Follow by Email

Friday, May 30, 2008

Correction [Dāmodar's lips]

In my translation of Ananta Dās Bābājī's comments on Raghunāth Dās Gosvāmī's 'Rādhikā's 108 names', verse nr.40, I translated this Bhāgavata-verse:

gopyaḥ kim ācarad ayaṁ kuśalaṁ sma veṇur
dāmodarādhara sudhām api gopikānām
bhuṅkte svayaṁ yad avaśiṣṭa rasaṁ hradinyo
hṛṣyat tvaco'śru mumucus taravo yathāryāḥ

"O gopīs! What virtuous acts has this flute performed, that it can always drink the nectar from Dāmodara's flute, that is coveted by the gopīs?"

The word "flute" is wrong of course, and should be 'lips'. Apologies for the mistake.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Death and the body

The fact that we are not these bodies does not mean one should treat life and the body casually. The Bhāgavata (10.1.48) says:

mṛtyur buddhimatāpohyo
yāvad buddhi-balodayam
yady asau na nivarteta
nāparādho 'sti dehinaḥ

"As long as he has intelligence and bodily strength, an intelligent person must try to avoid death. But if death cannot be avoided in spite of one's endeavors, the embodied soul facing death commits no offense."

In this regard Sādhu Bābā used to quote Kumāra Sambhava: śarīram ādyaṁ khalu dharma sādhanam - "The body is surely the primary cause of religious practise (sādhana)."

Monday, May 26, 2008

Gopal Chandra Ghosh (1939-2008)

Today the Sampradaya Sun reported the passing away of Sripad Gopal Chandra Ghosh, a disciple of Sri Advaita Das Babaji of Govardhan.

Gopal Ghoshji was in charge of the Vrindavan Research Institute, just next to Kṛṣṇa Balarām Mandir in Vrindāvan, for many years and tirelessly informed all Vaiṣṇavas about the pūrva puruṣas of their lineage, as he did with me too. In late February/early March 2004 he spoke for more than an hour in Bengali on Sādhu Bābā, Ānanda Gopāl Gosvāmī Dādu and Sādhu Bābā's brothers on a recorder I borrowed from my friend Acyutānanda, recordings I later transcribed and included in the hagiographies of Sādhu Bābā and Ānanda Gopāl Gosvāmī on www.madangopal.com. He was very sharp and immediately understood all the hints I gave him during the interview, in the bud. The picture here on this blog is how he looked and where he sat when he gave me the interview.

Gopal Ghosh lived near Brahma Kuṇḍa in northern Vṛndāvana, but unfortunately I never went to his house to enjoy his hospitality. We thus lost another member of a generation of Vaiṣṇavas that is heading more and more towards extinction. His contribution is fondly remembered.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Phone Sanga 18 - naimittika līlās

Bhakta : "In Prema Samput it is said that Kṛṣṇa came from heaven, dressed as a Devi, to see Rādhā. Are there heavenly planets in the spiritual sky?"

Advaitadas: "Yes, it is described in Padma Purāṇa (6th canto) quoted in Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī's Bhakti Sandarbha 285 and Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī's Laghu Bhāgavatāmṛta 295 -

nityāḥ sarve pare dhāmni ye cānye ca divaukasaḥ.
te vai prākṛta-loke’sminn anityās tridasheshvarāḥ

"All these demigods are eternally there in the supreme abode too. In the material world they are temporary rulers of the three worlds."

Also in Govinda Līlāmṛta (19: 38-44) the demigods come down to praise Kṛṣṇa as He returns home from cowherding, to the amusement of the cowherd boys."

Bhakta: "And they are in some kind of dāsya rasa?"

Advaitadas: "Obviously. na yatra māyā kim utāpare harer anuvratā yatra surāsurārcitāḥ (SB 2.9.10) The Bhāgavat says that in Vaikuṇṭha, which is free from māyā, Lord Hari is worshipped by demigods and demons. The demons in the spiritual sky are described in Bhakti Sandarbha and Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta and the demigods in the above quotations."

This is a good opportunity to repost one of the blogs of my lost MSN-spaces site. This one is from May 7, 2005:

Demons in the spiritual sky
Continuing the discussion on demons in the spiritual sky, I found this text in Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī's Bhakti Sandarbha 28:

yatas tasya prākaṭya samaye līlās tat parikarāṣ ca ye prādurbhūvus tādṛṣāṣ cāprakaṭam api nityaṁ tadīye dhāmni sankhyātītā eva vartante. asurās tu na tatra cetanāḥ kintu yantramaya tat pratimā nibhā jneyāṁ (bhag. 10.14.61) "evaṁ vihāraiḥ" ityādau "nilāyanaiḥ setubandhair markaṭa plavanādibhiḥ" itivat tallīlānāṁ nānā prakāśaiḥ kautukenānukriyamāṇatvāt bhagavat sandarbhādau hi tathā sa nyāyaṁ darśitāsti.

"Just as Kṛṣṇa performs His lilas in the prakat līlā with His associates, so He performs innumerable pastimes in the aprakat līlā (in Goloka) with innumerable associates. The demons there have no consciousness though. They are like mechanical statues of demons. These demon statues are being imitated in various childlike pastimes as they are revealed in Śrīmad Bhāgavat 10.14.61: 'Balarām and Kṛṣṇa played hide and seek, made bridges, jumped around like monkeys and performed other child like plays in Vraja." Such has been rationally shown in Bhagavat Sandarbha and other scriptures."


Bhakta: "In Camatkāra Candrikā Kṛṣṇa plays Vidyāvalī, who comes from Benares, a māyāvādī city. Are there also  māyāvādīs in the spiritual world?"

Advaitadas: "Hahaha yes but they are pure devotees of  Kṛṣṇa still. Of course we must remember that Vidyāvalī was actually Kṛṣṇa and was just a big hoax, he/she of course never came from Kāśī, but if that would nourish Kṛṣṇa's pastimes there could be  māyāvādī sages there as well. prāyo batāmba vihaga munayo vane'smin (SB 10.21.14) "The birds in Vṛndāvana are like great munis." Viśvanātha comments on this verse that the muni-like birds of Vṛndāvana have given up all other talks (vigatānya vācaḥ) including that of brahmānanda. Actual  māyāvādīs of course merge with Brahman and have no access to eternal Vṛndāvan."

Bhakta: "Then later in Camatkāra Candrikā, Lalitā says: "Can a dead body ever engage in work?" They have dead bodies there?"

Advaitadas: "There is no birth death old age or disease there, no, but for the nourishment of nara-līlā, or Kṛṣṇa's human-like pastimes, conceptions of these things do exist. They are afraid of death like everybody else, but death never comes to them, and they are afraid of Kaṁsa too, but he will eternally be harmless and far away in Mathurā."

Bhakta: "Are there any more of such books with these naimittika (occasional) pastimes of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa?"

Advaitadas: "Yes, apart from the dramas of Rūpa Gosvāmī (Vidagdha Mādhava, Lalita Mādhava, Dānakeli Kaumudī) there is also a nice Bengali booklet called Saṅkalpa Kalpalatikā by Lakṣmī Nārāyan Bhaṭṭācārya. It is about the childhood experiences of the mañjarīs. Such naimittika līlā books can be seen as run-ups to the nitya līlā."

Bhakta: "Ananta Dās Bābājī has said that simply by seeing Smt.Rādhārāṇī one gets prema even without performing any sādhana. Is that depending on (being free from) offences? So upon seeing the deity....."

Advaitadas: "First of all, that statement does not come directly from Bābājī, but from Śrī Sanātan Gosvāmī (Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta 2.5.233, sā rādhikā bhagavatī kvacid īkṣyate cet premā tadānubhavam ṛcchati mūrtimān saḥ). It also does not speak of the deity, but of a direct darśan, premā tadānubhavam ṛcchati mūrtimān saḥ - Prema will be experienced in very own person. The idea is that, since prema is indescribable (śakyeta ced gaditum eṣa tayā tadaiva śrūyeta tattvam iha ced bhavati sva śaktiḥ), the only way to understand it is by directly seeing Bhagavati Rādhikā Herself. This is a highly mystical statement."

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Nauka Vilāsa

I translated one more song about Nauka Vilāsa, Śrī-Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa's boating pastime:


মানস গঙ্গার জল, ঘন ঘন কলকল,
দু'কুল বহিয়া যায় ঢেউ
গগনে উঠিল মেঘ, পবনে বাঢিল বেগ,
তরণী রাখিতে নারে কেউ



MĀNASA GAṄGĀRA JALA,    GHANA GHANA KALAKALA,
DU'KULA BAHIYĀ YĀY ḌHEU
GAGANE UṬHILO MEGHA,   PABANE BĀḌHILA BEGA,
TARAṆĪ RĀKHITE NĀRE KEU

The water of Manasa Ganga is turbulent and wild, blasting against both its banks. Clouds have arisen in the sky and the wind blows fiercely – no one can save this boat!”


দেখ সখি নবীন কাণ্ডারী শ্যাম রায়
কখন না জানে কান, বাহিবার সন্ধান, জানিয়া চড়িলুং কেনে নায়



DEKHO SAKHI NABĪNA KĀṆḌĀRĪ ŚYĀMA RĀY
KOKHONO NĀ JĀNE KĀNA, BĀHIBĀRA SANDHĀNA, 
JĀNIYĀ CAḌILUṀ KENE NĀY

“Behold sakhi, this young boatman Syama! He never learned how to navigate a boat – why did I board this boat despite knowing this?


নাইয়ার নাহিক ভয়, হাসিয়া কথাটি কয়, কুটিল নয়ানে চাহে মোরে
ভয়েতে কাঁপিছে দে, এ জ্বালা সহিবে কে, কাণ্ডারী ধরিয়া করে কোরে



NĀIYĀRA NĀHIKA BHOY,   HĀSIYĀ KATHĀṬI KOY,
KUṬIL NAYĀNE CĀHE MORE
BHAYETE KĀṀPICHE DE, E JWĀLĀ SOHIBE KE, 
KĀṆḌĀRĪ DHORIYĀ KORE KORE

“Fearlessly this boatman is speaking and laughing and glancing at me wantonly. My body shakes with fear – who can tolerate such a scorching experience? This boatman keeps me in his embrace!


অকাজে দিবস গেল, নৌকা পার নাহি হইল, পরাণ হইল পরমাদ
জ্ঞানদাস কহে সখি, থির হইয়া থাক দেখি, এখন না ভাবিহ বিষাদ



AKĀJE DIBASA GELO,    NAUKĀ PĀRA NĀHI HOILO, 
PARĀṆA HOILO PARAMĀDA
JÑĀNADĀSA KOHE SAKHI,     THIRA HOIYĀ THĀKO DEKHI,
EKHONO NĀ BHĀBIHA BIṢĀDA

The day has passed fruitlessly, the boat did not cross the Mānasa Gaṅgā and my mind has become very upset and confused!” Jñāna Dās says “Sakhi, stay calm and look. Don’t be sad now.”


This, along with all my other work on nauka vilāsa, has been posted on my website too, go to linktab Literature, then to Devotional Song Translations, then to the last linktab 'Nauka Vilasa'.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Phone sanga (17)

Bhakta: "Returning to the Rādhe Rādhe greeting, when Mahāprabhu and His associates cleansed the Guṇḍicā Temple, they were saying "Kṛṣṇa! Kṛṣṇa!" with everything they did."

Advaitadas: "Yes that is fine, there is nothing wrong with that. It is not written anywhere in the Gosvāmīs books that we must greet each other with Rādhe Rādhe or Hare Kṛṣṇa for that matter. Shaving the heads or growing long hair, this is not settled in śāstras, nor is the custom of Vaiṣṇavas to live in three holy places - Purī, Navadvīp and Braja. The Gosvāmīs simply say Braja, they never mention Purī or Navadvīp. Not that there is anything wrong in living in these places. śāstra is mute about a lot of issues."

Bhakta: "On the other hand sometimes you hear endless Rādhe Rādhe kīrtans."

Advaitadas: Śrīla Raghunāth Dās Gosvāmī said:


rādheti nāma nava sundara sīdhu mugdha
kṛṣṇeti nāma madhurādbhuta gāḍha dugdha


"Rādhā, that name is like fresh sweet nectar and Kṛṣṇa, that name is like sweet astonishing condensed milk." Narottam Dās Ṭhākur sings:

jaya rādhe jaya kṛṣṇa, jaya jaya rādhe kṛṣṇa,

kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa jaya jaya rādhe.

Both Rādha nāma and Kṛṣṇa nāma are there. There are many glorifications of Rādhā nāma kīrtan in Rādhā Rasa Sudhānidhi. Sādhu Bābā told me all the goodies from that book: One morning he came out of his kuṭir and told us: "Just clapping your hands and saying Rādhe Rādhe accomplishes your whole bhajan." I later found that in Rādhā Rasa Sudhānidhi (144) - rādhā nāmaiva kāryaṁ hyanudina militaṁ sādhanādhīśa koṭis tyajya. Anyway, that is one level. When you are preaching to people on the street and introduce them to harinām kīrtan it is better to wait with Rādhā nāma, lest outsiders misunderstand. Sanātan Gosvāmī says that harinām saṅkīrtan is for your own benefit and for that of others. You can think of that sublime explanation of Raghunāth Dās Gosvāmī wherever you chant."

Bhakta: "Rādhā is called sakhī praṇayitā vaśā, She is controlled by the love of Her sakhīs. Can you give some example?"

Advaitadas: "After She has enjoyed with Kṛṣṇa at Rādhākuṇḍa She feels sorry that Her girlfriends are alone in their kuñjas so She urges Kṛṣṇa to go to them, and He expands Himself eight-fold to go to each of them."

Bhakta: "In the previous sanga you said that eating prasād is service - does that mean we should not relish the taste of the prasād?"

Advaitadas: "No. In Caitanya Caritāmṛta (Antya 16.106-149) it is elaborately described how Śrīman Mahāprabhu relished the taste of prasād. He said that although the ingredients were material, the taste and fragrance had become divine due to having been touched by Kṛṣṇa's lips. Much of it can be read in the purport of Vilāpa Kusumāñjali's verse 49, which deals with the same subject. All devotional service is relishable anyway. Dāruk cursed his ecstasy while he fanned Kṛṣṇa only because it obstructed his service, but relish of bhakti is not condemned at all - the very name of Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu says so - 'the ocean of nectar of the taste of devotion." Regarding food, please see my blog of June 6, 2006. Actually, it is even disrespectful not to relish prasād. It needs to be relished with devotional greed, however, not material greed."

Bhakta: "In aṣṭakāliya līlā it is described how Mother Yaśodā wishes Rādhikā to get married to Kṛṣṇa (and even sends presents along with Her to Jaṭilā for that purpose), but how is that possible since Rādhikā is already married to Abhimanyu?"

Advaitadas: "Love is blind. She knows that, but still she is hoping against hope. Wishful thinking. When your child is totally dumb out of love you hope he/she will go to college, though practically that is totally impossible."

Bhakta: "Kṛṣṇa initiates the gopīs into Kāma Gāyatrī. Did He actually become their Guru then?"

Advaitadas: "This is a poetic metaphor. Initiating in Kāma-gayatrī generally means that you are creating lusty desires in the opposite sex. Apart from that, since the spiritual sky is timeless, nobody has ever really taken dīkṣā from anybody."

Bhakta: "There are also accounts of either the sakhīs or the mañjarīs bathing Rādharāṇī. I thought the sakhīs were excluded from that?"

Advaitadas: "There are different angles. The aṣṭakāliya līlā which describes the sakhīs bathing Rādharāṇī,  is more generic and objective, while the typical mañjarī bhāva paddhatīs like Vilāpa Kusumāñjali, are really specialised and focused on mañjarī bhāva."

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Dīkṣā

Bhakta:
"Well, I was just wondering about all this dīkṣā-issue... You see, there are many weird fellas with "real" initiation, and there are apparently many sincere devotees who do not have "real" initiation... Yes, I know that the śāstras say that one has to have dīkṣā, still, is that really what counts? Putting aside principles for a while, and looking at hard facts, one may get puzzled a bit. What is your opinion based on what you have experienced during your life in bhakti-yoga?"

(This question has become more significant now after some high profile defections)

Advaitadas:
"Dear Bhakta, it is the mentality that counts, not the ritual. dīkṣā is an act of self surrender – dīkṣā-kāle bhakta kore ātma-samarpana. [C.C. Antya 4] “At the time of initiation the devotee surrenders him/herself.” No ritual will purify the heart, only bhakti does. However, let us keep it on the safe side and both take dīkṣā [in the proper line] AND surrender. Consider the verdict of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī (Upadeśāmṛta) - kṛṣṇeti yasya giri taṁ manasādriyeta - 'Mentally honour those who just say ‘Kṛṣṇa [without dīkṣā]', then after that: dīkṣāsti cet praṇatibhiḥ - 'Bow down to those who do have dīkṣā.' So you see that Rūpa Gosvāmī does distinguish between the non-initiated and the initiated, considering the latter to be more worthy of worship. However, finally he says; suśrūṣubhi bhajana vijñam ananyam anya nindādi śūnya - 'Real service, though, must be rendered to those who are expert in bhajan and do not criticise others.' dīkṣā alone does not make the saint, but it is imperative still…."

This is what Tapan Dā, my Guru brother, told me by phone in Vṛndāvana, on dīkṣā, on October 19, 2007:

"(For us) There is no need for prāṇa pratiṣṭhā (ritual installation) of deities – dīkṣā automatically grants adhikāra (qualification) for deity worship."
Haribhakti Vilāsa (2.3-4) says:

dvijānām anupetānāṁ sva-karmādhyayanādiṣu
yathādhikāro nāstīha syāc copanayanād anu
tathātrādīkṣitānāṁ tu mantra devārcanādiṣu
nādhikāro 'sty ataḥ kuryād ātmānaṁ ṣiva saṁstutam

“Just as brāhmaṇas have no right to study the Vedas or perform their rites without having undergone the sacred thread ceremony, similarly those who are not initiated into the mantra of their devatā have no right to engage in their arcanā.”
(Verse added by the editor)

Monday, May 05, 2008

Phone sanga (16)

Advaitadas: "Rādhe Rādhe!"

Bhakta: "Someone said that this is not a correct way of greeting. If Rādhā is in separation from Kṛṣṇa you should say Hare Kṛṣṇa, because that address contains both Rādhā (Hare) and Kṛṣṇa."

Advaitadas: "That "Hare" refers to Rādhā is a minority view. The majority of Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas identify themselves as Rādhā's maidservants and will see the whole Hare Kṛṣṇa Mantra as referring to Kṛṣṇa. Hare is vocative for both Hari and Harā. That hare stands for hari is the highest view of the mahā mantra, given by Raghunāth Dās Gosvāmī. The mahā mantra is only meant to please Rādhā, not Kṛṣṇa.  This would actually confirm what that devotee claimed, but 'Rādhe Rādhe' is said to the fellow-devotee, not to Smt. Rādhārāṇī Herself. One also often says 'Jay Rādhe!' which is the same. Victory to Rādhā, our mistress! It is confirming we are devotees of Rādhārāṇī, though in some cases it is an effort to get Kṛṣṇa's mercy through Rādhā."

Bhakta: "To glorify a devotee before the deities can be both an offense or just an activity to please Kṛṣṇa, it depends on the intention of the speaker. So I thought to say Kṛṣṇa's name as a greeting with intention to please Rādhā can be also good, and maybe that is more pleasing to her, to hear the name of her beloved than to hear her own name."

Advaitadas: "haha yes so we can continue vice-versa-ing ad infinitum! There is nothing wrong with hare Kṛṣṇa or haribol, it is not forbidden or apasiddhānta, but

1. My Guru always said rādhe rādhe! or jay rādhe, and
2. Whoever I have associated with in my 12 years in Vraja - shopkeepers, dry scholars, jñānīs, yogis and karmīs, South Indians, Bengalis and Vrajavasis - there is a consensus about the use of Rādhe Rādhe. Nobody but Iskcon or perhaps Gauḍīya Math says haribol or hare Kṛṣṇa."

Bhakta: "There is also another mantra -

rādhe kṛṣṇa rādhe kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa rādhe rādhe
rādhe śyām rādhe śyām śyām śyām rādhe rādhe

- it is said that this is higher than Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra."

Advaitadas:
"1. This mantra was never given by Caitanya Mahāprabhu. He gave us -

hare kṛṣṇa hare kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa hare hare
hare rāma hare rāma rāma rāma hare hare.

It is there in Caitanya Bhāgavata and in the Haribhakti Vilāsa.

2. Just because the names rādhe kṛṣṇa and rādhe śyām are in that mantra does not make it higher at all. The mañjarī bhāva conception of Raghunāth Dās Gosvāmī, wherein the whole mantra is chanted for Rādhā and every word means Kṛṣṇa, is the highest.

3. rādhe kṛṣṇa rādhe kṛṣṇa or a rādhe kṛṣṇa interpretation of the mahā mantra, in which hare means Harā or Rādhā, indicates sama sneha, equal love for Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, which is inferior to rādhā snehādhikā, preference for Rādhā. Narottama Dās Thākur says in Prema Bhakti Candrikā (51): sama snehā, visama snehā, nā koriho dui lehā - kohi mātra adhika snehā-gaṇa "Equal affection for Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa or more affection for Kṛṣṇa than for Śrī Rādhā - do not become attached to that. I will just speak about preference for Śrī Rādhā!" It is not that we reject Kṛṣṇa, though. rādhā snehādhikā of course ultimately returns to Kṛṣṇa because to please Śrī Rādhā automatically pleases Kṛṣṇa. mañjarī bhāva-worshippers are ultimately also yugalopāsakas - worshippers of the complete Divine Couple."

Bhakta: "Returning to our discussion last time about eating and digesting food in the spiritual world, in his commentary on Brahma Saṁhitā 5.29 (cintāmaṇi prakara sadmasu kalpavṛksa....) Bhaktivinode says that the whole spiritual world is fashioned of Cintamaṇi gems. It serves as the structural material of the residence of the Supreme Lord." That is not like the atoms that make up this world, that can be transformed into food and that again into stool."

Advaitadas: "Non-moving entities in the spiritual world are said to be eternal associates of Śrī Kṛṣṇa in Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta (2.4.139-140) - it includes trees, shoots and insects, I am not sure about edibles like fruits, but it would be mind-boggling to me that we would actually be eating pure devotees and passing them out like stool. The text of Brahma Samhitā's Cintāmaṇi-verse clearly says sadmasu, the buildings are made of Cintāmaṇi, not that every atom is made of it. The purport of Bhaktivinode is open to interpretation. He writes: tan madhye sādhāraṇa cintāmaṇi apekṣā golokera bhagavad āvāsa gaṭhana sāmagrī rūpa cintāmaṇi adhikatara durllabha o upādeya "The abode(s) of the Lord in Goloka are made of ingredients more rare than the ordinary Cintāmaṇi-gems." The word āvāsa or abode in this Bengali sentence can be either plural or singular, but the plural is already used in the original text, so it is clear that only the buildings and not the whole (Goloka-) abode are made of Cintāmaṇi gems." The translator of the Bhaktivinoda purports writes: "The divine potency has fashioned the transcendental world from the transcendental element of Cintāmaṇi." This is not the correct translation."

Bhakta: "In Kuśakratha's translation of Jīva Gosvāmī's commentary on Brahma Saṁhitā 5.30 it speaks about the abode of Cintāmaṇi."

Advaitadas: "That is also not correct. Jīva Gosvāmī writes: tad evaṁ cintāmaṇi-prakara-sadma-mayīṁ..... golokhākhya-vilakṣaṇa-pīṭha-gatāṁ līlām uktvā  "Brahmā speaks of the pastimes in the extraordinary seat called Goloka, which is filled with Cintāmaṇi-buildings." If there is an invasion of monkeys in Rādhākuṇḍa, the Bengalis cry out (the place is) 'bānar-moy', filled with monkeys (moy) not that Radhakund has become a monkey, it just has become filled with monkeys. Generally it is better to wait till the right translation comes out than to jump into errant translations."

Bhakta: "Why would it please Kṛṣṇa if a gopī rejects Him?"

Advaitadas: "There is a greater joy of conquest and of accomplishment for a male lover if a woman resists, rather than if she gives in at once. So the gopīs serve Kṛṣṇa by resisting Him. There are limits, however. If a woman is too hard to get it is also not pleasing Kṛṣṇa. Smt. Rādhārāṇī sings:

kāntā kṛṣṇe kore roṣa, kṛṣṇa pāy santoṣa,
sukha pāy tāḍana bhartsane,
yathā-yogya kore mān, kṛṣṇa tāte sukh pān,
chāḍe mān alpa sādhane

(CC Antya 20.54)

 "If a gopi is angry with Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa is pleased with Her chastisement. Her anger has the right proportions, so that it pleases Kṛṣṇa and Her anger is won over with little endeavour."

sei nārī jīye kene, kṛṣṇa marma nāhi jāne,
tabu kṛṣṇe kore gārha roṣa.
nija sukhe māne lābha, poruk tār śire bāj,
kṛṣṇera mātra cāhiye santosh (55)

"Why would that woman, who does not know Kṛṣṇa's heart, survive, if she remains angry with Him just for her own sake? She only thinks of her own pleasure! Let a thunderbolt fall on her head! We just want Kṛṣṇa's satisfaction!"

The demons are there for Kṛṣṇa to fight, to give Him the pleasure of challenge. He doesn't know for sure if He will win, otherwise there is no joy of conquest. So it is also with His conquest of the gopīs. If a mañjarī kicks Him out of the kuñja He is back at square one. He has to start all over again trying to win over Rādhārāṇī. She is vāma madhyā, or moderately left-wing, which means just that - not easy to win over, but not impossible to win over either. That is most pleasing to Kṛṣṇa."

Bhakta: "So that increases the mood of separation too then."

Advaitadas: "Yes yes. There are four types of separation - māna, pūrva rāga, pravāsa and prema-vaicittya. So māna (anger, conflict, breakup, refusal) is one of them."

Bhakta: "In aṣṭakāliya līlā it is described how the mañjarīs laugh and joke about the signs of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa's love-making, yet it is also said that they are humble servants. That is not so humble."

Advaitadas: "No, no - humble servant means in maryādā (social status) they are inferior to the sakhīs. Yet they are able to kick Kṛṣṇa out of the kuñja. The sakhīs are older and are able to have an intimate relationship with Kṛṣṇa, for this reason their external status is superior. But for us, as devotees, the relish is greater as a mañjarī. Humble position does not mean humble attitude. They have a very big mouth to Kṛṣṇa and He relishes that."

Friday, May 02, 2008

Veṇu Gīta

Book review
Venu Gita by Shivaram Swami.


It seems to me this book serves as many political purposes as it does devotional purposes. I suspect this to be an attempt by the author to compose a 'bonafide' rasik book, with the stamp of GBC approval on it, to prevent devotees from leaving Iskcon to search for a rasika guru or go and read rasika books elsewhere. The author's own, admittedly tasty, writing, is interspersed with quotations from my translations, often verbatim copy-paste, though I am probably not considered 'bonafide' by the author and his associates. This type of practise has already occurred before with some of my work being 'borrowed' by persons who openly profess that anyone who is not a member of their organization is 'bogus'. It is very much to be seen whether this type of subtstitutes are going to keep people from buying 'outside translations', since only fragments of the Gosvāmīs' līlā-granthas are being quoted here. Indeed, it may even increase curiosity after the full picture, though I suppose the author's faithful followers will be satisfied with his presentation. Whether such satisfaction is lobha or not is to be questioned.

My translations of Govinda Līlāmṛta (ch.5) and Utkalikā Vallari (2 and 4) are copied and pasted into chapter 1, which is ended by the author claiming that "It is simply a matter of reviving one's lost constitutional relationship." though there is no scriptural evidence of us having a lost constitutional relationship. The author is regularly quoting his Guru inside the text to assure his readers that it is really not 'sahajīya' of him to speak about Kṛṣṇa's flute playing and the gopīs' reactions to it.

Chapter one includes the claim "By offering a ghee lamp to Rādhā-kuṇḍa, the performer will see the universe during his bath.." which, even if it is anywhere in śāstra, is really not the boon which is to be coveted by worshipers of the Kuṇḍa. The prahelī (verbatim) and Prema Vaicittya līlās (in his own words) are being quoted without bothering about any sequence of time or season. Most of the text, perhaps 85%, is a patchwork of all kinds of things the author has picked up here and there, very little is his own writing.

In chapter 2 the author starts a narration of some fictitious satsaṅga in Māyāpur between some devotees, alledgedly disciples of Bhaktivinode, very much in the style of Bhaktivinode's Jaiva Dharma. There seems to be absolutely no line or sequence in the book, everything passes the review, of which I wonder if that is bonafide for a prose text. I could find no serious cases of rasābhāsa or viruddha siddhānta.

The author's quotation of the reversed Rāsa līlā from Kṛṣṇa Bhāvanāmṛta in chapter 4 is in his own words, not copy/pasted from yours truly.

In chapter 5 he takes over Ānanda Gopāl Gosvāmī's narration (in Vilāpa Kusumāñjali 80) of how the mañjarīs call Kṛṣṇa a fool because of associating with cows and cowherds. Later that same chapter Swāmījī, once, adopts Kṛṣṇadās Bābājī's format of describing how Mahāprabhu relishes the līlā with his associates, in this case how He snaps out of the madhyāhna līlā. In what seems to be his personal write-up the author places Rādhikā in Barsānā, perhaps not realizing that Barsānā is the abode of Her parents, where She grew up, not the place (Yāvat) where She resides when She has pastimes with Kṛṣṇa.

In chapter 7 the author summarizes Mādhava Mahotsava - it is as if he wants to cram all the Gosvāmīs' books into one 'bona fide' book, making all other books superfluous.

Later he quotes my translation of the prayers of the devas in Govinda Līlāmṛta 19.38-45 almost verbatim, just changing a few syllables here and there.

Chapter Eight contains, predictably, a summary of the Pearl Story of Raghunāth Dās Gosvāmī.
It also contains a story I did not hear before, of Kṛṣṇa squirting milk into the gopīs' faces while milking the cows at Ter Kadamb and sending a cow gallopping unto them. Perhaps I missed something or this is the author's own composition.

Chapter Nine contains the śuka-śāri pralāpa from Govinda Līlāmṛta and a hitherto not narrated odd pow-wow held by Mukharā, Paurṇamāsī and the gopīs about the wicked Jaṭilā. Then follows a quick succession of Dāna Līlā, Niśānta Līlā and Gaura līlā, finally culminating in Svapna Vilāsa - it is almost dazzling.

The author seems to be attracted to Rāma-līlā too, because almost each chapter carries some narration about Sītā-Rām in it.

Chapter Ten includes the story from Gopāl Tāpanī Upaniṣad, how the gopīs approached Durvāsā Muni, and flows seamlessly into the boating līlā (in context of crossing the Yamunā), which again even includes the gopīs stealing Kṛṣṇa's flute.

Chapter Eleven starts with a fictituous story of one Raghunāth Dās brahmacārī approaching his Guru Govinda Vidyāratna and interviewing him about Kṛṣṇa's maugdhya in Viśvanāth Cakravartī's Rāga vartma Candrikā. The author quotes some nice ṭīkās here of Jīva Gosvāmī to the Veṇu-Gīta. On Raghunāth's request Vidyāratna, who turns out to be different from Vidyābhūṣaṇa, then predicts the appearance of the author's Guru, who will open 108 temples travelling in metal vimānas (airplanes) and write a new commentary on the śāstras.

The author shows great love for Girirāja, as he writes a lot about him. In chapter 14 he narrates the Dāna Keli Cintāmaṇi story in brief.

Towards the end he comes with the morning recollection of Śyāmalā and Rādhikā and in chapter 15 he quotes Ānanda Gopāl Gosvāmī and Ananta Dās Bābājī verbatim ("Everybody says 'Give, give!' only Rādhikā says 'Take take!' etc).

The book was completed in July 1998, when my books were not yet published but were available in xerox format, and obviously had floated into the author's office somehow.

I suppose the ultimate verdict on this book should be made by a real sāhitya nipuṇa, someone expert in Vedic literature. Perhaps it is all according to the rules, perhaps the rules simply don't count for English 'sāhitya'.