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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Discussing Caitanya Caritāmṛta, pt. 5

Bhakta: "Prof. Dimock translates Caitanya Caritāmṛta Antya 1.164, quoting from Vidagdha Mādhava, that the universe is like a couldron; but that is like a cooking pot."

Advaitadas: "Cooking pots are often round in India, unlike in the west where the walls are usually straight."

Bhakta: "In the next verse Kṛṣṇa's complexion is described as marakat, emerald, which is green. I thought Kṛṣṇa was blue?"

Advaitadas: "madhye maṇinam haimānāṁ mahā marakato yathā (SB 10.33.7) - When Kṛṣṇa is with the gopīs His blue complexion encounters their golden complexion. If you mix blue with yellow you get green."

Bhakta: "Prof Dimock translates verse 175 as 'the breasts of the demons' wives are like cuckoos."

Advaitadas: "Haha, no that is wrong. The word koka means Cakravāka, which is a kind of flamingo. Their curved necks resemble the globular shapes of womens' breasts. I think Prof. Dimock mistook the word koka (Cakravāka) for kokila (cuckoo)." There is no similarity at all between a cuckoo and a woman's breast."

Bhakta: "In Caitanya Caritāmṛta Antya 3.114-5, Haridās Thākur promises the prostitute that he will accept her. Is he lying to her or does he speak ambiguously? Can he insinuate anything spiritual in his promise?"

Advaitadas: "Yes indeed. He says tomā korimu aṅgīkāra, 'I will accept you' - as what - a lover or a disciple? That is the question. In the next verse he says 'nāma samāpta hole korimu ye tomāra mana' - 'When I finished my rounds I will do whatever is on your mind'. But what will be on her mind after hearing the pure devotee chant so much? Surely devotional service rather than sex? So here is some transcendental ambiguity."

Bhakta: "All right, but then in verse 3.126 Haridās says: "Tomorrow my vow will be complete and I will freely have intercourse with you."

Advaitadas: "The Bengali text says: svacchande tomāra saṅge hoibek saṅga - 'I will have free saṅga with you then.' Here too there can be two meanings. saṅga can mean intercourse or sat-saṅga. Haridās meant the latter but the prostitute mistook it to be the former, in both cases. In the previous line Haridās speaks of vrata bhaṅga, which normally means violating the vow of sannyāsa or brāhmacarya but in this case he means to say 'completing my vow of chanting so many crores of nāma. It is a very clever wordplay."

Bhakta: "In Caitanya Caritāmṛta Antya 3.140, it is said the prostitute shaved her head."

Advaitadas: "In Bengal widows or female sannyāsīs often shave their heads and wear white - in the rest of India widows also put on white but they keep their hair long."

Bhakta: 'What means carvaṇa upavāsa in the next verse?"

Advaitadas: "It means that if she didn't fast she would chew, but that indicates something really austere like soaked grains or plain vegetables or so - not that she went from feast to feast, eating laḍḍu-purī-khīr every day, like hosts of sādhus do in Vraja."

Bhakta: "In Caitanya Caritāmṛta Antya 5.20, a scene is depicted wherein Rāmānanda Rāy accepts the mood of a maidservant when he massages and dresses beautiful young dancing girls. Prof Dimock suggests in his comment that this scene may have been a forerunner of mañjarī bhāva sādhanā, though this is generally a mental practise. He explains the words āropana in the verse as the imposition of a natural feeling (svābhāvika dāsī-bhāva), which is a technical sahajīya word...."

Advaitadas: "Prof. Dimock wrote a book or two about sahajīyas (I haven't read them), he might have been specialized in the subject, and it is well known that sahajīyas try to superimpose or ascribe their own attitudes on our great ācāryas in order to gain acceptance and respectability. Perhaps Prof. Dimock takes this suggestion over into his Caitanya Caritāmṛta commentary here. Nowhere in the entire text of Caitanya Caritāmṛta is there any reference to any of the great ācāryas having been sahajīyas and indeed even the bona fide practise of mañjarī bhāva, which is indeed usually practised only mentally, is not mentioned in Caitanya Caritāmṛta. The latter may be because Kṛṣṇa dās Kavirāja meant this Caitanya Caritamrita for a broad public - it is chanted to everyone in many Bengali villages - and he wanted mañjarī bhāva to be kept reserved for the small elite that qualifies for it. He did discuss it in an earlier work of his, the Govinda Līlāmṛta, which is obviously meant for that more elite audience. Anyway, svābhāvika dāsī bhāva koren āropan means that although his dāsī bhāva is nitya siddha, he projects (āropaṇa) it on himself to give the right example to sādhakas like us."

Bhakta: "Prof. Dimock suggests that Rāmānanda Rāya takes the girls to be Rādhā but there are two girls in the story."

Advaitadas: "That either of the girls would be Rādhā is a bit far-fetched but of course if Rāmānanda Rāya would really be superimposing mañjarī bhāva here, at least one of them would have to be Rādhā. The other one could be her group leader, which is usually Viśākhā or Lalitā. Prof. Dimock's theory comes into trouble, though, if you consider that Kavi Karṇapūra identifies Rāmānanda Rāya with Lalitā sakhī. He would not be into mañjarī bhāva then but into sakhī bhāva, although the sakhīs do have a service attitude towards Śrī Rādhikā too."

Bhakta: "So if I wanted to serve Vaiṣṇavas the way Rāmānanda Rāy served these deva dāsīs, should I see these Vaiṣṇavas as Rādhārāṇī also?"

Advaitadas: "Well I have already suggested that Dimock's mañjarī bhāva interpretation may be a bit far-fetched anyway, and the morale of this story is not related to mañjarī bhāva per se, but to the purifying effect of faithfully accepting gopi-bhava, as is explained at the end of the story, when the final verse of Rāsa-līlā is quoted, which offers the benediction of swift liberation from carnal lust to the faithful hearer or reciter of the Rāsa-līlā. Because Rāmānanda Rāy accepted gopī bhāva he was able to render such intimate services to beautiful young girls without getting agitated. If you are male and render service to male Vaiṣṇavas then this is called sevā sādhaka rūpeṇa, external service, by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī. As I said mañjarī bhāva is usually practised mentally, not physically."

Bhakta: "In Caitanya Caritāmṛta Antya 6.256, Prof. Dimock says that 'sometimes he (Raghunātha Dās Goswāmī) fasts, and sometimes he chews lime.' In the BBT edition it is said 'he chews fried grains'.

Advaitadas: "Both are wrong - neither are mentioned in the Bengali verse, it just says carvaṇa, chewing. Especially the idea of lime is absurd. One noteworthy point here is that both the prostitute (converted by Brahmā Haridās) and Raghunātha Dās Goswāmī were said to 'kabhu carvaṇa', sometimes chew, which means that if they didnt fast altogether, they would drink buttermilk or so, and occasionally solid food. It is not that they regularly ate solid food."

Bhakta: "In Caitanya Caritāmṛta Antya 6.304, the word khājā is translated by Prof. Dimock as a flaky kind of pastry, and in the BBT edition it is sweetmeats."

Advaitadas: "It is both, its a sweet pastry, a puffed sweet cookie."

Bhakta: "In Caitanya Caritāmṛta Antya 6.309, Prof. Dimock says that Raghunāth Dās Goswāmī's observances were a row of stones."

Advaitadas: "Hahaha that sounds ridiculous. The Bengali text says pāṣāṇera rekhā - like lines carved in a stone. In other words, his vows were not under any negotiation. rekhā means line."

Bhakta: "In the following verse Prof. Dimock says 'from that time on he put no sweet thing on his tongue.' The BBT edition says 'he did not allow his tongue any sense gratification'."

Advaitadas: "Again here both are wrong. The verse says rasera sparśana, he did not allow his tongue any taste, period. Though sweet is considered the highest taste, salty savories are always very popular with everyone's tongues too."

5 comments:

  1. …..he massages and dresses beautiful young dancing girls.

    …….. when the final verse of Rasa lila is quoted, which offers the benediction of swift liberation carnal lust to the faithful hearer or reciter of the Rasa lila..




    Regardless, someone who reads this story can, in the guise of doing seva, pretend to have the license to do similar act to the pubescent daughter of the next door devotee or to his own child.

    And this is the danger. We see cases of this in many different religious group and I will not be surprised that this also happens in India.

    So Bhaktisiddhanta must be reasonable then to make such adjustment in his society ?

    What are the other facts known about Ramananda Ray? Are there other things in history known about him? It couldn’t be far-fetched to imagine that he planted the seed of sahajiyaism.

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  2. Regardless, someone who reads this story can, in the guise of doing seva, pretend to have the license to do similar act to the pubescent daughter of the next door devotee or to his own child.

    Verse 42 of that chapter says clearly eka rāmānandera hoy ei adhikāra; tāte jāni aprākṛta-deha tāńhāra - 'Only Ramananda has the right to do that because he has a spiritual(ized) body." The CC itself thus clearly states this behaviour should not be imitated.

    And this is the danger. We see cases of this in many different religious group and I will not be surprised that this also happens in India.

    It is happening especially in India.

    So Bhaktisiddhanta must be reasonable then to make such adjustment in his society ?

    Restrictions on this behaviour is neither an invention nor a monopoly of Sripad Bhaktisiddhanta. Any decent Guru will tell his sisyas not to imitate it.

    Are there other things in history known about him?

    He was a Govt. minister under Maharaj Prataprudra of Orissa, and given paid leave to render fulltime service to Mahaprabhu later.

    It couldn’t be far-fetched to imagine that he planted the seed of sahajiyaism.

    No way, either with the IGM-notion of the word sahajiya, nor with the traditional notion of the word. See above quote - such conduct was the prerogative of Ramananda Raya and the morale of the story is not that one should massage young girls but that faithful hearing and reciting of the Rasa-lila, or practise of gopi bhava in general, frees from the heart's disease of lust. There will always be scoundrels and perverts who will abuse this principle of course. That too, is seen both in the west and in India. So Ramananda Ray cannot be said to have planted the seed of sahajiyaism deliberately or with evil intent - sahajiyaism really lies at the root of itself. There is no historical record of Ramananda Ray having been a sahajiya at any time, at least not from bonafide GV sources.

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  3. I guess my point in making those comments about Ram Ray’s act, is that how irrational some religious practices and worship are.

    To cite examples from other faiths: circumcision, women genital mutilation, polygamous marriage in the Mormon community involving children as young as 12. The list is shamefully endless.

    I’m not talking of the Radha-Krishna rasa lila philosophy here. Because the rasa lila can be understood in 2 ways. First, If the lila is real on another realm, we know that Krishna as God must be outside space time so rationalizing this theosophy is useless, because our senses are limited and understanding love is beyond the mind. Second, we can look at it in another way, as the only language that can help us understand the meaning of union in love with God.

    I’d say the Ram Ray episode is the GV’s version of irrational practice.You gave me Krishnadas Kaviraj (or yours ???) explanation and the theological underpinning of Ram Ray’s act. But that can be viewed, as though it was not sexual abuse, it was abuse or violation of a young person nonetheless. Were the girls willing participant in the sense that they were on the same level as R R and knew what they were doing and what was in R R’s mind?

    Do we suspend our rationality in the name of religious practices?

    Just when does a religious act becomes an irrational act?

    As a GV we all agree that the guru is as good as God. I’ll give a hypothetical scenario. If Im faced with the situation wherein my guru asks me to massage him and talk me up into sexual act with him like in the rasa lila, as the highest expression of love in submission to him, I know that this is an irrational request . Why is that?

    It is because once we put down rasa lila which is outside spacetime, outside of the physical plane, on the human level ,then we are subjecting it to the law of the world, to the estimation of the people, the community. And that is when it becomes morally wrong, however far we twist and stretch the interpretation of the teachings.

    For this reason, the prema prajoyana as peddled by the sahajiyas are shamefully wrong.

    And so we can understand why the militant atheists like Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and others are getting more active in their quest to banish any religion or belief in God from the face of the earth. Because it does not answer to reason.

    Some of my points may cause for me to be labelled aparadhi but I’m ready to wear it.

    Hare Krishna

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  4. If the lila is real on another realm, we know that Krishna as God must be outside space time so rationalizing this theosophy is useless, because our senses are limited and understanding love is beyond the mind.

    It is exactly with that attitude that such narrations must be treated, plus faith, love and respect.

    Second, we can look at it in another way, as the only language that can help us understand the meaning of union in love with God.

    If I understand you properly, then yes this is correct.

    I’d say the Ram Ray episode is the GV’s version of irrational practice.

    Religious practises may be rational or irrational, but in either case faithful acceptance is crucial.

    You gave me Krishnadas Kaviraj (or yours ???) explanation and the theological underpinning of Ram Ray’s act.

    I quoted the Bengali text (42), so it is obviously KK's explanation, not mine, and it stands like a lighthouse on a rock.

    But that can be viewed, as though it was not sexual abuse, it was abuse or violation of a young person nonetheless. Were the girls willing participant in the sense that they were on the same level as R R and knew what they were doing and what was in R R’s mind?

    That is not mentioned in the narration and we should not question the activities of our beloved Ramray. A person is innocent unless proven guilty.

    Do we suspend our rationality in the name of religious practices?

    If the narration itself is beyond rationality what other choice do you have, as a devotee? In such cases sophistry and faultfinding will be disastrous, as we have witnessed in the GD fiasco.

    Just when does a religious act becomes an irrational act?
    As a GV we all agree that the guru is as good as God. I’ll give a hypothetical scenario. If Im faced with the situation wherein my guru asks me to massage him and talk me up into sexual act with him like in the rasa lila, as the highest expression of love in submission to him, I know that this is an irrational request . Why is that?
    It is because once we put down rasa lila which is outside space-time, outside of the physical plane, on the human level ,then we are subjecting it to the law of the world, to the estimation of the people, the community. And that is when it becomes morally wrong, however far we twist and stretch the interpretation of the teachings.


    The answer to that is in the blog itself: [QUOTE] "and the morale of this story is not related to manjari bhava per se, but to the purifying effect of faithfully accepting gopi-bhava, as is explained at the end of the story, when the final verse of Rasa lila is quoted, which offers the benediction of swift liberation from carnal lust to the faithful hearer or reciter of the Rasa lila. Because Ramananda Ray accepted gopi bhava he was able to render such intimate services to beautiful young girls without getting agitated."[UNQUOTE]

    For this reason, the prema prajoyana as peddled by the sahajiyas are shamefully wrong.

    I personally refuse to see RR's acts or KK's narrations as those of sahajiyas, because of the morale of the narration which I just quoted in the previous reply.

    And so we can understand why the militant atheists like Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and others are getting more active in their quest to banish any religion or belief in God from the face of the earth.

    Fortunately they will never succeed in that, as religion is like breathing and eating - essential.

    Because it does not answer to reason.

    Some would find that a compliment rather than a fault.

    Some of my points may cause for me to be labelled aparadhi but I’m ready to wear it.

    Let's say that 'tarko'pratistha' - sophistry on inconceivable matters is baseless. This is where faith and belief come in, naked, stripped of reason and scepsis. There is really nothing more to it.

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  5. In order to judge whether or not Ramananda Raya is/was a sahajiya, let us ponder the definition of sahajiya - in the traditional definition, a sahajiya is a person who thinks he is Krishna and his illicit married girlfriend is Radha. In contrast to that, Ramananda Raya is said to have had svabhavika dasibhava (CC Adi 5.20) - the natural feeling of a maidservant. That totally contradicts the attitude of being Krishna oneself.
    Ramananda Raya's conduct also does not fit the Gaudiya Math-definition of sahajiya (someone who practises raga bhakti while still having material desires), because he is said to have had a spiritual body (CC Antya 5.42). This clears Ramananda Raya from all accusations of sahajiyaism.

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