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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Some interesting details from Vilāpa Kusumāñjali

Recently I had this interesting exchange with my friend Kṛṣṇadās:

Dear Kṛṣṇadās,
I have a question about Vilāpa kusumāñjali 36. Can you see from the Sanskrit if the nose or Rādhā is taking the nose-ring from Tulsi's hand? If you don't have the text at hand I will spell it out for you. (For the readers:)



kanaka - golden; guṇitam - strings; uccaiḥ - great; mauktikaṁ - pearl; mat - my; karāt - from the hand; te - Your; tila-kusuma - sesame flower; vijetrī - defeating; nāsikā - nose; sā - that; suvṛttam - round; madhu-mathana - Kṛṣṇa, the churner of the honey; mahā - great; ali - bumblebee; kṣobhakaṁ - agitating; hemagauri - golden beauty; prakaṭatara - becomes manifest; maranda - honey; prāyam - like; ādāsyate - will take; kim - whether.

O Hema-Gauri (golden girl)! When will Your nose, that defeats the beauty of a sesame flower, take a great, round nosepearl, attached to a golden string, from my hand? The great bee Madhumathana (Kṛṣṇa) will be very agitated by the honey that appears thus!

Dear Adwaita,
In the verse from Vilāpa Kusumāñjali, the nose is the subject: te (=tava) nāsikā mauktikam ādasyate kim. But I probably do not understand your question. Why should the difference between the person and the nose matter?

Dear Kṛṣṇadās,
It makes a big difference in līlā smaraṇa. Plus, Ānanda Gopāl Goswāmī says Rādhā takes the pearl, but from the Sanskrit I surmised it was the nose. It's just a bit weird if the nose took it, but why not? It's all ecstatic poetry after all. So please, can you give your own full translation of the verse?

Dear Advaita,
Although the text says that the nose takes the pearl, on account of ajahal-lakṣaṇa (or ajahatsvartha-lakṣaṇa) it actually means that Rādhā takes the pearl. It is like when you say: kuntāḥ praviśanti ("The lances enter"). The lances themselves cannot enter. They are acetana, insentient. Therefore, we understand that the noun denotes men bearing lances. The secondary meaning includes the primary meaning as well. I hope this will help you understand the seeming contradiction.

In the ongoing debate on whether meeting or separation is the goal, I was not able until now to ascertain where my parivāra stands on this, but today I found Ānanda Gopāl Goswāmī saying in his purport of Vilāpa-kusumāñjali (60) that milane-ī sādhya, perfection lies in meeting.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Mālatī's harvest

These are some of Mālati's experiences during her first visit to Sādhu Bābā's āshram last February:

Rādhe Rādhe
Sādhu Bābā's Nectar
At your discretion you can add these to Śrī Bābā's bio. There are narrations here that are suitable only for the family as they are far-out!. I like Kumkum’s story very much, maybe you would like to share a few of these to your blog readers.

From Kumkum daThis is about the link between the disciple and the guru.
He was a very young man then. One of his duties in the ashram was to water the plants. Bābā told him to turn off the electric generator after watering the plants. (The water was coming from the tank which supply came from the ground electrically pumped in ). It was already dark when he finished watering. That time there was no wall separating Bhajan āshram and Bābā's āshram and the generator was actually in the land now a part of Bhajanāshram’s ground. Around the generator was a deep ditch, so he had to stretch his arm fully to reach the generator’s switch. When he did that he thought that he was sort of electrocuted. So he called out-loud “ Bābā, Bābā “ as a last ditch call for help. When he came back to consciousness he was lying on the ground. Stunned, he went back to his room in the ashram. When all this happened Bābā was in another temple giving a lecture. Later on, Bābā arrived and from the āshram gate Bābā loudly called out to him and said “what happened to you Kumkum? I was giving lecture and you disturbed me; my body shook when you called for me! Kumkum was shocked. Then Bābā told him that, that’s what guru-disciple link was all about. Kumkum gave prostrated obeisances to Śrī Bābā and knew that Bābā saved his life. That moment he realized that the link between the guru and disciple transcended the physical.

From a male devotee whose name I forgot. Maybe you know him. He’s in his 40s and wears glasses.

1. This happened when he was still very young, about 25 years ago. Sādhu Bābā asked him to accompany him to Kolkata. Though the train would depart at 11.45 , they were still in the ashram at around 12. Sri Bābā didn’nt seem to be bothered. So the devotee was wondering if they will make it. When they arrived at Navadwip station , the train was grounded and the mechanic was seemingly fixing something as the driver was revving up the engine. Still, the train wouldn't move. Then Bābā tapped the front of the carriage and said in his loud, husky voice “Go ! Off you go!”. And guess what , the train was fixed and off they went.

2. This one is far-out ! He was still a very young devotee then. The place where the āshram is now was once a forest. Bābā would from time to time play his sitar. In complete rapture, Bābā would sway his body and sitar, back and forth, while in complete rapturous emotion. Just then a big snake came up to him and kept steady for a while as if listening intently to Bābā's music. Then the snake copied Bābā's movement too. As if snakes are Bābā's friends.

3. This one is confidential.
It was Siva Ratri. This same devotee was with other devotees. Baba told them that they were going to the ganga to get some water to use for archana. When they were there, Sādhu Bābā told them that they can do puja now to Shiva. They didn’t understand what Sādhu Bābā meant because they were no Siva lingams there. Then they quickly “saw” Sādhu Bābā on a lotus position seemingly floating above the water. The devotee said to me that “there and then I realized who Sādhu Bābā was”.

From Nomita:
When the man that installed the water tank in the āshram suggested to Bābā that he should put his name on the water tank so people will notice the ashram from afar, Bābā cut him by saying, “why don’t you put your name there instead?”

Malati’s comment:
"Sādhu Bābā is not after fame. Even now His āshram doesn’t have a sign anywhere. Actually when I arrived at the ashram on a taxi at around 6 AM it was still very dark and the gate was closed so the driver and myself weren’t sure if we were at the right ashram because there were no signs or anything to indicate it was Nikunja Gopal Goswami’s ashram. We had to call out at the top of our voices if we were at the right place.

Bābā is after quality before quantity. Bābā is after sincerity than showing off. When a rich supporter gave him a wad of cash Bābā set it on fire. But when a very poor person gave him a coin he’d put it on his head and made a dancing motion. This was seconded by this boy from a very poor family, who translated for Nomita, who saw it happen when his parents gave Bābā a coin.

From Tulsi:
1 Bābā had mentioned a few times that after his passing He will be inside the Śiva lingam in the āshram. This lingam gets worship each time Madan Gopāl gets worshiped.

2 Once, a snake slithered to the direction of Sādhu Bābā's feet while giving a lecture and licked his toe. Everyone was afraid that the snake might bite Bābā and kill him. After doing that the snake glided away quietly. As if Bābā can communicate with snakes. Tulsi witness this when she was still very young, when the ashram was still like a forest. Bābā told them not to tell this to anyone because they will not believe these things.

3 Bābā had always said that his presence will always be felt in the ashram.

Jaya Śrī Radhe
Jaya Śrī Krishna
Malati dasi

New Sādhu Bābā material quoted in my blog on Shiva Rātri is already added to Sādhu Bābā's bio on and this has now been added too, to pages 17, 18, 26, 27, 30 and 45.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Exit Mādhava

I was informed some time ago that Madhāvananda Dās from Finland left Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism. (I waited with this blog until his own announcement would come) Sad as it is, his departure does not surprise me. I don’t want to use this blog to kick a man when he’s down, but our relationship was checkered to say the least. On the positive side Mādhava has been a great computer-help from the beginning till the end, and in the early days of our acquaintance he was great sat saṅga too. We had a few scuffles before, but the relationship was irrepairably distorted when Mādhava began to blindly and consistently side with Jagat in whatever apostasy or aparādha he had to present on "Gaudiya Discussions" from June 2004 onwards. Since then Mādhava could never really give up his deep friendship for Jagat, and that might have led to his demise. When put to the test Mādhava repeatedly failed in respect, honesty, humility, modesty and integrity. I hope he will come back, but my 30-year experience with seeing 90% of devotees leaving without ever returning makes me fear the worst.

Finally I want to say to those who support(ed) Mādhava: It is sad that after the 11-Guru debacle devotees have not learned anything. The 11 post-ACBS Iskcon Gurus were mistaken for pure devotees because of their charisma and material qualifications – history repeated itself with Jagāi and Mādhāi, who had the same ‘assets’. Real devotion is not shown through a mega-brain, eloquence, quoting lots of verses, sex appeal, fancy glittering uniforms, fancy titles or having many disciples. Mādhava wrote some excellent essays that can always be used for future preaching, so his legacy is safeguarded. I read his goodbye-letter on his blog, and saw confirmed that bhakti is anyway not really the path for him. I respect that and wish him the best in his onward journey.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Tattvavāda, misogyny and Bābā's āśram

Holi 9 march 2008

More trouble with Caitanya Caritāmṛta?
Jīva Goswāmī seems to ally himself with the Tattva-vādīs in the Sandarbhas, while in the Caitanya Caritāmṛta (Madhya) Mahāprabhu makes short work of them. Perhaps He only disagreed with parts of their philosophy?

Misogyny? What misogyny?
For the prāṇa-pratiṣṭhā of Mañjarī Dāsī’s Rādhe-Śyāma-deities 16 women and 4 men do hari-nāma on the Rādhākuṇḍa-parikramā-mārg. The kīrtan is entirely led and dominated by the women. Kṛṣṇamayi Didi plays a mean mṛdanga, and several women, mostly Indian, dance, in public and in Mañjarī’s room too. At Mañjarī’s place Kṛṣṇamayī Didi suggests that I translate into Bengali for the Bengali ladies, but I’m too shy. Kṛṣṇamayī: “Oh but I know that you are actually a little girl”. Giridhārī Dādā helps out: “Yes, but he’s a shy little girl.”

Before I joined this kīrtan I passed by a corona of Brijabāsī men, in the middle of which a young Brajabāsī girl was dancing, alone., in the middle of the bazaar. So it’s really not that bad with that Hindu misogyny, you know….

Kṛṣṇamayi Didi visited Sādhu Bābā’s āśram and was very impressed - she found it both peaceful and very powerful. I say: “If it’s powerful without the sādhu, imagine what it was like with the sādhu!”

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Shiva Rātri 2008

With a lot of Rādhākund-water and a tray with flowers, Bel-leaves, kumkum and sandal-fluid I do Shiva Puja to the lingam at the bank of the Kuṇḍa, below the subji bazar. It's too busy upstairs at Kundeśvar Mahādeva. Though I don't know how to do it I feel Bābā is pleased with it.

This year for Shivarātri some anecdotes about Sādhu Bābā, also known as Sachal Shiva, the mobile Shiva -
Kiśorī Dās, a disciple of Śrīla Ānanda Gopāl Gosvāmī, who was very fond of Bābā as the youngest son of his Guru, had gone to Navadvīp’s main market in the morning, where a person who was not dear to Bābā offered him a gift for Bābā. Afraid to offend Bābā, Kiśorī declined. Through his yogic powers, however, Bābā could understand what was happening while staying in his ashram (which is very far away from Navadvīp’s main market). When Kiśorī returned to the Ashram, Bābā asked him: “Why didn’t you accept that gift?” Kiśorī said: “What do you mean, Bābā?” Bābā: “This person wanted to give you a donation, why didn’t you accept it?” Kiśorī: “Bābā, how could you know that?” Bābā roared with laughter: “Hāhāhā – when you rise to this level you can see all kinds of things you cannot see down there!”

I found a verse in the Bhāgavat (10.61.21) that exactly illustrates this pastime -

anāgataṁ atītaṁ ca vartamānam atīndriyam
viprakṛṣṭam vyavahitaṁ samyak pasyanti yoginaḥ

"Yogis can see what has not yet happened, past, present, beyond the senses, remote or blocked by physical obstacles."


I found the answer to my own question about what Bābā said to intellectuals, in my memory. Once a PhD visited Bābā and asked him all kinds of intricate scriptural questions. Bābā replied with light jokes, but eventually got serious and kindly told him: "All this intellectual endeavour will not do the job. Only Guru kṛpā will make you see these things."


Sādhu Bābā's ashram excels in mauna (silence) and śānti (peace). There are no tapes constantly playing kīrtans or so. Bābā wanted mādhurya (sweetness) to prevail in his abode. And so it still does.


Once a young man wanted to join the āshram and openly said it would be a great place for him
to get free meals without having to work. Bābā turned him down.


From Mālatī's blog (Febr.28)
"Lord Chaitanya blessed Advaita acharya with a boon that whosoever on earth would be included in the divine family of Advaita through initiation would be given first preference, favour and grace of Mahaprabhu. This shows the earnest gratitude of Lord Chaitanya to Advaita.

It is said that Sādhu Bābā didn’t like putting a donation box in our ashram. It still doesn’t have one.

Being in the āshram was like feeling Sādhu Bābā's spirit. He had said many times that even after his passing he will always be with his disciples. And it was even kept more alive by narrations of my gurubhāis and vons—some of which were extremely above the metaphysical. I especially remember Tapan da’s narration about Śrī Bābā's merciful gesture. When Advaitadās of the Netherlands asked for initiation, Sādhu Bābā asked 8 of his disciples if he should do it. Everyone disagreed. Bābā shot back by saying, if he didn’t then Bhakti devi will be offended. In the same token my being accepted into his family is a special mercy considering the time that separates Bābā and myself. I now have a robust understanding of my Gurudev’s endearing personality, simplicity, and love for everyone. I hope to carry the memories of this trip in my heart forever."

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Some readings from Sārārtha Darśinī 10th Canto


by Viśvanātha Cakravartipāda, translated by Bhānu Swāmī

10.2.8 Here Viśvanātha gives an ādhyātmik, or symbolic, reading: The six sons of Devakī are the six sense-objects, killed as prema appears in the womb of devotion when material desires vanish.
10.8.45 As a lamp sits in one place in a dark room and lights up the whole room, so that statement in śāstra which can reveal or regulate their meaning is called paribhāṣa sūtra. This verse is that for Kṛṣṇa's bālya līlā.
10.9.18 The distance of two fingers was filled by the devotees' effort (bhakta niṣṭhā) and the Lord's mercy (sva-niṣṭhā).
10.14.24 The Guru is compared to the sun (gurvarka) that gives you good eyes (sucakṣusā) to see Kṛṣṇa.
10.14.30-31 Show very clearly (verse and ṭīkā) that Vraja's cows are in vātsalya-rasa, not in śānta rasa. "I am not qualified to pray for their vātsalya rasa", Viśvanātha prays. Also in his ṭīkā of 10.20.26, Viśvanātha says 'prītyā is motherly affection'. In his ṭīkā of 10.21.13 Viśvanātha reiterates the cows (not the calves) are in vātsalya rasa.
10.14.50 "For every created being the dearmost thing is surely his own self. The dearness of children, wealth etc. is only due to the dearness of the self."
10.15.9 Kṛṣṇa, to whom Rādhā (Śrīmat) shows Her love (prītaḥ), came to Mānasa Gaṅgā (manaḥ, adreḥ sarit) and began to enjoy (reme) with the sakhīs (su-anuga).
10.16.27 When Kṛṣṇa saw the gopīs He thought "We will meet together to dance like this some time in the future."
10.19.12 One gopa said: "Kṛṣṇa knows everything about the powers of gems and mantras to remove the effects of poison and fire. But it's not effective in the presence of others. That's why He wants us to close our eyes!"
There's a story that Kṛṣṇa was very thirsty at the time so the forest fire, afraid and unable to against Kṛṣṇa's will, turned into a very cool and tasty drink which He drank as a small drop.
10.20.36 "Sometimes the wise bestow knowledge, sometimes they do not." Viśvanātha: "Prahlād instructed the demons' kids, Nārada the hunter and Jaḍa Bharat Rahūgaṇa, but not others. It's just up to them."
10.21.10 The peacocks offering Kṛṣṇa their tail feathers in this ṭīkā has been quoted by Ānanda Gopāl Goswāmī in his lectures on Vilāpa Kusumāñjali 43.
10.24.35 Kṛṣṇa saying śailo'smi (I am the mountain) means 'I am the presiding master of this region'. Kṛṣṇa appeared like another mountain on top of Girrāj..
10.29.8 Why did the husbands let the gopīs go to Kṛṣṇa? Yogamāyā arranged for doubles for
them, that stayed home.
10.32.18 su-madhyamā means that this middle (madhyama) question of the gopīs is the best (su).
10.32.19 An 'alpa-druha' hates his benefactor for a reason, and a 'guru-druha' has no reason for it.
10.33.3 Viśvanātha tries to solve the aiśvarya of Kṛṣṇa having many forms in the Rāsa-dance by saying that He was actually one but moved quickly between the gopīs, but this too is supernatural and thus aiśvarya..The devatās in this verse were not qualified to see the gopīs - they only saw Kṛṣṇa dancing - but the devīs could see them, as in SB 10.33.18.
10.33.16 Kṛṣṇa counting the rhythm of the dance by tapping on the gopīs' breasts later inspired Śrīla Ānanda Gopāl Goswāmī to speak Vilāpa Kusumāñjali's verse 79's purport.
10.33.25 ava-ruddha-saurata means 'completely absorbed in amorous play'.
10.33.36 One needs to be pure-hearted for the Rāsa līlā to make you a pure devotee.
10.33.37 Even the gopīs' doubles, that stayed with their husbands during the Rāsa, were not enjoyed by them. (U.N.)
10.47.34 Kṛṣṇa tells the gopīs - "an object of attraction is far from the mind when it is close to the eyes and near the mind when it is far from the eyes. Of the two, the mind is more important. So remain close to My mind." It's what Sādhu Bābā also told me, about Vraja-vāsa.... āmāra hṛdoy- man
10.47.40 Gadāgraja is Kṛṣṇa, the elder brother of Gadā, son of Deva-rakṣitā, sister and co-wife of Devakī.
10.47.59 The adultress who leaves her husband for her lover is less sinful than she who carries on with both husband and lover - she has at least loyalty to one man.
10.47.67 Those with sakhya-, vātsalya- or mādhura-prema become indifferent to themselves as repositories of love of Kṛṣṇa, due to extreme hopelessness of separation. In great humility they take the mood of dāsya (Balaram/sakhyā in 10.13.37, mādhurya/Radha in 10.30.40 and vātsalya/Nanda in 10.47.67).
10.61.3 "The wonder why Kṛṣṇa could not be attracted to the Queens' glances, though He is subdued by His devotees' love is because they have two kinds of love for Him -kāma-maya and prema-maya. The former cannot captivate Kṛṣṇa, the latter can.
10.61.4  The Queens acted according to the Kāma Sūtra.
10.61.5  The Queens' prema-maya love did bind Kṛṣṇa in SB 1.11.35, 10.53.2 and 10.70.16.
10.61.35  The mañjarīs who ridiculed Kṛṣṇa as a simple foolish cowherd at the dice-game in Ānanda Gopāl Goswāmī's Vilāpa Kusumāñjali-comments may have learned that from this verse spoken by Rukmi.
10.65.17 Śrīdhar Swāmi says these gopīs were too young during Kṛṣṇa's Rāsa dance, they had
not participated. Jīva Goswāmī says during Holi (Śaṅkhacūḍa killing) Kṛṣṇa and Balarām enjoyed different gopīs.
10.78.36 Bṛhad Āraṇyaka Upaniṣad (6.4.8) confirms the 'so father so son' principle in this verse -aṅgāt aṅgāt sambhavasi hṛdayād abhijāyate ātma vai putra nāmāsi 'Your limbs are born from my limbs, you are born from my heart. You are named my son because you are me."
10.83.43 The 8 principal Queens like Rukmiṇī were fully satisfied in their relationship with Kṛṣṇa. This verse praising the gopīs was spoken by the 16,000 lesser Queens, who were later kidnapped by Arjuna and brought to Gokula, after the Mauṣala-līlā.
10.87.30 The word aparimita proves there is no end to the number of jīvas and thus also not to the material world.
Kṛṣṇa is called sudur-ārādhya in SB 10.88.11 - He is hard to worship and that shows in all the brief friendships I had as a devotee - nobody stays!

There are some serious mistakes made in my edition of the English Sārārtha Darśinī by the way - chapters 72,73.76 and 77 are double and 74 and 75 are missing! I saw other editions are all right, though. I won't review most of the main parts of the tenth canto - Veṇu Gīta, Rāsa-līlā, Yugal Gīta, Bhramar Gīta and Mahiṣī Gīta - here,they are way too elaborate, but it's a monumental work by Viśvanātha, for sure.