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Sunday, March 28, 2010


Today I was sad to hear of the somewhat untimely passing away of my old friend Padmalochan Dās. In his own way Padma Locan Dās was, along with my good old friend Rādhāraman, among my first rāga vartma pradarśaks, indicators and instigators of rāga bhakti. In my first year in Vraja he was an important source of inspiration to me. In 1974 he was one of the first westerners to settle in Vraja-dhām, which was facilitated by his being British (he did not need a visa for India at that time). 'Settle in Vraja-dhāma' means not just living in the western environment of the Iskcon temple, but also regularly living long periods of time with the Vrajabāsī sādhus.

I first met him on the very first day I ever spent in Vraja, in ISKCON’s Kṛṣṇa Balarām Mandir, Vṛndāvana, on January 2, 1981. In my Indian diary of that day I wrote:

“A small man with a beard, wearing only a chain-kaupin, comes to stand in Raṅganātha’s balcony-door. It is Padma Locana, an ex-Hell's Angel, who says he has been living in Vṛndāvana for ten years. He knows everything about Vraja, has wandered around there many times, speaks the language. He is of course a very interesting person for someone who also wants to know everything about Vraja and who wants to live there for life (me). He looks just like a bābājī, someone who stays in all day to chant and read. It is said that he chants 64 rounds each day. He has his own Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa deities and is doing no service at all in the temple. Padma Locana explains that all holy places are present in Vraja and hence there is no need to go to any other holy place. This appeals to me. He also says: "Sleeping in Vraja is samādhi, all the food of Vraja is prasādam, every word is Kṛṣṇa-kathā and every step is an entire pilgrimage." Padma Locana and Asurāri (a devotee from Luxembourg who travelled in Vraj a lot with Padma) then jest: "All the food is prasāda, all scandals are līlās, every step is a dance and every word is a song."

The following entries are some sweet memories of my first days in Vraja under the guidance of Padmalocan:

"In February, 1981, I help Padma Locana noting down and typing out a booklet he is writing about Vraja (the first edition of his booklet ‘Cintāmaṇi Dhām’). Apparently he cannot write, because he must dictate his text to me. In this way I hear all the stories about Vraja, and my desire to live in Vraja for always grows. After receiving these nectarean dictates for a few afternoons Padma Locana asks me to type them out in the Samadhi-office downstairs. When I return to Padma Locana’s room, the entire text he dictated fits just on one sheet of paper! "Well", I snigger, "we can always make it a flyer!" Padma Locana: "Or we have to add many illustrations and headlines!" Asurāri makes a very crude map of Braj Mandal for the booklet. There is nothing else but that.” (Eventually some extra text and a handy lay-out solved Padma’s problem. Padma had all kinds of manuscripts which were - in those days - rare, like Padma Purāṇa and Garga Saṁhitā, which he may have used to add more text to the booklet)"

"In Padma Locana’s room first I read the 11th and 12th Canto of the Bhāgavatam, (in those days not yet published in Iskcon and a complete novelty for a western devotee), courtesy of Gita press, and the Viṣṇu Purāṇa by Prof. Horace Hayward Wilson. We joke about the "Hindoo Mythology" Prof.Wilson talks about."

In his room Padma Locana also shows me in the Caitanya Caritāmṛta that Mahāprabhu’s mission was only a secondary reason for His descent. The primary mission was to relish rasa.

Gaura purnima 1981, March 20, 1981 -
"Padma Locan has cooked his own feast and offered it to his own Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa deities (separately from the regular temple-offering). He takes a few big karatalas and starts singing. He ends the kīrtana by singing softly and tenderly ‘Kiśori....Kiśori...’ His face is unshaven and he keeps his eyes closed while singing with feeling. Such tenderness in a Hell’s Angel? Asurāri and me fall silent in awe."

"During the annual Māyāpur-festival in March, Padma Locana takes a bus with devotees out for Vraja darśana. He allows me to join for free (otherwise it’d be too expensive) if I distribute his booklet about Vraja, 'Cintāmaṇi-dhāma'. We go to:

Gokula, where Padma explains that according to Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava theology Kṛṣṇa was born in Gokula and that the Kṛṣṇa who was born in Mathurā merged with the Kṛṣṇa that was born in Gokula as the twin brother of Yogamāyā, after He was brought from Mathurā to Gokula by Vasudeva. We also see Brahmāṇḍa Ghāṭa, at the bank of the Yamunā, where Kṛṣṇa showed mother Yaśodā the universe.
At Rādhākuṇḍa Padma Locana tells us marvellous stories about Raghunātha Dās Gosvāmī, how he developed Rādhākuṇḍa and did his bhajan here.
At Kusuma Sarovara Padma Locana narrates that Nārada Muni got a gopī rūpa after bathing there.
At Nandagrām Padma Locana explains that this is the center of the 12 petals of the lotus of Vraja. When he leads us down we turn to the right, out of the village to Yaśodā kuṇḍa, where (in Padma Locana’s opinion) the original deities of Nanda Mahārāja are — Śrī Nārāyana and Śrī Nṛsiṁhadeva. They are both broken, are not served and are stored in a dilapidated shack. Then we turn the other direction to Pāvana Sarovara, a pretty long walk. The lake is beautiful, covered with many large trees. Here we see the bhajan kutir of Sanātan Gosvāmī.

This is common knowledge nowadays but in those days this was all news for western pilgrims to Vraja.

Sometimes I go with Kamala Carana, Padma Locana or Asurāri to Dāvānala-kunda, where Kṛṣṇa swallowed the forest fire, just opposite Kṛṣṇa-Balarām temple, through the field."

"Padma Locana teaches me: "The less the offended devotee retaliates, the heavier the reaction will be to the offense committed against him."

May 1981-
"Padma Locan’s room is a free walk-in – he does not lock the door when he leaves. Once I walk in and find a summary of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa's aṣṭa kāliya līlā, about which I read something back in Amsterdam. The 11 mūla sūtras of Govinda Līlāmṛta, written by Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī. Padma Locan pays Indubāi, a Vrajabāsī, to translate Govinda Līlāmṛta into English for him."

(We must remember this is 1981 - this was pioneering work - the first English translations of Govinda Līlāmṛta - like my own - were issued years later)

June 1981 -
"I get acquainted with the murderous heat of the Vraja summer and Padma Locan makes his joking version of a Brahma Saṁhitā verse – “Every step is a dance, every word is a song, and it is hot as hell!” One June-morning Padma Locana just plucks me out of my room and takes me along to the 64 samādhis, a garden opposite Vṛndāvana’s main Post Office, with countless samādhis of all the associates of Mahāprabhu, although most of the real samādhis are elsewhere.

In March 1982, during my second and last stay in Kṛṣṇa-Balarām Mandir, I went on another extended bus tour through Braja with Padmalocan.

May 1982:
"In my last days in Iskcon, when I was about to pack my bag and do full time bhajan in Vraja, Padma Locana warns me: "You can sit before the Tulasī-tree in Braj and chant the whole day, but if that is not the order of your superiors, then you will just get some sukṛti from it."

"Rādhākuṇḍa, October 27, 1983 – One afternoon I wake up (in Radhakund’s Radharaman Mandir) to see Padma Locan’s smiling face before me. He is amused when he sees my surprise. I say: "Hey Padma, long time no see!" He is accompanied by one Vrajendra-nandana from ISKCON. We go to the chatra (free food dispensary) of the Gopīnātha Mandir. Though we have to wait a long time for our roṭīs Padma Locan gives his roṭīs away (I can't remember if he gave them to me or to Vrajen though)."

"In Kartik 1986 Padmalocan arranges for a riksha to bring me from downtown Vṛndāvana to Kṛṣṇa Balarām Temple where he asks me to translate parts of Muktā Caritra and Stavamālā for him."

I occasionally met him in the Iskcon goshalla in the late 1980s for iṣṭagoṣṭhi, the last time I met him personally was in March 1991.

Padma Locan was one of the few westerners, like Sudevī [German] and Rāghavendra [Australian Rāmānandī Sādhu] who actually built up a real Indian aura. In 1990 I visited the Meera Manoranjan dharmshala at Rādhākund with him and the manager was checking every westerner for a passport, if they had residence permit, but he waived Padma, though he was English, saying 'Let him through, he is Indian....'

I will fondly remember Padmalocan for his great sense of humour - I don't know how often I rolled over the floor laughing with him. Actually his countenance was so filled with humour you had to laugh even just by seeing him approach.

Padmalocan’s health was always like a roller-coaster – sometimes you met him and he was just skin and bones, and the next time he looked like a pumpkin. He often had huge sores on his skin too. His health was weak and he had an austere constitution. I do not know what eventually led to his demise, but I’d like to say one final thanks to him for all the things I learned from him in my early days in Vraj and the sincere concern he had for me like an elder brother.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta Canto 2, chapter Six

Continuation of my review of Gopīprāṇadhan Dāsa's rendering of Sanātan Goswāmī's Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta-

2.6.55, purport: "Kṛṣṇa recognizing Sarūpa does not mean he fell from the spiritual world. Kṛṣṇa knows everybody anyway, be they conditioned or liberated. The original text of this purport just says prApta, Kṛṣṇa  attained Sarūpa, not that He re-cognized him, as in 're-aquaintance'. Even if the word recognized would have been there in some form in the ṭīkā, still, in the stage of sādhana the sādhaka has communicated so intensely with Kṛṣṇa that Kṛṣṇa would anyway recognize him upon arrival in the spiritual world.

2.6.62 When Sarūpa arrives in Goloka, the gopīs ask each other "ko'trāgato' 'Who has come here?" If Sarūpa had fallen from the spiritual world, they would have recognized him.
2.6.89 Gopīprāṇadhan says in the purport: "Gopa-kumāra has now assumed his original identity as Kṛṣṇa's friend Sarūpa." This 'original identity', indicating fall-vāda, or predetermined-vāda, is not mentioned in the ṭīkā of Sanātan Goswāmī.

2.6.92 and 88 seems to have inspired Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda in Saṅkalpa Kalpadruma and Kṛṣṇa Bhāvanāmṛta - there also, by Yogamāyā's arrangement, mother Yaśodā naively considers the gopīs/mañjarīs innocent little girls. Out of vātsalya prīti for Kṛṣṇa she also considers Kṛṣṇa to be still just a little boy. The mothers-in-law may not be aware that the gopīs also massage Kṛṣṇa when they are asked to come and cook for Him. Further dalliances of Kṛṣṇa with the gopīs are described in verses 140-145. They appear to be quite intimate for Yaśodā to allow it, especially as she knows, in Sanātan Goswāmī's words, that they can never marry Kṛṣṇa.

2.6.120 Sweet rice (pāyas, paramānna or kṣīra) is always eaten warm, never cold. There isn't even any way to make it ice cold without refrigerators, whose existence is not described in the spiritual sky. Perhaps in earthen or clay pots, but even then - no śāstra speaks of cold sweet rice nor have I come across it even once in my wanderings throughout all branches of the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava Sampradāya in India during the 1980s decade. In September 1983 I attended a feast in Nandagrām where the sweet rice was served so hot that it wasn't possible to touch it and by the time it had cooled off we were already expected to get up and wash our hands. Now that is an extreme example, but here it is clearly stated that sweet rice must be warm (koṣṇaṁ pāyasaṁ), not cold. This is not just a local, Vrajavāsī, custom either - in Bengal also I attended many feasts at many different places, and nowhere they were serving cold sweet rice. Some say that the morale of the famous story of the brahmin from Prāg-jyotiṣpur, who burned his finger on the hot sweet rice which he offered in his meditation (see Jīva Goswāmī's comment on Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu) is that sweet rice should be served cold, but that is not true - the morale is that the subtle world of meditation gets crystallized in the gross external world instead. The brahmin should have let it cool off a bit more of course, but it should have been offered warm still, not cold. Before putting the offering on the altar, the pūjārī should hold the cups with the preparations with his/her [right] hand, and if it is too hot to hold the pūjārī needs to wait before offering it, otherwise Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa-Guru will burn their delicate tongues and a sevāparādha will be made. One should never offer things one will not like to enjoy oneself and out of hunger or lust after the tasty dishes one should not rush through the offering. As for the habit of drinking boiling hot milk, the Bhagavad Gītā (17.9) says that atyuṣṇa, food that is very hot, is in the mode of passion (āhāra rajasasyeṣṭā). The end of the purport of verse 124 says: "Then the mixture is kept for some time in a vessel packed in ice." This is not in Sanātan Goswāmī's text - there is no such a thing as ice in pre-industrial pre-colonial Vraja. Kṛṣṇa is said here to start with eating sweets instead of salties - this is a Vrajabāsī custom even now. Who knows, they might have inherited it from Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself, all those years ago! Even now, when there are Bengalis coming to Vrajabāsī feasts they give a howl of disapproval when they start serving sweets first and then the subji.

2.6.125 "Kṛṣṇa’s lovely tongue, rising to His dawn-pink upper lip while He chewed, sported within the cheeks of His lotus face" indicates that Kṛṣṇa eats with His mouth open. This (smacking the lips, flopping) is considered indecent in the West, but many items of Western etiquette are not done in Vedic culture and vice versa. Belching and passing air actually releases the life-airs during the digestive process and are healthy practises that help the digestion. Of course passing air (adho vāyu-tyāga) is forbidden in the temple and obviously in front of Guru-Vaiṣṇava too, but in solitude it is a healthy practise.

2.6.131 'In the family of Rādhārāṇī's brother' does not mean becoming Her brother yourself. This is an indication that the story of Sarūpa is fictional, but even if one takes birth in Rādhārāṇī's family it could be at most as a grand nephew, grand niece, or in-law.

2.6.136  Balarāma, according to the ṭīkā, knows of Kṛṣṇa and the gopīs' pastimes - vicakṣaṇa iti kṛṣṇasya rahaḥ krīḍāvasaro'yam ityādikaṁ jānam.

2.6.137 The pastime of Kṛṣṇa taking a stroll with the gopīs is called cankramāna in Sanātan Goswāmī's ṭīkā, and just means that they take a walk, so that it is acceptable for Yaśodā. It may be a pastime that just provides some subtle gratification for Kṛṣṇa and the gopīs.

2.6.147-155 shows how naively Yaśodā observes Kṛṣṇa's dishevelled state caused by His dalliance with the gopīs. This was later included in aṣṭakālāya granthas like Govinda Līlāmṛta and Kṛṣṇa Bhāvanāmṛta.

2.6.161 Here Kṛṣṇa gets His lunch-box along in the morning. Later Kṛṣṇadās Kavirāja, in Govinda Līlāmṛta, revealed a higher level of service, which is to send the lunch along with Dhaniṣṭhā, so that the meal is more fresh when Kṛṣṇa eats it at noon. yāta yāma - food should be eaten within three hours after it is cooked. Gopīprāṇadhan fails to mention that Sanātan Goswāmī comments on this verse that alternatively, Yaśodā may give the lunch box to Śrīdāma to carry. That makes it also better that Dhaniṣṭhā comes and brings the lunch later in the day - Kṛṣṇa (or Śrīdāma) will not have to carry it along for hours.

2.6.174 Yaśodā did not literally hold a straw between her teeth - it is a figure of speech, that she spoke in a plaintive, yet pressing manner.

2.6.177 "And she [Yaśodā], crying, milk dripping from her breasts, stood right there, motionless like a painted picture,......" later appeared in Govinda-līlāmṛta.

2.6.179 The gopīs may be able to kiss Kṛṣṇa in secret in the village, not in the open, but in the fields there is really no hiding place to even do such a thing. "According to a well-known psychological principle, nivedya duḥkhaṁ sukhino bhavanti: “Unhappy people can regain their peace of mind by revealing the cause of their distress.” But here the gopīs couldn’t even express themselves, so they remained adrift in the vast ocean of their misery.

2.6.189 Nanda Mahārāja is sending out his messengers to find out if Kṛṣṇa is safe, so one may ask here: then how can Kṛṣṇa freely enjoy Himself? I suppose here too Kṛṣṇadās Kavirāja provided a higher level of service (in Govinda-līlāmṛta)  by Yaśodā sending bodyguards like Vijay along with Kṛṣṇa so that she will not have to worry about His safety. But whether messengers or bodyguards are sent along with Him, Kṛṣṇa sheds them all at noontime and finds a pretext to go and see Rādhikā at Rādhākuṇḍa, just with some trusted friends. These messengers of Nanda may of course also be secret cronies of Kṛṣṇa, who will not tell Nanda Mahārāja of His secret exploits in the forest.

2.6.190, commentary - "The gopīs spent the entire day fully absorbed in the saṅkīrtana of singing about the Rāsa-dance and other pastimes they had shared with Kṛṣṇa." Since this takes place in the village-limits they probably did not sing too loudly.

2.6.196 - Commentary: "For all its sweetness, Nanda Mahārāja’s town is more magnificent than Vaikuṇṭha." This juxtaposition is not made by Sanātan Goswāmī himself. In the verse translation also, Gopīprāṇadhan speaks of the 'opulence' of Nanda, which does not occur in the Bengali translation.

2.6.202-3 Śrī Rūpa Goswāmī's Lalita Mādhava-drama shows that Madhumaṅgala is present in Dwārkā too, where Rādhā is Satyabhāmā and Candrāvalī is Rukmiṇī. So it should be no surprise that all Vrajaloka have their expansions in Vaikuṇṭha. The demigods' shadow-forms of the Vrajabāsīs may be like Rati-Kāma, who are said to be in material bodies but having Lakṣmī-Nārāyan within them, as is described in the comments on SB 5.18.15.

2.6.209 Here Kaṁsa is said to be an eternal associate in Goloka but in Bhakti Sandarbha 286 (a quotation there from SB 10.14.61) it is said that the demons there are just reminders of Kṛṣṇa's manifest pastimes. So I suppose that the Kṛṣṇas in the material world share this knowledge with the Kṛṣṇas in the spiritual world.

2.6.264 That the stones in Vraja actually melt is proven in Nandagrām's Caran Pāhārī, where there is a footprint of Kṛṣṇa in a stone, that melted when Kṛṣṇa played His flute there.

2.6.359 Sarūpa calls himself a newcomer (nūtnānāṁ mādṛśā), which proves he had not fallen from the spiritual world, but Gopī-prāṇadhan instead says: "Some devotees, however, can be distinguished as nūtna (“new”) because they were conditioned souls and have recently been reinstated in their original position by devotional practice and the Supreme Lord’s personal grace." This contradicts the word nūtana (new) and is nowhere in Sanātan Goswāmī's ṭīkā. He speaks there of ādhunika (new) devotees, which is the same as nūtana.

2.6.366 Both in the verse and the tika Sanātan Goswāmī says the Goloka-vāsīs don't want to go anywhere else, even if Kṛṣṇa is not present. Let alone that they become envious of Him and leave to imitate Him in the material world..... That is reiterated in verse 369, kadāpi kenāpi na hātum īśe lava leśam apyaham - 'Never, for any reason, can I give up Kṛṣṇa's lotus-feet'.

2.6.375 Is interesting, as there does seem to be some travel involved, involving time and space, while moving from Goloka to the manifest pastimes in the material world.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta, canto 2, chapter Five

Continuing my review of Gopīprāṇadhan Dāsa's rendering of Sanātan Goswāmī's Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta -

2.5.7, commentary: "And whereas devotees of Viṣṇu see their Lord with four arms, the more intimate among the residents of Dvārakā generally see Him with only two."

2.5.12 The intimate discussion with Uddhava is about the Gokula pastimes, it is not political.

2.5.48 Sanātan Goswāmī confirms that one should not make a show of one's ecstasy - nija-bhāva-viśeṣa-prakāśa-bhayāc ca.

2.5.50 Nārada is described in the commentary as kautuki, humorous, while I always pictured him as a serious person.

2.5.52-53 "Just as the one Personality of Godhead Śrī Kṛṣṇa exists in many forms and many places, so also do we, His servants. So it is with all of us— Śrī Garuda and other attendants, devotees like Śrīmān Hanuman, and our friend Uddhava, and others too, like these Yādavas." This shows there are as many eternal associates of the Lord as there are forms of the Lord Himself.
Commentary: "Hanumān sings the glories of Lord Rāma in the Kimpuruṣa-loka of the Bhū-loka region and simultaneously in the Ayodhyā of Vaikuṇṭha. And Uddhava, whom Gopa-kumāra can see right before him, is simultaneously one of the principal companions of Kṛṣṇa in Dvārakā on earth, along with the Yādavas, the Pāṇḍavas, and others."

2.5.54 "All the Lord’s personal associates are at His hand like playthings.They are always fully dedicated to His service. Each assumes a variety of forms yet stays essentially one, just like the Lord Himself." Commentary: "So when He expands Himself and His abode into all sorts of forms, they accompany Him in suitably corresponding forms."

2.5.55 is something for those who want to dress Kṛṣṇa up with blue-jeans and mobile phone: "The abode of Mathurā, and paricchadas [garments and ornaments] like Kaustubha, Sudarśana and so, are also expanding innumerably with the Lord." In other words, these are unseparable features of the Lord. It also means that all flowers, trees and birds in Mathurā [Vraja] are not 'Indian' but reflections of the residents of the spiritual world. Recently I saw pictures of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa deities dressed in Scottisch checkers and even as Santa Claus - this is not just mundane and ridiculous, it is even offensive.

2.5.61 Commentary of Gopīprāṇadhan:  "Although time and space do not exist in the spiritual realm, Goloka is still considered far away in the sense that the common residents of Vaikuṇṭha cannot approach it."
Though this is siddhānta, strictly speaking it is not what Sanātan Goswāmī says in his ṭīkā. He says: śri golokākhyāṁ sthānaṁ śri vaikuṇṭhād api durlabhatvena paramoccatvāt "Higher than Vaikuṇṭha means that Golok is more rarely attained."

2.5.79-80 Since Mathurā is inside Braja-maṇḍal and thus inseparable from it, Mathurā City is also situated in Goloka. It is still called Goloka instead of Mathurā because the entire realm is a land of cows.

2.5.85 'Goloka is said to be far from Vaikuṇṭha because of its laukik bandhu vyavahāra - customs of dealing with God as an ordinary friend.' This is my translation of Sanātan Goswāmī's ṭīkā. Gopīprāṇadhana's translation is a bit too generic here.

2.5.95 Why Kṛṣṇa likes to come to the material world? In Śrīmad Bhāgavat 10.14.37 it is said He gives more astonishment to His devotees there (prapanna janatānanda).

2.5.97 States that Viṣṇu sometimes does vacate Vaikuṇṭha to go to the material world. This is hard to reconcile with the eternality, endlessness and omnipresence of the Lord. Verse 101 says that Kṛṣṇa always adorns the earth with His pastimes [bhūr-loka-stham api krīḍā-viśeṣair bhūṣayet sadā) - which means He would be eternally absent from Vaikuṇṭha. There is also the ālāt cakra vāda, the concept of the Lord's manifest pastimes rotating through the material universes like a firebrand....... A possible solution to this is that Yogamāyā makes Kṛṣṇa's absence seem to last for just a moment, as it is experienced by the cowherd boys in the aṣṭa kālīya līlā. Kṛṣṇa's 5-hour excursion to Rādhākuṇḍa is experienced by them as lasting just a few moments.

2.5.104 Mahā-lakṣmī in Nanda Mahārāja's house means just her intangible presence in the form of wealth, not that the goddess of fortune, who is eternally unable to attain Vraja, would have still attained it in person. That is already denied in Śrīmad Bhāgavat 10.16.36 and 10.47.60, that would otherwise contradict Śrīmad Bhāgavat 10.31.1, where the gopīs sing śrayata indirā śaśvat atra hi, "Indirā (Mahālakṣmī) is always rendering service here" as well as Śrīmad Bhāgavat 10.5.18. We feel the wind but do not see the wind-god, similarly we see the wealth of Nanda Mahārāj in Gokul but not the personality of the goddess of fortune.

2.5.105, Gopīprāṇadhan's commentary: "And how then could Vraja be a suitable place for the Supreme Lord to enjoy pastimes as an ordinary person? Vraja is suitable because the Lord reveals those opulences only in select instances, when they are useful for His purposes. If there is no special need for them He keeps them hidden. Thus the opulences of Godhead are only occasionally seen in Vraja, though the Lord’s charming pastimes as the darling of the cowherds are always visibly expanding."
Sanātan Goswāmī says it a bit differently - svasya īsasya vihāreṣu vighnād dhetoḥ ..... tan mahā vaibhava prakaṭa rūpam aiśvaryaṁ sadā na prakāśayet - "The desire-trees do not always display their prowess for it may obstruct His [the Lord's] sweet enjoyment."

2.5.143 Mundane rockets and airplanes have their own thrusters and propellors but in the heavens and in the spiritual sky they are vimānair vāyu-vegenohyamānair divya ratha viśeṣair yānaṁ - divine chariots (not cigar-shaped vehicles like airplanes here) that are carried by the force of the wind(-god).

2.5.145, ṭīkā: "The phrase “our whole community” implies that the gopas meant to include in their statement the young gopīs but were too embarrassed to mention Kṛṣṇa’s relationship with them directly."

2.5.172 Sanātan Goswāmī's commentary: "A devotee may develop Krsna consciousness to the point of being able to see Kṛṣṇa but may not be able to see Him busily enjoying the special pastimes of Vṛndāvana (tādṛk-krīḍam) with His intimate devotees. When more advanced, a Vaiṣṇava may occasionally see Kṛṣṇa engaging in His Vṛndāvana pastimes but not displaying the full scope of His blissful enjoyment (suprasannam). And even such a Vaiṣṇava may not be fortunate enough to enter Kṛṣṇa’s eternal pastimes and play with Kṛṣṇa in absolute freedom. The highest perfection of Kṛṣṇa-consciousness is rarely achieved."

2.5.216, ṭīkā: "Others, like strict brāhmanas who eat only what they have cooked themselves and offered to their own Deities, should be given rice, other ingredients, and pots and fuel for cooking." 
The word 'brāhmana' is not mentioned in Sanātan Goswāmī's ṭīkā. Those who get the raw ingredients are a class of vairāgīs, or it is happening in a region where householders, from whom the sādhus beg, tend not to be vegetarians. The śāstra says āhāra-śuddhau sattva-śuddhih, sattva-śuddhau dhruvāsmṛtih, smṛtilambhe sarva-granthīnaṁ vipramokṣah (Chāndogya Upaniṣad VII.26.2) - 'Pure food brings pure existence, pure existence brings extensive meditation, which again frees one from all knots." When you eat your own cooked food you neither win or lose - it is just your own manovṛtti, if you eat from others you may degrade or elevate yourself (usually degrade, it is very risky because you can not see on the outside which cook is pure or impure within the heart). It is very touchy socially, because you may not want to eat the cooking of an important person (relative, devotee, employer, friend). It may appear to be proud, but actually it is a discipline. Out of humility one can also not start eating one's relatives' beefsteak, thinking 'Oh I am the lowest in the world - anyone's food will elevate me - they are all superior to me'. That is not humility, that is stupidity. One can drink juice and milk from them, or eat nuts and fruits.

2.5.219 Sanātana Goswāmī says gopayen mātṛ jāravat iti na cātra mantavyam - bhakta-vareṣu nija pratiṣṭhārthaṁ tathā syād 'If ecstatic symptoms arise that may happen spontaneously, but it should never be done for false prestige. The śāstra says one should hide it like one hides the fact that one's mother has a paramour."

2.5.221 Gopīprāṇadhan writes in his purport: "Once sādhana-bhakti has yielded its fruit—rāgānugā-bhakti, spontaneous devotion....."
There is no mentioning in Sanātan Goswāmī's verse or commentary of sādhana culminating into rāgānugā bhakti - Gopīprāṇadhan's purport is outright misleading. Sanātan Goswāmī speaks of sādhana leading to prema, not to rāgānugā bhakti. rāgānugā bhakti is itself a sādhana.

2.5.226 Sanātan Goswāmī's commentary: "According to Nārada, only those who have realized prema can distinguish its real nature. The essence of prema cannot be defined in mere words. At best it can be recognized by its secondary characteristics (taṭastha-lakṣaṇa). Thus we can understand the presence of prema by its external symptoms like trembling, floods of tears, and standing erect of the bodily hair. Softening of the heart (cittārdratā) also counts as an external symptom because it is knowable by the mind, even though it is also said to be internal because it is not a directly visible object."

2.5.234 Though this verse seems to hint at Śrīman Mahāprabhu, Sanātan Goswāmī does not mention Him in his commentary.
Gopīprāṇadhan adds: "To protect the hope of Gopa-kumāra and other devotees to obtain love at the lotus feet of Śrī Rādhikā and the Lord of Her heart, here Nārada hints at the future appearance of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, the combined form of Śrī-Śrī Radha and Kṛṣṇa. For even subtly alluding to the merciful descent of Lord Caitanya, Nārada is all-glorious."
But this is just Gopīprāṇadhan's own comment.

2.5.251, commentary: vividha jñānena manaś cāncalyāt tathā'tyantautsukyābhāvācca. bhāva-viśeṣānutpattyā bhagavaddarśane'pi tādṛśa sukhaṁ nodeti - ".....Gopa-kumāra’s simplicity allowed him to see in a very pure loving mood the Personality of Godhead. A mind filled with all kinds of knowledge becomes easily agitated by critical thoughts and is not free to enjoy enthusiasm like the mind of a simple person. Had Gopa-kumāra been more sophisticated, he would not have been able to discover the Supreme Lord in His various aspects with as much sincere affection and would not have derived as much joy from the Lord’s darśana."

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Nine types of rāgānugā, empowered preachers, seeing Kṛṣṇa.

Madanmohan Mandir on Dwadasaditya ṭīlā, Vrindavan appr. 1789

Bhakta: "It is sometimes said that of the nine types of bhakti [śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ smaraṇaṁ pāda sevanam etc], only the last two, sakhyam and ātma nivedanam, are rāgānugā bhakti."

Advaitadas: "I do not see how. This is not what the ācāryas say in their commentaries on the famous verse. Let us go through them, one by one.

śravaṇam means hearing of the mañjarīs' service to Radharani from rasika Vaiṣṇavas,
kīrtanam means Rasa kīrtan or Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa līlā kīrtan, 
smaranam is the very pillar of rāgānugā bhakti. Viśvanātha Cakravartī has proclaimed rāgānugā bhakti to be a mental religion par excellence.
pāda sevanam or paricarya is practical service like cleaning Radhakund,
vandanam is reciting stotras like Vilapa Kusumanjali or Radharasa Sudhanidhi.
arcanam means worshipping Giridhari, the way Sriman Mahaprabhu taught Srila Raghunath Das Goswami,
dāsya means radha dasya, or manjari bhava, 
sakhya is either gopa bhava or the friendship the manjaris cherish with Radhika, although they are maidservants, and
ātma nivedanam is glossed by the acaryas as offering one's body. This too can be done in both sadhaka- and siddha-deha in raganuga bhakti. "

Bhakta: "Great Prabhu Santānas (descendants of the Lord) like Sādhu Bābā and Madangopāl Goswāmī preached boldly and with great success, should we not do the same thing?"

Advaitadas: "About the bold preaching of our Guru-janas, please remember that 'kṛṣṇa śakti vinā iha nahi pravartan' [CC] - without empowerment by Kṛṣṇa one cannot promulgate this. What our great brahmin superiors could do we cannot imitate. Not in this lifetime, perhaps in a future lifetime. When that power is placed in your hands you must use it, as a matter of duty. That is not for us in this lifetime. I can see that clearly in my own life, as I fail to recruit even one serious bhakta for my Sādhu Bābā. This should not be seen as a 'failure' - its just not our duty for us in this lifetime. Now we just study and do nāma."

Bhakta: "Is it allright to tell people you have seen Kṛṣṇa?"

Advaitadas: "It is not so easy to see Kṛṣṇa  for starters, but even if you see Him you should not make a big show of your own advancement by telling everyone. Sanātan Goswāmī was a nitya siddha, Labanga Mañjarī, and he told Śrīman Mahāprabhu: 'I do not know who Kṛṣṇa is, I only know that Your mercy saved me." As far as I am concerned, I have seen Sādhu Bābā, Śrī Rādhākund and Girirāja. I have read the Bhāgavat and the Goswāmīs' books and I have taken Harināma - this is how I have experienced Kṛṣṇa and I know for sure He is there on the other side of the veil of my mind, senses, intellect and ego. As my elder Guru-brother Nirañjan Bābu said: "I have not seen Kṛṣṇa - I have never seen Him but I have seen my Gurudeva (so I know there is Kṛṣṇa)."

Bhakta: "Is not a Guru supposed to have seen Kṛṣṇa? It says tattva darśina in the Bhagavad Gītā's Guru-verse (4.34)."

Advaitadas: "Only Śrīdhara Swāmī and Baladeva discuss this word in their ṭīkās. Śrīdhara Swāmī says 'aparokṣānubhava-sampannā', someone who has attained experiences of intangible matters.' This does seem to refer to seeing Kṛṣṇa indeed because in Bhakti Sandarbha (202) Jīva Goswāmī says: pare brahmaṇi bhagavad-ādi-rūpāvirbhāve’parokṣānubhavena niṣṇātaṁ tathaiva niṣṭhāṁ prāptam - "He has experience of intangible matters of para Brahman, in the form of the Lord and so and has become fixed in that." This is under the heading of 'śravaṇa guru', though. Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa says about tattva darśina - 'tajjñāna pracārakāḥ - preachers of spiritual knowledge'. It is, of course, impossible to see on the outside what is going on on the inside of the Guru. Ultimately only God knows if the Guru has really seen Him. Therefore the least we can do is sit at the feet of Śrī Guru and listen. If he speaks truth and is morally sound we can faithfully adopt him as a genuine teacher."