Follow by Email

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!”


  1. Maybe the lesson is we should all be carefull with absolutism and polarizing teachings. Problem is that in the beginning we are taught that this or that group (almost always our own),and the point of view it alligns itself with, holds the highest and final conclusion. This closedmindedness actually stops us from seeing the entire truth, what to speak of experiencing its beauty.
    What very commonly happens in religious debates is that we are prejudiced because prior to our prejudism we have generalized all aspects of a group, or all aspects of someones' personality, or teachings according to what we find most controversial.

    Something like... you're as good as your worst moment.
    In light to your post...........
    I think Chaitanya's life was short, full and fast. Many things happened in a short timeframe, socially, philosophically and emotionally. It must have been very hard for the writer of the Chaitanya Charitamrita to keep up. It takes the Goswamis to bring nuance to it all. And indeed they have gone a long way in explaining the philosophical and emotional implications of Mahaprabhu's life.

    You have pointed your finger now at what seems to be a contradiction. But we can also approach it as a nuance.

  2. I received this private reply from Krishnadas
    Dear Advaita,

    I am not sure what it means that Jiva Goswami follows Madhva or Tattvavada in the Sandarbhas. Jiva's philosophy is clearly distinct from that of Madhva. There are many differences (e.g. Madhva's negation of abheda, jivatva of Lakshmi). Jiva' paying respect to Madhva does not mean that he subscribed to the tenets of Madhva's philosophy. Madhva was a great acharya who did much for the establishment of the Bhakti-movement, and in this sense Jiva Goswami follows him. As a matter of fact, Jiva hardly quotes Madhva in the Sandarbhas.

    I personally would not see the words of Krishna dasa Kaviraja necessarily as an opinion of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. The incident with Tattvavadis in CC may be just a concoction. It is difficult for us today to understand why Krishna dasa Kaviraja wrote this story, what was the relationship between Gaudiyas and Madhvites like at Kaviraja's time. Vallabhas are similarly criticised in the Gaudiya literature. I think we should not take these things seriously. Madhvites, especially BNK Sharma, as far as I know, are particularly critical of the part of CC where Madhvites are defeated by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and their arguments seem quite reasonable to me. There are several other places in which our Gaudiya acharyas pass critical remarks about Tattvavadis. There is such a place in Chaitanya Chandrodaya, for example.