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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Rādhākuṇḍa, Week 52, 2008

More satsanga at Rādhākuṇḍa:
"Some sādhus in Navadvīp told me that when the Guru gives mantra to a śiṣya the mantra becomes nirjīva (lifeless) and needs to be recharged through puraścarana (an austere ritual in which one chants the mantra many times)."

"pūrṇa śuddho nitya mukto 'bhinnatvan nāma nāmino (Padma Purāṇa) " The holy name is fully pure and eternally liberated due to being non different from the named." That is because the name is God Himself. God needs no recharging. He is not a cellphone. On the contrary, it is the practitioner who constantly needs to recharge his/her own spiritual batteries, by practising this mantra."

"Should I just sit here, chant and wait for the Guru to come to me or should I go out searching for one?"

tad vijñānārthaṁ sa gurum evābhigacchet (Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad) "To know and realize that one must approach a Guru". The word abhigacchet is in imperative case - one must approach a Guru, so you should go to him."

Some reflections.....

The Gosvāmīs represented the renunciants' wing of the Sampradāya, which every sampradāya should have. There will always be those with a naturally renounced tendency. For them the 6 Gosvāmīs are the perfect example. There is a certain rasa to vairāgya as well - vairāgya yug-bhakti rasaṁ prayatnair apāyayan mām (Vilāpa Kusumāñjali - 6) "Sanātan Gosvāmī made me drink the rasa of bhakti endowed with vairāgya".


If there was one reason why I was sick for so long in Vṛndāvan and spent just 33 of these 117 days at Rādhākund it must have been to help remind me how precious the days are at this rasamaya aprākṛta dhāma, this divine rasa-laden abode.

And finally -
Two more prominent Rādhākuṇḍa-residents passed away - in November Sādhu Bābā's tīrtha guru Radhacharan Desla (75) and in July Madanmohan Das Babaji (85). The former, like Gopal Ghosh, told me much about Sādhu Bābā's ambrosial pastimes, and the latter I have often consulted on bhajan-matters somewhere between 1982 and 2002.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Rādhākuṇḍa saṅga

Recently I had the following discussions with devotees around Rādhākuṇḍa:

Bhakta: " What about the Vrajavāsīs? Some are even Buddhists, offering Coca Cola and snacks to the tiles in their homes, saying God does not exist."

Advaitadas: " Actually a landslide majority of Vrajabāsīs is Hindu and Vaiṣṇava. Mahāprabhu told Jagadānanda Paṇḍit: mathurār svāmīr saṅga nā loibā  "Don't take the company of the people of Mathurā (Vraja)." He then said  sanātanera saṅga na chāḍibe ek-kṣaṇa ' Never leave the company of Sanātan Gosvāmī', which nowadays means the followers of Sanātan Gosvāmī, the pure Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas. Vṛndāvana Mahimāmṛta and other scriptures glorifies the Vrajabāsīs in connection with Kṛṣṇa in great superlatives, because they are living in His abode only. Sādhu Bābā offered feasts and other gifts to the Vrajabāsīs, but because they took advantage he would not stay in Vraja too long, lest he would not get too disappointed with them. He never stopped loving the Vrajabāsīs, though. "

Bhakta: " Your preaching of rāgānugā bhakti being available before anartha nivṛtti may have been the cause of some of the current Sahajiya movements starting in the west."

Advaitadas: " Perhaps, but it is the same in Bengal - āul, bāul etc. are caused by misinterpreting the ācāryas. What can be done? There will always be some abusers. Doing rāgānugā bhakti before anartha nivṛtti doesn't mean one should deliberately break the principles - anarthas means subtle attachments which we should remedy through sādhana while following the principles."

Bhakta: Some say meditation on the mañjarī svarūpa in an unripe stage causes one to take birth as a mundane Indian woman in the next life."

1. There must be a sense of belonging to Smt. Rādhārāṇī, not that you just identify with some Vrajavāsī women you see on the street. Reading and meditating on Vilāpa Kusumāñjali, Utkalikā Vallarī and Rādhā-rasa Sudhānidhi is helpful as well as associating with like-minded devotees and residing at Rādhākund."
2. You have to start somewhere, even while anarthas are there, there must be basic aspiration.
3. It is an internal meditation on a transcendental form, which will be revealed in truth at the bhāva bhakti stage.
4. Those preachers of caution need not worry too much - only a happy few take interest in rāgānugā bhakti anyway."

Bhakta: But Kṛṣṇadās Kavirāja Gosvāmī writes in his Kṛṣṇa Karṇāmṛta ṭīkā (3) that one can meditate on the siddha deha before bhāva bhakti too."

Advaitadas: "That may still mean on the stage of āsakti, niṣṭhā or ruci."

Bhakta: " It is said that only bābājīs / sannyāsīs attain the spiritual world."

Advaitadas: " You cannot make a reservation, nor is it only through celibacy that one can attain the spiritual world. Such a reservation is certainly not there for bābājīs or sannyāsīs that just wear their uniform but do not follow the rules of their ashram, as some foolishly believe. There needs to be prema and the stages beyond - rāga, anurāga, bhāva mahābhāva etc., as is explained in Mādhurya Kādambinī.

Bhakta: "Where did you learn such nice Bengali?"

Advaitadas: "Association. You don't learn a language from a book. You learned your mother tongue before you even entered kindergarten just from association with your relatives. Association is everything."

Bhakta: "Is the Guru supposed to be siddha?"

Advaitadas: "That's a bit much to ask nowadays, huh? Still one should take initiation..."

Bhakta: "What about 'brahmaṇyupaśamāśrayaḥ' (qualifications of the Guru given in SB 11.3.21, saying he should be in spiritual consciousness and in control of himself)?"

Advaitadas: "According to Jīva Gosvāmī in Bhakti Sandarbha (206), this applies to śravaṇa- or śikṣā-guru, not to dīkṣā-guru. For that he quotes another verse, 11.3.48.Surely a Guru must be qualified but it is objectively speaking, not easy to know who is siddha, or to find one. Subjectively speaking, for the śiṣya, the Guru is none other than Bhagavān. Hence I object against talk of 'uttama', 'madhyama' and 'kaniṣṭha' Gurus. That is pulling the Absolute into the realm of the relative. No śāstra speaks of uttama, madhyama and kaniṣṭha Gurus. Rather, the Bhāgavata (7.15.26) says:

yasya sākṣād bhagavati jñāna dīpe prade gurau
martyāsad-dhi śrutaṁ tasya sarvaṁ kuñjara śaucavat

'The fool who sees the Guru, who is God Himself and who is the giver of the light of divine knowledge, as a mortal person, sees all his learning go in vain."

Bhakta: "Some prominent Vaiṣṇavas claim the word brahmacārī and the āshram with that name was not especially marked by celibacy. It just means 'student'."

Advaitadas: Yajñavalkya Muni says:

karmaṇā manasā vācā sarvāvasthāsu sarvadā
sarvatra maithuna-tyāgo brāhmacaryaṁ pracakṣate

"To always give up sex, everywhere, in action, mind and words, is called brāhmacarya."

Bhakta: "The Bhagavat says ajāta śatrava śānta sādhava sādhu bhūṣaṇam - 'The devotee's enemy is never born".

Advaitadas: "You may have to see this as a glorification of the sādhus. Sanātan Goswāmī was jailed and almost killed by a robber. Raghunāth dās Gosvāmī was jailed, Yudhiṣṭhir Mahārāja had many ferocious enemies, too. Haridās Thākura was nearly beaten to death by the Muslims. Everyone naturally gets friends and enemies in life. No one is without enemies."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Gīta Pañcakam

On Ekādaśī I spent two hours in the internet shop vainly waiting for two Russian hippies to give me the PC, though I had booked the time. I took advantage by reading the new book by Ananta das Bābājī, called Gīta Pañcakam. The purports of Anantadās Paṇḍitjī are of the usual high quality one can expect from him. This is not a review, because I just browsed through the book a little. This Gīta Pañcakam (meaning 5 Songs), contains 5 stotrams in the Vraja-section of the 10th Canto of the Bhāgavata - Veṇu Gīta (10.21), Gopī Gīta (10.31), Yugal Gīta (10.35), Uddhava Gīta (10.47), and Bhramara Gīta (10.47).

Some nice things I picked up though:

In SB 10.21.18, Rādhikā's prayer to Girirāja, Anantadāsjī quotes Her as saying that the stones of Girirāja keep Kṛṣṇa's feet warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
He also explains the killing of the Mura demon from another Purāṇa than the Bhāgavata:

Mura got the boon from Lord Brahmā that he could kill any celestial being (normally considered immortal), simply by touching them, but Lord Nārāyaṇa tricked him by claiming he was a coward. When Mura heard this he thumped his chest in indignation, 'Me, a coward??!" and thus killed himself, pretty much as what happened with Vṛkāsura.

There was also this charming verse:

doṣākaro'pi kuṭilo'pi kalaṅkito'pi
mitrāvasāna samaye vihitodayo'pi
candras tathāpi giriśaḥ śirasā bibharti
naivāśriteṣu guṇa-doṣa vicāraṇā syāt

"The moon may be at fault as the source of the night, he may be crooked and he may rise after the sun sets, still Giriśa (Shiva) carries him on His head. Morale: One should not consider the faults and virtues of those who take shelter of you."

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Sūryakuṇḍa tragedy

Yesterday I could not blog this because the Rādhākuṇḍa cyber-joint was closed due to this disaster - The annual Sūryakund-festival in honour of Siddha Madhusūdan Dās Bābājī brutally ended when the roof of the Mandir collapsed and bābājīs both on and under the roof were either killed or got wounded. Last night I heard that 3 Vaiṣṇavas from Rādhākuṇḍa were killed, but since overnight 7 more were killed the death toll from Rādhākuṇḍa may have risen. Total death toll, according to Dainik Jagaran, is 12. Some 60 were wounded. As there were no ambulances in the small remote village, the victims were taken to hospitals in Agra and Mathurā by private car. Care there seems to be below standard, perhaps because the hospitals were flooded with casualties.

Everyone, many thanks for the worried e-mails - I am perfectly safe. I could not attend the Utsava due to my leg problems. I haven't attended since 1988, actually.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Four kinds of pious men

Modern comment on Bhagavad Gītā 7.16 :

catur-vidhā bhajante māṁ janāḥ sukṛtino'rjunaḥ
ārta jijñāsur arthārtī jñānī ca bharatarṣabhaḥ

"Four types of pious persons come to Me - the distressed, the poor, the wise and the inquisitive."

The distressed and inquisitive are mostly westerners, Indians are mostly arthārthī, after money. When the Indian brahmacārī joined an organisation with many western members and found his western bride and concomitant US green card he will serve the deities in Milwaukee temple for a few weeks and then start his business and send greenbacks to his extended family in India. Alternatively, the arthārthī may remain in India, don Rūpa Goswāmī's dress and start a lucrative business with kīrtana, disciples etc. Being a saffron-clad ' bonafide prabhu' is usually more lucrative though. Another type of arthārthī gives Bhāgavat Saptāha in a huge pompous circus announced by huge billboards, for huge rewards from the audience but without instilling any bhakti in them.

The inquisitive is usually an ignorant westerner with a big brain, who learns lots of śāstra, but when his intellectual curiosity is satisfied and he is about to mount a vyāsāsana, he turns Buddhist, punk-rocker, hippie or a combination of them. The Gauḍīya-Discussions elite was typical of such jijñāsus (inquisitive). Mañjarī bhāva and siddha praṇālī are usual objects of curiosity, so they take initiation into that, but drop the pactise when their curiosity is satisfied and it turns out one needs to be pure for it (smaraṇaṁ tu śuddhāntaḥkaraṇataḥ sāpekṣā).

The ārta, or distressed, is usually a westerner who had too much sex and/or drugs, or who is too ugly, or too shy, or impotent, homo-, bi- pedo- or a-sexual and tries to flee from such a problem into a celibate order, which will ultimately fail if there is no real bhakti to give a higher taste. The ārta is usually very eager to get 'liberated in this lifetime' and thus puts some extra ice cubes into his early morning bathing water to detach him from his body as soon as possible. In a sense, the ārta is higher than the arthārthī, because bhakti for purification is in the mode of goodness and bhakti for the money is in the mode of passion (SB 3.29.7-12). In either case, bhukti mukti spṛhā yāvat piśācī hṛdi vartate (BRS) ' How can prema arise when the witches of the desires for enjoyment (the arthārthī) and liberation (the ārta) are still in the heart?'

The jñānī, or wise, is one who understands and knows the teachings of śāstra and Guru applies them too - this can be either westerner or an Indian. This is the real bhakta (teṣāṁ jñānī nitya yuktam, 7.17), but is very rare too (sa mahātmā sudurlabha 7.19). Of course the poor, curious and distressed may have real bhakti too, through which they can transcend their motivations and become pure devotees. And in any case, Kṛṣṇa says udāra sarva evaite (7.18) "they are all glorious", just for coming to the right place.

Written in Vrindavan, October 2008