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Monday, April 21, 2008

Phone sanga - 14

Advaitadas: "Śaṅkarācārya is accepted by many as a closet Vaiṣṇava, though he was publicly the topmost jñānī. He ended his famous sermon 'Moha Mudgar' with the verse 'bhaja govindam bhaja govindam bhaja govindam nanu mūḍha mate."

Bhakta: "Some devotees say that that Govinda refers to his Guru, not to Kṛṣṇa."

Advaitadas: "No that cannot be. Just three verses earlier he prayed 'pāhi murāre', "Oh Murāri, save me!" - is his Guru then also named Murāri? This is from Sādhu Bābā's publication of Moha Mudgar. In another version there is even more bhakti: sakṛd api murāri samarcā "Worship Murāri at least once!" and dhyeyaṁ śrī-pati rūpam ajasram "Meditate on the abundant form of Viṣṇu" - Śaṅkarācārya was a closet Vaiṣṇava."

Bhakta: "Jaiva Dharma is interpreted sometimes to support and sometimes to reject fall-vāda."

Advaitadas: "I suppose it would depend on the translator. Speaking of translations, returning to the translation of Uddhava Gīta we discussed last time, slogans like "reviving your dormant love" are just added by the translators as an automatism, as a result of many years of being taught like that. Actually these ideas are not there at all in śāstra. 'Dormant love' in Sanskrit would be 'supta prema' - in 30 years of deep study I have never seen that anywhere in śāstra or in the ācāryas' writings, and 'back to godhead' would be 'bhagavataṁ pratyāgamana' which is also nowhere in śāstra. Similarly, the word udoy in the verse nitya siddha kṛṣṇa prem does not mean 'awakening' - it means 'arising'. Just like Māyāpur Candrodoy Mandir - the rising moon of Māyāpur. That is different from awakening, much less re-awakening. re means punaḥ in Sanskrit/Bengali, which is also nowhere in the verses which are supposed to indicate fall-vāda/dormant-vāda. Like the domino effect, dormant-vāda falls along like a domino with fall-vāda. Dormant-vāda and fall-vāda are twin brothers."

Bhakta: "Bhaktisiddhānta says Jesus and Muhammad are śakty āveśa avatāras."

Advaitadas: "With due respect, the śakty āveśa avatāras are mentioned in the first canto of the Bhāgavat and the Laghu Bhāgavatāmṛta and Jesus and Muhammad are not mentioned there."

Bhakta: "They could have been closet-Vaiṣṇavas?"

Advaitadas: "Personally I do not believe that preachers keep a substantial amount of knowledge hidden from their audience, and I absolutely disbelieve that they had any knowledge of Viṣṇu or Kṛṣṇa."

Bhakta: "Yes, but avatāras are described to be like waves in the ocean in the first canto. Only the most prominent ones are described."

Advaitadas: "There are 2 billion Christians and 1 billion Muslims. I dont think that is small-time."

Bhakta: "kṛṣṇa śakti vinā ihār nahe pravartana" - Without Kṛṣṇa's power you can not promulgate this."

Advaitadas: "That is certainly true. But that often applies to quantity, not to contents."

Bhakta: "During japa one needs to keep the back straight. In the long term that will be uncomfortable."

Advaitadas: "Comfort during meditation is imperative. If you feel uncomfortable you will fix your mind on your suffering and not on Kṛṣṇa. One can keep the back straight while leaning against the wall, too. The knees need to be folded in padmāsana, unless one has a handicap. The heels can dig into a soft mattress or pillow, that is all right. One should also have slept enough, otherwise one will struggle for hours against sleep, as in organizations that force their members to rise before they have had enough sleep. It is a long struggle that destroys the meditation. na cāti svapna-śilasya jāgrato naiva ca "You can not practise yoga if you sleep too much or too little" (Gita - 6.16) Indians are used to sit on the floor, they have a certain callosity on the ankles that we don't have, so for westerners it is better to sit on a soft thick cushion. Japa takes time to master - abhyāsena ca kaunteya vairāgyena ca gṛhyate (Gītā 6.35) "

Bhakta: (Returning to the question whether the body attained in the prakat līlā after attaining prem is material or spiritual).

Advaitadas: "You see, this is a bhāva deha, a body made of spiritual emotions. This is when you have become your body, not like now when you are not this body. These feelings from prema to mahā-bhāva cannot be housed by a material body. We discussed that in the previous phone saṅga. To my knowledge this is a medium stage bhāva deha and when you finally arrive in Goloka you have a mahā-bhāva deha. At least that is what makes sense to me."

Bhakta: "When you die you become a ghost, but others say you first go to Yamarāja for trial."

Advaitadas: "There is no contradiction. Chota Haridās was presumed to have become a ghost too, so that is general knowledge. The trial by Yamarāja may take just a flash-moment, especially since time in hell goes much slower than on earth. When you open an e-mail attachment it is being scanned for viruses in a fraction of a second, so the trial by Yamarāja may quickly precede the ghost 'incarnation'. It is said that punishment in hell is suffered in a subtle body (yātanā śarīra), that may be similar to a ghost body, so the shift from hell to a ghost body should be easy enough. In general I want to say that I believe hell-threats in śāstra are greatly exaggerated. There are also threats of eternal damnation there, though that is contrary to justice, common sense and Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava siddhānta, because there is eventually an end to bad karma. Hyperboles are being used to scare the general public into submission. Many threats are there of going to hell as long as the sun and moon are in the sky, often for minor offences, and then reckoning the fact that time goes much slower in hell than on earth - go figure. They have to be taken with a pinch - er, a spoon of salt."

Bhakta: "It could be literal, but the punishment would be neutralized by the reactions to good activities performed by the same person."

Advaitadas: "I don't think so. There are many people who are really very very bad, with little to make up for their punishment. Besides, there is no evidence for this idea in śāstra."

Bhakta: "In Kṛṣṇa Bhāvanāmṛta (17.14) Yaśodā is called a bluish doll."

Advaitadas: "The pictures of mother Yaśodā are wrong. In Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa Gaṇoddeśa Dīpikā (1.28) Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī describes her as śyāmala-dyuti, having Kṛṣṇa's Śyāma-complexion. Most, if not all pictures show her with a golden complexion. That is wrong."

Bhakta: In Kṛṣṇa Bhāvanāmṛta 17.24 the word ākhyāna (name) should be added to the five sense objects related to the cakes."

Advaitadas: "Indeed. the correct translation should be: “Their five senses (noses, tongues, skins, ears and eyes) merged into the ocean of the nectarean fragrance, softness, taste, names and forms of these cakes.” ākhyānaḥ sīdhukeli prabhṛti saṁjña “(The joy of) hearing the word ‘sīdhu-keli’. (Added to the Kṛṣṇa-bhāvanāmṛta correction sheet on - "Literature")

Bhakta: "How is Kṛṣṇa's hair bound to the sides of His head in Kṛṣṇa Bhāvanāmṛta 17.22?"

Advaitadas: "The Bengali translation says in jaṭās, matted locks. That is a bit strange, especially for a temporary arrangement."

Bhakta: In Kṛṣṇa Bhāvanāmṛta 16.24 it says "Kṛṣṇa passes through Barsānā or Yāvat, according to the season..."

Advaitadas: "Married girls in India spend a lot of time with their parents too, they can stay there for weeks on end, in certain times of the year. So Rādhikā sometimes lives in Barsānā and Kṛṣṇa adjusts His route back to Nandagrām accordingly. See also Vilāpa Kusumāñjali 88."


  1. I really appreciate the sharing of this phone conversation [the others are interesting also].

    I have not studied Sanskrit fornally, more like a hobby, but after decades of singing bhajans, reading Vaisnava lit, and hearing lectures by Indian nationals who are practicing the tradition, you pick up a few words and phrases.

    So after a while, I did begin to notice exactly what you are saying here: about the translations. That is a very cogent and lucid point.

    That's one reason why it's nice to read this blog: for an alternative point of view that "makes sense".

    I could never understand why more people did not question these translations once they got to a certain level of expertise with the Sanskrit language, which seems to happen naturally as a result of constant and continual immersion and exposure to the language.

    I like your explanation also, it is a type of stylistic convention.
    Makes alot of sense. Nice of you to share. Thanks!

  2. Bhakta: "It could be literal, but the punishment would be neutralized by the reactions to good activities performed by the same person."

    I just found 3 verses in Srimad Bhagavata (6.3.5-7) in which the Yamadutas themselves exclude the possibility of there being more than one judge, as it would lead to chaos - yadi syur bahavo loke sastaro danda dharinah kasya syatam na va kasya mRtyuscAmRtam eva vA (5) : "Who would get death (hell) and who would get amRta (immortality or heaven)?" etc.

  3. "Shankacarya is accepted by many as a closet Vaishnava, though he was publicly the topmost jnani."

    I cannot help but respond to this, but who are these many who accept the Bhagavatpada as a Vaishnava?

    And please don't say Nitai das.,


  4. Haha well I dont know what Nitai Das has to say nowadays, I did not know his opinion about Shankaracarya. The first I heard about his being a Vaishnava was Kripalu (also controversial, but controversial persons are not necessarily always wrong). Sadhu Baba, aha, I missed so many of his sermons, he must have said so too but I have no proof of it. He did include the entire Moha Mudgar in his Arcana Paddhati, despite the fact that this Paddhati was to be Sanksipta, or concise, that says something about the weight he gave to it. My topmost Gurubhai Niranjan Prasad Das said: "He (Shankar) was the param jnani, yet he worshipped Govinda." If I look at the extended version of the Moha Mudgar (Sadhu Baba quoted only the brief version) and the lines I quoted from that, I think there is little doubt about it.

  5. It is very common for Advaitavadins to worship Sri Krishna as their Ista-devata, however this does not mean they are Vaishnavas. They see Sri Krishna, Ram, Durga, Shiva etc. as manifestations of Brahman.



  6. Yes, that is pancopasana, including Suryadeva. Fact remains that of all the Hindu Deities only Vishnu (Murari, Sripati and Govinda) have been mentioned in the Moha Mudgara, so the claim he was a Vaishnava still stands, it seems....

  7. Advaitaji, saying that Adi-Shankara was a Vaishnava is a stretch in my opinion, his commentaries on the major Upanishads and Brahma Sutras do not concur with that conclusion what so ever, also just look at his commentary on Bhagavad Gita, it certainly is not indicative of a Vaishnava commentary at all.

    Saying the Bhagavadpada was a Vaishnava is like saying the Buddha was an incarnation of Vishnu, both are very weak proposals and only have backing from certain Vaishnava groups.



  8. I didnt claim Shankar was another Rupa Gosvami or so, I said 'closet' Vaishnava. The remarks he made in Moha Mudgar are unmistakable and undeniable. Niranjan Babu has said it best by defining him as 'The greatest jnani, but he worshipped Govinda.'

  9. More about the neutralization of good against bad karma comes from Srimad Bhagavata 10.64.22-23, wherein King Nriga narrates how Yamaraja gave him the choice to either first suffer the bad karma or first enjoy the good karma - pUrvaM tvam asubhaM bhunkSve utAho nRpate subham