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Friday, May 29, 2009

Who is a Vaiṣṇava, rāgānuga-rebels, the role of Śrīdāma, Gosthyanandi vs Bhajananandi, the deities' vows and the beginning of karma.

Bhakta: 'Some devotees say that all religious persons in the world are Vaiṣṇavas."

Advaitadas: "That is not what the śāstra says. Haribhakti Vilāsa (1.55) says clearly:

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

'The learned call those human beings who took initiation into Viṣṇu mantra and are dedicated to Viṣṇu puja 'Vaishnavas', while all others are Avaishnavas."

Viṣṇu is God but God is not Viṣṇu for everyone - only to the Vaiṣṇavas.Viṣṇu is not a vague concept of some light or some omnipresent power as the main religions in the world will suggest, but a concrete person - will they tell you that God lies on a snake bed, has four arms, has a complexion of rainclouds and is named Hari, Nārāyan, Mādhava, Viṣṇu and Govinda? If they do they are Vaiṣṇavas, if they don't they are not Vaiṣṇavas."

Bhakta: 'Can you explain further why (mostly western) rāgānugā-devotees fail in such large numbers?"

Advaitadas: "In addition to those I mentioned in my blog of May 16 (the curious and the sentimental), another class of potential failures are the rebels. Many devotees are unsubmissive by nature and they think they can escape from humble surrender by becoming 'equal' to Kṛṣṇa through rāgānuga practise; a shortcut to avoid humility and surrender. Of course eventually their false pride will catch up with them and they, too, will sink."

Bhakta: "In Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa Gaṇoddeśa Dīpikā, Śrīdāma is said to be Rādhā and Anaṅga Mañjarī's elder brother. Yet he is also a dear friend of Kṛṣṇa's. How does he deal with Kṛṣṇa's affair with his sister(s)?"

Advaitadas: "He is not involved in it. In Govinda Līlāmṛta (7.111-113) the eight friends' kuñjas around Śyāmakund are named - Subala, Madhumaṅgala, Ujjvala, Arjuna, Gandharva, Vidagdha, Bhṛṅga, Kokila, Dakṣa and Sannanda - Śrīdāma is not one of them, he should not get involved. When, in Vidagdha Mādhava's first Act, Kṛṣṇa describes how gorgeous Rādhā is, Subal warns him that Śrīdāma, who is also present at the discussion, and whom Rūpa Gosvāmī describes as being embarrassed by it, is Rādhā's brother, and it was inappropriate of Kṛṣṇa to speak about Rādhā in this manner in his presence."

Bhakta: "Who is the greater devotee, the bhajanānandī or the goṣṭhyānandī?"

Advaitadas: "There is no such division given in the Goswāmīs' books. Each devotee is both bhajanānandī and goṣṭhyānandī. There is no preacher who does not do his own sādhana and there is no sādhaka who does not do any preaching at all. At most, some devotees may be more into preaching than into sādhana or more into sādhana than into preaching. Anyway, creating such divisions between devotees has led to a lot of unnecessary aparādha and false pride - 'bhajan is greater than preaching / preaching is greater than bhajan'. While Kṛṣṇa Himself does not choose sides. He simply says yo mad bhakta sa me priya (Bhagavad Gītā 12.14, 16, 17 and 19) 'Whoever is My devotee, He is dear to Me." Bas.

Bhakta: "If you have Gaur Nitāi deities, do the deities, who are bhakta-avatāras after all, also fast for 4 months during the caturmāsya?"

Advaitadas: 'There are several answers to that question - if you are single it is better not to have deities anyway, especially if you perform a 4-month vrata, because you cannot distribute the food you offer, but do not eat yourself, to others, unless you have daily guests. You may have to dump the prasād or let the deities fast, that will be sevāparādha in either way. If you have a big ashram you can distribute the prasāda you are abstaining from to guests, but that's not possible if you are single, in the west. Another reason not to have deities when you are single is that if you get sick no one will serve the deities and that will be sevāparādha,  too. The third answer to this question is that we in Sītānāth's family are not in favour of Gaura Nitāi deities anyway because that was not really Gaura's own purpose, and it creates a very confusing picture to the newcomers - 'Who are these Vaiṣṇavas actually worshipping - Caitanya or Kṛṣṇa?'

Bhakta: "But in Advaita Prakāśa, chapter 20, it is said that Mahāprabhu told Gaurīdās Paṇḍita to make Gaur Nitāi deities.'

Advaitadas: "Look at the context - Gaur-Nitāi were in Ambikā Kālnā, Gaurīdās Paṇḍita's Śrīpāṭ, but They wished to move on, and his heart broke. So to console him personally, Gaur Nitāi told him to make deities of Them. That was not meant as a rule for the entire sampradāya. Similarly, Viṣṇupriyā survived her separation from Gaura with her own, strictly personal deity of Him. Gaura Himself has said throughout, though, that we should worship Kṛṣṇa - ārādhyo bhagavān vrajeśa tanaya ......śrī caitanya mahāprabhor matam idam.

Bhakta: "From which age does someone start making karma?"

Advaitadas: "There are no artificial age-limits for that. As soon as an individual is physically able to sin and starts committing sin, he/she will be liable. Toddlers do not have sex or drink alcohol, because their bodies and minds are not ready for that yet. Some start early and some start late, but whenever sin is committed one is liable."

Bhakta: "What if one sins due to bad association?"

Advaitadas: "Then, too, one is liable. The best examples are Karṇa and Duḥśāśan - Karṇa was a potential bhakta, eldest Kaunteya and dānavīra - the greatest donor. Yet, because he became an unconditional friend of the demon Duryodhana he was killed. Duḥśāśan, Duryodhan's younger brother, was, according to Mahajan Bhīṣma, also a good boy, but because of his great love for Duryodhan he attempted to disrobe Draupadi, for which Bhīma tore off his arm, killed him and drank his blood. That is why the śāstras say time and again one must beware of asat saṅga, bad company."

Bhakta: "So there is no minimum age for making karma?"

Advaitadas: "As long as a child obeys the parents, the parents are responsible, but when a child starts making his own decisions and performs acts which his parents and his faith have forbidden, he/she will be liable."

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Mañjarī bhāva sādhana does not exist?

Mr Gaurav Mohnot writes on his blog:

GM: "The words manjari-bhava and sadhana do not go well together. Manjari bhava (entering into the group of the manjari gopies who are assitants of the sakhis in the service of Shri Shri Radha Krishna) is the attainment in the siddha or perfected stage not in the stage of sadhana bhakti. "

1. That would mean the entire sampradāya, which is practising mañjarī bhāva, is wrong and mr Mohnot alone is right?
2. Mahāprabhu says in Caitanya Caritāmṛta Madhya 8. 197: sādhya-vastu' 'sādhana' vinu keha nāhi pāya – ‘Without sādhana no one can attain one’s sādhya [desired goal].”
So how can one attain siddhi in anything without the prerequisite sadhana?
3. Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravarti mentions mañjari bhāva sādhana in his commentary on Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu 1.2.295 (sādhana bhakti chapter) : siddha-rūpeṇa mānasī-sevā srī-rādhā-lalitā-visākhā-śrī-rūpa-mañjary-ādīnāṁ anusāreṇa kartavyā 'Serving with the siddha deha means mental service which must be rendered in the wake of Śrī-Rādhā, Lalitā, Visākhā, Rūpa-Mañjarī and others."

GM: "In fact what has been repeatedly taught and stressed in all these Holy Books, by Lord Gauranga Himself and all His Associates is, Naam Sadhana, which leads to the awakening of the constitutional bhava of the soul with the Lord which can be in any of the five primary mellows of neutrality, servitude, brotherhood, parenthood or lover and which includes manjari-bhava."

Advaitadas: No one denies that nāma is the sadhana, where does anyone suggest otherwise?

GM: "If it was so important or being taught by some then I am sure the Acharyas would have described about it in detail or at least mentioned it as bonafide in these primary biographies which contain all the important instructions of Lord Gauranga and His eternal Associates.”
“We see that this practice of manjari-bhava-sadhana is not taught in any of the principal books about Lord Gauranga because it simply does not exist as manjari-bhava cannot be even understood what to speak of being taught or practiced in the sadhana stage.”

Advaitadas:: It was not mentioned in Caitanya Caritāmṛta due to its confidential nature, but if it were not important, not bona fide, and it does not even exist, then the ācāryas would not have mentioned it either in an ocean of books like Ujjvala Nīlamaṇi, Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa Gaṇoddeśa Dīpikā, Vilāpa Kusumāñjali, Saṅkalpa Kalpadruma, Prema Bhakti Candrikā, Utkalikā vallarī, Govinda Līlāmṛta, Kṛṣṇa Bhāvanāmṛta, Rādhā Rasa Sudhānidhi, Vṛndāvana Mahimāmṛta etc.

GM: "Even rāgānugā bhakti (spontaneous attraction to the Holy Names) cannot be artifically taught or practiced as it has to compulsorily arise spontaneously either due to our Nāma Sādhana in vaidhi bhakti..”

1. rāgānugā bhakti is a sādhana just as vaidhi bhakti is (see Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu 1.2.5)
2. rāgānugā bhakti does not arise from vaidhi bhakti – they are two separate parallel paths, as is explained in the sādhana-, bhāva- and prema-bhakti chapters of Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu.
3. rāgānugā does not mean ‘spontaneous’ – it means ‘following’(anuga) ‘passion’ (rāga). As if the Lord's associates (pārṣadas) in Vaikuṇṭha have no spontaneous love for Narayan.…

GM: “….or due to the intense greed for attaining the Lord which arises due to many previous lives of practicing Naam sadhana and vaidhi bhakti…”

Advaitadas:: Neither ‘intense’ greed, nor ‘many lifetimes’ is mentioned anywhere in the śāstra. There is no quantitative difference mentioned between vaidhi bhakti and rāgānugā bhakti anywhere. Both Śrīla Jīva Goswāmī and Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda comment that lobha starts from the pinprick-stage (yat kiñcit, Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu 1.2.292 ṭīkās), not that a fire is blazing from the first instant.

GM: "One needs Naam siddhi or Shuddha Naam to actually understand and realize these high topics. And when one gets Naam siddhi then all these truths will be spontaneously revealed in our heart without any artificial attempts to practice or teach them."

Advaitadas:: This ‘nāma siddhi’ too is mentioned nowhere in the śāstras, nor its requirement.

GM: "Another point which is quite prominently not in favor of manjari bhava sadhana is that not all the followers of Lord Gauranga in the past or in the present or in the future were, are, or are going to be only in the mellow of a lover with Lord Krishna. We see that even amongst Lord Gauranga's Associates, devotees of all mellows are present like Shrila Murari Gupta (Shrila Hanuman from Ayodhya), Shrila Ananta Acharya (Shrila Ramanuja from Vaikuntha), Shrila Jagadananda (Shrila Satyabhama from Dvaraka) etc. So how can we say or force all followers of Lord Gaurahari in the present and future to follow manjari-bhava or the mood of manjari gopies? Lord Gauranga is the Lord of the devotees with all mellows and by restricting His worship and approach only to manjari-bhava or unduly emphasizing it exclusively would be an injustice to millions of souls whose constitutional relationship with Lord Krishna may not be as a lover. Even in the mellow of a lover, one have different relationships with the Lord other than manjaris like for example the svakiya queens in Dvaraka etc."

Advaitadas:: Perhaps mr Mohnot should study and ponder the 4th verse of Caitanya Caritāmṛta’s introduction and indeed, its paribhāṣā or bottom line:

anarpita-carim cirāt karuṇayāvatīrnaḥ kalau
samarpayitum unnatojjvala-rasaṁ sva-bhakti-śriyam
hariḥ puraṭa-sundara-dyuti-kadamba-sandīpitaḥ
sadā hṛdaya-kandare sphuratu vaḥ śacī-nandanaḥ

‘May the Supreme Lord who is known as the son of Śrīmatī Śacī-devī be transcendentally situated in the innermost core of your heart. Resplendent with the radiance of molten gold, He has descended in the Age of Kali by His causeless mercy to bestow what no incarnation has ever offered before: the most elevated mellow of devotional service, the mellow of conjugal love.’”

Let me offer my support to Mr Mohnot in trying to keep confidential things confidential, but still, let him not preach things without properly understanding or presenting the teachings of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī..

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Beginning as a demigod, the meaning of Babaji, Kṛṣṇa, the amorous baby, raganuga Puri and sane austerities

Bhakta: "You said once that it is nonsense to not only think that the living entity has fallen from the spiritual world but also that its material life starts as a demigod, but I have heard that this verse proves that we fall down from the spiritual world and then start our material life as a demigod:

yadā jighṛkṣan puruṣaḥ
kārtsnyena prakṛter guṇān
nava-dvāraṁ dvi-hastānghri
tatrāmanuta sādhv iti

Śrīmad Bhāgavat 4.29.4

Advaitadas: "The verse means: 'When the puruṣa (soul) wants to grab the material modes, there it thinks 'ah, beautiful' of the (form with) nine gates, two hands and two feet."

First of all, the word 'first' is not there in this verse. Secondly, the context in which this verse appears makes it clear that it is all allegorical (the Purañjan story) and thus purely based on philosophy, not on historical facts. That means that, without any historical sequence (time-factor), the living entity generally thinks the two-armed, two-legged form is the best. That can be either a human or a devatā-body."

Bhakta: "Dear Advaitadasji, can you tell me about origins of the title Bābāji?"

Advaitadas: "The word bābā is Persian, and means 'father', the suffix 'ji' is an Islamic suffix of respect. Muslims conquered Northern India in the early middle ages and inserted their own words into the local languages. Hindi language contains 70% Arabic/Persian words, bābā being taken over from the Persian for 'daddy'. When the Bengali Vaiṣṇavas began to arrive in Braj in the 16th century the Brajabāsīs began to address them with bābājī, a title which the Bengalis later, in the 18th or 19th century, formalized as the title for their sannyāsīs."

Bhakta: "In his Bhāgavat-commentary Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartī says that Kṛṣṇa is 11 years old when He leaves Braj. How can He enjoy amorous pastimes at and before that age?"

Advaitadas: "In Rūpa Goswāmī's 'Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa Gaṇoddeśa Dīpikā' Balarām is said to be 16, and since Kṛṣṇa is 1 year younger than Him He is 15. I presume that in prakat līlā (the subject of the Bhāgavat) Kṛṣṇa leaves Vraj at the age of 11 but in Nitya līlā he is eternally 15. Śrīla Rūpa Goswāmī says in Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu (2.1.335):

bālye’pi nava-tāruṇya-prākaṭyaṁ śrūyate kvacit
tan nātirasa-vāhitvān na rasajair udāhṛtam

"Sometimes it is heard that fresh youthfulness appears in Kṛṣṇa even in his childhood. Since that is not very rasik it is not quoted by the knowers of rasa."

All commentators on this verse quote the Bhavisya Purana saying:

bālye’pi bhagavān kṛṣṇas taruṇaṁ rūpam āśritaḥ
reme vihārair vividhaiḥ priyayā saha rādhayā

'Even as a little child Kṛṣṇa took shelter of a youthful form to enjoy in different ways with His dear Rādhā."

However, they add that krama yogenaiva rasāḥ sampadyante, 'rasa is only properly manifest when there is a proper (age-) sequence.' In other words, it is superhuman for Kṛṣṇa to enjoy amorous pastimes as a little toddler and this will spoil the human pastimes in Vraja. This is the verdict of Mukunda Dās, the disciple of Kṛṣṇadās Kavirāja, who wrote his own commentary on the Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu. Mukunda Dās also quotes from Padyāvalī (136-137) to illustrate it:

adharam adhare kaṇṭhaṁ kaṇṭhe sa-cātu dṛśau dṛśor
alikam alike kṛtvā gopī-janena sa-sambhramam
śiśur iti rudan kṛṣṇo vakṣaḥ-sthale nihitaṁ ciran
nibhṛta-pulakaḥ smeraḥ pāyāt smarālasa-vigrahaḥ

(Quoting Divākara:) "Child Kṛṣṇa approached a gopī and carefully placed His lips against her lips, His neck against her neck, His eyes against her eyes, and His forehead against her forehead. Speaking sweetly, He explained that He was, after all, only a small child, and then He pressed Himself against her breasts for a long time. He then smiled and the hairs of His body stood up with excitement. May child Kṛṣṇa,  whose body appeared to be too young to enjoy amorous pastimes, protect you all."

brūmaḥ tvac-caritaṁ tavābhi jananīṁ chadmāti-bālākṛte
tvaṁ yādṛg giri-kandareṣu nayanānanda kuraṅgī-dṛśam
ity uktaḥ parilehana-cchalatayā nyastāṅgulīn ānane
gopībhiḥ purataḥ punātu jagatīm uttāna-supto hariḥ

(Quoting Vanamālī:) The gopīs complained: "We will tell Your mother what You have done, how, even though You pretend to be only a small child, You enjoy amorous pastimes with the doe-eyed girls, delighting their eyes in the caves of Govardhana Hill." In the view of all these gopīs, baby Kṛṣṇa cleverly placed a finger in His mouth and began to suck on it to refute their arguments. May baby Kṛṣṇa purify the entire world."

Mukunda Das also stresses the word kvacit that Rūpa Goswāmī used in the original verse - kvacin na sarvatra '(this happens) sometimes, not always'.

After I told one devotee I practise pāraṇ (breaking fasts like Ekādaśī) with prasādī grains of Lord Jagannatha, he asked me:
Bhakta: "If you are into mañjarī bhāva why eat prasāda of Lord Jagannāth? Isn't He a Vaikuṇṭha-deity?"

Advaitadas: "First of all, it is clearly mentioned in śāstra that Mahāprabhu saw Jagannāth as Muralī-vadan, Kṛṣṇa in Vraja, playing the flute. Secondly, Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas go to Purī not to see Jagannātha but to see the Gambhīrā Maṭh instead, where Mahāprabhu was torn apart by Rādhikā's ecstasy of love in separation. Sādhu Bābā said that Purī-līlā is the highest stage of Gaura-līlā because of this. When the devotees from Bengal visited Mahāprabhu annually for the caturmāsya-time, they always first went to see Him, and only then Lord Jagannātha. As for us (both bhakta and yours truly are westerners), we can anyway not see Lord Jagannātha in the temple in Purī. We need not go there for seeing the deity anyway. For us, Purī is a rāgānuga place."

Bhakta: 'Sometimes pāraṇa at Dwādaśī is between 4 and 4.10 a.m. What do you do then? Finish pūjā and mantra japa all before that time? You would have to get up at 2 a.m. to finish it in time."

Advaitadas: "Some devotees do that but we don't. Śrīla Rūpa Goswāmī said in Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu (1.2.100, quoting Skanda Purāṇa), when he discussed 'following in the footsteps of the Sādhus':

sa mṛgyaḥ śreyasaṁ hetuḥ
panthaḥ santāpa-varjitaḥ
anavāpta-śramam pūrve
yena santaḥ pratiṣṭhire

"One should follow the scriptural rules which give the highest benefit and are devoid of hardship, by which the previous devotees easily advanced."

'Easily' does not mean a leasure-life of sex-drugs-rock'n-roll, but it also does not mean one has to stand on one's head in a blazing fire for a million years - just a normal, balanced spiritual life. If pāraṇa is that early I just put a few grains in my mouth before that and do bathing and pūjā later on."

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Objective truths, why Kṛṣṇa is blue and ātmārāma, and practical rāgānugā-siddhānta

Rādhākund-cleaning in progress, May 2009

Bhakta: "In Govinda Līlāmṛta (10.15-16) there is a discussion between Nāndīmukhī and Vṛndā, in which Vṛndā says:

"The lovely-browed girls of Vraja are not so astonishing! They are transcendental; their minds and bodies are made for Kṛṣṇa's pleasure only! These girlfriends, that are equal to Śrī Radhika, are the pleasure potency (hlādinī śakti) of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who is like the moon for the lily-like gopīs. The essence of this potency is prema, love of God, which is comparable to a vine. This love is personified by Śrī Radha and they are the sprouts, leaves and flowers of this vine. When this love-vine is sprinkled by the nectar of Kṛṣṇa's pastimes, they become a hundred times happier than if they would be sprinkled themselves! This is not so astonishing!"

This verse seems to interrupt the flow of the aṣṭakāliya līlā. Does this discussion really take place or does the author just want to teach something here?"

Advaitadas: "Obviously the author wants to teach something here. It is not compulsory to read every verse of Govinda Līlāmṛta. Those who are well informed of the above facts can skip this verse if it interrupts their smaraṇa, and not only this one but any other verse that may not suit the feeling they wish to cultivate (within the parameters of good taste and sound morality and doctrine of course). Obviously the author here puts words in Nāndīmukhī's mouth. The truth is of course objective - in the Bhāgavata too, a verse may be spoken by Prahlād, Bhīṣma or Nārada, it doesn't matter so much - the teaching itself is what matters. It is universal and objective. In Caitanya Caritāmṛta, Kṛṣṇadas Kavirāja often quotes his own Govinda Līlāmṛta,  putting such verses in the mouths of Mahāprabhu or the Goswāmīs, whereas the book was written nearly a century after Mahāprabhu's manifest pastimes. Of course, that does not mean that these teachings do not originate from Mahāprabhu - hṛdi yasya preranayā. Returning to the verses under discussion here, actually Govinda Līlāmṛta and related śāstras, like all the Mañjarī-booklets, are supposed to be read after deeply studying Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu and Ujjvala Nīlamaṇi, so that one has sound knowledge of rasa and bhāva. Often that proper sequence is not followed (sadly I didn't follow it either). One needs to study in sequence - first primary school, then high school and then college."

Bhakta: "Why is Kṛṣṇa blue?"

Advaitadas: anādir ādir govinda (Brahma Saṁhitā 5.1) - Kṛṣṇa has no beginning and where there is no beginning there is also no cause. The colour Śyāma, a deep indigo colour, is the most attractive colour and that, among others, makes Kṛṣṇa the Supreme God, as Rūpa Goswāmī has said: rasenotkṛśyate kṛṣṇam. In our Sampradāya God is supreme according to attractiveness."

Bhakta: "Why does Rādhā like Kṛṣṇa's Guñjā-Mālā?"

Advaitadas: "There is a sense of non-difference between Kṛṣṇa and His apparel. Devotees are named Pītāmbar Dās, Śikhi Puccha Dās or Maṇihār Dās. Why? Why be a servant of a yellow cloth, peacock feather or jewel necklace? Because these items are so connected with Kṛṣṇa that they are identified with Him personally. Earlier I have pointed out the insanity of dressing Kṛṣṇa up in bluejeans with a cellphone etc. See various blogs I made in June, 2006."

Bhakta: "If Kṛṣṇa needs the love of the gopīs, how can He be ātmārāma?"

Advaitadas: 'It is an inconceivable thing, but we must accept the verdict of the Bhāgavat and the commentators in it. ātmārāmo'pi līlayā (SB 10.33.20) 'Although Kṛṣṇa is ātmārāma (self-delighted) He still enjoyed loving pastimes with the gopīs.' Why? Lord Nārāyan tells Ambarīṣa Mahārāj: nāham ātmānam āśāśe mad bhaktair sādhubhir vinā  (SB 9.4.64) 'I do not covet Myself without the saints who are My devotees', meaning: mat svarūpa-bhūtānandād api mad bhakta-svarūpānando'ti spṛhanīya (Viśvanātha ṭīkā) 'I yearn more for the bliss derived from My devotees than for My personal bliss-potency (internal potency)." The essence of the hlādini śakti (pleasure potency) is prema and that is more pleasing to Kṛṣṇa than His own eternal innate bliss-potency."

Bhakta: "There are quite a few Vaiṣṇava groups who discourage rāgānugā bhakti, līlā smaraṇam and gopī-bhāva."

Advaitadas: "Yes, I opposed such discouragement for years but disappointing experiences with both myself and others have caused me to soften my stance. I see it differently now - there is a scriptural truth and there is a practical truth about adhikāra for rāgānugā bhakti. From the purely scriptural point of view the discouragers may seem wrong but from the practical point of view they are bloody well right. It is sad but true. If, in the past few centuries, the rāgānugā doctrine was so badly abused in Bengal, which is after all a region of pious India, then what to speak of trying to introduce the rāgānugā-for-all doctrine in the lewd west? It is not an exaggeration to say that of the hundreds of westerners I have seen coming to Rādhākund in the last 30 years, aspiring to perform rāgānugā sādhana, just a handful of them are still practising anything at all now, and of those who have remained some preach disturbingly controversial things. Quite appalling. So 'practical truth' means 'yes, only lobha may be the gateway to rāgānugā bhakti, but better first become a pure devotee on the niṣṭhā or ruci level anyway, for the obvious reasons that the last 30 years have sadly shown us. 'lobha' has mostly turned out to be some fleeting sentiment or intellectual curiosity rather than something substantial. On top of it, some preach that in rāgānugā bhakti one does not follow the rules so strictly - making matters infinitely worse if your audience consists of American and European hippies. The 1-2% of sincere aspirants may ignore this sermon, of course, but they are exceptions rather than the rule. See my blogs of January 12, 13 and 26 (part 2), 2006 and June 16, 17, 19, 20, 22 and 23, 2006."

Monday, May 11, 2009

All devotees serve in madhura rasa, the vision of the hypocrite, the source of mirages and our view of Kṛṣṇa Karṇāmṛta.

Bhakta: Do devotees in all relationships serve Kṛṣṇa in madhura rasa?

Advaitadas: “Consciously or unconsciously. Kṛṣṇa tells Radhika, in the words of padakartā Jñāna Dās:

tomāri lāgiyā,      beḍāi bhramiyā,
giri-nadī vane vane

"For Your sake I wander through the forest, past the rivers and over the mountains!" The servants dress Kṛṣṇa up attractively for attracting the gopīs and Rādhā, though they do not realize it, the cowherd boys go with Him into the forest to herd the cows but they actually assist Him in meeting Rādhā and the gopīs at Rādhākuṇḍa, though they do not realize that (the priya narma sakhās like Subal are exceptions of course), and mother Yaśodā invites Rādhikā to cook for Kṛṣṇa twice a day, just because She is a famous as a cook – she too does not realize that by doing so she is arranging the meeting of Śrī-Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa.”

Bhakta: “In Govinda Līlāmṛta (8.47) it is said that Rādhā sees Kṛṣṇa even in trees like the Kancana and Vidruma trees. But they don’t look like Kṛṣṇa.”

Advaitadas: “Śrīla Rūpa Goswāmī says in Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu (2.1.306) that Kṛṣṇa's personal form is the ālamban (support) and His ornaments and so are the uddīpana (stimulus for remembering Him) There is uddīpana of Kṛṣṇa in a direct and indirect manner – direct, visual stimulus is experienced through Taml-trees, peacock(-feather)s, flute-songs etc., while indirect stimulus is experienced even through trees that are named Kancana (which also means ‘gold’, and Kṛṣṇa wears golden ornaments) and Vidruma (which also means ‘coral’, and Kṛṣṇa wears coral too). Of course, only really advanced devotees will experience Kṛṣṇa even in such indirect manners, whereas even ordinary devotees can easily remember Kṛṣṇa when they hear a flute or see a peacock. Ujjvala Nilamani (10.1) gives different levels of stimulus: 1. attributes, 2. names; 3. pastimes; 4. ornaments: 5. things in relation to the object of love; and 6. neutral things without apparent relation to the object of love. These items like the Vidruma and Kancana are lower down the scale, but it is really a more advanced devotee who remembers Kṛṣṇa even through such taṭastha (neutral) things.”

Bhakta: “About Bhagavad Gītā 3.6, which describes how hypocrites control the senses but think of the sense objects, how you can recognize a hypocrite, because his thoughts are internal…”

Advaitadas: “That is true, but it usually flows over into the gross world - he will act contrary to his sannyāsa dress, especially in private. Of course Kṛṣṇa knows when a sadhu is meditating on lusty and greedy things; it may be just spoken from Kṛṣṇa's own perspective, and of the hypocrite himself of course.” (Ref. blog of September 12, 2007)

Bhakta: “In Govinda Līlāmṛta (2.33) you said that the moon is the source of mirages, but shouldn’t that be the sun instead?”

Advaitadas: “Yes, you are correct, it was a mistake. The proper translation of the verse is:

“Seeing the newly risen sun, which is the source of mirages (mṛga-tṛṣṇākara), leaping into the sky like a tiger (mṛgādana, deer-eater), the moon (named mṛgāṅka, one who is marked with the sign of a deer) enters into the mountain cave of moon-set to save its own deer (sva mṛga).”

Bhakta: ‘In his commentary on Kṛṣṇa Karṇāmṛta, Kṛṣṇadās Kavirāja says that once where Bilvamaṅgala said ‘female’ he actually meant ‘male’ due to ecstasy. He seems to make all kinds of bold corrections to the book itself.”

Advaitadas: “Our primary allegiance is to Kṛṣṇadās Kavirāja, since he is a Sampradāya ācārya. He had another vision and agenda than Bilvamaṅgala, who was not a Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava. In Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu (2.1.279) Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī calls him (Bilvamaṅgala) a sādhaka, which means, in that context, a bhāva bhakta. Kṛṣṇa Karṇāmṛta is a very famous book, and our Gauḍīya Ācāryas did not want us to be left out from its relish, though it originally does not fit well in their rasa-agenda – it appears like a male person glorifying Kṛṣṇa, while Gauḍīyas relish everything from the vantage point of a female, particularly of a mañjarī. Plus, on the surface, there seems to be quite some aiśvarya in the Kṛṣṇa Karṇāmṛta, which needs to be explained in the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava context. To the outsider this may appear obstinate. Our ācāryas have explained Kṛṣṇa Karṇāmṛta to be spoken by a sakhī to Śrīmatī Rādhikā instead."

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Śyāmakuṇḍa’s wine, Kṛṣṇa’s telescope, 100 steps, the eyes of the sādhaka and the eternal now

Bhakta: “In the descriptions of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa līlā there is use of musk, which involves killing of musk-deer to get the musk from their navels, or silk, which means boiling out silkworms.”

Advaitadas: “You need to remember that in the spiritual sky there is no yesterday. There is only an eternal present, so the killing has never taken place. Just like the blessings Jaṭilā gives to Kundalatā: “May you have seven sons!” Actually she will never have them because there is no tomorrow either. Similarly the blessing that Durvāsā Muni gave Rādhikā for Her cooking is in an eternal past. It does not take place in the eternal day of aṣṭakāliya līlā.”

Bhakta: “In Govinda Līlāmṛta (4.62) it is said that after their breakfast the cowherd boys take a hundred steps to their beds. What does this mean?”

Advaitadas: “Commentator Kṛṣṇapada Dās 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 (Āyurveda I suppose) – bhuktvā pāda-śataṁ gatvā vara śayyāyāṁ viśrāmaḥ kāryaḥ  “After eating one should take 100 steps and take rest on a good bed”.

Bhakta: “In Govinda Līlāmṛta (4.75) Kṛṣṇa has a pearl necklace which reflects Rādhikā’s image in it which only Kṛṣṇa can see. It is a kind of telescope for Kṛṣṇa. No one else can see it?”

Advaitadas: “Vṛndāvana Cakravartī says: ātmaika dṛśyaṁ na tvanya dṛśyam, none other can see this. Obviously if the elders would also see this reflection it would blow the whistle on Them. This is only for Kṛṣṇa's relish.”

Bhakta: "In Govinda Līlāmṛta (7.119) it is said that Rādhākuṇḍa can be perceived as it really is by sādhakas, but no sādhaka can really see it the way it is described in the Goswāmīs’ books, right?

Advaitadas: “Yes, that is true. The meaning is that they don’t really see it but they have faith that it is like the śāstra says. They see through the eyes of śāstra so to say.”

Bhakta: "In Govinda Līlāmṛta (7.115) it is said that the water in Śyāmakuṇḍa is made of honey, but then bathing in it must be a pretty sticky experience for Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa..”

Advaitadas: "The word used in the verse is mādhvīka, which is not really honey but tastes like it, it is like a wine…”

Bhakta: "Did you know that in their commentaries on the Bhāgavata’s 5th canto the ācāryas say the oceans of ghee and honey look like water but taste like ghee, honey etc.?”

Advaitadas: “No, I did not know that, but it does confirm my assumption on the water of Śyāmakuṇḍa.”

Friday, May 01, 2009

Crows' gutters

As a separate response to a discussion I partook in elsewhere, as to why the ācāryas rejected all mundane literature as vulgar and disgusting, I'd like to contribute this verse of the Bhāgavat and the relevant part of Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda's marvellous commentary on it. The verse (1.5.10) says:

na yad vacaś citra-padaṁ harer yaśo
jagat-pavitraṁ pragṛṇīta karhicit
tad vāyasaṁ tīrtham uśanti mānasā
na yatra haṁsā niramanty uśik-kṣayāḥ

Actually the verse is not about literature an sich, as in those days there were no books yet, let alone websites, video clips, youtube etc. This is all included in the rejection. The translation in the Gita Press edition already nicely includes part of the commentary:

"Speech, which, though full of figurative expressions, never utters the praises of Sri Hari - the praises that possess the virtue of sanctifying the whole world - is considered to be the delight of voluptuous men, who wallow in the pleasures of sense like crows that feed upon the dirty leavings of food. Like swans, that are traditionally believed to have their abodes in the lotus beds of the Māna Sarovara lake, devotees who have taken shelter in the lotus-feet of the Lord and therefore ever abide in His heart never take delight in such speech."

(With 'figurative expressions' I suppose the translator means 'astonishing embellishments')

Here are some relevant parts of Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda's commentary:

vāsudeva-mahima-varnanābhāve kavi-kṛti-mātrasyaiva jugupsitatvam evāha na yad iti.

"The verse indicates that all poetry devoid of descriptions of Vāsudeva's glories is disgusting."

yad vacaḥ kartṛ-citrāṇi guṇālankāra-yuktāni padāni yatra ...citrasya vismayasya sthānam api harer yaśo na pragṛṇīta...

"That includes the most astonishing and amazing choice poetry, endowed with all attributes and embellishments, which does not utter the glories of Hari..."

tad-yaśasya vinā kavi-vaco’lankārādi-yuktaṁ mṛta-śarīram ivāpavitraṁ bhavatīti bhāvaḥ. tad vāyasaṁ tīrthaṁ ucchiṣṭāvicitrānnādi-yuktaṁ garta-viśeṣaṁ kāka-tulyānāṁ kāminām abhilaṣaṇīyatvāt.........

"Poetry that is bereft of glorification of Him (Hari) may be endowed with all vocal embellishments but they are polluted like a dead corpse (similarly decorated with jewels etc.). They are like places of pilgrimage for crow-like lechers, like gutters where crows gather to eat plain leftovers of rice......"

Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda then quotes SB 9.4.1, which is the opening verse of a story not directly related to Kṛṣṇa, and continues:

ity ādīnāṁ śrī-bhāgavatīyānām api pṛthag-vākyānāṁ vāyasa-tīrthatvaṁ prasajjate. śāstre’bhidhīyamāne vyāsādi-kṛteṣu purāṇādiṣu na kutrāpi hari-yaśaḥ sāmānyābhāva iti na kasyāpi vāyasa-tīrthatvaṁ syāt.

"In this way there are also so many narrations in the Srimad Bhagavat that are separate from Krishna. They could also be called crow-tirthas then. However, nowhere in the scriptures composed by Vyasa and other sages is there is a complete or general absence of Hari-katha, and thus none of these scriptures should be considered crow-tirthas."