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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Phone Sanga (11.2)

(Continued from yesterday)
Bhakta: “In Kṛṣṇa Bhāvanāmṛta (ch.10) it is said that Rādhārāṇī sits on a deerskin.”

Advaitadas: “Yes, not only there but also in chapter 3 is mentioning of a deerskin rug in Her dressing room. (Laughs) Don’t worry, this is a beginningless deerskin – never was any deer slaughtered for it!”

Bhakta: “Should we look at pictures of Kṛṣṇa while chanting?”

Advaitadas: “The best pictures of Kṛṣṇa are the descriptions in the śāstra. This is called Vāṇī Citra – pictures made of words, drawn by the nitya siddha ācāryas. Most paintings and drawings of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, on the other hand, are deeply inadequate.”

Bhakta: “In aṣṭakāla lila it is said that Rādhā admired the beauty of the flowers, trees, deer etc. That means She looked away from Kṛṣṇa, who is supposed to be most attractive.”

Advaitadas: “No that is a misunderstanding. In Govinda Līlāmṛta, chapters 5, 6 and 8, it is described how Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa recognise Each other in these sylvan features. That is the meaning of the name Kṛṣṇamayi – She sees Kṛṣṇa everywhere. For Her to forget Kṛṣṇa is utterly impossible, and vice versa.”

Bhakta: “Nāndīmukhi and Vṛndā never have conjugal union with Kṛṣṇa? Are they in the category of Mañjarīs?”

Advaitadas: “No. Its not that every lady who does not make love with Kṛṣṇa is automatically a mañjarī. They are sahacarīs, or assistants, and though they do not participate, they also feel fulfilled when they witness such pastimes. Add also Kundalatā and Dhaniṣṭhā to that list.”

Bhakta: “But Kundalatā sometimes stands accused by Rādhikā of being united with Kṛṣṇa.”

Advaitadas: “Yes but that is not real. Slander is also part of the game the gopīs play with each other.”

Bhakta: “Then it is described there are female statues in Nanda’s house. I thought everything should be very chaste. It doesn’t seem fit.”

Advaitadas: “Nandagrām isn't a Brahmacārī āśram you know. It is an abode of householders.”

Bhakta: “Then it is said (in Govinda Līlāmṛta chapter 22) that the Rāsa-circle is like a potter’s wheel on a stake.”

Advaitadas: “We discussed last summer that the ācāryas chose to put a lot of opulence into Vraja’s scenery to somehow attract people. For me the Rāsa-līlā-ground consists of Vraja’s sweet soil, covered with grass, lotus flowers and jasmines only.”

Bhakta: “Kṛṣṇa calls Rādhā ‘My wife’.

Advaitadas: “It is a matter of feeling. In fact Rādhā is Kṛṣṇa's wife, but for the sake of creating higher excitement and sweetness They are separated by Rādhikā’s supposed marriage and Her husband etc. - tābhir ya eva nija rūpatayā kalābhiḥ (BS 5.37).”

Bhakta: “In one movie I even saw married men and women wearing saffron. Maybe they are vanaprasthas?”

Advaitadas: “The Bhāgavata (7.11-13) prescribes deerskin for the vanaprastha and brahmacārī and just a kaupin for the sannyāsī. Saffron is actually mentioned once in the Bhāgavata only, when Indra was condemned for disguising himself in it. Saffron was introduced by Śaṅkarācārya and is forbidden for any Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava, regardless of āśram. You see, nowadays if you see men and women wearing saffron they are usually Bāuls or Sahajīyas. They have sex, smoke ganja etc.”

Bhakta: “Why Rādhā sometimes wants Her sakhīs to unite with Kṛṣṇa?”

Advaitadas: “She loves Kṛṣṇa and She also loves Her sakhīs, so She wants them to be happy too.”

Bhakta: “If Rādhārāṇī is the greatest, what is the need of the sakhīs?”

Advaitadas: “sakhī vinā ei līlār puṣṭi nāhi hoy” (CC) Without the sakhīs there is no nourishment of these pastimes.” You cant have fun with just one person. For a party or an utsava you need more participants, at least 15 or 20, to make it fun. It takes a crowd to have a party. Another thing is this – the sakhīs each have a certain feature of Rādhārāṇī in them. Only She is the aggregate of all feminine qualities. The sakhīs also each have a particular skill, so for these reasons Kṛṣṇa will want to enjoy their company separately, too. The most intimate literature, like Vilāpa-kusumāñjali and Saṅkalpa Kalpadruma, do zero in on just Rādhā, Kṛṣṇa, and you (sādhaka mañjarī) though. There are different layers of focus. Whatever the sakhīs do with Kṛṣṇa, let them do. It is elaborately described in Ujjvala Nīlamaṇi but that is not essential for those who focus on mañjarī-service.”

Bhakta: “There are many descriptions that the sakhīs fan Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa or are otherwise present in intimate situations, yet it is said that Rādhārāṇī is embarrassed when they are around (Vilāpa Kusumāñjali 92) “

Advaitadas: “Yes, that is what I tried to say with ‘let them do’. That embarrassment is there in the minds of the mañjari bhāva upāsakas and is a subjective statement of superiority of mañjari bhāva. It is not a universal or objective statement.”

Bhakta: “Then it is said (about Kṛṣṇa's evening pastimes in Govinda Līlāmṛta 21.9): “On Nanda Maharāja's order some constables, that wielded rods, pacified the crowd and asked everyone to sit down on their own places.”

Advaitadas: “Yes well all this is necessary to protect Kṛṣṇa from His loving ecstatic devotees, you know. In a rock concert also the fans will surge onto the stage because they love the band. What can the band do for their own protection against their love than to send a bunch of bouncers out?”

Bhakta: “It is said the abode of Kṛṣṇa is self manifest. What does that mean?”

Advaitadas: “It means it is beginningless. Plus, it is never dependent on an external creator or source. It is independently existing, for ever. Eternal sandhinī śakti.”

Bhakta: “In Vṛndāvana Mahimāmṛta (2.58) it is said the mañjarīs’ breasts and hips are raised. But how can that be if they are just ‘in the bud’?”

Advaitadas: “It is not all the same you know. Some 12-13-year old girls are quite busty, while some are still just like children. Mādhurya requires everything to be human, so they should not be too busty at that age….”

Bhakta: “The sakhīs are expert in medicinal herbs. Does that mean they get sick in the spiritual world?”

Advaitadas: “There is no description of Kṛṣṇa getting sick any time, because it would thwart His eternal enjoyment, but just to be sure and to maintain the human conception, some Vrajavāsīs do study medicine. In our country we have an army that has not been used for 68 years, but just in case there would ever be war, we maintained it all this time. If Kṛṣṇa would get sick He would miss out on His saṅga with the gopīs, so He takes really good care of His health.”

Bhakta: “What about the description of Kṛṣṇa getting sick and asking for the foot-dust of the gopīs?”

Advaitadas: “That story is nowhere in śāstra. It is very popular in devotional lectures in India but has no sound śāstrik basis. It is just a glorification of the gopīs.”

Bhakta: “Citrā is expert in making arrows. Are they being used? ”

Advaitadas: “That is not the point. No boy likes a stupid girl. Kṛṣṇa is not an animal, He wants to enjoy with intelligent, skilled girls, so the gopīs learn these things also to attract Kṛṣṇa with their attributes.”

Bhakta: “Do flower garlands decay in the spiritual world?”

Advaitadas: “Not as a philosophical principle, since everything is eternal there, but perhaps in some lilas it may be necessary sometimes. Devotional service is unlimited. The sakhīs may want to tease Kṛṣṇa with a rotten garland, f.i.”

Bhakta: “Is the soul in the paramāṇu (atom) or vice versa?”

Advaitadas: “It has nothing to do with each other. The atom is just a material element, it has nothing to do with spirit. About the soul being 10,000th part of the tip of a hair, even this is a metaphor and not really literal. The soul is spiritual and therefore by definition has no material size. However small the atom is, it can still not be compared to the soul. aṇḍāntara-stha paramāṇu-cayāntara-stha (Brahmā Saṁhitā) “Kṛṣṇa encompasses the entire universe and yet also enters into each atom. In other words, He is bigger than the biggest and smaller than the smallest.”

Bhaktas: “Is the soul of the mahātma still present in his Samādhi? You can beg there and get mercy.”

Advaitadas: “The mahātma is present in the heart of his bhakta and grants mercy to him when he prays for mercy at his Samādhi, but the Samādhi itself is just a stone monument. A sacred monument of course, because of its purpose and symbolism.”

Bhakta: “The same goes for a statue of the Guru?”

Advaitadas: “Yes. Just as with deities, the Lord or the Guru is present according to the amount of the devotees’ devotion and awareness of Him in it. If you hit your head hard against the statue you will get a concussion. It has its material side.”

Bhakta: “But with Kṛṣṇa s deity it is different – came off the altar, started dancing in the kīrtan etc. It doesn’t happen with sādhu statues.”

Advaitadas: “Sādhu-statues are not so often made as Kṛṣṇa-deities. Stories like Sākṣī Gopāl walking after the Brahmin boy, matter turning into spirit, are extraordinary and are only possible where there is pure devotion. But that is very rare, you know. Ultimately it is impossible to create an image of the Lord because He is so beautiful it can simply not be conceived by any artist.” (I think self-manifest deities like Rādhā-raman and Banke Bihārī are exceptions)

Bhakta: “So there are no examples of statues of saints coming alive?”

Advaitadas: “We have a statue of our Guru also in his Samādhi, but otherwise generally it is not a custom in the Gauḍīya Sampradāya to make statues of saints so there are no examples of this.”

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