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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. prāṇa vāyu passes through the nose while breathing, passing gas is done with the apāna vāyu, the air that pervades the whole body and adjusts the food in the stomach is samāna vāyu, the air that passes through the throat while breathing is udāna vāyu, and the air that governs the muscles is vyāna vāyu.

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.


  1. Your book reviews are always nice.

    Not only that, but it brings attention to books I would normally not notice or buy.

  2. Haribol Advaitaji,

    I'm hoping you'll also post something for Maha Shivaratri, especially as someone in the line descending from Sri Advaita Acarya. Here in Mauritius, Shivaratri is EXTREMELY big, and celebrated with more religious fervour than even Divali. We have a beautiful crater lake that was consecrated as a manifestation of Mother Ganga more than a century ago, and it is THE Ganges of Mauritius. The whole breathtakingly scenic spot is dotted with small temples of nearly every Vedic deity imaginable, including most prominent forms of Lord Hari. The presiding murti of the place, however, is a Jyotir Linga of Mahadeva. I'll email you some pics of it when I can.

    To return to your blog theme, I haven't read the Gopala-tapani but I'm convinced of the validity of your review. Tripurari Maharaja is a thoughtful and studious individual and one book of his that I'd recommend anyday is his edition of the Bhagavad-gita. It is, in my humble opinion, THE best available and most thoroughly researched Gaudiya version of the Gita to date. And I think that many people would second this if they were to go through the work.

  3. Mail me the pics asap so I can post the jyotir lingam on Shivaratri. My health's not good, I hope I can be online then. I plan to post some small anecdotes on Sacal Shiva Sadhu Baba then.