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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Almighty vs. the Inquisition

For making eyes at another man, Reṇukā was killed by her son Paraśurām, to teach complete obedience to the Guru (ājñāṁ gurūnāṁ hyavicāranīya, Raghu-vaṁśa, quoted in CC Madhya 10). Reṇukā was later revived, after the order to kill her was carried out and Paraśurām passed the test of surrender (SB 9.16.2-8).
Rāma abandoned Sītā to teach complete chastity of the wife. To set the standard and to avoid creating a precedent it was done without compromise, as Śrīman Mahāprabhu later did with Chota Haridās, too. Both Sītā and Haridās were innocent in prakat līlā and are the Lord's eternal associates in the nitya līlā. In other words, Sītā-devī is inseparably Rāma's hlādini śakti and Her 'abandonment' was a mere līlā for Them and a lesson for us. One should not have a mundane view of the transcendent Lord - kartum akartum anyathāpi kartum samartha sa eva īśvaraḥ - 'He who can do or not do as He pleases or even do otherwise - that alone is Īśvara'. naitat samacārejjātu manasāpi hyanīśvaraḥ (SB 10.33.30) "Not even within one's mind one should imitate the Īśvara".

Perhaps Rām cut off Śūrpānakhā's nose to show the resolve of the monogamous man (eka-patnī-vrata).

Interestingly, līlā puruṣottama Kṛṣṇa enjoyed pūrva-bhukta ramaṇīs (women previously enjoyed by others) like the gopīs and the 16,000 captives of Bhaumāsura.

Viśvanāth Cakravartīpāda comments, by the way, that only the gopīs who attained spiritual bodies not stained by other men's enjoyment,were able to reach Him in the Rāsa-dance (S.D. 10.29.11) and that the 16,000 queens were expansions of the gopīs (Kārtik Māhātmya, quoted in SD 10.59.43). But maryādā puruṣottama Rāma rejected Sītā after She was kidnapped. (Asked for by Sītā,  Agnideva made a false Sītā who was kidnapped by Rāvana. Sītā entered Agniloka and the māyā-Sītā entered the fire during the fire-proof - Kūrma Purāṇa, CC Madhya 9,210,211)

Speaking of Rāma, in Tulsīdāsa's Rāmāyan it is said that drums and women sound better if regularly beaten, but this is not OUR scripture. Our scripture is the Bhāgavata (śāstraṁ bhāgavataṁ pramāṇam amalam....śrī caitanya mahāprabhor matam idam) and the Bhāgavata says women should not be beaten (praharanti na vai strīṣu).

Having said all this - bhakti means that the Lord tells us what to do, not that we tell Him what He can and cannot do. The Almighty will not subject Himself to today's Inquisitions of Political Correctness.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Bhāgavata on misogyny

Everything is there in the Bhāgavata, and so the concept of misogyny will be there too (the concept itself is not laukika śraddhā, though some of the conclusions and implementations drawn from it nowadays may be). The line patiṁ tvapatitam bhajet (7.11.28) contains it all - it shows both the woman's and the man's duty. The woman must (bhajet is imperative) serve the husband (pati means 'master'), and the man must not be fallen (tvapatitam), which certainly includes abusing his wife (misogyny). In a single line the Bhāgavata thus rejects both feminism (patiṁ bhajet) and misogyny (tvapatitam). The Bhāgavat further condemns misogyny in verse 4.17.20 - praharanti na vai strīṣu kṛtagaḥsvapi jantavaḥ - "Women are not beaten, even if they committed an offence."

Friday, January 04, 2008

Gītā Bhūṣaṇa (2)

13.22 Baladeva repeatedly says here that the karma and saṁskāras of the jīva are beginningless.
14.27 "I alone am the shelter of the six eternal (śaśvatasya) qualities called ṣaḍ-aiśvarya (dharmasya), I alone am the shelter of My extraordinary (ekantikasya) rasa (sukhasya) arising from variegated pastimes."
16.1-3 Baladeva divides the attributes through varṇāśrama - the sannyāsī is fearless about how he will survive without work. The next two attributes along belong to the sannyāsī. The next three attributes belong to the gṛhastha. svādhyāya, study, is the only attribute of the brahmacārī, and tapas the only attribute of the vanaprastha. Next is the 12 qualities of the brāhmin, who is honest (arjava. The Iskcon-translation of arjava, 'simplicity', is not so clear). apaiśuna means not speaking bad about others in their absence. hrī means feeling ashamed to do illegal activities. acapala means no useless actions. teja to dhṛti are the three qualities of the kṣatriya, śauca (no cheating) and adroha 2 vaiśya-qualities, and nātimānī (not too proud, knowing one's place) the sole quality of the śūdra.
16.4 The asura wants to be known as pious (reputation or dambha), is proud of his lineage or knowledge (darpa), thinks he should be respected), is angry and uses rough language in front of others (pāruśya) - boy, that's me!
17.21 That is what Advaitadas-II rejected when he gave me the medicine. See blog of Dec.10, 2007.
18.14 Last year we had a few blogs about the jīva's doership. Here's a rare clue: "But if the jīva's actions depend on the Lord, his action becomes mere engagement by the Lord, in fullfilment of His goal. The jīva would be simply like a piece of wood, and the rules and prohibitions of śāstra would be useless. It would not be possible to initiate action by one's own intelligence, since it is seen that the jīva is simply made to act by the Lord." "The jiva is the substratum of the body, senses and prāṇa supplied by the Lord, and which operate by the powers bestowed by Him. Being the possessor of these bestowed powers, the jiva rules over his body and senses by his desires alone, for accomplishing his actions. The Lord, situated within the jīvas, giving His permission for their action, sets their actions in motion. The jīva, by his intelligence, can choose to act or not to act, without being forced either way by the Lord."
"But then at least the liberated jīva should not be the agent, because he no longer has a body, senses or prāṇa."
"No, that is not so, because liberated souls have spiritual senses and body, by which they accomplish their spiritual desires."
18.41 svabhāva prabhavaiḥ means, according to Baladeva, impressions from previous lives (svabhāva prāktana saṁskāra). That covers the guṇa-karma vibhāgaśaḥ line in Gītā 4.13.
18.48 By removing the smoke,which is a portion of the fire, the portion containing heat is used to eliminate the cold. Thus, after removing the fault in one's duties by offering the actions to the Lord, one should utilize the remaining portion, which generates jñāna, to realize the ātmā." I'm not sure if I get this one.
18.65 " But my doubt is not destroyed because even when You made a vow to return to Vraja after leaving for Mathurā, you did not keep it." Kṛṣṇa: "Therefore I say this after making an admission: you are dear to Me. If the resident of Mathurā, having an affectionate mind, does not cheat the one he loves, what then to speak of one he loves most?"
This makes no sense, because the resident of Mathurā did cheat the ones he loves (Kṛṣṇa never returned to Vraja).
18.66 Of the 6 types of surrender, anukūlasya sankalpa means 'accepting scriptural rules' and pratikūlya vivarjayet 'giving up unscriptural behaviour'.
18.78 One should not worry that this scripture is favoring war. It is not so. The instructions are manmana bhava mad bhakta (Think of Me and be My devotee") and sarva dharmān parityajya (give up all dharma and surrender to Me.")

Again, I probably missed many interesting things, this was merely a casual study.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Gīta Bhūṣaṇa

Book Review:
Gītā Bhūṣaṇa, Bhagavad Gītā commentary

by Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa
Translated by Bhānu Swāmī

This book is philosophical, so it's a bit hard for me to digest. I have concentrated on the key verses and may well have missed a lot of great things in between. Baladeva quotes a lot from the Upaniṣads. The first 6 chapters he classifies as dealing more or less with niṣkāma karma-yoga, dedicated work for higher benefits, not per se bhakti.
2.14 mātra sparsas tu kaunteya (2.14) is explained in the framework of steadfastness in dharma, not as an act of bhakti, and verse 2.47 (karmaṇyevādhikāras te) reminds us that karma, not bhakti is the subject here.
The tika of 3.27 (ahaṅkāra vimūḍhātmā) refers to verses 18.14-16, which describe 5 factors of action, an intricate combination of doership by the jīva and the paramātmā. Overcome with impressions (vāsanās) of enjoying sense objects from beginningless time, the jīva is embraced by prakṛti, who is situated next to him, and who is the cause of his pleasure. Verse 13.21 describes prakṛti as the doer through the body and the senses, but prakṛti only comes into action by contact with the Lord. The Lord's doership can never be rejected.
3.33 Even a person who knows the punishment stated in the scriptures (jñānavān) acts according (sadṛśam) to his evil nature - his sinful impressions have been there since beginningless time. What to speak of those who don't even know the punishment?
3.37 Lust is very powerful, since it forces one to engage even in forbidden acts by making one lose one's sense of discrimination....the victory of lust and anger are one.
3.38 Knowledge covered slightly by lust can grasp something of truth, knowledge covered moderately cannot grasp the truth, and knowledge covered by lust cannot function and cannot even be perceived.
3.42 The sense objects are more powerful than the senses because they can attract them. The mind is superior to the sense objects because it is the root of the actions of the senses in pursuit of sense objects. The discerning and confirming intellect is superior to the mind which has doubt, because there must be verification of existence of enjoyment from sense objects before action takes place. The jīva, the enjoyer, is superior to the intellect, because it is the very means of enjoyment or experience.
4.6 pratyakṣaṁ ca harer janma na vikāra kathañcana - "Hari's birth, though visible, takes place without transformation of His svarūpa." (Smṛti). Thus one should recall His appearance in the delivery room with divine form, decorated with ornaments, etc.
4.40 ajña = ignorant like an animal. aśraddha = he knows śāstra but has no faith because he is quarrelsome. saṁśayātma knows śāstra and has faith but doubts he will make it.
Happiness is generated fom actions prescribed by śāstra.
5.9 Breathing represents the actions of the 5 major prāṇas. Opening and closing the eyes are done by the 5 secondary prāṇas. Sleeping is an action of the internal organ (antaḥ-karaṇa)
eṣa hyeva sādhu-karma kārayati taṁ yamebhyo lokebhyaḥ unninīṣate. 
esa u evāsādhu karma kārayati taṁ yam adho ninīṣyate
(Kauśitakī Upaniṣad 3.8)

"The Lord engages souls in good work for their elevation and in bad work for their degradation."

ajño jantur aniśo'yam ātmanah sukha duḥkayoḥ
īśvara prerito gacchet svargaṁ narakam eva ca

"The ignorant is totally powerless about his joy or woes - impelled by the Lord he goes to heaven or hell." Isn't that unjust of the Lord? No, because karma is beginningless - na karmāvibhāgād iti cen nānāditvāt.
Bhānu Swāmī comments on 7.8 that the four levels of sound (see blog of febr.28, 2007) have their cakras too - parā = mūlādhāra, paśyanti = maṇipūraka and madhyama = anāhata. For vaikhari no cakra is mentioned.
5.11 Engaging the senses in enlightenment is only possible if they are very pure. Hence Kṛṣṇa uses the adjective 'kevalaiḥ'.
7.15 "Those who know the meaning of śāstra (kṛtinaḥ) but are evil (duṣ) do not surrender unto Me." Baladeva then quotes a great egghead-verse:

avidyāyāṁ antare vartamānaḥ svayaṁ dhīrāḥ paṇḍitaṁ manyamānāḥ 
dandramyamānāḥ pariyanti mūḍhā andhenaiva nīyamāna yathāndhāḥ

(Kaṭha Upaniṣad 1.2.5)

"Though internally they are ignorant they think they are learned. These fools wander about in confusion like blind men leading other blind men."
9.13 mahātmā here means ' broad-minded'
9.22 Another meaning than ' carrying food' is ' I take care My devotees attain Me (yoga)
and prevent their separation from Me (kṣemam)."