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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."

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