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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Nityānanda Ādi Guru, bhajan at home, astrology and dormant love

Kusum Sarovar in 1865, photo by W. Henry Baker

Bhakta: Caitanya Caritāmṛta [Adi 1.9] says that Advaita Prabhu [as Mahaviṣṇu] emanates from Nityānanda Prabhu -

māyā-bhartājāṇḍa-sańghāśrayāńgaḥ
śete sākṣāt kāraṇāmbhodhi-madhye
yasyaikāḿśaḥ śrī-pumān ādi-devas
taḿ śrī-nityānanda-rāmaḿ prapadye

"I offer my full obeisances unto the feet of Śrī Nityānanda Rāma, whose partial representation called Kāraṇodakaśāyī Viṣṇu, lying on the Kāraṇa Ocean, is the original puruṣa, the master of the illusory energy, and the shelter of all the universes."
Should not the family of Nityānanda get precedence then in giving dīkṣā?"

Advaitadas: "Advaita Prabhu took disciples before Śrīman Mahāprabhu even appeared in this world. What should He have done after Nityānanda's family starting accepting śiṣyas - send his disciples over there and 'resign' as a Guru or so? The sequence of cosmic creation is not the same as the historical sequence of Gaura-līlā."

Bhakta: "But then there is the Vyāsa Pūjā-description of Lord Nityānanda in Caitanya Bhāgavata (Madhya 5) - does that not prove that Nityānanda is the ādi Guru?"

Advaitadas: "This needs to be seen in context. Nityānanda was of course Mahāprabhu's right hand, yet it is also well known that Vṛndāvan Dās Ṭhākur, who wrote this Caitanya Bhāgavat, was highly biased in favor of Nitāi Cāṅd. He calls Mahāprabhu āmār prabhur prabhu - the master of my master (Nityānanda). This bias is not a dūṣaṇa (pollution), but a bhūṣaṇa (ornament). It is technically called bhāvollāsa. There is no official theology in our Sampradāya, either in the Sanskrit scriptures of the Goswāmīs, or in the Bengali caritas of Mahāprabhu, including the Vyāsa-pūjā story, that Nityānanda is the Ādi Guru."

Bhakta: "Is it really easier to do sādhana in an ashram than at home?"

Advaitadas: "It depends on the sincerity and strength of the sādhaka. Compare it with a schoolboy - if he makes his homework in the school-library he will not get distracted, but if he makes his homework at home he will have his broadband connection, his mp3s, TV and his brothers and sisters and so to distract him. He will make his homework at home as well, but not as easily as in the school library. Of course if the boy has no interest in distractions anyway he can make his homework at home just as well. Similarly if a sādhaka is strong or just fed up with material life anyway, he can do sādhana at home just as well."

Bhakta: "What value does astrology have for a Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava?"

Advaitadas: "The Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava ācāryas are the 6 Goswamis - they have written large volumes on rules and philosophy, as the Sandarbhas, Haribhakti Vilāsa and Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu. Nonetheless none of these huge works mention anything about jyotiṣa, so it is safe to assume it need not be consulted or heeded by a Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava."

Bhakta: "You said that love of God is not dormant within the heart but is a potential only. Can you illustrate that with an example?"

Advaitadas: "First of all we must examine śāstra on this dormant love theory - in Sanskrit 'dormant love' means 'supta prema' or 'nidrita prema' - such words are not found anywhere in śāstra.
As for an example - a child who is born with a high IQ can only exploit it if he gets a good education and good grades. Or a little girl has the potential of motherly love within her though she is too young to have children of her own. Hence she plays with dolls. Later she will be a real mother. That is potential. Some girls and women will never have children but they still have the potential of being a mother. Similarly, a spirit soul needs to receive the mercy of Guru and Kṛṣṇa (guru-kṛṣṇa prasāde pāy bhakti latā bīja) and to perform an offenseless sādhana to achieve prema. Having just a field without sowing in it and irrigating it will not yield crops. The crops are not dormant in the soil - they need to be sown there first. That is Guru Kṛpā. Jīva Goswāmī writes in Bhakti Sandarbha that a soul needs to cry out for Kṛṣṇa. That is the beginning of devotional service and Guru Kṛpā." (See also my blog of August 18, 2007)

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