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Monday, April 28, 2008

Phone Sanga (15)

Bhakta: "In Brahma Saṁhitā (5.35) it is said that all the universes are situated in Kṛṣṇa's body. I didn't realize that was in His personal form."

Advaitadas: "Yes that is correct. He has a limited form of a 16-year old cowherd boy and yet that form contains all there is. Mother Yaśodā saw the whole universe in Kṛṣṇa's mouth, what to speak of His body?"

Bhakta: "Did she also see the spiritual world in there?"

Advaitadas: "No that is not mentioned either in the Bhāgavat (10.8.37-39) or in the ṭīkās, but in his ṭīkā of Bhagavad Gītā 10.8, where Kṛṣṇa says 'I am the source of everything', Viśvanātha comments: ahaṁ sarvasya prākṛtāprākṛta-vastu-mātrasya prabhavaḥ utpatti-prādurbhāvayor hetuḥ "I am the source of all things, whether they be material or spiritual." He showed Golok, paravyoma, to the Vrajabāsīs in chapter 28 of the 10th Canto. I think it is also significant that Kṛṣṇa showed the universe in His child-body, too, just to demonstrate that size does not matter. Like He deliberately did it when He displayed a toddler's form. Śukadeva described how mother Yaśodā vainly tried to tie up toddler Kṛṣṇa:

na cāntar na bahir yasya na pūrvaṁ nāpi cāparam
pūrvāparaṁ bahiś cāntar jagato yo'jagacca yah

"In Kṛṣṇa there is no outside, no inside, no front and no rear. He exists before and after, inside and outside the universe. Indeed, He IS the universe." (SB 10.9.13)

Why was mother Yaśodā's rope always too short, while Kṛṣṇa was so 'small'? Verse 14 (dāmnā babandha prākṛtaṁ yathā) makes clear verse 13 is not about Kṛṣṇa's energies but about His personal form. paramāṇu-cayāntara-sthaṁ govindam ādi puruṣam (Brahma Saṁhitā 5.35) - 'Govinda is present in every atom." That means in His personal form. This verdict of śāstra must be accepted, the only other recourse is anumāna, mentally trying to conceive of it, or pratyakṣa, just staring with your eyes at Kṛṣṇa's child-form and wondering how it will fit in. It won't work."

Bhakta: "Some say that Brahma Saṁhitā was written by Mahāprabhu Himself."

Advaitadas: "Hahaha, in the end it would not matter at all. Mahāprabhu is Bhagavān Himself and therefore the book would become only more prāmāṇika (authoritative) - who is a bigger authority - Brahmā or his chief Nārāyan (Mahāprabhu)?"

Bhakta: "Why, after all the līlā of the 10th canto, there is again more philosophy in the 11th and 12th cantos? Why not just end the book at the 10th canto?"

Advaitadas: "Though the 10th canto is said to be the smiling face of Kṛṣṇa, above the face there is also the hair and the crown/hat/cap. The face is the most attractive part of the body (uttamāṅga). Men and women fall in love because of the woman/man's face, the rest is secondary. So also with Kṛṣṇa. But more importantly, there is a certain historical sequence as well. The 9th canto, introducing the solar and lunar dynasties, is clearly an historical introduction to the 10th canto and at the end of the 10th canto everyone was still around. Kṛṣṇa and the Yadu dynasty only disappear in the 11th canto. Perhaps the authors considered 90 chapters enough for the 10th canto and they completed the story of Kṛṣṇa at the end of the 11th canto (31 chapters). Otherwise the story would have lasted for 121 chapters. But it is never clear to me why books are divided into Cantos or chapters the way they are.....Speaking of philosophy, the 10th canto also contributes the lion's share of the Bhāgavata's main philosophical statements."

Bhakta: "How the temporary energy of Kṛṣṇa can be Kṛṣṇa?"

Advaitadas: "Satya-nārāyan Prabhu compared the material energy with hair and nails - as long as they are connected to the body (and the soul), they live and grow, as soon as they are cut off they die. Similarly the material energy originates from Kṛṣṇa but is dead due to being separated from Him (bhinna prakṛtiḥ, Bhagavad Gītā 7.4)."

Bhakta: "After Arjuna saw the universal form (Bhagavad Gītā, ch.11) he prayed to Kṛṣṇa to show His human form again, so He showed him first His 4-armed and then His 2-armed form (Bhagavad Gītā 11.50, Viśvanātha ṭīkā)"

Advaitadas: divyaṁ dadāmi te cakṣuḥ paśya me yogam aiśvaram (B.Gītā 11.8): Kṛṣṇa said 'I will give you divine eyes, so behold My spiritual majesty." For the rasikas this is actually a step back, though at first sight it looks like Kṛṣṇa gave Arjuna specs to have a closer look at Him. Actually, Arjuna's initial vision of Kṛṣṇa with 2 arms was already the highest. divya here means aiśvarya, not mādhurya."

Bhakta: "Is it distasteful to compare the mañjarīs' celibacy with the celibacy of a brahmacārī in this world?"

Advaitadas: "No it is not distasteful, but it is off the point still, because our celibacy here is a sādhana while the mañjarīs' celibacy is a part of their sthāyi bhāva. They don't struggle in any way. Just as Kṛṣṇa's spiritual sex can never be compared to material sex (as the sahajīyas do), the mañjarīs' spiritual celibacy can not be compared to our brahmacārīs' struggle on this plane. Reversely, there are a number of people who project their own lusty desires upon Kṛṣṇa and His līlā and get into this type of mundane lusty sahajīya- or Gaura-nagari Bhava. That is not real gopī bhāva. They may know so much śāstra and meditate so deeply but it is misdirected and perverted."

Bhakta: "The Śāstra says pañcaśordhvaṁ vanaṁ vrajet ("A person over 50 years of age should go to the forest")"

Advaitadas: "That text is not mentioned in the Gosvāmīs' books, as far as I know. Advaita Ācārya married at 50 and his biographer Īśān Nāgar married at 70 even. Varṇāśram dharma is not only not an essential Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava sādhana, it is also relative, depending on the individual adhikāra. In his comment on the Bhāgavata 1.9.26, Viśvanātha Cakravartī writes that a naturally attached person should never renounce (because he will make the whole monk-community suffer with his attachments) and a naturally renounced person should never marry (because his wife and children will be unhappy since he doesn't care about them). Both verse 1.9.26 itself (yathāśramaṁ vairāgya rāgopādhibhyām) and that comment make a clear subdivision of āśram dharma according to rāga (attachment) and vairāgya (detachment). We are not machines that can be switched on or off on one's 50th birthday. You can see in each devotee community there are weak and strong devotees - some always come for mangal ārati some never come, some come sometimes. It is always like that. See also my blog of February 22, 2006."

Bhakta: "SB 10.1.30 calls Devakī the svasu, or sister, of Kaṁsa, whereas actually she was his niece. Kaṁsa was the son of Ugrasena and Devakī the daughter of Devaka."

Advaitadas: "Yes Devaka was the younger brother of Ugrasena, and thus Devakī is Kaṁsa's niece. Somehow that was seen as 'sister' by Vyāsa."

Bhakta: "You eat a mango in the spiritual world, so then the ingredients become spiritual blood etc. (during the digestive process). The mango was composed of different souls."

Advaitadas: "I don't believe we will be eating nitya siddha souls there and passing them out as stool again. To my understanding eating a mango and passing it out again up there is a transformation of the sandhinī śakti (Kṛṣṇa's spiritual environmental potency)."

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 http://www.madangopal.com/ - "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."

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Spiritual evolution theory

Today I exchanged e-mails with my friend Kṛṣṇadas about the spiritual evolution theory -

Dear Kṛṣṇadās, Rādhe Rādhe
"This whole story that Buddha rejected Hinduism to put an end to animal sacrifices, Shankar established māyāvāda to substitute Buddha's voidism and pave the way for Caitanya's bhakti movement, where does this originate? Does it come from Bhaktivinoda or is it also somewhere in Jīva or Baladeva's writings? And what do you think of the whole idea? Jay Rādhe! Advaitadas

*

Dear Advaita, the theory that Buddha rejected Hinduism to put an end to animal sacrifices and that Shankar established māyāvāda to substitute Buddha's voidism is there in the Purāṇas, though not exactly spelled in this way. There is something in Agni Purāṇa and Skandha Purana. Jīva Goswāmī quotes some verses in the Sandarbhas that Shankara is Shiva himself who descended on Viṣṇu's order to mislead wicked people. Sankara is called pracchanna-bauddha in those verses. I am sure you know all this. I have never seen any statement in Purāṇas or anywhere else that Śankara would pave the way for Caitanya's bhakti-movement. There is a direct mention of Caitanya Mahāprabhu in a version of Bhaviṣya Purāṇa, but that is definitely a post-Caitanya text written probably in the 18th century. I personally doubt that Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa would be the father of the theory. Maybe it was Bhaktivinode, I don't have a clue. I personally am not very much in favor of such theories, though admittedly one can observe a certain development. Caitanya could not have appeared at the time when the anti-Vedic Buddhism was on its peak, His message would be hardly accepted. Only when people accepted the Vedic authority and Rāmānuja and Madhva, and in a way even Sankara, paved the way, Caitanya could start preaching His own philosophy.
Radhe, Radhe,kd

Friday, April 18, 2008

Question on smaranam

On Vilasakunja a devotee asked how Kṛṣṇa, who is transcendental, can enter into the mind, which is one of the 3 subtle material elements. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī writes in his Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu: ataḥ śrī kṛṣṇa nāmādi na bhaved grahyam indriyaiḥ : “The name etc. (this includes the form) of Śrī Kṛṣṇa cannot be grasped by the senses.” sevonmukhe hi jihvādau svayam eva sphuratyadaḥ  “But it is automatically revealed on the tongue etc. (the other senses) of those who are inclined towards (His) service.”

In his ṭīkā Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī mentions Bharat, the deer, and Gajendra, the elephant, who were not impeded by their animal bodies to utter the name of the Lord. Kṛṣṇa, though transcendental, descends into the mind through mantra and nāma-practise. Perhaps meditating on a really beautiful deity or picture could help, but ultimately Kṛṣṇa will reveal to you what He really looks like in sphurti, or transcendental visions.

In Bhakti Sandarbha 275 Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī says ‘nāma-kīrtanāparityāgena smaraṇaṁ kuryāt – “Smaranam should be done without giving up nāma kīrtana” and in the next paragraph (276): nāma smaraṇaṁ tu śuddhāntaḥkaraṇatām apekṣate “But nāma smaraṇam (let alone rūpa- or līla-smarana) is dependent on a pure heart”. Hence the link Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī makes here between smaraṇam and kīrtanam - kīrtanam means instant purification, which creates qualification for smaraṇam.

In his Sāraṅga Raṅgadā-ṭīkā to Kṛṣṇa Karṇāmṛta (3), Śrīla Kṛṣṇadās Kavirāja Gosvāmī says, rāgānugā mārge anutpanna rati sādhaka bhaktair api svepsita siddha dehaṁ manasi parikalpya - 'On the rāgānugā-path even a sādhaka bhakta who has no rati yet can think of his own desired siddha deha." This is clearly non-revealed vision. Then he continues: jāta ratīnāṁ tu svayam eva tad deha sphūrteḥ. “When rati arises, then that body will be automatically revealed."

Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has proven from the Padma Purāṇa that one who always serves Lord Hari mentally has direct association with He who is otherwise not perceived with (material) words and mind:

mānasenopacāreṇa paricarya hariṁ sadā
pare vāṅ manasāgamyam taṁ sākṣāt pratipedire

Meditating on tangible godheads, like Gurudeva, Rādhākund, Girirāja and Vṛndāvan also serves as a gateway to seeing Kṛṣṇa face to face. At any rate, smaranam is not a cheap thing. It takes a bit of a 'miracle of revelation'...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

More on Advaita Prakāśa

This is part of an e-mail discussion with a submissive inquirer on the Advaita Prakāśa and the Advaita Vaṁśa.

Bhakta: "In Caitanya Bhāgavata and Caitanya Caritāmṛta if it is stated that Acyutānanda was just 5 years old when Mahāprabhu took sannyasa then how is it possible to question its authority? For this in refutation you have said...........”Therefore Caitanya Bhāgavata's statement that Acyutānanda was a 5-year old boy, dusty and naked, after Mahāprabhu took sannyāsa, must be a mere sign of love, as a loving parent treats even his grown up children as if they were still breast-milk-drinking toddlers. This is told by Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Goswāmī is it not, then why Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Goswāmī  or Vṛndāvan Dāsa Thākur have used "five years old" instead of that they might have used some other numbers, how they can say so precisely?

Advaitadas: "Bengali poetry and vernacular has its style, just as Sanskrit, German etc. have. So 5-years old is a standard simile for someone really cute. I was working in Iskcon Gurukula in Nepal in 1980 and the Bengali teacher called the boys 5 years old, though they were 11-12 actually. So that is called śailī, or linguistic style. It is also important to keep in mind that there are many poetic hyperboles of glorification used in śāstra. They are not all literal truths. "

Bhakta: "Advaita Prakāśa has been mentioned in one breath with booklets on Gaur Nāgarī Bhāva as bogus."

Advaitadas: Advaita Prakāśa is different - it does not promote any type of controversial sādhana. It is a biography only. It is not just 40-50 years older than Caitanya Caritāmṛta, Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Goswāmī  has taken many stories over from it to put in his Caitanya Caritāmṛta, that is my point - if it is bogus, why would Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Goswāmī  take stories from them, like the story of Mādhavendra Puri, to put in his Caitanya Caritāmṛta?"

Bhakta: "Ok I agree with it, but is there any strong evidence to show that Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Goswāmī  has taken the stories from Advaita prakāśa? Kindly answer........"

Advaitadas: "The stories of Mādhavendra Puri (ch. 5), Haridās Thākur delivering the prostitute (ch. 9), Mahāprabhu coming to Advaita Prabhu’s house after taking sannyāsa (ch. 16), meeting Rūpa and Sanātana in Rāmakeli (ch. 16), making the animals in Jharikhaṇḍa forest chant (ch. 16), meeting Rūpa Gosvāmī in Prayāga (ch. 17), the dog of Śivānanda Sena (ch. 18), the banishment of Chota Haridās (ch. 18), Rūpa Gosvāmī reading his dramas to the Lord (ch. 19), Sanātan Gosvāmī coming to Puri with the sores (ch. 19) and the passing away of Haridās Thākura (ch. 19) are the same, though the Advaita Prakāśa versions are admittedly much more concise. Advaita Prakāśa is 40 years older than Caitanya Caritāmṛta,  so that is clear, isn't it? (This is added to the Giri Swami refutation on http://www.madangopal.com/)

Bhakta: "But some people says there were two Īśāna Nāgaras at that time and the one was the Servant of Jagannatha Miśra and disciple of Advaita prabhu but another was different and also it is unsure that who has written this Advaita prakāśa, what you say about this? Kindly answer.........."

Advaitadas: "I don’t know of any other Īśāna Nagara than the disciple of Advaita Prabhu. He narrates of his personal relationship with Advaita Prabhu and Sītā Devī in chapters 18 (twice) and 21 of Advaita Prakāśa. In Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava Abhidhāna, which lists all the parṣads of Mahāprabhu, there is just one Iśāna Nāgara mentioned:

শ্রীঅদ্বৈতপ্রভুর শাখা, ব্রাহ্মণবংশে ১৪১৪ শকে জন্ম । আদি নিবাস - শ্রীহট্ট জেলার লাউড় পরগণান্তর্গত নবগ্রাম । পাঁচ বত্সর বয়ঃক্রমকালে ইঁহার বিধবা মাতা ইশানকে লইয়া শ্রীঅদ্বৈতপ্রভুর গৃহে আশ্রয় লন । ঈশানের শিক্ষা ব্যবস্থা শ্রীঅদ্বৈত প্রভুই করেন । অদ্বৈতপত্নী সীতাদেবীর আজ্ঞায় ৭০ বত্সর বয়ঃ ক্রমকালে ইনি সংসারী হইয়া বিবাহ করিয়াছিলেন । ঈশান অতীব তেজস্বী ছিলেন । এক দিবস মহাপ্রভুর পদধৌত করিবার জন্য অগ্রসর হইলে - মহাপ্রভু ঈশানের উপবীত দেখিয়া তাঁহাকে ব্রাহ্মণ জানিয়া নিষেধ করিলে ঈশান তদ্দণ্ডেই উপবীত ছিঁড়িয় ফেলিলেন .....ঈশান নাগর ১৪৯০ শকে শ্রীলাউড়ধামে 'অদ্বৈতপ্রকাশ' গ্রন্থ রচনা করেন - 'চৌদ্দশত নবতি শকাব্দ পরিমাণে । লীলাগ্রন্থ সাঙ্গ কইনু শ্রীলাউড় ধামে" ।

“A member of Śrī Advaita Prabhu’s branch, born in a Brahmin family in 1414 Śaka (1492). His ancestral home was Lāuḍa, Navagrāma in the district of Śrī Haṭṭa (the same ancestral home as Advaita Prabhu’s). His widowed mother took shelter of Śrī Advaita Prabhu’s home when he was 5 years old, where he was educated by Advaita Prabhu Himself. On Sītā-devī’s order he married at the age of 70. He was very powerful. One day he came forward to wash Mahāprabhu’s lotus-feet, but when Mahāprabhu saw his Brahmin-thread he did not want accept service from him. Īśāna then punished his Brahmin-thread by breaking it. Īśāna Nāgara composed the book ‘Advaita Prakāśa’ in 1490 Śaka (1568) in Lāuḍa Dhāma – caudda-śata navati śakābda parimāṇe; līlā-grantha sāṅga kainu śrī lāuḍa dhāme.

The Īśāna who served Jagannāth Miśra was not surnamed Nāgara. He was just named Īśāna and did not write any books to my knowledge.

Bhakta: "Advaita dāsji, is there any Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava scripture like Caitanya Caritāmṛta, Caitanya Bhāgavata etc. which supports Vaṁśa Paramparās like Nityānanda and Advaita? Kindly explain........."

Advaitadas: "No this is not in Caitanya Caritāmṛta or Caitanya Bhāgavata, because these books are solely about Mahāprabhu and do not diverge into the separate lives of Advaita and Nityānanda."

(Added to to the essay "In defense of the Advaita Vaṁśa" pages 4, 19,20 and 21, under linktab 'Articles' on http://www.madangopal.com/)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Phone sanga (13)

Bhakta: "I am trying to preach celibacy by giving the example of the mañjarīs, who are eternal brahmacāriṇīs."

Advaitadas: "These things should never be confused - the sexual experience with Kṛṣṇa in the spiritual sky can never ever be compared in any way with the mundane experience down here. It can be discussed only with those who are able to understand its spiritual nature. Unfortunately such persons are extremely rare. śraddhānvito'nuśṛṇuyed atha varṇayed yaḥ (SB 10.33.39) Both the person who narrates and who listens must have that faith, insight that it is spiritual. Externally it looks the same and that may cause confusion. It's not just that in the spiritual sky everything is selfless, just the whole experience is different. That high experience automatically leads to hṛd rogaṁ kāmam āśu apahinoti acirena, quick cessation of material lust. That is just a side effect. To say one needs to be completely pure to start this practise is nonsensical. It is like putting the cart in front of the horse. It is like saying: "Don't take the medicine unless you are cured." But it is true that it is not for everyone. If you take too heavy doses of medicine you can kill yourself. Some qualification is required. So cheap sahajiyas who think they can just enjoy themselves and at the same time think of this will find themselves baffled. There must be a positive endeavor to elevate oneself above sensuality. Some base of purity must be there to start this sādhana with."

Bhakta: "Returning to the question of why  Kṛṣṇa enjoys with billions of other gopīs while only Rādhā can really please Him?"

Advaitadas: "There are innumerable devotees who have the sthāyi bhāva of sambhoga rasa and  Kṛṣṇa has to reciprocate with that - ye yathā māṁ prapadyante tams tathaiva bhajāmyaham. There is a huge miskconception there that the more one surrenders the higher the rasa (relationship) with  Kṛṣṇa will be. That is nonsense. You can only reach the spiritual sky with 100% surrender. More than 100% does not exist, and less than that will simply not bring you there. The Lord's associates in Vaikuṇṭha are as surrendered as Rādhikā's mañjarīs at Rādhākund. There is only a difference in taste."

Bhakta: "What about the controversy of the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas being a branch of the Madhva-Sampradāya?"

Advaitadas: "Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa made that link because the Vaiṣṇava-society in Vṛndāvana refused to give us the service of Rūpa Gosvāmī's Rādhā Govinda unless we showed that we belong to any of the four sampradāyas. Actually there are many differences between the Madhvaites and us. Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa himself has listed some of them in his Tattva Sandarbha-comments:

1. Only a (born) brāhmana-devotee is eligible for liberation.
2. The demigods are foremost among devotees.
3. Brahmā attains sāyujya-mukti (merging in Brahman).
4. Lakṣmī-devī is included among the jīvas.
5. Perfection is attained through Varṇāśram (it would leave all of us non-Hindus without a chance of attaining Kṛṣṇa in this lifetime)
6. Viṣṇu is the origin of  Kṛṣṇa.
7. The Madhvaites practise vidhi, we practise rāga mārga.
8. the Madhvaites don't worship Rādhā,
9. the Madhvaites are sheer dvaita-vādīs (pure dualists) while we have acintya bhedābheda, to name but a few differences.
Then there is the Caitanya-tree description in the Ādi līlā of Caitanya Caritāmṛta (ch. 9-12) - why wouldn't Kṛṣṇadās Kavirāja instead have said that Caitanyaism is just a branch of the Madhva-tree instead of speaking of an independent Caitanya-tree?"

Bhakta: "It is said that Lokanāth Gosvāmī was a disciple of Caitanya Mahāprabhu."

Advaitadas: "That is nonsense. This is not written anywhere in śāstra. Rather, in Advaita Prakāśa it is said that he was the disciple of Advaita Prabhu. It is universally accepted that Mahāprabhu gave dīkṣā to no one. śikṣā-wise he has verbally instructed Rūpa and Sanātan Goswāmī and has also innerly inspired them while they composed their scriptures - hṛdi yasya preranayā. In a sense we are all Mahāprabhu's disciples, but in terms of establishing the philosophy it were Rūpa, Sanātan and Raghunātha Dās Goswāmīs."


Bhakta: "Kṛṣṇa sleeps with Anaṅga Mañjarī, who is Nityānanda's wife Jāhnavā?"

Advaitadas: "You cannot just switch the identities back and forth between Gaura līlā and Kṛṣṇa līlā like that. Anaṅga Mañjarī is Anaṅga Mañjarī and Jāhnavā is Jāhnavā, and they eternally remain parallel personalities like that, since Gaur-līlā is also eternal. To mix and merge the identities will create absurd rasābhāsa. In our family Viśākhā is identified with Advaita, who would then sleep with  Kṛṣṇa, etc."

Bhakta: "What about Candrāvalī? Kṛṣṇa actually never sleeps with her?"

Advaitadas: "These persons are real and the fear of them is real, too. That is what matters. Fear of  Abhimanyu and Jaṭilā is real, too. It's all in the mind, but the mind is very very real. She may well occasionally sleep with Kṛṣṇa, there is lots of material on that in Ujjvala Nīlamaṇi. This takes place in endless parallel universes in the spiritual sky. It is all happening at the same time, and we have our own concerns and focus. On the sādhaka-level, there may be so many things in the Goswāmīs' books we don't practise because Gurudeva did not give it to us."

Bhakta: "There is a new book out, 'Uddhava Gīta', containing Viśvanātha Cakravartī's comments on the 11th canto, translated by Bhūmipati Dās. There are many quotes there from Viśvanātha that we did fall down from the spiritual world."

Advaitadas: "The translation of 11.11.22 is adulterated - text has been added by Bhūmipati. He says:
"Such a revival of one's dormant love for God dispels all traces of illusion....Ultimately, such rendering of devotional service enables one to go back home, back to Godhead."
Nowhere in the Sanskrit text of Viśvanātha's comment on that verse are these phrases to be found at all. Rather, Viśvanātha speaks of mad-bhakteh prāptiḥ, 'Attaining My devotion.' That's all."

Bhakta: "What about 11.13.37? Bhūmipati writes here: "one who is highly elevated in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, having understood Lord Kṛṣṇa to be the actual reality, never again surrenders to the illusory identification with the material body"

Advaitadas: "That does not indicate fall at all, rather the opposite. The controversy surrounding 11.14.25, with the gold, has already been solved by Satya-nārāyan Prabhu in his book 'From Vaikuṇṭha not even the leaves fall'.

Bhakta: "What are the meanings of the names of Kṛṣṇa's cows?"

Advaitadas: I could find the following ones:
Gaṅgā – Ganges River
Godāvari – Godavari River
Śabali – spotted cow
Yamunā, Kālindī - Yamunā river
Narmadā – Narmadā river
Dhavalā - white cow
Dhūmrā – smoke colored cow
Tuṅgī – prominent, turmeric cow
Bhramarī – bee-colored cow
Haṁsī – swan like cow
Kamalā - lotus like cow
Rambhā – banana
Campā – golden flower
Kariṇi – female elephant
Hariṇi – golden or yellow jasmine
Padmā - lotus cow
Raṅgiṇī – playful cow
Kañja-gandhā – lotus scent
Cāmarī – chowrie or plume
Khañjanī - wagtail
Kajjalākṣī – cow with eyes with eyeliner
Ṣaṇḍā – bestower of welfare.
Sarali – simple cow
Kāli – black cow
Marālī – swan-like cow
Pālī - protectress
Piṣaṅgī – a kind of deer
Vaṁśīpriyā – dear to the flute
Śyāmā - black cow
Kuraṅgī – kind of deer
Kapilā – Brown cow
Induprabhā - moonlight
Śonā – red cow
Triveṇī – three-branched river
Piṅgā - reddish brown cow

Bhakta: "Many other names are left unexplained too in current English translations - like Yāvat and Barṣānā."

Advaitadas: "In Vraja Rīti Cintāmaṇi Viśvanātha Cakravartī explains that Yāvat is the place where  Kṛṣṇa decorates Rādhikā's feet with Yāvak (lac). Barṣānā means 'belonging to Vṛṣabhānu' because it is his village."

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Corrections of the Grantha Ratna Pañcakam

Two corrections to my publication "Grantha Ratna Pañcakam ":

Bhakta: In your publication ‘Grantha Ratna Pañcakam’ by Viśvanātha Cakravartī, on page 58 (Camatkāra Candrikā, ‘Meeting in a doctor’s dress’) you translated:


“She told Vidyāvali: "Vidyāvale! My daughter-in-law will personally you!”
Is the word ‘decorate’ missing here or what? I also have a hard time to understand the next sentence: “I swear you, don't say that you will not accept them.” (what?) Be quiet!!, after which (after what?) Śrī Rādhikā personally decorated Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who was disguised as Vidyāvali."

Bhakta:

yo mām sakhīnām purato'pi naiva sasāka sambhoktum ayam priyo me
ṣvaṣrvānanāndus ca samaksam eva mām nirvivādam samabhuṇkta bādham (92)
vāmyam ca kartum mama nāvakāṣo 'bhūvam param kevala daksinaiva
kim tvadya vāṇchā januso'pyapūri taccarvitam bhuktam aho muhur yat (93)

Advaita: "It is true. the missing word is 'decorate'. I replaced 'them' with 'these ornaments'. After 'be quiet' the quotation marks must be closed."

Bhakta: "I swear you, don't say that you will not accept them - I would put [the ornaments]"

Advaita: “After which” should be totally taken out. “be quiet” is the end of one sentence - a new sentence should start: "After Jaṭilā gave that order, Śrī Rādhikā personally decorated....."

The correct text of that paragraph should then be:

"She told Vidyāvalī: "Vidyāvale! My daughter-in-law will personally decorate you! I swear you, don't say that you will not accept these ornaments. Be quiet!!” After Jaṭilā gave that order, Śrī Rādhikā personally decorated Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who was disguised as Vidyāvalī.”


Bhakta: And on page 118, Prem Samput verse 135-137, Kṛṣṇa says: "Through My flute I cannot have have My desires fulfilled." There is two times the word 'have'. It should be just once."

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

30th anniversary - how I came to Kṛṣṇa-consciousness



On my 30th anniversary as a Vaiṣṇava I present here
HOW I CAME TO KṚṢṆA CONSCIOUSNESS -

The run-up to it all :

It took me until 1972 to understand that Hare Kṛṣṇa had something to do with yoga and self realization, but I had had quite a few encounters with Kṛṣṇa before that. The first when I was just 11, in 1967, when John Lennon sang (in the song 'I am the walrus'):

"Semolina Pilchard, climbing up the Eiffel Tower.
Elementary penguin singing Hare Kṛṣṇa.
Man, you should have seen them kicking Edgar Allan Poe."

I heard George Harrison's "Hare Kṛṣṇa Mantra"-record in 1969, when I was 13, on Radio Luxembourg, when it was a UK top 10 hit. I thought it was Chinese or so, and was amazed that they were just singing one and the same line over and over again. Anyway, these were strange days. The next exposure came with George Harrison's universal 1970 Christmas nr.1-hit 'My sweet Lord'.

In July, 1972 I saw A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swāmi preaching in Amsterdam's Vondelpark. I was then a 16-year old dropout sleeping in the park. There had been a free concert by the Beach Boys the other day in a small auditorium around a pond in the back of the park. The next day I heard music from there again so I went and saw that Hare Kṛṣṇa had borrowed the Beach Boys' equipment. The devotees danced in clouds of sweet smoke, their mantra meant to cast a spell on the audience. I saw Swāmijī sitting on a throne between them. He was very small in stature - smaller than me (I am 5"6 or 166 cm). He spoke boldly - too boldly for that place, and the audience reciprocated by challenging him: "Why do you sit on this high throne while we have to sit down here? We are equal!" I vaguely remember they threw things like cans at Swāmījī but I am not sure anymore. Its too long ago.

The first time I was hit up by a book-distributor was in Utrecht in September, 1973. He was huge and a foreigner. I had taken my last 10 gulden ($ 5) out to buy some drugs for myself in the big city, but he managed to talk me into buying a huge silver English Kṛṣṇa book instead. I thought both the silver and the letters KṚṢṆA with the small dots under it were sheer magic. I took it home with me and read it, thinking it to be greater than drugs. However, I was turned off by a center-spread in the book showing a huge bloodbath caused by Kṛṣṇa during His Mathurā līlā. I thought that God is Love and He would not chop off heads and limbs and I later sold the book to my mum. Who knows what would have happened if it was a KṚṢṆA-book with Vṛndāvana līlā in it!

Another 3 years later, in the long hot summer of 1976, I stayed in a hippie commune in Utrecht, that consumed little else than tea and LSD at any time. One of these enlightened teens (who later became a devotee, Brahma-tejas, himself) had bought a whole bunch of small books from Hare Kṛṣṇa on the street and they were there for all to read. I saw the message was one of uncompromising purity and selflessness and was even more impressed by the colorful and confrontating illustrations, about lust anger and greed leading to hell, ignorance leading to animal birth, the existence of demigods (which I immediately accepted), etc. etc. - 44 pics in the Bhagavad Gītā only! Shortly afterwards I began to follow the regulative principles (though not through the influence of these books) and I came to visit the Amsterdam temple for the first time on September 11, 1976. Unfortunately that was a Saturday, so there was no temple-programme and I could not afford to come again the next day. I did pick up all the books I had read in the hippie-commune and kept them on my book-shelf with great awe and respect. I decided, though, that it was still too high for me. In the same month I read an elaborate feature article on Hare Kṛṣṇa in Dutch esoteric magazine Bres with beautiful color pictures of Swāmījī, who looked purer than anyone I had ever seen, Rādhā-Gopīnāth (the ISKCON deities in Amsterdam) and Jagannātha-Subhadrā and Balarāma. It was all sheer magic.

Around the same time I heard the album Vrindavan, with beautiful renderings of Śrī Rūpa Mañjarī Pada, Mānasa Deho Geho, Śrita Kamalā and Hare Kṛṣṇa by Avyaya Dās and Kauśalyā Dasi. The instruments included harp, harmonium and flute - I thought (and still think) the music was sheer magic and molten beauty. That included the cover of the LP even!



In December 1976 I visited my brother in Rotterdam and saw the Hare Kṛṣṇas standing outside the Central Station in the freezing cold, selling records with their thin Indian clothes on. I had deep respect for that and I bought two records from them, Goddess of Fortune and Hare Kṛṣṇa festival. My brother told me to turn it off, he called it 'the sound of cats shrieking'.

Finally, after a disastrous weekend at the Theosophists on March 24, 1978 (which happened to be Gaur Pūrṇimā) I decided to take some fellow seekers, Ralph (later Rādhāraman Dās) and Rudi, along to the Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa Temple in Amsterdam. That was on April 2, 1978. I felt a new life was starting that would never end. When I entered the temple room I had a very strong deja vu-feeling - like it was continuing from a previous life. I liked everything - the blinding beauty of the deities, the deeply emotional kirtan, the lecture, the incense, the prasādam, the magical building, the devotees. The only thing that disturbed me, at the end when we left, is that we were a bit harrassed by a book distributor at the desk near the exit. The whole experience was good enough to warrant another visit on April 9, 1978. I keep that as my date of conversion, because on that day the then-bhakta leader, Jñānarāja Dās (who unfortunately expired 2 years ago at the early age of 52), sold me a japa mālā on which I began to chant and also I participated in the kīrtan during the begining of the Sunday Feast. svayam eva sphuratyadaḥ -The holy name manifests itself spontaneously and as soon as that takes place, sevonmukhe, we are devotees. As for Iskcon, I joined them on June 4, 1978 and left them (in Vṛndāvana) on May 20, 1982, after almost exactly 4 years. Unfortunately my spiritual life was in a downward spiral with them and leaving them turned me from a loser into a winner, but that is another story...

Monday, April 07, 2008

Establishing Nitya Līlā (Phone sanga 12)

Bhakta: "In a Brahma Samhita purport (5.37) by Bhaktivinode, ascribed to Bhaktisiddhanta, it is said there are no Abhimanyu and Jatila in the spiritual sky."

Advaitadas: "Later on in that purport they do acknowledge that parakiya bhava is there in Goloka too (para-dāra-bhāvaṭī yogamāyā-kṛta sutarāṁ kona śuddha tattva mūlaka) They also say that denying parakīya bhāva in Goloka would be 'tantamount to sacrilege' ('tāhā goloke nāi - ei kothā bolile goloka-ke tuccha korite hoy'). So that is clear. In aṣṭakāliya līlā Abhimanyu doesn't say a peep. He may be mentioned here and there but practically he doesn't appear. Kaṁsa is also mentioned in the Govinda Līlāmṛta but he would never really appear in the middle of the līlā, it is totally unbecoming. He is mentioned there to deceive Candravali's sakhīs and push the līlā forward. All these characters are bogeymen to keep the participants alert and to increase the excitement. It is all a question of feeling, not of substance. In Kṛṣṇa Bhāvanāmṛta it is described how Jaṭilā invites Rādhā for dinner and so. She really does exist, but plays only a minor role."

Bhakta: "In Bhakti Sandarbha the demons in the spiritual sky are compared to puppets (yantra-maya tat pratima)."

Advaitadas: "Yes but you cannot compare Jaṭilā, Kuṭilā and Abhimanyu with the demons. They are citizens in good standing. Kṛṣṇa does not have a license to kill them, like the demons, who are a threat to the entire community of Vraja. In the evening Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa are separated for 7 hours, then there is some scope for Jaṭilā, Abhimanyu etc. to appear. Abhimanyu may talk to Rādhā then, about his business and so, but intercourse is out of the question - na jātu vrajadevīnāṁ patibhiḥ saha saṅgamaḥ (U.N.). Kṛṣṇa's enjoyment is never really disturbed. Stories like those in Camatkāra Candrikā, in which Kṛṣṇa may be separated for days from Rādhā, are not reality. It is just good clean fun in which Kṛṣṇa shows His cleverness, but this is not digest for serious practitioners of the aṣṭakāliya līlā.. Such long separation is absolutely not realistic. Also Abhimanyu ever catching Them red-handed is out of the question, though it may be mentioned in various dramas by the ācāryas. If he really found it out you kill the nitya līlā -  the story would be finished. There are suspicions of course, that nourishes the excitement of the līlā."

Bhakta: "It is said that Bhaktisiddhānta offered Bhaktivinode to translate or publish Govinda Līlāmṛta and Bhaktivinode said: "Allright, take a copy and give one to me too, but leave it at that." In other words, nobody is qualified."

Advaitadas: "Yes unfortunately it does look like that. Very few people are really interested in the book and if they are, its often intellectual curiosity or sentimentality which is not followed up by any serious practise of  aṣṭakāliya līlā smaraṇa.

Bhakta: "Candrāvalī is mentioned too...."

Advaitadas: "Same thing as with Kaṁsa, Jaṭilā and Abhimanyu - she is mentioned, but does not play any significant role in  aṣṭakāliya līlā. Rather, Kṛṣṇa double-crosses her sakhīs and they vanish from the scene, being deceived. Ujjvala Nīlamaṇi is full of Candrāvalī and her sakhīs, but their role is diminished in  aṣṭakāliya līlā. You have only one mind and you can only meditate on so many things, and the essence of Kṛṣṇa's activities is not killing demons or meeting Candrāvalī. In Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta it is elaborately described how Kṛṣṇa plays in the water of Govinda Kund with His pals, but in Govinda Līlāmṛta that is reduced to one or two verses, whereas His water sports with the gopīs later occupies almost an entire chapter!"

Bhakta: "He can kill demons in an expansion."

Advaitadas: "No, even in His original form. It is you who is in the center of this meditation and you decide to follow the format of  aṣṭakāliya līlā. Whatever else Jīva Gosvāmī and Sanātan Gosvāmī have described in their books, that was their duty because all of this IS a part of Kṛṣṇa-līlā. All that matters to you is your role in  aṣṭakāliya līlā and sevā, as the Guru has ascribed it to you. Even Ujjvala Nīlamaṇi hardly touches upon mañjarī bhāva, though it is written by none other than Rūpa Gosvāmī, it is not one of our main scriptures."

Bhakta: "So there are different realities, with each their own area."

Advaitadas: "That's exactly right. It is our focus that counts and Kṛṣṇa just responds - ye yathā māṁ prapadyante taṁs tathaiva bhajāmyaham (B.Gītā 4.11)

Bhakta: "Sometimes we see different personalities in Gaura līlā become one person in Kṛṣṇa-līlā."

Advaitadas: "In my opinion they may not always really BE that person but their situation is sometimes similar to one in a previous līlā. F.i. Bhavānanda Rāy is compared with Pāṇḍu because he had five sons, just like Pāṇḍu, and Haridās Thākur is compared to Prahlāda because of suffering similar persecution. After all, Haridās Thākur is also celebrated as Brahmā. Some say that all Gaur Pārṣadas, including Haridās Thākur, have a mañjarī svarūpa, but there is no evidence for that in śāstra, nor does it seem likely because Haridās Thākur is so clearly into regular dāsya bhāva."

Bhakta: "It is described that the trees in Vraja have hundreds of kinds of fruits. Is this aiśvarya?"

Advaitadas: "No not per se, but if billions of fruits are said to hang from one tree it is. These books are a whole patchwork of aiśvarya and mādhurya and you need to become sensitive enough to pick out the pure mādhurya and leave the rest. I need to add something to what I said about all the aiśvarya descriptions in the past (that it serves to attract people) - it also serves to underline the transcendental nature of these pastimes. Caitanya Caritāmṛta says: citta dṛḍha kori lāge mahimā jñāna hoite "One's heart becomes fixed in faith when one is aware of God's greatness", rasa (spiritual flavour) is built on the foundation of tattva (spiritual truth). When that foundation is not there (when one disregards or does not know spiritual truth) the rasa may seem to be mundane. If you are advanced and fully fixed in awareness of Kṛṣṇa's godhood you can just focus on the pure mādhurya and disregard the opulence."

Bhakta: "About tilak - the two lines is a lotus-foot of Kṛṣṇa and underneath there is a lotus leaf. What is the traditional understanding?"

Advaitadas: "What you call lotus leaf is called Tilak svarūpa. There are different scriptural explanations of this. What is on the forehead is called the stem and the svarūpa is on the nose. There are many different svarūpas. Some stems are tapering, like ours. It is easier to do that by dipping a stick into the Tilak and stamping it on the two locations on the forehead. śāstras say different things, like the middle of the stem is Viṣṇu and the sides are Brahmā and Śiva, or the three spaces represent A, U and M. As for the svarūpa, there are the ancient lineages descending from Mahāprabhu's associates, particularly Nityānanda and Advaita. Advaita's tilak svarūpa is of a Banyan leaf, heart-shaped. Nityānanda's lineage have a Neem-leaf svarūpa on the nose, which is thin and tapering. Most traditional Vaiṣṇavas are in that lineage and wear that tilak. I see the stems and leaves as expansions of the trunks and branches of the Caitanya tree, which is described at length in the Ādi līlā of Caitanya Caritāmṛta. The strongest branches are those of Advaita and Nityānanda. There is also the lineage of Gadādhara Paṇḍit and Śyāmānanda's tilak-story is very well known too. The stem sometimes continues down to the nose, as in the case of Narottam and Śyāmānanda's tilak.  Then there may be no leaf or svarūpa on the nose."

Bhakta: "About Ekādaśa bhāva or siddha praṇālī - is it necessary to take that initiation? Because you said you can meditate on any service or you don't only meditate on your own service."

Advaitadas: "First of all I stressed the Guru-given service above all, I only said that other services can be done according to necessity. Secondly, Vaiṣṇava principle has it that one cannot approach Kṛṣṇa directly. Kṛṣṇa will not accept direct service rendered to Him, only service rendered via the Guru. This makes siddha praṇālī imperative from the devotional viewpoint. An important verse in this connection is :

nikuñja yūnoḥ rati keli siddhyai yā yālibhir yuktir apekṣaṇīya
tatrāti dakṣāt ati ballabhasya vande guroḥ śrī caraṇāravindam

"The Guru is expert in assisting the Gopīs in establishing the perfection of the amorous pastimes of the Nikuñja Yūnu (Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa)." (Gurvaṣṭakam - 6)

It is all done in allegiance, not independently. That Gurvaṣṭakam ends with

yasya prasādād bhagavat prasādo yasyāprasādān na gati kuto'pi

"By the Guru's grace one attains the Grace of the Lord and without the Guru's grace you're not going anywhere." The author, Viśvanāth Cakravartī, was a very great rasika ācārya. At any rate, it is not that the Guru will be holding your hand and guiding your meditation - you have to do it yourself, the Guru can only hand you the tools (the specifics of the siddha deha). If you approach Kṛṣṇa directly He will simply not accept you. I am not saying that every new bhakta should immediately get this Ekādaśa bhāva. In some places this is happening -some devotees get it without even knowing what it is - I disagree with that. The Guru must be able to see when the disciple is ready to practise this by showing eagerness and proper understanding of the process. The Guru is not responsible for the disciple's failure - it is all up to the disciple's strength and sincerity. For most devotees this is a very long and drawn-out process - it is a very high thing. Sādhu Bābā gave it to perhaps just 3% of his disciples. It should not be a subject of temporary curiosity, the project must be finished to the end. Because Kṛṣṇa is subdued by the love of His devotee (ahaṁ bhaktāparādhīno) we must have the faith that the Guru's revelation of siddha svarūpa is the one that waits for us in the spiritual sky. Ramkrishna Paramahamsa once told the story of the man who walked over water, holding a folded leaf in his hands, having full faith that the contents of the leaf could carry him over the water. When he was in the middle of the lake he wondered what was on the leaf, so he opened it, only to find the syllables RĀ-MA on it. When he wondered if that was all that carried him across the water he sank like a rock."

Bhakta: "We see disciples of Gurus that have expired or that have fallen down just acting independently because the Guru-authority is gone. They don't take śikṣā anywhere."

Advaitadas: "Yes, while they often really do not understand the philosophy and are really not perfected in surrender yet. It is their own problem. You see, you can cheat other devotees and you can even cheat yourself but you cannot cheat Kṛṣṇa. One needs to serve the Guru until and even after the perfection of surrender is achieved. It never ends."

Bhakta: "Often in Kṛṣṇa līlā Kṛṣṇa really seems to lose it, He doesn't know what is going on. How can He be God if He is not aware of everything? How can He be the complete controller then?"

Advaitadas: "The answer is there in Rāga Vartma Candrikā (2.1). He really does not know it. His enjoyment has to be complete, otherwise He would fail to be God in that respect. The solution is given by Bilvamangal, who called Kṛṣṇa both mugdha (fully enchanted through His enjoyment) and sarvajña (fully omniscient in order to control the creation) “sarvajñatve ca maugdhe ca sārvabhaumam idam maha". Also the Śrutis say:

na tasya kāryam kāraṇam ca vidyate
na tat-samaś cābhyadhikaś ca dṛśyate
parasya śaktir vividhaiva śruyate
svābhāvikī jñāna-bala-kriyā ca


He hasn't got to do anything because He has got so many energies. svābhāvikī jñāna-bala-kriyā ca. Everything is being done by His energy very perfectly. Limited controllers, like the US President, even can enjoy themselves temporarily while their agencies, the CIA, FBI and USAF maintain control, but in God's case both control and enjoyment are comprehensive."

Bhakta: "It is said that Kṛṣṇa has unlimited cows and yet He is counting them on a japa mālā."

Advaitadas: "Those are just His favorite cows, the group-heads, Dhavali-Śabali. They will gather the cows in their own groups for Kṛṣṇa."

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.”

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Phone Sanga (11)

Phone Sanga (11) Saturday, March 29, 2008 -

Bhakta: “Jīva Gosvāmī says that there is only svakīya bhāva in the spiritual World, and parakīya bhāva in the material World.”

Advaitadas: “Viśvanāth Cakravartī has said in Rāga-vartma Candrikā that there is parakīya bhāva on both realms. It would not add up anyway. What you meditate upon is what you attain, so if during lifetimes of sādhana you meditate on parakīya bhāva how could you attain only svakīya bhāva in the spiritual world? Nobody really knows why Jīva Gosvāmī preached such things, we should not cast a judgement on him.”

Bhakta: “So the body one gets after graduating from prema, taking birth from the womb of a gopī in prakat līlā, is material or spiritual?”

Advaitadas: “It needs to be suitable for attaining sneha, māna, praṇaya and all the other post-prema stages. The pre-prema body is shed because it is no longer able to contain the ecstasies of prema, so I cannot imagine that the next stage of body would be material.


sei prema nṛ-loke na hoy. 
yadi hoy tabe yoga, kabhu nahe viyoga, 
viyoga hole keho na jiwoy 

(CC Madhya 2.43)

“This prema does not exist in the human World. If it does it will be love in union, never separation, because in separation no one could survive.”

Bhakta: “Then perhaps it is a spiritualized material body?”

Advaitadas: “No, that is the current, initiated, sādhaka deha (CC Antya 4, 192-193).”

Bhakta: “It is sometimes said that there is some imperfections left in that intermediate stage in prakat līlā.”

Advaitadas: “I don’t agree. See it as graduating from perfect to more perfect to most perfect. You may compare it to graduating from high school – that’s something – and then still having to go to College to get a good job in business afterwards.”

Bhakta: “There is a new Ujjvala Nīlamaṇi out now. It is an edited version of Kuśakratha’s older one.”

Advaitadas: “With due respect to the deceased, Kuśakratha’s work is so poorly done it needs to be translated, from the Sanskrit to the English, all over again. Just editing the English without tackling the flaws in the translation of the original is just a cosmetic polish-up. Translating such texts is like opening up a PC – all the transistors and chips in them are so fine, you have to know what you are doing, or you wreck the whole machine.”

Bhakta: “In Kṛṣṇa Bhāvanāmṛta (1.6) it says there are love-marks on the mañjarīs' breasts when they wake up. Doesn’t that indicate amorous involvement with Kṛṣṇa?”

Advaitadas: “No. It is explained in Ānanda Gopāl Gosvāmī’s purport of Vilāpa Kusumāñjali (1): It is a reflection of Kṛṣṇa’s love-marks on Rādhā’s body only, an external manifestation of the mañjarīs’ bhāva-tādātmya (oneness in feeling with Rādhā). That counts for this verse too.”

Bhakta: “Then in Kṛṣṇa Bhāvanāmṛta 3.2 it is said that mañjarīs have to taste for the position of the Yūtheśvarīs although they are qualified for them.”

Advaitadas: “That is exactly confirming my point.”

Bhakta : “Couldn’t Kṛṣṇa have adjusted His complexion in order to fit into Mādhurya? After all it is not common or human that someone is blue.”

Advaitadas: “Black is beautiful. In regards to complexion, Mahāprabhu is the most human in that one, and Kṛṣṇa sacrificed His complexion to Rādhikā in becoming Mahāprabhu, but Śyāma is Śyāma and it is beautiful as it is.”

Bhakta: “But what would Nanda and Yaśodā think of their boy being of such an extraordinary complexion?”

Advaitadas: “Their sweet feelings cover up all awareness of Kṛṣṇa’s miracles too, so why not the complexion?”

Bhakta: “All the mādhurya must be in the Bhāgavatam, because it is said that Śukadeva is a parrot of Vṛndāvana.”

Advaitadas: “Whoever claims that is perhaps trying to be rasika and interesting; however, is there any scriptural evidence for that? The Bhāgavata instead says that Śukadeva was Brahman-realized and ran away from home, was caught by his father Vyāsa and then studied the Bhāgavata from him, and Caitanya Caritāmṛta says:

mādhurya bhagavattā sāra, braje koilo paracāra,
 tahe śuka vyāsera nandana,
sthāne sthāne bhāgavate,   varniyāche nānā mate

“Sweetness is the essence of Godhead, and it is manifest in Vraja. Śuka, Vyāsa’s son, described it in various ways in places of the Bhāgavata."
sthāne sthāne means here and there. Not everywhere.


yo brahma rudra śuka nārada bhīṣma mukhyair 
alakṣito na sahasā puruṣasya tasya

(Rādhā-rasa Sudhānidhi – 4) 

“Rādhā’s footdust is not easily attained by Brahmā, Śiva, Śuka, etc….”
All this does not point at him being a parrot of Vṛndavan, however glorious and important he is.”


Bhakta: “Then it is said in the Kṛṣṇa Bhāvanāmṛta that Rādhā eats Her food lukewarm, while some say that the chapatis and the milk should be boiling hot.”

Advaitadas: “Boiling hot food is in the mode of passion according to Bhagavad Gītā (17.9, atyuṣṇa…āhāra rajasas). It burns the palate, the tongue and ultimately the mind. Cold food (yāta yāma - BG 17.10) is in the mode of ignorance and that leaves warm food in the mode of goodness. The middle of winter is a bit of an exception as regards to hot food.”

Bhakta: “In Kṛṣṇa Bhāvanāmṛta (12.71) Kṛṣṇa says to Rādhā:
“Your eyes make the fishes, the wagtail-birds, the lotus flowers, the Cakora-birds, the bumblebees and other items successful with mere drops of their tastefulness (the fish), playfulness (the wagtail-birds), attractiveness (the lotus-flowers), truthful target (the Cakora-birds) and the ability to select the essence of things (the bumblebees)! (For instance, the tastefulness of Your eyes is like an ocean, of which even a drop can bless the fish completely; how can the fish then ever be compared with Your eyes? The love of a fish for the water, without which it will die, is only a drop compared with the ocean of Your love.”
The Bhagavata (11th Canto) says the fish is captured by the tongue (rasa). Can we also say: “Rādhā’s fish-like eyes are attracted to the taste of Krishna’s form?”

Advaitadas: “That is very nice, I agree with that.”

Bhakta: “While Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa thus wandered through the autumn-forest, Śrī Rādhikā pointed at the deer, the trees and the charming birds that She saw before Her and that enchanted Her mind and eyes. She pointed them out to Kṛṣṇa with Her index finger, asking Him what their names were.”(Kṛṣṇa Bhāvanāmṛta 12.31) - “She is looking at the deer and the birds and not at Kṛṣṇa, who is the most beautiful?”

Advaitadas: “You see, it is romantic. She pretends not to know things. She just wants him to do something for her, to show that he cares about her and so. Actually Raghunāth Dās Gosvāmī says ‘jñāta vṛndāṭavi sarva taru latā mṛga dvija “Rādhikā knows all the trees, creepers, deer and birds of Vṛndāvana”.

Bhakta: “Sometimes it is said that Kṛṣṇa sings the glories of Rādhā with His flute. How is that possible?”

Advaitadas: rādhā rādhā rādhā boli veṇu-i ar phukāra-i – There are so many songs describing that. Śrīmad Bhāgavata’s verse 10.21.9 and its elaborate song translation in Caitanya Caritāmṛta are famous in that respect. There are also Bengali songs and I believe a passage in the Gopāl Campū in which all Vrajavāsīs hear Kṛṣṇa's flute saying something to their group in particular. The flute tells the gopīs “Come and enjoy with Me at Rādhākuṇḍa” but the cowherd boys not; they aren’t supposed to hear that. Nanda Mahārāja should do this and the gopas should do that; everybody hears their own transmission of the flute song."

Bhakta: “Some things even sound the same but the gopas may interpret one word differently from the gopīs.”

Advaitadas: “Yes - the magic of Sanskrit sandhis, that may give opposite meanings to one and the same word. I was deeply impressed when, in 1976, I first saw the picture of Brahmā getting initiated by Kṛṣṇa’s flute song – like a blue tube entering into his ear. That is only Brahmā, what to speak of Mother Yaśodā or the gopīs. The flute appears as a piece of bamboo, but is actually an ingredient of the Sandhinī śakti.”

Bhakta: “One should not just make music, there must be some words there too.”

Advaitadas: “Absolutely. harer nāmaiva kevalamharināma is the essence, not just the music. Better singing without instruments than instruments without singing.”

Bhakta: “What then do you think about attracting new devotees through modern music?”

Advaitadas: “A lofty idea, but no, I am against it. You see, it is not that music has no influence on the consciousness. Music also comes in three modes of nature. Folk and classical music is sattva, punk, blues and most metal is tamah (darkness) and most everything else (Sinatra, ‘I love you you love me’) is in the mode of passion. Sound vibration matters. You cant just chant Hare Kṛṣṇa and play the most daft frenzied punk on the background and say its all transcendental. At the very least this music must be kept out of sacred ashram communities. We have seen western Gurus making rock music in the past – this is wrong – there is a certain dignity attached to a monk and a Guru, you know. “It’s all for preaching” is of course just an excuse for your attachment to this music.

To be continued