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Friday, August 31, 2007

Preaching in perspective

Is preaching the greatest service? (contd.)

When Mahārāja Pratāparudra sang the Gopī Gītā to Śrīman Mahāprabhu (in Caitanya Caritāmṛta Madhya līlā ch. 14), the Lord exclaimed he was bhūri-da, a word mentioned in one of the verses of the gopīs (SB 10.31.9) the King had recited. This word is sometimes translated as "the most munificent", but that superlative 'most' is not mentioned in the original verse, which is thus sometimes used as evidence to prove that preaching is the greatest service. The word bhūri-da simply means 'great (bhūri) donor (da)', not the MOST munificent.


Liberating the whole world means ending the material world?

Vāsudeva Datta prayed to Mahāprabhu (CC Madhya 15.163) "Prabhu, free all living entities of the disease of material life". Mahāprabhu replied (171): "Simply by your desire the world will be released." But, that is not the end of the material world as a whole, because Mahāprabhu continues (172-174): "Just as one Uḍumbar-tree yields millions of seeds, millions of universes float in the water of the material cosmos. If one of these seeds is destroyed, what will be the loss to the tree? Similarly, if one universe is liberated, Kṛṣṇa won't feel such a petty loss."

Seeing things thus in their proper perspective should not at all discourage a preacher though - a preacher has compassion that should not reach for a target,a preacher should be compassionate without attachment - attachment either to the result of his/her preaching ("soon the job will be over when we have liberated the whole world"), or attachment to the prestige of rendering the greatest service. Preaching is a great service, but not the greatest. Service rendered with love is the greatest, that is all.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Jhulan Pūrṇimā


RĀGIṆĪ KALYĀṆĪ — TĀLA CAÑCU-PUṬA


(Chorus) ĀJU KUÑJE RĀDHĀ — MĀDHAVA JHULARI
(JHULARI JHULARI JHULARI JHULARI)
ĀJU KUÑJE RĀDHĀ — MĀDHAVA JHULARI

"Today Rādhā and Mādhava are swinging in the kuñja."

SAKHĪGAṆA MELI KOROTO GĀNA
GHANA GHANA MURALĪ ŚĀNA
LOCANE LOCANA TOḌAI MĀNA
NĀSĀYA VEŚARA LOLARĪ 

"The sakhīs meet and sing while the flute plays incessantly. Meeting eyes uproot pique and pearls dangle under Their noses."

HINDOLĀ RACITA KUSUMA PUÑJA
ALI KULA TĀHE VIHARE GUÑJA
SĀRI ŚUKA PIKA BEḌHALO KUÑJA
GHERI GHERI GHERI BOLARI

"The swing is made of lots of flowers and swarms of buzzing bees enjoy there. The female Śari-parrots, the male Śuka parrots and the cuckoos fly around in the kuñja, surrounding them and singing."

JHULANĀ DHAMAKE CAMAKE RĀI,
VIHASI MĀDHAVA DHARAI TĀI
ĀNANDE AVAŚA PARAŚA PĀI
CĀPI DHARAI KOLARI

"On the swing Rādhā is alarmed and scolds Mādhava, Who laughs and holds Her. He becomes overwhelmed with bliss when He touches Her and keeps Her pressed on His lap."

PRIYA SAHACARI ṬĀNAI ḌORI
ALASE AVAŚA HOILĀ GORI
GHUMĀOLO DHANI RASE VIBHORI
DĪNA KṚṢṆA DĀSA BOLARI

"The priya sakhīs pull the ropes of the swing and Gori Rāi becomes overwhelmed with fatigue. Dīna Kṛṣṇa dāsa sings: Absorbed in rasa Dhanī Rāi fell asleep."

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Pure love for Kṛṣṇa is not dormant within the heart, but is an external gift

There is a widespread theory among Western Vaiṣṇavas that bhakti exists in a dormant state in the heart of the jīva. The upholders of this theory support their view by a verse from Caitanya Caritāmṛta, which runs as follows:

nitya-siddha kṛṣṇa-prema 'sādhya' kabhu naya

śravaṇādi-śuddha-citte karaye udaya

“Love of Kṛṣṇa is eternally perfect, it is never merely produced by sādhana – when the heart is purified by hearing and so, it arises.”

However, the Caitanya Caritamrita (Madhya 19.151) says:

brahmāṇḍa bhramite kon bhāgyavān jīva, 
guru-kṛṣṇa prasāde pāy bhakti-latā bīja. 

“Wandering throughout the universe, some fortunate soul receives the seed of devotion, by the grace of Guru or Kṛṣṇa.” Every word is significant here - kon means “some”, not that everyone gets it. pāy means 'he/she gets', not that it's intrinsic – it’s coming from outside. prasāda means that it isn’t deserved, but is causeless grace. One cannot work in advance to attain it. Only in this way the verse nitya-siddha kṛṣṇa-prema 'sādhya' kabhu naya can be understood. hlādinī is the missing ānanda in the svarūpa of the jīva and it is an external gift.

The verse nitya siddhasya bhāvasya from the Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu (1.2.2, quoted just before the nitya-siddha kṛṣṇa-prema - verse in the Caitanya Caritāmṛta) confirms this - this nitya siddha bhāva is the goal, it is not to be achieved artificially. Jīva Goswāmī comments on B.R.S. 1.2.2: bhāvasya sādhyatve kṛtrimatvāt parama-puruṣārthatvābhāvaḥ sādityāśaṅkyāha—nityeti | bhagavac-chakti-viśeṣa-vṛtti-viśeṣatvenāgre sādhayiṣyamāṇatvād iti bhāvaḥ , i.e. “If bhāva is attained mechanically (kṛtrima means something that is not produced naturally or spontaneously) it cannot be the highest goal of life; in order to clear this doubt the verse says – nitya-siddhasya bhāvasya. The meaning is that in the first place (agre) it happens by a special function of the Lord's potency“. The word nitya siddha means nitya-siddha bhaktas according to Mukunda Goswami in his comment on this verse: nitya-siddha-bhakteṣu śuddha-sattva-viśeṣa-rūpatayā sadā vartamānasyātra svayaṁ sphuraṇān na kṛtrimatva-śaṅkā | ataḥ śrī-kṛṣṇa-nāmādi na bhaved grāhyam indriyaiḥ [bha.ra.si. 1.2.234] iti vakṣyamāṇatvāt | sādhana-bhaktir eva na kṛtrimā, kim uta bhāvaḥ   “The pure sattva which is ever present in the nitya siddha devotees manifests itself and thus should not be seen as artificial. This can be seen in verse 1.2.234, ataḥ śrī kṛṣṇa nāmādi. Surely sādhana bhakti is not artificial, what to speak of bhāva.”

Jīva Gosvāmī comments on that Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu verse (1.2.234):

sevonmukhe hīti | sevonmukhe bhagavat-svarūpa-tan-nāma-grahaṇāya pravṛtta ity arthaḥ | hi prasiddhau | yathā mṛga-śarīraṁ tyajato bharatasya varṇitam | nārāyaṇāya haraye nama ity udāraṁ hāsyan mṛgatvam api yaḥ samudājahāra [bhā.pu. 5.14.45] iti | yathā ca gajendrasya jajāpa paramaṁ jāpyaṁ prāg-janmany anuśikṣitam [bhā.pu. 8.3.1] ity ādi 

Sevonmukhe means one becomes inclined to chant the holy name of the Lord. The examples of Bharata in the deer-body, and Gajendra the elephant are very famous in this regard. They had animal tongues, but since they had a desire to chant the name of Kṛṣṇa, svayam eva sphuratyadaḥ - all this became spontaneously manifest.”

Bhakti is svarūpa-śakti and the jīva is taṭastha śakti. Therefore, bhakti cannot be intrinsic to the jīva. ānanda that comes with bhakti is a function of cic-chakti which manifests as sandhinī, samvit and hlādinī. bhaktyānanda is the hlādinī-aspect of cic-chakti. The Lord's ānanda is two-fold according to Jīva Gosvāmī's Prīti Sandarbha (66): svarūpānanda and svarūpa-śaktyānanda. The Lord Himself is depending on svarūpa-śaktyānanda (svarūpa-śaktyānanda-rūpa yadānanda-parādhīnaḥ śrī-bhagavān apīti). This ānanda is bhakti.

The Śruti quite clearly says that ānanda is not a property of the jīva: raso vai saḥ, rasam hy evāyam labdhvānandī bhavati, “God is verily rasa. If one attains rasa, one becomes blissful“. Apart from that, in the ānandamayādhikaraṇa of the Vedānta-sūtras, the ācāryas explain that the jīva is not ānandamaya. In the tika to the sūtra vikāra-śabdān neti cen na prācuryāt, Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa refutes the idea that the word ānanda-maya could be applied to the jīva (tasmad ānandamayo na jīvaḥ), and this is the case also in the liberated state which means non-existence of suffering (na cānandamaya-śabdena muktau duḥkhāpty-asadbhāvāj jīva iti vācyam).

In addition, commenting on the definition of the jīva as cid-ānandātmaka, Jīva Gosvāmī explains in Paramātma Sandarbha (29) that the jīva is not ānanda in the proper sense of the word: duḥkha-pratiyogitvena tu jñānatvam ānandatvaṁ ca ... ānandatvaṁ nirupādhi-premāspadatvena sādhayati. “Because the jīva is beyond misery it is said to be of the nature of consciousness and bliss ... The jīva attains bliss when it attains love of God.“ However, Jīva Goswāmī mentions the ānanda of the jīva in Prīti Sandarbha (Anu. 65): ato natarāṁ jīvasya svarūpānanda-rūpā, atyanta-kṣudratvāt. He says that it is extremely minute. However, one has to understand the statement in connection with the previous one, i.e. that the ānanda means just non-existence of misery.

If one argues “What about the verse jīvera svarūpa hoy kṛṣṇera nitya-dāsa from Caitanya Caritāmṛta (Madhya 20.108)? How to explain that in the light of bhāva not being inherent? The words nitya and svarūpa also imply inherence, after all.”

The answer to that will be: “The verse jīvera svarūpa hoy kṛṣṇera nitya-dāsa does not say that bhakti is inherent to the jīva. It just means that the jīva is a śakti of the Lord, and thus it is subordinate to Him who is the śaktimān, the Owner of the śakti. This relationship is eternal. It never was and will never be different. The verses subsequent to this one in Caitanya Caritāmṛta make the point clearly. The Bhagavad Gītā statement mad bhaktiṁ labhate paraṁ (18.54) “He attains My devotion and thus the Supreme” proves bhakti is not intrinsic but gotten (labhate) from outside.
The translation of the word udaya in the nitya siddha verse above should not be ‘awakened’, but ‘arises’, as prema is not dormant in the heart. If it were described in scripture as dormant it would have been called supta prema or nidrita prema, but such terminology does not exist at all in scripture."


"The point “Bhakti is svarūpa-śakti and the jīva is taṭastha śakti. Therefore, bhakti cannot be intrinsic to the jīva." was taken from Navadvip Das’ introduction to Bhakti Sandarbha, with thanks. Some of the quotes were contributed by Krishnadasa (that was more than a little help from my friend).

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Phone sanga (7)


Bhakta: If God is all-powerful, is he able to change jīva śakti into svarūpa śakti?

Advaitadas: "No he is not. This is fixed, it is never created and is also never destroyed. It is nirvikāra, untransformable. By his mercy a conditioned soul can become a liberated soul, but it still remains taṭastha śakti."


Bhakta: "It is said that śāstra is unlimited so perhaps things we do not know (or you deny) can be in śāstra in for instance heaven, where it is said that the Mahābhārata is much greater."

Advaitadas: "śāstra is unlimited but I don't think we lack any essential knowledge here. Earth is the perfect environment for self-realization, so it is very unlikely that here we would be lacking essential scriptural knowledge. Besides, it is said in the end of Śrīmad Bhagavat: sarva vedānta sāraṁ hi śrīmad bhāgavatam īṣyate - "Śrīmad Bhāgavatam is the essence of all spiritual knowledge." In a sense it is even an insult to the Bhāgavata, that it would be lacking the essence of knowledge." ananta śāstram bahulaś ca vidya - yat sāra bhūtam tad upāsanīya "Scriptures are endless, so we must worship (take) the essence."

Bhakta: "The finite must be there with the infinite to make the creation complete?"

Advaitadas: "Logic without śāstra has no basis. People massively accept that we fell down from the spiritual world because we are envious of Kṛṣṇa,
  that any qualified man can wear a brahmin thread and that one needs to be a pure devotee to start rāgānugā bhakti, because that apparently makes sense, yet it is contrary to śāstra and therefore must still be rejected. Jīva Gosvāmī comments on Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu (1.2.17): yuktiś cātra śāstrānugataiva jñeyam 'Logic is only (acceptable) in obedience to scripture".

Bhakta: "Isn't there supposed to be an ultimate end (cessation) to the material world?"

Advaitadas: We have already discussed (in the blog of July 30) the verses from the Viṣṇu Dharmottara Purāṇa that there are innumerable conditioned souls, that will keep the material world occupied, no matter how many souls reach liberation. So how can the material world ever end then? That answer is connected with the previous question - the Lord's creation is complete with both a perfect and imperfect part. ekapāda vibhūti and tripāda vibhūti complete the creation. Especially if you accept the fall-vāda, that there will always be people falling from the spiritual world, there will always be a material world needed to board them."

Bhakta: "Perhaps Viśvanātha Cakravartī's explanation (in his ṭīkā of S.Bhāg 3.7.10, see blog of July 30) of there being no reason for the conditioning of the jīvas, and that there are innumberable jīvas, is poetic?"

Advaitadas: "No, poetic license is there in glorification but not in siddhānta. That would open the flood-gates to no end of speculations, apostasies, doubts and confusion. There is no way the ācāryas would mislead mankind on siddhānta, for whatever reason, benign (to make it understandable, for preaching etc.) or otherwise. Besides, the point that our ignorance is beginningless is made dozens of times in śāstra, and confirmed by all ācāryas. Would that ALL be poetic?

Bhakta: 'The problem with all these abstract answers that fail to give a logical reason is that people will reject it as dogma, as they often do with Christianity."

Advaitadas: "That cannot always be helped. It is a handicap of an over-educated science-based culture. Rūpa Gosvāmī wasn't exactly illiterate yet he also demanded 'ādau śraddhā', "first there must be faith", and 'acintya khalu ye bhāvā na taṁs tarkena yojayet' "One should not apply false logic to inconceivable matters". Look at the concept of acintya bhedābheda tattva - our philosophy. acintya is a vital part of it - inconceivable. Matters that just need to be accepted on authority. You were able to accept that there are things beyond the range of your sensual perception but you have to go one step further and accept there are also things beyond the range of your intellectual grasp."

Bhakta: "Needn't there be the freedom of choice to love 
Kṛṣṇa?  Shouldn't even Lalita and Viśākhā have the opportunity to leave?"

Advaitadas: "Lalitā and Viśākhā belong to the Lord's inner potency (svarūpa śakti),they are in a sense non-different from Him. In the Bhāgavata (10.33.17) it is said that Kṛṣṇa danced with the gopīs as a boy who is playing with His own reflection. That is very significant. Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī comments on this verse that it shows the gopīs are Kṛṣṇa's 
svarūpa śakti, in a sense non-different from Him. As far as freedom of choice or to love is concerned, I think that is very limited too. The ācāryas have said we become devotees by the mercy of a saint; even this is not really free choice." 

(After this phone-talk I consulted Kṛṣṇadas-Slovakia on it. He said:

"I am wondering what is the source of the theory. Maybe that prema is the highest puruṣārtha? Don't know. Where is it said that the jīva is in the material world to learn to love Kṛṣṇa? Our ācāryas do not say that Love of Kṛṣṇa can be learnt. They say that it is given to us. The issue with the free choice seems to me speculative because if one is in love one hardly has the choice to give it up because one simply can't, it is unthinkable because of the attachment. We may have some choice in the beginning but that seems to me also doubtful. If one is in māyā, what alternatives can one really choose from? Choice is there if we have alternatives to ponder about and choose from. But in this case it does not appear to me to be so. Bhakti begins with śraddhā which is itself gained by the mercy of Kṛṣṇa. There is not much scope for choice......."

Bhakta: "Does the word jñāna in the verse jñāne prayāsam udapāsya namanta eva (SB 10.14.3) refer to book knowledge or impersonalism?"

Advaitadas: "According to Viśvanātha Cakravartī, it is both. By the way, the transcendental path of jñāna should not be translated as 'mental speculation', because it is a spiritual practise, while mental speculation is on the material platform. Impersonal it may be but that does not make it mundane. Concerning book knowledge, many have attained perfection simply by hearing. The Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu tells us that Parīkṣit Mahārāja attained perfection simply by hearing."

Bhakta: "Can you attain love of God without perfect knowledge?'

Advaitadas: "I don't believe one needs to know all the nitty gritty of astrology and music and so, but if there is no proper knowledge of siddhānta there will also be no proper attitude. Take this fall-vāda - it makes a devotee think that everybody is a demon who is envious of Kṛṣṇa 
while that is simply not true, and generally the idea that everybody outside one's own cult is a demon - even if they are devotees - is not conducive to developing prema. Mahāprabhu said 'jīve sammāna dibe jāni kṛṣṇa adhiṣṭhāna' - 'Honor all living beings, knowing that Kṛṣṇa resides in them'. It is important to know the essence of shastra, which has so nicely been compiled by the Gosvāmīs - nānā śāstra vicāraṇaika nipuṇau saddharma saṁsthāpakau. Complete knowledge means complete understanding. It takes a long time to piece together all components of a jig-saw puzzle, though. Also this noteworthy caution is given in the Bhagavad Gītā (16.23):

yaḥ śāstra vidhim utsṛjya vartate kāma kārataḥ
na sa siddhim avāpnoti na sukhaṁ na paraṁ gatim

'Whoever gives up scriptural rules and acts according to his own whim will neither attain perfection, nor happiness nor the supreme destination."

Bhakta: (Returns to his plea for a female Kṛṣṇa with the same enjoying prerogatives as the male one, see blog of July 30).

Advaitadas: "This is both rasābhāsa and viruddha siddhānta."

Bhakta: "It is said, also about Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, 
that variety is the mother of enjoyment."

Advaitadas: "That is correct. Rūpa Gosvāmī writes in his auspicious invocation to Dāna Keli Kaumudī that the bliss is ever-increasing, vibhur api kalayan sadābhivṛddhim, despite the fact that it is already complete. Another inconceivable fact. na vinā vipralambhena sambhoga puṣṭim aśnute - "Union cannot be nourished without separation." Māna or quarrel refreshes and invigorates the love (after the peace has been made). Worldly lovers also experience that. pravāsa is there, when They are separately dwelling in Their parents' home and then, when They meet, there may be even māna too, and they separate because of a quarrel. Double viraha, double impetus."


Bhakta: "How about sound in the spiritual sky? You once said that Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa will speak the language of love with you."

Advaitadas: "The spiritual sky is not mute. There is music and dance and everybody speaks of Kṛṣṇa.
  Whatever language they speak there, whether it is Sanskrit or Prakṛta or whatever, you will know it when you get there. Not through a material learning process but through a cultivation of love - Kṛṣṇa promises in Bhagavad Gītā (10.10) bhajataṁ prīti pūrvakam- if you worship Me with love" dadāmi buddhi yogam tam "I give you divine intelligence" yena mām upayānti  "Through which you can reach Me." It comes along with and is a part of, self realisation."

Bhakta : "Can Kṛṣṇa commit suicide? He is almighty, after all..... Then there is no more existence for anyone."

Advaitadas: "Kṛṣṇa says: na tvevāhaṁ jātu nāsaṁ na tvam ... na caive na bhaviṣyāma sarve vayam ataḥ param (B. Gītā 2.12) "Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you...nor will there ever be a time we do not exist." There can not be existence and non-existence at the same time, or alternatively. Since we exist, there can be no non-existence. If you wonder why anyone or anything exists you get stonewalled on the principle of acintya - it is inconceivable, period. Even the jīva, if it merges in Brahman, it continues to exist. When you throw a drop of water into the ocean, it is still there, though you can no longer distinguish it."

Monday, August 13, 2007

Deceit - benign and malicious.

There was an interesting article by George A. Smith on harekrsna.com, on August 11th. Though I dont want to get involved in the central topic of the article, some things were interesting and require further comment. Mr. Smith quotes the Bible:

"To Jews I become like a Jew, to win Jews; as they are subject to the law of Moses, I put myself under that law to win them, although I am not myself subject to it. To win Gentiles, who are outside the law, I make myself like one of them, although I am not in truth outside God's law, being under the law of Christ. To the weak, I become weak, to win the weak. Indeed, I have become everything in turn to men of every sort, so that in one way or another I may save some." (I Corinthians 9:20-22)

Mr Smith: "In other words, the servants of the Lord, are not above the practice of deception. In the later quote, Paul, or Saint Paul, who some believe to be the actual founder of Christianity, admits to being a manipulative liar basically, whenever it suited his, or the Lord's purpose for him to be one. The word for this quality is "antinomian", and what it refers to is anyone who will lie, steal, and cheat, anything in the service of their "higher" calling, whatever that higher calling may be. Whether it be religious, spiritual, personal or political, those displaying it are acting under the assumption that the end justifies the means, however immoral, unethical or even horrific those means might be, or even horrific and offending of the most basic sensibilities......."
(End of mr. Smith’s comment)

I dont know the context of the Bible text above, but to me this text alone need not indicate duplicity at all, I dont see it the way mr. Smith sees it. We must distinguish between benign and malicious deceit by a devotee. Like Paul, Sādhu Bābā spoke of yoga to his yoga-inclined students, of karma to his karma-inclined students, of jñāna to his jñāna-inclined students, rāga mārga to his rāgānugī students etc. See it as a gold-merchant, who sells other items in his shop as well. Knowing full well that most people won't buy gold, he will also sell silver, metal and plastic ornaments, hoping that people will ultimately go for gold.

After another paragraph mr. Smith quotes a verse from the Bhāgavata (1.13.37)


sañjaya uvāca
nāhaḿ veda vyavasitaḿ
pitror vaḥ kula-nandana
gāndhāryā vā mahā-bāho
muṣito 'smi mahātmabhiḥ


Sañjaya said: My dear descendant of the Kuru dynasty, I have no information of the determination of your two uncles and Gāndhārī. O King, I have been cheated by those great souls."

The essence of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami's purport runs as follows:
That great souls cheat others may be astonishing to know, but it is a fact that great souls cheat others for a great cause. It is said that Lord Kṛṣṇa also advised Yudhiṣṭhira to tell a lie before Droṇācārya, and it was also for a great cause. The Lord wanted it, and therefore it was a great cause. Satisfaction of the Lord is the criterion of one who is bona fide, and the highest perfection of life is to satisfy the Lord by one's occupational duty. That is the verdict of Gītā and Bhāgavatam.................Sanātana Gosvāmī also cheated the keeper of the prison house while going away to see Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, and similarly Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī also cheated his priest and left home for good to satisfy the Lord. To satisfy the Lord, anything is good, for it is in relation with the Absolute Truth. We also had the same opportunity to cheat the family members and leave home to engage in the service of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Such cheating was necessary for a great cause, and there is no loss for any party in such transcendental fraud." (end of quotation)

Mr. Smith continues:
"The above noted purport was taken as an authorization for many immoral, unethical and even criminal practices by many devotees during the early years of ISKCON, even while Śrīla Prabhupāda was still with us physically. Among some it became a competition even. Devotees would compete, who could be the better liar, the better thief, all in the service of the greatest cause." Mr. Smith then reminds us that A.C. Bhaktivedānta Swāmi never approved of such criminal activities. (end of my quotes from mr.Smith's article)

My response:
As for Raghunāth Dās Gosvāmī, he may have cheated Yadunandanācārya for a very great purpose - meeting Śrīman Mahāprabhu - but he himself otherwise condemned cheating in his Manaḥ Śikṣā, verse 6:

are cetaḥ kapaṭa kuṭīnāṭī bhara-khara 
kṣaran mūtre snātvā dahasi katham ātmānam api mam

"O mind! Why are you scorching yourself and me in the trickling ass-urine of duplicity, deceit and hypocrisy?"

Organisations which teach that we should not imitate Sanātan Goswāmī's life of bhajan and tapasya are imitating him in widespread deceit. Instead of using deceit for major spiritual purposes, it has become a way of life – short-changing the 'karmīs' on the street, lying in business transactions, criminal activities, tax evasion and worst of all, applying such theft and deceit to one's fellow devotees as well. When such deceit is extended to Guru and Vaiṣṇava it becomes a horrid aparādha. God is the absolute Truth and He can never be perceived or attained by a person whose consciousness is absorbed in deceit, falsehood and duplicity. Transcendental trickery like that of Sanātan Gosvāmī or Raghunāth Dās Gosvāmī does not mean gross deceit on the material platform, nor does it mean hypocrisy in morality. The Gosvāmīs seem to have tricked people into attraction to Vraja by ascribing all kinds of opulences to the place.

Śrīpād Anantadās Bābājī writes in his Śikṣāṣṭakam booklet:

“Those scriptures which preach jñāna (intellectual spiritual realization) and karma (work) are also most merciful, for they engage those people who are not ready yet for the path of devotion, being still too attached to jñāna and karma. These scriptures gradually bring such souls into the temple of devotion, so one certainly commits an offense to the holy name by blaspheming such scriptures."

That is the benign duplicity. About malicious duplicity: When I returned from the Ratha-Yātrā festival in Puri to my ashram on July 25, 1983 I told my Gurudeva Sādhu Bābā that the Oriya Railway Police beats up boys on the train station if they were riding without ticket. Bābā said: "Very good! And when they are finished they can send them to me, and I will beat them up again!" I also often noticed Bābā telling his merchant disciples not to cheat in their retail business. There is a limit in "cheating for Kṛṣṇa."

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Phone sanga (6)

In this new phone sanga the same bhakta shifts more from philosophy to rasa and lila -

Bhakta: "Could the Caitanya Candrodaya-verse dāsye kecana (quoted in the last blog) actually be about sādhana-siddhas in Gaur līlā like the sādhana siddha gopīs in the Bhāgavata?"

Advaitadas: "This verse is very problematic in different ways - no, it could not be compared because the verse is spoken by Advaita Ācārya. It is totally unacceptable to consider him a sādhaka or sādhana siddha. If that would apply to some Bengali who stumbled into Gaura's prakaṭ līlā and then attained siddhi that is fine with me, but it concerns none other than Advaita Prabhu! So I would not be surprised if this were some poetic glorification of Mahāprabhu līlā instead of a literal or philosophical fact."


Bhakta: "Can sādhakas have 2 svarūpas like Rāmānanda Rāya?"

Advaitadas: "Yes and no. Yes - It seems to be technically possible as Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa has said in his Vedānta commentary, but no - the Gosvāmīs have always mentioned just one svarūpa - be it gopī- or mañjarī - and have never spoken about multiple svarūpas."

Bhakta: "It is commented on CC Madhya 14.5, where Maharāja Pratāpa-Rudra changed from royal outfit into Vaiṣṇava dress to serve Śrīman Mahāprabhu ( ছাড়ি রাজবেশ একলা বৈষ্ণব বেশে করিল প্রবেশ ) that Vaiṣṇavas can take off their Vaiṣṇava dress for the sake of preaching."

Advaitadas: "No, that is the other way around - he changed INTO Vaiṣṇava dress, not OUT of it. Pratāparudra was dressed like a king, with embroidered silk, velvet turban what have you, and changed into a dhoti, as a Vaiṣṇava dress. Another important point is that this verse DOES prove that there IS something called Vaiṣṇava dress and this is not called Indian dress there, which we need not wear because we are westerners. Of course when you have a job or go anywhere out in western society it is better to wear western dress but there is no reason why in the privacy of our Vaiṣṇava homes we should not wear Vaiṣṇava dress. This does cultivate a devotional feeling. I remember going out to distribute books in pants and my consciousness plummeted just because of that. Sādhu Bābā considered Vaiṣṇava dress very important and lamented the fact that even his Indian disciples would wear jeans instead."

Bhakta: "Then it was said (in your previous blog) about the jewelled palaces in Vraja - just ignore them?"

Advaitadas: "Yes, Satya-nārāyan Dās gave a very nice answer and very encouraging. You see, the world of Vraja is not an objective world, its a subjective world. It is not a question whether these palaces are there objectively or not. You are creating your own Goloka, weaving it inside your mind. You have to build that up in your sādhana and that is why it is: 

yaṁ yaṁ vāpi smaran bhāvan tyajantyante kalevaram 
taṁ tam evaiti kaunteya sadā tad bhāva bhāvita 

(Bhagavad Gītā 8.6) 

"Whatever you constantly meditate on is what you will attain in your next life."

If you don't meditate on these palaces they won't be there, but instead there will be kuñjas with flowers, birds and trees instead of roofs to shade and shelter you. There is no borders there - loka means world. Its not that anything goes of course. Perversions and bogus philosophies (rasābhāsa and viruddha siddhānta) should be avoided. I checked the books of Raghunātha Dās Gosvāmī and I saw that in all of his work there were only 14 verses describing jewelled opulences, mostly in relation to the decorations of the cows or the ratna-pīṭhas (jewelled seats) around Mount Govardhana. Also interesting is that Satya-Nārāyan Paṇḍit said the opulences are meant to attract people. I always had the impression when I was reading these books that all these jewels and gems were mentioned because people in India are poor and they might like to live in such a wealthy paradise as is described there. People are attracted to becoming devotees by color pictures of a beautiful girl carrying a plate with delicious prasādam, such transcendental PR is going on."


Bhakta: "Can one become a maidservant of the goddess of fortune or of Kṛṣṇa's queens?'

Advaitadas: "That should be possible. In ancient days all queens and ladies of nobility had maidservants, also in the west. Some sampradāyas seem to have borrowed our conception of mañjarī bhāva, like they have Sītā sakhī. Rāma has only Sītā as a consort and some Rāma Bhaktas have introduced that concept of Sītā sakhī. But again, Lakṣmī-mañjarī and so are not conceptions that are mentioned in the Gosvāmīs' books."

Bhakta: "There is more distance between Rādhārāṇī and Her sakhīs than between Her and Her mañjarīs."

Advaitadas: "There is a difference though. We have suhṛt pakṣa, taṭastha pakṣa and vipakṣa - friends, neutral girls and enemies. It is not all the same."

Bhakta: "But then Kṛṣṇa does not bother about the sakhīs when He is with Rādhārāṇī?"

Advaitadas: "According to chapter 15 of Govinda Līlāmṛta He expands Himself into as many Kṛṣṇas are there are sakhīs and goes to enjoy with them, on Rādhā's instigation. This expanding is again aiśvarya and can be scrapped if you feel it disturbs your abhīṣṭa bhāva (desired feeling). Same for the gopīs' joking references to Kṛṣṇa's activities in His other avatāras. rāgānugā bhakti, after all, means following (anuga) your own attraction (rāga)."

Bhakta: "Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī is Tuṅgavidyā Sakhi yet speaks of his/her own body as made of blood stool etc. (in Rādhā-rasa Sudhānidhi verse 60)"

Advaitadas: "That is the sādhaka deha. In books like Rādhā-rasa Sudhānidhi you have to be careful to know which verse is spoken in siddhāveśa (awareness of the spiritual body) and sādhakāveśa (awareness of the material body). It should be mentioned in the purports. In the Vilāpa Kusumāñjali it is easier - almost everything is in siddhāveśa. Rādhā-rasa Sudhānidhi is more of a patch-quilt of verses in either siddha or sādhakāveśa. Many different moods and angles are there."

Bhakta: "What about the spiritual body of the Guru?"

Advaitadas: "I can give you two examples. In 1976, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami was in France, New Māyāpura. Some Dutch devotees were there, they told me personally (they both expired unfortunately). Swāmījī had some throat problem and kept a loṭā next to him wherein he spat saliva, mucus and snot. A lady jumped at the loṭā (to honor the remnants), but Swamiji stopped her and said: "What are you doing?" The lady said "Oh you have a spiritual body!" Swāmījī said that that was nonsense and she should not drink that substance.

Second example is of my Guru Sādhu Bābā, whom I once saw inviting some disciples who had such a sentimental idea too, to join him while he was passing stool, to see what Guru is like 'গুরু কি রকম, দেখিতে এস'." Spiritual body means spiritualised, like if you keep iron in the fire for a long time, it assumes the qualities of fire, it becomes red hot, even white hot, because it is absorbed in service to the Lord. When you put it into water it will be seen as iron again. Similarly if a devotee leaves devotional service and starts using his body for his own pleasures again, it becomes like 'iron' again. But even in the 'heat' of devotional service that spiritual body will still produce stool and urine. It is rather the attitude towards the Guru that counts. You are not allowed to see him as human, it is repeatedly forbidden in the Bhāgavata (martyāsad-dhī 7.15.26, na martya buddhi 11.17.27). That is an offence, but it doesn't mean that the body of the Guru is not material."

Bhakta: "Then what about Ṛṣabha-deva? His stool was said to be fragrant".

Advaitadas: "Ṛṣabha-deva was an incarnation of Kṛṣṇa. I have never been too close to any Guru's excrements so I really cant judge if its the same, though I believe it isn't."

Bhakta: "So fragrant excrements will be aiśvarya?"

Advaitadas: "Well, when we have to render service to Rādhārāṇī as in verse 18 of Vilāpa Kusumāñjali, lets hope there will be some aiśvarya there (laughs). Seriously, though, I think this verse which speaks of cleaning the toilet with one's hair is more a statement of intention, that 'I am willing to render any service, not just the pleasant ones. Whatever you tell me to do I will do.'

Bhakta: "Who wrote the commentaries to Rādhā-rasa Sudhānidhi?"

Advaitadas: "Madhusūdan Vācaspati was a disciple of Prāṇ-gopāl Gosvāmī, he lived about 80 years ago. Ānanda Gopāl Gosvāmī's comments were used by Ananta Dās Bābājī, though they were originally comments to Vilāp Kusumāñjali (Ānanda Gopāl Gosvāmī lectured extensively on Rādhā rasa Sudhānidhi too, but those lectures were never recorded) and finally Ananta Dās Bābāji himself. I read the original book with Madhusūdan Vācaspati's comments, I borrowed it from Mādrāsī Bābā. I don't know where this went after he passed away though."

Bhakta: "What is the paribhāṣa sūtra (single verse with the core definition) of the Caitanya Caritāmṛta?"

Advaitadas: "I am not sure if there is any. I would say there are at least some defining chapters there, like Ādi līlā chapter 4 and Madhya līlā chapter 8."

Bhakta: "What about the introductory verses of the Caitanya Caritāmṛta?"

Advaitadas: "Yes, anarpita carim cirāt (C.C. Adi 1,4) is about as essential as you can get it."

Bhakta: "And the verses rādhā-kṛṣṇa praṇaya vikṛtir and śrī rādhāyāḥ praṇaya mahimā kīdṛśo? (Ādi 1.5-6)"

Advaitadas: "Yes, excellent. Seems essential to me, though frankly speaking I don't know if all the rules of paribhāṣa sūtra apply to a Bengali book which consists largely of quotations from other books."


Bhakta: "Why does Subal fan Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa with a ceiling fan instead of going in to personally fan Them?"

Advaitadas: "Although Rādhārāṇī is very close friends with Subal (see the Subal Milan Lila on Gopāṣṭamī, where She swaps personalities with Subal to meet Kṛṣṇa) She would nevertheless be too embarrassed to be intimate with Kṛṣṇa in front of him."

Bhakta: "But it is described that the mañjarīs can even go under the sheets of Rādhā."

Advaitadas: "Yes, but that is different. It shows how close they are to Rādhārāṇī and how trusted they are. Secondly, a girl would feel less shy to be so intimate with a boy in front of another girl than in front of a boy. Even so, Rādhārāṇī will not even be caught doing this by Her girlfriends, as you can see in Vilāpa Kusumāñjali (92) - sakhīnāṁ lajjayā devi, and in the Niśānta Līlā (Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa's pastime of awakening in the aṣṭakāliya līlā). The mañjarīs have to dress Her up quickly before the sakhīs wake up and come in the kuñja. This intimacy is exactly why mañjarī bhāva is higher than sakhī-bhāva. They may be of such an age because of their intimacy with Rādhārāṇī rather than the other way around."

Bhakta: "In Mukta Caritā one gopī called Raṅganamālā is said to have some contact with Kṛṣṇa, and later she is revealed to be Rūpa Mañjarī. How is that?"

Advaitadas: "In Govinda Līlāmṛta (10.66-71) Rūpa Mañjarī finds herself in the same situation. In Kṛṣṇa Bhāvanāmṛta (13.35-36), Kṛṣṇa even rapes the mañjarīs. Ultimately Kṛṣṇa can do whatever He wants, but it is not what the mañjarīs themselves aspire for. mañjarī bhāva upāsakas can just skip such descriptions. There are verses in Vṛndāvana Mahimāmṛta, Rādhā Rasa Sudhānidhi, Vilāpa Kusumāñjali and Ujjvala Nīlamaṇi that describe how the mañjarīs reject or refuse such contact with Kṛṣṇa. Ultimately the śāstras can describe so many scenarios but we will simply follow the Guru (such picking and choosing does not apply to siddhānta, only to līlā and sambandha). Kṛṣṇa demands submission to the Guru - it should not be done whimsically."

Bhakta: "In Muktā Carita Satyabhāmā heard about the glories of the gopīs. Did she want to become a gopī then too?"

Advaitadas: "I have already quoted Lakṣmī who was unable to attain the Rāsa-dance, no matter what. Another example is the queens of Dwārakā, when they met Draupadī (Tenth Canto, ch.83). They actually glorified the gopīs, knowing that the gopīs are superior to them. Yet they were unable to become gopīs themselves, since their sthāyi-bhāva did not permit it."

Bhakta: "Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī is Tuṅgavidyā-sakhī, yet there is so much mañjarī bhāva in the Rādhā Rasa Sudhānidhi."

Advaitadas: "Yes - the bābājīs say he got some special mercy from Mahāprabhu to be able to perceive and describe mañjarī bhāva too. In my opinion he could well have an extra mañjarī svarūpa. After all, many associates of Mahāprabhu have multiple svarūpas."


Bhakta: "Narottam Dās Thākur sings he wants to be an ankle-bell at the feet of a gopī...."

Advaitadas: "That is a statement of humility. He was actually Campak Mañjarī, and had a much higher status than that of an ankle-bell. The same humility was expressed by Raghunātha dās Gosvāmī when he said he is willing to clean Rādhārāṇī's excrement with his/her hair. Brahmā prayed in the Bhāgavata for birth as a blade of grass to catch the footdust of the gopīs..."

Bhakta: "It is said that Rādhā's angry mood of kila-kiñcit pleases Kṛṣṇa more than actual union with Her. Is this poetic?"

Advaitadas: "No it isn't. It is confirmed in Ujjvala Nīlamaṇi (15.253) -


vidagdhānāṁ mitho līlā-vilāsena yathā sukham; 
na tathā samprayogeṇa syād evaṁ rasikā viduḥ 


"The rasikas know that for the clever ones, the happiness of intercourse is not so great as that of the playful pastimes." 

Friday, August 03, 2007

Phone sanga with Satya-nārāyaṇa Dās

As last year, Satya-nārāyaṇa Dās is in Holland for a few days in the summer and resides in Amstelveen, a suburb of Amsterdam. Since no public transportation goes that far and it was very tough to get there last year, I decided to phone him this year instead.

Advaitadas: "How can there be samañjasa rati and sādhāraṇī rati in the spiritual world while Rūpa Gosvāmī said there are personal desires involved. Can persons with personal desires live in the spiritual world?"

Satya-nārāyaṇa Dās: "The Queens are bound by certain rules, but this is all līlā. The rules are laid out by the Lord. This is following maryādā mārg, the path of protocol and is vidhi bhakti. This is their type of surrender. You have to see the rasa-scale as a rainbow. The colours don't just follow each other with a strict dividing line - they flow over into each other, and have grey zones in between. There is a large gamut, like 90% samartha / 10% samañjasa etc. Also, Vyāsadeva wanted to teach us the glories of samartha rati so he described alternatives like samañjasa and sādhāraṇī rati to give a comparison. To create a contrast."

Advaitadas: "Allright, that is in the context of the Bhāgavata, but in the spiritual world we should see it as a type of background for actual full surrender?"

Satya-nārāyaṇa Dās: "Kṛṣṇa is rasarāja and He enjoys all kinds of rasa."

Advaitadas: "Mathurā is considered higher than Dwārakā yet the Queens, with samañjasa rati, are considered superior to Kubjā, who has sādhāraṇī rati. How can this be reconciled?"

Satya-nārāyaṇa Dās: "Kubjā is not following the rules (moral codes) like the gopīs and unlike the Queens. This is how this can be reconciled."

Advaitadas: "Is there svakīya rasa in Goloka? Jīva Gosvāmī says there is only svakīya rasa there but Viśvanāth Cakravartī disputes that."

Satya-nārāyaṇa Dās: "Yes there is svakīya rasa there. It is mentioned in other Purāṇas, like the Brahma Vaivarta, not just in Jīva Gosvāmī's books. The Purāṇas give different levels of understanding and the Bhāgavata gives the highest understanding - parakīya rasa."

Advaitadas: "At the end of the Caitanya Candroday Nāṭaka Mahāprabhu tells Advaita ācārya:

dāsye kecana kecana praṇayinaḥ sakhye ta evobhaye
rādhā-mādhava niṣṭhayā katipaye śrī dvārakādhīśituh
sakhyādāv ubhayatra kecana pare ye vāvatārāntare
mayyābaddha hṛdo'khilān vitanavai vṛndāvanāsaṅginaḥ

“Some devotees are in a mood of servitude, some are fixed in a fraternal mood, some are fixed in the love of Rādhā and Mādhava, others in the Lord of Dvārakā and again others in My different descensions such as Rāma and Nṛsiṁha. I will lock you all in the chains of My love and give You attachment to Vṛndāvana!"

On the surface it seems from this verse that Mahāprabhu's associates are just conditioned souls who are being redeemed by Him, though they are supposed to be nitya siddhas. Plus there seems to be the possibility of being promoted from dāsya rasa, Dwārakā rati whatever, to Rādhā-Mādhava."

Satya-nārāyaṇa Dās: "Mahāprabhu failed to persuade Jīva Gosvāmī's father Vallabha to switch from Rāma-bhakti to Kṛṣṇa-bhakti. Nṛsiṁhānanda Brahmacārī was worshipping Nṛsiṁha, but the object of his love was Gaura. Its just like Nanda Mahārāja, who loves Kṛṣṇa but worships Nārāyaṇa."

Advaitadas: "I don't know if there are any other examples in śāstra, but my Guru's father Ānanda Gopāl Gosvāmī describes how Rādhākuṇḍa and Rādhārāṇī's sash-of-bells (kāñchi) talk back to Raghunātha Dās Gosvāmī. Q: It is clear from Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta (2.4.139-140) that all apparent inanimate objects in the spiritual sky are the Lord's nitya siddha pārṣads. They are items of the sandhinī śakti. Are they jīvas and nitya siddhas or even sādhana siddhas?"

Satya-nārāyaṇa Dās: "They are nitya siddhas".

Advaitadas: "So if they speak they are sentient, conscious?"

Satya-nārāyaṇa Dās: "They can speak, but then there is some aiśvarya, because that is superhuman."

Advaitadas: "Furthermore in this regard, in the Veṇu Gīta the gopīs pray to the clouds, trees, birds etc. Is that just poetry or all they also all sentient beings who can respond?"

Satya-nārāyaṇa Dās: "Both. They see them all as sentient. It is the nature of the uttama adhikārī"

Advaitadas: "So the uttam adhikārī projects his own feelings on the surroundings? Should we also see it with the bhramara gīta (Rādhārāṇī's Song to the Bee) like this?"

Satya-nārāyaṇa Dās: "Yes."

Advaitadas: "What about the stopover theory, that one graduates from Vaikuṇṭha to Goloka, upgrading one's sthāyi bhāva?"

Satya-nārāyaṇa Dās: "sthāyi bhāva is sthāyi bhāva. If it is upgraded it was never a sthāyi bhāva. Vaikuṇṭha is not a stopover. You are quite correct with the examples of Murāri Gupta and Vallabha, who could not be persuaded to give up Rāma for Kṛṣṇa. One might to go there for sight-seeing as in an excursion, but not as a stopover."

Advaitadas: "After all, whatever you meditate on is what you will attain, right?"

Satya-nārāyaṇa Dās: "Right. It is called tat-kratu nyāya."

Advaitadas: "What is that? I thought kratu means sacrifice?"

Satya-nārāyaṇa Dās: "No, in this case it means saṅkalpa. Whatever one vows to attain and is willing to do sādhana for, that one will attain."

Advaitadas: "I said earlier on my blog that if one meditates wrongly one can take the next birth as a material Indian girl; one can only attain gopī svarūpa while following the descriptions in the Gosvāmīs' books."

Satya-nārāyaṇa Dās: "You were right. One needs to submissively follow the indications and descriptions given by the Guru and by the Gosvāmīs, otherwise one will get an adverse effect. There needs to be a submissive attitude."

Advaitadas: "We see persons in Gaura līlā having two svarūpas in Kṛṣṇa-līlā and vice versa. Are they different souls or the same? Like Rāmānanda Rāy being both Viśākhā sakhī and Arjuna."

Satya-nārāyaṇa Dās: "He will be either Viśākhā or Arjuna according to the mood and the circumstance. You should not see it as Kṛṣṇa līlā transforming into Gaura līlā at some time in history. Both līlās are eternal and beginningless. They eternally run parallel with each other."

Advaitadas: "I heard a samādhi is being built for a fallen sannyāsī who passed away. Originally, for whom are samādhis meant actually?"

Satya-nārāyaṇa Dās: "For those who have accepted veśa (sannyāsa). Not only in modern Vaiṣṇavism, it is an ancient custom like that. It is not extending to caste-considerations, only to sannyāsa. Other types of samādhi are jala samādhi, wherein the entire body, uncremated, is let into a holy river, or the entire body is buried, as the Christians and Muslims do. A fallen sannyāsī should not receive samādhi. He has lost his vow."

Advaitadas: "Why do we see so much opulence and luxury in the descriptions of Vraja in Govinda Līlāmṛta and Kṛṣṇa Bhāvanāmṛta - palaces, jewels, gold..."

Satya-nārāyaṇa Dās: "To attract the minds of the people and to establish the transcendental nature of the place. If the foundation of aiśvarya is not there the mādhurya may seem mundane."

Advaitadas: "So a mādhurya sādhaka can ignore such descriptions?"

Satya-nārāyaṇa Dās: "Yes."