Follow by Email

Monday, June 29, 2009

Discussion on Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa Gaṇoddeśa Dīpikā, pt.3

Radhakund Samskara June 2009

Radhakund Samskara (cleanup) of 1940

This is the 3rd of a 5-part review of the existing English translations of Śrī Rūpa Goswāmī's Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa Gaṇoddeśa Dīpikā -

1.185 This is a draw between Kuśakrath and Bhūmipati – raṅga-śālā literally means ‘music hall’, but I sympathise with Bhūmipati’s ‘She is also skilled in the arts of music and dancing,’ too.

1.186 The verse actually says Tuṅgavidyā’s sakhīs are the leaders of the jaladevīs, or water-goddesses (it remains unclear what they are). No translator did that well.

1.188 Bhūmipati says Indulekhā prepares golden threads, this should be ‘silken ropes’. Kuśakrath’s ‘weaving various kinds of cloth’ is also incorrect.

1.189 Kuśakrath’s in her hand should be on her arm (yad bhuje). Bhūmipati forgets the whole word.

1.190 Here the word pratyanantara appears, like pratyantara in 1.135. The Bengali translator says it is the anti-party. But would Tuṅgabhadrā be an opponent of Indulekhā? Both Bhūmipati and Kuśakrath also translate pratyanantara as neighbor.

1.193 Bhūmipati’s ‘Raṅgadevī is always intoxicated with the mood of awe and reverence.’ is wrong. Kuśakrath says “Raṅga-devī is always like a great ocean of coquettish words and gestures.” Also Bhūmipati’s ‘teasing’ is not there in the śloka. sadā + uttuṅga means ‘she is always lovingly proud’. (gaurava means unmatta in Bengali).

1.194 The word sandhi is explained by Kuśakrath as “patiently waiting for the enemy to make the next move.” While Bhūmipati says “she waits for the appropriate time before executing a service”. Both the Bengali translator and Bhūmipati say she is ‘especially expert in playing musical instruments’ but I cannot find that in the śloka.

1.195 Bhūmipati’s ‘painting and drawing’ is not very clear. Kuśakrath’s ‘perfumes and cosmetics’ is more to the point.

1.197 Raṅgadevī’s friends are overseeing animals like lions and the deer. The gopīs have extraordinary skills for village girls. This ‘overseeing animals’ may be a bit like a western queen that has so many titles but is not really engaged in any of these things practically. Kuśakrath’s “they are able to control the lions” is not really in the śloka – it just says adhyakṣa, they are in charge of them.

1.198 aṅga samvāhana means ‘massaging the body’, not ‘massaging the feet’ as Bhūmipati says.

1.199 Bhūmipati’s ‘conducting boat festivals’ is more accurate than Kuśakrath’s ‘she is an expert sailor’ (naukā khelane).

1.200 vahni vidya (fire-science) is translated by Bhūmipati as “she is accomplished in the matter of fireworks (this could mean yajña).”, while Kuśakrath says “she knows how to start fires and keep them burning”. vahni also means “animal that draws or bears along, a draught animal, horse, team; any one who conveys or is borne along (applied to a charioteer or rider, or to various gods)”. The word candrodaya means ‘moonrise’, Kuśakrath has it right. Bhūmipati simply says ‘at night’

1.201 It should be “playing ball” (geṇḍuka) instead of bell. Both Kuśakrath and Bhūmipati are wrong here.

1.202-3 chekeṣu means ‘among bees’. They are in charge of forest-birds and bees, not expert in the knowledge of, as Bhūmipati claims. They are not forest goddesses themselves, as Kuśakrath claims, but in charge of these goddesses (adhyakṣata). No śāstra mentions Sudevī being in charge of any Vanadevīs, because Vṛndā devī is in charge of them. I can not ascertain it from the śloka either way. The Bengali translator translates cheka as ‘literary works’ but both the dictionary and common sense tell me that it should be ‘bees’ which nicely juxtaposes with pakṣiṣu vanyeṣu – forest birds.

1.206 Piṇḍaka’s dress is copper coloured, not her complexion. Bhūmipati made this error.
Kuśakrath says of the last line: “When Lord Kṛṣṇa comes she embarrasses Him by attacking Him with many ferocious witty puns.” This is correct, while Bhūmipati’s “embarrassed Śrī Kṛṣṇa with insulting words when He came to take scented objects” is totally strange. Where he has the scented objects from in the śloka and what sense does it make?

1.207 Bhūmipati’s ‘very friendly’ is not in the śloka. Harimitra is a name, already mentioned, which should mean ‘friend of Viṣṇu’ in Vraja’s nara-līlā (human pastimes), because Kṛṣṇa is not known as God in Vraja. There is thus no need for a second mentioning of mitra. In the final sentence, both could be right in who brings whom to whom, because the target is not mentioned.

1.208 Kuśakrath forgets paṭaṁ dhṛtvā – Puṇḍarīka holds her cloth’

1.209 Both Bhūmipati and Kuśakrath have the word ‘peacock’ wrong. It is a peahen which has a different complexion from a peacock, it is lighter. kāṭhinya means ‘hardness’, this is missing in Kuśakrath’s translation. Perhaps he translated kāṭhinya with acid, but it should be ‘hardness’ instead. Mādhurya means sweetness. Bhūmipati is right on this. Bhūmipati is also right on sugar candy, which hard yet sweet.

1.210 Bhūmipati’s ‘ears’ is not in the text. Caṇḍa is not grave, but violent, Kuśakrath is right here.

1.212 Bhūmipati’s “In order to favor her own group, she expects Kṛṣṇa to commit offenses.” makes no sense. Kuśakrath’s “She likes to insult Kṛṣṇa for the amusement of her gopī-friends.” seems better.

1.213 Kuśakrath says of the last line: “She speaks to Lord Kṛṣṇa  describing Rādhārāṇī's jealous anger and advising Him to beg forgiveness from Her.”, while Bhūmipati says: “She flatters Śrī Rādhā on behalf of Śrī Kṛṣṇa  just to placate Śrī Rādhā's anger.” I disagree with both. I believe vaṣṭi gandharvikā mānaṁ yā hareś cāṭu kaṅkṣayā means ‘She is eager for Rādhā’s māna and desires Hari’s flattering words (desiring to see Hari flatter Her).”

1.214 Dhātri means nurse, as in the English term ‘nanny’. Ramaci’s cloth is parrot-colored [śukāṁśuka], which is, in Vraja-context, indeed green, as Bhūmipati says. He should still have mentioned ‘parrot’.

1.215 Kuśakrath writes again Ramaci in this verse, though it should be Mecakā gopī instead. The Bengali translator and Bhūmipati say ‘though there are none (faults in Kṛṣṇa)’, but I cannot find this in the text.

1.216 This is a very mysterious verse. sāgrahā vigrahādau syūḥ means they are very eager for vigraha (means isolation, division, separation, resolution and quarrel). Kuśakrath says “These older gopīs can argue with great stubbornness”, perhaps based on these words From the common sense point of view the ladies do not picknick themselves (ref. Bhūmipati translation), but serve in Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa’s picknick. On the other hand, old ladies don’t fit in youthful pastimes, except as chaperones, but how can there be chaperones in a secret love affair as this one? All translators fail to translate anugaḥ sadā, they are always following. Purogana may mean ‘singing before them’.

1.218 Kuśakrath’s “her braided hair is like the current of a river.” Should be ‘the hair is braided’, simply.

1.221 Bhūmipati is right, Kuśakrath is wrong. cūḍa here means Cūḍā-devī, not a series of crowns, since one can only wear one crown at the same time. Vali means ‘fold of skin due to old age’. It does not mean cūḍa + āvalī, but cūḍā + vali. Cūḍa here means Cūḍā-devī, otherwise she would be missing in the sequence of gopīs listed in 216-217. It is quite astonishing if old ladies would actually sing for Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa during Their love pastimes. This is not described either in any aṣṭakāla-līlā narration.

1.222 ardha jaratī is middle aged, not that half the body is old like Bhūmipati says. Kuśakrath ‘is not as old as the others’ is also wrong, there is no comparison given, and what means ‘ardha’ other than half-old, 50 or so.

1.225 Neither translator mentioned the word kalahāntaritā, Rādhā regrets having picked a quarrel with Kṛṣṇa and those dūtīs then approach Him on the indication of Lalitā.

1.226-227 Kuśakrath’s “With great effort they convince Him that His actual desire is to meet Rādhā again.“ does not make any sense. Why would Kṛṣṇa have to be convinced of that? Bhūmipati’s translation seems to be correct.

1.229 Bhūmipati’s ‘position and services’ is not correct. vāsaṁ vraje is clearly ‘residence in Vraja’.

1.230 Bhūmipati’s “Their love is of two kinds - even and uneven.” Should be explained – it means those who are partial or impartial to either Rādhā or Kṛṣṇa. Kuśakrath says sama and asama which may mean neutral or equipoised vs. partial, like different groups of gopīs' sama sneha asama sneha. This makes sense.

1.231 Kuśakrath fails to translate first half of the verse. It is there in Bhūmipati’s version. Bhūmipati’s “among the two” is not mentioned in the verse, though.

1.232 is explained in 249 which is a paribhāṣā of non-literalism – the numbers mentioned here are not real. Kuśakrath’s translation is totally different from Bhūmipati’s - he fails to mention or explain sama vaya, and eva ca seems to indicate that Bhūmipati is right that it concerns two groups and not one. nitya priyānām refers to the gopīs mentioned in the previous verse, not a comparison between the gopīs in this verse.

1.233 I suppose the thousands are followers of the original 8 mentioned in the beginning of the verse. These verses are mysterious, so Kuśakrath tries to explain by starting his translation with “The direct followers of the eight principal gopīs are counted in different ways.” Which is not really in these verses.

1.234 Kuśakrath fails to translate the word sādharmya, similarity. The thousands do not add up to the millions in the preceding verses, but that is covered by the explanation in verse 249-250.

1.235 Kuśakrath fails to explain api here, it seems Bhūmipati’s translation is better – “Although there are innumerable groups and circles of gopīs, they are counted as one because their ultimate goal is one”, though here again ‘ultimate goal’ is not in the verse.

1.237 Bhūmipati’s translation is the better one – Kuśakrath fails to mention sixty-four.

1.238 Both Bhūmipati and Kuśakrath miss the point, but I’m not sure I understand myself either. Of the aforementioned society there are again 40 groups named yūthas. In this way society can be divided in 500 parts. The second half of the śloka is: “Because of similarities in all sentiments this society is also mutually connected [samanvaya].”

1.239-246 I suppose these 64 sakhīs are referred to in verse 237.

1.247-248 These two lists of 8 sakhīs are different from the normal 8 sakhīs we know (Lalitā, Viśākhā, Citrā, Campakalatā etc.) and may therefore confuse Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava sādhakas. Perhaps Rūpa Goswāmī’s purpose of mentioning these alternative lists was to establish and prove Rādhā and Her friends as real, since many Sampradāyas, like the Madhvaites, do not accept the existence of Rādhārāṇī at all, let alone Her 8 sakhīs. After all, it is said about Rūpa Goswāmī: ‘śrī caitanya mano’bhīṣṭaṁ sthāpitaṁ yena bhū-tale’ – He established Śrī Caitanya’s wish on earth. Much of this may include preaching to outsiders.

1.249 The word avadhārana means ‘emphatic ascertainment’.

1.250 nāthayo means ‘Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa’ not just Kṛṣṇa. The language is quite different between Kuśakrath and Bhūmipati but the general point of gopīs being unlimited in number stands and that is important. dik darśana is the high numbers are just to create an impression of the huge nature of it all.

1.251 ‘The names’ as Bhūmipati says, is not mentioned in the verses. It could refer to the services as well, as Kuśakrath writes.

1.252 Kuśakrath’s translation is incomplete and rushed through. Bhūmipati does it correctly and completely.

Thus ends the review of part one. Part two starts in the next blog.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Māyāvādī-trees, Vaiṣṇava suicide, henna, bāla vivāha, Manu Saṁhitā, entering Vaikuṇṭha and why the demons attacked Brahmā.

The glorious appearance of Kankan Kund, June 23, 2009


Bhakta: "Caitanya Caritāmṛta (Madhya 8, 256) says māyāvādīs become trees in their next lives - how can that be the result of all their tapa? What about all the śāstras speaking of brahma līna (merging in Brahman)? Is that not possible or so if they all become trees?"

Advaitadas: "Sometimes you need to read these devotional books with the heart, not with the brains. Of course brahmavādīs don't find their siddhi in tree-bodies, the only thing that mattered to Kṛṣṇadās Kavirāj is that we Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas should not take this path of brahma jñāna, just as previously (October 7, 2007) we discussed Vallabhācārya's 'humiliations' at the hands of Mahāprabhu and His associates (or rather the pen of Kṛṣṇadās Kavirāja), in CC Antya 7. These may not be historical events perhaps, but may be just for preaching to the own flock, not to follow Vallabhācārya but Caitanya Mahāprabhu."

Bhakta: Should Vaiṣṇava ladies immolate themselves (commit Sati) after their husbands die?

Advaitadas: "Certainly not. Sati is not for Vaiṣṇavas. Pāṇḍu's widow Madrī was an exception, but she decided to do Satī after discussing it with her co-wife Kuntī, since a mother cannot abandon her small children like that. Much of the Mahābhārat is written for a karma-miśrita bhakta audience. For pure Vaiṣṇavas, Mahāprabhu forbade suicide (see CC Antya līlā chapter 4), since the devotee's body is a transcendental treasure (nṛ-deham ādyaṁ sulabham sudurlabham plavaṁ sukalpaṁ), and is meant for self realization, not self-immolation. Even ordinary śāstras forbid Sati for women with small children etc."

Bhakta: "Speaking of suicide, Mahāprabhu did welcome the suicide of Junior Haridās"

Advaitadas: "Yes but that was a completely different situation - this was to set the standard for those who want to enjoy the prestige of sannyāsa and still enjoy the material world."

Bhakta: "During Hindu/Vaiṣṇava weddings we see the bride's hands decorated with henna. What is the origin of this?"

Advaitadas: The origin is Arab perhaps, or Persian, but it is not Vedic. It has been unknowingly taken over by Hindus during the long Muslim-occupation of India. There is even a lake in Barsānā named Pili Pukur, of which the locals say it is a place where Rādhā's hands were decorated with henna. Henna is mentioned nowhere in śāstra, there is not even a Sanskrit word for it. Look all over Vilāpa Kusumāñjali, Saṅkalpa Kalpadruma, Govinda Līlāmṛta, Kṛṣṇa Bhāvanāmṛta, etc. etc. There is no mentioning of Rādhā's hands decorated with henna anywhere at all."

Bhakta: "Is child marriage taken over from the Muslims too?"

Advaitadas: No - bāla vivāha is mentioned in Manu Saṁhitā (9.88 and 9.94), but, like Satī, this too is not a Vaiṣṇava custom."

Bhakta: "Some say Manu Saṁhitā is only written to defeat the Buddhists and is not an ancient Vedic śāstra."

Advaitadas: "Buddhism is 2,500 years old, much older than Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism, and I don't exactly know the age of the Manu Saṁhitā. It is accepted as evidence in the Gosvāmīs' books, though, being often quoted in the Haribhakti Vilāsa. But things like Satī and Bāl Vivāha are not recommended there (in Haribhakti Vilāsa, that is)."

Bhakta: "In his blog Gaurav Mohnot quotes Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta 2.4.25-41, saying it describes how all the associates of lord Nārāyaṇa enter into Vaikuṇṭha. Does that not prove we fell down from the spiritual sky?"

Advaitadas: "The associates of Lord Nārāyaṇa are eternally so. They never enter Vaikuṇṭha - in these verses it is rather described that they enter the antaḥ pura (inner quarters) of the Lord. In verse 26 it is said that Nārāyaṇa 'returned to His own city' puraṁ praviśya - did Nārāyaṇa also fall down from the spiritual world then? No, pura means the city. He entered His city from elsewhere in Vaikuṇṭha, and so did His associates at the time. Sanātan Goswāmī writes in his ṭīkā to that verse that the associates entered the antaḥ pura, inner quarters of the Lord along with Him - pārṣadās te'ntaḥ-puraṁ praviṣṭas."

Bhakta: "Is the Bhāgavat-verse 3.20.23 condemning homosexuality?"

Advaitadas: The demons who approached Brahmā were not homosexual but, according to Śrīdhara Swāmī, ati-lolupān strī-lampaṭān 'Very greedy womanizers'. Brahmā's body-part was obviously female, not male. He was, after all, creating the whole world, and his body must have reflected the feminine half of the world as well."

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Discussion on Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa Gaṇoddeśā Dīpikā by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, part 2.

(Continued from the blog of June 3rd)

It is advisable to have copies of both Kuśakrath Dās’ and Bhūmipati Dās’ translations of the book to appreciate this review, as it would hugely increase the bulk of the blog if I would quote their entire texts here. Apologies for the inconvenience; it is worth the trouble, though, since this book is very important for those who wish to become acquainted with Rādhā Kṛṣṇa’s eternal associates. If I have erred or overlooked something in this part of the book I will either add it to the blog or comment on it later. I don’t think I would have the courage to translate this book myself – it is full of mysteries that mere cribbing in dictionaries won’t solve. Some issues may be solved only if Rūpa Goswāmī himself would come down to explain them or when we attain the spiritual sky.

Verse 1.118 The tilak is not natural but the yellow colour is. It is not mentioned in the Sanskrit text that Vidur has a loud voice. Bhūmipati fails to mention the tilak is yellow.

1.120 Bhūmipati forgets to mention that Durmada is proud.

1.128 The Bengali translator says of svīkṛtākhila bhāveyamsandhi-vigrahinī matā “Whether there’s a fight or meeting, she is always dedicated.” I don’t find this in either Kuśakrath’s or Bhūmipati’s translation. The word Daivata is not translated by Kuśakrath, Bhūmipati uses the word ‘accidentally’, the word actually is daivataḥ, providentially.

1.129 sakhi-dyutibhir āvṛtā  neither means “She is always covered by the emotions of other gopīs” [Bhūmipati] nor “The beauty of all the other gopīs appears to be conserved in the form of Lalitā-devī.” [Kuśakrath], it means ‘covered by the luster of the sakhīs’ – the Bengali translator has this right. Of vigrahe prauḍhivāde ca prativākyopapattisu - Bhūmipati says ‘she expertly takes care of the situation’, but Kuśakrath has a better translation, saying ‘she expertly speaks the most outrageous and arrogant replies’.

1.130 The Bengali translator says that Lalitā gives the proper insight to the sakhīs, eager as she is to establish vigraha (strife or division). When the time for sandhi (meeting) has come, she remains as if indifferent. Almost this entire text is missing in Bhūmipati’s cluster of verses (127-134). Kuśakrath has an entirely different translation: “When the arrogant gopīs pick a quarrel with Kṛṣṇa, she is in the forefront of the conflict. When Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa meet, she audaciously remains standing a little away from them.” I don’t see the word ‘audacious’ in the śloka.

1.131 The Bengali translator says that, intoxicated by eros (madana mohini), she (Lalitā?) makes the Kinnāra-teenage-girls play in the garden with flower-vines, betel-vines and Pūga-trees. (‘making them play’ is not mentioned in the śloka though) In the footnote he says that Kinnāra krīḍā is also a type of erotic play mentioned in the Kāma-śāstras. Kinnāras are normally celestial beings with human forms but horse-heads. Kuśakrath, however, claims that the garden itself is named Madana-mohinī. He does not mention the Kinnāra-kiśorīs.

1.135 Kuśakrath says they are favorable to Lalitā, but the Bengali translator and Bhūmipati say they are against her. No dictionary gives a translation of the word pratyantara, which is the clue to the whole question.

1.136 Bhūmipati says that Ratnaprabhā and Ratikalā are expert in the science of amorous pastimes. That is not in the śloka and, rightly so, not in the translation of Kuśakratha either. The Gaudiya Grantha Mandir edition of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa Gaṇoddeśa Dīpikā says ratikale, while my Bengali edition says rati-kāle, ‘at the time of love-making’ – so it could be just one girl, Ratnaprabhā, who is expert in rati, or two girls, Ratnaprabhā and Rati-kalā, who are just beautiful and qualified.

1.137-138 Bhūmipati fails to translate the items but just mentions the Sanskrit names. Kuśakrath does translate them in English. Bhūmipati and the Bengali translator say that “The shape and design of the flower decorations are in no way inferior to the shape and design of golden and jeweled ornaments.” I cannot find the word ‘inferior’ in the śloka. Kuśakrath’s translation seems better: “Just as these ornaments may be fashioned from precious jewels, gold or other materials, in the same way they may be made of flowers.”

1.139-140 Bhūmipati and the Bengali translator translate the word dhṛti with “It is bedecked with mystic perfection”. No such meaning can be found of the word dhṛti in the dictionary, however. Kuśakrath tries to solve the problem by saying dhṛti is a jewel, but such a meaning is also not found anywhere.

1.142 Puṣpapara are classified as separate ornaments by Kuśakrath, but Bhūmipati says it is a further explanation of the ornament described in the preceding verses.

1.144 The word āvali is not clear. Kuśakrath mentions nothing, and Bhūmipati says ‘down to the back’, the Bengali translator says ‘down to the belly’. It could be ā = down to + vali = three lines on the belly. Bhūmipati’s ‘various colours’ is not really there.

1.146 Kuśakrath is wrong, it not a ‘hollow gold post’, Bhūmipati is right, tāla-patra is ‘palm-leaf’.

1.149 According to the dictionary Rājīva could mean ‘blue lotus flower’, as mentioned by Kuśakrath. This is not in the text of Bhūmipati. Kuśakrath’s Bhṛṅgikā may refer to bees or to a flower of that name, Aconitum Ferox.

1.150 Kuśakratha says the karṇa-veṣṭana covers the ears, Bhūmipati says it surrounds it. It could mean either but I believe here it means surrounding.

1.151 Kuśakrath’s translation is correct, Bhūmipati’s is not.

1.152 Kuśakrath’s translation is definitely incorrect and incomplete, but the verse is so difficult that I don’t know how it actually should be. I think pretty much the way Bhūmipati translated it, though he seems to have forgotten that the flowers of the middle portion are coloured like the four raised parts (tad varṇa-puṣpakair).

1.154 Bhūmipati forgot to mention that the sashes have 5 different kinds of flowers.

1.155 Kaṭaka is ‘different vine-strings containing stalks and buds of flowers’. More or less the way Bhūmipati says it.

1.157 Bhūmipati adds the names Catuḥ Śṛṅgī and Puṣpa Śṛṅgāra to the flower-shoes called Haṁsaka.

1.158 Bhūmipati forgets the word ‘kaṇṭha-lambi’, ‘begins from the neck’; Kuśakrath included it. Bhūmipati says ‘kinds of flowers’, this should be ‘colours’ instead. Bhūmipati forgets sauṣṭhavena, ‘artistically’, Kuśakratha includes it. The word ‘vinyāsa’ means that these items are placed on the blouse, not that the kañculī is itself made of flowers. It seems both Bhūmipati and Kuśakrath are wrong here (can a lady’s blouse be made just of flowers??)

1.160 Kuśakrath calls the Aśoka flowers ‘small bells’ for unclear reasons.

1.161 Bhūmipati mentions ‘mango’, but I can’t find that in the śloka. The word śuci is not mentioned by either Bhūmipati or Kuśakrath, śuci vāpa means woven (vāpa) with a needle (sūci). Bhūmipati at least says ‘woven’, Kuśakrath says nothing at all. Bhūmipati fails to mention that the mallis (jasmines) are suspended, but Kuśakrath mentions it. Bhūmipati says it is used for many different purposes, but this is not in the text.

1.162 Both Kuśakrath and Bhūmipati forgot the word nava, the lotus flowers are fresh. Kuśakrath called both ulloca and candrātapa ‘awning’. I think that should be OK, because the difference seems to be between the flower decorations only.

1.163 The pillars are made of reeds, the whole house is covered with various or wonderful flowers. The four khaṇḍis (this almost certainly means ‘latticed walls’) are made of various flowers. This is called a veśma. Nowadays this is called a Phul Bāṅglā, or ‘flower bungalow’. Many prominent temples in Braja build flower bungalows for their dieties in the summer, with Camelī, Yūthī and other types of summer (jasmine-type) flowers. (See image on top of the blog)

1.165 Kuśakrath says ‘Viśākhā is talkative (Loquacious)’, but this cannot be found in the śloka. Bhūmipati and Kuśakrath have differing opinions – Kuśakrath translates navato bhadrā as ‘although she is more exalted than these younger gopīs’ but I think that is grammatically impossible, it should have been navebhyo. Bhūmipati’s translation is more likely here – ‘she is youthful and auspicious’. Bhūmipati’s ‘management’ is strange. Perhaps Kuśakrath translated this as “she is the perfect counsellor of the divine couple “ Kuśakrath’s translation of the last lines of 165 is better and more elaborate: “She is expert at all aspects of amorous diplomacy and she knows all the arts of how to conciliate an angered lover, how to bribe him and how to quarrel with him.” Bhūmipati’s “consoling Śrī-Śrī Rādhā Kṛṣṇa when They feel separation from one another” is incomplete and incorrect.

1.166 +176 ‘she knows many languages’ – it beats me which languages these are. ‘Knowing many languages’ may be a mahāpuruṣa lakṣaṇa, indication of a great person. Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu says that Kṛṣṇa also knows many languages; this may be a standard glorification.

1.166 It is unclear if the skills described here are Viśākhā’s or her assistant Raṅgāvalī’s, it seems to me the latter is the case.

1.168-9 Bhūmipati fails to translate prasūna vṛkṣeṣu, the flowering trees, but instead just says ‘different places where Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa are going to meet.” He also fails to mention they are appointed by the vana-devīs to do so (vanadevyadhikṛtāḥ).

1.172 Neither Kuśakrath nor Bhūmipati mention the word ‘parīkṣā’, she is expert in testing six flavours. Kuśakrath lumps in cooking with śuddhi śāstra, but the word ‘ca’ (‘and’) indicates two topics in this line. No translator explains the meaning of śuddhi śāstra, also not the Bengali translator. śuddhi means ritualistic or purity, like smṛti. It COULD mean cookbooks.

1.175 Bhūmipati’s translation here is more elaborate and complete than Kuśakrath’s.

1.176 Kuśakrath’s “Citrā-devī can read between the lines of books and letters written in many different languages” is more accurate than Bhūmipati’s “She is expert in the art of writing.” Bhūmipati also forgets to translate ‘dṛṣṭi mātrāt – “simply by seeing she knows the substance of milk and honey”.

1.177 Both Kuśakrath and Bhūmipati forgot tan madhyormi vinirmitau, “she makes waves in these glass vessels”. Kuśakrath’s ‘protecting’ animals is not in the śloka, just animals (paśu-vrāta).

1.178 Both Bhūmipati and the Bengali translator say Citrā is expert in making arrows, but I can not find that in the śloka. Kuśakrath’s ‘gardening’ is too vague – vṛkṣopacāra śāstre pāṭava really means she is expert in the scriptures on attending to trees’.

1.180 Kuśakrath’s word ‘collect’ is not there in the śloka. Bhūmipati forgets to translate hīnānāṁ kusumādibhiḥ - They are expert in, or in charge of, different herbs that have no flowers. Kuśakratha, though, says: “There are other gopīs who mostly collect transcendental herbs and medicinal creepers from the forest and do not collect flowers or anything else.” Flowerless, however, seems to be an adjective of the herbs here.

1.182 Bhūmipati is probably right – Kṛṣṇa has faith in Tuṅgavidyā, not vice versa as Kuśakrath says, though both meanings could apply.

1.183 mārga gīta is a ‘high style’ of singing, as opposed to ‘vulgar’, according to the Cologne Lexicon. Kuśakrath translates mārga gīta as a style of singing, but Bhūmipati does not mention any adjective to the singing.

1.184 Bhūmipati says that Mañjumedhā’s group makes alliances between opposing groups, Kuśakrath says just between Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. It is not clear from the Sanskrit either way.

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

Monday, June 15, 2009

Lord Advaita Ācārya and the wicked Brāhmin of Mathurā

As part of a new series of illustrations, here is Kusum Sarovara in the 1950s. Thanks to Acyuta for the pics.

This is a story about Advaita Acarya in the Bhakti Ratnakara (5.174-196), which I overlooked and thus forgot to include in my book ‘The Glories of Sri Advaita Acarya’. Raghava Pandit narrates this story to Srinivasacarya:


1. LORD ADVAITA ĀCĀRYA AND THE WICKED BRAHMIN OF MATHURĀ

This is a story about Advaita Ācārya in the Bhakti Ratnākara (5.174-196), which I overlooked and thus forgot to include in my book ‘The Glories of Śrī Advaita Ācārya’. Rāghava Pandit narrates this story to Śrīnivāsācārya:

tīrtha paryaṭana kāle advaita gosāi; dekhi’ mathurāra śobhā chilā ei ṭhāi
mathurāya anudeśī eka viprādhama; vaiṣṇave nindaye sadā – e tāra niyama
paṇḍitābhimānī duṣṭa sakala prakāre; mathurāra śiṣṭa loka kāṁpe tāra ḍare

“When Advaita Ācārya was on pilgrimage He came here to admire the beauty of Mathurā. A fallen brahmin who lived there was always criticizing Vaiṣṇavas – it was his regular habit. He was very proud of his learning and wicked in all respects. The gentle people of Mathurā trembled of fear of him.”

eke dina prabhu advaitera sannidhāne; koroye vaiṣṇava nindā duḥsaha śravaṇe
śuni advaitera krodhāveśa atiśaya; kāṁpe oṣṭhādhara, rakta varṇa netra-dvaya
mahā-darpa koriyā kohoye bār bāra; ‘ore re pāṣaṇḍa! tora nāhiko nistāra
cakra loiyā hāte ei dekho vidyamāna; tora muṇḍa kāṭiyā koribo khān khān

“One day he criticized Vaiṣṇavas in a way that was impossible to tolerate, in Advaita Prabhu’s presence. When Advaita heard it He was overcome with great anger divine. With trembling lips and reddened eyes He said time and again in a greatly challenging way: “O you atheist! There is no redemption for you! Look here at the disk in My hand – I will slice your head of with it!”

eto kohiyāi prabhu caturbhuja hoilā; dekhi’ viprādhama bhoye kāṁpite lāgilā
kara-jor koriyā kohoye bār bār; ‘ye ucit daṇḍa prabhu koroho āmār’
duḥsaṅga prayukta mora buddhi-nāśa hoilo; nā jāni vaiṣṇava-tattve aparādh koilo
koinu aparādha yoto saṁkhyā nāhi tār; mo heno pāṣaṇḍa prabhu koroho uddhār

‘Saying this, Advaita Prabhu assumed a four-armed form, seeing which the brahmin began to tremble of fear.  Folding his hands, he said time and again, ‘O Lord, punish me as You deem fit! My intelligence was destroyed through bad company – not knowing the facts about Vaiṣṇavas I committed offences. There is no limit to the number of offences I committed – O Lord, please redeem a godless heretic like me!”

eto kohi’ viprādhama koroye rodana; caturbhuja mūrti prabhu koilā samvaraṇa
dekhiyā viprera daśā dayā hoilo mane; anugraha kori’ kohe madhura vacane

“Saying this, the fallen brahmin wept and the Lord withdrew His four-armed form. When He saw the condition of the brahmin, Advaita Prabhu became compassionate and mercifully spoke these sweet words:

koilā aparādha mahā-naraka bhuñjite; ebe ye kohiye tāhā koro sāvahite
āpanāke sāparādha hoiyā sarva-kṣaṇa; sarva tyāga kori’ koro nāma-saṅkīrtana
prāṇa-paṇa kori’ santoṣibā vaiṣṇavere; sadā sāvadhāna ho’bā vaiṣṇavera dvāre
bhakti aṅga yājanete niyukta hoibe; dekhile ye mūrti tāhā gopane rākhibe

You committed offences so you should suffer a terrible hell, so listen carefully now to what I will say – you have been offensive all along, now give all this up and engage in nāma saṅkīrtan. Stake your life in the effort of pleasing the Vaiṣṇavas and always deal with them carefully. Engage in the different limbs of devotional practise, and don’t tell anyone of the form of mine you have just seen.”

aiche koto kohi’ prabhu gelen bhramaṇe; vipra mahā-matta hoilā śrī nāma-kīrtane
mathurāy vaiṣṇavera ghare ghare giyā; koroye rodan mahā-dainya prakāśiyā

“Saying this much, Advaita Prabhu continued His pilgrimage, while the brahmin went mad in the ecstasy of harinām saṁkīrtan. Weeping he went from door to door, seeing all the Vaiṣṇavas of Mathurā, showing great humility.”

dekhiyā viprera ceṣṭā vaiṣṇava sakala; prasanna hoiyā cinte viprera maṅgala
keho kohe – akasmāt āścarya dekhiye; keho kohe – āchaye kāraṇa nivediye
mathurāya āsi eka tairthika brāhmaṇa; chilen gopane – tār tejo sūrya-sama
vicārinu – se īśvara manuṣya ākāra; tār anugrahe vipra hoilo e prakāra

“When the resident Vaiṣṇavas saw the brahmin’s behaviour they were very pleased and thought of his welfare. Someone said -  “What an amazing sudden (change) I saw!” Another one said: “I tell you how this happened – one brahmin pilgrim came to Mathurā. Although He tried to conceal Himself He shone like the sun. I now realize that He was God in a human form – it is by His mercy only that this brahmin changed like this.”


This text is also added to the existing file of my Bhakti Ratnakara translations, at the linktab 'Literature' on my website madangopal.com.

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.

p.55
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.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Discussing Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa Gaṇoddeś Dīpikā p.1



There are currently two English translations available of Śrīla Rūpa Goswāmī's 'Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa Gaṇoddeśa Dīpikā' (a guidebook to all the associates of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa) - one by the late Kuśakrath Dās and one by Bhūmipati Dās. Initially I discussed Bhūmipati's work with one devotee but I decided to review Kuśakratha's with it too, as I used it to crosscheck Bhūmipati's, along with, of course, Rūpa Goswāmī's original text and a Bengali translation by an unknown person (I lost the front pages of my 1985 Bengali booklet). Bhūmipati's translation seems to be based on the Bengali translation I have. To some the following may seem like nitpicking, but since this deals with all the details of our eternal destination the information cannot be detailed enough.

In the opening verse Kuśakratha says 'and is surrounded by His devotees.' in regard to Mahāprabhu, but it actually applies to Gurudeva (gurupada-dvandvam bhakta-vṛnda samanvitaṁ).

In verse 1.3 Kuśakratha writes: "The celebrated personal associates of the King and Queen of Vrndavana are briefly but truthfully described ..." But the verse means 'This is briefly described by the sādhus (satā) with anurāga (ratyā)..." The word is satā (sādhus), not satya (truthfully).

Bhakta: 'In verse 1.6 it is said that the family of Kṛṣṇa consists of cowherds, artists and brāhmaṇas. How can that be? I thought Kṛṣṇa's family are Vaiśyas only?"

Advaitadas: "The word used in this text is parivāra, which usually means 'family' indeed. But one needs to apply some common sense here. The Cologne Sanskrit Lexicon glosses parivāra as 'dependents' and 'followers' too - I think the best word to use here is 'community'. Kuśakratha describes the third group just as 'others', though Rūpa Goswāmī speaks of bahiṣṭha, which are described later in verse 1.12.

In 1.7 Kuśakratha fails to mention gopa-ballaba, they are cowherds.

In verse 1.8 Bhūmipati says they 'earn their livelihood by dealing in milk products', but milk products are not mentioned, it is a jump to conclusion. go-vṛtti is any livelihood with cows.

Verse 1.9 says 'buffaloes and cows', but Kuśakratha forgets cows. Bhūmipati says their surname is Ghoṣa, but he forgot the word ādi, so they can have other surnames too. Bhūmipati says 'at present they are highly degraded', but the text says pūrvato, which means 'compared to the previous', that is, the vaiśyas, they became (gatā) inferior (in due course of time).”

In Kuśakratha's 1.10 'garjaras' should be 'gurjaras'

The Bahisthas in Kuśakratha's translation of 1.12 are not traders, they make a living (upajīvi) as artists (kāravaḥ). Bhūmipati fails to include 'upajīvi' or livelihood. Kuśakratha says '5 kinds of family members', which should be 'associates'.

In 1.13 Bhūmipati again mistakes 'associates' for 'family'. This makes no sense - how can all these people, with all different professions, be direct relatives of Kṛṣṇa? Bhūmipati calling class 7 ‘elderly people’, is wrong. It should be 'friends' instead. Elderly people are already class nr.1, it would be double. The whole group is mānya or respectable, although mānya is mentioned in the middle of the 8 classes.

In Kuśakratha's 1.21 'Sūrya kuñja' is in the Bengali translation 'Sūrya Kuṇḍa'.

In Kuśakratha's translation of 1.23, the beard is neither 'toasted' nor 'roasted'. It is just sesame.

In verse 1.25 droṇa svarūpa means the perfection Droṇa attained by merging with Nanda Mahārāja. This verse is about Nanda Mahārāja only and all names here apply to him only. Ānakadundubhi means drums were beaten in his praise, which not only applies to Vasudeva but also to Nanda.

In Kuśakratha's translation of 1.28 nāti-sthūla refers not to the size of Yaśodā, but it means she is neither too fat nor too skinny. Her hair is not long, but half-long (kincid-dīrgha). mecaka the colour of her hair could be either grey or black, it is likely to be grey because Yaśodā is a bit older when Kṛṣṇa is 16.

In 1.31, Kuśakratha failed to mention that Rohiṇi is Kṛṣṇa's 'elder mother' (bṛhad ambā, elder co-wife of one's mother). Bhūmipati does mention it, but he fails to mention that she is a rising flood of ānanda.

1.33 Bhakta: “Upananda is the first one or Sannanda?”

Advaitadas: “Adya means first and first on the list of 1.32 is Upananda.”

Bhakta: Is he pink (as Kuśakratha says) or white/bluish/reddish (as Bhūmipati says)?”

Advaitadas: “Rūpa Goswāmī says sitāruṇa, which means white/red, a mixture of which makes pink. There is no precedent for mixed complexions among the associates of Kṛṣṇa.”

Bhakta: "In verse 1.36 Bhūmipati says that Sunanda's wife has two colours of body - one is blue and one is light red. How is that possible?"

Advaitadas: "No, the dress has two colours, blue lotus and red - kuvalayārakta celā - celā means garment. Her complexion is one, blue lotus - kuvalaya-chaviḥ. chavi means complexion."

Bhakta: "Then, next in that verse, it is said that the colour of Nandana is that of a peacock. So that should be a mixed complexion then."

Advaitadas: "The word used here is śitikaṇṭha, which means peacock but usually refers to the colour of its neck (kaṇṭha) which is a deep azure, cerulean blue, colour. So he too has a single complexion."

Bhakta: "In verse 1.38 someone is described as having 'disorderly teeth'. How is that possible in the spiritual world – isn’t everyone perfectly beautiful there?"

Advaitadas: 'Yes but it will be perfectly beautiful in the context of nara-līlā, with seeming imperfections that will enhance the beauty and the charm of the place. Kuśakratha translates it as 'beautiful teeth' but that doesn't seem to be right, as two other translators translate rikka as disorderly. Unfortunately I cannot find the word rikka in any Sanskrit dictionary so the meaning remains unclear."

1.45 Bhūmipati says Gola took birth in a brilliant (ujjvala) family of Braja and Kuśakratha says ‘in the family of (a cowherd named) Ujjvala’ It is not clear to me which one is right, I presume the first option.

1.46 Jaṭilā has the complexion of a crow, not a cow, as Kuśakratha states, because a cow has no fixed complexion and the word dhvaṅka in the text is unlikely to mean cow. Kuśakratha made a typo perhaps.”

Bhakta: “So it could be that Jaṭilā will be able to spot Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa in the dead of night without being noticed by Them because her black complexion will merge with the night.”

Advaitadas: “Hahaha yes indeed although such an anecdote was not given by the ācāryas.”

1.50 Kuśakratha forgets to mention that Sucāru is beautiful (śobhanah).

1.59 Bhakta: Kuśakratha here says: ‘Nanda Mahārāja and many other of the cowherds are descended from their families.’ But Bhūmipati says: They kept the names of their sons in such a way that future generations would name their children in a similar manner. That is why there are many persons having similar names in Vṛndāvana.”

Advaitadas: “The latter is more likely. Kuśakratha’s translation seems to be totally invisible in the Sanskrit text. Both translators have forgotten the word vāg-bandha, oral vow. They took a spoken vow of mutual friendship. Also the words nandādi are not translated by either – ‘that is why other cowherds may also be named Nanda (nandādi nāmānās tiṣṭhanty anye’pi ballabāḥ).”

1.64 The first group of brahmins is sheltered by the family, and are most probably Nanda's private family priests, the other group are quite likely community-priests.

1.67 Paurṇamāsī IS Yogamāyā, not an incarnation. Strictly speaking the word Yogamāyā is not in Rūpa Goswāmī's text.

1.79 is probably Kuśakratha's most famous/notorious error: Lalitā is 27 years old. Rūpa Goswāmī, however, says priya sakhyā bhavejjyeṣṭhā sapta-viṁśati vāsaraiḥ  'She is 27 days older than Her dear girlfriend (Rādhā).'

1.82 Viśākhā is called sama-vayaḥ (same aged) as Rādhā in Vilāp Kusumāñjali verse 99. Bhūmipati Dās says that Viśākhā is born almost at the same time as Rādhā, but Śrī Rūpa Goswāmī says in Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa Ganoddeśa Dīpikā (1.82) tatraiṣābhyuditā kṣaṇe "Viśākhā is born at the same moment as priya sakhi". Bhūmipati says that Viśākhā is equal to Lalitā in conduct and attributes, but Rāghunātha Dāsa Goswāmī says in the opening of Viśākhānandada Stotram 'bhāva nāma guṇādinam aikyat śrī rādhikaiva yā....śrī viśākhā prasīdatu' "Viśākhā has the same feelings, name and attributes as Śrī Rādhikā." This priya sakhī is not Lalitā, as Bhūmipati says, but Rādhā.

Bhakta: In verse 1.85 it is said: "The dress of Citrā sakhī resembles glass". Is that translation proper? Glass is transparent..."

Advaitadas: "Crystal and quartz are synonyms of the word kāca, too. In no way it should be seen that Citrā devī walks around in Vraj with a see-through dress on. It is shimmering silver-coloured, like crystal."

1.86 Bhakta: ‘How can Citrā’s kunkum complexion be fair too?”

Advaitadas: “The word gauri (golden) is there and kumkum as well, perhaps it means a golden complexion covered with rouge, which many ladies in the material world also apply and which is sometimes used to explain Rādhikā being named kuṅkumāṅgī in Vilāpa Kusumāñjali 49.”

1.89 Bhūmipati's 'Tuṅgavidyā’s dress is the color of blue mixed with yellow', is wrong because it is pāṇḍu, white. Kuśakratha says she is expert in dissimulation (hypocrisy)- I have no idea where he has this from.

1.90 Bhakta: “Kuśakratha says that Indulekhā has a tan complexion – that would be brown-yellowish?”

Advaitadas: ‘Rūpa Goswāmī says haritāla, which the dictionary says means yellowish green, but which I thought was canary/lemon yellow, Rūpa Goswāmī also adds the adjective ujjvala, bright, to haritāla.”

1.101 Bhakta: "Kuśakratha said that Hiraṇyaṅgī's complexion is the color of gold and she appears to be a temple or palace in which all beauty is conserved. She was born from the womb of Hariṇī-devī."

Advaitadas: "In his commentary on Ujjvala Nīlamaṇi [3.51], Śrī Viśvanāth mentions Hiraṇyaṅgī as an ādhunik gopī, who first appeared in Kṛṣṇa's manifest pastimes in the womb of a hariṇa, or doe – hariṇādyāḥ. Not from a mother named Harini, though that would make more sense. By the way, the Gaudiya Grantha Mandir version of this ṭīkā says 'hiraṇyādayaḥ' which is probably a typo, as hiraṇya means gold and not deer. That would not make any sense. Also, there is a dispute about whether Rūpa Goswāmī meant 'harid varṇa or hiraṇyābhā. Which means either Hiranyangi is golden [which makes sense, because Hiranyāṅgī means 'golden-bodied girl'], or she is green [harid varṇa]."

Bhakta: "In verse 1.115 Bhūmipati says that Kandarpa Mañjarī is married to Kṛṣṇa."

Advaitadas: "The translator jumped to conclusions here. It is simply said that her father thought that Kṛṣṇa would be the best match for her. harim varam should be fixed to hṛdi-kṛtya in the next line - Kuśakratha, unlike Bhūmipati, had it right here - 'Within his heart her father had decided that Hari would be her husband.' That is a long shot from her actually marrying Kṛṣṇa. Everybody knows that Kṛṣṇa did not marry anyone in Vraj. In Gopāl Campū it is explained that Kṛṣṇa could not marry in Vraj because He had not received the upanayan saṁskāra (sacred thread ceremony) yet, and only Vasudeva and Devakī could arrange that for Him as soon as He would return to Mathurā. It is just the attitude that counts. Like Kandarpa Mañjarī's father, Yaśodā also wanted a match between Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. It is described at the end of chapter 4 of Govinda Līlāmṛta. Of course it was impossible, too, because Rādhā was already married to Abhimanyu. But the desire was there still in Yaśodā."

Bhakta: 'In verse 1.118 it is said that the Vrajabāsī Vidur invites queens."

Advaitadas: "The text says mahiṣīr āhvayati. The word mahiṣī means both queen and female buffalo. Since there are buffaloes in Vraja but no queens it obviously means 'He calls in the buffaloes'.