but I am not sure if they read them for the feeling of devotion they enable one to experience which is their purpose. The Upaniṣad teaches raso vai saḥ. The experience of rasa is for us the actual sākṣākāra of Kṛṣṇa who is beyond mind and speech. That is why, we, as Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas, make such a big fuss about rasa. I hope this answers the question,
kd

Advaitadas: “Yes I agree with the general point you made there about adhikāra but it doesn't answer my particular question about the alpāṁśa and sarvāṁśa. This is what intrigues me in the last sentence of Bhakti Sandarbha 338. Problem is that Jīva and Rūpa often scribble down sūtras and leave us to realize these things for ourselves, to fluff them out so to say. And there is no ṭīkā to the Sandarbhas..... So what is your opinion on alpāṁśa and sarvāṁśa? You think that partially erotic pastimes would be allowed to persons with puruṣa vikāras and fully erotic ones wouldn't be?"

Kṛṣṇadas: "I think my general point answered the question. If one gets puruṣa-bikāra it means that one is just exciting his material bhāva. Such reading of Kṛṣṇa-līlā is not encouraged, regardless of alpāṁśa or sarvāṁśa. If sarvāṁśa (fully erotic pastimes) is too much for somebody, he should read just alpāṁśa (partially or slightly erotic pastimes). If one is so obsessed with sex that even this is too much for him, he should completely give up reading about Kṛṣṇa's erotic pastimes. The bhāva that should be excited is bhakti. If this does not happen when reading about the pastimes, something is wrong with the person. The conclusion is that there is no license for reading about Kṛṣṇa's rahasya-līlā when one has puruṣa vikāra. It goes against the general principle. The vikrīḍitam verse (the final verse of the Rāsa līlā) says that those who listen to or describe the pastimes of Viṣṇu with the gopīs will get rid of kāma. This is not possible if one is exciting one's sexual nature. It is rather likely that the opposite will happen. One can even become more lusty. The verse says that one must be śraddhānvitaḥ. Puruṣa-vikāra, exciting one's sexual bhāva, or whatever we call it, occurs because of lack of śraddhā.

35 comments:

  1. Advaitadas: “Before I blog this - what is actually the conclusion of this alpamsa and sarvamsa? That some stories can be read even with purusa vikara as long as they are alpamsa rahasya? Seems hard to draw the line here... Any clues?

    I think Anadi was not totally wrong. I think in fact he gave tangible guideline on how a lila can be considered alpamsa (partial) or sarvamsa (complete). To the extent that the limbs of the hero and heroin touch , that is complete.

    Outside of that it is partial eg. teasing, Radha in the mana mood, pulling Radha's sari, putting flowers on Radha's hair, Krishna pretending to be a gopi so He can talk intimately (like between girlfriends) to Radha about THAT Krishna.

    Of course there is also the angle of adhikara, because some people/devotees easily get excited even just reading Krishna putting flowers on Radha's bed.

    BTW, while I'm at it. A year ago, I was reading Madhurya Kadambini on the section of the types of Klesa, I think, not so sure (it was long time ago), and as far as I can remember, Jagat ( I believe the commentaries were more by him than by Sri Ananta Das Babaji) was differentiating the types by saying, this is like on the 60 % stage and that the 70% stage. And I was getting put off because that kind of definition does not help that much because just what is the difference between the 60% stage and the 62% stage.

    Sometimes philosophy/religion is so abstract that in this regard Anadi das's definition is very helpful.

    And to Krishna das, re your comment about Anadi reading things not in the text-- I think he was interpreting/commenting on the text (not just translating) and you as a scholar surely very well know that commentaries may include many things like seeing things in the light of tradition, historical facts, common understanding of the text, biases, inclination, common sense and plain gut feeling.

    Kind regards to everyone

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  2. First of all I would like to say that it was only until the last paragraph that I understood the meaning of the terms "alpamsa" and "sarvamsa" - it was not very clear otherwise.

    Secondly, I rather disagree with the premise that reading erotic pastimes is likely to excite material sexual feelings. Of course every individual is different so this may happen for some people, but I would like to relate my own experience here. I have no problem with this because I once discussed it with Madhava in private and I also wrote about it on GD somewhere. So here goes:

    My first encounter with Krishna's rasa-lila occurred by reading Prabhupada's Krishna-book. I actually stumbled across it by accident as I didn't have a clue that Krishna could even be remotely "sexual" so I was reading those sections with an almost morbid curiosity, all these descriptions of Krishna pressing the breasts of "aborigine" girls, and so on. I should add that I was about 14 years old at the time, so I was in the full flush of teenage hormones which were getting reasonably excited by all these descriptions of Krishna's activities with the gopis and so on. It was so strange to read, and I read those sections over and over again, reasonably excited and so on, I'm sure you get the picture.

    What completely astounded me was that, for a period of exactly three days after that, I experienced no sexual feelings at all! For a 14-year-old over-hormonal teenager I can tell you that is quite an achievement! And of course this occurred as a direct result of reading Krishna-s rasa-lila, even if it was the sanitised version presented in Prabhupada's Krishna-book!

    So I'm pretty sure that, as far as my own experience goes, reading alpamsa/sarvamsa even with material bhava can have a purifying effect otherwise there would be no meaning to the 'vikriditam' verse. A similar experience happened at Gaura Purnima about 3 years ago but there was no rasa-lila involved, just the impact of celebrating Gaura Purnima caused the disappearance of sexual feelings for around a few weeks.

    Perhaps others may beg to differ, but I can only remain true to my own experience. It still surprises me when I think about it even today.

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  3. MALATI:
    Hmmm thank you and Anadi for that rasika explanation, there surely is place for that off the record, but please remember that Bhakti Sandarbha is a strictly philosophical treatise and we were discussing the actual intention of Jiva Gosvami here. There is no mentioning of Radha Krishna's bodily limbs anywhere in the text and the context of the entire text is totally philosophical. But for me personally, there's always room for rasika interpretations on the comments page!!!

    I forgot to add the next paragraph, 339, to the blog. That makes the context very clear.

    tatra te bhakti marga darzitAH - "There the path of devotion is shown." atra ca zrI guroH zrI bhagavato vA prasAda labdhaM sAdhana sAdhyagataM svIya sarvasva-bhUtaM yat kim api rahasyaM tat tu na kasmaicit prakAzanIyam yathAh "The goal and practise received by the grace of Sri Guru and Sri Bhagavan which is our all-in-all is confidential and should not be revealed to anyone. As it is said in SB 8.17.20: naitat parasmA AkhyeyaM pRSTayApi kathaJcana | sarvaM sampadyate devi devaguhyaM susaMvRtam "O Devi! Even if someone inquires about this you should not reveal these truths to anyone. When this remains concealed even to the devatAs all is accomplished." sampadyate phaladaM bhavati zrIviSNur aditim "This is spoken to Aditi by Vishnu. 'Accomplished' means 'it bestows fruits'.

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  4. GAURASUNDARA:
    1. Jiva Gosvami made the point very clear in this text. That is the whole purpose of BS 338 - it is a cautionary note on that very vikriditam verse: kintu ("but", cautioning) rahasya lila tu paurusa vikAravad indriyaih....nopAsya "When the senses get male transformations this confidential lila is not to be meditated upon". BS 338 is an additional comment on vikriditam by Jiva Gosvami.
    2. Perhaps the two occasions of your being freed from the grip of Kamadeva were just coincidental. For me these desires always have their high and low tides, and there isnt always an external reason for that.
    3. As the vikriditam Bhagavata verse is saying (quoted earlier in 338 and that point was made too by Krishnadas) you may have been reading it with faith.
    The verdict of Jiva Gosvami thus prevails.

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  5. The word rahasya can have different meanings when it is used for different purposes. When it is mentioned that alpamsa is related to partial touching of limbs and that sarvamsa is related to complete touching of limbs, there rahasya doesn't imply confidential in the sense of a secret to be kept, rather it implies that there is a hidden understanding, an esoteric understanding, and that the esoteric understanding becomes more so in the erotic descriptions of Radha with Krishna then with the non sexual descriptions. What is being said is that the more intimate the descriptiions of Radha and Krishna become, the more esoteric they become. In other words the most initmate understandings of the real rasa lila becomes less connected with the literal descriptions of it. This is a hierarchical methodology. When descriptions are less intimate the esoteric intent (rahasya) is lessened. When descriptions are the most intimate the rahasya or esoteric meaning is most important.

    An example would be to use a non intimate pastime, the teaching of the Bhagavad Gita, which can be taken literally. Contrast the Gita with Krishna's pastimes where he slays demons, which have esoteric meanings to them beyond the literal. The more intimate the pastime the more esoteric meanings they contain.

    As for the question about qualification, Jiva writes about nopasya. In this regard it means that those people who see the descriptions of the erotic lila as stories with a literal intent, and who fell inspired to utilize that literal understanding in their worship (mental worship or physical worship) then that is due to a lust for enjoying rather then that person understanding the esoteric intent of those descriptions. In other words if someone hears about rasa lila and then worships according to the literal understanding of rasa lila, then that is being done out of lust for enjoyment of rasa lila. The real understanding of rasa lila is esoteric and it becomes more esoteric the more intimate the desciptions become. If someone truly understands the esoteric intent of rasa lila then his worship will not be an attempt to enjoy rasa lila, it will be something altogether different. The concept of paurusha-vikaravad is not to be taken literally, otherwise any woman apparently would be qualified. It is a metaphor for lusting to be in rasa lila in the mood of enjoying rasa lila. Someone who is inspired by the rasa lila to worship in the mode of trying to attain to being able to enjoy life in that lila, whether through mental worship or physical worship, that person is not understanding the esoteric or real meaning of rasa lila. That person is not yet qualified to enter into the esoterica of rasa lila worship.

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  6. I wouldn't have thought it was coincidental because no other such lessening took place during the entire duration of my teenage years. :) Only after I read that Krishna-book. It happened on some occasions afterwards too, but only after I had read Krishna-book or other literatures. This is what I find so surprising; you would think that actual rasika-scriptures may operate, but no, it was the "sanitised" Krishna book written by Prabhupada.

    I should also mention that I was not even a Gaudiya Vaishnava when I was 14 and, as far as I was concerned, I was just reading that book as the "story of Krishna". So I didn't even know any of this stuff about "eligibility" and "adhikara" - the katha just worked.

    On a side-note that is perhaps tangential, a Vaishnava who we all know once related to me his experiences of reading Bhagavatam in his Iskcon days. Specifically Skandha 3 about the descriptions of Kardama Muni and Devahuti's "romance". He told me that he felt sexually "disturbed" upon reading those sections and logically that and other similar sections of Bhagavatam should be banned for reading too. Thus he could not understand why everyone seemed to get their kaupins in a twist when it came to the Tenth Canto....

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  7. "I should also mention that I was not even a Gaudiya Vaishnava when I was 14 and, as far as I was concerned, I was just reading that book as the "story of Krishna". So I didn't even know any of this stuff about "eligibility" and "adhikara" - the katha just worked."

    Perhaps this was some kind of AbhAsa-effect, like Ajamil not really addressing Narayan but getting the benefit still...

    "This is what I find so surprising; you would think that actual rasika-scriptures may operate, but no, it was the "sanitised" Krishna book written by Prabhupada."

    ....or perhaps the sanitised version was 'alpamsa', partially erotic and that somehow did the trick, whereas actual rasik literature, as sarvamsa, might have had the opposite effect...

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  8. Dear Advaita Das, dandavat,

    I don’t have the perspective to see the puzzle. I also try to give no personal interpretations.
    Please make the necessary corrections of the below word for word translation of Bhakti-sandarbha 338.

    kintu rahasya-lIlA tu pauruSa-vikAravad indriyaiH pitR-putra-dAsa-bhAvaiz ca nopAsyA svIya-bhAva-virodhAt |
    rahasyatvaM ca tasyAH kvacid alpAMzena kvacit tu sarvAMzeneti jJeyam |

    But kintu one should not worship nopAsyA
    the confidential pastimes rahasya-lIlA
    (if one undergoes) enjoying (sexual) pauruSa transformations vikAravad
    in the senses indriyaiH or has the mood bhAvaiz ca of a father or servant pitR-putra-dAsa,
    but tu one should know jJeyam the meaning of confidentiality rahasya
    for you tvaM sometimes kvacid (is that touches / has) less limbs alpAMzena
    as well as for him ca tasyAH sometimes kvacit (touches / has) all limbs sarvAMzeneti.

    1. The question under discussion is which limbs may be? The limbs of bhakti? The limbs of lila? The limbs of the Hero and Heroine in the lila? …Please explain how it refers to some of the above limbs, or …other ones.
    2. Would Krishna DAsa please give a translation of the above Bhakti-sandarbha 338, where na-upasya – nopasya means adhikar.

    anadi

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  9. Dear Anadi, 338 is much longer than this. It is preceded by the quotation of Sb 10.33.39 and is all about adhikara for hearing erotic pastimes. That is the central subject, and that is what the word tasyA in the last sentence is about - it means 'hers'. lIlA is a female word and tasyA ('hers') refers to that. Your translation of the rest of the text you quote is allright. All that matters is the final sentence - rahasyatvaM = confidentiality (here you broke the word up wrongly- 'rahasyatvam' is one word and 'ca' is the other. Thus the word 'tvaM', 'you', does not occur here); tasyA = hers; kvacid = sometimes; alpa = little; aMzena = of a part; kvacid = sometimes; tu = but sarva = all; aMzena = of a part; iti = thus; jneyam = to be known.

    'Her confidentiality is sometimes partial and sometimes complete."

    There is no mentioning here of the body parts of Radha Krishna at all.

    nopAsya is indeed divided in na = not and upAsya = to be meditated upon, or to be practised. Again, the central subject of the entire text 338 is the Lila. Which shouldnt be meditated upon/practised (nopAsya) by those who have masculine transformations or see themselves as Krishna's father, son or servant.

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  10. Dear Advaita Das, dandavat

    You said that rahasya-tvam' is one word.
    1. Would you please give the meaning of the suffix TVAM?
    As much as I know, for nouns in singular dvitIyA there are the suffixes: AM and TAM but not TVAM:

    2. I find that this direct translation of yours might be the best for some people, but the one I presented (not mine – only the word for word translation would be mine) regarding the meaning of confidentiality), I like it even more, because in your translation, the problem is still not solved.
    What is confidentiality? What is that confidentiality, when it refers to Radha-Krishna lila?

    That “rasika” interpretation (which does not belong to me) of the statement under discussion seems to give an answer, in terms of touching the limbs (partially or complete) of the protagonists in the lila (the Gaudiya Vaishnavas have many rasika interpretations even of the verses of the Gita, which is not directly spoken to a …Gaudiya Vaishnava)
    Who defines the partial confidentiality and the complete confidentiality?
    Do you have some evidence at hand, please?

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  11. Dear Anadi,

    1) The suffix is 'tva', not tvaM. The M (anusvara) is of course the case ending in singular masculine second case, that stays, but it is a separate, third component of the word. tva means 'being something' as in guru= guru, gurutva = guruhood, sAdhu = saint, sAdhutva = saintliness, rahasya=secret; rahasyatvam = confidentiality, etc.
    So we have here rahasya + tva + M.

    2) The translation Krishna Das and me gave is the same, plus there is the same translation in Bengali in Bhakti Vilasa Tirtha Maharaja's edition of the Bhakti Sandarbha. If the translation you posted on your website is not yours, then whose is it? And in which context is this rasika interpretation given?

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  12. Dear Advaita Das, dandavat

    1: You are better, regarding this suffix tva of the secondary derivation, but I think these new formed nouns are all NEUTRAL and the declension goes sat-tvam / tve / tvAni.

    2: The source of translation is Madhavananda Das:
    http://www.raganuga.org/frame.php?raganuga=qualification

    3: You stressed that Bhakti-sandarbha 338.speaks about adhikar.
    Which adhikar is spoken about here?

    kintu rahasya-lIlA tu pauruSa-vikAravad indriyaiH pitR-putra-dAsa-bhAvaiz ca nopAsyA svIya-bhAva-virodhAt |
    rahasyatvaM ca tasyAH kvacid alpAMzena kvacit tu sarvAMzeneti jJeyam |

    The adhikara of worshiping – smarananga bhakti.

    Are the adihkars for shravan-adi and smaran the same?
    Can you please bring some evidence in this connection?
    The above quote is misused to forbid bhakatas which are not on the level of nishta and some say even ruci (of course not for gopi-lila) to hear / read (have information) about these pastimes.

    Do you have any answers at the previous questions please?
    Who defines the partial confidentiality and the complete confidentiality?
    Do you have some evidence at hand, please?

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  13. Dear Anadi,
    2. I found it yes. "Confidentiality is understood according to the partial or complete touching of limbs.” This is an odd translation, for the word aMza seems to be translated with 'limbs'. He should have made it clear then that 'limbs' here refers to 'aspects of the Lila'. He does not mention Radha and Krishna's body limbs, that is clearly misunderstood here.

    3. The adhikara discussed here is upAsya. The prohibition is nopAsya. upAsana means according to Capeller:
    "seat; service, attendance, worship (also s‚ f.); meditation, practice, exercise."
    The adhikara for smarana is given by Jiva Gosvami himself in Bhakti Sandarbha 276: 'nama smaranam tu suddhantah karanatam apeksate'
    "nama smaranam is dependent on a pure antahkarana (heart, mind)." Notice that this is only nama smaranam, let alone lila smaranam.
    The adhikara for both hearing (srnuyad) and chanting (varnayet) is mentioned in the main sloka under discussion in BS 338 (vikriditam vrajavadhubhih).

    "The above quote is misused to forbid bhakatas which are not on the level of nishta and some say even ruci (of course not for gopi-lila) to hear / read (have information) about these pastimes."

    Nistha and ruci are twins, near neighbors, not much qualitative difference between them. I think Krishna Das has given a nice explanation in the blog.
    Check it. Furthermore, the root verse 'vikriditam' mentions 'sraddhanvita' as yardstick for adhikara - one must have faith, faith that this is a transcendental thing.
    Problem is, as I stated in the blog, there is no tika to the Bhakti Sandarbha.
    BTW I think you should be careful with using the term 'misuse' - if the intention is to protect the intimate pastimes of Radha-Krishna it is service, not misuse.
    And Jiva Gosvami's cautionary verdict is very clear.

    "Who defines the partial confidentiality and the complete confidentiality?"

    That is a question I also posed. Again, check the blog.

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  14. Dear Advaita Das, dandavat,

    You translated the quote under discussion, as a neutral statement, that brings no light into the stated prohibition:
    “Her confidentiality is sometimes partial and sometimes complete."
    But by this there is no understanding of the meaning of confidentiality as regarding gopi-lila and so seen Jiva Gosvami would have based his prohibition on an undefined term.

    The translation of Madhavananda Das as odd as may appear, it brings some light regarding the term confidentiality:
    “Confidentiality IS UNDERSTOOD according to the PARTIAL OR COMPLETE TOUCHING of limbs.”
    And that it’s why I see these limbs as the limbs of the protagonists in the lila.

    You also wrote:
    “The adhikara discussed here is upAsya. The prohibition is nopAsya. upAsana means according to Capeller: … worship (also s‚ f.); meditation, …."
    So
    1. upasya does neither mean srnuyad nor varnayet; and this is why I say that the whole quote from BS 338 is misused to prohibit these limbs of bhakti (srnuyad and varnayet) in relation to gopi lila, because the quoted BS 338 does not mention them; and this misuse goes, thus against SB10.33.39,
    2. if one takes the interpretation of the quoted BS 338 : "AS LONG AS one has lusty desires (undergoes pauruSa-vikAra) one should not hear/read about the gopi lila", one goes against SB10.33.39 which encourages a devotee (on the begining stage - shraddha) which has lusty desires, to hear and discuss gopi lila, to get rid of those lusty desires.
    So one should understand that the meaning is that: if one becomes lusty BY HEARING/READING gopi lila, one is unfortunate (unqualified).

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  15. Dear Anadi,
    You said:
    " that brings no light into the stated prohibition"
    and
    "But by this there is no understanding of the meaning of confidentiality as regarding gopi-lila "

    It is important that you carefully read the blog and my other comments because you are rehashing
    questions. It is already acknowledged that Jiva Gosvami's text is uncommented and thus open for interpretation.

    "PARTIAL OR COMPLETE TOUCHING of limbs.” And that it’s why I see these limbs as the limbs of the protagonists in the lila."

    Again you are not reading. Both Krishnadas and me have already made clear repeatedly that such
    indications are not there at all, neither literally nor in the context.

    "1. upasya does neither mean srnuyad nor varnayet; "

    'worship' means sravanam kirtanam, they are the first items mentioned by Prahlad in the famous sravanam kirtanam visnoh verse. Without that
    there cannot be smaranam, which is the third and consequent item of the Prahlad verse.

    "because the quoted BS 338 does not mention them"

    The entire verse 10.33.39, containing srnuyad and varnayet, is quoted in full in BS 338
    just before the purusa vikara warning.

    "2. if one takes the interpretation of the quoted BS 338 : "AS LONG AS one has lusty desires (undergoes pauruSa-vikAra) one should not hear/read about the gopi lila", one goes against SB10.33.39 which encourages a devotee (on the begining stage - shraddha) which has lusty desires, to hear and discuss gopi lila, to get rid of those lusty desires.
    So one should understand that the meaning is that: if one becomes lusty BY HEARING/READING gopi lila, one is unfortunate (unqualified)."

    What is the difference between 'as long' and 'by hearing/reading'?

    I have asked you before to study the blog carefully, but perhaps you still didnt do that, so please read at least Krishnadas' contribution to the blog, which
    is a bit too big to quote here.

    "which encourages a devotee (on the begining stage - shraddha) which has lusty desires"

    The sraddha referred to in SB 10.33.39 refers to faith in this particular Rasa lila, not to the
    basic faith described in Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu (which also comes in two stages by the way).

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  16. Krishnadas: "If one is so obsessed with sex that even this is too much for him, he should completely give up reading about Krishna's erotic pastimes. The bhava that should be excited is bhakti. If this does not happen when reading about the pastimes, something is wrong with the person. The conclusion is that there is no license for reading about Krishna's rahasya-lila when one has purusa vikara. It goes against the general principle."

    On further reading of this blog, I respectfully think that Krishnadas' position is extreme. The fact of the matter is that people who come to know of Krishna are unlikely to know of His godhead and would consequently come to know of rasa-lila without "eligibility". I know of one such book (I forgot the Indian author, book published by Penguin) in which a large amount of text is given over to discussing Krishna's erotic pastimes rather than focusing on balya-lila and Dvaraka-lila, etc. Granted, there is plenty of choice descriptions of Krishna's erotic pastimes as culled from various Puranas, etc.

    Well anyway, my point is that Krishnadas' view is unrealistic. The IGM view of keeping rasa-lila locked up in a secret vault may have it's merits provided that they are not taken to extremes either.

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  17. Gaura:
    1. Krishnadas speaks of a person who is 'so obsessed with sex'. He is giving an extreme example, it is not that his own stance is necessarily extreme.
    2. We are discussing a text wherein Jiva Gosvami himself clearly states 'purusa vikara....nopasya' 'With male transformations it should not be meditated upon or practised'
    3. About (non-devotee) books that do not acknowledge Krishna's godhead, here is a quote from Anantadas Babaji's Radha Rasa Sudhanidhi commentary (verse 3):
    "In Caitanya CaritAmRta it is said: citta dRDha kori lAge mahimA jJAna hoite "One's heart becomes fixed in faith when one is aware of God's greatness", .... "rasa (spiritual flavour) is built on the foundation of tattva (spiritual truth). When that foundation is not there (when one disregards or does not know spiritual truth) the rasa may seem to be mundane. "
    4. I had warnings about reading erotic pastimes from my Guru, Madrasi Baba, Rohinindranath Mitra and Madanmohan Das Baba, all traditional Vaishnavas, non-IGMers.
    5. The proliferation of this literature to an audience already heavily indoctrinated by sexual material, like westerners who went through a sexual revolution in the late 20th century, and who (on the internet) have access to explicit material at the click of a mouse, differs from the sravanam kirtanam of ancient Indian audiences.

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  18. "4. I had warnings about reading erotic pastimes from my Guru, Madrasi Baba, Rohinindranath Mitra and Madanmohan Das Baba, all traditional Vaishnavas, non-IGMers."

    And this is because it is commonn sense. There is not so much difference between them. IGM are reactionary movements to the slackening of this principle, hence they are a bit more extreme in following it and making it a number one issue. The non-IGMers are less militant about it, but the message is more or less the same. Be carefull says one, be very very carefull says the other.

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  19. I think I should say something on my own stance which has beome a matter of discussion. I am not discouraging reading about Krishna's erotic pastimes. If one feels attracted by the bhava depicted in these pastimes, one should read about them. This path is ruci-pradhan.

    Dear Gaurasundar, you wrote that it is unlikely that people who come to know of Krishna would not know of His godhead and would consequently come to know of rasa-lila without eligibility. Therefore my view seems unrealistic to you. I must disagree with you. People may have read that Krishna is God but it does not mean that they believe that. In traditional India itself, in sahityic circles he could well be taken just as an erotic hero par excellence. And of course, mayavadis have their own view. Sraddha is therefore necessary.

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  20. SHIVA (comment nr.5, posted 4 days too late):
    Sorry, your comment was sent directly to the blogspot dashboard instead of to my e-mail addy so I failed to notice it until today. I am not sure if I completely agree with your comment or even grasp it completely but at least you are the first devotee to give a comment about the question I actually asked on the blog - what is alpamsa and what is sarvamsa?

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  21. Shiva: When it is mentioned that alpamsa is related to partial touching of limbs and that sarvamsa is related to complete touching of limbs, there rahasya doesn't imply confidential in the sense of a secret to be kept, rather it implies that there is a hidden understanding, an esoteric understanding, and that the esoteric understanding becomes more so in the erotic descriptions of Radha with Krishna then with the non sexual descriptions.

    When descriptions are less intimate the esoteric intent (rahasya) is lessened. When descriptions are the most intimate the rahasya or esoteric meaning is most important.

    The real understanding of rasa lila is esoteric and it becomes more esoteric the more intimate the desciptions become.



    Malati: Well, I don’t see he has said something new to what was discussed in all the comments. In fact, he did not define what erotic and intimate mean in the context of the rasa lila. When is the rasa lila more erotic, less erotic which give rise to more esoteric or , less esoteric understanding? In parallel, what do we define as intimate, eg more intimate, less intimate?

    Of course what you consider more erotic for you maybe be less erotic for me – my threshold for eroticism may not be the same for you. And I can equate that to adhikara. Still the point is that eroticism has something to do with intimacy. And what is intimacy in the context of Radha Krishna’s rasa lila then?

    Shiva: Someone who is inspired by the rasa lila to worship in the mode of trying to attain to being able to enjoy life in that lila, whether through mental worship or physical worship, that person is not understanding the esoteric or real meaning of rasa lila. That person is not yet qualified to enter into the esoterica of rasa lila worship.

    Malati: Nothing new there either. But with regard to the paragraph immediately before this sentence, I ask: who is to judge if one is qualified or not to enter into the understanding of the lila? Is there a "mind, body and soul police" among us? It is always said that one should be in the nistha stage to at least qualify. So who is that police to judge us? That is why I believe that my qualification for such depends on a big part from the mercy bestowed by the Guru. And that is where the diffence in the siddhanta lies between GM- ISKCON and the “traditional”.

    I guess, Shiva just said it nicely because english is his first language.

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  22. Malati you wrote:

    In fact, he did not define what erotic and intimate mean in the context of the rasa lila. When is the rasa lila more erotic, less erotic which give rise to more esoteric or , less esoteric understanding? In parallel, what do we define as intimate, eg more intimate, less intimate?

    The more intimate descriptions of rasa are more esoteric (confidential) then the less intimate. What is more intimate or less so? Friends and lovers are more intimate then servants and parental figures. When the descriptions are of Radha and Krishna's relationship as described in stories like Sri Surata-kathamrta, then that is the most esoteric i.e the real meaning is completely confidential, rahasya...sarvamsa, completely esoteric, and can therefore only be understood by someone with the proper adhikara. (whether or not bodily limbs are implied with sarvamseneti and alpamsena, a case can be made that there is that subtle implied intention because it fits the general meaning of what Jiva was conveying i.e that the erotic pastimes are more confidential is the same as saying all limbs touching is more confidential then less limbs, either way the meaning is the same)

    You then wrote:

    Of course what you consider more erotic for you maybe be less erotic for me – my threshold for eroticism may not be the same for you. And I can equate that to adhikara. Still the point is that eroticism has something to do with intimacy. And what is intimacy in the context of Radha Krishna’s rasa lila then?

    The descriptions of intimacy in rasa lila are categorized as less or more esoteric or confidential. The more intimate or erotic the lila is then the more esoteric or confidential the meaning becomes. To understand that esoteric or confidential lila you need the proper adhikara. That doesn't mean that unless you have the proper adhikara that you cannot or should not read about those pastimes. The literal reading of those pastimes serve the purpose of attracting non devotees and neophytes and madhyama adhikaris to engage in bhakti. Those pastimes are enticing people to attain to Krishna lila. People are warned about using those pastimes in their meditation or practice, but simply reading is not what is meant to be warned against. Rather it would be using an incomplete understanding of rasa lila as the basis for more comprehensive forms of bhakti which is being warned against. For example if you do not understand the confidential esoterica of rasa lila but fully immerse yourself in some form of bhakti where you are imagining yourself to be a person in that misunderstood lila, then that practice is being warned against.

    You also wrote:

    I ask: who is to judge if one is qualified or not to enter into the understanding of the lila? Is there a "mind, body and soul police" among us? It is always said that one should be in the nistha stage to at least qualify. So who is that police to judge us? That is why I believe that my qualification for such depends on a big part from the mercy bestowed by the Guru. And that is where the diffence in the siddhanta lies between GM- ISKCON and the “traditional”

    It's rather simple to judge whether or not you have the proper adhikara, that's why jiva said what he said in the verse being discussed. In other words the true understanding of the intimate lila is confidential or esoteric. That means that a literal reading of the descriptions of that lila is not conveying the full meaning, there is a confidential understanding, an esoteric meaning. If you cannot understand what that confidential esoteric understanding is, then you do not have the adhikara or qualification for it. At that stage you should refrain from using the literal reading as a guide for comprehensive forms of bhakti.

    Bob Marley sang "who feels it knows it". It's not a question of people judging whether or not you are qualified to enter into the esoteric understanding of the confidential lila, when you are ready the confidential meaning will be revealed to you, if you are not ready you will only see the literal understanding.

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  23. As for the alpamsa and sarvamsa, the only answer I have myself is this: I remember in 1988, when
    I was engaged with my -now ex- wife, the revered Nityalila pravista Sripad Rohinindranath Mitra of Keshighat advised
    me to - during the period of honeymoon - read only lilas of Krishna that were not related to
    His erotic dalliances. He, as does Satyanarayan Das of Jiva Institute, said that contemplating
    these pastimes while being oneself amorously engaged will inevitably lead to ahangropasana, identifying oneself with the nayaka or nayika.
    Jiva Gosvami and Visvanatha Cakravarti have commented on BRS 3.5.2 and UN 1.2 that both materialists and dry renunciants
    should not read this because they will mistake it for its material counterpart.

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  24. Dear Advaita das
    As I wrote:

    You translated the quote under discussion, as a neutral statement, that brings no light into the stated prohibition:
    “Her confidentiality is sometimes partial and sometimes complete."
    But by this there is no understanding of the meaning of confidentiality as regarding gopi-lila and so seen Jiva Gosvami would have based his PROHIBITION ON AN UNDEFINED TERM.

    You replied:

    It is important that you carefully read the blog and my other comments because you are rehashing
    questions. It is already acknowledged that Jiva Gosvami's text IS UNCOMMENTED and thus open for interpretation.

    But

    the question under discussion was not if there are or not comments on this text but if Jiva Gosvami himself whould have based his prohibition of not worshiping gopi lila, according to your neutral translation, ON AN UNDEFINED TERM.

    But the term is defined in terms of “touching” less limbs or all limbs as from the description of the meaning of less or more intimacy which would make the gopi lila confidential.as given in Priti-sandarbha 375

    sandarśana-saḿjalpa-saḿsparza-samprayoga-lakṣaṇa-bheda-catuṣṭaya-
    bhinnatvaḿ dṛśyate ||

    which states that

    The different bheda symptoms lakṣaṇa of the four catuṣṭaya
    categories -bhinnatvaḿ- of perception dṛśyate are
    Sandarśan – like seeing Saḿjalpa – like talking
    Saḿsparza - like touching Samprayoga - like (sexual) union.

    One can see here a description of the GRADUAL INTIIMACY of the sambhogha iccha atmika in terms of the limbs involved in the union:
    - seeing
    - talking
    - touching
    - sexual union
    which are LIKE mundane limbs of erotic love,

    Which in the sentence:
    rahasyatvaM ca tasyAH kvacid alpAMzena kvacit tu sarvAMzeneti jJeyam

    would make the alternative translation of rahasyatvam in connection to the gopi lila, as refering also to confidentiality, in terms of touching ( all the above limbs - sarva-amseneti) being correct.

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  25. My dear Anadi, you are linking Priti Sandarbha 375 yourself to this text of Bhakti Sandarbha and are interpreting this yourself to be linked. The whole problem lies with Madhava translating the word amza with 'limbs', instead of 'parts'. Limbs can apply to body parts yes, but not amza. As long as you hold on to this erroneous translation of amza as limb and see limb as a body limb you cant get out of the confusion. Study the context of the BS 338 and you will see no indication that leads to limbs. With a lack of proper commentary and proper personal sanga or acceptance of such you cant get out of this misunderstanding. (I surely wish that Madhava would come in here and help you out of this misunderstanding....)

    Amza according to Monier Williams: a share , portion , part , party
    partition , inheritance
    a share of booty
    earnest money
    stake (in betting)
    a lot (cf. 2. pr„s)
    the denominator of a fraction
    a degree of latitude or longitude
    a day L.
    N. of an ditya.

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  26. Dear Advaita das , dandavat,
    Please take into consideration that in connection to intimacy or confidentiality the term LIMBS refers both to PARTS of perception and PARTS of the body.
    From
    SEEING trough
    TALKING, and
    TOUCHING up to
    SEXUAL UNION (see previous post)
    more parts of perception as well as
    more parts of the body
    are involved
    and is logical to see intimacy in this terms,
    not to just assert there are no commentary,
    so it cannot be said anything,
    and especially I would be not allowed to say anything
    because of LACK OF proper personal sanga or acceptance of such...
    This is not a valid argument.

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  27. Dear Anadi, the text of Jiva Gosvami speaks of amza, which had the meanings and synonyms I have quoted in my previous responses. Please let go of this limb translation of Madhava - it is not correct. There is no such a word in the text that translates as limbs. Limbs in Sanskrit is anga, not amza. Otherwise please buy a Sanskrit dictionary or install the Monier Williams CD on your PC.

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  28. Dear Advaita das, dandavat,

    You wrote:
    The whole problem lies with Madhava translating the word amza with 'limbs', instead of 'parts'. Limbs can apply to body parts yes, but not amza. As long as you hold on to this ERRONEOUS TRANSLATION of amza as limb and see limb as a body limb you cant get out of the confusion.

    Answer:

    You wrote that the whole problem of the rejection of the alternate translation is that
    A LIMB is not A PART, but
    you should take into consideration that a limb is a part, a special part.
    If this is disturbing you
    than I will use the word PART instead of LIMB:

    In Priti-sandharbha 375 it is given a a description of the GRADUAL INTIIMACY of the sambhogha iccha atmika in terms of the PARTS (not LIMBS) involved in the union:
    - seeing
    - talking
    - touching
    - sexual union
    which are LIKE mundane PARTS (not LIMBS or members) of erotic love,

    Which in the sentence:
    rahasyatvaM ca tasyAH kvacid alpAMzena kvacit tu sarvAMzeneti jJeyam

    would make the alternative translation of rahasyatvam –
    in connection to the gopi lila, as refering also to confidentiality,
    in terms of “touching” all the above PARTS :
    seeing – far “touching” – no intimacy
    talking – closer “touching” – beginning of intimacy
    touching – direct touching – intimacy
    sexual union - intimate touching - complete intimacy - sarva-amseneti

    which include not only parts of perception but also parts of the body, namely limbs

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  29. Anadi, we are going around in circles again. Again I must repeat, it is you only who makes the link between Priti Sandarbha 375 and Bhakti Sandarbha 338. You might as well make a link with any other verse that translates into limbs or contains the words amza or anga, and extract your own link or interpretation out of that, but that will not help me nor you to understand the alpamsa and sarvamsa words in BS 338. Rather, it is just adds to the confusion. If you do not accept this, perhaps it is better you consult persons you do trust, like perhaps Pandit Ananta Das ji, whom you can contact via his disciple Yugalkishor das, or Madhavananda Das, or Satyanarayan das perhaps...

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  30. Dear Advaita-das dandavat,

    You seem obsessed with the words amza or anga, and may loose the subject matter out of sight:

    in which terms can one define confidentiality or intimacy in gopi lila.

    This very INTIMACY in the meeting of the hero and heroin is described in Priti Sandarbha 375.

    And this very INTIMACY IS THE LINK between the two quoted texts.

    To contest this link JUST on account of not being mentioned earlier by Gaudiya acaryas would
    - deny our own power of discrimination – intelligence - on account that
    the acaryas had said everything in any connection.

    In the Bhakti Sandarbha quoted text one reads:
    “Intimacy (Confidentiality) is sometimes partial and sometimes complete.”
    And you say something like this: “we cannot know what is that mean, and most surely does not refer on the touching of the limbs (parts of the body) of the hero and heroin, because the text has the word parts in it and not limbs”.

    But in Priti Sandarbha 375 one finds the description of the gradual intimacy – which can be seen in terms of “touching”:
    - seeing – far “touching” – by eyes – no intimacy
    - talking – closer “touching” – by (meaningful) sound – beginning of intimacy
    - touching – direct touching – parts / limbs of the body - intimacy
    - sexual union - intimate touching - complete intimacy - sarva-amseneti

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  31. Allright Anadi, to each his opinion on this then. I dont see much use in continuing this. I would, if I were you, though, still consult some senior Vaishnavas on this, like the ones I mentioned before, and honestly tell us here if they have the same conception of the text that you have.

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  32. Advaita das wrote:

    The more intimate descriptions of rasa are more esoteric (confidential) then the less intimate.

    Dear Advaita Das dandavat,

    You say the same thing that I was saying all the time, only that you put it the other way.
    Confidentiality in terms of secrecy http://www.thefreedictionary.com/confidentiality
    which is spoken in the quoted text from Bhakti Sandharba 338
    can be explained in terms of intimacy http://www.thefreedictionary.com/intimacy
    as explained in the quoted text from Priti Sandarbha 375.

    The only problem is that you don't bring evidence for what is more intimate or not in gopi lila and accordingly cannot say what is more confidential or not.

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  33. Yes OK I appreciate your efforts but I am personally not convinced of the link between the two texts, sorry. Let me remind you that the blog was a question and not a remark. In other words, I am myself eager to understand the secret of alpamsa and sarvamsa but I am not convinced of your explanation.

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  34. Dear Advaita Das dandavat,

    The translation I gave to the text under discussion is formally not correct, because it forces an interpretation of the text as the main ideea of the text, which on the first go is not easily seen.

    The correct tranlation is of course that presented by yourself.

    Still, the problem is that your translation doesn't give a rounded meaningful explanation,
    as long as one uses the text as a prohibition to hear the gopi lila in terms of confidentiality ... in part or completely which may arise male transformations.

    I think that the explanation given in Priti Sandarbha 335 could be added to the translation, not included in as I did.

    The second and very important point is if "the male transformation" spoken in the text is seen as
    - a general problem or
    - a momentary problem that appears the moment of hearing the gopi lila.

    In my oppinion is not that if you generally may have male transformations you are not allowed to hear/read the gopi lila
    but
    if by hearing/ reading the gopi lila you may have male transformations,
    than you should stop to read that kind of confidential pastimes that disturb your senses,

    otherwise the vikriditam verse from SB 10.33.39 would be false.

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  35. "The translation I gave to the text under discussion is formally not correct, because it forces an interpretation of the text as the main ideea of the text, which on the first go is not easily seen.
    The correct tranlation is of course that presented by yourself."

    That is what Krishnadas and me have been telling you for the last 25 days. I wonder how many comments of you are rendered ueberfluessig now, I'll check them later.

    "The second and very important point is if "the male transformation" spoken in the text is seen as
    - a general problem or
    - a momentary problem that appears the moment of hearing the gopi lila.

    In my oppinion is not that if you generally may have male transformations you are not allowed to hear/read the gopi lila
    but if by hearing/ reading the gopi lila you may have male transformations,
    than you should stop to read that kind of confidential pastimes that disturb your senses,
    otherwise the vikriditam verse from SB 10.33.39 would be false. "

    These points are already answered by Krishnadas in the blog itself. Check his comments there.

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