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Thursday, December 31, 2009

2010 Festival in honor of Śrī Advaita Prabhu [Sītānāth]

As in previous years for the past 35-odd years Sādhu Bābā's āshram hosts a huge festival in honour of the advent of our arch father (prāṇa-puruṣa) Śrī-Śrī Advaita Prabhu. This year the festival takes place from 18-22 january, 2010. The location of the utsava is Prācīna Māyāpur, just before the Bhajan Ashram, northern Navadvīp, at a stone's throw of the (Nitāi-Gaura Rādhe Śyāma administered) Janmasthān Mandir. Here is the English translation of the Nimantran Patra -

Śrī-Śrī Rādhā Madan Gopālaḥ Śaraṇam

rādhā madana gopālādvaita prāṇaballabham
sītānāthaṁca tad bhṛtyaṁ vande gaurāvatārakam

sei navadvīpe boise vaiṣṇavāgragaṇya
advaitācārya nāma sarva loke dhanya

(Caitanya Bhāgavat ādi 2)

"In that Navadvīpa lived the foremost of Vaiṣṇavas, named Advaita Ācārya, who was blessed in all the worlds."

śrī-śrīman mahāprabhu pravarttita premabhakti patha pathikeṣu

To all those who tread the path of Prema Bhakti promulgated by Śrīman Mahāprabhu -

As in previous years, this year on Friday January 23, 2010, the auspicious advent day of the most merciful Prabhu Sitanath is celebrated on Makara Saptami day, so in front of Śrī-Śrī Rādhā Madan Gopāla, the beloved deity of Śrī-Śrī Sādhu Bābā, in Śrī Navadvīp Dhām's Rāmacandrapur district a great 5-day devotional festival will be held for His satisfaction, starting on Monday January 18th. Items will include Pārāyan, discussions on devotional scripture and Kīrtan.

Please bless us by attending this festival. This is not an invitation, it is an anxious cry by Prabhu Sītānātha's servants to have their sensually polluted consciousness lifted into absorption into bhakti rasa. Petitioner -

Crown jewel of merciful Prabhu Sītānātha's family, engaged in nitya līlā -


On behalf of the fallen servants and maidservants of his lotus-feet,

Namitā Sāhā and Tulasī Sāhā


Monday 18 January 2010 in the evening Maṅgal Ghāṭ Sthāpan and Adhivāsa

Tuesday 19 January and Wednesday 20 January 2010 daily program -

5-6 a.m. Nagar Saṅkīrtan
7-9 a.m. Bhakti Grantha Pārāyan
9-11 a.m. Śrī-Śrī Rādhā Madan Gopāla's Śṛṅgār Ārati
12-1 p.m. Śrī-Śrī Rādhā Madan Gopāla's Bhoga Rāga
3-5 p.m. Śrī Līlā Kīrtan
5-7 p.m. Discussion on Bhakti Granthas and glorification of Sītānāth.
7-8 p.m.Sandhyā Ārati Kīrtan
8-11 p.m Śrī-Śrī Līlā Kīrtan

Thursday 21 January 2010 24-hour Tārak Brahma Nāma (Hare kṛṣṇa) Kīrtan

Friday 22 January 2010 In the morning Śrī Nagar Saṅkīrtan, Prabhu Sītānāth's Abhiṣekha
Kīrtan of His birth pastimes and Prasād.

PS According to necessity the program may be altered.

Kīrtan Groups:
Servants and students of Śrī-Śrī Sādhu Bābā -
Śrī Śacīnandan Karmakār (Pākur, Bihār) and others.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta, Canto 2, chapter 3

Bookreview of the edition of Gopīprāṇadhan Dās, part 5-

2.3.28 Gopīprāṇadhan says that the daughter of Yasoda is Subhadra - this is not in Sanatan Goswami's tika. It should be Maya instead. Subhadra is the only daughter of Vasudeva and Rohini instead.

2.3.50 See my blog of June 30, 2008

2.3.112 in the commentary Gopīprāṇadhan writes: "And so Jaya and Vijaya gave up their material bodies to resume their posts, in their spiritual bodies, as eternal servants of the Lord. Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī has thus entertained the theoretical possibility that devotees who live in the Lord’s abode during His appearance sometimes have material bodies." This is nowhere in the ṭīkā of Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī. After this supposed purport, Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī's actual ṭīkā says:
śrī bhagavān iva martyaloke'pi te sarve manuṣyākārāḥ saccidānanda vigrahā eva yaddhi kadācit svakīyāvirbhāva tirobhāvādikaṁ nija prabhu-vara-līlānusāreṇa paramotkaṭa prema viśeṣodayena vā vistārayanti - "Just as the Lord’s appearance, even as a human being within the world of mortals, is always purely transcendental, so also are the “human” bodies of the devotees who take part in His pastimes. When those devotees appear or disappear, they are either responding to the needs of the pastimes of their beloved Lord or expressing the ecstasies of their fully blossomed prema."

2.3.127 ṭīkā - tathāpi ekenaiva prakārena vaikuṇṭhasya siddhau satyām api sā anirvacanīya paramahārasa viśeṣamayī nava-vidhaiva sampādyate sāngam anuṣṭhīyate. kim artham. vicitrāṇāṁ sravaṇa-kīrtanādi bhedena bahu-vidhānām etasyā bhakte rasānām āsvādanāṁ mādhuryasya labdhaye yato rasajnaiḥ - "Although devotees can attain Vaikuṇṭha by any one of the nine practices of bhakti, they often like to engage in all nine to enjoy the supreme, indescribably blissful taste of those transcendental activities. Each of the practices, beginning with śravaṇa and kīrtana, gives a sweet satisfaction of its own."

2.3.133 "You should not consider devotional service merely an activity of the body, senses, and mind. It is in fact the eternal absolute reality, manifesting itself as the most intense ecstasy, beyond the material modes."
ṭīkā synopsis: 'pure bhakti is never approached by material senses. Even though hearing is done with the ears, chanting with the tongue, remembering with the mind, and praying and other activities with the limbs of the body, these activities are not material; they are spiritual activities that can be performed only by a devotee’s awakened spiritual senses.'

2.3.134 "By Lord Kṛṣṇa’s mercy, His devotees happily realize this devotional service in many varieties. It reveals itself to them in their hearts, which are free from the material modes and immersed in eternity, knowledge, and bliss." This verse is Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī's counterpart of Rūpa Goswāmī's famous ataḥ śrī kṛṣṇa nāmādi verse, quoted from Padma Purāṇa.

Gopīprāṇadhan adds this purport:
'As devotees mature in their practice, their individual tastes gradually appear, and on the higher levels of advancement their reciprocations with Kṛṣṇa become increasingly precise, diverse, and ecstatic.'
This is not in Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī's ṭīkā but is not necessarily wrong.

2.3.139, commentary: Even devotees who still live in this world in bodies made of material energy can engage in pure bhakti because the awakening of bhakti transforms their bodies. Either their bodies become literally sac-cid-ānanda, or bhakti enters their material bodies by the potency of the Supreme Lord’s special mercy, or else their bodies and senses become suitable for performing bhakti by some God-given potency inherent in the jīvas themselves.

2.3.141 Devotional service appears to new servants of the Lord to be a function of their own senses, body, and mind so that such neophytes can engage in devotional service with relish, as they should.
Commentary: When one undertakes devotional service, one perceives one’s devotional activities to be external functions of the material body. Why should such direct perception be denied? It should be denied because such perception is only the experience of beginners in devotional practice. Bhakti encourages those who are new to the Lord’s service to think “Oh, my own tongue is vibrating the names of God, and my own ears are hearing them!” In this way the faith of the neophytes is evoked, since otherwise they would have difficulty making the effort required to surrender their independence.

This last sentence of the ṭīkā is wrongly translated by Gopīparānadhana - instead Sanātan Goswāmī comments - anyathā svaprayāsa sādhyatvābhāvena tatra tatraudāsīnyāpatteḥ "If such new practitioners did not have faith in this being their own endeavour they would become indifferent."

2.3.142 But great devotees fixed in devotional service do not think the services they do to be actions under their own control but expressions of the Lord’s supreme mercy.

2.3.148 But we consider chanting to be alone the most excellent form of bhakti, better than remembering, which appears only in one’s own turbulent heart. For chanting harnesses not only the faculty of speech, which it engages directly, but also the mind and sense of hearing. And chanting helps not only the person practicing it but others as well.
Commentary: kīrtana also acts on the mind, bringing it subconsciously into contact with all spiritual sensory functions. If this subtle contact were not established, the spirit soul could not awaken to his real life. The transcendental sound of kīrtana enters the ears on its own strength, without any effort by the hearer, and thus it benefits not only the chanter but everyone who hears it.

2.3.149 If the sense of speech, which sets all the external and internal senses in motion, is brought under constant control, then the mind becomes stable and can properly engage in transcendental remembrance of the Lord. Remembrance thus develops as the fruit of chanting.

2.3.151 If by the force of one’s meditation all the functions of the senses—saṅkīrtana of the Lord, physical contact with Him, seeing Him, and so on—become absorbed into the function of the mind, that meditation may be accepted as better than chanting out loud.
Commentary: evaṁ sankīrtanādi sambandhe sati dhyānasya śraiṣṭhyam asmābhir apyaṅgīkriyata ityāhuḥ ced iti. tā asmad abhipretā indriyāṇāṁ vāk tvak cakṣur ādīnāṁ vṛtti-rūpāḥ sankīrtanādayo dhyānasya vegāt prābalyena ced yadi citta vṛttāvantar bhavanti dhyāna madhye evāntaḥ kīrtanādayaḥ sampadyante tadā dhyānaṁ kīrtanato varyaṁ śreṣṭham astītyabhyupagamaḥ - "Accepting that meditation is superior over saṅkīrtana,  it is now said that if the workings of speech, skin, eyes and other senses are internalized in the consciousness, viz. the strong impressions of kīrtana, darshan and touch are revealed within the consciousness, then it must be admitted (abhyupagama) that meditation is greater than kīrtana."
I must think of the samudra-patan-līlā, when Mahāprabhu washed upon the shore at Purī, in deep trance, and the devotees tried to bring Him back to external senses with harinām saṅkīrtana and Mahāprabhu complained of it, calling it 'kolāhol', noise (CC Antya 18, 109).
Gopīprāṇadhan's translation (above translation is mine): "If a devotee becomes so proficient in dhyāna (meditation on the Lord) that the devotional practices he earlier performed with his speech, touch, eyes, and other senses become spontaneous activities of his mind, then of course for that devotee meditation has become the most suitable practice. He can inwardly continue his śravaṇa, kīrtana, and so on, with or without the participation of his external senses." The last sentence of this translation is not so accurate.

2.3.152 "Whatever the devotional method by which a man with true spiritual taste feels satisfaction and complete joy, that is the method saintly authorities deem most excellent and effective for him. It is not only the best of methods but the very aim of his endeavor."
Commentary: How should we regard the meditation in which a Vaiṣṇava does not experience the sensory functions of saṅkīrtana,  touching the Lord, and so on, but merely contemplates the Lord’s form? That style of devotional service should also be accepted as perfect for the devotee who derives pleasure from it. When a devotee feels eager attraction to any of the nine kinds of service, that devotional method becomes the means for him to quickly fulfill all his desires. Moreover, his practice will gradually evolve into prema, the final goal of devotional life.

2.3.153, commentary: Either [kīrtana or dhyāna] may be done separately, but neither, in the end, is complete without the other. Regardless of which serves as the cause and which the effect, the two are essentially non-different (kārya-kāraṇayor abhedāt).

2.3.157 The earlier praise of meditation by the Vaikuntha-dutas in verse 151 is superseded by their praise of saṅkīrtana here, after all, in the sense that one needs a quiet and lonely place for meditation while saṅkīrtana can be done in public too. (But where is the peace of mind then?)

2.3.168 Commentary: "The devotees who prefer meditation to saṅkīrtana might argue that chanting in full view of the public is risky in several ways: envious people may try to interfere, one may succumb to the allurement of popularity, one may not have the required physical strength, or one may be too sick to chant properly. These dangers do not arise when a devotee simply concentrates on the Supreme Lord in a secluded place. In answer to this objection, the Vaikuṇṭha messengers say that nāma-saṅkīrtana cannot be disrupted by obstacles, for it develops by the mercy of the Lord, not by one’s own endeavor. (One does see a lot of devotees on ego-trips during harināma, though, trying to shine on photos of the event).

2.3.170, commentary: "....when saintly devotees like Bharata, deeply absorbed in the moods of loving service to the Lord, seem to exhibit material attachment (as when Bharata became obsessed with the care of a fawn) and when they seem to fall into bad association and miserable conditions (as when Bharata took his next birth as an animal), they are only pretending to be materially affected, in order to keep the confidential moods of devotional service hidden from public view. Such devotees would rather be treated with undeserved contempt than honored and worshiped."

2.3.171, commentary: "Shouldn’t advanced devotees, in order to deliver the world from ignorance, let everyone see their greatness? Yes, but the so-called anomalous behavior of Vaiṣṇavas like Bharata Maharaja is in fact their way of teaching sad-ācāra, civilized human behavior. By the examples of their own lives they show the consequences of violating the laws of God and material nature, for if people fail to learn how to act according to civilized standards their hearts will remain contaminated by sinful desires and they will never become inclined toward the Lord’s devotional service."

2.3.172 As Bharata and others showed the fault of bad association, Yudhiṣṭhira and others the fault of gambling, and Nrga and others the fear caused by taking a brāhmaṇa’s property, pure souls generally use their own behavior to teach the people.

Commentary: Bharata Maharaja showed by his own life the danger of wrong association. Although almost perfectly devoted and renounced, he was distracted into caring for a newborn deer and therefore had to suffer birth as a deer. A similar case is that of Saubhari Ṛṣi, who was deviated from meditation by seeing two fish engaged in sex. In the opinion of the Vaikuṇṭha-dūtas, however, in reality these elevated souls were faultless.

2.3.176 sva māṁsa cakṣuṣā darśanābhimānena tadīya kāruṇya viśeṣāvagamāt 'Those who imagine to see the Lord with the carnal retina know this to be His special grace."

2.3.179 ato mānasikasya dhyāna-dhāraṇādi-rūpa bhakti prakārasyāpi sākṣāddarśanam eva phalam 'The dhyāna and dhāraṇa of the mental [yogik] worshipper is a type of bhakti which also leads to the final goal - the direct vision of the Lord (dṛgbhyam, with one's very two eyes)."

Friday, December 18, 2009

Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta, Canto 2, chapters 1 and 2

Bookreview of the edition of Gopīprāṇadhan Dās, part 4-

By studying the Sanskrit tikas it has become clear to me that Gopīprāṇadhan Dās often gives only synopses of them in his English translation. It is therefore more of a rendering than a translation. Starting now the review of the second Canto:

2.1.12-14 These verses describe the gradual process of arci, in which sakāma-bhaktas gradually ascend to the spiritual sky through more and more subtle enjoyments in the heavens - "sakāma-bhaktas live happily in this world, free from material restraints (svecchayā). They are at liberty to visit all the regions of this world, including the highest planets, beginning with Mahar, they can reach the subtlest stages on the ārcir-ādi path, and they can attain the Vaikuṇṭha realms within this universe like Svetadvīpa and Ramāpriya." This is described in SB 2.2.24-31, quoted in full by Sanātan Goswami in the ṭīkā. In his ṭīkā to these verses Viśvanātha Cakravartī says this gradual path is for yogīs, not for premik bhaktas.

2.1.16 ṭīkā  "...prema-parā-bhaktas, like Śrīman Arjuna and his brothers. They are not interested in the process of bhakti itself, but only in prema, ecstatic love."
'The process of bhakti' here means chanting millions of rounds. They are practical devotees, just acting for Kṛṣṇa's pleasure. See BB 1.5.14, discussed in a previous blog.

2.1.24 ṭīkā  "And when the entire universe or the three middle planetary systems are destroyed, the earthly Mathurā becomes invisible and merges back into Śrī Goloka. In other words, Mathurā is not destroyed; it remains unchanged, above the wheel of time. But because the Lord’s pastimes are then no longer perceivable in Mathurā on earth, it seems that the Personality of Godhead continues to enjoy Himself only in the corresponding spiritual realm, Goloka."

2.1.34  ṭīkā  "Vyāsa never formally initiated his son Śukadeva Gosvāmī, and Śukadeva never formally initiated his student Parīkṣit. Nonetheless, the entire tradition of hearing Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam in the transcendental bhāgavata line of disciplic succession rests on the foundation of the relationship between Śukadeva and Parīkṣit as Guru and disciple."

This is absolutely nowhere in Sanātan Goswāmī's ṭīkā-  it is purely from Gopī Prāṇadhan. The fact that Śukadeva and Rāmānanda Rāy's Gurus are not mentioned does not mean at all that they were not initiated. Is it mentioned in any śāstra that Śukadeva was not initiated? If you do not see me passing stool does that mean I do not pass stool?

2.1.36-37 Staying on the topic of dīkṣā, verse 36 seems to confirm the possibility of dream-initiation: tasyāḥ sakāśāt tuṣṭāyāḥ svapne mantraṁ daśākṣaram 'Kāmākhya devī gave 10-syllable Gopāl-mantra to the brāhmin from Prāgjyotiṣapur in a dream." However, in 2.1.62, Sanātan Goswāmī's ṭīkā, the Vaiṣṇavas of Mathurā told the brāhmin from Prāgjyotiṣapur: guroḥ sakāśād gṛhītā dīkṣā yair ityanena tava tathātvābhāvāt tan mantra japenāpi drutaṁ na kincij jnānādikaṁ sampadyata 'We are initiated by a Guru, but you are not, so you cannot swiftly attain knowledge, even if you practise the mantra."

2.1.79 explains further that, though the brāhmin had no proper faith, he became accomplished on the strength of association with the sādhus. Gopīprāṇadhan's translation is not very accurate and clear.

2.1.109, in the ṭīkā this verse is quoted from Devala Ṛṣi -

ūrdhva-retas tapasy ugro niyatāśī ca saṁyami
śāpānugrahayoḥ śaktaḥ satya-sandho bhaved ṛṣiḥ

“A ṛṣi is one whose semen flows upward, who is fierce in observing austere vows, who eats moderately, controls his senses, is able to curse and bless, and adheres firmly to the truth.”

Sanātan Goswāmī is quite rasika too. In BB 2.3.112 he says that the guṇamaya dehas the gopīs gave up in the beginning of the Rāsa-dance were bodies full of transcendental qualities (guṇamaya), not 'full of the three modes', as it is usually translated in chapter 29 of the 10th canto.

2.1.110 ṭīkā - Of all forms of evidence for establishing the truth, experience from one’s own life is the strongest - sarva pramāṇām ca madhye'nubhava-pramāṇasya śraiṣṭhyāt.

2.1.154 ṭīkā  "Discriminating Vaiṣṇavas may be better off uninvolved in the management of kingdoms."
This may apply to sādhakas because siddhas like the Pāṇḍavas did nothing else but managing a kingdom without any special sādhana.

2.2.54  ṭīkā- the Ṛṣis seem to be able to turn the vaiśya Gopakumar straight into a brāhmaṇa, but in verses 56-8 Śrī Gopa-kumāra said: "Hearing this, O brāhmaṇa, I thought I would be much happier staying a vaiśya, for then I could keep worshiping both the Supreme Lord and those brāhmaṇas, His devotees. For these brāhmaṇas, I thought, “performing sacrifice is the only interest in life. If I were to become one of them, surely I would become lax in the chanting I am duty-bound to continue. My divine Guru taught me to worship this mantra, and besides, I have already seen its good results. Therefore, while showing respect to the sages, I declined the status of a brāhmaṇa."

2.2.91, ṭīkā - evaṁ śrī bhagavato viśuddha-citta-vṛtti-viśeṣe sphūrtir eva darśanaṁ na tu sākṣād akṣibhyāma indriya-vṛttyagocaratvād iti siddham "’s “seeing” the Personality of Godhead is in reality the Lord’s manifesting Himself through the functions of one’s purified consciousness. It is not direct perception through the eyes, because the Supreme Lord stands outside the scope of the activity of the senses."

2.2.96 Kṛṣṇa can appear in the mind or heart and after that appear directly before you, this is clear from this verse and SB 2.9.38 (37 in the Gita Press edition).

In the ṭīkā of BB 2.2.123 Sanātan Goswāmī says that Brahmā, the creator, has a transcendental body due to being an avatāra of Bhagavān - bhagavad avatāratvena saccidānanda-ghana-mūrtitvāt.

2.2.131 Gopī Prāṇadhan writes in the purport: "It is said that Lord Mahāpuruṣa has thousands of arms, heads, and feet; but that is just a figurative way of saying that He has an uncountable number of limbs." This is, however, not in the ṭīkā of Sanātan Goswāmī.

2.2.186 Sanātan Goswāmī writes in the ṭīkā that atyantika muktas can get bhakti, too:

muktā api līlayā vigrahaṁ kṛtvā bhagavantaṁ bhajanti iti śrī śaṅkarācārya bhagavat padānāṁ vacanam. tathā muktānām api siddhānāṁ nārāyaṇa pārāyaṇaḥ sudurlabhaḥ praśāntātmā koṭiṣvapi mahāmune (ṣB 6.14.5). ityādīni mahāpurāṇādi vacanāni ca sangacchante. anyathā muktyā brahmaṇi layenaikye sati ko nāma līlayā vigrahaṁ karotu. ko vā bhaktyā nārāyaṇa-pārāyaṇo bhavatu. katham api pṛthak sattāvaśeṣābhāvāt. na ca vaktavyam - tad vacanāni jīvan mukta viṣayānīti. yato jīvanmuktānāṁ svata eva dehasya vidyamānatvāt vigrahaṁ kṛtvetyuktir na sangacchate. tathā muktānām api siddhānām iti padadvaya nirdeśo'pi. atra ca pādma kārtika māhātmyoktau bhagavati layaṁ prāptyasyāpi nṛ-dehasya 'mahāmuneḥ punar nārāyaṇa rūpeṇa prādurbhāvaḥ. tathā bṛhan nārasiṁha purāṇe narasiṁha caturdaśī vrata prasaṅge kathitaḥ. bhagavati līnasyāpi veśyā sahitasya viprasya punaḥ sabhārya prahlāda rūpeṇāvirbhāva ityādyanekopākhyānam anyacca paraṁ pramāṇam anusandheyam ity eṣā dik. prāya iti kadācit kasyāpi bhagavad icchayā sāyujyākhya nirvāṇābhiprāyeṇa -

Śrī Śaṅkarācārya has said, muktā api līlayā vigrahaṁ kṛtvā bhagavantaṁ bhajanti: “Even the liberated accept new bodies as their pastime to worship the Supreme Lord.” This idea is also consistent with statements of the Mahā-purāṇas and other scriptures. For example, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (6.14.5) states: 

muktānām api siddhānāṁ nārāyaṇa-parāyanah 
su-durlabhaḥ praśantātma koṭiṣv api mahāmune 

“O great sage, among many millions who are liberated and perfect in knowledge of liberation, one may be a devotee of Lord Nārāyaṇa, or Kṛṣṇa. Such devotees, who are fully peaceful, are extremely rare.”

If upon attaining liberation a person were to merge as one with Brahman, who would remain to take on a new body for pastimes? Or what liberated soul would engage in bhakti as a devotee of Lord Nārāyaṇa? Having no individual existence separate from Brahman would disallow the liberated ātma from doing any of this. Nor can we explain away the cited statements by saying that they refer to persons who are jīvan-mukta, who have earned liberation but are still living in material bodies. Such persons already have bodies and therefore need not assume bodies for pastimes. The Sixth Canto verse cited above states that some liberated souls worship Nārāyaṇa. The Kārttika-Māhātmya section of the Padma Purāṇa tells of an advanced sage in a human body who merged into the Supreme Lord and then later obtained a form similar in appearance to that of Lord Nārāyaṇa  Similarly, in a discourse about fasting on Nṛsiṁha-caturdaśī, the Bṛhan-nṛsiṁha Purāṇa relates how a fallen brāhmaṇa and a prostitute merged into the Supreme and then again took birth as Prahlāda Mahārāja and his wife. Many histories like these serve as evidence that the jīva continues its individual existence after liberation. Only as a concession does the current verse use the word prāyaḥ (“as a general rule”) to indicate that in certain cases the Lord may, by His sweet will, allow someone to attain sāyujya, the nirvāṇa of entering His body." (Gopī-prāṇadhan's translation is fine here, except for the last words, 'His body', which is purely his own interpretation, since the text of Sanātan Goswāmī only says nirvāṇa, nothing more)

2.2.196 The commentary carries an explanation of atyantika muktas attaining bhakti: "....sometimes, by the Supreme Lord’s special mercy, a liberated soul merged into oneness with Brahman becomes eager for the joys of bhakti and once again assumes his distinct identity so that he can have a spiritual body with which to serve the Lord..."

2.2.199 The commentary carries this warning (which would have been apt during the final discussions with the Gauḍīya-Discussions-eggheads back in the days, and also shows what happened with them all):

athāpi mahatāṁ vākya vyavahārādy anādareṇāpi ācaryamāṇā vidhīyamānā nāstikatvaṁ kalpayitur veda śāstra vimukhatvaṁ vitanvatī vistārayantī vikhyāpayantītyarthaḥ yad vā tasyāmeva pravartamānena vardhayantī tat nija pāṇḍitya vikhyāpanārtha prauḍhi-vāda-paraṁ kalpayitāram ete hy arthavādā iti kalpayantaṁ saivārtha-vādatva-kalpanā dustare dusparihare'navachinne vā narakāṇām utkare samuhe kṣipet. "

"If one refuses to take seriously the words and behavior of elevated persons and one acts as if the glories of devotional service were mere exaggerations, he will become an atheist. He will lose faith in the authority of the Vedic śāstras, become more and more proud of his own scholarship, and concoct theories about artha-vāda (eulogy) that will earn him hellish punishments from which he will long be unable to escape." (In my Bengali edition of Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta the word prauḍhi-vāda is translated as 'theories that serve as self-aggrandizement for the arrogant intellectual'). As the Nārada Purāṇa warns:

purāṇeṣu dvija-śreṣṭhaḥ sarva-dharma-pravaktṛṣu
pravadanty artha-vādatvaṁ ye te naraka-bhājanaḥ

“O best of brāhmaṇas, the Purāṇas authoritatively teach all aspects of religious life. Those who say that these Puranic teachings are mere artha-vāda (eulogy) are sure to suffer in hell.”

2.2.207 Gopīprāṇadhan translates the end the ṭīkā as follows: " Even the liberated souls who have merged into the formless divine light of Brahman retain their spiritual bodies, complete with spiritual mind and senses. Nothing, not even liberation in Brahman, can ever deprive a jīva of these assets. Thus when a liberated soul gains the favor of the Supreme Lord's personal energy his spiritual body and senses are reawakened for hearing and chanting the glories of Lord Hari and acting in other ways for the Lord's pleasure."

However, Sanātan Goswāmī writes: karaṇair indriyaiḥ kṛtvā bhagavantaṁ hariṁ param ākarṣaka guṇa mahimānaṁ bhajante śravaṇa kīrtanādinā sevante ' They attain senses with which they serve the most attractive Hari by doing bhajan of hearing and chanting His glories."
Nothing of re-awakening at all here.

2.2.222 "In this very gentle, supreme nectar of devotional service, the intelligent find no use for harsh and thorn-like logic. Still, we have spoken this discourse to induce those who are attached to impersonal liberation to begin devotional service, and we have spoken to give pleasure to the neophyte devotees of the Lord."

This may be an acknowledgement that the rejection of Brahman in the preceding verses was a bit slanted and subjective, and was done just for preaching purposes.

2.2.226 Sanātana Goswāmī's  ṭīkā- yadyapi mokṣasya paramārtha vicāreṇa deśa niyamo nāsti tathāpi prapancātītatvena tat tad āvaraṇādi sthānato bāhyatvāpekṣayā kalpyate. "Of course, from the absolute point of view, liberation is not confined to some specific location. Nonetheless, in spatial terms it is conceived as being outside the coverings of the material cosmos."
Gopīprāṇadhan should have translated the word prapañcātītatvena here too - 'since it is beyond the material world it is conceived or imagined (kalpyate) to be outside of its layers.' Of course the jīvanmuktas and the bhāva-bhaktas live in the spiritual world even within the material realm, see SB 3.6.2.

Review of BB 2.1.36-37 added February 9, 2010

Friday, December 11, 2009

Saphalā Ekādaśī

Spiritual notes on Ekādaśī-

“There are five boats for people who drown in the ocean of material existence – Lord Viṣṇu, Śrīmad Bhagavad Gītā, Śrīmatī Tulsī devī, mother cow and Ekādaśī.”
(Lord Viṣṇu to Garuḍa: Garuḍa Purāṇa)

Lord Kṛṣṇa says: “Of all plants, the sacred Tulasī is most dear to Me, of all months Kārtika is most dear to Me, of all places of pilgrimage Dvārakā is most dear to Me and of all days Ekādaśī is most dear to Me.” 

(Padma Purāṇa, Uttara Khaṇḍa 112.3)

General notes on fasting -

When someone fasts, unstable doṣas are balanced, the stomach-fire is increased and body and mind are purified. Thus one feels physically very fit, gets a healthy appetite and thirst, a pleasant character, a good digestion and strength, energy and vitality.
(Ayurveda: Aṣṭāṅga hṛdayam 1.3)

These are the benefits of fasting: purification of the senses and the nerves, proper discharge of bodily refuse, enlightenment of the body, healthy appetite, good regulation of hunger and thirst, purification of the heart’s region, purification of belching and the throat, reduction of sudden tensions in the body, cheerfulness and freedom from laziness. 
(Āyurveda: Sūtra-sthānam)

Thanks to Sangita of Audarya Dhaam – the texts are translated from her Dutch original.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta, Canto I, chapters 5-7

Before I start the third part of this review I would like to object to the fact that Gopī-prāṇadhan prints his own name twice the size of Sanātan Goswāmī's name on the sleeve.

1.5.14 saḥ svayam eva sādhanair vinā vo yuṣmākaṁ prasanno'bhūt - The Pāṇḍavas pleased Kṛṣṇa without sādhana - this is one path for the gṛhastha-bhaktas, it is not a universal example. They were nitya siddhas of course but so were the six Goswāmīs, who performed severe sādhana. They give the example of the tyāgī bhaktas. Furthermore, Gopī-prāṇadhan comments:

“Even though Nārada is in fact a first-class Vaiṣṇava, he humbly includes himself among impersonalist sages who have not yet received the Supreme Lord's mercy.."

This is nowhere in the text, nor does it make any sense, nor is it concluded before that the controlled sages were all Brahmavādīs. Rather, the point that Sanātan Goswāmī makes is simply that the Pāṇḍavas did not practise any sādhana, whether it was mauna, ātma-rāmatā, śānti, mukti, the nine types of bhakti, seeing the deity or Vaiṣṇava-saṅga.

1.5.27, Sanātan Goswāmī's ṭīkā: "There is a logical dilemma in this description: If the Supreme Lord's superlative charm did not exist before Kṛṣṇa's appearance, that charm would not be eternal. If it did exist, then Kṛṣṇa would not be superior to the other forms of Godhead. This apparent contradiction, however, is easily resolved: Before Kṛṣṇa appeared in Mathura 5000 years ago, His eternal complete attractiveness had not been seen in this world for a very long time. It had been forgotten, even by the Vedic sages and demigods. Thus without the advent of Kṛṣṇa Himself, no one would have had any idea of the extent of His perpetual glories."

1.5.37 The purport carries an interesting definition of Bhagavān:

utpattiṁ pralayaṁ caiva bhūtānām āgatiṁ gatim
vetti vidyām avidyāṁ ca sa vācyo bhagavān iti

"A person who knows about the creation and destruction of the universe, the karmic comings and goings of embodied creatures, and the forces of enlightenment and illusion may be called bhagavān." (Viṣṇu Purāṇa 6.5.78)
1.5.40 Bhīṣma's apparent merging with Brahman means actually attaining a pārṣad deha in Vaikuṇṭha. In his ṭīkā of SB 1.9.44 Jīva Goswāmī quotes SB 7.7.37 to prove attaining narākṛti paraṁ brahman Śrī Kṛṣṇa is sometimes described as merging with Brahman.

1.5.119 Uddhava enjoyed Kṛṣṇa's association constantly, but when sent out to either rescue or console the Lord's dear devotees, Uddhava felt more satisfaction than by staying with Kṛṣṇa. Nityānanda was sent out of Puri by Mahāprabhu to preach. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, as in SB 1.6.22-23.

1.6.21, commentary: "Uddhava was next confronted by the bhāva of jealousy, intolerance of others' good fortune. This transcendental jealousy, however, was sāttvika, born from pure goodness, untouched by the influence of passion and ignorance. Therefore it was a cause of joy. Having no trace of hatred, this ecstatic jealousy gave no distress to Uddhava or anyone else. Rather, in this jealousy he entered even deeper into the trance of his attraction to Kṛṣṇa, just as devotees in the conjugal mood become even more blissfully attached to Kṛṣṇa when jealous of His other lovers." This last sentence I could not find in Sanātan Goswāmī's ṭīkā, though it is not necessarily apasiddhānta.

1.6.39 It was Kṛṣṇa who entranced the residents of Vraja. Acting through His YogamAyA potency, He diverted them from paying attention to their own safety. At the same time, He completely protected them. Vaiṣṇavas are supposed to cultivate the understanding that Kṛṣṇa will protect them from all dangers: rakṣiṣyatīti viśvāsaḥ  (Vaiṣṇava-tantra). The Vraja-vāsīs, however, manifested the perfection of this surrender spontaneously, without having to practice it." This comment is by Gopī-prāṇadhan, not by Sanātan Goswāmī.

1.6.48 Gopī-prāṇadhan says the Vrajavāsīs are dead but Sanātan Goswāmī says mṛta prāya, they are just like dead. It means a spiritual death which is described in Vilāpa Kusumāñjali verse 10.

1.6.73-75 Śrīmad Bhāgavat 3.2.26 says that Kṛṣṇa lived in Vraja (in prakaṭa līlā of course) for 11 years. However, Śrīmad Bhāgavat 10.38.28-29, 10.44.8 and 10.45.3 show that Kṛṣṇa and Balarām enjoyed their full kiśora age in Vraja till the age of 15. The answer is that They sucked breast milk till age 4 and then drank Vraja's cows' milk for the remaining 11 years, making 15. They owe Nanda Mahārāja the milk of 11 years, that is the meaning of Śrīmad Bhāgavat 3.2.26.

1.6.88 Vaiṣṇavas dress nicely to please Kṛṣṇa - some Baṅki Bihārī devotees put new, unoffered garlands around themselves, and then stand before Banki Bihārī to please Him with the sight. Other devotees shave the head to renounce bodily identification and prevent attracting the opposite sex.

1.6.108 Like Kuśakrath, Gopī-prāṇadhan also mistakes Mānasī Gaṅgā for a river which flows. It is a lake instead, and Sanātan Goswāmī says vilasanti, it is splendidly manifest, not that it flows.

1.6.111 Gopī-prāṇadhan adds this interesting comment himself: "For example, the village of Nanda Mahārāja is protected by Lord Shiva in the form of Nandīśvara. Lord Shiva begged for this service of guarding Kṛṣṇa's home and showed his gratitude for the appointment by giving the blessing that Nandīśvara Hill and Nandagrāma on its peak would never be attacked by Rākṣasas."

It is not clear to me what is the source of this story.

1.7.3-4 This little piece of fall-vāda or envy-vāda is not in Sanātan Goswāmī's ṭīkā: "Kṛṣṇa's highest glories are not to be found in His pastime of creating the material world so that rebellious souls may indulge their perverted intentions."

1.7.8 As in Lalita Mādhava, here also is a concept of a new Vṛndāvana-garden in Dwārakā, built by Viśvakarmā to console Kṛṣṇa. Of course he could not replica the Vrajavāsīs but the dummies (pratimāsū) he made seemed to do the trick well too. Kṛṣṇa took their silence to be symptoms of their ecstasy of love for Him.

1.7.78 The phrase "regain the taste of love of God." is not in the ṭīkā of Sanātan Goswāmī. Once prema is tasted in full, it will never cease.

1.7.96 In their trance of separation, the devotees of Vraja are aware of nothing but Kṛṣṇa. Their ecstasy is so deep that as a natural effect of remembering Kṛṣṇa they see Him physically before them. Other pure devotees, whose love for Kṛṣṇa is not on the same level of perfection, have separate experiences of Him internally and externally. Dhruva, for example, concentrated His mind on Lord Viṣṇu in deep meditation, but his internal vision of the Lord did not expand into a vision outside like that of the gopīs. Only when Lord Viṣṇu came to Dhruva to offer him special mercy did the Lord disappear from Dhruva's heart to show Himself externally (ref. SB 4.9.2).

1.7.110 Gopī-prāṇadhan: "Kṛṣṇa's beauty never diminishes, even when He leaves Vṛndāvana to reside elsewhere for more than a hundred years. Only in nostalgic retrospect does Kṛṣṇa think He was more beautiful during His youth." This seems to be apasiddhānta and is not in Sanātan Goswāmī's ṭīkā.

1.7.111 Gopī-prāṇadhan: "Even nonliving objects gained consciousness and underwent these effects of prema-bhakti." This 'nonliving' is not in the ṭīkā and may cause confusion.

1.7.126-128 When talking of separation one is inclined to project one's material experiences [getting dumped by a lover] on the transcendental pastimes of Kṛṣṇa. However, separation from Kṛṣṇa is not a miserable experience at all. Everyone seeks bliss. No one seeks misery. Furthermore the spiritual sky is naturally a place of Absolute Bliss and Absolute Perfection, where there is no place for distress at all. There is so much separation mentioned in the pastimes of Kṛṣṇa, including the Bhāgavat, but the śāstras do not lead us to a life of eternal misery. One needs to read these books taking distance from one's mundane experiences - neither the sexual joys of Kṛṣṇa and the gopīs nor their pain of separation is like any mundane counterpart we have experienced. Hence Sanātan Goswāmī says tad rasikaika vedya - it is only understandable by rasika devotees, who have experience of the spiritual counterparts of these feelings. The same with the principle of service - it is considered miserable and degrading in the material world so if you preach it people reject it because they want to be 'free'. Humility is similarly seen by conditioned souls as 'weakness' or 'an inferiority complex' or a 'loser'. They do not understand the joys of humility, austerities etc. The ākāra (shape) of these divine plays (Kṛṣṇa's sexual enjoyments and the pain of separation) appear similar to those in the material world, but the prakāra (nature) is totally different. The paribhāṣā (basic definition) of this issue is verse 126.

1.7.138, commentary: "The other pure Vaiṣṇavas acknowledge the supremacy of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī without envy,..."
There is no mentioning of any type of 'envy' in Sanātan Goswāmī's text.

1.7.148 Nārada is a brahmacārī but still he is fanned by Satyabhāmā? 
He is a nitya siddha, not a struggling sādhaka, so the restrictive discipline of brahmacārīs does not apply to him. Madhumaṅgal is a brahmacārī too and he participates in Kṛṣṇa's Rādhākuṇḍa-pastimes.

1.7.158 Gopī-prāṇadhan translates the end of Sanātan Goswāmī's important ṭīkā here as: "It was not out of shyness that Śukadeva was reluctant to mention the gopīs by name; it was out of fear of losing control of himself."

But actually Sanātan Goswāmī says vaikalya prāptyeveti, Śukadeva was actually too agitated by ecstasy to pronounce the names of the gopīs.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Brihad Bhagavamrita, Canto I, chapters 2-4

This is the second installment of my review of Gopīprāṇadhan Dās' rendering of Sanātan Gosvāmī's Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta -

1.2.22 In the ṭīkā Śrī Sanātan Gosvāmī quotes an amazing verse from the Bhagavat (8.5.5) in which apparently a new Vaikuṇṭha planet is created, although these worlds are of course beginningless and endless. I looked up the ācāryas’ ṭīkās on that verse. Jiva Gosvāmī says: yathā bhagavata āvirbhāva-mātraṁ janmeti manyate tathaiva vaikuṇṭhasyāpi kalpanam āvirbhāvanam eva na tu kṛtrimatvam. ubhayatrāpi nityatvād ity abhiprāyeṇa tat sāṁyenāha - Just as the divine appearance of the Lord is considered 'birth', similarly this so-called creation of Vaikuṇṭha is another divine appearance, not some artificial (creation). In both places eternity is indicated." Viśvanātha's ṭīkā is almost the same, only he adds 'prākṛta' to kṛtrima - it appears as a mundane artificial creation, seemingly anitya but actually nitya."

1.2.64 Comments like "The Lord, after all, is forever eager to have the wayward souls come back to Him." and "including those who have chosen to forget Him since time immemorial" are from Gopīprāṇadhan Dās and not from Sanātan Gosvāmī. It is not siddhānta.

1.2.79 Brahmā confirms one should not be in Vraja too long, to avoid making offences, as in 'familiarity breeds contempt' - nanu kathaṁ tarhi tatraiva na sthitaṁ tatrāha - tatreti. īśvarasyānavasare rahasya deśe ca ciram avasthānenāparādhā eva bhaveyur ityevaṁ trasam bhayaṁ prāpnuvan - 'Then why did he (Brahma) not stay there? There it is said tatra. He was afraid to commit offences if he stayed too long in the land where the Lord has His surprising, confidential pastimes."

In BB 1.2.86, and 1.3.1-5 Gopīprāṇadhan Dās does give the correct meaning of the second offence to the holy name, namely: 'One who sees differences between any of Lord Shiva's qualities and names and those of Śrī Viṣṇu is an antagonist to harināma.'

1.3.46 commentary: The residents of Vaikuṇṭha are great preachers who wander all over and are aware of the material world, regularly descending there or sending people down there.
That could be with expansions of their Vaikuṇṭha forms, as the Vedanta Sūtra says that one can have many different spiritual bodies.

Gopīprāṇadhan Dās is saying in his comment: "These eternally liberated Vaikuṇṭha-vāsīs are always helping others." This 'eternally liberated' is not in Sanātan Gosvāmī's text. It would contradict Bhakti Sandarbha 180, which says that only sādhana siddhas can feel compassion. The actual text of Sanātan Gosvāmī's commentary on this verse is - ataeva harer bhaktānāṁ bhajane pravṛtta mātrānāṁ bhakti-niṣṭhānāṁ svata eva sarva siddheḥ - 'Therefore Hari's devotees, all those who are engaged in bhajan, automatically have all siddhis through their fixation in bhakti." Also in the previous verse it is said saṁprāptaṁ saccidānandam in 1.3.45, "they have attained spiritual bodies."

Further in the 1.3.46 ṭīkā, Sanātan Gosvāmī says - vardhayantaś ca sad vaṁśa-santater mahā-vaibhava-vistāraṇācca 'The Vaikuṇṭha-residents also preach the great prowess of bhakti by increasing the Sacred families (sad vaṁśa-santateḥ - santati means 'line of descent'), a clear reference to divine families like the Advaita Vaṁśa.

1.3.58 "The residents of Vaikuṇṭha are already perfect, but they humbly think themselves only potential candidates for prema-bhakti."

This is not in Sanātan Gosvāmī's text nor does he speak of residents of Vaikuṇṭha here.

1.3.84 The new devotees are considered more glorious here than eternal devotees because of the sweetness of their devotional struggle to attain Kṛṣṇa. Odd is that Sanātan Gosvāmī considers Prahlād to be such an arvācīna bhakta, or new devotee, whereas I had always believed he was an eternal associate of the Lord too. New devotee may mean a member of the team that is taking part in the manifest pastimes of the Lord, playing the role of a sādhaka.

1.4.18 There is a nice nyāya in the ṭīkā here: paropadeśe pāṇḍityam sarveṣāṁ su-karaṁ nṛṇām: "It is easy enough for anyone to make himself sound like an expert when advising others."

1.4.29-30 The central point of these verse and their purports is that however great a lowborn devotee is, his saṁskāra (conditioning to his previous life) is never far away.

1.4.36 Gopīprāṇadhan Dās may have used the word 'newer' in connection with Hanumān [although the word 'newer' is not strictly there in the text, just 'new'] because Prahlāda appeared earlier in the material sequence of time. Just like the rising sun, seems to be new but is very old - ref. 1.3.84 commentary. The last sentence of the commentary says:
"After a person has seen the great ocean, the sight of a small lake will no longer impress him." This seems to say that the word new refers to the quality of the devotee, Hanumān.

1.4.110 Hanumān tells his fellow Brahmacārī Nārada Muni: "Please do not let your intelligence become shrouded by the offensive idea that you and I are staunch celibates and the Pāṇḍavas mere householders, distracted by political affairs." In the ṭīkā Sanātan Gosvāmī says that shunning the company of pure devotee-householders by arrogant renunciants is offensive.

1.4.116 Hanuman about Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja: Since his heart always burns in the fire of love for Kṛṣṇa, those garlands, those garments, and sandalwood pulp attract him no more than they would attract a man afflicted by the fire of hunger." In other words, how will a garland please a hungry man?

New comment on 1.3.46 added January 27, 2010

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta, Canto 1 chapter 1

Book review

This is both a review of Gopī-prāṇadhana Dāsa's rendering of Sanātana Goswāmī's Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta and of the text itself. Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta is a very important book about the progressive stages of rasa and sambandha (relationships with God) by Śrī Sanātana Goswāmī,  appearing in 14 chapters subdivided in 2 khaṇḍas or cantos. The commentary (ṭīkā) on it was written by the selfsame Sanātana Goswāmī.  It is full of important statements that establish Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava siddhānta. Overall, Gopī-prāṇadhana is a much better translator than Kuśakrath. Unfortunately, whenever he adds his own commentaries to Sanātana Goswāmī's original one, apasiddhāntas tend to creep in.

1.1.5 In the ṭīkā Sanātana Goswāmī quotes SB 10.44.13 :

puṇyā bata vraja-bhuvo yad ayaḿ nṛ-lińga
gūḍhaḥ purāṇa-puruṣo vana-citra-mālyaḥ
gāḥ pālayan saha-balaḥ kvaṇayaḿś ca veṇuḿ
vikrīdayāncati giritra-ramārcitāńghriḥ

'Blessed is this Vraja-bhumi, where the hidden Ancient Man (the original Lord) lives in a human form, moving about, adorned with a garland of sylvan flowers, herding His cows along with Bala(-rāma) and playing His flute, His feet adorned by Shiva and Lakṣmī-devī." The ladies of Mathurā (mathurā nāgarīs) see Kṛṣṇa on the streets of Mathurā and at the same time in the goṣṭha because the verse is in the present case.

1.1.11 Although Sanātana Goswāmī is Rupa Goswami's elder brother he does acknowledge Rūpa's superiority over him here, by saying priya-rūpataḥ  'I realized this through Caitanya-dev's dear Rūpa'.

1.1.12 and 53 have two self-written Christian commentaries by Gopī-prāṇadhana.  In verse 12, Gopī-prāṇadhana writes: "In general we may accept any initiated worshiper of Viṣṇu as a Vaiṣṇava, or even more liberally any monotheist....." This is not spoken by Sanātana Goswāmī, nor is it siddhānta.

In verse 1.1.53 Gopī-prāṇadhana quotes Genesis from the Bible. A Vaiṣṇava, however, is not a Christian, nor vice versa - Haribhakti Vilāsa (1.55) says:

gṛhīta-viṣṇu-dīkṣāko viṣṇu-pūjā-paro naraḥ
vaiṣṇavo’bhihito’bhijñair itaro’smad avaiṣṇavaḥ

'The learned call those human beings who took initiation into Viṣṇu-mantra and are dedicated to Viṣṇu-pūjā 'Vaiṣṇavas', while all others are Avaiṣṇavas."

A cow is an animal but not every animal is a cow. When a bird comes flying by we don't say, 'Hey, a cow comes walking by'. Similarly it is not that every concept of God is Viṣṇu - there are specifics about Viṣṇu. Nowhere in the Quran, Bible or Torah it is described that God is named Hari, Mādhava, etc, has a cloud-complexion, yellow silken cloth, Kaustubha-gem, etc. To call Jesus a Vaiṣṇava is just attachment to one's pre-devotee past. See my blog of May 29, 2009.

The entire purport of verse 53, including the non-Christian second part, is not by Sanātana Goswāmī and no philosophical claims can be made on its basis.

1.1.14, purport: "If we have confidence in this, we shall discover in Śrī Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta more than the subtle sense gratification sometimes called 'nectar' by immature devotees....."
This is Gopī-prāṇadhana's purport only and is an extreme apasiddhānta - can he quote us any ācārya and śāstra to prove this? The Bhāgavata (1.1.3) says at its very opening:

nigama kalpataror galitaṁ phalaṁ
śuka mukhād amṛta dravya samyutam
pibata bhāgavataṁ rasam ālayam
muhur aho rasikāḥ bhuvi bhāvukāḥ

'Oh rasiks and bhāvuks of the earth! Drink the nectar of the Bhāgavat, again and again, until you reach laya (a swoon of ecstasy)! This is the ripened fruit of desire-tree of the Vedic scriptures, becoming nectar due to being touched by the beak of a parrot (the mouth of Śukadeva Muni)!"

This verse will be later quoted and explained by Sanātana Goswāmī in his commentary on Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta 1.1.21-23 below. Sanātana Goswāmī further writes in his ṭīkā of BB 2.2.98-99: śrīmat aśeṣa śobhātiśaya yuktam ataeva sarvāṇīndriyāṇi sva guṇair lābaṇya mādhuryādibhiḥ anakti sukhayatīti tathā tat. yad vā sarvān indriyāṇāṁ guṇān viṣayān añjayati tat tad viṣaya bhoga sukhaṁ saṁyojayatīti -  'He is full of ānanda and beauty. With its luster and sweetness that form and attributes immerse one's senses in an ocean of bliss, or engages all one's senses in the bliss of (transcendental) sense pleasure in all respects."
Gopī-prāṇadhana's [own] commentary continues:
"Śrīla Sanātana is a transcendental genius, an eternal resident of Goloka Vṛndāvana, and an intimate companion of the Personality of Godhead's internal pleasure potency. He can easily perceive anything he wants to, in the past, present, or future, including lost scriptures from previous ages."
This is a sweet glorification of Sanātana Goswāmī,  but there are differing opinions on how the Goswāmīs got all the śāstrik quotations in their books. Some current Vaiṣṇava Gurus claim the Goswāmīs had their own libraries instead.

1.1.21-23 Gopī-prāṇadhana mentions the Garga Saṁhitā in his purport but this is not mentioned in Sanātana Goswāmī's ṭīkā. The Garga Saṁhitā's authority is not firmly established because the Goswāmīs never quoted it. The rest of the commentary, which nicely establishes the Rāsa līlā as the essence of the Bhāgavata, is by Sanātana Goswāmī until:

"The self-realized Vaiṣṇavas must be allowed their preferences, but neophyte devotees should not cheaply imitate them. Devotees not free from faults should strictly follow the complete course of the instructions of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, from the first chapter of Canto One through the last chapter of Canto Twelve. By repeated systematic study of the entire Bhāgavatam and its authorized explanations, devotees can aspire to gradually become fit to taste the immortal nectar hidden within it."

This prudent commentary is justified to some extent, but it would leave out rāgānugā sādhakas that may have anarthas and yet have a desire to attain the feelings of the Vrajabāsīs by studying and relishing the rasa-lila. Hence, despite its good intentions and because these are not Sanātana Goswāmī's words, it cannot be accepted as siddhānta.

1.1.22, Gopī-prāṇadhana's translation: "His compassionate grace inspired the best of His pure devotees in the great effort to extract the nectar of Srimad-Bhagavatam."
Śukadeva did not need great effort as he is siddha, but the word prayatnena in this verse can also mean 'with great expertise or care'.

1.1.39-40 Verse 40 speaks of Rādhikā in relation to Kṛṣṇa, not to Mahāviṣṇu,.
Verse 40 says "Nārada, who is a relisher of the taste of devotion to the Lord, spoke the following words to reveal the dearmost devotee of the Lord." Who that dearmost devotee is, is only revealed in the ṭīkā by Sanātana Goswāmī.

1.1.44 Gopī-prāṇadhana writes in the comment: "The devotee is sorry for having foolishly rebelled against his creator." This piece of fall-vāda is nowhere in Sanātan Goswāmī's original commentary, though.

1.1.73 The word 'flowers' is not mentioned in the śloka - the trees themselves fulfill the desires.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

God's paribhāṣā, rāgānuga sādhakas' supposed obligations and nāmābhāsa?

Bhakta: "Which Bhagavat-verse is the most fit to prove the existence of God?"

Advaitadas: 'If there is no willingness to accept the existence of God and the authority of śāstra, then no śloka or argument will work, but if there is a favorable attitude I think the opening verse, 1.1.1, will be the best. It is like a paribhāṣā (general definition) of God."

janmādy asya yato’nvayād itarataś cārtheṣv abhijñaḥ svarāṭ
tene brahma hṛdā ya ādi-kavaye muhyanti yat sūrayaḥ |
tejo-vāri-mṛdāṁ yathā vinimayo yatra tri-sargo’mṛṣā
dhāmnā svena sadā nirasta-kuhakaṁ satyaṁ paraṁ dhīmahi 

In short: 'I meditate on the Supreme Truth, from whom everything emanates and into whom everything returns, who is forever free from illusion, who is always situated in His abode, or true form, through whom this three-fold creation, though unreal, appears as real, who is fully cognizant and fully independent."

Bhakta: "rāgānugā bhakti is sometimes discouraged because instead of being attracted to the feelings of the Vrajabāsīs one may be attracted to the feelings of one's own relatives and so on."

Advaitadas: "rāgānugā bhakti does not mean one is immediately in a blazing fire of greed that makes one forget and transcend everything mundane. See my blog of November 28, 2006, on Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhuḥ:

"On to the famous definition of greed as cause of rāgānugā bhakti (1.2.292), ever-fascinating: Jīva Gosvāmī comments: 'When a person realises to some degree the sweetness of the love and activities of the inhabitants of Vraja...." note the words 'to some degree', which indicate that greed or lobha is not immediately an all-consuming fire in which the devotee is completely pure to qualify for rāgānuga sādhana. Bhānu Swāmī's translation is however, a bit played down, since yat kiñcit means 'slightly' more than 'to some degree' and he also fails to translate Jīva's important final words in the comment: tad eva lobhotpatter lakṣaṇam iti - 'This alone is the symptom of lobha or greed.'

When I told Sādhu Bābā about how gopī-bhāva is ridiculed in some circles, he simply quoted 'ataeva gopībhāva koro aṅgikāra' to me, spoken by Śrīman Mahāprabhu Himself (CC Madhya 8, 228). aṅgīkāra means 'accepting the feelings of a gopī'. 'Accepting' does not mean immediate full time absorption. To expect full absorption to take place from the very first day of rāgānugā sādhana is frankly, well, insane. 'Accepting' means at first just within the heart - it's like having a certain creed or political conviction - you go to Church on Sundays, and vote once a year on your party, but you keep them in the heart the rest of the time also, even without 24/7 mental absorption. Only in later stages, like niṣṭhā, ruci and bhāva, rāga bhakti will become full absorption. The problem in dealing with people who think one needs to be a pure devotee to do rāgānugā bhajan is that when you are known as a rāgānugā bhakta and you show some weakness you get ridiculed, based on their own misconceptions and prejudices, whereas it is clearly understood from our ācāryas that rāgānugā is a sādhana, during which lapses can be naturally expected."

Bhakta: "Some modern Vaiṣṇava teachers say that nāmābhāsa is a type of practise, be it an immature practise, a 'clearing stage'. It seems to be mixed up or joined with nāmāparādha."

Advaitadas: "Yes, that debate is going on. I have not seen nāmābhāsa mentioned as a type of sadhana in the Goswamis' books, though. The favorite example of nāmābhāsa is Ajāmila, who really chanted accidentally and not as part of a sādhana. 
nāmābhāsa comes in four kinds (SB 6.2.14) -

1. saṅketa - indicating something else,
2. parihāsa - as a joke, like one song I knew as a teenager, "Hari Hari Supermarket! Hari Hari London Bus!".
Both Śrī Jīva and Śrī Viśvanātha say it must be prīti upahāsa, loving joking, though, not nindā-garbha upahāsa, sarcastic joking.
3. stobha - all ācāryas gloss this as gītālāpa-pūraṇārthaṁ kṛtam, "added to complete a song or discussion", again like in "Hari Hari Supermarket"
4. helā, which means indifferently (sāvajña generally means 'with contempt' but avajña also means indifferent, nonchalantly, and that seems more apt here - 'kiṁ viṣṇunā!', in modern language 'Jeeeez!') or neglectful chanting (Jīva Goswāmī says yatna rahita, without care or effort). I can only imagine that this last one, inattentive chanting, could be part of a regular, intentional sādhanā

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Three questions on Vilāpa Kusumāñjali

Three questions on Śrīla Raghunāth Dās Goswāmī's Vilāpa Kusumāñjali:

Bhakta: "It is said (in Vilāpa Kusumāñjali verse 60) that Nandīśvara (Nandagrām) is dearer to Kṛṣṇa than even Govardhana, but in Śrī Rūpa Goswāmī's Upadeśāmṛta it is said that Govardhana is higher than Vṛndāvana, and Rādhākuṇḍa is even higher than Govardhana, without mentioning Nandagrām. How does it work?"

Advaitadas: "No explanation has been given by any ācārya, but I can think of two answers -

1. Rūpa Goswāmī may have just given a summary list in the Upadeśāmṛta, with the main aim of praising Rādhākuṇḍa. In this way one can read between the lines that Nandagrām is rated between Rādhākuṇḍa and Govardhana.
2. In Vilāpa Kusumāñjali's context of mañjarī bhāva we can say - mañjarīs don't have business in Govardhana but Nandīśvara is very important to them - they accompany Śrī Swāminījiu to Nandagrām in the morning when She goes there to cook for Kṛṣṇa,  and accomplish Her meeting with Him there too (as described in Vraja Vilāsa Stava, verse 33). In the evening they go there again to bring Kṛṣṇa His evening-meal and to exchange messages with Him. In aṣṭakālīya līlā Rādhikā generally does not enjoy with Kṛṣṇa at Govardhan, though some exceptional pastimes are mentioned here and there. Overall Nandīśvara is more central to mañjarīs than Govardhan, which is mainly a place where Kṛṣṇa tends His cows and plays with His boyfriends. In fact the mañjarīs do not even pass through Govardhan. They escort Śrī Rādhikā directly from Yāvat to Rādhākuṇḍa and back at midday."

Bhakta: "In Vilāpa Kusumāñjali (54) it is said that Rādhikā decorates Her bed by dreaming on it. How is that possible?"

Advaitadas: "Śrīla Ānanda Gopāl Goswāmī explains that in his famous Vilāpa Kusumāñjali ommentaries - Her body is the ornament of the bed. In fact, in the Bhāgavat it is said that Kṛṣṇa's body beautifies His ornaments instead of vice versa. Similarly Rādhikā decorates the bed with Her body, as She sleeps and the sleep itself makes Her body even a more beautiful ornament of the bed because of the lovely body language caused by Her dreams - She smiles, rolls on the bed, moves Her legs, toes, fingers and arms in certain ways. The mind dictates the active senses, so actually its not Her body but Her mind which decorates the bed."

Bhakta: "Next in Vilāpa Kusumāñjali (53) it is mentioned that Lalitā offers ārati to Rādhā. Isn't that aiśvarya, since Arati is only offered to Gods?"

Advaitadas: "Mādhurya does not mean there is no service - how can a bhakta live without worshipping His iṣṭa? Kṛṣṇa is also offered Arati in Nandagrām, even by His own mother Yaśodā. We must serve, anyhow, in mādhurya or aiśvaryamañjarīs call themselves dāsī or maidservant, not for nothing. In Caitanya Caritāmṛta, Ādi līlā chapter 6, it is explained how all Kṛṣṇa's associates in Vraja, however intimate they may be with Him, consider themselves (maid-) servants of Him as well, with evidence from the 10th Canto to prove it." Jīva Goswāmī says - bhaj ityeṣa vai sevāyāṁ parikīrtita - Bhajan means service. Besides all of this, even in the village setting of Barsānā / Yāvat, Śrī Rādhikā is also the daughter of the local chieftain/village elder, so She is a superior person there too."

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Haridas, Shiva and Govinda Candra

Bhakta: Shiva is said to be so renounced as he withstood the temptation of Devī in Kumāra Sambhava, but he fell down and lost his vital fluid when he saw Mohinī."

Advaitadas; 'One needs to deal with this cautiously. Citraketu ridiculed Shiva for having Pārvatī on his lap in an assembly of sages and he was cursed to become a demon as a result (see Canto Six Bhāgavat). Secondly, Shiva's seed created fields of gold and silver - hardly something that arises from an ordinary 'falldown', huh? We must thus conclude that this is a highly esoteric story with perhaps a sectarian edge, glorifying Viṣṇu at the expense of Shiva."

Bhakta: "In some books it is said that Haridās Thākur took birth as a Muslim as punishment or as atonement for his aparādha of stealing Kṛṣṇa's calves and boys, and yet it is also said 'gaurāṅgera saṅgī-gaṇe nitya siddha kori māne' - Gaurāṅga's associates are eternally liberated perfect souls."

Advaitadas: "I cannot find an answer to that in śāstra, but look at the example of Droṇa and Dharā, demigods who did tapasya to get Kṛṣṇa as their son - they eventually merged with the eternally perfect mother Yaśodā and Father Nanda, so this is most likely the case with Brahmā vis a vis Haridās Thākur too. Since not every universe's Brahmā is a pure devotee, it seems to me that the nitya siddha Haridās Thākur is superior to the Brahmā that may have merged with him as a partial expansion."

Bhakta: "And if Gaura-līlā travels around the universes, does that mean that Haridās is always born a Muslim and that there is Islam in all the other universes too?"

Advaitadas: "Hard to say. One of the chief services of Haridās Thākur is to show the examples of forbearance and humility. Perhaps he is oppressed by others in other universes. One nitya siddha can perform different activities even in one universe, in one avatāra, let alone in other universes and avatāras."

Bhakta: "In Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta it is described that Shiva wears a garland of bones of departed Vaiṣṇavas. If He lives in Vaikuṇṭha how can there be dead Vaiṣṇavas there, since there is no death in the spiritual world?"

Advaitadas: "They never died. The body and apparel of Shiva are eternal and beginningless. It is as inconceivable as the fact that our conditioned existence is beginningless."


My friend Karunamayi recently reported on Facebook that Govinda Candra Dās (Gilles Dubois) has passed away at the age of 55, due to heart failure. Govinda Candra was a French disciple of Madrasi Krishnadas Baba and was the painter of the famous painting of Kunjera, the elephant made entirely up of gopīs, for Kṛṣṇa to ride on (see picture on this blog). He also made a large painting of Śrīman Mahāprabhu for his Guru. I met him once at Rādhākund, around 1985, he had a devotee sister too, whom I also met at Rādhākund around the same time, she was very pure. Once, in 1997, he offered me to make illustrations for my books but unfortunately we lost contact after that. I offer my condolences to his friends and family.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Prema's growth from childhood to adolescence

Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda's commentary on Śrīmad Bhāgavat 1.6.23 (22 in BBT edition):

sakṛd yad darśitaṁ rūpam etat kāmāya te’nagha |
mat-kāmaḥ śanakaiḥ sādhu sarvān muncati hṛc-chayān ||

tarhi hā hā punar apy eka-vāraṁ darśanaṁ dehi ity ata āha—sakṛd iti | etad eka-vāra-darśanaṁ te kāmāya tan manorathaṁ sādhayituṁ yogyam ity arthaḥ | na tu muhur darśanam | autkaṇṭhasyānativṛddhyā premṇo’py anatijāta-premṇe bhaktāya sādhaka-dehe eka-vāram eva darśanaṁ dadāmīti mama niyamaḥ | yathā sādhaka-dehe bāla-bhūtaḥ premā viyogautkaṇṭhyena labdhātivṛddhiḥ siddha-dehe taruṇaḥ san svādhāraṁ bhaktaṁ muhur api māṁ darśayati sākṣāt sevayati ceti sva-bhakta-manoratha-pūrti-prakāram aham eva jānāmi na tu me svabhakta iti bhāvaḥ | mat-kāmaḥ—yo hi māṁ kāmayate, mātraṁ mad-darśanlālābhe’pīty arthaḥ | hṛcchayān viṣaya-vāsanāḥ atrāpi sarvān mokṣyasi hṛcchayān ity ukter nāradaṁ prati nedaṁ vākyaṁ kintu svabhakteḥ svabhāvaṁ tvaṁ jnāpayāmāsety evātra tattvaṁ sarvam idaṁ dainya-vardhanārtham ity eke ||23||

Verse translation:
(Lord Viṣṇu showed himself once to Nārada Muni and then told him:)
"O sinless Nārada! I showed myself once to produce a desire in you to see Me. The devotee so desiring Me gradually becomes freed of all material desires."

(Nārada said:) "But just show yourself once more to me ! "
(Lord Viṣṇu replied:) "Seeing Me only once, not many times, is enough to produce desire for Me. By only slight increase in longing, prema will not develop to the state of youthfulness in a person having somewhat weak prema. My rule is that I show myself one time only to a person practicing in his present body (in his sādhaka-deha) who has developed prema. The infant state of prema in the sādhaka's body matures to a youthful state in the siddha-deha by an increase of prema arising from longing in separation. (There seems to be growth still in the siddha deha too, unlike with the impersonalists, whose perfection is static). That youthful prema allows the devotee to see Me constantly and serve Me directly. I alone, and not My devotee, know the process of fulfilling the desires of My devotee. You, who simply desire Me, even without having seen Me, will become free from all desires for material enjoyment (hṛcchayan)."

This statement does not actually apply to Nārada since he did not have any material desires, being at the level of prema already. But saying this, the Lord shows the nature of devotion. Additionally by saying this, the Lord increases the humility of Nārada."

(Verse and commentary translated by Bhānu Swāmi)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

janme janme prabhu se

Last year I compiled the scriptural anthology ‘The glories of the (one) Guru’ (posted on mainly to show that the Guru is a distinct person, not some universal tattva that can be supplemented by so many self-chosen śikṣā-gurus and that appears as another person in each lifetime. Narottam Dās Thākur clearly says 'janme janme prabhu se' ('He is my master, birth after birth'). Today I found these texts in Sanātan Goswāmī’s Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta (2.4.3-4)-

bhaktiṁ nava-vidhaṁ samyag jñatvedaṁ vanam āgataḥ
apaśyaṁ sahasaivātra śrīmad-guru-varaṁ nijam
pūrvavad rājamano'sau dṛṣṭvā māṁ praṇataṁ mudā
sāsīrvādaṁ samāliṅgya sarvajño’kṛpayat-taram

Gopakumāra said: “Having learned the nine types of devotion I came to this forest Vṛndāvana where I suddenly saw my own Śrī Guru. He shone just like before. Seeing me offering my obeisances to him he was very glad, blessed me and embraced me. Then that omniscient one was most kind (to instruct me in the secrets of bhakti).”

Note: The word ‘nijam’, ‘my own’, shows that Śrī Guru did not appear in the form of some other person replacing him/her – it was the very same person.

Sanātana Gosvāmī comments on verse 4: asau guru-varaḥ pūrvavad rājamana iti nirvikāritvādi bhagavad avatāra-lakṣaṇaṁ mathurā vrajabhumī rasikatvaṁ ca darśitam-

"Though Gopakumāra had been to the heavens and a long time had passed (meaning thousands of years), Śrī Guru was unchanged, which shows that he/she is an avatāra of the Lord and a rasika of Mathurā and Vrajabhūmi as well."

This confirms the eternality of the Guru as a distinct individual (not just a tattva) as glorified in Narottama's song: 'janme janme prabhu se' ('He is my master, birth after birth').

The rest of Sanātana Gosvāmī’s commentary is interesting and important, too, so I’d like to add this too –

akṛpayattaram atyantam kṛpāṁ kṛtavān akhilaṁ parama rahasyaṁ bhakti-tattvam anubhava paryantam upadiśad ityarthaḥ yataḥ sarvajñaḥ

“He was very compassionate, so he instructed me in all the greatest secrets of bhakti, including the realizations about it. (This was possible because) it came from the omniscient.”

This text has also been added to ‘ The glories of the (one) Guru’, p. 9, on, linktab 'Articles'.