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Monday, June 08, 2009

Oh my friend!

Book review

Several friends have asked me to react to Babhru Das’ recent booklet ‘O my friend! O my friend!’ in which he tries to establish some sort of equality of sakhya rasa vis a vis mañjarī bhāva, based on the assumption that his Guru A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami was/is a cowherd boy friend of Kṛṣṇa. This review of mine is purely philosophical, not political. I keep in the middle whether A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami is a gopa, gopi, both or neither, that is not the issue of this blog. I believe it is neither necessary nor warranted to play down madhura rasa because one’s Guru is presumed to be a cowherd boy. He could also have been both a gopa and a gopi, as many double svarupas are described in Gaura Ganoddeśa Dīpikā. The Chandogya Upaniṣad (quoted in Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa's commentary on Vedanta Sūtra 4.4.11) also says one can have many many siddha svarūpas at once.

The first issue occurs on Page 15:

“I recall an intimate moment when you increased the mystique of your being here among us foolish boys and girls. Nonchalantly recalling how as a child you always got your way, you proceeded to tell a little vignette about your desire for a cowboy pistol. Finally, after much insistence, your father complied and bought you a toy gun. But you were not to be satisfied until you had two guns, one for each hand. “Oh,” said Harṣarani, “you were a cowboy!” With complete gravity, you replied, “Yes.” At that second, no one was thinking of you and the Wild West. We just knew you were speaking about being with Kṛṣṇa and the cows in Vṛndāvana. We were only spiritual toddlers at best (it was ’67 or ’68), but you mercifully gave us a glimpse into your heart. I felt very small being there with you at that moment.”

This is just outright silly. Of course Swamiji played an American cowboy as a child - he said ‘cowboy’, not cowherd boy. A toy pistol has nothing to do with transcendental gopas in Goloka – does any śāstra describe the gopas brandishing pistols?

On Page 33 Babhru Das quotes B.R. Śrīdhar Maharaja:

And the sakhya-rasa is also not to be neglected. Dāsa Goswāmi, who is thought to hold the highest position of mādhurya-rasa, our prayojana ācārya himself says, sakhyāyam te namasta nityam. What does it mean? Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. Is it an intellectual field that we can pass resolutions, pass remarks in any way we like in our fashion? No. Dāsa Goswāmī, who is posted in the highest position of the prayojana-tattva, the ācārya of prayojana in mādhurya-rasa of Rādhā dāsyam, he says that I will try to show my reverence to sakhya. It is not a play thing. This is very rarely to be found. We must go to that plane and then we should deal with these things. Sakhya-rasa is a very small thing? What is this? From a distance I want to show my respect to sakhya-rasa. That should be the tendency of a real devotee, and not to disregard all these things.

The entire Vilāpa Kusumāñjali is of course about mañjarī bhāva, and to suggest that it would promote sakha or gopa bhāva is totally out of context. This sentence is about sakhī bhāva rejected for mañjarī bhāva, all translators and commentators agree on that. Perhaps the use of his slogan “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread” indicates Śrīdhar Mahārāja is shielding intimate topics with an off-topic interpretation here, but in no case Raghunāth Dās Goswāmīs’s famous phrase sakhyāya te mama namo’stu namo’stu nityam is a promotion of sakhya bhāva. The full text of this verse (16) runs as follows:

pādābjayos tava vinā vara dāsyam eva
nānyat kadāpi samaye kila devi yāce
sakhyāya te mama namo'stu namo'stu nityam
dāsyāya te mama raso'stu raso'stu satyam

"O Goddess! I shall never pray to You for anything else but the excellent service of Your lotus feet! I offer my constant obeisances to the idea of becoming Your friend, but I really relish the idea of becoming Your maidservant!”

That is hardly a promotion of sakhya rasa, is it?

p. 43 -
When Śrīla Prabhupāda returned to India for the first time after preaching in the West, he and his disciples were honored by the executive committee of Uddhārava Datta’s temple and made a pilgrimage to the temple. Some years later Śrīla Prabhupāda tried to arrange for his society to take responsibility for the Deity’s service at Uddhāraṇa Datta Thākura’s temple in Saptagrāma. The significance of Prabhupāda’s connection with the suvarṇa-vāṇik community should not be underestimated. Śrīla Prabhupāda appeared in this world in this community, a community of Vaiṣṇavas who in Gaura-Nityānanda līlā were especially blessed by Nitāi-cānd and led by one of Balarāma’s eternal associates, Uddhāraṇa Datta Thākura. Thus Prabhupāda’s family lineage is a sakhya-rasa Vaiṣṇava lineage, one that he honored throughout his life even after he entered the eternal service of Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvati Thākura. Srīla Prabhupāda’s disciples consider him to be a nitya-siddha Vaiṣṇava, one who comes to this world from the paravyoma. Such Vaiṣṇavas are likely to appear in this world in families that in some way correspond with their inner life. We should also note that Śrīla Prabhupāda consistently referred to his father as a Śuddha Vaiṣṇava and that his connection to the suvarṇa-vāṇik community was through his paternal family lineage.

BIt is not vāṇika but vaṇik (merchant), and the fact that a Bengali devotee occasionally visits a temple dedicated to one of the 12 Gopālas proves nothing of course. It is also odd that Babhru attaches value to A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swāmi 's family lineage while the Gauḍīya Maṭh and ISKCON so strongly reject Guru family systems - these are double standards.

p. 45 -
When he would get excited sometimes, discussing influential atheists and false incarnations of God, Prabhupāda would say things such as “I will kick on his face with boots.” Swāmi Tripurāri sees this as evidence of the yuddha-vīra-rasa (chivalrous, fighting spirit). He notes that Prabhupāda’s retort is similar to that of Vṛndāvana dāsa Ṭhākura, who in Caitanya-bhāgavata often compared those who claim to believe in Kṛṣṇa but not in Śrī Caitanya, or those who believe in Śrī Caitanya but not Śrī Nityānanda, to atheists or asuras. Śrī Vṛndāvana dāsa also boldly proclaims that he kicks on their heads with boots! Tripurāri Mahārāja recently wrote, “I kick on their heads with boots.’ This is the language of Vṛndāvana dāsa Thākura in Caitanya-bhāgavata, who is in sakhya-rasa. Vīra-rasa (chivalry) and sakhya-rasa are complementary. This is a particular type of vīra-rasa, yuddha-vīra complimenting sakhya-rasa, the confidence (viśrambha) and fighting spirit of a cowherd. It was very characteristic of Śrīla Prabhupāda.”

There is a difference between (conduct in) the sādhaka- and siddha-deha. If there were no difference then the 6 Gosvāmis would walk around in saris, because that would reflect their inner mood, but instead, of course, they dressed like men. Jīva Goswāmī is a mañjarī, yet in his male form he spoke mainly of philosophy and Sanātan Goswāmī, though a mañjarī, spoke mostly of rules and regulations. So Swāmījī’s militant moods do not prove he was a cowherd boy at all. In fact, the gopīs, particularly Lalitā-devī, show a very militant mood, too. Advaita Prabhu made heavy statements all along about cutting the heads of the atheists, too.

p. 48 -
In light of the above evidence pointing to Śrīla Prabhupāda’s identification with sakhya-rasa, it will be helpful to examine the place of sakhya-rasa in our sampradāya. Does sakhya-rasa have a place in the Gauḍīya sampradāya? What is the goal of our sampradāya? More specifically, what kind of prema is its prayojana? While the apex of all possible attainments is no doubt conjugal love of God and within that Rādhā dāsyam, or the service of a handmaiden of Rādhā (also commonly referred to as mañjarī-bhāva), owing to the influence of Nityānanda Prabhu, sakhya-rasa is also prominent in our sampradāya. It is true that Śrī Nityānanda’s consort Jāhvavā-devī is an incarnation of Ananga-mañjarī, Śrī Rādhā’s younger sister, and that after Nitāi-cānd’s departure from the world she became the leader of the lineage of Nityānanda Prabhu that has become most prominent. However, Nityānanda Prabhu himself began the entire sampradāya with his eternal associates, the dvādaśa-gopālas. Each of these cowherd associates of Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma began initiating disciples in Bengal under the guidance of Nityānanda Prabhu before any other Gauḍīya lineage began. All of them were in sakhya-rasa and their Gauḍīya lineages were filled with this sentiment.

No shastra says that Nityānanda Prabhu is the Ādi-guru of our Sampradāya. Rather, it was Advaita Prabhu who started the sankīrtan movement and who invoked Mahāprabhu even (gaura-ānā ṭhākur), not Nityānanda. Followers of Bhaktivinode take the idea that Nityānanda is the Adi Guru over from him, but that statement is purely subjective because Bhaktivinode was initiated in the Nityānanda Parivāra via Bipinbihārī Goswāmī - it is not a universal truth for all Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas! The śāstra says śakti śaktimatayor abheda – the energy and energetic are non-different. Thus Nitāi and Jāhnavā are both Ananga Mañjarī and Sītā and Advaita are both Yogamāyā. They are represented on multiple levels- sakhya and madhura included. Śrī Ananta Dās Bābājī is initiated in the line of one of the 12 Gopālas, too, and he is into mañjarī bhāva.

p. 48 - Śrīla Prabhupāda himself takes up this issue on another level by identifying Brahmā, who after being directly initiated by Śrī Kṛṣṇa serves as the fountainhead of the Brahmā-Madhva-Gauḍīya sampradāya, as a gopa. Just before Kṛṣṇa teaches him the Bhāgavatam in four verses Brahmā says, “O my Lord, the unborn, You have shaken hands with me just as a friend does with a friend [as if equal in position]. I shall be engaged in the creation of different types of living entities, and I shall be occupied in Your service. I shall have no perturbation, but I pray that all this may not give rise to pride, as if I were the Supreme.”

1. No acarya, like Śrīdhar Swāmī, Jīva Goswāmī or Viśvanāth Cakravartī, have written in their ṭīkās on this verse (S.B. 2.9.30 or 29) that Brahmā is a cowherdboy.
2. A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swāmi in his purport does not say that Brahmā is a cowherd boy.
3. Brahmā deals here with Nārāyaṇa, not Kṛṣṇa. Being a friend of Nārāyaṇa doesn’t mean being cowherdboy. Arjun was also a friend of Kṛṣṇa but not a gopa.
4. We are the Gauḍīya Sampradāya, not the Brahma sampradāya. Even if Brahmā would be a cowherd boy, and if that would make all Madhvaites cowherd boys, so what of it? Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa has recognized the following differences of opinion of the Gauḍīya Sampradāya with the teachings of the Madhva sampradāya in his commentary on Tattva sandarbha:

bhaktānāṁ viprānām eva mokṣaḥ devaḥ bhakteṣu mukhyaḥ viriñcasyaiva sāyujyaṁ lakṣmyā jīva-koṭitvam ity evam mata viśeṣaḥ

“Only a brāhmaṇa-devotee is eligible for liberation, the demigods are foremost among devotees, Brahmā attains sāyujya-mukti (merging in Brahman), and Lakṣmī-devī is included among the jīvas – these are differences in opinion.”

Other differences include:
1. The Madhvaites practice upāsanā on vidhi-mārga, filled with moods of aiśvarya (majesty) while the Gauḍīyas’ worship is one of rāga-mārga, where mādhurya (sweetness) predominates.
2. The Madhvaites worship Nartaka-Gopāla alone, whereas the firm resolve of the Gauḍīyas who follow the footsteps of Śrī Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī is substantially different: ya ekaṁ govindaṁ bhajati kapaṭī dambhikatayā “Whoever worships Govinda alone is a cheater and a hypocrite”. To highlight the contrast, it may be noted that many proponents of the Madhva-sampradāya contest the existence of Śrī Rādhā altogether, since She is not presented in the literature of their sampradāya as a consort of Gopāla!
3. Madhva taught the concept of dvaita, or absolute duality, whereas Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu presented the refined concept of acintya-bhedābheda-tattva, the doctrine of simultaneous oneness and difference.
4. Did Brahmā appear as a cowherd boy in Kṛṣṇa's Vraja līlā just because he speaks of himself as a friend of Nārāyaṇa at creation? If so, where is that described?

On p. 48-9 Babhru Dās says:
For centuries we do not find sakhya-rasa in Madhva’s lineage stemming from Brahmā. However, with the appearance of Lakṣmīpati Tīrtha in this line, who is the initiating guru of Nityānanda Prabhu, sakhya-rasa appears prominently in Nitāi-cānd. Then in another disciple of Lakṣmīpati Tīrtha, Mādhavendra Purī, we find conjugal love.

Elsewhere in his essay Babhru enters a plea for a Guru being in a different ‘rasa’ than his disciple, and now he claims that Lakṣmīpati Tīrtha must have been in sakhya rasa because his ‘disciple’ Nityānanda was too (or was He?). I have just explained the vast differences between the Madhvaites and the Gauḍīyas, of which Nityānanda was the frontrunner.

p.50 Hṛdaya Caitanya is a very rare exception of an ācārya in sakhya bhāva - the landslide majority of our famous acaryas are mañjarīs - 99.9999%.

p. 52, Exclusive mañjarī -bhAva—the highest perfection
Some devotees have asserted that if we are to think of Prabhupāda as being situated in the highest perfection, he must be absorbed in mañjarī-bhAva, for this is the highest reach of our sampradāya. One claim made by the advocates of the mādhurya-only position is that Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, as one writer put it, has come only for unnatojjvala-rasa, the brightest jewel of rasānanda—mañjarī-bhāva. They contend, or at least imply, that he came to teach mādhurya-rasa exclusively. However, we don’t see evidence in the scriptures to support this contention, but rather only that mañjarī-bhāva is the apex of Śrī Caitanya’s outreach and inner experience. The Lord himself asserts in Śrī Caitanya caritāmṛta that he came to teach us to love Kṛṣṇa through any of the four rasas of Vraja. According to Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Goswāmī, Śrī Kṛṣṇa thinks to Himself, “I shall personally inaugurate the religion of the age, nāma-sankīrtana, the congregational chanting of the holy name. I shall make the world dance in ecstasy, realizing the four mellows of loving devotional service.”
53 – “In fact, although it is unnatojjvala-rasa the Lord came to taste Himself, he came to teach the four bhāvas through which the residents of Vraja please Kṛṣṇa.”

Rūpa Goswāmī’s Anarpita-verse is the paribhāṣā (general definition) of Caitanya Caritāmṛta and thus of our siddhānta as a whole. It says clearly that Mahāprabhu’s ‘mission’ was to bestow unnatojjvala rasa, madhura rasa.
In a footnote to this, Babhru Das says:

However, these notions (that there is no sādhana in the Gauḍīya sampradāya aimed at attaining any other rasa than madhura rasa) are not supported by the evidence at hand. Among other things, the sakhya lineages inspired by Nityānanda Prabhu stand in contradiction to them.

Which lineages would that be? Is Babhru Dās acquainted with large communities of sakhya bhāva upāsakas in Bengal? Where are they located? If they do exist, why do they have no representatives in Braja, like all the other Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava factions?

Babhru - "And while there is no dispute that Rādhā’s love is the highest pinnacle of love, we also feel impelled to assert that in one sense there is no difference among the rasas. Before Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja begins comparing the relative intensity of the devotional sentiments, he says, “Four kinds of devotees are the receptacles of the four kinds of mellows in love of God, namely servitude, friendship, parental affection, and conjugal love. Each kind of devotee feels that his sentiment is the most excellent, and thus in that mood he tastes great happiness with Lord Kṛṣṇa.” It is not the case, then, that Śrī Caitanya came to teach mādhurya-rasa exclusively. Furthermore, while it is true that objectively speaking when we look at the four rasas of Vraja through the lens of tattva that mañjarī-bhāva exceeds the others in intimacy, the subjective reality of each and every realized devotee ultimately determines which sentiment is highest. In other words, it is through the subjective lens of bhāva that the final determination is made, and here, as Prabhupāda consistently emphasized, we must be careful not to think in terms of higher and lower and thereby muddy the waters of rasānanda with the polluted stream of our mundane mind. We must also remember that the perfection of any devotee derives from his or her willingness to serve Śrī Kṛṣṇa on Kṛṣṇa’s own terms. The sense that one’s own bhāva is the highest is also implied by Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Goswāmī in his depiction of the conversation between Rāmānanda Rāya and Mahāprabhu.

It is not a 'mundane mind' that thinks there is a hierarchy of rasas, it is all the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava ācāryas from Rūpa Gosvāmī down who have said so. It is true that each devotee thinks his/her own rasa the greatest but Rūpa Gosvāmī says that objectively speaking mādhurya rasa is the highest.

Taṭastha hoiyā mane vicāra jadi kori
saba rasa hoite śṛṅgāre adhika mādhurī

If we compare the sentiments objectively, we find that the amorous sentiment is superior to all the other rasas in sweetness. (CC Adi 4,44)

yathottaram asau svāda-viśeṣollāsamayy api

“These five types of rati progressively (from śuddha to priyatā rati) become more blissful by increasing tastes.” (BRS 2.5.38, CC 1.4.45) . This hierarchy of rasa is also described in Caitanya Caritāmṛta, Madhya Lila chapter 8, and Antya-lila chapter 7.

P. 54
Indeed, Śrī Kṛṣṇadās Kavirāja Goswāmī himself later in this section of Caitanya-caritāmṛta pauses in his own personal enthusiasm for gopi-bhāva.

It was not his personal enthusiasm, rather he is just a mouthpiece for the foundational ācāryas and for the sampradāya as a whole. Kṛṣṇadās Kavirāja was quoting from the ācāryas’ books all along.

The unique position of the priyanarma-sakhās is also important to note. As mentioned earlier, this particular group of Kṛṣṇa’s friends also serves the gopīs. Indeed, in his Ujjvala Nīlamaṇi Rūpa Goswāmī has referred to their bhāva as sakhībhāva. This is not to say that the priyanarma-sakhās’ experience is the same bhāva in all respects as that of Śrī Rādhā’s mañjarīs, but they do experience a degree of mahābhāva and thus their penetration into Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa līlā exceeds that of dāsya and vātsalya-rasa, as well as that of other forms of sakhya-rasa. Thus Śrīla Prabhupāda’s affinity for sakhya-rasa documented above should never be construed as a defect and one should not think that because of it he is less than perfect. Such thinking is mundane and offensive.

There is nothing defect of course about sakhya bhāva, everything in relation to Kṛṣṇa is perfect, but still there is a hierarchy of rasa given by the ācāryas. In Govinda Līlāmṛta (7.116-117) the priya narma sakhās are clearly said to be angīkṛta, ‘accepted’ by the aṣṭa-sakhīs. Nor does Rūpa Goswāmī place the sakhās, ordinary ones or priya narma sakhās, above the sakhīs. Priya narma sakhās, although closer to sakhī bhāva than the other sakhās, are nonetheless placed in the same chapter of Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu (3.3) as the ordinary sakhās, 2 chapters before the sakhīs (3.5, in ascending order, which means the sakhīs are two classes higher than the sakhās).

On 58, Swami Tripurāri is quoted on the Gopāl mantra:
That mantra contains three names for Kṛṣṇa: Kṛṣṇa, Govinda, and Gopī-jana-vallabha. In his commentary on pürva 15 of Gopāla-tāpanī Upanisad, Swāmī B.V. Tripurāri, following our predecessor ācāryas Jīva Goswāmī, Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī, Viśvanātha Cakravartī, and others, points out the specific significance of each of the names included in this mantra. The name Kṛṣṇa, he explains, corresponds most closely with love for Kṛṣṇa as experienced by practitioners of vaidhi-bhakti, love tinged with reverence for Kṛṣṇa, as in Dvārakā. The name Govinda corresponds most closely with the love of those practicing rāgānugā-bhakti, aspiring for the kind of love of Govinda’s cowherdboy friends, as well as those following the vātsalya-rasa exemplified by Nanda and Yaśodā. Gopī-jana-vallabha, however, is especially for culturing unnatojjvala-rasa, conjugal love for Kṛṣṇa following in the wake of Śrīmatī Rādhikā’s cowherd-girl friends. In this connection, Tripurāri Mahārāja writes, Those who aspire for this spiritual sentiment [conjugal love] in Kṛṣṇa’s Vraja lîlā understand the names Kṛṣṇa and Govinda to be aspects of Gopījana-vallabha. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu himself chanted the ten-syllable Gopāla mantra, ….., rather than the full eighteensyllable Gopāla mantra given here in Gopāla-tāpani. Thus it is to be understood that the names Kṛṣṇa and Govinda are not absolutely necessary for those who aspire for the conjugal love of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa.

Although Śrī Ānanda Gopāl Goswāmī also gave a Gopāl-mantra explanation (vyākhyā) in this fashion (Kṛṣṇa being kumāra age, Govinda being paugaṇḍa age and Gopījanaballabh being Kiśora Age), the name Kṛṣṇa does has a very rasika meaning in the Hare-Kṛṣṇa mantra explanation of Raghunāth Dās Goswāmī, and the names Kṛṣṇa and Govinda are constantly repeated in the most rasik books of the Goswāmīs as well. Kṛṣṇa is certainly not just a vaidhi bhakti name, while even the name Govinda is used by Arjun in the Bhagavad Gita.

p. 59 -
One is, “Why doesn’t Sanātana Goswāmi, who is, as we know, Lavanga-mañjarī, have his protagonist discover his mañjarī identity, rather than that of the cowherd boy Sarūpa?” And the other question is, “If the Gopāla mantra is for gopi-bhāva-āśraya only, how is it that it revealed a cowherd boy’s bhāva to Gopa-kumāra?” Sanātana Goswāmī himself seems unwilling to accept such a proposition.

The fact that Sanātan Goswāmī stopped the Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta at sakhya bhāva does not take away the fact that he IS Labanga Mañjarī. He also wrote elaborately on rules in Haribhakti Vilāsa but that doesnt mean he is not Labanga Mañjarī either. There is no need to speculate on why Sanātan Goswāmī stopped Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta at sakhya bhāva. The other Goswāmīs’ books overwhelmingly state that above sakhya bhāva there is vātsalya bhāva and above vātsalya bhava there is madhura bhāva.

p. 60 -
The case of Śyāmānanda Prabhu is often considered an exception to the norm. As the story goes, one of Rādhā’s handmaidens claimed him for her camp despite his initiation in a lineage of sakhya-rasa gurus. In this instance an entire spiritual drama unfolded involving various eternal participants in Kṛṣṇa līlā participating in both their siddha- and sādhaka-dehas. The instance is so unique that it has been celebrated and written about for generations. Moreover, it spawned a new sampradāya, the Śyāmānanda Parivāra. Nothing like this happened in the case of Śrīla Prabhupāda. At the same time, the līlā of Śyāmānanda cannot be entirely dismissed by any means. In spite of its uniqueness, it nonetheless also speaks to us of the possibility of exceptions to the norm.

The Śyāmānanda Parivāra is not a new sampradāya, but a branch of the Gauḍīya Sampradāya. Parivāra means family or community, and indicates a branch, not the entire tradition (sampradāya)

p. 62-3 -
The songs Prabhupāda taught us
Some devotees have objected that a few of the songs Śrīla Prabhupāda taught us to sing in daily worship indicate an affinity for mādhurya-rasa. One example is the Tulasī kīrtana he gave us, which says, ei nivedana dharo, sakhir anugata koro/ sevā-adhikāra diye koro nija dāsī: “I beg you to make me a follower of the cowherd damsels of Vraja. Please give me the privilege of devotional service and make me your own maidservant.” This clearly expresses an aspiration for mādhurya-rati. Another example is Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravarti Thākura’s Gurvaṣṭakam. The fifth verse says, Śrī rādhikā mādhavayor apāra-mādhurya-līlā guṇa-rūpa-nāmnām: “The spiritual master is always eager to hear and chant about the unlimited conjugal pastimes of Rādhikā and Mādhava, and their qualities, names, and forms.” And the sixth verse says, nikuñja-yūno rati-keli-siddhyai yā yālibhir yuktir apekṣaṇīyā/ tatrāti-dākṣyād ati-vallabhasya: “The spiritual master is very dear, because he is expert in assisting the gopīs, who at different times make different tasteful arrangements for the perfection of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa’s conjugal loving affairs within the groves of Vṛndāvana.” When considering such songs, however, we would do well to keep a couple of things in mind. One is that these are standard songs. Furthermore, the sakhī-bhāva referred to in the prayer to Vṛndā-devī could also be sung in light of one’s cultivation of the mādhurya aspect of the priya-narma-sakhā’s “sakhī-bhāva,” although in my mind it is doubtful that Prabhupāda had anything so specific in mind when he gave us this popular song.

B1. This is indeed a jump to conclusions
2. These songs are practised all over the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava Sampradāya, not just only in ISKCON. The fact that they are, as Babhru admits, ‘standard songs’ also proves that gopi bhava is the purpose of our sampradāya, not sakhya rasa.


  1. all of this is just an example of what can happen 40 years after the guru does not tell his disciples who he is.

  2. The whole book is so very sad and very silly. These iskcon fellows have to try to guess what the mood of their guru is. How can they ever make serious advancement when their guru never explained the path of raganugiya bhajan to them? Bhaktivendanta set it up so that if his disciple is serious about bhajan he must reject him and find a new guru who will teach him these things. The whole thing is pathetic.

  3. Anon I:
    "all of this is just an example of what can happen 40 years after the guru does not tell his disciples who he is."

    I dont think Swamiji did not say anything at all about his ID. The most compelling evidence for Swamiji being a gopa is really the song he wrote on the boat to America in 1965, which is, of course, quoted in the booklet: koto bone chuTAchuTi bone khAi luTAputi sei din kobe hobe mor, “Running and frolicking in the many forests of Vraja, I will roll on the ground in spiritual ecstasy. O when will that day be mine?”

  4. the process is that the guru tells the disciples at least basic info about his swarup at the time of diksha so that during mantra dhyan, you actually have some dhyan to do!

    i agree with the person who said the whole thing is silly.

    i can't imagine having to piece together things 40 years down the line.

    lord help these people.

  5. Three comments have so far been passed which are essentially off topic -
    1) did Swamiji reveal his svarupa or not?
    2) Did he teach raganuga bhakti properly or not?
    3) Should the Guru reveal (parts of) the siddha svarupa to the sisya or not?

    Further development of discussions of such topics will not be tolerated, as they are off-topic (see board-rules under 'My Profile' on the main page). The blog was a mere philosophical/scriptural review of a recently released booklet. Further comments that stray off the topic and the intention of the blog may be blocked if necessary.

  6. But these topics are what the book is about. You are reviewing a book and we are responding to the books content, therefore it is relevent, is it not?

    I have to say that for those of us looking at this from an outside, objective viewpoint, it is simply unfathomable that disciples would have to speculate and try to pull out "clues" regarding something as simple and basic as their guru's identity.


    10 Mar 2009, 14:20
    In the unedited March 17, 1973 conversation between Srila Sridhara Maharaja and Srila Prabhupada, Srila Prabhupada describes how he went to America to preach. He says something very interesting:

    Srila Prabhupada: And Guru Maharaja wanted that, yet those Gaudiya Math people did not do anything. So: "Let me try in this old age in a special camp," and I went [to the West] by his grace and it has become a big success.

    Perhaps this "special camp" refers to the priya-narma sakhas. :-)


  7. Anon IV, perhaps the first of the three points I mentioned is on-topic, but the other two are not. So I will allow closely monitored comments on that. The hunt is not open for Swamiji or anyone else for that matter, though, since personal attacks are also prohibited on this blog.

  8. On of the previous posts mentions: Perhaps this "special camp" refers to the priya-narma sakhas.

    Sarcastically, here "perhaps" means 100% sure. Right? And swamiji chanted the kamagayatri especialy to attain sakha-bhava. Or that would be not appropriate?

  9. Coincidence does not exist, I suppose - just minutes before you sent this comment, I discussed with a friend that since the Kama Gayatri is given to every GV, this too indicates that madhura rasa is meant for all its members. Even a priya narma sakha could chant it, since he is sakhi-bhAvaM samAzritA (Rupa Goswami on Subal Sakha), but what about ordinary gopas and elderly gopis etc.?

  10. Advaitaji, you think the most compelling of Swamijis being a gopa is his song: koto bone chuTAchuTi bone khAi luTAputi sei din kobe hobe mor, “Running and frolicking in the many forests of Vraja, I will roll on the ground in spiritual ecstasy. O when will that day be mine?”

    I don't see how you get that conclusion from here. If it is because of the word frolicking, it just means "to play in a happy and physically energetic way." But sometime the gopis also play with Krishna in such a way.

  11. That is not the full couplet. The first half of the couplet runs:

    tomāra milane bhāi ābār se sukha pāi, gocārane ghuri din bhor

    "O dear friend, in Your company I will experience great joy once again. In the early morning I will wander about the cowherd pastures and fields."

    Actually Swamiji said 'bhAi', which means 'brother', an address a gopi /manjari would not use.