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Monday, April 27, 2009

Pumpkins, Tom and Jerry, the moonwalk, yogi-yojanas and 9 types of bhakti

Bhakta: "It is described in śāstra that the gopīs take paraphernalia for their services from the pumpkins growing in the desire trees. But that most over time produce a huge amount of paraphernalia!"

Advaitadas: "To my understanding it is eternally recycled into the pumpkins, or so to say, there is no yesterday or tomorrow in the spiritual sky - everything is an eternal now. The pumpkins never grew, the desire trees were never sown etc. Creation is the mode of passion, destruction the mode of ignorance and maintenance the mode of goodness. The spiritual sky is viśuddha sattva, pure goodness, there is only maintenance there, no creation or destruction. Where the paraphernalia go after usage, where the food goes after consumption, these questions are not answered - I suppose we are too conditioned into our narrow causal thinking for that."

Bhakta: "If there is no past, then Kṛṣṇa does not go home and there is no sequence in the līlā either, even if it is an eternal daily repetition of the same schedule of pastimes."

Advaitadas: "There seems to be a sequence in the transcendental pastimes, but actually each movement Kṛṣṇa or His associates make, each word they say, is eternal. Compare it to a cartoon movie, like Tom and Jerry. Countless Toms and Jerries are being drawn and shown very quickly in front of the camera so it appears that Tom and Jerry are moving, but actually they are all just so many static images. Similarly, Kṛṣṇa's every move and word, both in the spiritual sky and in the manifest pastimes on earth, is eternal and separately dhyeya (to be meditated upon) and āsvādya (relishable). When Sādhu Bābā initiated me into my meditation on Rādhārāṇī's devotional service he told me that even a single word or name is an endlessly deep ocean of meditation that is endlessly relishable, provided ruci (taste) is there for it. I believe this point is made by Sanātan Goswāmī in his Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta - while Kṛṣṇa is killing Pūtanā somewhere, in some other universe He is kicking over the cart, killing Kaṁsa etc, and since there are innumerable universes every lila is going on somewhere at this very moment."

Bhakta: "I heard that it is not sure how much is the exact distance of a yojana. It must be more than 8 miles because modern astronomy shows that the distances given in the Purāṇas to certain planets, including Goloka, are really peanuts compared to their figures, even within this one universe, let alone beyond it. There must be a yojana-measurement for yogis and devatās instead - they were, after all, Śukadeva's audience when he spoke the Bhāgavat."

Advaitadas: "Yes that must be. And on top of that, is there any measurement to travel to Goloka? Aren't Goloka and Vaikuṇṭha really worlds and spheres rather than concrete planets with a concrete location? (See my blog of July 23, 2007) It is not exactly located on the third turn on the left, you know! You travel there with the vehicle of surrender, not with a rocket or so. As for the moonwalk-controversy, hardliners say the whole thing was a hoax and they just shot some footage in the desert in Arizona or New Mexico and sold that to the public as the moonwalk, but I don't believe that. I do think they went to what they perceive as the moon, but that may be just a gross reflection or counterpart of a more subtle, astral realm we know as Candra-loka, a realm which is only attainable through sacrifice, merit etc. and which may be at the same location as the place where Armstrong and Aldridge went."

Bhakta: "Nowadays they make cosmic measurements of light and distance by sending some type of ultraviolet beams to a reflecting panel on the moon - even a layman can do it. So they must have been there to put that panel there."

Bhakta: "I heard that during times of separation from Kṛṣṇa, Rādhārāṇī wears red instead of blue garments and the mañjarīs wear white."

Advaitadas: "I have never read that in any of the ācāryas' granthas nor have I even heard of such a thing until now and I have practised this for nearly 27 years......."

Bhakta: "Are all nine practises of devotional service, as described by Prahlād Mahārāj in the Bhāgavat, applicable to mañjarī bhāva sādhana?"

Advaitadas: "Absolutely. Hearing about mañjarī-service, chanting about them, remembering them, circumambulating Rādhākuṇḍa or Raghunāth Dās Goswāmī's samādhi, worshipping the deity of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, vandanam....."

Bhakta: 'Vandanam sounds really reverential to me."

Advaitadas: "No no, it means recital of stotrams like Vilāpa-Kusumāñjali, Rādhā Rasa Sudhānidhi, Utkalikā Vallari or Stavāvalī."

Bhakta: "What about the last three?"

Advaitadas: "dāsyam is the bottom line of all rasas, and is very much present in mañjarī bhāva, which is dāsī-bhāva, the mood of the maidservant. Sakhyam is also there, as mañjarīs are a kind of sakhī. Rādhikā confides in them more than even in her own girlfriends. And finally ātma nivedanam, that you can see in Vilāpa Kusumāñjali verse 96 - tavaivāsmi tavaivāsmi -  'Rādhe! I am yours! I am yours!'

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Corrections of Govinda Līlāmṛta, chapters 1-7

In cooperation with a Vaiṣṇava friend I found some more verses from Govinda Līlāmṛta (as published in my 2000 edition, with the cover shown here) that needed to be edited. They are listed below:

1.104 Original translation: "O lotus-faced girl! Look! The she-swan named Tuṇḍikerī, holding a lotus-stem which was left over by her husband and discarded by his associate in her beak, making sweet sounds while staring at Your lotus face. Thus she follows her husband."

1.104 Corrected translation: "O lotus-faced girl! Look! The she-swan named Tuṇḍikerī, holding a lotus-stem which was left over by her husband and discarded by him, in her beak, making sweet sounds while staring at Your lotus face. Thus she follows her husband."

The sahacara and svāmī are one and the same person. (Added April 20, 2009)

1.116 Original translation: The very expert sakhīs who nourish the Lord's pastimes and whose movements cannot be traced, returned to their individual homes just like the Vedas who, at the time of the universal dissolution, enter back into the Lord when Acyuta, having finished His enjoyment, goes to sleep in His own abode.

1.116 Corrected translation: The very expert sakhīs who nourish the Lord's pastimes, stealthily returned to their individual homes just like the Vedas who, at the time of the universal dissolution, stealthily enter back into the Lord when Acyuta, having finished His enjoyment, goes to sleep in His own abode.

2.12: Original translation: Mother Yaśodā then tried to awaken Hari who slept on His jewelled bed just as the personified Vedas awaken Lord Hari (Viṣṇu) when He sleeps on the jewelled bed of Ananta Śeṣa in a palace in the Milk ocean during the cosmic termination.

2.12 Corrected translation: Mother Yaśodā then tried to awaken Hari who slept on His jewelled bed just as the personified Vedas awaken Lord Hari (Viṣṇu) when He sleeps on Ananta Śeṣa, who is like His bed, illuminated by the jewels on his hoods, in a palace in the Milk ocean during the cosmic termination.
Correction based on Vṛndāvana Cakravartī’s comment: ananta-ratnojjvala madhye anantasya eva ratnaiḥ phaṇa-ratnair ujjvalaṁ talpaṁ tasya madhye… 

2.86 Original translation: Viśākhā covered the signs of Hari's hands on lotus-eyed Rādhā's neck with a spotless golden leaf-like ornament inset with various jewels, as if she was afraid of Hari.

2.86 Corrected version: Viśākhā covered the conchshell-signs of Hari's hands on lotus-eyed Rādhā's neck with a spotless golden leaf-like ornament inset with various jewels, as if she was afraid of Hari (grabbing Rādhā’s conch-like neck, seeing that it defeats the beauty of the conch-marks on His fingertips).
Correction based on Vṛndāvana Cakravartī’s comment: hari karastha dara rūpa cihnasya śobhā-haram sva rekhāśrayena ityūhyam. ācchādane hetum āha hari bhiyeva harih sva kara cihna śobhā-haram dṛṣṭvā balāt balāt grahīṣyatīti bhayenetyarthaḥ

2.87 Original translation: Then she hung a golden Citrahaṁsa-gem inset with diamonds and sapphires, which is very solid in the middle, on Rādhikā's neck, bound a thread to the beak.

2.87 Corrected version: Then she hung a golden Citrahaṁsa (wonderful swan)-gem inset with diamonds and sapphires, which is very solid in the middle, on Rādhikā's neck, bound by a thread to the (swan’s) beak.

3.87 Original translation: O chaste lady! I made this sweet tasty, soft and sweet saṁyāva-porridge, which gives strength and nourishment, and kept it in this clay pot!

3.87 Corrected version: O chaste lady! I made this tasty, soft and sweet saṁyāva-porridge, which gives strength and nourishment, and kept it in this clay pot!
(sentenced contained twice the word ‘sweet’. )

3.94 Original translation: Look at all these chickpeas fried in ghī only and others that are filled with other ingredients, moistened with whey or tamarind.

3.94 Corrected version: Look at all these chickpeas fried in ghī only and others that are moistened with items like whey or tamarind. (chickpeas are not filled but moistened.)

3.100 In the Sanskrit baddha kuṣmāṇḍa becomes vṛddha kuṣmāṇḍa

Original translation: There are big pumpkin-pies with stems, arum, potatoes and sāgara-roots.

Corrected version: There are old pumpkin-pies with Kacu-roots, arum, potatoes and sāgara-roots. (‘big’ is ‘old’ instead, and the word ‘stems’ is unclear.)

4.7 Original translation: When Mukunda came home He showered the thirsty, dried up Cāṭaka-bird-like gopīs with the waterfall of His personal sweetness,

4.7 Corrected version: When Mukunda came home He showered the thirsty, dried up Cāṭaka-bird-like gopīs with the waterfall (torrent of rain) of His personal sweetness,
(‘torrent of rain’ applies to Cāṭaka bird and is also in the text as varṣair.)

4.21 Original version: “Mother took them to the dining platform, which was rinsed and covered by a sheet, surrounded by golden pots and clean chairs, where nice incense was burning.

4.21 Corrected version: “Mother took them to the dining platform, which was rinsed and covered by a sheet, surrounded by golden water-pots and clean chairs, where nice incense was burning. (Text says toya-pūrṇa bhṛṅgāra, water-filled pots)

4.42 Original version: On separate plates Dhaniṣṭhā brought savouries and other dishes prepared by Lalitā, and Yaśodā served them with great loving joy.

4.42 Corrected version: On separate plates Dhaniṣṭhā brought savouries and other dishes prepared by Lalitā, and Queen Yaśodā served them with great loving joy and affection.
(Yaśodā is mentioned as vrajeśvarī in the text and it is also said sa-sneha, with affection.)

4.60 Original version: They washed their mouths, rubbed their lotus-like hands with scented clay and brushed their teeth with soft toothpicks.

4.60 Corrected version: They washed their mouths, rubbed their lotus-like hands with scented clay and cleaned their teeth with soft toothpicks.
(Vṛndāvana Cakravartī says leṣikayā sūkṣma-kāṣṭhena, it is a thin wooden stick).

4.62 After their breakfast the cowherd boys take a hundred steps to their beds. Commentator Kṛṣṇapada dāsa Bābājī says it is healthy to take at least a hundred steps after a meal.
One should neither immediately take rest after a full meal nor perform very hard labor.
Commentator Vṛndāvana Cakravartī quotes Vaidya śāstra – bhuktvā pāda-śataṁ gatvā vara śayyāyāṁ viśrāmaḥ kāryaḥ: “After eating one should take 100 steps and take rest on a good bed”.

5.21 Original version: Just as the Gaṅgā flows towards the ocean, the Gaṅgā-like waves of Rādhā's glances were stunned from meeting Kṛṣṇa, the ocean of rasa.

5.21 Corrected version: Rādhā’s glances, that had been stunned by exchanging glances with Kṛṣṇa, now proceeded to rush like brilliant high Ganges-waves towards the rasa-ocean of Kṛṣṇa.

6.8 Original text: “…others showed their skills in balancing on a stick….”

6.8 Corrected version: “…….others showed their skills in twirling around sticks…..”

6.82 Original text: Madhumaṅgala hinted to Kṛṣṇa:

6.82 Corrected version: Madhumaṅgala verbally hinted to Kṛṣṇa: (tam āhātha baṭu)

7.2 Original text: Rādhākuṇḍa is beautifully surrounded by jewelled steps and jewelled bathing places. On these bathing places are jewelled platforms with their yards,….

7.2 Corrected version: Rādhākuṇḍa is beautifully surrounded by jewelled steps and jewelled ghāṭas (turrets supported by lean pillars). On these ghāṭas are jewelled platforms with their yards,

7.18 Original text: Swans, gallinules, cranes, Madgus, Cakravākas, geese and Lakṣmaṇā-birds since pleasant songs and parrots start reciting sweet poetry about Kṛṣṇa's romantic plays as they play with each other.

7.18 Corrected version: Swans, gallinules, cranes, Madgus, Cakravākas, geese and Lakṣmaṇā-birds sing pleasant songs and parrots start reciting sweet poetry about Kṛṣṇa's romantic plays as they play with each other.

7.31 1. ‘bathing place’ becomes ghāṭa (ghāṭa shown below:)

2. "There is a temple there called Anaṅga Raṅgāmbuja"
"There is a square courtyard there called Anaṅga Raṅgāmbuja"

These corrections have already been uploaded to my website, at the linktab 'Literature'.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The boat turns 53

Reflections on my 53rd birthday. For Vaiṣṇavas, only the birthdays of the Lord and of the Guru are celebrated, and I am neither of them, but I also do not agree with those devotees who say 'Why should we celebrate that we have come into this material world, this rotten bag of stool" etc etc.

We have never 'come' to the material world anyway, we were always here. Sadhu Bābā had a much more upbeat approach towards the body. He used to say 'śarīram ādyam khalu dharma sādhanam' - "The body is the prime instrument for spiritual practise." The human body is the most precious possession for it enables one to cross the ocean of birth and death. The Bhāgavata (11.20.17) says -

nṛ deham ādyaṁ sulabhaṁ sudurlabhaṁ
plavaṁ sukalpaṁ guru karṇa-dhāra

mayānukūlena nabhasvateritam
pumān bhavābdhiṁ na taret sa ātma-hā

"The human body is the most excellent (ādya) attainment, it is a rare boat that will carry us across the ocean of birth and death provided we take a Guru as captain. Kṛṣṇa comes as scripture to provide favorable breezes for that boat. Whoever does not cross the ocean of birth and death thus is committing suicide."

Śrīdhar Swāmī comments: evaṁ aprayatamānaṁ pramattaṁ nindati nṛ-dehaṁ plavaṁ nāvaṁ prāpyety - 'This verse criticizes the negligent who do not endeavour in the human birth-boat they received. ādyaṁ sarva-phalānāṁ mūlam - ādya means the root of all fruits [bounties]. sudurlabham udyama-koṭibhir api prāptum aśakyam - It is very rare, not attained by even millions of endeavours. tathāpi tu sulabhaṁ yadṛcchayā labdhatvāt - But still it is easily attained, just by good fortune, now. taṁ ca sukalpaṁ paṭutaram, it is called sukalpa, or very powerful and capable." Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda adds: aho daridraś cintāmaNim akasmāt prāpya paṅke kṣipati - 'Alas! (Not using the human body) is like a poor man throwing a suddenly attained Cintāmaṇi-gem into the mud!'

We should always beware, of course, that this boat does not become a Titanic that crashes against the iceberg of aparādha...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sequence of sādhana, Madhumaṅgal, Gaṅgā and doctors in the spiritual sky

e mail from Bhakta:
"Today while I was reading the biography of Śrī Gaura Govinda dās bābājī ( from the Saints of Vraja of Dr. Kapoor) some doubts arose in my mind and I think that you may be the proper person to dissipate them. There ( in the biography ) it is written ( I am translating from Spanish ): "He (Gaura Govinda dās bābājī) discovered that some Vaiṣṇavas of Vṛndāvana meditate in Kṛṣṇa līlā in accordance with the Guṭikā of Siddha Kṛṣṇa dās bābājī of Goverdhan. He begin to do the same as them, but while he meditated in this way on Kṛṣṇa-līlā, he could not complete his japa. He did not know whether he should abandon his meditation or his japa, so he sought Jagadish dās bābājī's advice. He adviced him that first he must finish his japa, and then if he had some time, meditate on the līlā". The doubts are:

You know, the essence of all advice is to do japa and simultaneously meditate on līlā ( Upadeśāmṛta, text 8 or so many other evidence from śāstra proclaim this ). So my question is why he advice to Gaura Govinda dās bābājī to first complete his japa and then meditate if both must be done simultaneously ? It seems (his advice) is as if when he does his japa he must not meditate on līlā, otherwise why he would tell him to first finish japa and then meditate ?

Actually, every day while am I doing my japa I try to meditate simultaneously on aṣṭa kāla līlā as described in books ( Govinda Līlāmṛta, Kṛṣṇa Bhāvanāmṛta, Bhāvanā sāra Saṅgraha ) contemplating my self as a mañjarī in this various līlās. It is not that first I finish my quota and then begin to meditate on līlā.
Thank you. Rādhee!!

Dear Bhakta,
Rādhe Rādhe
Actually what Jagadīśa Dās bābājī suggested is really what Rūpa Goswāmī also teaches in Upadeśāmṛta 8: sukīrtanānusmṛtyoḥ krameṇa rasanā manasi niyojya - Note the word 'kramena', or 'sequentially'. The tongue and the mind are sequentially engaged in chanting and remembering. I have the same tendency to chant and meditate simultaneously and I don't think there is anything wrong with that but strictly speaking the teaching of Jagadīśa Mahārāj ji is not wrong, it is according to the Goswāmīs teachings. Perhaps Rūpa Goswāmī considered the use of the tongue and the mind sequential because it requires great purity to attain a state of smaraṇa - smaraṇaṁ tu śuddhāntaḥ karaṇatam apekṣate. So after a period of chanting one gets pure enough to enter into līlā smaraṇam."

Bhakta: “Maybe it is like you said. Of course, you know, līlā smaraṇam has different steps (smaraṇam, dhyāna, dhāraṇā, dhruvānusmṛti and samādhi). I am of the opinion that unless the mind is engaged in hearing the Holy name with attention or focused on the form, qualities or līlā while chanting we are committing aparādha. You also know: "bahu janma yadi kori śravaṇa kīrtana tabu tā nā pāya kṛṣṇa pada preme dhana" (CC: Even after chanting for many lifetimes one may not get the wealth of love of Kṛṣṇa). Just by meditating with appreciation on this we can develop gradually a similar state of vision: 'bhāvite bhāvite kṛṣṇa sphuraye antare kṛṣṇa kṛpāya ajña rasa sindhu pāre. (CC: By thinking and thinking on Kṛṣṇa, by the mercy of Kṛṣṇa one reach the far coast of the sweet ocean of transcendental mellows.) This is the secret: thinking, thinking and thinking. Everything will come.”

(Phone-) Bhakta: "In Govinda Līlāmṛta, ch.2, Madhumaṅgal wakes up Kṛṣṇa in the morning, apparently without taking a bath."

Advaitadas: 'Whether he took a bath or not is not mentioned, perhaps he did. Some Vaiṣṇavas describe Madhumaṅgal as being the pūjārī of Nanda Mahārāja's Nārāyaṇa-deities but I strongly doubt it because such descriptions are not found in any of the Gosvāmīs' books, nor does it seem practically possible, as Madhumaṅgal is out with Kṛṣṇa from 8 a.m. till 4 p.m. - he also goes with Him to the barn between 6 and 7 a.m. - which pūjārī could be away from his deities for so long? Secondly, in Vedic/Indian culture not everyone jumps under the shower at 4 a.m. - those who have go-sevā to do or cleaning or shopping or so, they take a bath later, but at least before breakfast."

Bhakta: "In the same section of Govinda Līlāmṛta there is a comparison with Nārāyaṇa laying down in the ocean of milk. Isn't this aiśvarya?"

Advaitadas: "Many aiśvarya līlās have some mādhurya and vice versa. Nārāyaṇa takes rest for 4 months of the rainy season (caturmāsya). In the middle of it (pārśvaikādaśī) He turns to His other side. This is mādhurya within aiśvarya. Even in Christianity there is some mādhurya - after creating the world in 6 days, God takes rest on the seventh day, because He is tired."

Bhakta: 'What means Gaṅgā?"
Advaitadas: "It means ' swift mover'.

Bhakta: "And Godāvarī?"
 Advaitadas: "Giver of water."

Bhakta: In Govinda Līlāmṛta (3.67) it is mentioned that there is a doctor in Vraja called Kalyāṇada. Do people ever get sick there?”

Advaitadas: "Of course not – birth, death, old age and disease only apply to material bodies. There is no mentioning of Kṛṣṇa ever getting sick. The story of Kṛṣṇa getting a headache and only the gopīs' footdust being able to cure him is just a hearsay-glorification which is not in any śāstra - īśvara parama kṛṣṇa saccidānanda vigraha - Kṛṣṇa's body is totally transcendental and full of bliss. Of course in the course of naimittika līlā someone may get 'sick', like in Camatkāra Candrikā but that is just play, not real. In the spiritual sky there is no causality or functionality, but yet everything is there. Just like, some Vaiṣṇavas say that those Vrajabāsīs who have no amorous service to render to Kṛṣṇa have no generative organs, because they dont need them. That is nonsense. Everything is there, in order to create the perfect human like atmosphere for Kṛṣṇa, functionality or not. Just as celibate persons in this world still have generative organs, though they chose not to use them as long as they are in these bodies. The fact that they don't need them doesn't mean they don't have them."

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Discussing Stavamālā

This is the final installment of my review of Śrī Rūpa Goswāmī's Stavamālā in discussion with one Vaiṣṇava:

Bhakta: "In Cāṭu Puṣpāñjali, verse 23, Śrī Rūpa Goswāmī says 'I beg for your (Rādhā's) kindness so that I can offer proper praise to Kṛṣṇa." I did not know that the mañjarīs would pray like that."

Advaitadas: "Who translated this?"

Bhakta: "Originally it was translated by Kuśakratha, but now it has been edited in a deluxe edition by Pūrṇaprajña Dās."

Advaitadas: "It is totally wrong. I think Pūrṇaprajña has just edited the English, not the Sanskrit-English translation. It also shows that without associating with realized mahatmas one cannot understand the writings of the ācāryas, not even while knowing Sanskrit or while living in Vṛndāvana - yat tīrtha buddhi salile na karhicit janeṣvabhijñeṣu (SB 10.84.13) 'If you only consider a tank of water to be a holy place and not the learned saints, sa eva go kharaḥ, you are surely a cow or an ass." All Bengali translations I have seen of this verse say that prārthana bhājanam means that the mañjarī becomes the object of Kṛṣṇa's prayers. Like in Vilāpa Kusumāñjali 86 - Tulasī prays that Kṛṣṇa will fall at her feet for Rādhikā's darśana. The verse (of Rūpa Goswāmī) is often quoted by Ananta Dās Bābājī in his books with the translation I gave above. Actually in Rūpa Goswāmī's works mañjarī bhāva is less obvious, but this verse is exceptionally clear about mañjarī bhāva."

Bhakta: "In the Vraja Navīna Yuva dvandvāṣṭaka, verse 3, it is said that 'They shook off a great abundance of red sindūra in their playful quarrel."

Advaitadas: "A great abundance? This is about rahasya līlā, not about Holi, you know! One needs some knowledge of līlā and some common sense too. The word mentioned here is amanda, which means either much or bright. Since sindūra is worn by Rādhā in a modest amount, and is bright in colour it obviously means 'bright' and not 'much'.

Bhakta: "In Karpaṇya Pañjikā Stotram (9) Śrī Rādhā's attributes are compared with a mountain of rubies. Is the ruby the greatest gem?

Advaitadas: "In the Bhāgavat (11.16.30) Śrī Kṛṣṇa tells Uddhava: ratnānāṁ padma-rāgo'smi - 'Of gems I am the ruby."

Bhakta: "In verse 18 Śrī Rūpa Goswāmī says of himself: "I'm a cowardly eunuch."

Advaitadas: "Literally speaking that is not wrong (klība means neuter gender or impotent man), but Arpaṇā Devī of the Gauḍīya Maṭh makes it sādhana bala hīna, bereft of strength to do sādhana, and that is more likely."

Bhakta: "In Govardhanoddhāra (19) Śrī Rūpa Goswāmī seems to say that Kṛṣṇa shifted Mt. Govardhana to His little finger. But I thought He carried it there for the full seven days?"

Advaitadas: "The word used here is vinyasta, which just means 'placed'. There was no shift there, the mount is just there, period. Pūrṇaprajña's word-for-word also says 'placed'.

Bhakta: "In verse 22 of the same work it is said the Vrajabāsīs didn't sleep for 7 nights."

Advaitadas: "My Bengali translation says Kṛṣṇa didn't sleep, but I suppose the Vrajabāsīs didn't sleep either, out of ecstasy from seeing Kṛṣṇa lifting the mount."

Bhakta: "That is not nara līlā then."

Advaitadas: "Kṛṣṇa lifting Govardhan is anyway not nara-līlā - its superhuman to lift a mountain for seven days without sleeping or resting, and without the hill, that consists of loose boulders and earth, falling apart. Of course the hill and Kṛṣṇa both have plenty of mādhurya themselves so it is mixed aisvarya and mādhurya throughout."

Bhakta: In Gītāvalī, song 32, Śrī Rūpa Goswāmī writes: kurvati kila kokila-kule ujjvala-kala-nādam; jaiminir iti jaiminir iti jalpati saviṣādam "Now that, with beautiful sweet voices, the cuckoos lament 'Jaimini Jaimini'....

Advaitadas: "No that is wrong. The right translation is 'After the cuckoos have sung their Brilliant song, Rādhikā sadly calls out 'Jaimini Jaimini!' That is because Jaimini is the sage who offers protection against thunderbolts, and Rādhikā is struck by the thunderbolts of the amorously inciting cuckoo-songs. This is not only what the Bengali translation says, it is also logically followed by the following couplet of the song:

nīla-nalina-mālyam ahaha vīkṣya pulaka-vītā; 
garuḍa garuḍa garuḍety abhirauti parama-bhītā

'Aho! When She sees the blue lotus garland She gets goosebumps on Her skin and fearfully calls out 'Garuḍa! Garuḍa!' (mistaking the blue garland for a snake and Garuḍa being a snake-eater who will protect Her).'

Bhakta: "In song 36, the last line, the translator says: "O slender girl, give your love to the eternal Supreme Personality of Godhead."

Advaitadas: "The word sanātana is used as a signature in all these songs of Śrī Rūpa Goswāmī, obviously an hommage to his Guru Sanātan Goswāmī and at the same time at the eternal (sanātan) Śrī Kṛṣṇa. The word Supreme Personality of Godhead is just interspersed here by either Kuśakratha or his editor Pūrṇaprajña. It is an unnecessary strengthening of aiśvarya in the song, and is frankly just not present in the original text. ātmavān manyate jagat - one tends to project oneself upon the world and if one has an aiśvarya view of Kṛṣṇa all statements in śāstra will be seen as aiśvarya and if one has a mādhurya view everything will be seen as mādhurya."

Bhakta: 'In song 38 Kṛṣṇa seems to enjoy all the gopīs at once, whereas I thought the gopīs always compete with each other."

Advaitadas: "The late great Rohiṇīndranāth Mitra told me that Vasanta (spring-) time is the time for a truce between the gopīs. Since this song is in the vasanta rāga and this may be why they are described as being all together with Kṛṣṇa here."

Bhakta: "The next song, 39, says 'the cuckoos are playing Mṛdaṅga-drums'.

Advaitadas: "Hahaha - don't picture birds actually playing drums here. This is allegorical. The singing of birds or bees is sometimes compared to different musical instruments. There are many similar statements in Gītā Govinda, Govinda Līlāmṛta, Vilāpa-kusumāñjali etc."

Bhakta: "In song 42, Pūrṇaprajña says 'he places his eternal Kaustubha ferociously splendid gem against your cheek pretending that you are its reflection'

Advaitadas: "Arpaṇā Dāsī just says that the gem is reflected on her cheek, period."

Bhakta: "The opening line of Lalitāṣṭakam says rādhā-mukunda pada-sambhava-gharma-bindu-nirmañchaṇopakaraṇī-kṛta deha-lakṣām 'Lalitā worships the sweatdrops of Radha-Kṛṣṇa's lotus feet. That seems unpalatable."

Advaitadas: 'The same Śrī Rūpa Goswāmī teaches us that there is no jugupsa rati (feeling of disgust) towards Kṛṣṇa. Everything about Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa is delicious, including sweat, saliva, stool and urine. Misery is a result of sin and there is no sin in the spiritual sky. Hence everything there is pleasant. In Vilāp Kusumāñjali Raghunāth Dās Goswāmī prays he/she can sweep Rādhikā's stool with his/her hair. One needs to give up mundane conceptions to understand this."

Bhakta: "Shouldn't it be disgusting just to fulfill nara-līlā?"

Advaitadas: "No, nara līlā doesn't go that far. Only the pleasant sides of human manifestations are present there. After all, it is not just nara (human), but it is also līlā (play)."

Bhakta: "Then, in verse 3 of the first Govardhanāṣṭakam, the translator says: 'The caves and the clouds are the moon's friends...."

Advaitadas: "This is wrong. The word indu means not only the moon but also camphor, because they have a cooling effect, and the word kanda simply does not mean 'clouds' but 'bulbous roots'. Thus it should be 'The bulbous roots of Govardhana delight Kṛṣṇa with their camphor-flavor.' This is also what the Bengali translation says."

Thus ends the review of  Śrī Rūpa Goswāmī's Stavamālā

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Discussing Caitanya Caritāmṛta, part 8

This is the final part of a long phone discussion on various English editions of Śrī Caitanya Caritāmṛta:

Bhakta: “In Caitanya Caritāmṛta Antya 15.33, the gopīs are quoted from Śrīmad Bhāgavata 10.30.7. Prof. Dimock translates it as such: “O Tulasi, have you seen Acyuta, most beloved to you, who supports you with the black bees?”

Advaitadas: “There is a translation error there. Tulasī is worn as a garland here by Kṛṣṇa and that garland attracts bees, that swarm around it.”

Bhakta: “In Caitanya Caritāmṛta Antya 16.7 Kālidās is shown to play dice. Do jīvas do that?”

Advaitadas: kautukete teho jadi pāśak khelāy,
hare kṛṣṇa hare kṛṣṇa kori pāśak cālāy

1. It is said kautukete – Kālidās threw dice for fun only and 2. Kālidās chanted hare kṛṣṇa while playing dice. Leisure or no leisure – chant hare kṛṣṇa.”

Bhakta: “Then do mañjarīs also play dice?”

Advaitadas: “Where will they find time for that? They are engaged 24/7 in Rādhārāṇī’s service. Sādhu Bābā didn’t give me a husband, parents or anything because he said there is no time for that. mañjarīs are expert in dice, but only to support Swāminī when She plays Kṛṣṇa.”

Bhakta: “But still, why did Kālidās play dice then?”

Advaitadas: “There is no explanation to that. 

yara citte kṛṣṇa-prema koroye udoy; tara vākya, kriyā, mudra vijñe-o nā bujhoy

 (Caitanya-Caritāmṛta Madhya 23.39):

"Even a learned person cannot grasp the activities or words of a premik Vaiṣṇava."

rasikas may explain it that within his mind Kālidās may have been assisting Smt. Rādhārāṇī in Her dice match with Kṛṣṇa, but I have heard no reliable comment like that.”

Bhakta: “"In Caitanya Caritāmṛta Antya 16.125 Kṛṣṇa’s flute is described as male. I thought the flute was female?”

Advaitadas: “Depends. Muralī and Vaṁśī are female but Veṇu is male. This verse speaks about the venu. This attraction of males to Kṛṣṇa should not be misunderstood for homosexuality or so. We as male devotees are also attracted to Kṛṣṇa but not in a sensual way. In Śrīmad Bhāgavata (9.24.65) it is said: nityotsavaṁ na tatṛpur dṛśibhiḥ pibantyo nāryo narāś ca – ‘Kṛṣṇa is an inexhaustible festival for the eyes of both women and men.” Our love for Kṛṣṇa as men is of course based on purely spiritual attraction, not a sensual one like that of the sahajīyas. Such verses prove that love of Kṛṣṇa is totally spiritual.”

Bhakta: “"In his comment on Caitanya Caritāmṛta Antya 17.10, Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartī says that there was a hole in the ceiling of the Gambhīrā, through which Mahāprabhu crept, onto the roof, from which He jumped down to meet Kṛṣṇa. This is how he explains how Mahāprabhu could leave the Gambhīrā although its three doors were bolted.”

Advaitadas: “Amazing. It must be pure nara-līlā then, human pastimes. Viśvanātha here eliminates all aiśvarya (superhuman miracles) from the Nīlācala līlā.”

Bhakta: “"To Caitanya Caritāmṛta Antya 19.19-21, Advaita Prabhu’s riddle, Prof. Dimock comments that āul comes from the word ākula, or anxiety – there is no more anxiety needed for spreading prema, everyone in the world is supplied now, and bāul from Bātul, which means crazy. Advaita Prabhu thus told Mahāprabhu to end His pastimes just as He invoked Him.”

Advaitadas: “In Gaura Gaṇoddeśa Dīpikā Sītā-devī is called Yogamāyā, and since śakti-śaktimatayor abheda, there is no difference between energy and energetic, Advaita Prabhu is also Yogamāyā, who pilots the Lord’s pastimes. So Advaita both brought the Lord and sent Him off again.”

Bhakta: “"To Caitanya Caritāmṛta Antya 19.29, Prof. Dimock comments: “Knowing his work was over He longed to return to the svarūpa of the eternal līlā.”

Advaitadas: “Perhaps Prof. Dimock did not express himself so well, but on face value this is not correct. Gaura līlā is eternal itself, it is not some side-excursion by Kṛṣṇa from Goloka, a random holiday trip or so. Since Gaura līlā must be intrinsically eternal it means also that Gaura’s mission, to understand Rādhā’s love for Kṛṣṇa, will never be fulfilled.”

Bhakta: “"Prof. Dimock translates Caitanya Caritāmṛta Antya 20.46, the last verse of Śikṣāṣṭakam, as: ‘He may crush my breasts, a slave of His feet…’

Advaitadas: “No that is not correct, pinaṣṭu (may he crush) just applies to Mahāprabhu/the Pada-dāsī him/herself, not to any body part. The word marma-hata in the next line means ‘broken hearted’ not due to Kṛṣṇa’s feet but due to adarśanam, not being able to see Him.”

Monday, April 06, 2009

Corrections of Govinda Līlāmṛta

With a friend I am going through my 2000 edition of Govinda Līlāmṛta, and we found some important mistakes that need to be corrected. They are listed below:

Verse 1.40 "Kṛṣṇa became restless and got up from bed to return to Vraja....."

Corrected version Verse 1.40: "Kṛṣṇa became restless and wanted to get up from bed to return to Vraja....."

Verse 1.42 "Kṛṣṇa! Your mother has risen and is approaching Your bedroom, saying: "O maidservants! Kṛṣṇa is tired of wandering in the forest and is now enjoying His happy sleep, so churn the yoghurt quietly!", so quickly return to Your solitary bedroom!"

Corrected version Verse 1.42: "Kṛṣṇa! As long as Your mother has not yet risen and is approaching Your bedroom, saying: "O maidservants! Kṛṣṇa is tired of wandering in the forest and is now enjoying His happy sleep, so churn the yoghurt quietly!", quickly return to Your solitary bedroom!"

Verse 1.69: "When Kṛṣṇa said this, Rādhikā, seeing Her girlfriends laughing, moved Her restless eyebrows, expanded Her spotless cheeks……..

Corrected version Verse 1.69: "When Kṛṣṇa said this, Rādhikā, seeing Her girlfriends laughing, moved Her restless eyebrows, made Her spotless cheeks blossom…."

Verse 1.76 "O innocent One, quickly leave the kuñja and go on the auspicious path home!"

Corrected version Verse 1.76: "O innocent One, quickly leave the kuñja and go home. That is the most beneficial thing for you to do now!"

Verse 1.82 "One maidservant carried a golden canister, one carried a fan, another a golden wand……"

Corrected version Verse 1.82: "One maidservant carried a golden canister, one carried a fan with a golden handle….."

We are still working on it. Probably more later. The corrections are also uploaded to my website, link-tab 'Literature'...

Friday, April 03, 2009

Discussing Caitanya Caritāmṛta, part 7

Bhakta: In Śrīmad Bhāgavata 10.47.60, Uddhava prays to become grass that would be touched by the gopīs' footdust. Isn't he aspiring for a lower rasa than his sakhya rasa then?"

Advaitadas: "No. First of all, Rūpa Gosvāmī classifies him as a mixture of sakhya and dāsya, and secondly the purpose of that śloka is to glorify the gopīs' glories only. It could have been spoken by anyone who knows about the glories of their prema."

Bhakta: "Smt. Rādhārāṇī prays to be dust of Vṛndāvana so that Kṛṣṇa can step on her. That also seems like a desire to become lower than Kṛṣṇa."

Advaitadas: "The rasa of the speaker is irrelevant, the purpose of such verses is to express extreme loving attachment to Kṛṣṇa  This too, could have been spoken by anyone. In Caitanya Caritāmṛta, Ādi līlā chapter 6, a chapter about Advaita Ācārya, it is explained that devotees in all rasas, from top to bottom, consider themselves servants of Kṛṣṇa. Service is the common foundation of all the rasas. Even if mother Yaśodā binds Kṛṣṇa to the mortar, the gopas step on Kṛṣṇa's shoulders or the gopīs put their feet on His head, this is still all service.'

Bhakta: "In Caitanya Caritāmṛta Antya 13.123-4, it is said that Mahāprabhu gave Pān (betel nuts) to Raghunāth Bhaṭṭa Goswāmī. Did he really eat that prasāda?”

Advaitadas: “It isn't mentioned there but I cannot imagine he would have thrown it away. There is a lot of ignorance about pān in the west – it is feared as an intoxicant, like alcohol or LSD, but it isn't an intoxicant at all. I took it as prasād many times in Bengal but it didn’t make me fly into the sky or so. The nuts and leaves may give heart troubles and are definitely bad for the teeth, so for health reasons it isn’t really advisable. However, I do not refuse it if it is prasāda. One should be frugal even with prasāda. It is not that one should just stuff oneself with delicacies with the excuse that it is prasāda. If you eat too many puris you can get liver problems, etc.”

Bhakta: “People say that it is not literally true that the Six Gosvāmīs slept under a different tree every night.”

Advaitadas: ‘I think that is a hyperbole of glorification. Some argue that the Gosvāmīs must have had libraries in order to be able to compile their huge books with all these quotes from so many scriptures. There are also bhajan kutirs of the Gosvāmīs in places like Nandagrām, Govardhan, Rādhakuṇḍa and Vṛndāvana. Furthermore there is the story in Bhakti Ratnākara how Sanātan Goswāmī ordered Raghunāth Dās Goswāmī to build himself a kutir at Rādhākuṇḍa after he saw how Smt. Rādhāṛāṇī had to stand in the scorching sunshine to shade Raghunātha with Her own divine form etc. etc. Surely those huts were very simple but its not that they literally slept under a different tree every night.

Bhakta: "In Caitanya Caritāmṛta Antya 14.53, quoting Ujjvala Nīlamaṇi 15.167, it is said that the ultimate, tenth stage of separation, is death. Does that mean the gopīs ultimately really die?”

Advaitadas: “The gopīs have spiritual bodies for which there is no death of course. Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda comments on the 10th stage (in his commentary on Ujjvala Nīlamaṇi 15.167) with a verse from Hamsadūta:

sa cen muktāpekṣās tvam asi dhig imāṁ tūla śakalaṁ
yad etasyā nāsā-nihitam idam adyāpi calati

Lalitā told Kṛṣṇa that, to determine whether Rādhikā is still alive or not, she holds a swab in front of Her nose. That leaves doubt, but surely spiritual bodies never die, so it must be some type of extreme spiritual swoon instead. There is this verse in Vilāpa Kusumāñjali (9): tvad ālokana kālāhi daṁśair eva mṛtaṁ janaṁ – this person is dead due to the bite of the black snake of not seeing You.” Not that he is about to die, no - mṛtam janam – ‘I am dead’. How can a dead person write this and then another 95 verses more? So surely this is the expression of a certain extreme feeling rather than a physical death. It only appears as suffering, though. According to Śrī Sanātan Goswāmī (in his Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta-commentary), separation is an even greater ecstasy than union, though it appears to be great misery to the outside observer.”

Bhakta: “Then, from Caitanya Caritāmṛta Antya līlā 14.64, follows the description of Mahāprabhu’s joints getting disconnected of ecstasy. Rādhā-govinda Nāth compares it to steam in a boiler. The full bhāva of Rādhā was more than could be contained in a human body. Mahāprabhu’s body thus simply blew apart.”

Advaitadas: “Mahāprabhu’s body is spiritual. If Vāmana-deva can expand Himself in such a way that His second stride has already covered the whole cosmos, then why couldn’t Mahāprabhu disconnect His joints in this way? The ācāryas say that for ordinary sādhakas or sādhana siddhas embodiment ends at the stage of prema. The further stages of devotional ecstasy cannot be contained by material bodies and are experienced in the prakaṭ līlā only. The Goswāmīs showed the limit of ecstasy in a human form by practically ceasing to eat and sleep.”

Bhakta: “Then Rādhā-Govinda Nāth compares Mahāprabhu’s Kūrmākāra, the form of a tortoise with His limbs withdrawn. The first parallel he makes is with the Tortoise avatāra of Kṛṣṇa.”

Advaitadas: “Mahāprabhu is far superior to Kūrma-deva – He is svayam Bhagavān. It isn't correct to compare the standard of comparison with the object of comparison. The form, pastime and functions are totally different. Kūrma-deva didn’t retract His limbs out of the ecstasy of Rādhārāṇī’s viraha. The comparison Rādhikā made with Kṛṣṇa’s 10 avatāras in Vidagdha Mādhava is different. It shows Kṛṣṇa’s superior sweetness through comparison. rasenotkṛśyate kṛṣṇam – Kṛṣṇa is the supreme in rasa. So also for Mahāprabhu, especially in Purī.”

Bhakta: “His second explanation is that when the flood becomes too much, the tortoise withdraws his limbs and lets himself drift with the tide. So the flood is the bhāva and Mahāprabhu lets it flood over him until it has receded.”

Advaitadas: “That sounds very nice.”Bhakta: "In Caitanya Caritāmṛta Antya 14.109, Kṛṣṇa takes Rādhā into a glen in Mt. Govardhan, glen meaning a narrow valley or depression between two hills or mountains.”

Advaitadas: “The word used here, as well as in Vilāpa Kusumāñjali verse 3, is kandara, which means either glen or cave, but in this world Girirāja has neither glens nor caves. It must be visible only with spiritual eyes or only present in the spiritual world.”

Bhakta: “Or perhaps Govardhan sank into the earth, following Pulastya Muni’s curse, that the caves are now no longer visible?”

Advaitadas: “I have never seen that story, nor is the book in which that story appears, Garga Saṁhitā, ever quoted by the ācāryas, so I cant stick my hand in the fire for it. It is not even mentioned in the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava Abhidhāna, which even lists books of questionable origin.”