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Friday, February 29, 2008

Gopāl Tāpanī Upaniṣad - Two editions

Gopāl Tāpanī Upaniṣad - two English renderings.

Mahānidhi Swāmī and Tripurāri Swāmī - both published in 2004

Gopāl Tāpanī Upaniṣad is an important text since it is Śruti-śāstra, which is higher evidence than Smṛti (Purāṇas), and nicely confirms Kṛṣṇa's Vraja-pastimes.

Mahānidhi Swāmī's has some of the worst lay-outing and editing I have ever seen - texts missing italics or bold settings, and many typos. Tripurāri's version has basically his own comment, derived partially from the previous ācāryas, Prabodhānanda, Jīva Goswāmī, Viśvanātha, with Tripurāri Swami's own added comments. Mahānidhi's version has only Viśvanātha's tika. The verse-numberings of both editions is quite different somehow. In his comments Tripurāri occasionally panders to the mundane intellectuals, which disturbs the devotional flow of the book, but it is not per se uninteresting or unacceptable.

Tripurāri's explanation of svārasikī is quite different from what the bābājīs teach - he says mantramayī is f.i. attending ārati, while the bābājīs say it is mantra smaraṇa, while svārasikī is progressively, timely līlā smaraṇam. On page 29 Tripurāri claims that vaidhi bhakti is prompted by the intellect and rāgānugā by emotions, but isn't bhakti of any kind an emotional practise? Jīva and Viśvanātha comment on verse 66/67 that the Śrīvatsa mark is a bunch of hair shaped like the moon, and Prabodhānanda likens it to the collective status of the jīvas, that become differentiated when they emerge from Mahāviṣṇu.

On page 30 Tripurāri claims that, unlike in rāgānugā bhakti, in vaidhi bhakti one aspires for devotional liberation, but there are many verses in the Bhāgavat's vaidhi-cantos that reject liberation too. Verses like gopālo'ham ("I am Gopāl") to be said by the sādhaka, not Gopāla, are typical for largely non-dualistic śāstras like the Upaniṣads, but are not properly translated by Bhūmipati (Mahānidhi's translator). They are by Tripurāri, though. Tripurāri says that the middle of the book (p. 138), where his non-dualist statement is made, cannot be different from the beginning and end (which had dualistic statements), but that need not be - Jīva Goswāmī teaches acintya bhedābheda, inconceivable oneness and distinction, unfavorable as the non-dual may be for bhakti. It is not clear from the English purport if this is Tripurāri's own writing or that of the previous ācāryas.

Of the two editions Tripurāri's is better, both in material quality as well as in spiritual quantity and quality.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Sītānāth's Utsav 2008 - Sādhu Bābā's āshram

Mālatī Di received the loving hospitality of my Didis and Dādās in Sādhu Bābā's āshram - they would not allow her to stay anywhere out of the ashram. She could imbibe the spirit of the āshram, the spirit of Sādhu Bābā. Unfortunately she had no better camera than her cell-phone, the pics are a bit unclear. Top to bottom: Tulsī Di and Nomitā Di, Tapan Dā and Kumkum Dā, villagers taking Madangopāl's prasād and some bhaktas.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The advent of Śrī Advaita Ācārya


From 'Adwaita Prakāśa'
Once, at the end of the night, Lābhā Ṭhākurāṇī had a wonderful dream in which she saw a form of Harihara (a joint form of Viṣṇu and Śiva) in the lotus flower of her heart. All directions were illuminated by the radiance that emanated from His body. He performed hari saṅkīrtana with a sweet voice — dancing and weeping with raised arms, he was unaware of the external world. He roared out hare kṛṣṇa so loudly that Yamarāja, the son of the sun (who punishes the sinners) came to Him and beheld His sweet form of Hara and Hari combined, which was as attractive as Hara-Gaurī (Śiva-Pārvatī). His captivating bodily luster defeated the splendour of millions of suns— who is able to describe such a form? Goosebumps erupted on His body as He sang the hare kṛṣṇa-names and tears flowed from His eyes like the current of the Gaṅgā. His body swayed of pure loving ecstasy and sometimes He increased the waves of prema by dancing. 
Seeing this amazing form, the son of the sun offered prostrated obeisances and offered many kinds of indescribable praises. Folding his hands he sweetly spoke: "Listen, O Lord, this is the dark age of Kali— it is a matter of amazement that You will descend in this time and age. When they simply see You, the sinners will be saved and I will have no jurisdiction anymore. Therefore, my Lord, please be gone and thus solve the dilemma of this Your servant." 
Hearing this plea, the Lord smiled slightly and told Yama: "O Dharmarāja! Be at ease— you are mistaking. Don't you care about the deep suffering of the sinners? Wise sādhus are suffering when others are suffering. If you say: 'All living entities must suffer the reactions to their activities— who has the power to sever the bondage of karma?', then I'll tell you: Covered by māyā or illusion, they do not know what is for their own welfare— they consider trifle external sensual happiness to be beneficial. A person attached to mundane (family-) life is like a sick man that suffers only more when he takes some bogus medicine. Especially the people of the Kali age are very wayward— they wallow in forest-fires of deep miseries. When My mind sees the intolerable suffering of the conditioned souls I cannot remain calm and I took the following resolve: This mahā mantra destroys all bondage to fruitive activities and generates pure loving devotion to Kṛṣṇa. By teaching the conditioned souls this transcendental harināma I will redeem and empower the sinners. For this reason I will now take birth. The sādhus will instead sing: "Blessed is the age of Kali!" 
And I have another firm resolve: "I will surely cause the Original Personality of Godhead, Mahāprabhu, to descend, along with His eternal associates. This country will be inundated by a tidal wave of pure love of God. However, your jurisdiction will not be lost, for the blasphemers and atheists will not be saved."  Hearing this, Yamarāja went to his own abode. After having this dream, Lābhā woke up and told her husband about her wonderful dream. When Kuvera Paṇḍita heard about the dream he was amazed. 

Monday, February 11, 2008

Disneyland in tapobhūmi

I had some more thoughts on the culture-gap case Lila:

Vaiṣṇava missions in the west (perhaps due to competition) lower the threshold for admission and create a new layer of congregational grass-roots members, much like the caste Goswāmīs do in India. That is okay, but there is a big cultural difference. The new congregational/householder/grassroots devotees should not start selecting tapo-bhūmi (field of penance) Vraja as a holiday-destination for themselves and their rock 'n rolling teens. I saw in Raman Reti ('little Beverly Hills' or 'Disneyland in tapobhūmi') western teens roaring around on motorcycles, with earrings, bluejeans and mp3 players (most likely not playing kīrtan on the headphones), while Śrīman Mahāprabhu said sarva tyaji jīvera kartavya kāhā vāsa? "Where does a person who has given up everything reside?" To which Rāmānanda Rāya replied: vṛndāvana vraja-bhūmi yāhā līlā rāsa "In Vṛndāvana, Vraja-bhūmi, where the Rāsa-līlā took place". The founders of the big preaching missions in the west were themselves very cautious in allowing their disciples to live in Vraja, even in the austere 1970s, when the threshold of admission was much higher, let alone now.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


I wish to make a brief comment on the recent killing of 17-year old Lila Salter from Australia in Vṛndāvana. I do not know her or her family and this is not a judgement of them. They have my heartfelt condolences and sympathy in this time of grief. Nothing justifies her senseless killing. I want to say in general, though, that western girls and women are often ill-prepared when they come to India as Vaiṣṇava converts. It is said that Lila went around uncovered and approached Indian men directly, trying to promote her Guru's books, as this is being done in the west. Indian morale has it, however, that even public women do not approach unrelated men in a direct manner. Surely her intentions were lofty, but it shows that westerners have a lot to learn about matters like modesty, though they often do have higher spiritual knowledge than many born Hindus or even Vaiṣṇavas. The solution lies in a combination of segregation and education. Western women need to be educated in modesty and Indian men need to be taught that western women's open attitudes doesn't make them prostitutes, though western women should first learn modesty. It's their (the Indian men's) country, after all! Segregation helps avoiding disaster scenarios like this. Sādhu Bābā told me personally that Indians marrying westerners would be a cross-cultural disaster, and it usually is. One doesn't become Indian, let alone brahmin, simply by putting on Indian robes. If westerners who are new to India can learn a lesson from this, Lila's tragic death will not have been in vain.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Thawing more...

3 february 2008
Today's Ekādaśī and to break out of the daily drag I decide not to cook at noon but to go on bike-parikramā of Girrāja instead. Internet connections prove to be better at noon too, I discover on the way. Though its both sunday (a day off in Delhi) and Ekādaśī (a puṇya tithi) it's not too crowded around Girrāja. I haven't been all around the mount for maybe a year, and its sad to see huge bungalow parks have been built at both Anyor (Vasundhara) and Jātipurā. Much of the building is being done by the Tirtha Vikas Trust from Delhi. Their role is somewhat ambiguous - on the one hand they do good work - by supporting Sudevi's goshalla, building a fence around Girrāja to protect it against tresspassers and building sitting places all around the parikramā - but they are also responsible for a lot of the unnecessary building, at the expense of Girrāja's natural beauty. Girrāja remains a magical place, still. Even a bike parikramā with Nike shoes on gives a celestial outcome in the mind.

4 february 2008
Another nice iṣṭagoṣṭhī with Dhanurdhara Swāmi (I spoke with him earlier in Vṛndāvana, last year). He asks me to speak on the kuṇḍa līlā for 5 minutes (it is 11 a.m, when Rādhā Kṛṣṇa meet at the Kund), and it becomes 15 minutes instead. I explain that Puṣpa-cayan līlā takes place at Rādhākund, not at Kusum Sarovara - They already left Kusum Sarovar in chapter 7 of Govinda Līlāmṛta and Puṣpa-cayan līlā is in chapter 9. They wouldn't go back to Kusum Sarovar after already arriving at Rādhākuṇḍa. Swāmijī asks where it is taking place at Rādhākund. I say Kṛṣṇa is not a machine - there are plenty of places for flower-gardens still in between the 8 sakhīs' kuñjas. I remind Swāmijī we sit with our backs to Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa's prasādam-hall at the Padma Mandir.

Swāmijī tells me of the last days of his Godbrother Swarūp Dāmodara Swāmī, who passed away absorbed in the mood of the sakhīs. It is written on his samādhi in Rādhākund's Gopāl Mandir.

In the afternoon I walk to Mukherāi, the village of Śrī Rādhikā's grandmother Mukharā. Unlike Vṛndāvana and Rādhākuṇḍa, this village has barely changed in the 20-odd years I haven't seen it - straw huts, heaps of cow-dung paddies and fields full of mustard flowers. Only the Bājanī Śilā (resounding stone) has moved from an open courtyard into a temple building, called Giridhareśvara.

Picked up from a Bhagavat Saptāha by Vaiṣṇava Pada Dasji -
4th canto - Earth is called Pṛthivī because she is the daughter of Pṛthu Mahārāja.
Kāla-kanyā, the daughter of time, is Jarā, a female word indicating old age.
The black man churned from the thighs of Vena is not an African negro, but a Niṣāda, a tribal Indian.
Arci committed Sati for Pṛthu (as Mādrī did for Paṇḍu)
Canto 6 - antare vairāgya bāhya koro loka vyavahāra is meant for gṛhasthas, not for tyāgīs. For tyāgīs the motto is "dress like a renunciant and act like a renunciant".
A materially qualified non devotee is like a naked man wearing a beautiful turban (vastra-hīna alaṅkāra) - looking ridiculous.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Personal attacks, God-given intelligence, Rādhā-rasa Sudhānidhi, sad dhiya

I still have a number of interesting notes I made on often not-published comments in my notebook.

December 2007 -PERSONAL ATTACKS are useless. They will not change the issues, moral or philosophical, we discuss, at all. Mistakes made by me years ago do not disqualify me from preaching for the rest of my life.

Advaitadas: 'You know, we did not fall from the spiritual world.'
Critic: "But someone told me that he heard from someone that you looked at a girl in 1971".
Advaitadas: "You know, you need not be a pure devotee to do raganuga bhakti".
Critic: "Yes, but someone told me that he heard from someone that you smoked a cigarette in1969."
Advaitadas: I confess, I did both of these things back then. Now -
1. If I sin, I will be responsible.
2. If I tell others not to sin, and they sin, they are responsible.
3. If I encourage sin, and others follow, I am responsible for that.

(Reply to non-published anon comment on the misogyny issue: 'Advaitadas, apply your God-given intelligence to the acaryas' commentaries' - 22 December 2007)

AD: "Do Rupa and Sanatan not already have God-given intelligence? Rūpa Goswāmī himself declared hṛdi yasya preranayā... vande caitanya-devasya (BRS 1.1.2) "Caitanya deva inspired me within the heart" and Mahāprabhu told Sanātan Goswāmī (CC Madhya 24) yabe likhibā kṛṣṇa sphurabe tomāy - "When you write Kṛṣṇa will reveal it to you." God also gave us intelligence to create atom bombs, heroin and pedophile websites. You erred (bhrama) when you said you took me to task, not the śāstras. śāstras and their comments, however, contain no error (bhrama pramāda vipralipsa karaṇāpaṭava), so how can we trust you know it better than them? Isn't yours laukika śraddhā instead of śāstrīya śraddhā? God gave us intelligence to understand śāstra via the principle of bhajatāṁ prīti-pūrvakaṁ dadāmi buddhi-yogaṁ taṁ (B.G. 10.10), "If you perform loving bhajan I give you the divine intelligence", not to squeeze a new, self-serving purport from it, or try to reconcile it with TV-talk show-opinions. Furthermore, Jīva Goswāmī says that of śabda (śāstra), anumāna (mental assumption) and pratyakṣa (sense perception) only śabda is reliable."

The worst of the winter in Vraja is over. Give me 1,000 winters in Vraja for 1 summer -in the winter there is at least the shelter of blankets and clothes against the cold, but in summer there is no shelter from the heat whatsoever.

Rādhā-rasa Sudhānidhi is a masterpiece, rich with sweet rasa and prema, but I always found it a pity that it nowhere mentions Rādhākuṇḍa, only Vṛndāvan. Actually, however, Bengali devotees, Sādhu Bābā included, habitually call all of Vraja ' Vṛndāvan' - so Rādhākund is included there. Rādhā-rasa Sudhānidhi consists of verses of glorification - it does not provide material for contiguous līlā smaraṇam, but all of the verses are extremely fit for guṇa smaraṇa, nāma-smaraṇa and mañjarī sevā smaraṇa. The fact that Prabodhānanda Saraswatīpāda's mañjarī swarūpa is not known is not a problem, because the mañjarī swarūpa of Raghunāth Dās Goswāmī is also disputed, and the authorship anyway doesn't matter that much. It is for our own mañjarī-inspiration that we read these books. Śrīla Ānanda Gopāl Goswāmī said about this that if a mango is sweet, who cares who planted it and where the orchard is.

Those who think that just living in Vraja will bestow prema, no matter how, on the base of Rupa Goswami's yatra svalpo'pi sambandha sad-dhiyam bhāva janmane (BRS, "Even the slightest relationship with the 5 chief items of bhakti, of which living in Vraja is one, bestows bhāva in the sad-dhiya") should know that Jīva Goswāmī and Viśvanāth Cakravartī comment 'sad-dhiyaṁ niraparādha cittānām' - 'sad dhiya means those who are not offensive."