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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Phone sanga (9)

Bhakta: "You said you chant the mahā-mantra to relief Rādhārāṇī from the pangs of separation from Kṛṣṇa. But She is not always in separation from Him."

Advaitadas: "Yes but there is also something called Prema Vaicittya, when Rādhārāṇī feels separation from Kṛṣṇa even while sitting on His lap. Viśvanātha Cakravartī gives very intricate explanations in his Ujjval Nīlamaṇi tikas of how viraha and milana are intertwined. There is also the anticipation of separation. Rādhārāṇī knows that soon Her union with Kṛṣṇa will be over and She will suffer separation again. So there is separation, fear of separation or the illusion of separation. That is especially so in parakīya rasa but even in svakīya rasa - remember the story of Rukmiṇī fainting like a banana tree when Kṛṣṇa jokingly told her He was going to leave her (S.Bhāgavat 10.60). They are legally married and they can spend all day together, yet even then there is the anticipation of separation. It is of course not realistic to only chant the holy name in the times of the day (in aṣṭakālīya līlā) when Rādhārāṇī happens to be separated from Kṛṣṇa."

Bhakta: "So you increase the union by reminding her of separation by chanting? The union becomes more intense when you produce an extra form of Kṛṣṇa by chanting His name?"

Advaitadas: "Sounds interesting, but time will tell if this is actually siddhānta in the sense of yukti and śāstra. What does sound reasonable to me is that when you chant Rādhārāṇī will remember that you were chanting that to Her during times of separation and She may get the apprehension of separation. Another explanation is that the separation-scenario depicted by Dās Gosvāmī may not be the only scenario in which the holy name is to be chanted, because its totally unacceptable that there is any situation in the līlā where the chanting would be unsuitable. Finally there is of course the possibility that this famous mahā mantra vyākhyā is not actually written by Raghunāth Dās Gosvāmī (God save us - where will it end?)"

Bhakta: "In Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa's commentary on the Vedanta Sūtra it is mentioned that one can have 1020 siddha svarūpas and some (Śaṅkara, Rāmānuja) comment on that, saying it means unlimited."

Advaitadas: "That could mean that we, as liberated jīvas, can also, like the svarūpa-śakti, participate in the līlās in all the material and spiritual universes. Nevertheless, all the Gosvāmīs have mentioned that we should meditate on a single siddha svarūpa. In our lineage we follow that siddhānta and sādhana of a single svarūpa, in allegiance to the previous ācāryas. Sādhu Bābā argued that one cannot meditate on so many svarūpas since our mind is only one, and the śāstras constantly say that the svarūpa is created by constant meditation on it."

Bhakta: "So the siddha is rendering different services in different universes?"

Advaitadas: "At the time of siddha praṇālī one gets one particular service from the Guru, though throughout the day one may be required to render other services too. Some services, like making garlands or making the bed, cannot be practised all day long. Of course we discussed before that one can just watch the līlā too, as a service, but in Caitanya Caritāmṛta (Madhya 22.155) Mahāprabhu also told Sanātan Gosvāmī -

mane nija siddha deha koriyā bhāvan; 
rātri dine vraje rādhā-kṛṣṇera sevan

'Mentally serve Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa in Vraja day and night, in your siddha deha'.

The service you get from the Guru is your main service, your expertise, but need not be the only thing required of you to do. I have not considered the possibility of being engaged in different universes simultaneously, though, not even if my service would be the same everywhere. But to be a monkey in Rām-līlā and at the same time a mañjarī in Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa līlā is not something I have learned from my Guru, or which I have read anywhere in the Gosvāmīs' books. Viśvanātha Cakravartī's famous comment on Bhagavad Gītā 2.41 comes to mind -

"The instructions that my Gurudeva has given me about hearing, chanting, smaraṇa, pāda-sevanam, etc. of Śrī Bhagavān are my very practise, my very goal and my very life. I am unable to give them up in either the stage of practise or perfection. My single desire and only engagement is to follow them. Besides this, I have no other desire or engagement, even in my dreams. There is no loss for me, whether by following these instructions I attain happiness or misery, or whether my material life is destroyed or not."

vyavasayātmika buddhir ekeha kuru-nandana -"A one pointed mind means a fixed intelligence." bahu śākhā hyanantaśca 'But when you are many-branched, or unlimitedly interested' buddhaya avyavasāyinam - 'This is not a fixed intelligence."

Bhakta: (Quotes various songs and verses depicting the sakhīs apparently witnessing Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa kuñja līlā). You said the mañjarīs have access where the sakhīs don't, but it is mentioned that the sakhīs have access too."

Advaitadas: "Rādhārāṇī feels embarrassed when the sakhīs see Her in an undressed state, but they are also sakhīs, girlfriends, you know. They are not strangers and they are also not stupid - they know what is going on in the kuñja. But the mañjarīs' superiority in intimacy is described in Vraja Vilāsa Stava (38) prāṇa-preṣṭha sakhī-kulād api kilāsaṅkocita bhūmikā - Even Her heart's friends cannot enter into that - asaṅkocita bhūmikā - but the mañjarīs are the abodes of Her complete confidence. sakhīnāṁ lajjayā (Vilap Kusumanjali 92) - "Rādhā feels shy before Her sakhīs." All this evidence is there. Having said all this, the sakhīs are not strangers to Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa's pastimes either - each mañjarī serves in the Yūtha (party) of a certain sakhī - devotees of Nityānanda under Lalitā and devotees of Advaita under Viśākhā. Elsewhere in the Stavāvalī, (Sva Saṅkalpa Prakāśa Stotram) Raghunāth Dās Gosvāmī, as Tulasī Mañjarī, offers prayers to each of the eight sakhīs. In Vilāpa Kusumāñjali (99) there is a prayer to Viśākhā sakhī just after verse 92, which describes how Rādhārāṇī is shy before the sakhīs.  That all proves that the sakhīs are not outsiders, but not complete insiders either. The sakhīs are intimate and the mañjarī are very intimate with Rādhā."

Bhakta: "In the paddhatīs of Gopāl Guru and Dhyānacandra it is mentioned that the mother of Rasa Mañjarī is named Līlā Mañjarī. How can a bud (mañjarī) become a mother?"

Advaitadas: "Good question. Maybe she is a retired mañjarī who got married and had children (laughs). Seriously, I have no idea. Maybe here mañjarī is a surname, like so many ladies in India that are named Goswāmī. I can only give this general answer:

1. In the Advaita Parivāra we do not follow such paddhatīs.
2. In any case we don't spy on the neighbors, in the sense that it is not vital information for our sādhana.

There are many opinions out there. Related to this, there are some who say that the mañjarī don't even have a yoni (female organ) because they do not render intimate services to Kṛṣṇa anyway. Others say that the cowherd boys also don't have liṅgas (male organs). I think that this is complete nonsense. There is no need for functionality in the causeless world. In the material world one should engage in sex only functionally, for procreation, or else face the karma-bill, but such laws do not exist in the spiritual world. Kṛṣṇa is just having fun and He never needs to pay His bills. The manifestation of nitya līlā is of course completely human, despite the karma-exemption."

Bhakta: "Is separation higher or union?"

Advaitadas: "That is an ever-ongoing debate. I can find evidence on both sides. Those who preach that separation is the highest quote this verse:

saṅgama-viraha-vikalpe varam iha viraho na tu saṅgamas tasya
ekaḥ sa eva saṅge tribhuvanam api tanmayaṁ virahe

“Of the duality of union and separation I still prefer separation, not union with Him. When I am united with Him I see Him in a single form, but when I am separated from Him I see the three worlds filled with Him only.” (Padyāvalī, 239)

Kuntī-devī prays in the Bhāgavata (1.8.25) "Let us always be in trouble because then we will always think of you. When we have fun we will forget You."

Those who preach the supremacy of meeting quote:

nikuñja yūno rati keli siddhyai yā yālibhir yuktir apekṣanīya
tatrāti dakṣād ati ballabhasya vande guroḥ-śrī caraṇāravindam

"Sri Guru is very expert in arranging for the meeting of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa in the nikunjas."

Generally mañjarīs' mission is to accomplish the meeting of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. I wonder if there is any ultimate answer to the question whether separation or union is higher, and I wonder if it makes any difference to the residents of the spiritual sky."

Bhakta: "Many of these descriptions of services rendered to Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa appear very self-centered."

Advaitadas: "Yes, the false ego of ego-centrism in the material world gets transformed to a pure ego of servant-hood, as you know, but even then one remains self-centered, be it in a devotional manner. When you talk to your Guru you also consider yourself to be the center of his attention. In his commentary on Vilāpa Kusumāñjali, verse 17, Śrīla Ānanda Gopāl Gosvāmī gives the example of Tulasī Mañjarī getting kicked on the arm by Swāminījī and then proudly going from kuñja to kuñja to show off the lac-mark on her arm. There is no more false ego left then, though. "āmrā rāi-er abhimāna" It is the self-esteem of 'we belong to Rāi (Rādhā)'. "

Bhakta: "Some say that jīva śakti can turn into svarūpa śakti."

Advaitadas: "Not as far as śāstra is concerned. On the other hand, having spoken all this śāstra, ultimately we are all out there, standing shoulder to shoulder with Lalitā, Viśākhā and all the other members of the svarūpa śakti, and it's not that we are aware of who is jīva and who is svarūpa śakti while we render our services. It's not that we all carry ID cards on our chests like members of a conference or of a security guard. Ontologically speaking the distinction is there forever, but not in the līlā and sevā."

Bhakta: "Can vaidhi bhakti cause greed?"

Advaitadas: "Greed is the impetus of rāgānugā bhakti and is caused by the grace of Kṛṣṇa and His devotees. Vaidhi bhakti itself cannot cause greed."

Bhakta: "How can we feel separation from someone we never met?"

Advaitadas: "Though we neither fell from the spiritual world, nor is prema dormant within the heart, we do belong to Kṛṣṇa (mamaivāṁśo jīva-loke jīva-bhūta sanātana) and the potential for loving Kṛṣṇa is with us as well. You get acquainted with Kṛṣṇa by reading śāstra. You then realise how attractive Kṛṣṇa is and start missing Him. It cannot be compared with material relationships. Take pūrva-rāga - Rādhārāṇī is attracted to the name of some boy, the sound of His flute and His picture and misses Him before even meeting Him. That is beautifully described in Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmīpāda's Vidagdha Mādhava-drama. pūrva-rāga is one of the four types of separation from Kṛṣṇa. Attraction increases to the point of feeling separation, though you have not really met Him before. But as I say, this is a spiritual thing. Meditation on Kṛṣṇa is meeting Kṛṣṇa Himself- taṁ sākṣāt pratipedire (Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu)."

Bhakta: "The caves of Govardhana Hill are described as places for Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa to enjoy. That is pretty rough."

Advaitadas: "In the Bhāgavata (10.24.24) Kṛṣṇa says -

na naḥ puro janapadā na grāma na gṛhā vayam; 
nityam vanaukasas tāta vana śaila nivāsinaḥ

"Dad, there are neither cities nor territories nor villages nor houses in our possession. We always dwelled in the forest, woodlands and on mountains." Jīva Gosvāmī comments: nityaṁ vanaṁ na kadāpyanyatra prayāma "Eternal means that we never go anywhere else." That is quite the opposite of some of the jewelled palaces we see in other līlā granthas. As for the caves, I am sure the mañjarī will make nice arrangements inside with a soft flower-floor, nice pictures, lamps, incense, a sandal fire for warmth and so. But basically the idea of making love in a cave is extremely romantic. Extreme mādhurya. Intriguingly, if you go now to Mt. Govardhan you will not find caves there. Perhaps they were shut in due course of time or they only exist in the nitya līlā, who knows?"

Bhakta: "Other sampradāyas worship Candravali."

Advaitadas: "In Raghunāth Dās Gosvāmī's Vraja Vilāsa Stava (40) Candrāvali is praised for increasing Rādhārāṇī's fortune, great pride, ecstatic bewilderment and other characteristics of an amorous heroine. Ultimately the vipakṣa (enemies) are another group of sakhīs (Ujjvala Nīlamaṇi Hariballabha 1-2). They can never break Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa's relationship permanently. māna (jealous anger) can cause Swāminījī to storm out on Kṛṣṇa but that will never last long. Anger, jealousy - this is all prema-rasa. It flatters Kṛṣṇa's ego if the girls fight over Him."

Bhakta: "How do we know which statements in śāstra are exaggarated?"

Advaitadas: "Primarily through their authorized commentaries. Insincere people should not get the opportunity to play down the verdict of śāstra to find an excuse for sense enjoyment. Apart from that, it is a matter of adhikāra. If you would tell a new bhakta that some things are exaggerated you may destroy his/her faith in the bud. More experienced devotees, who have deep taste and realizations and firm faith can make such distinctions though. Nanda Mahārāja thought all the stories about Kṛṣṇa's miracles were exaggerated - he would never accept that He is the Supreme Lord. That is his mādhurya jñāna and his high level of adhikāra."

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