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Thursday, November 19, 2009

God's paribhāṣā, rāgānuga sādhakas' supposed obligations and nāmābhāsa?

Bhakta: "Which Bhagavat-verse is the most fit to prove the existence of God?"

Advaitadas: 'If there is no willingness to accept the existence of God and the authority of śāstra, then no śloka or argument will work, but if there is a favorable attitude I think the opening verse, 1.1.1, will be the best. It is like a paribhāṣā (general definition) of God."


janmādy asya yato’nvayād itarataś cārtheṣv abhijñaḥ svarāṭ
tene brahma hṛdā ya ādi-kavaye muhyanti yat sūrayaḥ |
tejo-vāri-mṛdāṁ yathā vinimayo yatra tri-sargo’mṛṣā
dhāmnā svena sadā nirasta-kuhakaṁ satyaṁ paraṁ dhīmahi 

In short: 'I meditate on the Supreme Truth, from whom everything emanates and into whom everything returns, who is forever free from illusion, who is always situated in His abode, or true form, through whom this three-fold creation, though unreal, appears as real, who is fully cognizant and fully independent."

Bhakta: "rāgānugā bhakti is sometimes discouraged because instead of being attracted to the feelings of the Vrajabāsīs one may be attracted to the feelings of one's own relatives and so on."

Advaitadas: "rāgānugā bhakti does not mean one is immediately in a blazing fire of greed that makes one forget and transcend everything mundane. See my blog of November 28, 2006, on Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhuḥ:

"On to the famous definition of greed as cause of rāgānugā bhakti (1.2.292), ever-fascinating: Jīva Gosvāmī comments: 'When a person realises to some degree the sweetness of the love and activities of the inhabitants of Vraja...." note the words 'to some degree', which indicate that greed or lobha is not immediately an all-consuming fire in which the devotee is completely pure to qualify for rāgānuga sādhana. Bhānu Swāmī's translation is however, a bit played down, since yat kiñcit means 'slightly' more than 'to some degree' and he also fails to translate Jīva's important final words in the comment: tad eva lobhotpatter lakṣaṇam iti - 'This alone is the symptom of lobha or greed.'

When I told Sādhu Bābā about how gopī-bhāva is ridiculed in some circles, he simply quoted 'ataeva gopībhāva koro aṅgikāra' to me, spoken by Śrīman Mahāprabhu Himself (CC Madhya 8, 228). aṅgīkāra means 'accepting the feelings of a gopī'. 'Accepting' does not mean immediate full time absorption. To expect full absorption to take place from the very first day of rāgānugā sādhana is frankly, well, insane. 'Accepting' means at first just within the heart - it's like having a certain creed or political conviction - you go to Church on Sundays, and vote once a year on your party, but you keep them in the heart the rest of the time also, even without 24/7 mental absorption. Only in later stages, like niṣṭhā, ruci and bhāva, rāga bhakti will become full absorption. The problem in dealing with people who think one needs to be a pure devotee to do rāgānugā bhajan is that when you are known as a rāgānugā bhakta and you show some weakness you get ridiculed, based on their own misconceptions and prejudices, whereas it is clearly understood from our ācāryas that rāgānugā is a sādhana, during which lapses can be naturally expected."

Bhakta: "Some modern Vaiṣṇava teachers say that nāmābhāsa is a type of practise, be it an immature practise, a 'clearing stage'. It seems to be mixed up or joined with nāmāparādha."

Advaitadas: "Yes, that debate is going on. I have not seen nāmābhāsa mentioned as a type of sadhana in the Goswamis' books, though. The favorite example of nāmābhāsa is Ajāmila, who really chanted accidentally and not as part of a sādhana. 
nāmābhāsa comes in four kinds (SB 6.2.14) -

1. saṅketa - indicating something else,
2. parihāsa - as a joke, like one song I knew as a teenager, "Hari Hari Supermarket! Hari Hari London Bus!".
Both Śrī Jīva and Śrī Viśvanātha say it must be prīti upahāsa, loving joking, though, not nindā-garbha upahāsa, sarcastic joking.
3. stobha - all ācāryas gloss this as gītālāpa-pūraṇārthaṁ kṛtam, "added to complete a song or discussion", again like in "Hari Hari Supermarket"
4. helā, which means indifferently (sāvajña generally means 'with contempt' but avajña also means indifferent, nonchalantly, and that seems more apt here - 'kiṁ viṣṇunā!', in modern language 'Jeeeez!') or neglectful chanting (Jīva Goswāmī says yatna rahita, without care or effort). I can only imagine that this last one, inattentive chanting, could be part of a regular, intentional sādhanā

7 comments:

  1. CC antya 3.183-186 says that 'faint dawning of the holy name dissipates sinful reaction. And when one chants purely complete dawning of pure holy name takes place' iow when one starts to chant as sadhana one has 'faint dawning'. This is the clearing stage.
    Many texts speak of namaparadha stage in a sadhana eg sarartha-darsini 6.2.9-10 or Srimad bhag 2.3.24. You want to call this practicing stage? And there is no intermediate to suddha nama stage?

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  2. But how you "measure" purity of chanting?
    Using what criteria and which yardstick?
    Isn't that a contradiction in itself? Because if you can measure it, then there's a principle higher and finer than it.
    Namely, if you want to measure a distance between two objects, you use a ruler with units far smaller and finer than distance in question. To precisely measure size of the orange, for example, you need to use a ruler in milimeters, not miles. If you want to weight something, then again, you have to use appropriate scale.
    So, how you measure purity of Nama? What is finer and more delicate measure than Nama that enables one to measure its purity?

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  3. Anon, The Padyavali-verse quoted in CC 3.3.181 clearly says sakRd eva, 'chanting once only', which shows that this does not speak of a regular sadhana. haridas Thakur's explanation of it follows suit.

    You said: "..when one chants purely complete dawning of pure holy name takes place' iow when one starts to chant as sadhana one has 'faint dawning'. This is the clearing stage."

    But I did not find that theory in this story in CC.

    You said: "Many texts speak of namaparadha stage in a sadhana eg sarartha-darsini 6.2.9-10 or Srimad bhag 2.3.24."

    Advaitadas: Sorry I did not find the word namabhasa in any of these verses or their commentaries, nor did I see a sign of namabhasa being mentioned there as a regular practise. Visvanatha's tika of SB 2.3.24 says that kanisthas feel no ecstasy because of aparadha, not abhasa. The verse speaks of raty abhasa, not namabhasa.

    You said: "You want to call this practicing stage?"

    Advaitadas: My whole question in the blog was whether or not namabhasa is a practise or a fortunate accident. Perhaps you did not catch my point.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Which Bhagavat-verse is the most fit to prove the existence of God?"

    Advaitadas: 'If there is no willingness to accept the existence of God and the authority of shastra, then no shloka or argument will work, but if there is a favorable attitude I think the opening verse, 1.1.1, will be the best. It is like a paribhasha (general definition) of God."


    janmady asya yato ’nvayad itaratas carthesv abhijnah svarat
    tene brahma hrda ya adi-kavaye muhyanti yat surayah
    tejo-vari-mrdam yatha vinimayo yatra tri-sargo ’mrsa
    dhamna svena sada nirasta-kuhakam satyam param dhimahi


    In short: 'I meditate on the Supreme Truth, from whom everything emanates and into whom everything returns, who is forever free from illusion, who is always situated in His abode, or true form, through whom this three-fold creation, though unreal, appears as real, who is fully cognizant and fully independent."


    how this *proofs* god. this a statement of his existence. proof means a syllogism eg
    1......
    2......
    3......
    etc
    therefore god exists

    ReplyDelete
  5. You said: "..when one chants purely complete dawning of pure holy name takes place' iow when one starts to chant as sadhana one has 'faint dawning'. This is the clearing stage."

    But I did not find that theory in this story in CC.


    i took the translation from gaudiya kantahara sloka book translated/published by kundali dasa

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  6. Western devottees from Iskcon background have been misled into thinking that raganuga bhakti means what they call "spontaneous devotional service" and hence they go years, decades, whole life even erroneously thinking that raganuga bhakti is a sadhya, not a sadhana.

    I don't know why Swami Maharaja never bothered to correct this misconception. Did he actually teach it?

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  7. Anon, yes the misconceptions are really intricate and deep-rooted; hopefully in the future more devotees will read Visvanatha Cakravartipad's Ragavartma Candrika and Madhurya Kadambini, plus the sadhana bhakti chapter (1.2) of Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu + the acaryas commentaries on it.

    ReplyDelete