Bhakta: "It is said that the book Kṛṣṇa-bhakti Ratna Prakāśa is written by Rāghava Paṇḍit, who made the bags of delicacies for Mahāprabhu during His pastimes? Is that so?"
Advaitadas: "No, this book is written by another Rāghava, who was named Rāghava Goswāmī who was a contemporary of Narottama and Śrīnivāsa, pastimes that took place more than a century later. He lived in a cave in Puccharī, at the base of Mt. Govardhana."
Bhakta: "In the Bhāgavata (5.8.26) it is said that Mahārāja Bharat got a deer-body in the next life, despite having attained the stage of bhāva. How is that possible?"
Advaitadas: "It is explained by Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda in his commentary on that verse:
mṛga-dārakam ābhāsayati prakāśayati yat tena svārabdha-karmaṇeti | prārabdhaṁ hi dvividhaṁ—śobhanam aśobhanam ca | tatrādyaṁ bhakta-priyeṇāpi nayana-tīvrāñjana-dāna-nyāyena sva-bhakty-utkaṇṭhā-varṇana-vidagdhena bhagavataiva svecchayaiva prārabdha-tulyatvāt prārabdham upapādyate yad udarko viṣayābhiniveśa eva syāt | atra tu śobhanenārabdheneti sākṣāt suśabda evopanyastaḥ
"There are two kinds of prārabdha karma - śobhana and aśobhana (beautiful and not-beautiful). The first one is like a stinging eye-ointment administered by the Lord, who is dear to His bhakta (bhakta-priyena), which serves to increase the devotee’s eagerness (to attain Him) and which is freely (independently) bestowed by this Vidagdha (clever) Lord. It appears to be just like ordinary prārabdha. This is even possible to happen to those who have attained rati or bhāva bhakti level. The second type of prārabdha is made of one’s old karma and is caused by absorption in the sense objects. The former, śobhana, is mentioned in this verse.” Viśvanātha Cakravartī's commentaries on Śrīmad Bhagavat 10.87.40 and 10.88.8 explain about devotees' suffering in general. They are too long to present here in this blog, though."
Bhakta: "Rūpa Gosvāmī says in Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu 1.2.249:
īṣat prathamam eveti nāṅgatvam ucitam tayoḥ
'Knowledge and renunciation are helpful for entering the path of devotion, but only in the very beginning. They are never integral parts of devotion."
Jīva Gosvamī's commentary:
prathamam evety anyāveśa-parityāga-mātrāya te upadīyete tat-parityāgena jāte ca bhakti-praveśe tayor akiñcitkāratvāt tat-tad-bhāvanayā bhakti vicchedatkatvācca
'"In the beginning" means: only to help the person give up other (mundane) absorptions. Knowledge and renunciation are only marginally helpful in entering the path of devotion. Meditating on these things form an obstacle to devotion."
yad ubhe citta-kāṭhinya-hetū prāyaḥ sataṁ mate
sukumāra-svabhāveyam bhaktis taddhetur īrita
'Both cause the heart to be hardened, while Bhakti itself is very tender by nature."
Q. What does knowledge here refers to? We read śāstras all our lives, getting knowledge. How it is an obstacle?"
Advaitadas: "Knowledge here refers to brahma jñāna and karma jñāna, knowledge of the matters that had already been rejected by Śrī Rūpa earlier on. It does not mean devotional knowledge, because that would contradict Śrī Rūpa's definition of the uttama adhikārī in Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu 1.2.17 - śāstre yuktau ca nipunaḥ sarvathā dṛḍha niścaya - "He is expert in śāstra and logic and firmly convinced too." Jīva and Viśvanātha comment on Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu 1.2.248:
jñānam atra tvam-padartha-viṣayaṁ tat-padartha-viṣayaṁ tayor aikya-viṣayam ceti tri-bhūmikam brahma-jñānam ucyate. tatreṣad iti aikya-viṣayam tyaktvety arthaḥ
"Jñāna which is rejected here refers to the knowledge of the oneness of the jīva and brahman." Knowledge should not lead to an increase of pride, though (unfortunately it often does). For instance, in Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa's commentary on Bhagavad Gītā 18.58:
atha ced ahaṅkārāt kṛtyākṛtya-viṣayaka-jñānābhimānāt tvam mad-uktam na śrosyaṣi tarhi vinaṅkṣyaṣi svārthāt vibhraṣṭo bhaviṣyasi
"Thus, if you are proud of knowing what is to be done and not to be done and you do not listen to My word, you will perish, which means you will fall from your own interest."
Madhusūdan Saraswati speaks on the same verse:
atha ced yadi tu tvam mad-ukte visvāsam akṛtvāhaṅkārāt paṇḍito’ham iti garvān na śroṣyasi mad-vacanārtham na kariṣyasi tato vinankṣyasi puruṣārthād bhraṣṭo bhaviṣyasi
"Thus, if you do not believe My words and will not act (according to it), due to the pride of 'I am a scholar', and do not follow My instructions, you will perish, meaning you will fall from your own interest."
atha cet yadi punas tvam ahaṅkārān jñātṛtvābhimānāt mad uktam evaṁ na śroṣyasi tarhi vinaṅkṣyasi puruṣārthād bhraṣṭo bhaviṣyasi.
"Thus, again if out of pride you think you know it all and do not listen to My words, you will perish and thus fall from the supreme goal of human life."
Bhakta: "Some say that one will fall down from brahman due to loneliness or even due to boredom?"
Advaitadas: "One does not fall either from brahman or from Goloka. Bored? brahma bhūta prasannātma na śocati na kaṅkṣati (Bhagavad Gītā 18.54) - Brahman realization makes one prasannātma, a delighted self. So how can this ānanda then also be boring and unfulfilling? It is just not our ānanda, but that doesn’t mean it is not ānanda - the Bhāgavat says tattvam yajjñānam advayam brahmeti paramātmeti bhagavān iti śabdyate - "The Absolute Truth is threefold and consists of Brahman Paramātma and Bhagavān - not that two features of the Absolute Truth are material and one is spiritual. Lonely? Look at Śrīmad Bhāgavat 7.9.44 - the brahmanandis go in solitude, not just because there is no disturbance there, but also because they do not need any more company. brahmānanda has its own fulfillment. None of the ācāryas that commented on the famous verse ye'nye'ravindaksa vimukta manina (Śrīmad Bhāgavat 10.2.32), which is sometimes used to suggest that one can fall down from Brahman, interpret the verse like that. See my blogs of March 15, 2006 and April 7, 2007.
Bhakta: "Some say brahman is material because it is attained by neti neti, negation of the material."
Advaitadas: "neti neti means it is not this and that material thing - that does not mean it is not a spiritual thing. The Śrīmad Bhāgavat (1.2.11) says the Absolute Truth is a non-dual substance (advaya jñāna) and consists of Brahman Paramātma and Bhagavān.
Bhakta: "What about śūnyavāda? Can we cease to exist altogether, as the Buddhists claim?"
Advaitadas: "Kṛṣṇa's first lesson in Bhagavad Gītā (2.12) is:
na tvevāhaṁ jātu nāsaṁ na tvaṁ neme narādhipāḥ
na caiva na bhaviṣyāmaḥ sarve vayam ataḥ param
'Never was there a time when I did not exist nor you nor all these kings, nor will there ever be a time when any of us will cease to exist."
Bhakta: "What about playing punk or rock music for preaching?"
Advaitadas: "I am dead against this. The audience are left with a saṁskāra of extremely gross sound vibrations in their citta, not with the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra that the devotee-punkers may sing along with it. Devotees say they play this music to attract people to Kṛṣṇa, but
1. this is just an excuse for their own indulgence in this music, to which they themselves are attached, and
2. what type of people do you attract by catering to their demands like this?
This is just orchestrated by institutional bigshots that crave for large numbers of followers by lowering the threshold further and further and thus attracting lower and lower quality people.
What about the old motto 'Purity is the force'?"
Bhakta: "Why aren't the steps of Rādhākuṇḍa (in the aprakaṭ līlā) made of mud instead of platforms and steps as is described in Govinda Līlāmṛta?"
Advaitadas: "Though it would be more romantic, it would create a mess during the jala-keli (water-pastimes), which is a pretty wild event. All the water would be muddled. Plus mud can get very slippery when wet, it could cause accidents for Kṛṣṇa and the gopīs as they descend into or ascend out of the water. Here I suppose the pastoral sweetness has to make way for some luxurious facilities to safeguard Kṛṣṇa and the gopīs."
A transcendental dialectic by OBL Kapoor.
Dr. Kapoor says, quoted in the harmonist "Raganuga-bhakti means the natural, spontaneous, and continuous flow of pure devotion, free from scriptural forms and sanctions regarding what ought to be done and what ought not to be done."
This is not just incorrect, but highly irresponsible too to preach to an audience that has hardly given up hippie-life. It encourages ex-hippies, that have built up just a wafer-thin layer of Vaiṣṇava-discipline, to fall back into their lives of tāmasik indulgence on the pretext of, or seriously thinking this to be 'rāgānugā bhakti'. It is only the attainment, but not the practise of rāgānugā bhakti that is free from scripture, Śrī Viśvanāth has abundantly proven this in his Rāga Vartma Candrikā. He closes the book by saying:
ye tu rāgānugā bhaktiḥ sarvathaiva sarvadaiva śāstra-vidhim atikrāntā eva iti bruvate 'ye śāstra vidhim utsṛjya yajante śraddhayānvitaḥ'. iti 'vidhi hīnam asṛṣṭānnam' ityādi gītokter garhām arhanto muhur utpātam anubhūtavanto'nubhavanto'nubhaviṣyanti cety alam ati vistārena.
"Those who say that rāgānugā bhakti always totally surpasses all scriptural injunctions in all respects are denounced by Gītā-verses such as 'those who give up all scriptural injunctions to worship with mere faith' (17.1), and 'food made without regulations' (17.13), have always caused disturbance, are causing disturbance and will cause disturbance. There is no need to say anything more."