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Monday, July 28, 2008

Bhakti Sandarbha 173 in-depth

Recently one devotee probed me on the Bhakti Sandarbha text 173. I passed his inquiry on to Dr. Satya Nārāyan Dās of the Jiva Institute:

Revered Prabhuji,
Please accept my Rādhe Rādhe.
In Bhakti Sandarbha (173) it is said:

api cet sudurācāraḥ [gītā 9.30] ity-ādy-uktasyānanya-bhāktvena lakṣitā tu yā śraddhā sā khalu ye śāstra-vidhim utsṛjya yajante śraddhayānvitāḥ [gītā 17.1] itival loka-paramparā-prāptā, na tu śāstrāvadhāraṇa-jātā | śāstrīya-śraddhāyāṁ tu jātāyāṁ sudurācāratvāyogaḥ syāt | para-patnī-para-dravya- [vi.pu. 3.8.14] ity-ādi-viṣṇu-toṣaṇa-śāstra-virodhāt | maryādāṁ kṛtāṁ tena ity ādinā tad-bhaktatva-virodhāc ca | na tu sā durācāratā tad-bhakti-mahima-śraddhākṛtaiva | api-śabdena durācāratvasya heyatva-vyañjanāt | tathā kṣipraṁ bhavati dharmātmā ity-uttarāpratipatteḥ | nāmno balād yasya hi pāpa-buddhiḥ ity ādināparādhāpātāc ca |  tataḥ sā śraddhā na śāstrīya-bhakty-adhikāriṇāṁ viśeṣaṇatve praveśanīyā, kintu bhakti-praśaṁsāyām eva 

“The ananya bhak-ness (exclusive devotion) which is mentioned in the Gītā (9.30) verse: “Even if one commits very bad acts but is exclusively devoted to Me he is considered a saint” refers to popular faith which is attained through hearsay, as is referred to in the Gītā (17.1) verse: “Whoever gives up the rules of scripture and worships according to faith…” This, however, is not faith imbibed through the scriptures, because very bad behavior is impossible with such faith, and would contradict statements from Viṣṇu Toṣaṇa like "Lord Kṛṣṇa is never pleased by thieves or adulterers, or those who harm others." or Viṣṇu Dharmottara "One who does not follow the etiquette or protocol (maryādā) cannot be considered a devotee of Lord Viṣṇu. The Lord is worshiped only by they who act in a saintly way." Very bad conduct cannot be the result of faith in the glories of devotion to Kṛṣṇa. The word api in the text (even if he commits very bad things..) also indicates how contemptible it is to behave very badly. If it weren’t, then the following verse (Gītā 9.31), ‘He will soon become righteous and attain lasting peace’, would make no sense and the offense of commiting sinful activities on strength of chanting the holy name would be committed. So this adjective (api cet sudurācāra) should not be accepted as referring to a devotee who has scriptural devotion, rather this statement is a glorification (of the process of devotion).

One devotee, however, asked me: “What about the urges? Are they not exempt from śāstrīya śraddhā? Don't you think a very very bad conduct can be forced by an urge?” He then quoted Śrīmad Bhāgavata 11.14.18:


bādhyamāno’pi mad bhakto viṣayair ajitendriyaḥ
prāyah pragalbhayā bhaktyā viṣayair nābhibhūyate

spoken by Śrī Kṛṣṇa, about devotees who feel bad for their behavior but cannot avoid it. So we don’t understand what Śrī Jīva means with that no person with śāstrīya śraddhā would commit very sinful activities, which are glossed by the ācāryas as theft and adultery. These things seem not to depend on having either śāstrīya- or laukik śraddhā."

(SND) "Dear Advaita prabhuji
Dandavat. Jai Śrī Radha Madanagopal!
In this verse of Śrīmad Bhagavata, Bhagavan Śrī Kṛṣṇa clearly says that such a person is not overpowered (na abhibhuyate) by the sense objects. He is bādhyamana, i.e. troubled. The urges, because of prārabdha, appear in the mind but he is not subjugated by them because of the power of bhakti, which is more powerful than the urges (pragalbhayā bhaktyā). This is how I see the verse.
But if it is accepted that the verse means that such a devotee actually engages in sense pleasures then it is to be understood that these pleasures are not the sinful types, forbidden in the scripture i.e. himsa etc.
A devotee having śāstrīya śraddhā will not engage in such acts because it goes against his/her very śraddhā.
Satyanarayana Dasa

(AD) Revered Prabhuji,
Radhe Radhe
Thank you for your reply. I also thought that the SB 11.14.18 verse had that meaning. I tried to understand Viśvanāth Cakravartī's ṭīkā to it, but my Sanskrit is not good enough. I am quizzed a bit because he does mention the api cet sudurācāro verse in this ṭīkā. Could you explain the purport of Viśvanāth please? Thank you.

visvanathah : api ca, āstāṁ tāvad utpanna-bhāva-bhakta-kathā, yato bhaktau prathama-vartamāno’pi bhaktaḥ kṛtārtha evety āha—vādhyamāna iti prāyaḥ-pragalbhayā prāyeṇaiva prabalī-bhavantyā kim punaḥ pragalbhayā | yad vā, jñāni-prakaraṇe yathā durācāro jñānī nindiṣyate, jñānitvaṁ ca tasya niṣidhyate, yas tv asaṁyata-ṣaḍ-vargaḥ [bhā.pu. 11.18.40] ity ādinā tathātra bhakta-prakaraṇe durācāro bhakto na nindyo bhaktatvaṁ ca tasya na niṣiddham ity āha—bādhyamāna iti | yad uktam—api cet sudurācāro bhajate mām ananya-bhāk |
sādhur eva sa mantavyaḥ samyag-vyavasito hi saḥ || [gītā 9.30] iti |
kiṁ cātra viṣayair bādhyamāno’pi viṣayair nābhibhūyata ity ubhayatrāpi vartamāna-nirdeśāt viṣaya-bādhyatva-daśāyām api viṣayābādhyatvaṁ bhakti-ṣaḍ-bhāvāt, yathā vairi-kṛta-kiñcicchastrāghātam prāptasyāpi na parābhaviṣṇutā śaurya-ṣaḍ-bhāvād iti | yathā vā, pīta-jvaraghna-mahauṣadhasya tad-divase āyāto’pi jvaro bādhako’py abādhaka eva tasya vinaśyad-avasthatvāt dināntare ca samyaṅ nāṣṭībhāvitvācca ||18||

(SND) Dear Advaita Prabhuji,
Jai Sri Radhe Shyama
I am giving the meaning below:
Let alone a devotee who has attained bhāva bhakti, even a bhakta who has just begin on the path is surely an accomplished person (kṛtārtha) - to say this Lord Kṛṣṇa speaks the present verse. prāyaḥ pragalbhayā means which is certainly becoming stronger (even such bhakti helps a neophyte bhakta in not getting overpowered by the viṣaya) then what to speak of the advanced state of bhakti. In the section describing a jnani a durācārī jñānī will be criticised and will be not be accepted as a jñānī, as in the verse beginning with yas tvasamyata ṣaḍ-varga. But in the section describing a devotee, a durācārī bhakta is not criticised nor is it said that such a person is not a devotee. This is said in this verse. This is also said in the verse of the Gita, api cet.
Furthermore, even while being troubled by the viṣaya he/she is not overpowered by the viṣaya -the present tense in both parts means that by the presence of bhakti the devotee is not troubled or remains above the trouble even when facing the trouble (i.e. is not being absorbed in the situation, and is aware that it is wrong to enjoy viṣaya). (SVCT gives an example) Just as when a warrior is attacked by an enemy and gets hurt by a weapon does not feel defeated or subdued because of his chivalry. (another example) As a sick man suffering from fever after taking a powerful medicine to dispel fever may still have fever on the day of taking the medicine yet he does not become cowed down by it because he feels the recovery from fever and because he knows that the fever will be gone completely the following day .
SND

(AD) Revered Prabhuji,
Thank you very much for the translation. My final question to get me convinced is this: Is the wound of the warrior and the fever of the sick man to be compared with the sensual desire or with the indulging in it? Thank you very much!!

(SND) This was already answered. Either it is to be taken as only in the mind and not actually indulging in it; or if it is to be taken as indulging then it is not the forbidden type such as eating meat, having illegal sexual relation etc.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Questions on Tilak and organ donation

I probed into some mysteries with the help of Śrīpād Satya Nārāyan Prabhu. Below is the first correspondence in a series of two blogs -

(AD) Revered Prabhuji,
Please accept my Rādhe Rādhe.
I hope you are well.
I have some questions:

It is said that all items of Kṛṣṇa 's appearance, including His dress and ornaments, are parts of His sandhinī- śakti and are eternal. However, there are many different types of tilak of Kṛṣṇa described in the Gosvāmīs' books - kumkum, candana, gorocana or musk (kasturī tilakaṁ lalāṭa paṭale). Does this mean that the sandhini śakti reveals different types of tilak, these svarūpas of Kṛṣṇa are all different, the tilaks are interchangeable or some of the ācāryas were just wrong?

(SND) "Dear Advaita Prabhuji,
Jai Śrī Radha Madanagopala!

NO, the ācāryas are not wrong. Bhagavan Kṛṣṇa can have different types tilaks on different occasions."

(AD) "I am having a discussion with various bhaktas on organ donation after death. This may become compulsory in the Netherlands so I need to know the Vaiṣṇava perspective on this -

Some say that one cannot get liberated if the entire body is not cremated or one becomes a ghost. Others say that it is an act of charity to donate organs and will create good karma. Again others say that organ donation may result in sin because sinful people may use your donated organs to digest alcohol, meat and drugs. What is your opinion on this or what can we find on this in śāstra?"

(AD:) "Some say that one cannot get liberated if the entire body is not cremated or one becomes a ghost."

(SND) "Liberation does not depend upon the cremation of the body. yaṁ yaṁ vāpi smaran bhāvam - that is the principle of rebirth or next destination. Devotees do not become ghosts just because the full body was not cremated. It will be an insult to bhakti even to think that a devotee became a ghost just because his/her whole body was not cremated. It would mean the holy name has no power. You know the verses speaking of the power of the name. Even Yamarāja instructs his servants not to approach the devotees. Choṭa Haridās drowned himself in Ganga. Did he become a ghost? His body was not burnt. In the Mahābhārat war so many soldiers from both sides lost their limbs and then their bodies were not always burnt, but sometimes eaten by vultures and jackals. It is not mentioned that they became ghosts. Moreover a devotee is not interested in liberation. His interest is in service in this or the next life, wherever he/she is born."

(AD) "Others say that it is an act of charity to donate organs and will create good karma."

(SND) "This is true if this is what one wants. In Gītā (17th ch.) Kṛṣṇa talks of charity in the three gunas and one can read there what is the effect of such charity. It also involves deśa-kāla-pātra (time, place and individual). But does a devotee want good karma? Is devotee interested in sevā or karma? What does a devotee has to do with good karma? Does he work to accrue good karma? Then how can such a person be called a devotee? In Śrīmad Bhagavata (SB 11.20.9) Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa tells Uddhava:

tāvat karmani kurvīta na nirvidyata yāvata
mat-kathā-sravaṇādau vā sraddhā yāvan na jāyate.

“As long as one is not satiated by fruitive activity and has not awakened his taste for hearing and chanting topics of Me one should act according to the regulative principles of the Vedic injunctions.”

He categorically forbids devotees to engage in fruitive actions. This is an injunction and not an option."

(AD) "Again others say that organ donation may result in sin because sinful people may use your donated organs to digest alcohol meat and drugs."

(SND) "This should be answered by the above."

(AD) "What is your opinion on this or what can we find on this in shastra?"

(SND) "My opinion is that a devotee is interested in devotional service, not in altruistic activities. Even if he wants to do altruistic activities it should be dovetailed with devotion and not done independently. The best welfare to society lies in bhakti. This was the question posed by Śaunak Ṛṣi To Sūta Gosvāmī in the very first chapter of Śrīmad Bhāgavata - what is the best welfare for humanity? The answer was Kṛṣṇa Bhakti. All other solutions are ultimately useless and create another problem, as Śrī Prahlāda has said in Śrīmad Bhāgavata. A devotee hits at the root of the problem. That is why he is not appreciated by common person because they want an immediate solution ( which definitely leads to a problem). So if we donate our limbs to a devotee that is very good. If we donate to a non-devotee it does not matter. From our perspective it is neither good nor bad. Because in the ultimate sense it makes no difference. Therefore a devotee neither gets a good karma nor bad karma. He/she is not interested in it. Karma also depends on sankalpa and not on mere act. If there is a hungry person a devotee gives food not because it is an act leading to good karma. His compassion is not independent of devotion. King Bharata became deer because he became compassionate on deer cub independent of devotion. Otherwise it was not possible. He was such a great devotee. So a devotee is compassionate from devotional point of view and not independently. I hope I have thrown some light on the subject."
Satya Narayana Das.

(AD): "Revered Prabhujī,
Please accept my Rādhe Rādhe
Thank you for your enlightening answers.
Please allow me, however, to probe a bit more because I am very slow of understanding.
You said that donating organs to a non-devotee (thus a potential meat-eater and drinker) would not matter. Are we then not assisting in his sinful activities or do you consider us anyway free from sin because of our nāmāśray? But if we know in advance that the recipient of our organs is a sinner, would that not amount to nāmno balād pāpa buddhiḥ, as in the nāmāparādhas?"

Dear Advaita Prabhu
"Certainly a devotee is not interested in donating his/her limbs to a meat-eater non-devotee, at least I would not like to do that. But if it is a law, as you had written that in Netherlands it will be compulsory, then I have no choice. In that case I will not get sin. But if I donate to a sinner knowingly and then think I am free from sin because I am a devotee then that will be nāmāparādha. If it compulsory to donate even then I should think that my limbs are meant only to serve the Lord and may whoever gets them will use them only to serve the Lord. That I think is the proper attitude. Making a good use of a bad bargain , as the saying goes."
Satya Narayan Dasa

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Tilaka, Svakīya bhāva and the good Yamadūtas

Bhakta: "Kṛṣṇa is described as wearing sandalwood tilak. I thought tilak was made of clay."

Advaitadas: "tilak for sadhakas is different from tilak of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, according to the rules. Rādhārāṇī's tilak is made of vermilion according to Govinda Līlāmṛta (2.77) and musk according to Vilāpkusumāñjali (24). Kṛṣṇa's tilak is made either of Gorocana (a bright yellow pigment secreted from a cow's kidney), or kunkum. Other sources say: kastūrī tilakaṁ lalāṭa paṭale "Kṛṣṇa has musk tilak on the forehead." As for the Vaiṣṇavas, Mahāprabhu put on Rādhākuṇḍa tilak after He discovered Rādhākuṇḍa, and since then Vaiṣṇavas who are dedicated to Rādhārāṇī do the same. Actually, throughout Haribhakti Vilāsa gopī candana tilaka is prescribed. "

Bhakta: "Why not Rādhākuṇḍa tilak then?"

Advaitadas: "Haribhakti Vilāsa was written purely on the basis of the ancient Purāṇas and śāstras, in order to give it, and thus our sampradāya, maximum credibility. That is also why festivals like Rādhāṣṭamī and Gaura Pūrṇimā are not included in it - these are not mentioned in any ancient Vedic śāstra. In this way other sampradāyas could not point their fingers at us and say: "You see, they are making all kinds of things up for their own group." That is why, despite the fact that they are not mentioned in Haribhakti Vilāsa, we do observe Gaur Pūrṇimā and Rādhāṣṭamī and we do wear Rādhākuṇḍa tilak. Of course Rādhākuṇḍa is but a small pond and there are millions of Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas in north eastern India, so it is understandable that most Vaiṣṇavas cannot get their hands on it, so they may either use gopi candan or not wear tilak at all."

Bhakta: "A marriage of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa would spoil the parakīya rasa, but it is described in Padma Purāṇa and Garga Saṁhitā."

Advaitadas: "It does not spoil the parakīya rasa -  it simply isn't parakīya rasa.  Kṛṣṇa is complete and there is no feature missing in Kṛṣṇa, barring rasābhāsa and viruddha siddhānta of course, so Kṛṣṇa also has a married feature in Vraja. There is also bālya līlā, kumāra, paugaṇḍa, kiśora, Brahman, Paramātmā, Rāma, Narasiṁha, Nārāyaṇa...."

Bhakta: "All at the same time?"

Advaitadas: "Yes, as I just quoted from Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta in my last blog, verse 2.5.52:
"Just as God is one, but Śrī Kṛṣṇa still stays in many places in many forms, so it is with us, His servants."
We don't focus on Kṛṣṇa's childhood pastimes, but that doesn't mean they don’t exist. Similarly with the married Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. Gopāl-Campū describes how Mother Yaśodā and Rādhārāṇī wait for Kṛṣṇa when He returns from the pastures, just like any wife and mother await a man when he returns from His job. That is there, but it does not provide the excitement of an extramarital affair as in parakīya bhāva."

Bhakta: "I thought that this marriage was just a play. Otherwise how can Rādhārāṇī be married to both Kṛṣṇa and Abhimanyu?"

Advaitadas: "In the svakīya rasa Rādhārāṇī is not married to Abhimanyu, only to Kṛṣṇa.  Their marriage can also be a play, performed as a joke. Parallel worlds."

Advaitadas: "Can you give more details about the process of death?"

Bhakta: "There are two types of Yamadūtas - the nice and the horrid looking. The nice ones take the pious souls on the dharma mārga to Yamarāj and the horrible looking Yamadūtas take the soul to Yamarāj on the path where there is a lot of suffering. Citragupta reads the pious activities, and Vicitragupta notes down all the impious activities. All are taken to Yamarāj. Devotees who did not attain perfection too; even Janaka Maharāj went there."

Advaitadas: "Can you quote some śāstra on this?"

Bhakta: "Sri Bhīṣma said to Yudhiṣṭhira (Skanda Purāṇa 6.226.19-28):
19. The hells in the abode of Yama are twenty-one in number. Creatures go there in accordance with their Karma.
20. Two Kāyasthas (scribes) in the abode of Yama are well known as Citra and Vicitra.
21. Citra records in writing the entire virtuous acts of a living being. Vicitra exerts himself and writes in full all the sins with great care.
22. The messengers of Yama born of Dharmarāja, are eight in number. They all take men under their control (to Yama's place) from the mortal world.
23. They are Karṇa, Vikarṇa, Vakranāsa, Mahodara, Saumya, Śānta, Nanda and the eighth one Suvākya.
24. Among these the first four are terrible in form. All of them take sinning people to the abode of Yama.
25. The latter four are gentle in form and features. All of them take virtuous people to the abode of Yama.
26. Those virtuous people ride in aerial chariots. They are attended upon by groups of Apsarās (celestial damsels).
27. The people are taken in accordance with the written report about their sinful and virtuous acts. There is no limit to the servants of these people."

Friday, July 18, 2008

Guru Pūrṇimā


mama śrī gurūpadiṣṭaṁ bhagavat kīrtana smaraṇa caraṇa paricaraṇādikam etad eva mama sādhanam etad eva mama sādhyam etad eva mama jīvātuḥ sādhana sādhya daśayoś tyaktum aśakyam etad eva me kāmyam etad eva me kāryam etad anyam na me kāryam nāpyābhilaśanīyaṁ svapne'pityatra sukham astu duḥkam vāstu saṁsāro naśyatu vā nā naśyatu tatra mama kāpi na kṣatiḥ

"The devotional practise of glorifying the Lord, remembering Him and serving His lotus-feet, as it has been instructed to me by my Guru is my goal and my life. It is impossible for me to give this up under any circumstance. This is what I desire and this is my duty. I have no other duty than this and I don't desire anything else, even in dreams! It may make me happy, it may make me unhappy, it may liberate me from material existence or it may not - that makes no difference to me at all"

(Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartī’s comment on Bhagavad Gītā 2.41)

śarīraṁ surūpaṁ sadā roga-muktam 
yaśaścāru citraṁ dhanaṁ meru tulyam 
guror aṅghri-padme manaścen na lagnam
tataḥ kiṁ tataḥ kiṁ tataḥ kiṁ tataḥ kiṁ


"One's body may be beautiful and always healthy, one's fame may be wonderful and bright, and one's wealth may be like a mount of gold. But if the mind is not fixed on the lotus-feet of the Guru, then what of it, what of it, what of it, what of it?"

ṣaḍ aṅgādi vedo mukhe śāstra-vidyā
kavitvañca gadyaṁ supadyaṁ karoti 
guror aṅghri-padme manaścen na lagnam 
tataḥ kiṁ tataḥ kiṁ tataḥ kiṁ tataḥ kiṁ


"One may master the Vedas with its six philosophical theses, one may have memorised all the sacred scriptures and one may be able to compose the most exquisite poetic or prose verses. But if the mind is not fixed on the lotus-feet of the Guru, then what of it, what of it, what of it, what of it?" 
(Śaṅkarācārya’s Gurvaṣṭakam)

parānanda guro bhavat pade
padaṁ mano me bhagaval labheta
tadā nirastākhila sādhana śramaḥ
śrayeya saukhyaṁ bhavataḥ kṛpātaḥ

“O most blissful Guru! When my mind attains a place at your lotus-feet, all the tiresome labor of my spiritual practises (sādhana) will be finished, and by your Grace I will experience supreme happiness!”
(Śrīdhara Swāmī)

vijita hṛśīka vāyubhir adānta manas turagam 
ya iha yatanti yantum ati lolam upāya khidaḥ 
vyasana śatānvitāḥ samavahāya guroścaraṇam 
vanija ivāja santyakṛta karṇadharā jaladau

“The mind is like an reckless horse that even persons who have conquered their senses and breath cannot control. Those in this world who try to subdue the uncontrolled mind, but who abandon the feet of the Guru, encounter hundreds of obstacles in their cultivation of various adverse practices. O birthless Lord! They are like merchants on a boat in the ocean who have failed to appoint a captain.”
(Śrīmad Bhāgavata 10.87.33)

Monday, July 07, 2008

Aniṣṭakārī jīva

Bhakta: "How you deal with rats, mice, cockroach? You kill them?"

Advaitadas: "Cockroaches and mosquitos; snakes and scorpions too - modeta sādhur api vṛścika sarpa hatyā - this is a verse from the 7th Canto by Prahlāda Mahāśaya; it means that even the sādhus rejoice at the killing of a snake or a scorpion. I had cockroaches in my flat 10 years ago, they took over the whole deity kitchen - what else could I do, to preserve the arcana? There were hundreds of them and counting.”

Bhakta: “You never had rats or mice?”

Advaitadas: “I had rats in Sudevī's house in Rādhākund. I just locked them out with iron plates boarded on the door. You don’t kill rats because they die in a lonely place and stink terribly; sometimes you can't find the corpses.”

Bhakta: “Yes, but there's too in Bhāgavatam a verse that says one shouldn`t kill them....”

Advaitadas: “Rats? I don’t remember that.”

Bhakta: “I don`t remember rats but mosquitoes and others..”

Advaitadas: “No no, such a verse is not there - Sādhu Bābā specifically allowed us to kill aniṣṭakārī jīva, and I already quoted the confirmation from the 7th canto, modeta sādhur api” (SB 7.9.14)

Bhakta: “aniṣṭakārī jīva?”

Advaitadas: "That means ‘harmful creatures’. Rather, the śāstra says that the snake is so envious that feeding it milk will only increase its poison. Anyway, let me explain the logic of killing mosquitos: they are killers because they carry killer diseases, malaria and dengue fever. If someone assaults you with a syringe with AIDS will you knock him down or allow him to poison you with the injection? Surely you will strike him down - it is the same thing. This is not compassion - it is foolishness. That's why Sādhu Bābā spoke of aniṣṭakārī jīva. Not that you go out and kill millions of sweet cows and so.”

Chat June 9, 2008