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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)."

12 comments:

  1. Advaitadas: "The fact that there are elaborate systems of sadhana and entire societies built up around manjari bhava, and none (that I know) around gopa bhava (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 Mahaprabhu really wants us to practise this (manjari bhava)."


    We see in Chaitanya Caritamrita that Krishnadas has written, chari bhava diya prabhu nachaimu jagate, that Mahaprabhu has given four bhavas, chara-vidha braja-bhava, and with these he has made the world dance.

    And you say Mahaprabhu really wants us to practise this (manjari bhava, can you comment please?

    jijaji

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  2. 1. Yes, in principle these four bhavas are given, but practically you see huge systems having been built around manjari bhava (Gutika, siddha pranali, yogapith, maps, what have you) whereas none of these things are in place for practising gopa bhava anywhere (to my knowledge).
    2. The GV scriptures are predominantly about madhurya rasa, to the extent that Rupa Gosvami, when coming to that subject in Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu, cut it short and referred to an entire separate book he was to write about it, Ujjvala Nilamani, which is about as big as the BRS itself.
    3. The opening verse of Caitanya Caritamrita (also composed by Rupa Gosvami), anarpita carim carit karunaya avatirna kalau samarpayitum unnatojjvala sva bhakti sriyam reveals the predominance of madhurya rasa (unnata ujjvala rasa)

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  3. Please excuse my ignorance, but I’m intrigued by this question. I (perhaps incorrectly) understand that meditation in the Gaudiya tradition begins with contemplation of the role of Brahmin boy in Gauranga-lila before `proceeding’ as it were to one’s manjari form in Vraja-lila. I believe Siddha Krsna das Babaji expounds on this in his gutika. I’d be grateful if you could say something about this Advaitadas. Is this practice widespread or confined to certain lines? Would this upasan be in Sakhya bhava?

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  4. Anon, this practise was introduced later, initially by Gopal Guru Gosvami and his disciple Dhyanacandra Gosvami. They are in Vakresvara Pandit's parivar. Later this practise was gradually taken over by other lines as well. It is not practised in my lineage.

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  5. Advaitadas: "The fact that there are elaborate systems of sadhana and entire societies...but a clear sign that Mahaprabhu really wants us to practise this (manjari bhava)."

    That argument is not very strong considering that you consider ISKCON/GM to be less then authentic when they are the largest and most influential gaudiya parivars in the world. By using your logic above the simple fact of the quantitative superiority of ISKCON/GM would make them the true authentic representatives of Mahaprabhu.

    You wrote: "The GV scriptures are predominantly about madhurya rasa"

    Maybe so, but that doesn't mean that is "a clear sign that Mahaprabhu really wants us to practise this (manjari bhava)"

    There is a difference between teaching about madhurya rasa and being exhorted to follow some type of manjari bhava sadhana. The former is meant to educate on the nature of the highest rasa, the latter is an attempt to imagine oneself as a manjari. The fact is that Mahaprabhu nor Rupa Goswami ever spoke of manjari bhava in the way that later vaisnavas would do so. There is a tendency in most vaisnavas to take as gospel truth: ideas which have been put forth by people they have never met, ideas described by others which they have never experienced, and attitudes towards supposed absolute truth which they have no real way to measure the accuracy thereof. Until one actually experiences what is being pronounced as absolute truth it should be remembered that jnana or knowledge is one thing, vijana or wisdom is something else entirely. Jnana is unreliable. One day you think you know with certainty something which a year later you discount as being false. At first you "knew" Srila Swamipada was a pure vaisnava on the highest level, later you reject him as a charlatan. One day you think you have full jnana on a topic and then later you realize you were not even close. Until one actually experiences directly the nature of madhura rasa then one cannot know with 100% reliability whether or not that which has been written or spoken on the topic by others is in fact truth or fiction or a mixture of both, or whether or not your interpretation of what others have said is in fact accurate. That should be kept in mind. It is the ego of thinking oneself falsely to be the master of spiritual knowledge (when in reality one has no direct experience of the highest reality) which is the enemy of the progressive path towards full enlightenment. When we can see our environment (within and without) with a detached vision, as an observer of the action of the prime mover, then we will have come into the sphere of transcendental influence. Then we can begin to have our own direct understanding through experience rather then through faith alone. Faith based jnana becomes transformed into experiential vijnana through experience alone, without experience nothing you believe about the nature of eternal relationships with God should be seen as 100% error free.

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  6. How is the pratice of lila-smarana at your lineage, Advaita?

    I´ve heard that there was some pratices of sakhya-bhava by Nityananda disciples. It´s true?

    Ramananda Das

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  7. Ramananda, lila smarana cannot be cultivated artificially or mechanically on schedule - it develops naturally in a pure soul who chants the holy name, preferably in solitude. As far as the contents are concerned, it will be Radha Krishna astakaliya lila in which the student takes the role of Radha Dasi.

    As for the question of Nityananda Prabhu's followers, He had 12 gopalas, so there should be sakha bhava available there, but all I know is that the followers of Dhananjay Pandit, now represented by Mahanta Ananta Das Ji in Radhakund, are also practising manjari bhava only.

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  8. Shiva: "That argument is not very strong considering that you consider ISKCON/GM to be less then authentic when they are the largest and most influential gaudiya parivars in the world. By using your logic above the simple fact of the quantitative superiority of ISKCON/GM would make them the true authentic representatives of Mahaprabhu."

    Shiva, the whole of Iskcon fits in the corner of one Bengali or Oriya village. There are estimated millions of Gaudiya Vaishnavas in UP, W Bengal, Assam, Orissa, Manipura, Agartala and Bangladesh.

    "The fact is that Mahaprabhu nor Rupa Goswami ever spoke of manjari bhava in the way that later vaisnavas would do so. "

    Rupa Gosvami's Utkalika Vallari is all about Manjari Bhava. He further mentioned it in Ujjvala Nilamani and Radha Krsna Ganoddesh Dipika. We wont even speak then about the near-unanimous manjari bhava writings of Narottama Das Thakura, Raghunatha Das Gosvami, Visvanatha Cakravartipad and Prabodhananda Sarasvati.

    "There is a tendency in most vaisnavas to take as gospel truth: ideas which have been put forth by people they have never met,"

    99.99 % of Iskcon devotees never met AC Bhaktivedanta Swami, and they are moving mountains still, out of faith and devotion...
    Does one need personal sanga with Rupa and Raghunath then?

    "ideas described by others which they have never experienced, and attitudes towards supposed absolute truth which they have no real way to measure the accuracy thereof."

    How can you gauge what others have experienced or not experienced?

    "Until one actually experiences what is being pronounced as absolute truth it should be remembered that jnana or knowledge is one thing, vijana or wisdom is something else entirely. Jnana is unreliable. One day you think you know with certainty something which a year later you discount as being false."

    You are not in a position to judge for thousands of people what they have experienced and what not, as if all those GV's are dry professors with only book knowledge (like a handful of intellectual heavyweights here in the west). Remember that education is generally low in India....

    "At first you "knew" Srila Swamipada was a pure vaisnava on the highest level, later you reject him as a charlatan."

    I dont know if this is aimed at me personally, but I did not reject ACBS as a charlatan, I simply began to disagree with him as I progressed on this path, based on both feeling and ratio.

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  9. First off I want to say there was nothing personal in my comments. They are just philosophical musings meant to stimulate.

    Advaitadasa:"Shiva, the whole of Iskcon fits in the corner of one Bengali or Oriya village. There are estimated millions of Gaudiya Vaishnavas in UP, W Bengal, Assam, Orissa, Manipura, Agartala and Bangladesh."

    All of Mahaprabhu's followers in the world make up a tiny percentage of the number of catholics. My point was that the quantity of people espousing a spiritual belief doesn't make that belief more likely of being God's message of ultimate transcendence. While there are millions of gaudiya vaishnavas outside of ISKCON/GM, their influence is less then ISKCON/GM (which also has millions of followers to one degree or another). That doesn't mean that ISKCON/GM is proven to be giving the highest representation of Mahaprabhu, nor is the sheer quantitative superiority of non ISKCON/GM vaishnavas proven to have the highest conception because of their numbers. Quantity has nothing to do with quality.

    Advaitadas:"Rupa Gosvami's Utkalika Vallari is all about Manjari Bhava. He further mentioned it in Ujjvala Nilamani and Radha Krsna Ganoddesh Dipika. We wont even speak then about the near-unanimous manjari bhava writings of Narottama Das Thakura, Raghunatha Das Gosvami, Visvanatha Cakravartipad and Prabodhananda Sarasvati."

    I know Rupa Goswami mentions manjari bhava. What I said is: "The fact is that Mahaprabhu nor Rupa Goswami ever spoke of manjari bhava in the way that later vaisnavas would do so." The fact is as you know is that the concept of manjari bhava today and it's singular importance to many gaudiya vaishnavas was developed after Rupa Goswami. Rupa Goswami described manjari bhava but the singular importance and the sadhana built around that idea was developed later on.

    Advaitadas: "99.99 % of Iskcon devotees never met AC Bhaktivedanta Swami, and they are moving mountains still, out of faith and devotion...
    Does one need personal sanga with Rupa and Raghunath then?"

    My point was about having faith in people and their writings or supposed writings without ever knowing them personally should be done with a bit of healthy skepticism that we have truly understood god's highest truth. My point was that the tendency of gaudiya vaishnavas, or really in any religion, is to accept as 100% fact what people have written simply because the tradition tells them that those people are teaching gospel truth. For all you know or any christian knows the saints of the tradition may have not been anywhere near as advanced as the tradition proclaims. My point is that what others say can only be 100% confirmed by direct corroboration. Billions of christians throughout history believed with all their heart that Jesus was god and performed all types of miracles and that by his death on the cross that they are saved from the sin of Adam and will be resurrected in due course of time to live with Jesus. They believed that those who don't accept Jesus will be sent to hell or extinguished. Why do they have faith in that? It's part of a tradition which they have accepted. They accept the accounts attributed to Paul, the accounts of the gospels, etc, as being written by people with direct 100% pure revelation from god. For all we know Jesus was nothing like what they believe, Paul was nothing like what they believe, and the gospels may be pure fiction. So it is with most religious traditions that for the followers faith in the words of people from the past or present can convince them that what they teach is infallible.

    Every religion is claiming that their tradition is the true religion and that their saints are teaching the true path. My point is that faith in a religious conception which you have no direct experience of should be held with a good deal of humility and skepticism because our idea of what we "know to be true" which is based on what we have heard from others is different then actually experiencing the absolute truth for ourselves. We need to be able to see the truth of our situation and always be open to a progressive understanding until we are directly dealing one on one with Krishna.

    We can't really know what is real and what is illusion until we enter into the higher realm regardless of what we think we know. We need to be ready to move on. Until we are in direct experience of the highest reality we should realize that we are not yet qualified for it, otherwise why are we not experiencing it? We need to be prepared to give up all conceptions and all perceived dharma for the truth to be able to reveal itself to us if it is other then what we believe it to be. Ultimately absolute truth can only be known when it reveals itself directly to us, when it gives us the experience of itself. All else should be ready to be given up otherwise attachment to misconceptions can keep us from entering into the higher realm.

    Advaitadas: "You are not in a position to judge for thousands of people what they have experienced and what not, as if all those GV's are dry professors with only book knowledge (like a handful of intellectual heavyweights here in the west). Remember that education is generally low in India."

    I am not judging what people have experienced. I am simply saying that unless you experience the highest truth for yourself then you cannot know if what you believe is true is in fact true.

    Advaitadas: "I dont know if this is aimed at me personally, but I did not reject ACBS as a charlatan, I simply began to disagree with him as I progressed on this path, based on both feeling and ratio"

    I was making a point about the nature of jnana and vijnana. It wasn't meant as anything else. I could have just as easily said: "that at one time in our life we "knew" that god didn't exist, yet later we "knew" god does exist." The point was that what we think is the absolute truth at any given time about things we have no experience of can change radically later when we gain some experience. So what we think about the nature of god's most intimate love life, while having never even met god, should be not taken as without possible error and dogmatically held onto as the final word on the matter.

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  10. Allright well I am happy I misunderstood you on this. I wish you success with the faith issue. sraddhavallabhate jnanam (Gita 4.39)

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  11. Shiva

    Your comment makes complete sense to me. I believe that speaking about topics like they are within your fist, but are in reality not born out of experience or realization, is always shady. Even if you litterally repeat the words from someone who HAS realized it, it remains shady, liable to mistakes and wrong conception.

    One valid counterargument is........ Aren't we entitled to discuss and inquire about where we are going instead of only chant and hope that everything is gonna be alright ?
    Valid point, but we should always keep in mind that our conception of the spiritual world is just a shady one until we have actually experienced it. It is sooo different from what we presently think it to be ?

    I followed a discussion you had with Jagadananda on his blog. It was kind of very openhearted and you shared some personal realizations and 'trips' you had. Personally I was not able to completely understand that either.

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