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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Discussing Caitanya Caritamrita, part 6, and a concession to Jagat

Bhakta: "In Caitanya Caritāmṛta Antya 7.15, a quote from Laghu Bhāgavatāmṛta, the BBT edition says: 'Who other than Kṛṣṇa could give prema even to the surrendered souls?' Prof. Dimock speaks of 'even the creepers'.

Advaitadas: "The BBT version is wrong here - latāsvapi means 'even (api) to the creepers (latāsu). Besides, 'surrendered souls' doesn't make any sense - they would be the first ones to receive prema, and the word api (even) would be totally contradictory then. The verse thus loses both beauty and common sense."

Bhakta: "In Caitanya Caritāmṛta Antya 7.85-6, the BBT split the names Śyāmasundara and Yaśodā-nandana, while Prof. Dimock says that Śyāmasundara is an adjective of Yaśodā-nandana, and thus it is one name only.'

Advaitadas: "My Bengali edition of the Gauḍīya Maṭh also says it is two names, but it seems to me from the following Sanskrit śloka it could be one too."

Bhakta: "Should we read any significance into Yaśodā-nandana? After all, the Vallabha sampradāya (this chapter is all about defeating the Vallabhīs) worship Kṛṣṇa in vātsalya bhāva."

Advaitadas: "Who knows? The Vallabhis say that vātsalya rati is higher than mādhurya rati because the love of the mother is much more causeless than that of the lover. Lovers easily break up but the mother never gives up her child. We believe though that the taste and enjoyment of amorous love is greater. Regarding this chapter, it is often said that the meeting between Vallabha and Mahāprabhu did not take place as an historical fact. Perhaps Kṛṣṇadās Kavirāja created a story of this meeting just to have an opportunity to make a contrast between the Vallabhīs' philosophy and ours. (see my blog of October 7, 2007)."

Bhakta: "In verse 7.148 it is said that Vallabha Bhaṭṭa worshipped Kṛṣṇa in vātsalya bhāva, and practised the Bāl Gopāl mantra, but in the company of Gadādhar Paṇḍit his mind changed and he got attracted to Kiśora Gopāl Mantra (fit for madhura rasa upāsanā). In verse 7.171 it is said he received all he begged for from Gadādhara Paṇḍit. Does that refer to dīkṣā? That is what the BBT translation says."

Advaitadas: "It is not literally written there, but it seems the only logical conclusion to me, based on verses 148-9. It is however, almost unthinkable that this could have taken place, for by taking dīkṣā from a Gauḍīya giant like Gadādhara Paṇḍit, Vallabha would have become a Gauḍīya himself and therefore there would automatically be no more Vallabha Sampradaya. He would have just folded his own sampradāya, but that never happened. In this way this entire chapter remains very problematic."

Bhakta: "I heard that when one Godhead appears in different forms at the same time (like Rāmānanda Rāy being both Arjun and Lalitā) one person is the soul and the others are characteristics, so there is actually only one main soul."

Advaitadas: "So many smart people are there with so many mundane conceptions. You cannot squeeze God into a small test-tube you know. advaitam acyutam anādim ananta rūpam (Brahma Saṁhitā 5.35) - "Kṛṣṇa is one, non dual entity, He is flawless, beginningless and has innumerable forms". So here you go - one and yet innumerable. Try to reconcile that with your pea brain. The Vedanta Sūtra says that the mere jīva can already assume 1,020 different siddha dehas, then what to speak of the Supreme?"

Bhakta: "Still in the same chapter, in a commentary, Prof. Dimock says that if a wife calls her husband by name it weakens the force of his/her prāṇa."

Advaitadas: "Ladies in India are usually not called by name, only by their husbands or fathers, in private, but that has something more to do with modesty and decorum rather than reducing the life air's force. It seems superstitious to me."

Bhakta: "In Caitanya Caritāmṛta Antya 13.37, Prof. Dimock translates that Mahāprabhu tells Jagadānanda Paṇḍit: ‘you cannot tolerate their activities’, while the BBT edition said you can not take up their activities’ (because you may misunderstand the secrets of rāga bhakti)."

Advaitadas: "Cannot tolerate their activities? That sounds strange. The BBT version ('you cannot take up') is closer to the original text loite nāribā. The reason why one should not be too close to the Vrajabāsīs is not explained in the text and Swāmījī's explanation could be one. Another one is handed in Rādhā-rasa Sudhānidhi (265) - Vrajabāsīs may appear to be sinful or cruel but still they must be held in reverence. Since sinful persons should not be associated with and yet Vrajabāsīs should be honored by birth, Mahāprabhu comes with this dual instruction to Jagadānanda Paṇḍit. kṛṣṇeti yasya giri tam manasādriyeta (Upadeśāmṛta) "Mentally honour whoever says the word Kṛṣṇa" - at the end of that verse Rūpa Goswāmī says whom we should actually really associate with - the bhajana vijña, the expert knowers of bhajana."

Bhakta: "In his commentary on this verse Prof. Dimock quotes Rādhā Govinda Nātha who says that the Vrajabāsīs are all siddha bhaktas and Jagadānanda Paṇḍit at that stage was not one and he should not stay with them because he will not understand the meaning of what they do. Their level is too high for them."

Advaitadas: "That is wrong. Vrajabāsīs deserve our respects by birth but are certainly not all siddha, it is hard to find any siddhas anywhere anyway. Nor is it right that Jagadānanda Pandit was not siddha. Rather it was the other way around - gaurāṅgera saṅgī-gaṇe, nitya-siddha kori māne - 'Consider Gaurāṅga's associates as nitya siddhas' (Narottam Thākur). Kavi Karṇapur has listed each associate of Mahāprabhu and revealed their identity in Kṛṣṇa's pastimes - they are not ordinary struggling sādhakas like us. Jagadānanda Paṇḍit (Queen Satyabhāmā) played the role of the devotee who did not qualify to live in Vraja full time, but that is just a lila, not reality. In verse 13.64 it is mentioned that he stayed in Vraja for 2 months, while Rūpa-Sanātan stayed on forever. But actually they are all nitya siddha. Most devotees should follow in the footsteps of Jagadānanda Paṇḍit and stay for a brief period only – very few are on the level of Rāpa-Sanātan. When Mahāprabhu spoke this verse to Jagadānanda Pandit, there was just a handful of Bengalis in Vraja, almost all inhabitants of Vraja were ethnic Brajabāsīs, unlike now, when perhaps 1 out of 4 people come from outside. If one wants to be sure of a successful full-time stay in Vraja, then attain stages of niṣṭhā, ruci or āsakti first. Śrīla Rūpa Goswāmī defines bhāva bhakti as prītis tad vasati sthale - love for living in Kṛṣṇa's abode and nāma gāne sadā ruci, having always taste for harināma. Ruci means appreciation and absorption and that will safeguard against all the māyā that immature full-time residents of Vraja tend to get into. In verse 13.39 Mahāprabhu says śīghro āsiho, na rohiho ciro-kāla,'Return swiftly, don't stay too long!' See my blog of May 3, 2006."

Bhakta: "In his commentary on this section Prof. Dimock even considers Sanātan Goswāmī 'not a siddha yet at this point'.

Advaitadas: 'Mundane scholars cannot understand the secrets of bhakti and therefore they do not have the proper respect either. They call Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu 'Caitanya' and Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmīpāda 'Rūpa'.

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As for my recent comments on Jagat’s blog of March 13 on Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu 3.5.2 – I discovered that Mukunda Dās Goswāmī, a secondary ācārya, in his comments on that verse, indeed does mention tapasvīs as being unfit for madhura rasa, but that might apply to māyāvādī sannyāsīs. So, although tapasvīs are indeed mentioned in that comment as being unfit, Rūpa Goswāmī certainly does not say either that one should think of oneself as Kṛṣṇa and another man’s wife as Rādhā, or, as not only Jagat, but several other persons known to me claim, that sexual indulgence helps in qualifying for madhura rasa. Again, the facts on the ground, our ācāryas having been topmost renunciates, simply refute that. Fact remains that Jagat should keep our ācāryas out of his sahajīya preaching agenda.

After writing this, I noted Jagat’s blog of March 23, which reacted to my blog about him. Two things about that, just on first sight. Jagat says -

But Advaita's quotation from Jiva Goswami is also incomplete. He and Vishwanath both say, "Nivritta means those who are have no taste for Bhagavan's madhurya rasa because they are unable to see any difference between it and material love." (nivRitteSu prAkRita-shRiGgAra-rasa-sama-dRiSTyA bhAgavatAd apy asmAd rasAd virakteSv anupayogitvAd ayogyatvAt)

That, however, is not juxtaposed to renunciation, and so this sāmya dṛṣṭi (mixing up) could as well apply to a person who has sex with another man’s wife instead of to a renunciant.

“If sex was for procreation, then Radha would be having babies all over the place.”

This is foolish of course. The gopīs’ not having babies is a part of a transcendental līlā. If they had babies it would destroy the free enjoyment of parakīya bhāva, which is of course the prerogative of Śrī Kṛṣṇa alone, not even Rām or Nārāyan, let alone Jagat and his friends.

As for the suggestion that there is some type of competition going on between Jagat and me – I think that the landslide majority of visitors to both our blogs are not only the same persons, I think they also fit firmly into the category of jijñāsu (B.Gītā 7.16), people who are just curious what we conjure up from śāstra. Neither one of us has any real followers or supporters.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Dādu


Thanks to Acyutānanda for sending me this photo of Śrī Ānanda Gopāl Goswāmī Prabhupāda, sitting next to Prāṇa-gopāl Goswāmī. Prāṇa Gopāl Goswāmi sits in the middle, front row, with Ānanda Gopāl Goswāmī further on in the front row, with long parted hair and brāhmin thread. On the other side of Prāṇa-gopāl Goswāmī sits Mādhava Dās bābājī. The picture is taken some time in the 1920s. It has been inserted into page 5 of the biography of Ānanda Gopāl Goswāmī too, on madangopal.com.

26 march 2009
Acyutānanda just sent this comment:
 "So, from left to right... (a certain) Kiśorī Dās Bābā (according to Gopāl Gosh), Kuñja Dās Bābājī of Keśī Ghāṭ, Śrī Mādhava Dās Bābā of Gopīnāth Bāg, Śrīpād Prāṇa Gopāl Gosvāmī, unknown sādhaka bābājī, Śrīpād Ānanda Gopāl Gosvāmī, and this last Bābājī, I have a separate photo of a bābājī that looks like him, but don't know the name at all...."

Discussing Caitanya Caritāmṛta, pt. 5

Bhakta: "Prof. Dimock translates Caitanya Caritāmṛta Antya 1.164, quoting from Vidagdha Mādhava, that the universe is like a couldron; but that is like a cooking pot."

Advaitadas: "Cooking pots are often round in India, unlike in the west where the walls are usually straight."

Bhakta: "In the next verse Kṛṣṇa's complexion is described as marakat, emerald, which is green. I thought Kṛṣṇa was blue?"

Advaitadas: "madhye maṇinam haimānāṁ mahā marakato yathā (SB 10.33.7) - When Kṛṣṇa is with the gopīs His blue complexion encounters their golden complexion. If you mix blue with yellow you get green."

Bhakta: "Prof Dimock translates verse 175 as 'the breasts of the demons' wives are like cuckoos."

Advaitadas: "Haha, no that is wrong. The word koka means Cakravāka, which is a kind of flamingo. Their curved necks resemble the globular shapes of womens' breasts. I think Prof. Dimock mistook the word koka (Cakravāka) for kokila (cuckoo)." There is no similarity at all between a cuckoo and a woman's breast."

Bhakta: "In Caitanya Caritāmṛta Antya 3.114-5, Haridās Thākur promises the prostitute that he will accept her. Is he lying to her or does he speak ambiguously? Can he insinuate anything spiritual in his promise?"

Advaitadas: "Yes indeed. He says tomā korimu aṅgīkāra, 'I will accept you' - as what - a lover or a disciple? That is the question. In the next verse he says 'nāma samāpta hole korimu ye tomāra mana' - 'When I finished my rounds I will do whatever is on your mind'. But what will be on her mind after hearing the pure devotee chant so much? Surely devotional service rather than sex? So here is some transcendental ambiguity."

Bhakta: "All right, but then in verse 3.126 Haridās says: "Tomorrow my vow will be complete and I will freely have intercourse with you."

Advaitadas: "The Bengali text says: svacchande tomāra saṅge hoibek saṅga - 'I will have free saṅga with you then.' Here too there can be two meanings. saṅga can mean intercourse or sat-saṅga. Haridās meant the latter but the prostitute mistook it to be the former, in both cases. In the previous line Haridās speaks of vrata bhaṅga, which normally means violating the vow of sannyāsa or brāhmacarya but in this case he means to say 'completing my vow of chanting so many crores of nāma. It is a very clever wordplay."

Bhakta: "In Caitanya Caritāmṛta Antya 3.140, it is said the prostitute shaved her head."

Advaitadas: "In Bengal widows or female sannyāsīs often shave their heads and wear white - in the rest of India widows also put on white but they keep their hair long."

Bhakta: 'What means carvaṇa upavāsa in the next verse?"

Advaitadas: "It means that if she didn't fast she would chew, but that indicates something really austere like soaked grains or plain vegetables or so - not that she went from feast to feast, eating laḍḍu-purī-khīr every day, like hosts of sādhus do in Vraja."

Bhakta: "In Caitanya Caritāmṛta Antya 5.20, a scene is depicted wherein Rāmānanda Rāy accepts the mood of a maidservant when he massages and dresses beautiful young dancing girls. Prof Dimock suggests in his comment that this scene may have been a forerunner of mañjarī bhāva sādhanā, though this is generally a mental practise. He explains the words āropana in the verse as the imposition of a natural feeling (svābhāvika dāsī-bhāva), which is a technical sahajīya word...."

Advaitadas: "Prof. Dimock wrote a book or two about sahajīyas (I haven't read them), he might have been specialized in the subject, and it is well known that sahajīyas try to superimpose or ascribe their own attitudes on our great ācāryas in order to gain acceptance and respectability. Perhaps Prof. Dimock takes this suggestion over into his Caitanya Caritāmṛta commentary here. Nowhere in the entire text of Caitanya Caritāmṛta is there any reference to any of the great ācāryas having been sahajīyas and indeed even the bona fide practise of mañjarī bhāva, which is indeed usually practised only mentally, is not mentioned in Caitanya Caritāmṛta. The latter may be because Kṛṣṇa dās Kavirāja meant this Caitanya Caritamrita for a broad public - it is chanted to everyone in many Bengali villages - and he wanted mañjarī bhāva to be kept reserved for the small elite that qualifies for it. He did discuss it in an earlier work of his, the Govinda Līlāmṛta, which is obviously meant for that more elite audience. Anyway, svābhāvika dāsī bhāva koren āropan means that although his dāsī bhāva is nitya siddha, he projects (āropaṇa) it on himself to give the right example to sādhakas like us."

Bhakta: "Prof. Dimock suggests that Rāmānanda Rāya takes the girls to be Rādhā but there are two girls in the story."

Advaitadas: "That either of the girls would be Rādhā is a bit far-fetched but of course if Rāmānanda Rāya would really be superimposing mañjarī bhāva here, at least one of them would have to be Rādhā. The other one could be her group leader, which is usually Viśākhā or Lalitā. Prof. Dimock's theory comes into trouble, though, if you consider that Kavi Karṇapūra identifies Rāmānanda Rāya with Lalitā sakhī. He would not be into mañjarī bhāva then but into sakhī bhāva, although the sakhīs do have a service attitude towards Śrī Rādhikā too."

Bhakta: "So if I wanted to serve Vaiṣṇavas the way Rāmānanda Rāy served these deva dāsīs, should I see these Vaiṣṇavas as Rādhārāṇī also?"

Advaitadas: "Well I have already suggested that Dimock's mañjarī bhāva interpretation may be a bit far-fetched anyway, and the morale of this story is not related to mañjarī bhāva per se, but to the purifying effect of faithfully accepting gopi-bhava, as is explained at the end of the story, when the final verse of Rāsa-līlā is quoted, which offers the benediction of swift liberation from carnal lust to the faithful hearer or reciter of the Rāsa-līlā. Because Rāmānanda Rāy accepted gopī bhāva he was able to render such intimate services to beautiful young girls without getting agitated. If you are male and render service to male Vaiṣṇavas then this is called sevā sādhaka rūpeṇa, external service, by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī. As I said mañjarī bhāva is usually practised mentally, not physically."

Bhakta: "In Caitanya Caritāmṛta Antya 6.256, Prof. Dimock says that 'sometimes he (Raghunātha Dās Goswāmī) fasts, and sometimes he chews lime.' In the BBT edition it is said 'he chews fried grains'.

Advaitadas: "Both are wrong - neither are mentioned in the Bengali verse, it just says carvaṇa, chewing. Especially the idea of lime is absurd. One noteworthy point here is that both the prostitute (converted by Brahmā Haridās) and Raghunātha Dās Goswāmī were said to 'kabhu carvaṇa', sometimes chew, which means that if they didnt fast altogether, they would drink buttermilk or so, and occasionally solid food. It is not that they regularly ate solid food."

Bhakta: "In Caitanya Caritāmṛta Antya 6.304, the word khājā is translated by Prof. Dimock as a flaky kind of pastry, and in the BBT edition it is sweetmeats."

Advaitadas: "It is both, its a sweet pastry, a puffed sweet cookie."

Bhakta: "In Caitanya Caritāmṛta Antya 6.309, Prof. Dimock says that Raghunāth Dās Goswāmī's observances were a row of stones."

Advaitadas: "Hahaha that sounds ridiculous. The Bengali text says pāṣāṇera rekhā - like lines carved in a stone. In other words, his vows were not under any negotiation. rekhā means line."

Bhakta: "In the following verse Prof. Dimock says 'from that time on he put no sweet thing on his tongue.' The BBT edition says 'he did not allow his tongue any sense gratification'."

Advaitadas: "Again here both are wrong. The verse says rasera sparśana, he did not allow his tongue any taste, period. Though sweet is considered the highest taste, salty savories are always very popular with everyone's tongues too."

Friday, March 20, 2009

Uttam Bhāgavats, adhikāra for mādhurya rasa and for punishment

Bhakta: “Devotees should surrender to Rādhā Kṛṣṇa. In what case surrender gets affected? For example devotees also do Saraswatī pūjā. Why?”

Advaitadas: This is mostly practised by ethnic Bengali devotees and is clearly taken over from the local Bengali custom, Sarasvatī Pūjā is immensely popular in Bengal. It is not mentioned in Haribhakti Vilāsa.”

Bhakta: “Devotees also do Piṇḍa-dāna (Offering food to ancestors/ Śrāddha). This comes in Karma Kāṇḍa section. So which Karma Kāṇḍa sections are included in bhakti and which are not?”

Advaitadas: “Mahāprabhu met Īśvara Puri while on a Piṇḍa-yātrā so it benefited Him. Advaita Prabhu also performed all Vedic rituals, yet He was responsible for Mahāprabhu's advent, too. The Pānḍavas followed all the rules of their caste and yet they were highly rated as pure devotees by Sanātan Goswāmī in the Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta. It is the overall attitude of surrender that counts. For devotees born outside of varṇāśrama there is no need to practise all this.”

Bhakta: “Devotees go to doctors for health, while surrender means depending on Śrī Rādhā Kṛṣṇa for everything.”

Advaitadas: “Unless you studied medicine you need to see a doctor when you get sick. śarīram ādyaṁ khalu dharma sādhanam - the first priority in bhajan is a healthy body. How can you meditate and serve if you are sick? All this is part of surrender.”

Bhakta: "In Caitanya Caritāmṛta it is said sarvatra hoy tār iṣṭadeva sphūrti - the uttam bhāgavat sees Kṛṣṇa everywhere.”

Advaitadas: "It is important to look inside the consciousness of the uttam bhāgavat with the stethoscope of Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda, in his commentary on the uttam adhikārī- verse (Bhāgavat 11.2.45):

atra paśyed iti tathā darśana-yogyataiva vivakṣitā, na tu tathā darśanasya sārva-kālikatā .

“The fact that he sees Kṛṣṇa does not mean he sees Him all the time, but that he is qualified to see Kṛṣṇa. (Otherwise how could he lecture, manage so many śiṣyas and festivals etc.?)”

tathātve nārada-vyāsa-śukādāv apy avyāptiḥ syān, nahi te sarvadaiva sarvatra bhagavantaṁ paśyanti, kintu tad-didṛkṣādhikya evātas tad-darśanautkaṇṭhyam atyadhikaṁ yadā vardhate, tadaiva kāmukāḥ kāminī-mayam iti nyāyena sarva-jagad eva bhagavan-mayaṁ paśyet | tathaiva ātmavan manyate jagad iti nyāyena sarva-bhūtāny eva premautkaṇṭhya-vyākulāny eva paśyed iti jñeyam.

"Even if this is so, one should not think that it would not apply to personalities like Nārada, Vyāsa, Śuka etc. They always see the Lord but this happens on account of the eagerness to see. When the eagerness to see Him increases then, just as the lusty men see the whole world filled with women, they similarly see the whole world filled with Bhagavān, as the saying goes: 'One thinks the whole world to be just like oneself'. They also see all living beings as being agitated with loving eagerness."

atra dṛśer jñānārthatve vyākhyāte bhagavataḥ sarva-bhūtādheyatvādhāratva-jñānavataḥ śāstrajña-mātrasyaiva bhāgavatottamatvaṁ syād iti tan na vyākhyātam

"The seeing here means knowledge. However, one should not interpret it in such a way that only jñānīs who are knowers of śāstra and know that Bhagavān is the foundation of the whole creation are uttama-bhāgavatas."

[With many thanks to my friend Kṛṣṇadas for assisting in the translation]

Other current issues-

Jagat is back with a bang, and at once begins to twist Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī's teachings again. He writes in his blog of March 13:

"At the heart of the problem is how Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa līlā, or madhura rasa, which is said to be "inappropriate for people following the nivṛtti mārga" (nivṛttānupayogitvāt) is in fact appropriate for the pravṛtti-mārga, and how the particular sādhanas of sahajīyaism are consistent with the sādhanas of yoga described in the Gītā."

In their commentaries on that Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu-verse (3.5.2), Jīva Goswāmī and Visvanatha Cakravarti clearly say that nivRtta refers to those who have no taste for mādhurya rasa, not to renunciates - asmād rasād virakteṣvanupayogitvād ayogyatvāt. In the commentaries there is nothing said about renunciates at all. I have made this point earlier, in my blog of December 16, 2006 and perhaps even more often. Perhaps Jagat has overlooked that or perhaps he simply doesn't want to admit it. His interpretation of that verse is not just wrong, it is highly irresponsible because it could lead to the conclusion that the more illicit sex one has, the more one qualifies for madhura rasa. At any rate, if renunciation would disqualify someone from madhura rasa, then why the very authors of those books, Rūpa, Sanātana, Viśvanatha etc., were so renounced? Any reasonable person will easily see the folly in Jagat's reasoning.

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In his exquisite commentary on Śrīmad Bhāgavata Skandha 10, chapter 35, Śrī Prabhupād Rādhābinod Goswāmī provides rasik interpretations of 'aiśvarya' tags of Kṛṣṇa. Wherever Kṛṣṇa is named Devaki-nandan it can be read as Yaśodā-nandana, as in Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī's Krama Sandarbha: devakī-śabdenātra śrī yaśodaiva sādaraṁ prastūyate. vraja-rājatvāt deva eva devakaḥ śrī nandaḥ  tasya patnī devakīti  "Devakī is a name of Yaśodā used here in a respectful manner. Because he is the king of Vraja Nanda can be called Deva, or Devaka and thus his wife can be called Devakī." And when Kṛṣṇa is named Yadupati, it can be considered Gopa-pati. In the Skanda Purana, when Balarāma comes to Vraja from Yadupura, he tells the cowherds: yādave'pi sarveṣu bhavanto mama ballabhāḥ  "Of all the Yādavas you are most dear to Me."

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I am watching the 94-episode Hindi Mahābhārata again on Youtube, and found a scene there that confirms my blog of April 19, 2006, in which I made the point that ignorance is an excuse and non-Vedic people can and will not be judged on Vedic measures. At the time some devotees asked me for evidence, and here it is. Princes Yudhiṣṭhira and Duryodhana were both tested in their skills as future monarchs. Four murderers were brought to court and when asked for his judgement, Duryodhana sentenced them all to death. Yudhiṣṭhira, however, asked for the caste of the 4 culprits. Duryodhana mocked him, saying: “Four judgements for one crime?” On Yudhiṣṭhira’s request the culprits revealed themselves as a śūdra, a vaiśya, a kṣatriya and a brāhmin. Yudhiṣṭhira sentenced the śūdra to 4 years, the vaiśya to 8 years, the kṣatriya to 16 years and the brāhmin to 32 years because they were punishable according to their level of knowledge and culture.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Further discussions on Caitanya Caritāmṛta and Stavamālā

ŚRĪLA RŪPA GOSWĀMĪ'S STAVAMĀLĀ

Bhakta: "In one English translation of Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī's Tribhaṅgī cchanda, verse 2, Kṛṣṇa's nails are said to be red, tāmra nakham. Are His nails painted with lac or so?"

Advaitadas: "I cannot remember any descriptions in the Gosvāmīs books of Kṛṣṇa's servants anointing His nails with lac. Besides, tāmra means copper colour, not red. It must be their natural colour."

Bhakta: "In his single Stavamālā-verse viracaya mayi daṇḍa, Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī says that like a Cāṭak-bird he will tolerate the thunderbolt as long as he can get the rain. But I don't think the Cāṭak-bird likes the thunderbolt. Does a devotee relish punishment?"

Advaitadas: "This verse is like a commentary on the final verse of Śikṣāṣṭakam, āśliṣya vā padaratam. Punishment is another matter. Advaita Prabhu offended Mahāprabhu by preaching Jnana just to receive Mahāprabhu's attention, even if that would mean getting beaten up by Him. After two times Mahāprabhu told Him not to do it again because it would be harmful to His followers. Advaita Prabhu actually lost disciples to this type of preaching, but He was willing to pay that price just to get Mahāprabhu's attention somehow. Eagerness is what is stressed here. Just like Bilvamaṅgal - he hurt himself badly and almost drowned in his eagerness to meet the courtesan Cintāmaṇi. Returning to punishment, that takes place in the spiritual world as well - look at Vilāpa Kusumāñjali verse 95, where Tulasī gets thrashed for even a slight mistake, and she says māro, dhoro, jāy koro, tomār caran chere āmi kothāy jābo? "Kick me or embrace Me, whatever You do, where shall I go other than to Your lotus-feet?" Eagerness and camatkāra, astonishment, increases all the time in the spiritual sky - vibhur api kalayann sadāti vṛddhim."
(Dāna-keli Kaumudī 1)

Bhakta: "In Mukunda Muktāvali, verse 5, the translator says that Kṛṣṇa carries the Śārṅga bow. But isn't that Vaikuṇṭha/Dwārkā apparel?"

Advaitadas: "This may be just a name of Kṛṣṇa, just as He is also called Cakrī and so. Śārṅgī means archer in Sanskrit. It could mean flower-archer, as in Kām-gāyatrī's Puṣpa-bāṇa. There is always a rasik fix to all these names you know. The Sanskrit dictionary also says it can be a horn-player, and of course Kṛṣṇa's bugle horn is an item of His mādhurya."

Bhakta: "What could be a rasika explanation of Cakrī then?"

Advaitadas: "Rādhākuṇḍa's Pandit Vaiṣṇava Pada Bābājī gave a nice one, see my blog of October 10, 2005. Another one can be that Kṛṣṇa spins around like a disc out of enchantment with Śrī Rādhikā, as we can read in Vilāpa Kusumāñjali 38 - cakravad bhramayatam mura-śatrum." Expert rasiks say that names like Murāri, Kaṁsa-śatru etc. are used only to show that Kṛṣṇa's heroic behaviour impresses and thus attracts the girls of Vraja."

Bhakta: "In verse 23 of the same Mukunda Muktāvali, the English translator says: "Please develop love for Lord Hari's splendid toenails."

Advaitadas: "This is not right. Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī says here nata śaraṇe hari caraṇe - Bow down and surrender to Hari's feet. The nails are merely an item of these feet."

Bhakta: "The translation only speaks of the toenails, not of the feet at all."

Advaitadas: "That is clearly wrong - the words hari-caraṇe are clearly there."

Bhakta: "The translator says: "Oh friend who is busy hurrying about...."

Advaitadas: "That is also wrong. The text and both the Bengali flowing and padya-translations put that in the imperative case, 'O friend, please quickly do the bhajan of Hari-Charan."

Bhakta: "In verse 29, Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī says that the universe is in Kṛṣṇa's tummy. Isn't this aiśvarya?"

Advaitadas: "There is no book so rasik or it will contain some aiśvarya. Perhaps the ācāryas inserted these images to create a contrast. After all, light shines brighter in the dark than in the light. So also mādhurya becomes sweeter when placed in contrast with aiśvarya."


PROF. DIMOCK'S EDITION OF ŚRĪ CAITANYA CARITĀMṚTA:

Bhakta: "In Caitanya Caritāmṛta Madhya 22.181, a quotation from Lalita Mādhava, Prof. Dimock translates the verse as Kṛṣṇa saying : 'Displaying My duality of abhīra līlā (cowherd pastimes)..."

Advaitadas: "That is clearly wrong - the word dvaitam here refers to the 'second' form of Kṛṣṇa. This verse describes how Kṛṣṇa watches a drama on His own pastimes in Vraja performed by Gandharvas in Mathurā. The second form is Kṛṣṇa's original form in Vraja, the 'first' one is Vasudeva of Mathurā, who watches the drama."

Bhakta: "In Caitanya Caritāmṛta Madhya 20.196, among the Viṣṇu-murtis one Govinda is mentioned, but I thought that Govinda was the original Kṛṣṇa in Goloka."

Advaitadas: "Govinda is also a name of Nārāyaṇa, as is Hari, Kṛṣṇa and Mādhava. Look at the second line of that verse: 'e anya govinda - nahe vrajendra-nandana' "This is another Govinda, not the son of Nanda Mahārāja (the sweet Kṛṣṇa in Goloka)."

Bhakta: 'Another Kṛṣṇa in Vaikuṇṭha? But isn't that the name and form of the original God who has the 4 types of sweetnesses (of the flute, His form, His pastimes and His love)?"

Advaitadas: "No, they are forms of Nārāyaṇa who happen to have the same name as Kṛṣṇa in Goloka. The name Kṛṣṇa can be explained in so many different ways. Each name of the Lord has an aiśvarya- and a mādhurya-reading. There is also Mādhava in Vaikuntha, which can mean the Lord of Lakṣmī (aiśvarya) or the reveller in Spring (mādhurya). So Mādhava is also both in Vaikuṇṭha and in Goloka."

Bhakta: "Then if Govinda is in Vaikuṇṭha too, does that mean Nārāyaṇa does something with cows too?"

Advaitadas: "go means a million things - it means cows, senses, earth, rays (of light), milk, flesh, the sun, water, the eye, the sky, a billion and speech. Take your pick."

Bhakta: "What if Nārāyaṇa wants a change and starts tending cows too?"

Advaitadas: 'Wanting a change would indicate boredom and boredom is a sign of lack of ānanda - there is no question of a lack of ānanda in any corner of the spiritual world - it would mean it was not the abode of sac cid ānanda, and that is wholly unacceptable. sat also means durable, not just existence. Everything is durable in the spiritual sky. Apart from the exemplary pastime in Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta of Nārāyaṇa herding cows just to make Gopakumāra feel at ease, which is purely an example in a textbook on devotional mellows, rather than a concrete eternal pastime, there is no mentioning of Nārāyaṇa herding cows in Vaikuṇṭha. Such mundane conceptions, that siddhas or the svarūpa śakti will have a change of mind in the spiritual sky, lie at the cradle of apasiddhāntas and speculations like fall-vāda, too."

Bhakta: 'What about naimittika līlā (occasional pastimes like Kṛṣṇa's birthday and Diwālī) then?"

Advaitadas: 'That they are occasional doesn't mean they are performed out of boredom. They exist for the fulfillment of nara-līlā (sweet, human-like pastimes). And since everything in the spiritual sky is eternal, these pastimes are, too. "

Bhakta: "If Nārāyan can have such mādhurya names, can Lakṣmī also sometimes be called Rādhā? After all, the consort of Nṛsiṁha is Nṛsiṁhī and the consort of Varāha is Varāhī."

Advaitadas: 'We should be careful not to look beyond and beside śāstra. I know of no Lakṣmī who is named Rādhā."

Bhakta: "In Caitanya Caritāmṛta Antya 3.71, it is said that all moving and nonmoving beings danced and sang in Mahāprabhu's saṅkīrtan. Do trees and plants have feelings just like us?"

Advaitadas: "I don't think they feel quite as much as we do, but yes, in his Bhāgavat-commentary (10.35.9) Prabhupāda Rādhā-binod Goswāmī quotes Manu saying: anta-saṁjñā bhavanty ete sukha-duḥkha samanvitā  'The least conscious creatures (like trees and plants) are aware of happiness and distress." This shows that all the symptoms that are shown in the Bhāgavat of trees dripping honey, cows getting stunned with tears in their eyes etc. when Kṛṣṇa plays His flute are not exaggerations or hyperboles of glorification."

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Gaura Pūrṇimā 2009 - Discussing Caitanya Caritāmṛta - part 3

On the occasion of Śrīman Mahāprabhu's advent day, the third part of the Dimock- Caitanya Caritāmṛta discussions:

Bhakta: "In Madhya 16.239 Mahāprabhu speaks of appropriate enjoyment without attachment. I thought we were not supposed to enjoy at all."

Advaitadas: "This verse is an exact translation of Rūpa Gosvāmī's famous yukta vairāgya verse (Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu 1.2.255). There it also says yathārham upayuñjitaḥ means 'appropriate enjoyment'. We enjoy in relation with Kṛṣṇa - nirbandha kṛṣṇa sambandhe . As we have discussed before in connection with the Queens of Dwārakā, they have a desire to enjoy, but only in relation to Kṛṣṇa (krsna sambandhe). We love our spouses, but only to create devotee-children and we enjoy foods but only those offered to Kṛṣṇa. Artificial deliberate renunciation is rejected in the following verse of Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu - thinking sense objects to be material, those who desire liberation practise dry renunciation. This does not only apply to impersonalists but also to a class of devotees, the ārta, the materially frustrated who want to become free from miseries."

Bhakta: "Such enjoyment is not karma miśrita bhakti?"

Advaitadas: "Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu deals with only pure bhakti, as jñāna- and karma miśrita bhakti have been rejected right at the very start - jñāna karmādyanāvṛtam (1.1.11), instead it is anukūlyena kṛṣṇānuśilanaṁ bhaktir uttamā - Devotion only for Kṛṣṇa's pleasure. Miśrita bhakti is out of the question in the Goswāmīs' books."

Bhakta: "Prof. Dimock translates yathā-yogya bhuñjo as 'enjoy as if appropriate.'

Advaitadas: "That's not a good translation - it sounds like he promotes enjoyment itself."

Bhakta: "Prof. Dimock says in Caitanya Caritāmṛta Madhya 18.18 that Harideva is on the western petal of Vraja as Nārāyan, as part of the meditative maṇḍala of the Yogapīṭh. I wonder how that can be as Nārāyan is an aiśvarya mūrti."

Advaitadas: "First of all everyone has their own conception of the Yogapīṭh - this is yet another more broad one, it is not seen like that by everyone.
Secondly, Nārāyan is just a title given to Harideva by the Vrajabāsīs who usually do not distinguish much between the aiśvarya and mādhurya sensitivities.
Thirdly, standing anywhere in the town of Govardhan is actually standing on top of Girirāj, whereas Mahāprabhu vowed He would not step with His feet on Girirāj. The town of Govardhan is an exception because wherever one is in that town one will be right on top of Girirāj. In this case it can simply not be avoided."

Bhakta: "In Caitanya Caritāmṛta, Madhya 18.184, when the Pathan soldiers thought that Mahāprabhu had been robbed by His associates He assured them that mṛgī vyādhite āmi kabhu hoy acetan 'Sometimes I faint of epilepsy'. In a footnote Prof. Dimock quotes Rādhā-govinda Nāth, speaking of mṛga-vyādhi, epilepsy, as the 'deer-disease' (literal translation of mṛgī vyādhi, ed.). Rādhā-Govinda Nāth refuses to consider the option that Mahāprabhu would lie but rather comes with this interpretation: Kṛṣṇa is here compared to mṛga, the deer (one deer species in India is called Kṛṣṇa-Sāra, ed.) and Rādhā is His hlādinī śakti, and thus mṛgī. Thus Mahāprabhu's mṛgī-illness is Rādhā's viraha fever that caused Caitanya's fainting. The mṛga is called thus because of his similarity to the stag in copulation."

Advaitadas: "Hm. It's a fascinating simile for sure, though most probably Mahāprabhu just did tell a white lie to get His companions off the hook."

Bhakta: "In Caitanya Caritāmṛta Madhya 21.41, which is a quotation from Brahma Saṁhitā 5.48, Prof. Dimock translates it as the universes coming from the pores of hair of Govinda and not of those of Mahaviṣṇu. Is that right?"

Advaitadas: "No that is wrong. No other translator has ever put it like that. The first yasya in the verse (in line 1) refers to Mahaviṣṇu being the breather, the second yasya (in line 3) to Govinda being the source of Mahaviṣṇu."

Bhakta: "In Caitanya Caritāmṛta Madhya 21.49, quoting Brahma Saṁhitā 10.43, Prof Dimock translates as Kṛṣṇa is in Goloka, and below it the places of the Devīs, the Maheśa-dham, as being the place of the Dwārakā-queens, Paravyom, being one with the place of the devīs and Haridhām."

Advaitadas: "No that is completely wrong. It is not devīs but devī, the world of māyā. That is the lowest of the worlds. Maheśa-dhāma is higher, then comes Hari-dhāma (Vaikuṇṭha), and then Goloka. Mahiṣī means 'queen', of Dwārakā, not Maheśa. In his ṭīkā Jīva Gosvāmī also distinguishes between them as vyutkrama, being in inverted order, and tal-lokānām ūrdhvordhva-bhāvitvam, the planets/realms here being mentioned from lower to higher. The following verses in Caitanya Caritāmṛta, 21.52-53, also confirm that devī dhāma is not the place of the queens but the material world."

Bhakta: "In the footnote Prof. Dimock quotes a comment on Caitanya Caritāmṛta by Viśvanātha Cakravartī, but I didn't know that he wrote a Caitanya Caritāmṛta commentary?"

Advaitadas: "Yes he did, though I believe it is not completed. It is the great pride of the Bengali Vaiṣṇavas that two Bengali texts have a Sanskrit commentary (Prema Bhakti Candrikā and Caitanya Caritāmṛta)."

Bhakta: "In Caitanya Caritāmṛta Madhya 22.62, Prof Dimock splits the two lines of the verse into separate issues - 'Faith means a firm belief' (line 1) and 'By performing Kṛṣṇa Bhakti one has performed all duties', whereas normally line 2 is the conclusion of line 1."

Advaitadas: "Yes that is wrong too. It is one issue here, and it is confirmed by the following verse from the 4th canto, which says that watering the roots automatically nourishes the rest of the tree."

Bhakta: "In Caitanya Caritāmṛta Madhya 23,61 (57 in my edition), is a description of udghūrṇa, in which the self is considered as Kṛṣṇa. I know one person who dreamed of him/herself as having the body of Kṛṣṇa."

Advaitadas: "We should beware of the sahajīya practise of ahaṅgropāsana, worshiping oneself as Kṛṣṇa. Thinking of oneself to be Kṛṣṇa here refers to the gopīs' stage of unmāda, as is described in the Bhāgavata 10.30.14-22, when the gopīs, while searching for Kṛṣṇa in the Rāsa-līlā, began to identify with Him. In his Sārārtha Darśinī commentary Viśvanātha Cakravartī explains that this is the stage of unmāda, divine madness. That confirms this Caitanya Caritāmṛta verse here, speaking of divyonmāda. The person who had this dream is very unlikely to be on that level. Besides, the Caitanya Caritāmṛta verse speaks of kṛṣṇa-jñāna, thinking oneself to be Kṛṣṇa, not assuming the body of Kṛṣṇa. sārūpya mukti, attaining the body of the Lord, is mostly practised in relation to Nārāyan, not with Kṛṣṇa, although the Gopāl Tāpanī Upaniṣad does speak of 'gopālo'ham', 'I am Kṛṣṇa'- Vaiṣṇavas don't practise that."

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Discussing Caitanya Caritāmṛta - part 2

Bhakta: "In Caitanya Caritāmṛta Madhya 9.98 it is said that that South Indian brahmin was illiterate but in verse 94 it is said that he read the Bhagavad Gītā's full 18 chapters."

Advaitadas: "The Bengali text 98 does not say illiterate, it says mūrkha, which means fool. How could an illiterate otherwise read the entire Bhagavad Gītā, as described just 4 verses earlier? That verse 94 speaks of aśuddha pore, he read it in an impure way, perhaps in the wrong meter or wrong pronunciation or so. Same for Gaurakiśora Dās Bābājī - if he was really illiterate then why did he carry a copy of Prem Bhakti Candrikā around his neck? The point is well taken of course, that intellect alone does not please Kṛṣṇa, only bhakti does, and thus sometimes hyperboles are created in certain stories, like the 'illiterate' brāhmin or the 'illiterate' Gaurakiśora to amplify this point. The brāhmin attained perfection by being attracted to the Śyāma complexioned Pārtha Sārathī-picture on the Bhagavad Gītā-cover, bas."

Bhakta: "Then, in Caitanya Caritāmṛta Madhya 12.146 it is described that, after His son Acyuta fainted in a kīrtan, Advaita Prabhu recited a Nṛsiṁha Mantra. I thought that you opposed Nṛsiṁha worship as non-mādhurya?"

Advaitadas: "What Advaita Prabhu did here was not worship but first aid. Trust Advaita Prabhu - He is Veda Pañcānana - the topmost Vedic scholar. This was a healing ritual, not kīrtan or worship. There is a rule and a mantra-fix for everything in the Vedic literature. For ritual and other non-bhajan purposes there is no harm in Nṛsiṁha-mantra. Sādhu Bābā had a Nṛsiṁha Kavaca on his arm too. For more on Nṛsiṁha- worship, see my blog of June 2, 2008."

Bhakta: "In Śrīmad Bhāgavat 10.14.7, quoted in Caitanya Caritāmṛta Madhya 21.11, Prof. Dimock says that the scientists are unable even to count the stars and dusts-pecks what to speak of Kṛṣṇa's qualities, but the BBT edition says the scientists may be able to count the stars etc."

Advaitadas: "Interestingly, instead of scientists Viśvanāth Cakravartī speaks of avatāras like Saṅkarṣaṇa in his commentary. But in any case, Viśvanātha says that the stars and dust-specks on earth can be counted but Kṛṣṇa's qualities cannot. So the BBT edition is right here."

Bhakta: "In Caitanya Caritāmṛta Madhya 14.134 Prof Dimock says the servant of Lakṣmī-devī beat the unconscious car of Jagannātha, but in the BBT edition it is said that the servants of Jagannātha were as if unconscious and they were beaten."

Advaitadas: "Here the BBT Edition is correct."

Bhakta: "Dimock based his translation on Rādhā-govinda Nāth's comment, that in later days the ritual changed to beating the cart instead."

Advaitadas: "That is all right, but then he should not superimpose the later practise on the practise during Mahāprabhu's time, because that is the subject of that verse. When I returned to Puri 5 years ago I found the Aitoṭā Garden had disappeared, sold to property developers to build a plot of shops there. So now should we scrap the picknick-in-Aitoṭā pastime from the Caitanya Caritāmṛta too?"

Bhakta: "In Caitanya Caritāmṛta Madhya 14.179 it is said that when Kṛṣṇa sees feelings of pride, desire, fear anger etc in Rādhikā's eyes and face He feels a happiness millions of times greater than during union. I thought that separation was higher than union?"

Advaitadas: "Union isn't contrasted with separation here, but with gestures and flirtation, which is more pleasant than union. It is mentioned in Ujjval Nīlamaṇi (15.253).-

vidagdhānāṁ mitho līlā-vilāsena yathā sukham
na tathā samprayogeṇa syād evaṁ rasikā viduḥ
"Clever lovers find that there is more pleasure in all the varieties of their mutual dealings than in sexual union per se. This is the conclusion of the knowers of rasa. "
Bhakta: "Some say that only the svarūpa śakti of Kṛṣṇa can assume unlimited siddha dehas."

Advaitadas: "My understanding of Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa's ṭīkā to Vedānta Sūtra 4.4.12 is that it is available to mukta jīvas too. In either case, it is not for me. Gurudeva gave me one and that's enough for me."

Bhakta: "In Caitanya Caritāmṛta Madhya 15, 86, in the story of the coconut touched by the dusty hand of the pūjārī, prof. Dimock says "Rāghava threw the fruit against the wall.", whereas the BBT edition said 'over the wall'.

Advaitadas: "It is over the wall, prācīra laṅghiyā. Apart from this being the right word in the verse, it would have made no sense if he smacked it against the wall. If he is so strict in sadācāra, why make the wall dirty by smacking a fruit against it, hahaha! But seriously - this extreme example of the dust of the door vs the coconut is to make a point that Vaiṣṇavas should be strict with sadācāra in general."

Bhakta: "But it is a waste of the expensive coconut. It is a poor country."

Advaitadas: "You bet some poor man on the other side of the wall found the coconut and ate or offered it. But your point is taken - the example given here is extreme both in the sense of strict purity and the value of the item which had to be thrown away, both to make the point that one should be strict in sadācāra."

Bhakta: In Caitanya Caritāmṛta Madhya 16.78 it is said that Puṇḍarīka gave re-initiation to Gadādhara. Dimock writes in his comment that Vidyānidhi gave him another iṣṭa mantra. It was also described in Caitanya Bhāgavata Antya 10.23."

Advaitadas: "The Caitanya Bhāgavat verse says that Gadādhara asked Mahāprabhu for re-initiation because he had spoiled his divine vision by leaking the mantra to some (obviously unqualified) person. Mahāprabhu, however, warned him (verse 25) that he would commit an offence to his upadeṣṭa (instructor, Puṇḍarīka in this case) if he would take re-initiation (even from Mahāprabhu Himself). There is no mentioning of Gadādhara getting a different mantra though, it was just re-initiation in the same mantra (punaḥ mantra dilo)."

Bhakta: "What means iṣṭa mantra and what is it?"

Advaitadas: "For Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas the iṣṭa mantra is the 18-syllable Gopāla-mantra. It was given to Brahmā at the time of creation by Lord Nārāyan. It is this mantra through which Gopa-kumār attained perfection in Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta and which is mentioned in Haribhakti Vilāsa as our dīkṣā-mantra. The Kāma-gāyatrī has been added because the ācāryas recognized Kṛṣṇa as the original Cupid in it. Nowadays there is a competition for disciples and the threshold for dīkṣā is lowered all the time."

Bhakta: "But shouldn't we be merciful to the fallen souls?"

Advaitadas: "Mercy comes in the form of harinām saṅkīrtan, not that all kinds of totally fallen and contaminated persons should be given dīkṣā and deities to worship. That comes only at a later stage. To the totally fallen you can reach out magnanimously with harinām saṅkīrtan or prasād. You can compare it with a business - if some product is not popular and will not sell you are a fool to invest in it - you will surely lose it. Similarly if a person has no sincere intention and no proper background, and is therefore unwilling and unable to follow the rules, giving dīkṣā to him/her is like investing in a sure loss."

Bhakta: "How could Gadādhara Pandit not recognize that person as potentially unqualified?"

Advaitadas: "It can be one of the many pastimes-of-instruction in Gaur-līlā, as a warning to aspirant Gurus to watch out, and not sell out. Every detail in Gaura-līlā is pregnant with significance. Of course since Gadādhara Pandit is an aṁśa of Śrījī Mahārāṇī he cannot really be affected or drained by a bad disciple, just like there is a pastime of Gaurāṅga described in Caitanya Bhāgavat in which He 'loses his ecstasy' during kīrtan in Śrīvāsāṅgana, due to the presence of an unqualified person. Mahāprabhu is Kṛṣṇa, the embodiment of bliss, and of course never really loses His bliss. These are clearly pastimes meant to teach us something."

Bhakta: "In Caitanya Caritāmṛta Madhya 17.55 Mahāprabhu saw every forest as Vṛndāvana and every mountain as Govardhana. Should we also see it like that?"

Advaitadas: "There is adhikāra-bheda between three different adhikārīs - what you describe here is the symptom of an uttam adhikārī - top class devotee (it is described in Śrīmad Bhāgavata 11.2.45). It cannot be imitated cheaply. The way Vṛndāvana has been urbanised and paved in the last 15 years its hard to recognize Vṛndāvana even in Vṛndāvana itself."

Bhakta: "What about bathing in Rādhākuṇḍa?"

Advaitadas: "I took 100s of baths in Rādhākuṇḍa between 1981 and 2004 but then I stopped after I heard from Sādhu Bābā's tīrtha guru Rādhācaran Deslā that Sādhu Bābā never bathed in Rādhākuṇḍa himself. Apart from that, my doctors have forbidden me to bathe in stagnant water because of my ear-problem. Sādhu Bābā did not want to touch the Kuṇḍa with his feet so he had himself showered with loṭās of Kuṇḍa-water instead. Some say that since the mañjarīs don't enter the water of Rādhākuṇḍa during Radha-Kṛṣṇa's midday pastimes in Rādhākuṇḍa, we should also not bathe in the sādhaka-body. The statements in the Gosvāmīs' books that a single bath in Rādhākuṇḍa will bestow a prema equal to that of Rādhikā on the bather (premāsmin bata rādhikeva labhate yasmin sakṛt snāna-kṛt) is obviously a hyperbole of glorification because Rādhikā's mādana mahābhāva is unrivalled and unattainable by anyone else. The prema which is available to us jīvas can be attained by bathing in Rādhākuṇḍa, be it that it is done in an offenseless manner."

Monday, March 02, 2009

Discussing Caitanya Caritāmṛta - part 1

One devotee bought a copy of Prof. E. Dimock's translation of and commentary on Caitanya Caritāmṛta and discussed it with me -

Bhakta: "It is said that Mahārāja Pratāparudra felt 'Without Mahāprabhu's sight I will leave this life' - what is the attitude of a devotee? In the Aitoṭā-garden he grasps the feet of Mahāprabhu. Shouldn't we be humble, wanting to act in such a way that Kṛṣṇa will want to see us instead of us wanting to see Him?"

Advaitadas: "In his commentary on Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu (1.3.1), Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī speaks of prāptyābhilāṣa, the desire to attain Kṛṣṇa, as a symptom of bhāva bhakti, and from Vilāpa Kusumāñjali and other books it is very clear that the devotee has no desire to live without Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. Wanting to act in such a way that Kṛṣṇa will want to see you does not contradict that. Jīva Gosvāmī speaks of prītyabhilāṣa, too, the desire to love Kṛṣṇa, in the same context. Study the 9 symptoms of bhāva bhakti in Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu. It is all characterized by an eagerness to see Kṛṣṇa - āśā-baddha samutkaṇṭhā."

Bhakta: "In Caitanya Caritāmṛta Madhya Līlā 4.120, Mādhavendra Puri was ashamed that as the offering was going on to Kṣīra Cora Gopīnātha, he wondered how it would taste so that he could offer it to his own deity Gopāl. Prof. Dimock says he was ashamed because he had the desire to beg, while the BBT edition says he had the desire to eat and taste the prasād."

Advaitadas: "Neither are right. The text says ayācita, which means without begging, just getting it by itself. Mādhavendra was ashamed because although he considered the food prasāda (ayācita kṣīra prasāda), and thus was not guilty of the offence of lusting over the bhoga, he should have waited until the offering was finished. His intention was purely devotional, perhaps after tasting he would ask the recipe from the cook, so that he could cook it himself for Gopāl."

Bhakta: "Then, in verse 127, Dimock says Gopīnāth left 'a piece' of sweet rice for Mādhavendra. But sweet rice is liquid isn't it?"

Advaitadas: "The verse says kṣīra eka rākhiyāchi, 'I left one kṣīra for the sannyāsī'. That obviously refers to a pot of kṣīra. You see, in the Sandarbhas Jīva Gosvāmī teaches that one needs to use one's common sense, when he explained that gaṅgāyāṁ ghoṣa, which literally means 'a settlement in the Ganges' obviously means 'a settlement on the bank of the Ganges'. Similarly here one needs to use one's common sense too - 'one kṣīra' obviously refers to one pot of kṣīra."

Bhakta: "In verse 128 Dimock says that Gopīnāth hid the sweet-rice behind his dhoṭī while the BBT version says He kept it behind the curtain."

Advaitadas: 'The verse says dhorār añcale. dhorā means dhoṭī, and añcale means the hem. So here Dimock is right. dhorā doesn't mean curtain. Curtain in Bengali is pordā or antaḥpaṭaḥ. How can you hide a pot behind the curtain while the pūjārī is himself behind the curtain as well? Ironically the illustration in the BBT edition does show the pot behind the dhoṭī."

Bhakta: "But a dhoṭī doesn't hang over the floor."

Advaitadas: "Oh yes it does. Many Indians, like rich merchants and big politicians, have these long dhoṭīs, the front part of which they usually keep up with their arm."

Bhakta: "Then in Madhya 5.1 it speaks about pratimā svarūpa - does that mean that the true form of the deity is the one that comes alive and starts moving?"

Advaitadas: "The deity is stone for the infidel and God Himself for the believer. According to one's level of devotion the deity reciprocates."

Bhakta: 'But there was an instance in India when a Gaṇeśa-deity came alive for a large audience; there must have been unbelievers among them as well. So its not all subjective."

Advaitadas: "I'm not so sure if there were so many unbelievers, considering that 99.99 % of Indians are believers. In any case, if God wants it He can manifest Himself also before the unbelievers, though that is rare - not everyone in Vraja was a devotee either when Kṛṣṇa was there."

Bhakta: "There is this verse in the Purāṇas - arce viṣṇau śila-dhir guruṣu nara-matir vaiṣṇave jāti-buddhi - 'Whoever considers the image to be a stone, the Guru to be a human being and the Vaiṣṇava to belong to a certain caste is of a hellish mentality."

Advaitadas: "Exactly. Just look at the words used in that text - dhī, buddhi and mati. Check these three words in the Sanskrit dictionary. - all these three words indicate an attitude, understanding, mentality, intention and opinion. It is clear that it speaks of a subjective attitude, not of objective facts. The same word 'dhī' is also mentioned in the Bhagavat in connection with the Guru - martyasad dhī śrutam tasya sarvam kuñjara śaucavat (7.15.26) - All is lost for he who has the false notion (a-sad-dhī) that the Guru is mortal."
Most deities in India are carved by Muslim sculptors - they obviously see them as objects of trade rather than God Himself. It is purely subjective. As soon as the image enters a temple for installment there is abhiṣekha, kīrtan, flowers etc.because in that society it is God Himself. After kīrtan in the temple, when attention shifts from the deities to daily matters, where are the deities? If you stand in the temple room speaking gossip, just inches away from the dieties, is God present in the image? ye yathā māṁ prapadyante tāṁs tathaiva bhajāmyahaṁ  (Bhagavad Gītā 4.11) "As I am approached so I shall worship them." The more love you have for the deity, the more God will be in the deity.

līlānukūleṣu janeṣu citteṣūtpanna bhāveṣu ca sādhakānām
evam vidham sarvam idam cakāsti svarūpataḥ prākṛtavat pareṣu

"All this can be seen in its real form (svarūpa) by those who are favorable to these pastimes and by practising devotees, but others see it as just a material place." (Govinda Līlāmṛta 7.119)

Kṛṣṇa lifted Govardhan Hill, which was and is not a contiguous whole, 7 miles long, at the age of 7 with his left little finger, for 7 days continuously. It didn't crumble or fall apart. acintya khalu ye bhāvāḥ na tāṁs tarkena yojayet - you should not argue about or rationalize inconceivable matters. There are matters out there which are way beyond our imagination."

Bhakta: "In the Caitanya Caritāmṛta (Madhya 8, 109 and 116) Prof. Dimock speaks of a hundred crore gopīs, while the BBT edition speaks of hundreds of thousands."

Advaitadas: "The Bengali text speaks of śata koṭi. koṭi is one crore or ten million, so here Dimock is right."

Bhakta: "In the same chapter it is said that the sakhīs have crores of times more pleasure when they united Rādhā with Kṛṣṇa than if they would have their own pastimes with Kṛṣṇa. Yet they also have their own agenda...."

Advaitadas: "You need to remember here that the gopīs all have samartha rati, unlike the Queens (samañjasa rati) and Kubjā (sādhāraṇī rati). This means that they don't just want to enjoy in relationship to Kṛṣṇa, like the others, but they only want to give pleasure to Kṛṣṇa Himself. Regardless whether they are sakhīs or mañjarīs. There is no bad feelings between Rādhā's own sakhīs and Rādhā Herself, and even the 'bad feelings' between Rādhā and Candrāvalī's party are staged to give pleasure to Kṛṣṇa. Even in Kṛṣṇa's Dwārakā lila there was no bad feelings between Kunti and Mādrī, who shared the same husband."

Bhakta: 'In Caitanya Caritāmṛta Madhya 9, 28, prof. Dimock says: "The syllable Kṛṣ means ploughing, expressing the earth and ṇa expresses cessation."

Advaitadas: "This is another example of where mere Sanskrit knowledge leads you nowhere. You need to understand these texts with the guidance of senior Vaiṣṇavas. The verse instead means that Kṛṣṇa means the attractive one (kṛṣ is the root of ākarṣaka, the attractive one) and ṇa means 'ānandakārī', the joy-bringer. Prof. Dimock may have misread the word 'nirvṛtti' (meaning ānanda) for 'nivṛtti' (meaning cessation)."

Bhakta: "Of course Kṛṣṇa is wearing a plough, still....."

Advaitadas: "No He doesn't. That is Haladhara, Balarāma."

Bhakta: "In Caitanya Caritāmṛta Madhya 9.40 Prof. Dimock says that a hundred million lakhs of people came. That would be 10 to the 13th."

Advaitadas: 'The text says lakṣāyuta, which means 100,000 x 10,000. But however many that is, we have to pause here and ponder what this verse means. We were taught that Mahāprabhu converted all of South India to Vaiṣṇavism, but when later we meet South Indian devotees they will all tell you that Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism was totally unknown there until Gauḍīya Maṭh and Iskcon opened their temples there in the 20th century. Nevertheless, the statements of the ācāryas should not be taken lightly, much less be rejected. When a man tells his woman she is the most beautiful that is unlikely to be an objective statement, but for him that is a certain fact. Such statements have to be seen with the spectacles of love, even on the material level, let alone on the spiritual level, where God is like a crystal that reflects all colours that come close to it. God would not be the Absolute Truth if all descriptions would not apply to Him. So on the ground, historically, surely Mahāprabhu did not convert all of South India, but on the transcendental level of the ācāryas this is surely a fact. Then again there's the division between the opulent vision and the sweet vision of the bhāva-bhakta. The opulent seer would see Kṛṣṇa tending trillions of cows, the mādhurya bhakta will just see a few hundred at most, laukika sadbandhu-vat. māyāśritānām nara dārakena (Śrīmad Bhāgavata  10.12.11) - three types of persons see Kṛṣṇa as a human boy - māyāvādīs, materialists and rāgānugā bhaktas. The former two under the spell of mahā-māyā, the latter under the spell of Yogamāyā. To come from the lower māyā-conception to the higher māyā conception one first needs to go through the phase of realizing that Kṛṣṇa is God."

Bhakta: "In the Mahābhārat some demon, either Kaṁsa or Duryodhana, played down Kṛṣṇa's almight by comparing Govardhana Hill to a pebble (which Kṛṣṇa lifted) and the Kāliya snake to a mere water-snake."

Advaitadas: "That is obviously the spell of mahā-māyā. The cowherd boys would say the same thing, but then under the spell of Yogamāyā."

(To be continued.......)