Follow by Email

Monday, March 02, 2009

Discussing Caitanya Caritāmṛta - part 1

One devotee bought a copy of Prof. E. Dimock's translation of and commentary on Caitanya Caritāmṛta and discussed it with me -

Bhakta: "It is said that Mahārāja Pratāparudra felt 'Without Mahāprabhu's sight I will leave this life' - what is the attitude of a devotee? In the Aitoṭā-garden he grasps the feet of Mahāprabhu. Shouldn't we be humble, wanting to act in such a way that Kṛṣṇa will want to see us instead of us wanting to see Him?"

Advaitadas: "In his commentary on Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu (1.3.1), Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī speaks of prāptyābhilāṣa, the desire to attain Kṛṣṇa, as a symptom of bhāva bhakti, and from Vilāpa Kusumāñjali and other books it is very clear that the devotee has no desire to live without Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. Wanting to act in such a way that Kṛṣṇa will want to see you does not contradict that. Jīva Gosvāmī speaks of prītyabhilāṣa, too, the desire to love Kṛṣṇa, in the same context. Study the 9 symptoms of bhāva bhakti in Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu. It is all characterized by an eagerness to see Kṛṣṇa - āśā-baddha samutkaṇṭhā."

Bhakta: "In Caitanya Caritāmṛta Madhya Līlā 4.120, Mādhavendra Puri was ashamed that as the offering was going on to Kṣīra Cora Gopīnātha, he wondered how it would taste so that he could offer it to his own deity Gopāl. Prof. Dimock says he was ashamed because he had the desire to beg, while the BBT edition says he had the desire to eat and taste the prasād."

Advaitadas: "Neither are right. The text says ayācita, which means without begging, just getting it by itself. Mādhavendra was ashamed because although he considered the food prasāda (ayācita kṣīra prasāda), and thus was not guilty of the offence of lusting over the bhoga, he should have waited until the offering was finished. His intention was purely devotional, perhaps after tasting he would ask the recipe from the cook, so that he could cook it himself for Gopāl."

Bhakta: "Then, in verse 127, Dimock says Gopīnāth left 'a piece' of sweet rice for Mādhavendra. But sweet rice is liquid isn't it?"

Advaitadas: "The verse says kṣīra eka rākhiyāchi, 'I left one kṣīra for the sannyāsī'. That obviously refers to a pot of kṣīra. You see, in the Sandarbhas Jīva Gosvāmī teaches that one needs to use one's common sense, when he explained that gaṅgāyāṁ ghoṣa, which literally means 'a settlement in the Ganges' obviously means 'a settlement on the bank of the Ganges'. Similarly here one needs to use one's common sense too - 'one kṣīra' obviously refers to one pot of kṣīra."

Bhakta: "In verse 128 Dimock says that Gopīnāth hid the sweet-rice behind his dhoṭī while the BBT version says He kept it behind the curtain."

Advaitadas: 'The verse says dhorār añcale. dhorā means dhoṭī, and añcale means the hem. So here Dimock is right. dhorā doesn't mean curtain. Curtain in Bengali is pordā or antaḥpaṭaḥ. How can you hide a pot behind the curtain while the pūjārī is himself behind the curtain as well? Ironically the illustration in the BBT edition does show the pot behind the dhoṭī."

Bhakta: "But a dhoṭī doesn't hang over the floor."

Advaitadas: "Oh yes it does. Many Indians, like rich merchants and big politicians, have these long dhoṭīs, the front part of which they usually keep up with their arm."

Bhakta: "Then in Madhya 5.1 it speaks about pratimā svarūpa - does that mean that the true form of the deity is the one that comes alive and starts moving?"

Advaitadas: "The deity is stone for the infidel and God Himself for the believer. According to one's level of devotion the deity reciprocates."

Bhakta: 'But there was an instance in India when a Gaṇeśa-deity came alive for a large audience; there must have been unbelievers among them as well. So its not all subjective."

Advaitadas: "I'm not so sure if there were so many unbelievers, considering that 99.99 % of Indians are believers. In any case, if God wants it He can manifest Himself also before the unbelievers, though that is rare - not everyone in Vraja was a devotee either when Kṛṣṇa was there."

Bhakta: "There is this verse in the Purāṇas - arce viṣṇau śila-dhir guruṣu nara-matir vaiṣṇave jāti-buddhi - 'Whoever considers the image to be a stone, the Guru to be a human being and the Vaiṣṇava to belong to a certain caste is of a hellish mentality."

Advaitadas: "Exactly. Just look at the words used in that text - dhī, buddhi and mati. Check these three words in the Sanskrit dictionary. - all these three words indicate an attitude, understanding, mentality, intention and opinion. It is clear that it speaks of a subjective attitude, not of objective facts. The same word 'dhī' is also mentioned in the Bhagavat in connection with the Guru - martyasad dhī śrutam tasya sarvam kuñjara śaucavat (7.15.26) - All is lost for he who has the false notion (a-sad-dhī) that the Guru is mortal."
Most deities in India are carved by Muslim sculptors - they obviously see them as objects of trade rather than God Himself. It is purely subjective. As soon as the image enters a temple for installment there is abhiṣekha, kīrtan, flowers etc.because in that society it is God Himself. After kīrtan in the temple, when attention shifts from the deities to daily matters, where are the deities? If you stand in the temple room speaking gossip, just inches away from the dieties, is God present in the image? ye yathā māṁ prapadyante tāṁs tathaiva bhajāmyahaṁ  (Bhagavad Gītā 4.11) "As I am approached so I shall worship them." The more love you have for the deity, the more God will be in the deity.

līlānukūleṣu janeṣu citteṣūtpanna bhāveṣu ca sādhakānām
evam vidham sarvam idam cakāsti svarūpataḥ prākṛtavat pareṣu

"All this can be seen in its real form (svarūpa) by those who are favorable to these pastimes and by practising devotees, but others see it as just a material place." (Govinda Līlāmṛta 7.119)

Kṛṣṇa lifted Govardhan Hill, which was and is not a contiguous whole, 7 miles long, at the age of 7 with his left little finger, for 7 days continuously. It didn't crumble or fall apart. acintya khalu ye bhāvāḥ na tāṁs tarkena yojayet - you should not argue about or rationalize inconceivable matters. There are matters out there which are way beyond our imagination."

Bhakta: "In the Caitanya Caritāmṛta (Madhya 8, 109 and 116) Prof. Dimock speaks of a hundred crore gopīs, while the BBT edition speaks of hundreds of thousands."

Advaitadas: "The Bengali text speaks of śata koṭi. koṭi is one crore or ten million, so here Dimock is right."

Bhakta: "In the same chapter it is said that the sakhīs have crores of times more pleasure when they united Rādhā with Kṛṣṇa than if they would have their own pastimes with Kṛṣṇa. Yet they also have their own agenda...."

Advaitadas: "You need to remember here that the gopīs all have samartha rati, unlike the Queens (samañjasa rati) and Kubjā (sādhāraṇī rati). This means that they don't just want to enjoy in relationship to Kṛṣṇa, like the others, but they only want to give pleasure to Kṛṣṇa Himself. Regardless whether they are sakhīs or mañjarīs. There is no bad feelings between Rādhā's own sakhīs and Rādhā Herself, and even the 'bad feelings' between Rādhā and Candrāvalī's party are staged to give pleasure to Kṛṣṇa. Even in Kṛṣṇa's Dwārakā lila there was no bad feelings between Kunti and Mādrī, who shared the same husband."

Bhakta: 'In Caitanya Caritāmṛta Madhya 9, 28, prof. Dimock says: "The syllable Kṛṣ means ploughing, expressing the earth and ṇa expresses cessation."

Advaitadas: "This is another example of where mere Sanskrit knowledge leads you nowhere. You need to understand these texts with the guidance of senior Vaiṣṇavas. The verse instead means that Kṛṣṇa means the attractive one (kṛṣ is the root of ākarṣaka, the attractive one) and ṇa means 'ānandakārī', the joy-bringer. Prof. Dimock may have misread the word 'nirvṛtti' (meaning ānanda) for 'nivṛtti' (meaning cessation)."

Bhakta: "Of course Kṛṣṇa is wearing a plough, still....."

Advaitadas: "No He doesn't. That is Haladhara, Balarāma."

Bhakta: "In Caitanya Caritāmṛta Madhya 9.40 Prof. Dimock says that a hundred million lakhs of people came. That would be 10 to the 13th."

Advaitadas: 'The text says lakṣāyuta, which means 100,000 x 10,000. But however many that is, we have to pause here and ponder what this verse means. We were taught that Mahāprabhu converted all of South India to Vaiṣṇavism, but when later we meet South Indian devotees they will all tell you that Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism was totally unknown there until Gauḍīya Maṭh and Iskcon opened their temples there in the 20th century. Nevertheless, the statements of the ācāryas should not be taken lightly, much less be rejected. When a man tells his woman she is the most beautiful that is unlikely to be an objective statement, but for him that is a certain fact. Such statements have to be seen with the spectacles of love, even on the material level, let alone on the spiritual level, where God is like a crystal that reflects all colours that come close to it. God would not be the Absolute Truth if all descriptions would not apply to Him. So on the ground, historically, surely Mahāprabhu did not convert all of South India, but on the transcendental level of the ācāryas this is surely a fact. Then again there's the division between the opulent vision and the sweet vision of the bhāva-bhakta. The opulent seer would see Kṛṣṇa tending trillions of cows, the mādhurya bhakta will just see a few hundred at most, laukika sadbandhu-vat. māyāśritānām nara dārakena (Śrīmad Bhāgavata  10.12.11) - three types of persons see Kṛṣṇa as a human boy - māyāvādīs, materialists and rāgānugā bhaktas. The former two under the spell of mahā-māyā, the latter under the spell of Yogamāyā. To come from the lower māyā-conception to the higher māyā conception one first needs to go through the phase of realizing that Kṛṣṇa is God."

Bhakta: "In the Mahābhārat some demon, either Kaṁsa or Duryodhana, played down Kṛṣṇa's almight by comparing Govardhana Hill to a pebble (which Kṛṣṇa lifted) and the Kāliya snake to a mere water-snake."

Advaitadas: "That is obviously the spell of mahā-māyā. The cowherd boys would say the same thing, but then under the spell of Yogamāyā."

(To be continued.......)

No comments:

Post a Comment