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Monday, April 07, 2008

Establishing Nitya Līlā (Phone sanga 12)

Bhakta: "In a Brahma Samhita purport (5.37) by Bhaktivinode, ascribed to Bhaktisiddhanta, it is said there are no Abhimanyu and Jatila in the spiritual sky."

Advaitadas: "Later on in that purport they do acknowledge that parakiya bhava is there in Goloka too (para-dāra-bhāvaṭī yogamāyā-kṛta sutarāṁ kona śuddha tattva mūlaka) They also say that denying parakīya bhāva in Goloka would be 'tantamount to sacrilege' ('tāhā goloke nāi - ei kothā bolile goloka-ke tuccha korite hoy'). So that is clear. In aṣṭakāliya līlā Abhimanyu doesn't say a peep. He may be mentioned here and there but practically he doesn't appear. Kaṁsa is also mentioned in the Govinda Līlāmṛta but he would never really appear in the middle of the līlā, it is totally unbecoming. He is mentioned there to deceive Candravali's sakhīs and push the līlā forward. All these characters are bogeymen to keep the participants alert and to increase the excitement. It is all a question of feeling, not of substance. In Kṛṣṇa Bhāvanāmṛta it is described how Jaṭilā invites Rādhā for dinner and so. She really does exist, but plays only a minor role."

Bhakta: "In Bhakti Sandarbha the demons in the spiritual sky are compared to puppets (yantra-maya tat pratima)."

Advaitadas: "Yes but you cannot compare Jaṭilā, Kuṭilā and Abhimanyu with the demons. They are citizens in good standing. Kṛṣṇa does not have a license to kill them, like the demons, who are a threat to the entire community of Vraja. In the evening Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa are separated for 7 hours, then there is some scope for Jaṭilā, Abhimanyu etc. to appear. Abhimanyu may talk to Rādhā then, about his business and so, but intercourse is out of the question - na jātu vrajadevīnāṁ patibhiḥ saha saṅgamaḥ (U.N.). Kṛṣṇa's enjoyment is never really disturbed. Stories like those in Camatkāra Candrikā, in which Kṛṣṇa may be separated for days from Rādhā, are not reality. It is just good clean fun in which Kṛṣṇa shows His cleverness, but this is not digest for serious practitioners of the aṣṭakāliya līlā.. Such long separation is absolutely not realistic. Also Abhimanyu ever catching Them red-handed is out of the question, though it may be mentioned in various dramas by the ācāryas. If he really found it out you kill the nitya līlā -  the story would be finished. There are suspicions of course, that nourishes the excitement of the līlā."

Bhakta: "It is said that Bhaktisiddhānta offered Bhaktivinode to translate or publish Govinda Līlāmṛta and Bhaktivinode said: "Allright, take a copy and give one to me too, but leave it at that." In other words, nobody is qualified."

Advaitadas: "Yes unfortunately it does look like that. Very few people are really interested in the book and if they are, its often intellectual curiosity or sentimentality which is not followed up by any serious practise of  aṣṭakāliya līlā smaraṇa.

Bhakta: "Candrāvalī is mentioned too...."

Advaitadas: "Same thing as with Kaṁsa, Jaṭilā and Abhimanyu - she is mentioned, but does not play any significant role in  aṣṭakāliya līlā. Rather, Kṛṣṇa double-crosses her sakhīs and they vanish from the scene, being deceived. Ujjvala Nīlamaṇi is full of Candrāvalī and her sakhīs, but their role is diminished in  aṣṭakāliya līlā. You have only one mind and you can only meditate on so many things, and the essence of Kṛṣṇa's activities is not killing demons or meeting Candrāvalī. In Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta it is elaborately described how Kṛṣṇa plays in the water of Govinda Kund with His pals, but in Govinda Līlāmṛta that is reduced to one or two verses, whereas His water sports with the gopīs later occupies almost an entire chapter!"

Bhakta: "He can kill demons in an expansion."

Advaitadas: "No, even in His original form. It is you who is in the center of this meditation and you decide to follow the format of  aṣṭakāliya līlā. Whatever else Jīva Gosvāmī and Sanātan Gosvāmī have described in their books, that was their duty because all of this IS a part of Kṛṣṇa-līlā. All that matters to you is your role in  aṣṭakāliya līlā and sevā, as the Guru has ascribed it to you. Even Ujjvala Nīlamaṇi hardly touches upon mañjarī bhāva, though it is written by none other than Rūpa Gosvāmī, it is not one of our main scriptures."

Bhakta: "So there are different realities, with each their own area."

Advaitadas: "That's exactly right. It is our focus that counts and Kṛṣṇa just responds - ye yathā māṁ prapadyante taṁs tathaiva bhajāmyaham (B.Gītā 4.11)

Bhakta: "Sometimes we see different personalities in Gaura līlā become one person in Kṛṣṇa-līlā."

Advaitadas: "In my opinion they may not always really BE that person but their situation is sometimes similar to one in a previous līlā. F.i. Bhavānanda Rāy is compared with Pāṇḍu because he had five sons, just like Pāṇḍu, and Haridās Thākur is compared to Prahlāda because of suffering similar persecution. After all, Haridās Thākur is also celebrated as Brahmā. Some say that all Gaur Pārṣadas, including Haridās Thākur, have a mañjarī svarūpa, but there is no evidence for that in śāstra, nor does it seem likely because Haridās Thākur is so clearly into regular dāsya bhāva."

Bhakta: "It is described that the trees in Vraja have hundreds of kinds of fruits. Is this aiśvarya?"

Advaitadas: "No not per se, but if billions of fruits are said to hang from one tree it is. These books are a whole patchwork of aiśvarya and mādhurya and you need to become sensitive enough to pick out the pure mādhurya and leave the rest. I need to add something to what I said about all the aiśvarya descriptions in the past (that it serves to attract people) - it also serves to underline the transcendental nature of these pastimes. Caitanya Caritāmṛta says: citta dṛḍha kori lāge mahimā jñāna hoite "One's heart becomes fixed in faith when one is aware of God's greatness", rasa (spiritual flavour) is built on the foundation of tattva (spiritual truth). When that foundation is not there (when one disregards or does not know spiritual truth) the rasa may seem to be mundane. If you are advanced and fully fixed in awareness of Kṛṣṇa's godhood you can just focus on the pure mādhurya and disregard the opulence."

Bhakta: "About tilak - the two lines is a lotus-foot of Kṛṣṇa and underneath there is a lotus leaf. What is the traditional understanding?"

Advaitadas: "What you call lotus leaf is called Tilak svarūpa. There are different scriptural explanations of this. What is on the forehead is called the stem and the svarūpa is on the nose. There are many different svarūpas. Some stems are tapering, like ours. It is easier to do that by dipping a stick into the Tilak and stamping it on the two locations on the forehead. śāstras say different things, like the middle of the stem is Viṣṇu and the sides are Brahmā and Śiva, or the three spaces represent A, U and M. As for the svarūpa, there are the ancient lineages descending from Mahāprabhu's associates, particularly Nityānanda and Advaita. Advaita's tilak svarūpa is of a Banyan leaf, heart-shaped. Nityānanda's lineage have a Neem-leaf svarūpa on the nose, which is thin and tapering. Most traditional Vaiṣṇavas are in that lineage and wear that tilak. I see the stems and leaves as expansions of the trunks and branches of the Caitanya tree, which is described at length in the Ādi līlā of Caitanya Caritāmṛta. The strongest branches are those of Advaita and Nityānanda. There is also the lineage of Gadādhara Paṇḍit and Śyāmānanda's tilak-story is very well known too. The stem sometimes continues down to the nose, as in the case of Narottam and Śyāmānanda's tilak.  Then there may be no leaf or svarūpa on the nose."

Bhakta: "About Ekādaśa bhāva or siddha praṇālī - is it necessary to take that initiation? Because you said you can meditate on any service or you don't only meditate on your own service."

Advaitadas: "First of all I stressed the Guru-given service above all, I only said that other services can be done according to necessity. Secondly, Vaiṣṇava principle has it that one cannot approach Kṛṣṇa directly. Kṛṣṇa will not accept direct service rendered to Him, only service rendered via the Guru. This makes siddha praṇālī imperative from the devotional viewpoint. An important verse in this connection is :

nikuñja yūnoḥ rati keli siddhyai yā yālibhir yuktir apekṣaṇīya
tatrāti dakṣāt ati ballabhasya vande guroḥ śrī caraṇāravindam

"The Guru is expert in assisting the Gopīs in establishing the perfection of the amorous pastimes of the Nikuñja Yūnu (Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa)." (Gurvaṣṭakam - 6)

It is all done in allegiance, not independently. That Gurvaṣṭakam ends with

yasya prasādād bhagavat prasādo yasyāprasādān na gati kuto'pi

"By the Guru's grace one attains the Grace of the Lord and without the Guru's grace you're not going anywhere." The author, Viśvanāth Cakravartī, was a very great rasika ācārya. At any rate, it is not that the Guru will be holding your hand and guiding your meditation - you have to do it yourself, the Guru can only hand you the tools (the specifics of the siddha deha). If you approach Kṛṣṇa directly He will simply not accept you. I am not saying that every new bhakta should immediately get this Ekādaśa bhāva. In some places this is happening -some devotees get it without even knowing what it is - I disagree with that. The Guru must be able to see when the disciple is ready to practise this by showing eagerness and proper understanding of the process. The Guru is not responsible for the disciple's failure - it is all up to the disciple's strength and sincerity. For most devotees this is a very long and drawn-out process - it is a very high thing. Sādhu Bābā gave it to perhaps just 3% of his disciples. It should not be a subject of temporary curiosity, the project must be finished to the end. Because Kṛṣṇa is subdued by the love of His devotee (ahaṁ bhaktāparādhīno) we must have the faith that the Guru's revelation of siddha svarūpa is the one that waits for us in the spiritual sky. Ramkrishna Paramahamsa once told the story of the man who walked over water, holding a folded leaf in his hands, having full faith that the contents of the leaf could carry him over the water. When he was in the middle of the lake he wondered what was on the leaf, so he opened it, only to find the syllables RĀ-MA on it. When he wondered if that was all that carried him across the water he sank like a rock."

Bhakta: "We see disciples of Gurus that have expired or that have fallen down just acting independently because the Guru-authority is gone. They don't take śikṣā anywhere."

Advaitadas: "Yes, while they often really do not understand the philosophy and are really not perfected in surrender yet. It is their own problem. You see, you can cheat other devotees and you can even cheat yourself but you cannot cheat Kṛṣṇa. One needs to serve the Guru until and even after the perfection of surrender is achieved. It never ends."

Bhakta: "Often in Kṛṣṇa līlā Kṛṣṇa really seems to lose it, He doesn't know what is going on. How can He be God if He is not aware of everything? How can He be the complete controller then?"

Advaitadas: "The answer is there in Rāga Vartma Candrikā (2.1). He really does not know it. His enjoyment has to be complete, otherwise He would fail to be God in that respect. The solution is given by Bilvamangal, who called Kṛṣṇa both mugdha (fully enchanted through His enjoyment) and sarvajña (fully omniscient in order to control the creation) “sarvajñatve ca maugdhe ca sārvabhaumam idam maha". Also the Śrutis say:

na tasya kāryam kāraṇam ca vidyate
na tat-samaś cābhyadhikaś ca dṛśyate
parasya śaktir vividhaiva śruyate
svābhāvikī jñāna-bala-kriyā ca

He hasn't got to do anything because He has got so many energies. svābhāvikī jñāna-bala-kriyā ca. Everything is being done by His energy very perfectly. Limited controllers, like the US President, even can enjoy themselves temporarily while their agencies, the CIA, FBI and USAF maintain control, but in God's case both control and enjoyment are comprehensive."

Bhakta: "It is said that Kṛṣṇa has unlimited cows and yet He is counting them on a japa mālā."

Advaitadas: "Those are just His favorite cows, the group-heads, Dhavali-Śabali. They will gather the cows in their own groups for Kṛṣṇa."

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