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Sunday, October 07, 2007

Phone sanga (10)

Bhakta: "What is the proper speed of chanting japa?"

AD: "I don't think śāstra gives any clue to that. I think the holy name itself is in control of that. I had times it took me just 4 minutes to do one round, and I had times when it took me 11 minutes. svayam eva sphuratyadah - it is self-manifest."

B: "How to best chant japa?"

Advaitadas: "japa means soft chanting. Falling asleep is tamo-guna, walking around is rajo-guna, and sitting is sattva-guna, the serene mode. (Western ankles are not used to sit on the floor, so) One should sit on a pillow, not too soft, not too hard, close the eyes, with a sober stomach and having had enough sleep (sleeping more than 6 hours need not be tamo-guna, that depends on the individual's needs), and not be distracted by walking or talking. Keep the back straight and head down."

Bhakta: "How much down? 45 degrees?"

AD: "Not that much, 30 or so. Sādhu Bābā told me that, I don't know why that is - perhaps it must be done out of humility. If you keep your eyes open then look at something attractive, like your favorite picture of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. Doing japa alone is less distracting than in company. Then the sounds of others' japa won't disturb. All in all, it takes a long time to master - abhyāsena tu kaunteya vairāgyena ca gṛhyate (Gītā 6.35) "It takes practise and renunciation to control the mind." Renunciation meaning one should follow the principles. A sober stomach is also important. I remember my first Janmāṣṭamī in 1978 - I had been a devotee for just 3 months or so and I had never chanted 64 rounds before, nor had I ever done a full 24 hour fast - I had never flown so high before in my life!"

Bhakta: "What about the custom of chanting the pañca tattva mantra before each round?"

Advaitadas: "This is a fairly new custom. In Caitanya Caritāmṛta there are some verses like jaya jaya śrī caitanya jaya nityānanda jaya advaita-candra jaya gaurabhakta vṛnda, but the current pañca tattva mantras are not that old. pañca-tattvātmakam kṛṣṇam (CC Ādi 1.14) "Kṛṣṇa is embodied by the Pañca-tattva" When I asked my Guru about it he told me 'Just chant what I gave you, that is all' গুরু আমায় য়াই দিয়েছেন তাই আমার সব. That the pañca tattva mantra, which is not mentioned in any śāstra, protects from aparādha is a sheer myth. Judge a tree by its fruits - 95% of all devotees fall down, after neatly chanting 16x a day the Pañca-tattva Mantra. Also the idea that aparādha does not count in Māyāpur / Navadvīp is a sheer myth. Utter nonsense. Can you then gun down or torture a pure devotee in Navadvīp and Gaura-Nitāi will say "Jay Jay! Go on! Great! Do it again!"? Mahāprabhu Himself said he would never forgive Gopāl Cāpāl, in Navadvīp, and, though they were later saved by Nitāi, He wanted to kill Jagāi and Mādhāi. Plus, so many devotees stay in Bengal instead of in Vraja, thinking that they will be saved from aparādha, but I have seen so many of them falling away from the path, from Navadvīp/Māyāpur too....The pañca tattva mantra that is mostly used is highly asymmetric, the 2nd line being much longer than the first (śrī advaita gadādhara śrīvāsādi gaura bhakta vṛnda) creating difficulty in kīrtana. It's like a man whose one leg is much shorter than the other, he needs crutches. Mind you, I'm not against chanting of Guru or Gaurāṅga in the kīrtana, but not because of the idea that there is no offence in them. Rather, because one must respect them - without their grace one cannot attain Kṛṣṇa. If the Pañca-tattva mantra really protected against aparādha everyone who chanted it would have prema by now."

Bhakta: "Is it allright to read Subodhini (Vallabhācārya's Bhāgavat-ṭīkā)?"

Advaitadas: "It is important to know our own scriptures well first, so that we can not be diverted or confused by reading others' writings. Sādhu Bābā was against book knowledge, but an intellectual must act according to his nature, still, and quench his ever-thirsting brain - sadṛśam ceṣṭate svasya prakṛter jñānavān api...nigrahaḥ kiṁ kariṣyati "Even the learned must act according to their nature....what will suppression accomplish?" (Gītā 3.33) Reading Vallabha's writings should not be harmful if you are grounded in the Gosvāmīs' books first. He's not the enemy.."

Bhakta: "Caitanya Caritāmṛta (Antya 7) speaks very negatively of him."

Advaitadas: "Not only the Vallabhīs themselves, but also historians say that meeting of Vallabha with Mahāprabhu never took place. It's a mystery why Kṛṣṇadās Kavirāja wrote this, and especially why he portrayed Vallabha as a complete fool, which is really an insult. It does not seem to match with Vaiṣṇava etiquette. It is all the more strange because his śikṣā- and perhaps dīkṣā-Guru, Raghunāth Dās Gosvami,was dearly befriended with Vallabha's son Viṭṭhalnāth, as the Stavāvalī testifies. There are other difficult passages in the Caitanya Caritāmṛta as well: in Madhya līlā (18.186-202) Mahāprabhu is quoted as saying that the Koran describes God as having a Śyāma complexion and discusses paths of karma, yoga and jñāna, after a Muslim scholar wants to establish nirveśeṣa brahman based on the Koran. I am not a knower of the Koran but I am sure that these things are not written there. Then there is the instance in which Mahāprabhu tells the Kazi that one suffers in hell for millions of lifetimes for each hair of the cow one eats....."

Bhakta: "That is also written in Mahā-bhārata"

Advaitadas: "Maybe, but that is for Hindus, who have been raised with that understanding and conscience. Muslims and Christians do not have such understanding or conscience, so why should they be punished according to our norms? (See my blog of April 19, 2006)"

In Madhya Lila (7.100-118) it is described how Mahāprabhu converted all the people in South India, which is not an historical fact but may be an ecstatic spiritual vision of the author, and elsewhere (Ādi 10.89)  it is also said paścimera lok sab mūḍha anācāra ("western people are all fools and unclean") which is probably aimed at the Vrajavāsīs, often criticised by Bengalis for their low standard of cleanliness. It is unclear why Kṛṣṇadās Kavirāja went public with such critique. In Antya Līlā (3.56) a verse is quoted from the Nṛsiṁha Purāṇa, saying that Muslims get liberated by saying Hārām Hārām, because it contains the name Rām, but of course the Purāṇas are supposed to be much older (5000 years) than Islam (1400 years). The point he is making is all right, but it can not possibly actually come from a Purāṇa. For the record, in my profile you can read that Caitanya Caritāmṛta is one of my favorite books and it is the most quoted scripture in my blog, too. It is a masterpiece, but the above passages are a bit controversial, though, with all respect."

Bhakta: (Continues asking about one's own mañjarī svarūpa performing different services in different worlds at the same time)."

Advaitadas: "In TV shops you have entire walls full of TVs that all show the same program. Seeing one is seeing them all. That is acceptable to me."

Bhakta: "If Kṛṣṇa is doing different things in different places, we, in our siddha-swarūpas, should also be doing different things at the same time."

Advaitadas: "As far as I can deduct logically from Viśvanātha Cakravartī's teachings, we take birth in a material universe where Kṛṣṇa's līlā is going on, to perfect our prema. But that is temporary. Once we graduate we are promoted to Goloka and thereby our participation in prakat līlā ends. So because the prakat līlā is also eternal, there is a constant shift in personnel, of jīvas that are perfecting their prema during that līlā. Of course, in each universe, each prakat līlā does have a beginning and an end, though it is eternal in principle. As for Mahāprabhu's firebrand prakat līlā,  if we are present there, what would that be a prelude to (if we come there for perfecting prema), since no śāstra mentions a nitya līlā of Gaura in the spiritual sky? That prakat līlā would be the highest attainment. Some devotees so much love Mahāprabhu lila that it is inconceivable to them to abandon it, though it has been suggested in the past (see my blog of September 26, 2006) that one ultimately transcends it and enters Kṛṣṇa līlā. Gaura līlā is an academy of pure devotion."

Bhakta: "Some say that Kṛṣṇa's birth-pastime only happens in the material world, because Kṛṣṇa is not born in the spiritual world."

Advaitadas: "I haven't seen that in śāstra, it may be in Laghu Bhāgavatāmṛta, but why can He not be eternally born in Goloka too? If He enjoys to be born it will be a līlā of His anywhere. Same with killing demons. In Bhakti Sandarbha Jīva Gosvāmī says that in Goloka there are pratimās, images of demons that Kṛṣṇa kills. Hiraṇyākṣa and Hiraṇyakaśipu pleasing Him by fighting Him is extra. He can fight here, there, wherever He likes and He can make the demons assume any form He likes. If kids in this world have unlimited choice in video games, why would Kṛṣṇa have less than that?"

Bhakta: "Some compare this pratimā with a televised image."

Advaitadas: "I agree. If you push a TV or PC screen you don't really touch the image on it, just the screen. The words yantra, machine, and pratimā, statue or image, are used here. Though anger is a secondary bhakti-rasa - Jaṭilā is described as having it - there seem to be no devotees engaged in combatting Kṛṣṇa in Goloka. These yantras and pratimās may well be just still lifes, parts of the sandhini śakti."

Bhakta: "We understand why Gaura took Rādhā's feelings, but why Her complexion?"

Advaitadas: "He did not want to be recognised as Kṛṣṇa. There are several explanations given. This avatāra is the most human of all, so even His complexion is that human. Mahāprabhu is called channa avatāra, a hidden avatāra. Rūpa Gosvāmī writes in the apāram kasyāpi verse: "Being curious to relish all the limitless rasa of love of one of His beloveds (in Vraja, Śrī Rādhā) Kṛṣṇa stole Her luster and covered His own (blackish) splendor with it, revealing this new golden luster to everyone...." Rādhā-govinda Nāth writes in his comment on CC Antya 14.67: Rādhā is a solid gold vessel and Kṛṣṇa a gold-plated copper vessel. mādana mahābhāva is like nitric acid, which a solid gold vessel can easily handle, but a copper one cannot. Rādhā's complexion is a protective shield."(See my blog of October 23, 2005. Note: I do not consider Rādhā-govinda Nāth an infallible authority, but this point he made very nicely)

Bhakta: "So the rivals of Rādhārāṇī are there to increase Her eagerness for Kṛṣṇa?"

Advaitadas: "Yes, though ultimately she has nothing really to worry about - She is His inseparable śakti, and the role of Her rivals in aṣṭakālīya līlā books is very very limited. They hardly feature there. Its like American crime-movies - the good guy always wins, a single fist blow knocks out the opponent for the rest of the show so the good guy can win the whole situation over. So in the līlā it seems Rādhā's parents, husband and rivals are tremendous obstacles but throughout the day you see Her actually enjoying long periods of time with Kṛṣṇa. Rivals and relatives hardly come into the picture. The scenarios in Ujjvala Nīlamaṇi that Rādhārāṇī really spends the whole night without Kṛṣṇa, being deceived by Her rivals, seem hardly realistic to me. Of course, every līlā of Kṛṣṇa is real and eternal, but these descriptions seem to me more like examples of different feelings that can arise in Her in different circumstances - māna, khaṇḍitā, kalahāntaritā, vāsaka sajjikā etc. I can personally not imagine that She would ever really spend the whole night without Kṛṣṇa."

Bhakta: "You said you would make a list of verses that show the superiority of mañjarī bhāva?"

Advaitadas: "Did I? I cant remember, but to summarise - the best examples are given in Ānanda Gopāl Gosvāmī's purports of Vilāp Kusumāñjali. Then there is Viśvanātha Cakravartī's Saṅkalpa Kalpadruma and there are selected verses of Prembhakti Candrikā, Stavāvalī, Utkalikā Vallari, Rādhā-rasa Sudhānidhi and Vṛndāvan Mahimāmṛta. To compile such a list would be a huge job. But above that, one needs to have one's own realisation that this is the highest thing, taste-wise. It does not depend on scripture and logic, as Rūpa Gosvāmī says 'na ca śāstraṁ na yuktiṁ ca tallobhotpatti lakṣaṇam' "It is attained by greed, not by scriptural evidence or common sense arguments". Elsewhere he said that only thirst can help one appreciate a drink. If there is no thirst, the drink will be right in front of you and you wont drink it, however delicious it is."

Bhakta: "There is a verse in Vṛndāvan Mahimāmṛta which says that the mañjarīs are like foam that emanates from the ocean- like feet of Rādhārāṇī, seemingly suggesting that they, or we, are svarūpa śakti. Others also say that jīva śakti comes from Rādhārāṇī's feet."

Advaitadas: "Mahima means glorification. This is not a tattva statement. There is no evidence that jīva śakti comes from Rādhārāṇī's feet. jīva śakti doesn't come from anywhere. It has always existed, parallel with svarūpa śakti and Kṛṣṇa. It has never been created as an historical event."


  1. Pressing your chin towards your throat / chest is called Jalandhara-bandha. Its purpose is to block the energy that would ordinarily leak out through the Visuddha-chakra or the throat chakra. It is perhaps the least intrusive among the bandha-traya, Uddhiyana and Mula requiring a good deal more conscious attention -- and as such possibly a bit obtrusive for japa and dhyana unless one has a strong habit. Visuddha is the chakra connected with communication and verbalization, and as such is also active during japa.

    I don't know is this is what your Guruji intended, but given his background it's a plausible explanation.

  2. Thank you for that, Madhava. However, pressing the chin towards the throat seems more of a tilt than what I understood from my Guru - more than 45 degrees even. Perhaps next time we meet you can give me a demonstration.

  3. Regarding 'haram' in Nrsimha Purana, it seems from the Bhaktivedanta Swami's purport that 'haram' is not an islamic word, it was just being uttered in puranic days.

  4. The Netherlands has a 1,000,000 strong Muslim population, and both my sister and my ex-in-laws are Muslims, so I can know it - I assure you, Haram is Arabic and it means 'impure' or 'untouchable'. That is exactly what, to Muslims, the swine are that killed the mleccha in the Nrisimha Purana verse. That can not possibly be coincidence.

  5. Regarding jalandhara-bandha, you see that upside-down triangle at the top of your chest where it seems uncovered by bone? That's the place where the chin is supposed to be placed in order to block the nerves, as that is a great nerve centre.

    Of course, it is quite a large tilt.

  6. As for things not being written in the Qur`an, I am in possession of two books written by a Muslim convert to Iskcon wherein he supplies all the quotes from various Islamic shastras in support of Mahaprabhu's dialectic.

    Needless to say, I knew much of it already as I was studying about Islam back in 97/98 but it was interesting nevertheless.

  7. Islam is so much against creating an image of Allah that I'd be curious to find him portrayed as Syamasundar in the quran. So please quote these verses to me, along with evidence of the presence of nirvishesh brahman and the paths of yoga, jnana and karma.

  8. With respect to all devotees here, Jalandhara banhda has got nothing to do with Nama japa.
    I have been teaching Kriya Yoga (after long years of practicing it, in the past) for years now and from all these experiences I can say this particular bandha only comes really useful in play with certain pranayama techniques.

    And I have never read (in the books of Gosvamis) or heard of doing pranayama when serving Mahamantra or Gopala mantra. Why should anyone focus on this body (or on energy channels and chakras) when The Name and Lilas are so, so sweet?

    Granted, certain mudras and bandhas have deep and profound effect on awareness (shambhavi or kechari mudras, for example) BUT doing any active mudra or bandha while doing Nama japa translates more like karma yoga or tantra then bhakti sadhana to me...