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Monday, October 27, 2008

Diwāli 2008


Bhakta: ‘ What is the origin of Diwālī?”

Advaitadas: “Originally it celebrates Lord Rāma’s return from exile. But it is also celebrated in connection with other deities.”

Bhakta: ‘ How is it connected with Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism?

Advaitadas: ‘ Dāmodar month in general is connected with one līlā:

saṅketāvasare cyute praṇayataḥ saṁrabdhayā dhārayā

prārabhya bhrukuṭim hiraṇya rasanā dāmnā nibaddhodaram
kārtikya jananī kṛtotsava vare prastāvanā pūrvakam
cāṭūni prathayantam ātma pulakaṁ dhyāyema dāmodaram


‘’Once, in the auspicious month of Kārtika, Kṛṣṇa could not meet His beloved Rādhārāṇī in the kuñja on time, so Śrīmatī frowned Her eyebrows out of loving anger and bound Kṛṣṇa around the belly with a golden rope. Śrī Kṛṣṇa then explained to Her that He was too late for his appointment because He had been held up in Ma Yaśomatī’s festival so Śrīmatī released Him again. We meditate on Śrī Dāmodara, who is studded with goosepimples of loving ecstasy!’’ Here Kṛṣṇa is sometimes called Nīvi Dāmodar, who is bound by the strings of Śrī Rādhikā. The pearl-līlā (Mukta Carita by Śrī Raghunātha Dāsa Goswāmī) also takes place on Diwāli, so Diwāli reminds rāgānuga bhaktas of that.”

Bhakta: “ How does a practitioner of mañjarī bhāva experience Dāmodar-līlā?”

Advaitadas: “When one is deeply committed to mañjarī bhāva, one can skip the daily singing of Dāmodarāṣṭakam. The līlā itself can still be appreciated by some  mañjarī bhāva-practitioners as observers of mother Yaśoda’s motherly love for her son. Speaking of vātsalya bhāva, Sādhu Bābā's Pitṛdev, the renowned rasik pāṭhak (lecturer) Śrīla Ānanda Gopāl Goswāmī Prabhupada, was, during one of his pāṭhs, requested to speak on bālya līlā. Hearing this, he stood up from the vyāsāsana at once and left the assembly hall. Such was his niṣṭha in mañjarī bhāva. It is a very famous story that I heard outside of the family. Such niṣṭha is very rare, though - most devotees will just sing Dāmodarāṣṭakam daily during the Kārtik month.

Bhakta: ‘There seems to be disagreement on when to start Kartik vows – some Vaiṣṇavas start on Ekādaśī and others on Pūrṇimā.”

Advaitadas: “Haribhakti Vilāsa (16.80) says:

āśvinasya tu māsasya yā śuklaikādaśī bhavet
kārtikasya vratānīha tasyāh kuryād atantritaḥ

Kārtik-vows are observed from (Āśvin śukla) Ekādaśī to (Kārtik śukla) Ekādaśī.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Cyberjoint sanga

Despite all my physical woes, Vṛndāvana is of course a place where you meet many Vaiṣṇavas. This is the gist of one such meetings, in a cyberjoint -

Bhakta: "Some say that the jīva never falls from Goloka but does fall from Vaikuṇṭha."

Advaitadas: "na yatra māyā (Śrīmad Bhāgavata 2.9.10) - Brahmā said there is no māyā, when he had a vision of Vaikuntha. He did see Vaikuṇṭha, not Goloka, and: no māyā, no fall. Can you show me anywhere in śāstra that we don’t fall from Goloka but do fall from Vaikuṇṭha?”

Bhakta: ‘Is it true that one can attain bhāva bhakti only through the personal association of a mahā bhāgavata?”

Advaitadas: ‘Such association is of course welcome but is not imperative. At least I cannot find statements in śāstra that personal saṅga is the only way to bhāva bhakti."

Bhakta: ‘Some give the example of Raghunāth dās Goswāmī, who was placed under Swarūp Dāmodar’s care by Śrīman Mahāprabhu and later he took shelter of Rūpa Goswāmī. He was never without superior guidance and empowerment.”

Adwaitadas:
"1. Raghunāth dās Goswāmī was a nitya-siddha and needed no bhāva-bhakti from anyone.
2. Even if that were so, whose personal association did he get after Rūpa Goswāmī passed away? Raghunāth dās Goswāmī outlived Rūpa Goswāmī for about 27 years. So I find no practical or scriptural evidence for this personal-saṅga philosophy."

Bhakta: “It is said that taṭastha śakti means that we came from Mahāviṣṇu and then we made a choice between the spiritual and material world.”

Adwaitadas:
1. ‘There is an avalanche of evidence from śāstra, beginning with the Bhāgavata, that our ignorance is beginningless, while your theory implies there was a beginning. This is contradictory. Bhagavad Gītā’s first lesson (2.12-30) is that the soul is unborn. Where was it then before this ‘beginning-scene’ which you depict here?
2. There is no evidence for the historical event you suggest here, in any śāstra whatsoever, be it the Bhāgavata, or any of the Goswāmīs’ writings.
3. It sounds like we rubbed our eyes when we came out, had a brief thought “Where shall I go now?” and then, without any reason, chose for eternal bliss with Kṛṣṇa or eternal suffering in the material world. What about the śāstras’ repeated statements that our ignorance is beginningless (anādyavidyā)?”

Bhakta: “It is also said that due to contacting material nature, our natural love for Kṛṣṇa is turned into lust.”

Advaitadas: ‘nitya siddha kṛṣṇa prema’ (CC) “Kṛṣṇa Prem is eternally perfect”, which means that once it is attained it is never lost. These are two entirely different things, though they appear to be similar. ataeva kāma-prema bahut antar, kāma andhatama prema nirmala bhāskara (CC) ‘Lust and prema are very different from each other – lust is deep darkness while prema is clear light.”

Sunday, October 05, 2008

"Engaging all senses" - blogs deleted and "Work and Family" blogs revised

I have deleted my blog of December 8, 2007 and the last paragraph of the following blog ("Week 49") because I read the Haribhakti Vilāsa text pāyūpasthayoś ca tatra sākṣād ayogyatvāt, which says one cannot use the genitals and the anus in Kṛṣṇa's service, out of context. tatra means 'here', 'in this context', the context being Haribhakti Vilāsa 11.627-9, describing several ways in which the active- and knowledge-senses engage directly in Kṛṣṇa's service, like the head in bowing down, the nose in smelling offered incense and Tulasī, etc. sākṣād means ' directly'. Sanātan Goswāmī states in the quoted ṭīkā that in this context the anus and genitals can not be directly engaged. My friend Brajabhūṣan personally wrote me last August:

"Now, regarding your quote from HBV: my understanding is that the tika-kari says that 'when describing sādhana bhakti, various activities related to our senses were mentioned, but those related to anus and genitals were not included as they are not directly (sākṣād) suitable for the service.'That's clear, you will not offer to Kṛṣṇa such direct 'service' as passing stool in front of Him, nobody would like it, not even a person dearest to you (like your mother, let's say) would like it. Nevertheless, she would like it if you emptied your bowels regularly (in the toilet, of course) as only this way you could maintain your health. I believe Kṛṣṇa reasons in the same way."

Nice arguments can also be found in my blogs of August 22 and October 1. My friend Boris quoted this verse from Haribhakti Vilāsa (8.410), which also mention the genitals (śiśna) as instrument of devotional service:

itaḥ pūrvaṁ prāṇa-buddhi-dharmādhikārato jāgrat-svapna-suṣupty-avasthāsu manasā vācā karmaṇā hastābhyāṁ padbhyām udareṇa śiśnā yat smṛtaṁ yad uktaṁ yat kṛtaṁ tat sarvaṁ śrī-kṛṣṇārpaṇaṁ bhavatu svāhā māṁ madīyaṁ ca sakalaṁ haraye samarpayāmīti oṁ tat sat 410

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Satyanārāyan Dāsji on work and yukta-vairāgya

Jiva Institute, Vṛndāvana, October 1, 2008 -

Advaitadas: (Referring to the 'Work and family' debate of August 22):
"Sanātan Goswāmī says in Haribhakti Vilāsa that the anus and genitals cannot be used in Kṛṣṇa's service."

Satyanarayan Das: "If I don't pass stool I will suffer and that hampers my devotional service. The genitals can be used to make Vaiṣṇava children. If they don't become devotees that is not your fault if you did your best to train them. It is the attitude that counts. After all, Kṛṣṇa said dharmāviruddha bhūteṣu kāmo'smi (Bhagavad Gītā 7.11) ' I am desire in those beings who do not contradict virtue'. There are 4 types of bhakti - transcendental, sāttvika, rājasik and tāmasik. The activity is the same, however. They do pūjā but one does it for Kṛṣṇa's pleasure, one for purification, one for fame followers and money and one to destroy somebody. It is the attitude that counts."

He then confirms Brajabhūṣaṇa's opinion on uttama
bhakti. He adds to it, when I speak of asat saṅga on the work-floor: "Mahāprabhu gave the example of the para-vyasaninī nārī, the adulterous woman who lives with her husband (job, family) but whose mind is always fixed on her lover (Kṛṣṇa)."
He furthermore thinks it is great if one can have honest money without having to work for it (as I had almost all my life) - Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas have no duty to work, just to bhajan.

Advaitadas: Rūpa Goswāmī has rejected deliberate (dry) renunciation in favor of practical (yukta) renunciation (Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu 1.2.255-256) Why then we see deliberate acts of renunciation in the Goswāmīs' lives, like Sanātan Goswāmī swapping his expensive quilt for the beggar's rag?"

Satyanārāyan Dāsji: "Vairāgya was in high esteem in India in those days, as a vital part of jñāna-mārga, which was prominent before bhakti was. Such deliberate acts of vairāgya by the Goswāmīs were examples for the social and public image of our sampradāya. Lord Caitanya Himself gave that example by taking sannyāsa. Raghunāth Dās Goswāmī's drinking of a little buttermilk at Rādhākund was not deliberate vairāgya - he felt such joy from his bhajan that he just lost interest in eating and sleeping. The Bhāgavata (1.2.7) says vairāgya occurs naturally, as a result of bhakti - jānayātyāśu vairāgyaṁ."

(Adwaitadas comment: Raghunāth Dās Goswāmī's progressive practise of vairāgya in Puri led him from deliberate vairāgya to yukta vairāgya - instead of begging at the Simha Dwār, speculating about who would give alms or not, he saved time for hearing and chanting by eating at the charity booth instead.)

Advaitadas: ' I broke Ekadaśī last week out of ignorance. Should I atone by doing the Nirjalā-vow next June?"

Satyanārāyan Dāsji: " I would just apologize for the breach, that's all"
(Note: Nirañjan Bābu said verbatim the same to me).

Adwaitadas: " But it is mentioned in Haribhakti Vilāsa"

Satyanārāyan Dāsji: " There are 1000s of rules there. We must accept the gist of them from the Guru." 
He then tells me that Haribhakti Vilāsa is not a book for or by smārtas, as is sometimes claimed: "Why would it be? There are already so many Smṛti śāstras anyway. In his Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu ṭīkā (1.2.296) Viśvanātha Cakravartī also rejects so many rules."

Adwaitadas: " Though jugupsa rasa is rejected by Rūpa Goswāmī in relation to Kṛṣṇa, we see descriptions of Mahāprabhu's saliva and nose-fluid flowing out of His mouth (Caitanya Bhāgavat), Tulasī Mañjarī cleaning Rādhārāṇīi's toilet with her hair (Vilāp kusumāñjali 18), or jokes about Kundalatā's menstruation (Govinda Līlāmṛta)."

Satyanārāyan Dāsji: " It is a material vision that makes it jugupsa (repulsive) for you, but look at Ṛṣabh-dev's carita: He rolled in his own stool, but it is described (SB 5th Canto) that his stool smelled deliciously, in a radius of miles around."

Satyanārāyan Dāsji concludes by saying: ' We translate the word 'dāsa' as ' servant' but actually it means 'slave' - we are sold out to Guru and can no more act otherwise."