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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Third Nostril

Updates: Two anecdotes about Sādhu Bābā came to my mind this week:

On page 20, I myself narrated: “He also told me not to eat anywhere outside the āśram.” To this I added today: “Bābā then showed a remarkable higher vision. When I asked him: “Bābā, then how do I recognize sinful food?” He said, in English, ‘You can smell it…”

On page 46 I wrote earlier: “Although he was the highest class Brāhmin, Bābā would first go to the cleaning woman or any type of lower class person, including me, with folded hands to beg permission to take prasāda.” To this I now added between brackets: “(At the same time he strictly followed the Vedic rules by not eating after or in the presence of anyone else)”

All these anecdotes have been added to Sādhu Bābā’s hagiography (linktab ‘Nikunja Gopal Gosvami) on

Friday, June 15, 2007

Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa not present in the deities?

I took part in this interesting exchange on a webforum:

Q: "Traditional Gauḍīya Gurus have said that one should not take prasādam at the Iskcon/GM temples, This does not come from just one traditional Gauḍīya Guru alone, but is a general consensus it seems. It is also said by traditional Gauḍīyas that Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa are not present in the dieties of Iskcon/GM, reason being because they do not have proper dīkṣā in those institutions, so therefore the dieties are not properly installed without that proper channel."

Advaitadas: "These are two separate points really. For the first issue, my Sādhu Bābā indeed advised me not to eat outside our āśram, though he did not aim that at Iskcon alone. For the second point, I'd like to quote my own blog of February 27, 2006:

"In a private darshan I ask Satyanarayan whether Kṛṣṇa will not be there in the deity because of corrupt management of its temple or org, due to lack of prāṇa pratiṣṭā or lack of bhakti. He says prāṇa pratiṣṭā is just a show conducted for social acceptance of a temple. Kṛṣṇa is anyway everywhere, so why not in a non-installed deity? Kṛṣṇa is manifest in the deity according to the bhakti of the individual who comes for His darśan."

Satya-nārāyan Bābā is initiated in an ancient line, from Gadādhara Pandit, so it is not that there is a consensus on this among traditionalists."

Q: "So let me ask you advaita dasji.... Do we really even need diksha for diksha mantras to manifest their potency...or is that just an unnecessary external ritual?"

Advaitadas: "Dīkṣā is prescribed in Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu, Bhakti Sandarbha and Haribhakti Vilāsa, so there is no doubt about its necessity. The starting theme of this thread was whether God is present in the deity according to the dīkṣā of the pūjārī. I certainly agree with Satya-nārāyan's opinion here that He is there in the eye of the beholder (devotee). Muslims consider it their sacred duty to destroy the deity because they see it as an insult to God to limit Him to a statue. That destruction is the greatest offence imaginable for us, but for them it is an act of devotion to that very same God. The point is, it is the attitude towards the deity that counts. For example, the deities in Iskcon Vṛndāvan have been installed by Rādhāraman Gosvāmīs, who received dīkṣā in Gopāl Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī's line, and worshiped by followers of Siddhānta Sarasvatī, whose lineage is in doubt (it is not even sure whether he really did not receive dīkṣā, and AC Bhaktivedānta Swāmī had a family guru at the age of 12, so he has mantra in paramparā, though we do not know in which line) - now what is it going to be? God is there in the deity or not? Is the deity like a traffic light that goes on and off according to the (initiated/non-initiated) person who worships Him? Is there any evidence for that philosophy that God is not present in the deity because one or two pūjārīs MAY not have proper dīkṣā? Please consider all this. It doesn't add up."

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Meating the Goswāmīs

This is an excerpt from a thread about meat-eating that appeared on radhesyamadhama, but which is now deleted by the moderators.

Posted by: nitaidas May 28 2007, 06:21 AM
QUOTE (advaitadas @ May 28 2007, 02:28 AM)
"My 2 cents - no Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava ācārya ate meat, no rank and file Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava ever ate meat, no Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava śāstra prescribes or endorses meat offerings, my Guru was a vegetarian from birth to the grave, and refused to give even harināma to candidates who ate even fish (very common in Bengal). I myself became a vegetarian in 1976, long before I converted to Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism, and it was for elevation of my consciousness, not necessarily out of compassion, that I did it. As for meat in the Viṣṇu Purāṇa - that's nothing compared to the Brahma Vaivarta Purāṇa, where there are multiple descriptions of the Vrajavāsīs eating meat. However, my Guru taught me 'śāstraṁ bhāgavataṁ pramāṇam amalam' - 'The Bhāgavat Purāṇa is the spotless authority'. And there's not a fiber of meat in there...... "

Nitāi Dās responded:

"I'd like to know how Advaita Das got to be omniscient. How can he be so categorically sure of himself? "No Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava acarya ate meat." How does he know this? We know very little about the early lives of the Gosvāmins. We aren't even told that they were married or who their wives were or whether they had children. Isn't it quite likely that they were married? Because that was the common practice among brahmins those days. When they were ministers at the court of Hussein Shah it is also very likely that they were invited to dinners in which they ate meat. Moreover as typical Bengalis they probably ate fish on their own. No Bengali meal is complete without at least the flavor of fish. As for Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma they probably ate meat regularly. They were kṣatriyas after all. But even as vaiśyas living in a vaiśya community they probably ate meat. Gopāla means cow-keeper or cowherder not cow-protector. I would be completely surprised to find out that the gopas did not eat meat. What cowherding community does not eat meat today?"


"Revered Nitāi, I dont claim to be omniscient but I cannot find any account of any Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava ācārya eating meat DURING THEIR TENURE AS ĀCĀRYA. My Guru also told me that Rūpa and Sanātan lost their caste because of their pūrbāśrama's poor diet. We are of course speaking of their tenure as ācārya. As for Kṛṣṇa-Balarām - I am not going to copy and paste whole paragraphs from Kṛṣṇa Bhāvanāmṛta, Govinda Līlāmṛta et al to show what They were eating, surely there were no hamburgers on the menu. If there were then please quote."

(I wish to add now to the last challenge of Nitāi "What cowherding community does not eat meat today?" that Braja's cowherders are pure vegetarian now, so what to speak of in the past?)

Nitai Das:

"The fact that as Advaita Das has suggested these elements have been excluded from CV works like the Govinda Līlāmṛta or the Cc (Caitanya-caritāmṛta) should give us pause and make us wonder about the ways in which CV has changed the very tradition it claims to be upholding. I suspect that there were some major changes in the attitudes and practices of Hindus when the Muslims invaded and that Hindu codes were altered and more vigorously enforced in the society that Mahāprabhu and the Gosvāmins inherited. It is not an original suggestion. Others students of Indian history have suggested the idea before me. "


"Students of Indian history have no access to Kṛṣṇa's nitya līlā and are not entitled to speculate on the ācāryas' motives to 'falsify history', which is an absurd accusation, because it drags the ācāryas' revelation of the transcendental world to a mundane plane. Otherwise, on the social plane, these students may well be right. And has Vyāsa, like Kṛṣṇadās Kaviraja 4500 years later, also conveniently blotted out any mentioning of Kṛṣṇa eating meat in the 3,900 verses of the tenth Canto of the Bhāgavata?"

Nitai Das:

"You make a good point, Śrī Advaita Das. This idea of "during their tenure" is an interesting one. It almost sounds like they were professors at some university or college. But deciding when their tenure began is somewhat arbitrary. What if their tenure began earlier and their eating meat was very much part of it. It certainly stopped them from thinking themselves superior to others because of their high caste or the purity of their practices. As far as I can tell their attitudes were the model attitudes of Caitanya Vaiṣṇavas. Maybe would be better if we who think so highly of ourselves as CV all go out and eat a good steak. Then we would have no reason to think of ourselves as superior to others. That is IMHO the greatest blow to higher consciousness, not eating meat. I don't think we will be judged by the contents of our stomachs, but by the contents of our hearts. If our stomachs are full of puris and khir, but our hearts are full of disgust for other people because they eat meat or whatever, I don't think it would bode well for us with Kṛṣṇa.............
I sometimes wonder if on occasion, Sanātana didn't sit back against one of those trees and say to himself: I wish I had a nice chunk of beef right now like I used to back home. All I have now are these dry roti and all my Thākur does is complain that there is no salt!"

Nitāi Dās further dismissed my quotation of the Gītā's patraṁ puṣpaṁ phalaṁ toyam as 'incomplete', as he believed it was just a token list of items that does not necessarily exclude non-veg food. I replied that to eat meat to become humble is an absurd practise. Why not be a humble vegetarian? Is that so hard? Madanmohan Das later reacted by quoting various translations of SB 11.21.29-30 -

te me matam avijnāya paroksaṁ viṣayātmakāh
hiṁsāyāṁ yadi rāgah syād yajna eva na codinā
hiṁsā-vihārā hyālabdhaih paśubhih sva-sukhecchayā
yajante devatā yajnaih pitr-bhūta-patin khalāh

(I will just key in the Gita Press translation here, which I trust the most.) Kṛṣṇa says: "Not knowing My opinion, which is not quite apparent, and which is to the effect that if one has a passion for destruction of life, it should be restricted to sacrificial performances only, and that there is no scriptural ordinance making it obligatory on us - those wicked men indulging in destruction of life as a pastime and with their mind set on the pleasures of sense worship the gods as well as the manes and the rulers of evil spirits through sacrificial performances carried on by means of animals slaughtered with the desire of gratifying themselves."

I wish to add two more quotations:
1. SB 1.17.38, where Kali is allocated the four places of dyūtam (gambling) pāṇam (drinking liquor), striyaḥ (sex with women other than the wife) and śūna (prāṇī-vadha, according to Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda - 'killing living beings')
And 2) the story of Mṛgāri, the cruel hunter, who was converted by Nārada Muni, to the extent that he even protected ants on the path from being stepped on, which is in the center of Caitanya Caritāmṛta, showing that ahiṁsā is a central item of Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism. As for Nitāi's remark of Sanātan craving the beef and the ācāryas' 'conspiracy' to blot out meat-eating from śāstra, it is not the first time that the greatest experts in the Gosvāmīs books have shown such horrid contempt of these same Gosvāmīs. A number of 'scholars', Vaiṣṇava, and non-Vaiṣṇava, have preceded him in this. Fortunately not every scholar is like that, but any one is one too many.

I have backed up a large part of this thread in txt.-format, for reference. Its too large to blog here, but it can be obtained from me by e-mail.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Paving the holy dhama

Interesting article on The damage is already done, it is too late now, but even if people would have written this earlier it couldnt have been stopped, unfortunately. Worst thing is that these houses are mostly empty, belonging to Indian daytrippers or rich westerners who bloop right after building their lot in the holy dhama. This is Kaliyuga.