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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

19 comments:

  1. Radhe Radhe dada,

    Lovely analysis and very apt.

    After all -

    "yeh ishq nahin asan, itna toh samajh lijye,

    ik aag ka darya hai, aur doob ke jana hai."

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  2. Radhe Radhe Didi
    Could you provide a translation in English for the readers? Thanks!

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  3. akamah sarva-kamo va
    moksa-kama udara-dhih
    tivrena bhakti-yogena
    yajeta purusam param

    "Whether one is without desire [the condition of the devotees], or is desirous of all fruitive results, or is after liberation, one should with all efforts try to worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead for complete perfection, culminating in Krishna consciousness."
    SB 2.3.10

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  4. Jay Nitai,


    Congrats to Advaita Das Ji. It was indeed good.

    And yes the translation would help grearter audiance. That was pretty nice by Madhumati Ji.

    Jay Niati

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  5. Well, whereever a person comes from, whatever he thinks about himself, when he threads the gaudiya vaisnava path, he either develops bhakti, or will sooner or later reject it for some reason. That dividing line is quite razor sharp. There are so many scholarly persons, who have called themselves devotees, who reject the straight gaudiya vaisnava philosophy, and either mix it up into a kind of soup, or just reject it all. Sometimes going to a "better" religion instead.

    My comment on that text is - are not gaudiya vaisnavas to develop asexuality? Meaning having no material sex desire?
    It is so far only in ISKCON I heard the curious philosophy that one is supposed to have sex desire, the proper "straight" kind, and then fight every second against it.

    Maybe you with asexuality mean to be born without the ability to have sex. That is pretty bad karma. To desire something material, but not being able to get it.

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  6. Prisni, I am not sure I understand your point, but the desire which is sanctioned is relgious desire as in BG 7.11, the irreligious desire is to be combated, as in BG 3.37-42. There is really nothing Iskcon about that - it is right there in the Gita.

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  7. And in some cases, those who seek refuge in Buddhism for a while are much more honest than who become practised hypocrites, those who make a corporate career in it, and those with a superficial understanding and no realisation, no krishna consciousness, who constantly try to integrate vaishnavism with "politically correct" social matters, who prefer this to chanting hare krishna.

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  8. Adwaita, can you say why doesn't the distressed Indian turn to Krishna? you say that the distressed bhaktas are mostly westerners, like those people who join the Krishna institutions, but we all know there is intense suffering in India, still those Indians refuse to turn to Krishna.

    The Indian academics who are usually materialistic athieists, and the distressed reject Krishna apparently.

    Most of the wealthy materialists worship the devatas or depend on their own ruthless way of making money.

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  9. Poverty is the particular distress of India, that is why so often poor Indians turn to Krishna to make a dime. That makes them arthArthi. Outright atheists are quite rare in India though. There is a lot of imitation of the west (like science and so), but in the heart most Indians are theists.

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  10. And in some cases, those who seek refuge in Buddhism for a while are much more honest than who become practised hypocrites, those who make a corporate career in it, and those with a superficial understanding and no realisation, no krishna consciousness, who constantly try to integrate vaishnavism with "politically correct" social matters, who prefer this to chanting hare krishna.

    yasyAsti bhaktir bhagavatyakincana
    sarvair gunais tatra samAsate surAh
    haravabhaktasya kuto mahad gunah
    manorathenasati dhavato bahih

    (SB 5.12.18)

    'Whoever has bhakti for Bhagavan has all divine qualities. Where are the great qualities in a non devotee of Hari? He races in his mental chariot after the external objects."

    A hypocritical career-Vaishnava is infinitely greater than an apostate. Study Visvanath's explanations of narAdhama and mAyayApahRta jnana (Bhagavad Gita 7.15). There is no excuse for apostasy whatsoever.

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  11. Anon, your latest comment is rejected as offensive. One nAmAparAdha is shastra ninda. There is no unpleasant verse at all in the SB. The yasyAsti bhaktih verse is one of the most quoted verses from the SB by the acaryas. As it is also a nAmAparAdha to preach to the faithless I will not respond to it either.

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  12. Radhe Radhe dada,

    So here's the translation ( LOL!) - "This stuff called 'LOVE' is not easy - first of all, you get THIS clear.

    It is an ocean of fire, and the condition is - you have got to cross it by under-surface diving".

    Its not everyone's cup of milk - :) - yes?

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  13. "Whoever has bhakti for Bhagavan has all divine qualities. Where are the great qualities in a non devotee of Hari? He races in his mental chariot after the external objects."

    Do all of those sannyasis-with-houses-and-gold-watches have bhakti?

    What are the great qualities of those who simply recite from the bhagavad-gita, and live off money from the naive disciples they have initiated, and are often too slack to even attend mangal arati?

    It is easy to find others who appear not to be devotees of lord Hari, but who show great qualities in charitable service, assisting unfortunate people with basic health and education and food and shelter. Who knows whether or not some such people worship lord Hari in one form or another in their homes?

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  14. I find that Krishna here means the jnani who is situated in bhakti. The whole sequence of verses lead to that.

    Many persons approach Krishna for various material benefits. And Krishna gives it freely, but mostly it means to take another birth in this world, to get the benefit.
    But the person who have understanding of Krishna, and the purpose of the material world, and approach Krishna in love; in bhakti, he is specially dear to Krishna, and will reach Krishna, and not take birth here again.

    The crucial point is bhakti.
    There is absolutely no way that Manijari bhava can be approached by jnana. As we have seen many examples of, and for sure will see more of.
    The only possible approach is through bhakti, or as Krishna says here; only with bhakti in knowledge.

    -- Prisni dasi

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  15. Prishni, that is totally correct. The jnani here is not meant to be the nirvishesh jnani nor the egghead, it is the bhakta. tesam jnani nitya yuktam, as the next verse says. Always connected to Krishna.

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  16. It is easy to find others who appear not to be devotees of lord Hari, but who show great qualities in charitable service, assisting unfortunate people with basic health and education and food and shelter. Who knows whether or not some such people worship lord Hari in one form or another in their homes?

    Some comments were rejected due to being just vitriolic. I will react to this one, and it goes for everyone then:

    The yasyasti bhaktir bhagavaty verse glorifies bhakti and shows it is not through qualities like eloquence, good looks, big brains, charisma, high birth etc that one is a great devotee, but by devotion itself alone. Hence harAv abhaktasya kuto mahad guNAH? " Where is the great quality in a nondevotee of Hari?" That could apply to the persons you described in your above comment, too, yes. It is not a troublesome verse, it is one of the crown jewels of the entire Bhagavata. It needs to be seen in a devotional light, of course, not that we show contempt for non devotees.

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  17. To illustrate, Rupa Gosvami quotes this verse in Padyavali:

    vyAdhasyAcaraNaM dhruvasya ca vayo vidyA gajendrasya kA
    kubjAyAH kim u nAma rUpam adhikaM kiM tat sudAmno dhanam |
    vaMzaH ko vidurasya yAdavapater ugrasya kiM pauruSaM
    bhaktyA tuSyati kevalaM na ca guNair bhakti-priyo mAdhavaM


    "What was the conduct of the hunter? The age of Dhruva? The
    knowledge of Gajendra? The name and beauty of Kubja? The wealth of
    Sudama? What was the birth of Vidura, and the prowess of Ugrasena? Lord Madhava is pleased with devotion and not with qualities."

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  18. Advaitadas: "It needs to be seen in a devotional light, of course, not that we show contempt for non devotees."

    And yet you have plenty of contempt for nondevotees, as illustrated in your blog entry. Pity, such irony.

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  19. And yet you have plenty of contempt for nondevotees, as illustrated in your blog entry. Pity, such irony.

    Perhaps you'd like to quote such contempt for nondevotees in that blog entry? The entire blog was about devotees...

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