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Monday, July 30, 2007

Female Kṛṣṇa, Fall of the jīva, is bhajan selfish?

Phone-sanga # 4:

Bhakta: "Some people say that there must be a female Kṛṣṇa, called Kṛṣṇā, who has so many gopa-lovers as Kṛṣṇa has gopī-lovers."

Advaitadas: "This idea may be coming from a women's rights movement, who want equal rights with Kṛṣṇa,  the 'male' God. Needless to say,there is no evidence for this. We cannot just tell Kṛṣṇa what its going to be like in His abode - He calls the shots. There is also no need to think that the female aspect is less than the male. We say 'Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa', 'Lakṣmī-Nārāyaṇa', 'Sītā-Rāma', the female is always mentioned first, and then the male. We say "I am going to Rādhākuṇḍa", not "I'm going to Śyāmakuṇḍa". We are worshippers of Rādhārāṇī before we are worshippers of Kṛṣṇa,  so we are the last place where there is need for a women's movement. One needs to beware of rasābhāsa (semblance of flavour) and viruddha siddhānta (controversial philosophies), and this speculation may well fit into both of these categories. Intrinsically all jivas are prakrti, female (predominated). prakṛtiṁ viddhi me paraṁ jīva bhūta (Bhagavad Gita 7.5)."

Bhakta: "What about Mohinī Mūrti then?"

Advaitadas: "There is no description anywhere of Her having millions of male lovers, as Kṛṣṇa has millions of girlfriends, nor is She mentioned as svayam bhagavān in any scripture, nor is there even a scripture dedicated to Her. Kṛṣṇā is of course existing, but not as a female competitor/counterpart of Kṛṣṇa.  Kṛṣṇā is a name of the Yamunā or Draupadī, that is all. rādhā-kṛṣṇa ek ātma dui deha dhari - Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa are one, but have different bodies. God is already both male and female, no need for emancipation up there. That is a place of surrender, that's all."

Fall of the jīva, part 3
Bhakta: "If we did not fall from the spiritual world and this is not a punishment then why are we suffering here?"

Advaitadas: "It is already explained in this blog (comments pages to blog "Three hours on the phone") that there is no reason for this, see Māṇḍukya Upaniṣad quoted there. We are conditioned to causal thinking, since we lie in the Causal Ocean. The first ray of light of causelessness that penetrates this causal world of ours is mercy. It means you get something you do not deserve. Most of us western devotees used to be the lowest of the lowest, and yet we got this great opportunity of pure devotion to Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, that is something we did not deserve. Slowly we will have to give up the attachment to causal thinking to transcend this causal world. Even if we had fallen from the spiritual world, there would have been no beginning to our existence there at least. In either case the concept of causelessness needs to be adopted. Compromising by preaching fall-vāda to keep it understandable for beginners only creates double work - sooner or later you have to re-educate them with the real story anyway, so why waste time and effort? Just tell them the truth right away, however abstract it is."

Bhakta: "In Śrīmad Bhagavatam 11.14.25 it is said: "Just as gold, when smelted in fire, gives up its impurities and returns to its pure brilliant state, similarly, the spirit soul, absorbed in the fire of bhakti-yoga, is purified of all contamination caused by previous fruitive activities and returns to its original position of serving Me in the spiritual world." And in the purport it is said: "According to Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Thākura, this verse indicates that the devotee goes back home, back to Godhead, and there worships Lord Kṛṣṇa in his original spiritual body, which is compared to the original pure form of smelted gold."

Advaitadas: "That is not what that verse, nor what that purport says. There is no mentioning of us going back anywhere in that verse. Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Thākura has already said in his comment on SB 3.7.10 (see comments-page of blog "Three hours on the phone") that our conditioning is beginningless and without reason. This 11.14.25 comment is exactly like that, but if it were as in your version he would contradict his previous (3.7.10) comment. Also none of the 4 comments on that verse, by either Śrīdhara Swāmī, Sanātan Gosvāmī, Jīva Gosvāmī or Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Thākura speak about falling and returning and so. Satyanārāyan Dās in his book "In Vaikuṇṭha not even the leaves fall", explains that the molten gold does not refer to one's original pure form. The statement in Viṣṇu Dharmottara Purāṇa (quoted by Satyanārāyan Prabhu in his book 'In Vaikuṇṭha not even the leaves fall") and by Haridās Thākur in the Caitanya Caritamṛta (Antya 3.77-80) that if the population of the universe is liberated it is re-populated by sūkṣma jīvas, 'subtle souls' who will develop their activities, who will then become mobile and immobile beings, which means they are even lower than immobile beings, does not mean they are new creations. They are simply completely unconscious. This is quite the reverse of the theory that we not only fell from the spiritual world but then started off as Lord Brahma as our first conditioned life-form. śāstra clearly says there is no limit to the number of jīvas and they are all beginningless."

Bhakta: "How could the offering brahmins live in Vṛndāvan, since they were so indifferent towards Kṛṣṇa?"

Advaitadas: "So many demons were there too - Aghāsur, Bakāsur, they wanted to kill Kṛṣṇa, then why couldn't there be people who are not interested in Kṛṣṇa?  They may also have been placed there to show the contrast with their wives, who WERE great devotees of Kṛṣṇa,  or to show the futility of the Vedic rituals they were into, vis a vis śuddha bhakti. At the end they said:

dhig janma nas trivṛdh vidyāṁ dhig vrataṁ dhig bahu-vratam
dhik kulaṁ dhik kriya-dakṣyam vimukha ye tvadhokṣaje

'Damned is the birth, damned is the knowledge, damned are the vows, damned are the dynasty-lineages and damned is the expertise in fruitive activities of whoever turned away his face from Kṛṣṇa." (SB 10.23.39) Kṛṣṇa is in control and He decides who lives in Vṛndāvana, even if they are bahirmukhas."

Bhakta: "In Brahma Vaivarta Purāṇa it is mentioned that Brahmā not only saw the calves and the boys turn into Viṣṇu mūrtis but also the birds, trees,animals - everything."

Advaitadas: "Sure, why not?"

Bhakta: "Well, Brahmā didn't steal the birds and trees."

Advaitadas: "Hahaha - Why not? Kṛṣṇa is everything. Maybe He stole the rest of the place Himself and hid them in another cave, then He Himself became the birds and the bees - who knows?"

Bhakta: "Perhaps Brahmā became an uttamādhikārī?"

Advaitadas: "Maybe he had a flash experience like that - who knows?"
(Seriously:) "Generally, though, I don't think it is very helpful to read books like Brahma Vaivarta Purāṇa - it was not recommended by any of our ācāryas. It can lead to confusion or mixed conceptions. In our conception, for instance, Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa's parents are not aware of Their relationship with Each other. We offer our obeisances to all scriptures because they have all been revealed by Vyāsadeva to aid different audiences on different levels, but its not that they are all equally helpful for rūpnuga bhaktas."

Bhakta: "It is said that Purāṇas describe Kṛṣṇa līlā of different kalpas."

Advaitadas: "Yes, but I also think there are different levels of conception and revelation in the different, perhaps historically parallel līlās, described in the different Purāṇas."

Bhakta: "It is said in śāstra that brahmins are gods on earth and if you offer food to them you have already offered to Viṣṇu?"

Advaitadas: "Yes, this is called bhū-sura and bali-bhug. Bhū-sura means god on earth and is mentioned in verse 1, line 1 of the Manaḥ Śikṣā. bali-bhug means that Viṣṇu eats offerings through the brahmins. Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas, however, still offer food first to Kṛṣṇa before feeding brahmins. namo brahmanya devāya go brāhmaṇa hitāya ca - Govinda is the benefactor of the cows and the brahmins."

Bhajan is selfish? part 3:

Bhakta: "It is said in Śrīmad Bhāgavata 4.12.36-37 that one cannot go to the spiritual world without performing welfare work and without being compassionate."

Advaitadas: "Absolutely, but apart from whatever that verse of the Bhāgavat says, you're not going to tell me that if you follow the Six Gosvāmīs, sit down in Vṛndāvana and meditate on Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa that you will not attain Them, because you may not engage in preaching. That is completely unacceptable. At one point Mahāprabhu gave up all welfare work and withdrew into the Gambhīrā. The Gosvāmīs have only spoken about bhajan, and Kṛṣṇa has concluded the Gītā with: man mana bhava mad bhakto mad yaji māṁ namaskuru - "Think of Me, be My devotee, worship Me and bow down to Me" - that is exactly all the items of bhajan. mam eva eṣyasi - "certainly you will come to Me", satyam - "truly" te pratijāne - "I promise you that." That is so obvious and strong, and that verse comes two times even in the Bhagavad Gītā (9.34 and 18.65). Most people who do bhajan also do some preaching as well anyway, it is rarely purely this way or the other."

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Guru Purnima

Sadhu Baba on Guru Purnima July 24, 1983

Friday, July 20, 2007

Nikuñja Rahasya Stava

I added this introduction to the Nikuñja Rahasya Stava-text:

I have two major problems with this text. One is that I have growing doubts about its authorship. It is widely attributed to Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī,  but is nowhere confirmed as such - it is not a part of the Stavamālā, Jīva Gosvāmī’s collection of all Rūpa Gosvāmī’s stavas and stutis, nor is it mentioned in any authorized register of Rūpa Gosvāmī’s works, nor is the style of composition really his. I strongly suspect this to be the work of a Vṛndāvana resident like Harirām Vyāsa or Hita Harivaṁśa.

Second problem I have with it is its extreme intimacy. Śrīpada Haridās Dās of Haribol Kutir cautions in his ‘Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava Abhidhāna’:

“This text is meant for those who have lost all desires for material sense enjoyment and who are constantly absorbed in meditation on the siddha deha they have attained by the mercy of the Guru. This should never be touched by those who identify with the material senses.”

Frankly speaking, this could be the prelude of me taking this book out of circulation altogether (especially for the latter issue).

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Three hours on the phone......

This morning I had a 3-hour iṣṭagoṣṭhi with two devotees by phone:

Bhaktas: "Some people say that Mahāprabhu and His associates were more compassionate than other residents of the spiritual sky because they went down to earth to preach."

Advaitadas: "All of Śrīman Mahāprabhu's associates (pārṣadas) are eternally present in the spiritual sky in their Kṛṣṇa-līlā svarūpas - Rūpa Gosvāmī and so are still there as Rūpa Mañjarī etc. Besides, they did not really leave the spiritual sky to start with, they are eternally travelling around in the Gaura interplanetary roadshow. If the purpose was to prove that preaching is higher than bhajan - they are both there in the spiritual sky and here in the material world. Again, how can anyone live in the spiritual sky while being selfish? By suggesting such a thing one risks offending the nitya siddha associates of the Lord. Where is it said in śāstra that doing bhajan is selfish? It is done for Kṛṣṇa's pleasure - the essence of Bhagavad Gītā (sarva guhyatamaṁ bhūya śṛṇu me paramaṁ vacaḥ, 18.64) is announced to be (18.65)

man mana bhava mad bhakto mad yaji māṁ namaskuru

'Think of Me, be My devotee and bow down to Me'.

Would Kṛṣṇa demand that if it were selfish, as the ultimate conclusion of the Gītā? After defining bhakti (in Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu) as anukūlyena kṛṣṇānuśilanam - "only performed to please Kṛṣṇa", Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī listed 64 items of such devotion and none of them are preaching. Not that there is anything wrong in preaching either..."

Bhaktas: "There is evidence that preaching is the most dear to the Lord in Bhagavad Gītā 18.68.

ya idaṁ paramaṁ guhyam
mad-bhakteṣv abhidhāsyati
bhaktiṁ mayi parāṁ kṛtvā
mām evaiṣyaty asaṁśayah

yah — anyone who; idaṁ — this; paramaṁ — most; guhyaṁ — confidential secret; mat — of Mine; bhakteṣu — amongst devotees; abhidhāsyati — explains; bhaktiṁ — devotional service; mayi — unto Me; parāṁ — transcendental; kṛtvā — doing; mām — unto Me; eva — certainly; eṣyati — comes; asamśayah — without doubt.

"For one who explains this supreme secret to the devotees, pure devotional service is guaranteed, and at the end he will come back to Me."

Advaitadas: "Consider the words paramam guhyam, 'The greatest secret', and mad bhakteṣu 'unto my devotees'.

Bhaktas: "Yes, but everyone is mad bhakta."

Advaitadas: "Not in the present situation, and Kṛṣṇa would then have said sarva bhūteṣu (to all living beings) instead of mad bhakteṣu. He had a reason for using the specific words mad bhakteṣu and that is to indicate the devotees. Also you must see the context of the verse, by looking back to the preceding verse (18.67)

idam te nātapaskāya
nābhaktāya kadācana
na cāśuśrūsave vācyam
na ca mām yo 'bhyasūyati

idaṁ — this; te — by you; na — never; atapaskāya — to one who is not austere; na — never; abhaktāya — to one who is not a devotee; kadācana — at any time; na — never; ca — also; aśuśrūsave — to one who is not engaged in devotional service; vācyam — to be spoken; na — never; ca — also; mām — toward Me; yah — anyone who; abhyasūyati — is envious.


"This confidential knowledge may never be explained to those who are not austere, or devoted, or engaged in devotional service, nor to one who is envious of Me."

If quoting verse 18.68 serves to prove that preachers are greater than 'selfish' bhajanānandīs, then this is itself very selfish as one wants to place one's own ego above that of others. Preaching is great as long as one is on that level. One should not be a miser with one's spiritual knowledge and share it with others. Mahāprabhu preached in the middle part of his līlā but later became unable to due to intense absorption in Rādhā Kṛṣṇa līlā, so he withdrew into the Gambhīrā with just two associates while others continued the preaching. Was that also selfish?"


Bhaktas: "Is there any connection between Rādhārāṇī kicking Tulasī Mañjarī (see Ānanda Gopāl Gosvāmī's commentaries on Vilāpa Kusumāñjali, verse 17) and Nityānanda kicking Śivānanda Sena?"

Advaitadas: "In Indian culture corporal punishment is much more accepted than in the modern western world. Śrīla Ānanda Gopāl Gosvāmī mentioned in his Vilāpa Kusumāñjali lectures that Lalitā Sakhī repeatedly slaps Tulasī Mañjarī when she makes a lapse in her services, like failing to peel the subji properly.  Rādhārāṇī's kicking of Tulasī Mañjarī can be compared with Nityānanda's kicking of Śivānanda Sena in the sense that they are āśraya tattva in Kṛṣṇa līlā and Gaura līlā resp."

Bhaktas: "That kick bestowed them prema?"

Advaitadas: "No not to Tulasī Mañjarī or Śivānanda - they are anyway nitya siddhas, but if you or me would get such a kick it would be very helpful indeed!"

Bhaktas: tripāda vibhūti (a title for the spiritual sky, the 'threefold opulence') and eka-pāda vibhūti (the material world, the 'onefold opulence') pertains to quality, not to quantity [size]?"

Advaitadas: "I'd say so - one third of infinity is infinity. The idea of the material world being limited while the spiritual sky is unlimited is in itself limited. Mahāprabhu says (CC Madhya 19.138) ei mata brahmāṇḍa bhori ananta jīva-gaṇa - "Thus the universes are filled with innumerable living entities"

Bhaktas: "It is said that some jīvas emanate from Baladeva and some from Saṅkarṣaṇa."

Advaitadas: "There is no evidence for such a theory. Besides, jīvas do not emanate from anyone. They are eternal sparks of Kṛṣṇa -mamaivāṁśo jīva-loke jīva-bhūta sanātana (Bhagavad Gita 15.7).

Bhaktas: "Must we understand from Vilāpa Kusumāñjali verse 18 that Smt. Rādhārāṇī is actually passing stool?"

Advaitadas: "This is all taking place in mādhurya prakāśa, where all pastimes are nara līlā (human-like). Despite being saccidānanda vigraha, Kṛṣṇa is also described as passing urine on the floor of Mother Yaśodā's kitchen (SB 10.8.31, kurute mehanādini), and passing semen in the womb of Rukmini (kṛṣṇa vīrya samudbhava, 10,55.1)- this is all to create a totally sweet, human-like atmosphere.

Bhaktas: "It is sometimes claimed that there is evidence for mañjarī bhāva in Caitanya Caritāmṛta, in the 18th chapter of Antya līlā, where Mahāprabhu stays out on the shore of the Yamunā while the gopīs go in to play with Kṛṣṇa there. But the text actually says there that He stays on the shore with the sakhīs, not with any mañjarīs. (tīre rahi dekhi ami sakhīgaṇa saṅge, eka sakhī sakhīgaṇe dekhāye se raṅge)."

Advaitadas: "Yes that is so. I presume that Kṛṣṇadas Kaviraja didn't want to mention mañjarī bhāva in Caitanya Caritāmṛta because that book was meant for a larger audience. It is not that he did not preach mañjarī bhāva at all, because his Govinda Līlāmṛta mentions it repeatedly, and that was also written before Caitanya Caritāmṛta. Govinda Līlāmṛta was obviously meant for a more advanced, intimate audience."

Bhaktas: "You have learned this from so many different sources"

Advaitadas: "Yes, but we are not Paramātma worshippers - ultimately I get all this knowledge, directly or indirectly, from my own, personal Guru."

Monday, July 09, 2007

saṅga siddha and care in mādhurya

I was a bit confused about the apparent contradiction between Jīva Gosvāmī's teaching on saṅga siddha bhakti vs. Chapter 12 of Bhagavad Gītā. saṅga siddha bhakti means 'associated items of devotion', in other words the regulative principles of cleanliness, chastity, compassion, study, austerity etc. They are described in Jīva Gosvāmī's Bhakti Sandarbha (217), who quotes S.B. 11.3.23-24, verses that provide a long list of qualities:

sanga-siddhā svato bhaktitvābhāve’pi tat-parikaratayā saṁsthāpanena tatra bhāgavatān dharmān śikṣed gurvātmadaivataḥ [Bhḏ 11.3.24] ityādi-prakaraṇEṣu sarvato manaso’sangam [Bhḏ 11.3.23] 

"Sanga siddha bhakti
, with all its virtuous qualities, is not intrinsically devotional in itself, but establishes devotion through association." Chapter 12 of Bhagavad Gītā gives a long list of divine qualities of which I always thought they need to be cultivated, so I thought them contradictory with Jīva Gosvāmī's teachings of saṅga siddha bhakti as not being intrinsically bhakti, since Kṛṣṇa says in that Gītā chapter that such a devotee is very dear to Him. I found the answer in Viśvanātha Cakravartī's purport of the last verse (20) of this chapter: ete bhaktyuttha...dharma na prākṛta guṇāḥ - bhaktyā tuṣyati kṛṣṇo na guṇaiḥ ityukti koṭitaḥ - "These glorious attributes arise from devotion - they are not mundane qualities, as it is said millions of times: bhaktyā tuṣyati kṛṣṇo na guṇaiḥ  'Kṛṣṇa is pleased with devotion alone, not qualities'." Kṛṣṇa also repeatedly says in that chapter: bhaktas te'tīva me priya, bhaktimān yaḥ sa me priyaḥ, yo mad bhakta sa me priyaḥ, mad bhakta sa ca me priya - "It is only because it is a devotee who has such qualities that he is dear to Me, not because of the qualities themselves."


I also had this chat recently:

Bhakta: "About your blog. Is it because mādhurya relationship is more powerful or topmost because everything (the attitudes of the other 3 rasas) is in that relationship?

Advaitadas: "Yes, because it shows the ultimate care. Care increases with each rasa. Complete care is only by the spouse. "

Bhakta: "Or paramour."

Advaitadas: "Servants, friends and parents have increasing care, but full care is given by the spouse or paramour- its the same thing in this sense; the sense of love and care. Conjugal is actually not a good translation, because conjugal means married, whereas Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa aren't married.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Yaśodā's servants, Vaikuṇṭha stopover, why always mañjarī bhāva?

I had some interesting inquiries by phone recently:

Bhakta: "Some say that it is more humble to become a servant of Mother Yaśodā at a respectful distance than to be right up front as a mañjarī there with Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa."

Advaitadas: 'No one can reach the spiritual sky without being totally humble. If there is any pride left you can simply not enter into that realm, be it as a mañjarī, servant of Mother Yaśodā, associate of Lord Nārāyaṇa or what have you. This suggestion is a purely artificial, mental construction which is not at all based on rasa vicāra, lobha (devotional greed) or on any ācārya's teaching. mañjarī bhāva is superior in flavour or quality but not in quantity. In quality there are 4 kinds of flavours - dāsya, sakhya, vātsalya and mādhurya, in quantity there is but one - full surrender. mañjarī bhāva is based on sheer attraction and not on ambition or pride. mañjarīs are neither more proud nor more humble than mother Yaśodā's servants. That is not the point of mañjarī bhāva. The siddhānta of 'the more surrender, the higher the rasa" is a myth.

Bhakta: "What about Vaikuṇṭha as a stopover to Goloka? Can one get further promotion to Goloka after first attaining Vaikuṇṭha?"

Advaitadas: "Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu and Caitanya Caritāmṛta speak of two parallel paths, that have different symptoms of progress (bhāva, prema) and different final destinations - vaidhi bhakti leads to Vaikuṇṭha and rāga bhakti leads to Vraja. Gopakumāra's progressive course in Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta does not apply to regular sādhakas. He is widely regarded as a model rather than a prototype sādhaka. There are the famous verses in Śrīmad Bhāgavata, 10.16.36 and 10.47.60, which describe how Lakṣmī-devī never attained the Rāsa-dance, no matter how much penance she performed. That was because she missed the required mood (the raga mood of seeing Kṛṣṇa as equal or inferior to herself), and certainly did not miss the required purity. I cannot think of any final statement to answer that question but as far as I know there is no evidence of individuals moving on upwards after having been stationed at Vaikuṇṭha. "

Bhakta: "Why always mañjarī bhāva, why not gopa bhāva or so?"

Advaitadas: "The fact that there are elaborate systems of sādhana and entire societies built up around mañjarī bhāva, and none (that I know) around gopa bhāva (of which there is very scant scriptural description and virtually no social support on the ground) should not be seen as coincidence, but a clear sign that Mahāprabhu really wants us to practise this (mañjarī bhāva)."