Follow by Email

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Balarām Bhakti (2), Astrology, the Rāsa līlā’s aiśvarya and Kaustubha.

Bhakta: “In some places (in the west) an Ekadaśī-feast is taken on Balarāma’s birthday.”

Advaitadas: “Actually Balrāmji is not at all a Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava upāsya (worshipable deity). This vrata or utsava for Balarāmji’s birthday is not observed by any Vaiṣṇava group I know of (apart perhaps from villagers in Dauji village or the bhaktas of Gaura Dauji in Vṛndāvana, neither of whom are Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas), nor is it mentioned in any śāstra like Haribhakti Vilāsa or Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu. As I said in my blog of August 7, we are devotees of Kṛṣṇa, not of Balarāma. No fast is required or prescribed for it.”

Bhakta: ”But Nṛsiṁhānanda Brahmacārī worshipped Nṛsiṁha and Murāri Gupta worshipped Rāma.”

Advaitadas: “Yes but these are exceptions, not the rule. It is not that the entire community is to be forced by its leaders to worhip Nṛsiṁha, Rāma or Balarāma. The rules are clearly and elaborately laid out in the Gosvāmīs' books. Instead the Śrāvaṇa Pūrṇimā is famous for its celebration of Raksa Bandhan, which is not some mundane Hindu-bindu festival, since it is celebrated by Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa in Vilāpa Kusumāñjali (88), and of course Jhulan Purṇimā.”

Bhakta: “Then it is said that Kṛṣṇa-Balarāma perform pastimes in Raman Reti in Vṛndāvana.”

Advaitadas: “I have never read that in any of the Gosvāmīs books. Kṛṣṇa-Balarāma go with the cows from Nandagrām (58 km from Vṛndāvana) in the morning to tend Their cows in Govardhana (30 km from Vṛndāvana) and then return to Nandagrām again in the afternoon. That is the pattern of Their eternal pastimes in the Gosvāmīs’ books. Kṛṣṇa Himself comes to Vṛndāvana, without Balarāma, only at night to dance the Rāsa.”

Bhakta: “Can astrology tell us something about our spiritual lives?”

Advaitadas: “The Gosvāmīs have not mentioned astrology anywhere in their books, so it seems that the stars have no influence on those whose lives are surrendered to the Lord, the Controller and the Creator of the stars…”

Bhakta: “In the Rāsa līlā in the Bhāgavata, the gopīs often address Kṛṣṇa as the All-powerful one, the all-pervading one, the Lord of Lakṣmī etc. That is heavy aiśvarya.”

Advaitadas: “There are two answers to this – the first is that Śukadeva showed the mādhurya in different places in the Bhāgavata –

mādhurya bhagavattā sāra,        braje koilo paracāra,
tāhe śuka vyāsera nandan,
sthāne sthāne bhāgavate,          varṇiyāche nānā mate (CC)

“Sweetness is the essence of Godhead, and Śuka, the son of Vyāsa, has revealed this at different places in the Bhāgavat, in different ways.” In different places, but not everywhere. The tenth canto is a patchwork of mādhurya and aiśvarya, even the Rāsa-līlā narrations. In the Gopī Gīta (SB 10.31), the gopīs first call Kṛṣṇa the Supersoul (akhila dehinām antarātma dhṛk, verse 4) and later on (verse 16) they call Him a cheat for leaving innocent girls in the dead of night (kitava yoṣita kas tyajen niśi).

The second answer is that expert rasik ācāryas, particularly Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda, have given rasika explanations to all these supposedly aiśvarya-names and attributes of Kṛṣṇa in their commentaries. Many of these reverend addresses of Kṛṣṇa are explained to be sarcasm of the gopīs. Kṛṣṇa’s rejection of the gopīs is turned into a plaintive plea (by Kṛṣṇa) and the gopīs’ plaintive plea to Kṛṣṇa turns into a proud rejection instead. The ācāryas have thus explained the verses in such a way that all rāgānugā bhaktas can enjoy a flow of uninterrupted mādhurya when they read the Bhāgavata.”

Bhakta: “What is the color of Kaustubha maṇi? We argued among our bhaktas, but no one knows for sure. I only remember on place in Ānanda Vṛndāvana Campū when pearls on Kṛṣṇa’s chest become red because of the light of Kaustubha. Can you kindly help me?”

Advaitadas: “Indeed, this is there in Ānanda Vṛndāvana Campu (kaustubha raśmi-pūra-śoṇāyamāna-vara-mauktika, AVC 22.25) and is also confirmed in Kṛṣṇa Bhāvanāmṛta (12.65): uditendu sūrya śata nindi kaustubhācchalato yato jagad avāpa raktatāṁ “The Kaustubha defeats the rising sun and moon and pervades the universe with redness.” Elsewhere in Kṛsṇa Bhāvanāmṛta, however, the Kaustubha is compared with Kṛṣṇa Himself, when Rādhikā wears it on Her chest after winning it in the dice game in ch.15), which would indicate it is Kṛṣṇa's colour. However, that can be read as the Kaustubha just being a representative of Kṛṣṇa on Rādhikā's chest because it is normally an inseparable apparel of Kṛṣṇa.”

Bhakta: “But in Ānanda Gopāl Gosvāmī’s purport of Vilāpa Kusumāñjali, verse 34, it is said: "O Sumukhi! The Kaustubha-gem and Your Syamantaka-jewel are embracing Each other (when You embrace Kṛṣṇa), like a black moon (Kaustubha) playing with a lotus flower (Syamantaka)!” Here the Kaustubha gem is said to be black.”

Advaitadas: “I may have erred there. The Bengali text says: ubhayera maṇite kolākoli. kāla-cāṅd kamalera saṅge kheliche. tomāra mukha-kamala vigalita madhu āsvādana korite dekhilām etc. I might have drawn a conclusion there that was not originally meant so. The translation, instead of the one you quoted from me, should have been: “The gems of both of Them (Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa) are in an embrace. The black moon plays with the lotus. I saw Him relishing the honey that trickles from that lotus.” I believe now that that black moon is Kṛṣṇa Himself, not the Kaustubha gem.”


  1. Advaita Das Baba
    Namashkaar, Joy Sitanatha Prabhu!
    Joy Gauranga! Joy NityanandAdvaita! I am writing this with the utmost respect and deference to your seniority to me and your ongoing seva to the Vaisnavjan. In a previous post, you mentioned how it was bogus to chant the Panca-Tattva Maha mantra in between rounds as it is not a recommended practice and that Iskcon tells its followers to do so as a prophylactic against naam aparadh. While you may be technically right, I was amazed then as now that you would actually tell people that chanting the names of the Panca Tattva was wrong. While chanting the mantra may not actually make you safe from naamaparadh, what is the harm? Are you really telling people that repeating the holy names of the Panca Tattva in reverence is harmful to their bhajan?
    I bring this up because I feel like this is a similar situation. While Balaramji may not be an official Gaudiya-upasya, could ther possibly be any harm at all in worshipping Him?? That one who is the Supreme person Himself? Who is none other than Sri Sri Nityananda Prabhu??
    Leaving aside Balaram’s simultaneous identity with Sri Nityananda Prabhu, Balaram is specifically singled out for worship and remembrance by Vrndaban das Thakur in the Caitanya Bhagavat (Mangala). In his Thakur's case, “...karile se mukhe sphure caitanya-kirtana”. CB 1.1.14 (Sounds like good advice to me).
    Also CB 1.1.21- “ sarva vaisnavera vandya balarama-gatha”
    1.1.22, 23,25,26,29,30 (“bheda nahi krsnahaladhare”), 31, 32 (“ due to foolishness, some neglect the purana and refuse to accept Balaams’s Rasa Lila”), 34 -38 (“ One who has no love for Balarama after hearing the Bhagavata is rejected by Visnu and the Vaishnavas”), 40 (“ nowadays, some eunuchs challenge- “ balaramarasa kon sastre ache?”, 43, 44, 45 (“ in all these forms he serves Himself. Whoever receives His mercy can understand this truth.”), 78 (“ my only desire at the feet of the Vaishnavas is that birth after birth I may worship the feet of Balarama Prabhu”).
    While Nandanandana is the worshippable deity for all Gaudiyas, could there possibly be any thing wrong with worshipping this great person who just happens to be the Supreme person Himself and the Original Vaishnava?
    I worship the feet of all the Vaishnavas past, present and future and pray that they give me my mercy.
    Including yourself, Baba.
    Joy Nitai!
    Joy Gaura!

  2. Dear Franz,
    In my life I cannot remember where I said that worshipping Pancatattva, Balaram, Narasingha or Santaclaus is wrong or bogus. If you read the blog carefully you'll see that I objected against such worship being compulsory for the entire community. The objection against Panatattva is the mistaken belief that it safeguards you from aparadha, because They are supposed not to take any offence. All this has been clearly explained by me in the relevant blogs. The glorification of Balaram has to be seen in context - Vrindavandas had greater love for Nitai (=Balai) than for Nimai. I also said that Murari Gupta's worship of Ram or Nrsimhananda Brahmacary's worship of Nrsimha is their particular sthayi-bhava, but not the sacred duty of every Gaudiya Vaishnava.

  3. Dandavat pranams Advaita Prabhu. I came across this blog entry of yours looking for the color of the Kaustubha maṇi. It is unclear to me what your final conclusion is here. Would you please clarify for me what you discern the color of the Kaustubha mani to be? Thank you. Radhe Radhe!

  4. Mother Satya, I quoted evidence in the blog from Ānanda Vṛndāvana Campū and Kṛsṇa Bhāvanāmṛta that the Kaustubha gem is red.