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Monday, September 07, 2009

Sādhu Bābā's arcanā


Tarjjanī

I just discovered, 27 years after receiving dīkṣā, that our tilak is applied with the tarjjanī, index finger, not with the madhyam, middle finger. Sādhu Bābā said in his Sanksipta Nitya Karma Paddhati: tarjjanī anguli dvārā dvādaśānge tilaka racanā koriben ẏeno nakha sparśa nā hoy – The tilak must be placed on twelve parts of the body with the index finger in such a way that the nails do not touch [the body].”

This exchange followed on Facebook-

Bhakta-
"What is tarjjanī? Could you explain, please?"

Advaitadas-
"The five fingers on the hand are 1. anguṣṭha (thumb) 2, tarjjanī [index finger] 3. madhyam [middle] 4. anāmikā [ring finger] and 5. kaniṣṭha [little finger or pinky]. I have been using the madhyam but I belatedly learned that in my Guru's family it turns out to be tarjanī. It is written in my Guru's paddhatī, which I even typed out by hand, but I failed to catch the point till one bhakta made me attentive to it today."

Bhakta: "Anyway, Advaita, was is the internal meaning /significance of applying tilaka with one's index finger? I'm really curious by now!"

Advaitadas- "tilaka racanāṅguli niyam [rules for fingers making tilak] is described in Haribhakti Vilāsa [4.221]:

anāmikā kāmadoktā madhyamāyuskarī bhavet 
anguṣṭhaḥ puṣṭidaḥ proktas tarjanī mokṣa-dāyinī

"The anāmikā fulfills material desires, the middle finger gives longevity, the thumb gives nourishment (food) and the index finger gives liberation."

Now that I have a cheap phone connection to India, it was no trouble consulting my senior Guru-brother Tapan Kumār Adhikārī:

Advaitadas: "We put on tilak with the index finger, but in the beadbag there's a hole for the index finger because it is said to be contaminated and therefore should not touch the japa-mālā."

Tapan Kumar Adhikary: "Yes but that is different. Tilak has different rules from (touching) the japa mālā - tilak is an exception."

************

No Rādhā with Madangopāl?

(Another) Bhakta: "I see there is no Rādhārāṇī-deity next to your Madangopāl-deity (in Sādhu Bābā’s āśram). How then do you worship Her?"

Advaitadās: “When I first came to Sādhu Bābā’s āshram I asked this to swayam Bābā, who told me that Rādhā’s name is carved on Gopāl’s chest – in this form we worship Smt. Rādhārāṇī.”

On the phone I asked Tapan Dā more about Sādhu Bābā’s Madangopāl. He confirms that Rādhā’s name is indeed carved on His chest and also that Bābā saw Him as Kiśora (adolescent lover) and not as a child (Bābā’s Gopāl manifests as Laḍḍu Gopāl, normally a child form of Kṛṣṇa). Bābā experienced Kṛṣṇa's childhood as adolescence as depicted in the third verse of Kṛṣṇa Karṇāmṛta:


cāturyaika-nidāna-sīma-capalāpānga-cchaṭā-mantharaṁ 
lāvaṇyāmṛta-vīci-lolita-dṛśaṁ lakṣmī-kaṭākṣādṛtam 
kālindī-pulināngana-praṇayinaṁ kāmāvatārānkuraṁ 
bālaṁ nīlam amī vayaṁ madhurima-svārājyam ārādhnumaḥ

"We worship that dark bluish young boy, who is the one limitless resting-place of cleverness, who causes the gopīs to slow down their gait with the rays of His restless glances, glances made restless by waves of ambrosial shimmer that are worshipped by Śrī Rādhā, the Supreme Goddess of fortune, who is very fond of the gardens on the bank of the Yamunā, who is the root cause of all Cupids and who is the independent kingdom of divine sweetness.”

Bābā stressed the word bāla, or child, was there and so He reconciled the child-form of Kṛṣṇa in His temple with the divya kiśora mūrti we actually worship. Furthermore, Tapan Dā said, Bābā stressed mental worship (mānasī sevā) over external worship in the temple, so even though Smt. Rādhārāṇī is not abundantly visible in the temple, She is overwhelmingly predominant in our meditations.

The gist of this discussion is added to page 43-44 of Sādhu Bābā's hagiography on my website, along with this teaching of Sādhu Bābā, which sprung to my memory, prompted by a discussion I read on a forum recently:
*****

siddha deha

On another occasion I asked Bābā how to understand these mysterious verses of Śrī Caitanya Caritāmṛta (Antya 4, 192-193):
dīkṣā-kāle bhakta kare ātma-samarpaṇa;
sei-kāle kṛṣṇa tāre kare ātma-sama

sei deha kare tāra cid-ānanda-maya;
aprākṛta-dehe tāńra caraṇa bhajaya

“At the time of initiation the devotee surrenders his very self – at that time Kṛṣṇa makes him equal to Himself and makes His body transcendental. In such a spiritual body he can serve Kṛṣṇa’s lotus-feet”

Bābā explains that this does not mean that our material bodies suddenly become spiritual – the last line of the verses clearly shows that this deals with the devotee’s spiritual body, whose seed is planted by Śrī Guru at the time of initiation."

5 comments:

  1. The tarjani bestowing mukti does not mean sAyujya mukti, merging in the Absolute. There are 4 other types of mukti, too - sAlokya, sAmIpya, sArSTi and sArUpya. Of them, sAmIpya is most favorable and close to manjari bhAva. sAmIpya means closeness to the Lord.

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  2. About the last paragraph of this blog, on the devotees' supposed saccidananda body - I have personally seen Sadhu Baba inviting those who think the devotee's and the guru's body to be literally spiritual to join him when he went out to pass stool, to see what the Guru is like, and when I told him that some say that the grihasthas must be 'in spiritual consciousness' when making a baby, he laughed and said that even his body, be it from the highest quality (Advaita Vamsa) is still a product of his parents' passion.
    It is more that we need to respect the bodies of Guru and Vaishnava to be spiritual, etiquette-wise, but not that it literally is like that.

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  3. "I have personally seen Sadhu Baba inviting those who think the devotee's and the guru's body to be literally spiritual to join him when he went out to pass stool, to see what the Guru is like."

    I LOVE THIS! Very funny.

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  4. "Baba explains that this does not mean that our material bodies suddenly become spiritual – the last line of the verses clearly shows that this deals with the devotee’s spiritual body, whose seed is planted by Sri Guru at the time of initiation."

    It is not always untrue that the material body of the initiatee becomes spiritual, though, but this is surely not the case with every westerner who once took initiation and then went back to material life, catching AIDS, eating beef and drinking liquor, committing suicide or OD-ing on crack with a 'spiritual body'. At an advanced stage the body is spiritualized, as is described by Visvanath Cakravartipad in his tika to SB 10.29.10-11:

    bhakti-vrddhi-taratamyena nirguna-dehamsanam adhikya-taratamyam syat | tena ca gunamaya-dehamsanam ksinatva-taratamyam syat, sampurna-premany utpanne tu gunamaya-dehamsesu nastesu samyak nirguna eva dehah syat tad api sthula-deha-patas tu bahirmukhatotkhata bhavartham bhakti-yogasya rahasyatva-raksartham ca bhagavataiva mayaya pradarsyate,
    yatha mausala-lilayam yadavanam kvacit tu, bhakti-yogotkarsa-jnapanartham na darsyate ca, yatha dhruvadinam | atra pramanam ekadase pancavimsatitam adhyaye sraddhadayonir guna gunamayas ceti pradarsayata—
    yeneme nirjitah saumya guna jivena citta-jah | bhakti-yogena man-nistho mad-bhavaya prapadyate || [bha.pu. 11.25.32]

    "Those who perform only a little hearing and chanting will attain a little bhakti, realization etc, but when one attains prema, the material portions of the body disappear and the body becomes completely spiritualized.....
    sometimes there is also no death at all, as in the case with Dhruva Maharaja, whom Krishna allowed to go to the spiritual realm in his selfsame body (be it fully spiritualized)." He then quotes SB 11.25.32: 'By practising bhakti yoga, a devotee conquers over the gunas, and being My nistha bhakta he attains a mood or form like Mine."

    Although the text 'diksa kale bhakta kore Atma samarpana' seems to imply that the Atma Samarpan takes place right at the time of diksa, it is our experience that this surrender may actually develop slowly and take a very long time after initiation. In that case it would rhyme with the siddhanta of Visvanatha quoted above. At any rate, so many different types of perfection are described in the Bhagavat - Dhritarastra burned himself up in the fire of tapasya, Chota Haridas sang to Mahaprabhu on the beach in an invisible body, some demons merge into Krishna's body etc etc.

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  5. "Tapan Da said, Baba stressed mental worship (manasi seva) over external worship in the temple, so even though Smt. Radharani is not abundantly visible in the temple, She is overwhelmingly predominant in our meditations."

    This verse from Radha Rasa Sudhanidhi (259) just sprung to mind-

    dhyayams tam sikhi pincha maulim anisam tan nama sankirtayan
    nityam tac caranambujam paricarams tan mantra varyam japan
    sri radha pada dasyam eva paramabhistam hrda dharayan

    "I always meditate on Krsna, who wears a crown of peacockfeathers, I always sing His name in sankirtana, I always serve His lotusfeet (the deity) and repeat His best of mantras, holding the desire for the supremely cherished service of Sri Radha's lotusfeet in my heart."

    The verse is already quoted in another context in Sadhu Baba's bio (on madangopal.com).

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