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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sādhu Bābā catches the train and cures eczema.

After receiving video recordings of Prabhu Sītānāth's Utsab held in Sādhu Bābā's āśram last month, I have rewritten page 28 of Sādhu Bābā's hagiography, after hearing the detailed taped narration by my Gurubhāi Gaura Dā in Bengali:

Sādhu Bābā catches the train -
“Some time in the late 1970s or early 1980s Sādhu Bābā was going to leave for Vṛndāvana by train. Though the train would depart at 11.45, Bābā was still in the āśram at around 12. The connecting train from Howrah to Mathurā had to be caught in time in Calcutta. Bābā did not seem to be bothered, so the devotees were wondering if they will make it. When they arrived at Navadwīpa station the train was grounded, while the station-master was in panic, wondering why the engine did not work. Still, the train would not move. Then Bābā tapped the front of the carriage and said in his loud, husky voice “Is everyone (all my disciples) on board? Go! Off you go!” And guess what, the train was fixed and off they went.

Added to page 29 of Sadhu Baba's hagiography:

Gaura’s eczema –
Gaur Da : “One day I got eczema over my whole body. It was festival time and Bābā ordered me to get flowers from Calcutta. Bābā did (apparently) not know that I was sick, but actually he was just testing me. I had to take the night train and my mother told me: “Gaura! Why did you not tell Bābā you are sick?” I went anyway, taking the night train. I had not slept all night, so I went home and took a bath. Suddenly Bābā called me to the āśram. When I arrived there Bābā had just finished his morning-bath and he asked me to wipe Him dry with a chādor. I told him: “But you have already received that service!” Bābā said: “No, no you dry Me off!” After that He told me to take prasād and I went back home. When I took my shirt off I saw that my eczema was totally gone and I wept loudly.”

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Madangopāl Darśan

On the eve of the festival commemorating the advent of Advaita Prabhu, a darshan of Sādhu Bābā's iṣṭadeva Sri Madangopal, at Sādhu Bābā's ashram, Prachin Mayapur, Navadwip Dhām.
February 6, 2011.

It is regretted that the video's quality is reduced through the uploading process.

Many new videos about the utsava have been uploaded to my youtube-channel too, meanwhile.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Aindra's book, part 3

This is the third and final part of my review of Aindra Dās’ book "The heart of Transcendental Book distribution."

On page 89, Aindra calls Anaṅga Mañjarī an upasakhī of Lalitā, for which there is no evidence at all, specially since Anaṅga Mañjarī has her own kuñja in the middle of Radhakuṇḍa, distinct and distant from Lalitā's Kuñja on the northern bank. Dhyānacandra Goswāmī calls Anaṅga Mañjarī a student of Viśākhā instead (viśākhikā śikṣitā, verse 26).

Aindra continues:

"Balarama as servitor Godhead is adi-guru in the vatsalya, sakhya, and dasya rasas. Similarly, Balarama’s expanded madhurya-svarupa, Ananga Manjari, is the madhurya-rasa adi-guru,"

This, too, is nowhere in the books of the Goswāmīs. Furthermore he says on this page:

“(Nityananda) in His masculine Baladeva svarupa, is unable to directly relish the experience of being in the position of His shakti-tattva expansion, just as Krishna is unable to directly relish the moods of Radha. He, therefore, in Gaura-lila, accepts the bhava and complexion of His supreme self-same svarupa-shakti counterpart to experience that which was transcendentally impossible in Krishna-lila. Thus Balarama manifests the form of Nityananda Rama in the same way that Krishna dons His Gaura svarupa to savor the ultimate loving disposition of Radha in vipralambha-maha-bhava. As Krishna and Balarama are one, so, similarly, Radha and Ananga Manjari are one. In fact, Ananga Manjari is celebrated as a veritable second Radha."

Such thoughts may be found in booklets like Rāmacandra Goswāmī’s Anaṅga Mañjarī Sampuṭikā, a booklet which declares just about everyone to be one and the same tattva, saying Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma are all one (1.18) and Anaṅga Mañjarī is the Guru (1.12). I translated this book in 1996, but decided to withdraw it again because its tattvas are rather unique and confusing. This point of Aindra of Baladeva wanting to relish the love of Anaṅga Mañjarī is completely skewed because in Kṛṣṇa-līlā, Anaṅga Mañjarī is neither the wife nor the lover of Baladeva. With the same logic one could argue that Jagannāth Miśra appeared in this world to relish the love of Mother Yaśodā?

Fortunately, on page 90 Aindra returns to safer, more stable grounds:

"The edict seva sadhaka-rupena siddha-rupena catra hi / tad-bhava-lipsuna karya vraja-lokanusaratah mentioned in Srila Rupa Gosvami’s Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu truly for all time applies both externally and internally to sadhakas who have yet to transcend material bondage as well as to siddhas who are jata-rati Vaishnavas having attained the perfect realization of sthayi-bhava, or constant devotional ecstasy. There is no broadly applicable streamlined institutional lame way out."

On page 100 Aindra boldly compares institutional corruption and deviations with the stool, corpses and industrial waste (the corruption) inside the divinely pure Gangā-water (the Sampradāya proper).

On page 105 Aindra burns himself on the apasiddhānta that nāmābhāsa is a stage of chanting-sādhana, and that one lifetime is spent with nāmāparādha, then one with nāmābhāsa and then one with pure nāma, which is not only apasiddhānta, it is also a totally mechanical way of thinking.

In the following 13 pages Aindra rambles on about institutional politics again, adding more to the already burgeoning daivi varṇāśram pie-in-the-sky as if we did not already have enough of those pipe-dreams. He even wants his makeshift śūdras to be 'communists' [p.108]. Instead, non-Indians should just choose a profession according to their skill without giving it any ancient Indian caste-name. Again one wonders - was Aindra really less absorbed in managerial thought than the bureaucrats he constantly condemns?

On p. 127-8 Aindra claims:

"Shastra has it that fifty percent of a disciple’s devotional merit automatically goes to the guru’s account, even without the disciple’s conscious offering. If the disciple consciously sacrifices on behalf of the spiritual master, both the disciple and the guru achieve one hundred times the result of the proffered devotional austerities."

I will have to have another deep look at śāstra perhaps because I have never seen such a mechanical and bureaucratic idea there yet.

On page 128 Aindra independently confirms, in somewhat other words, what I have said all along about the idea that doing bhajan is selfish and for one's own benefit only:

"Yes, we should all agree that it is higher to leave Vrindavana for the benefit of others than to stay in Vrindavana for one’s own benefit, but who says Vrindavana life is meant to be for one’s own benefit? Krishna’s gopas and gopis of Vraja, whose immaculate selfless moods of devotion we are to emulate, never for a moment consider their own benefit. Their every endeavor is to sacrifice for the service of others – the service of Krishna; the service of Radha; the service of Her friends and maidservants;....."

Of course bhajan is for the pleasure of Kṛṣṇa, and not for one's own liberation, as Vaiṣṇavas reject liberation right at the beginning anyway.

The Third Heartfelt Effusion at page 133, starts with a charming one-page description of the Mañjarī-form Aindra visualizes of him/herself, and continues into the next page with an elaborate description of his/her kuñja on the northern bank of Rādhākund.

On page 137 Aindra again swerves into sambhogecchātmikā bhakti [sakhī bhāva], saying:

"And when, in Your smiling presence, by Your incomprehensible kindness, will I ever whisper into His ear, “I love You too!” as Your enchanted, whimsical Shyama, knowing me to be Yours, passionately embraces me to His heart?"

There is more of that on page 139, which is the beginning of a rather charming series of prayers in the mode of Vilāpa Kusumāñjali and Saṅkalpa Kalpadruma.

There is more Sakhī-bhāva-turned mañjarī-bhāva on page 139:

"I will I find myself automatically rising to smilingly muse upon Your Shyamasundara’s distinctive love marks on my person..."

Like Gadādhar Prāṇa before him, Aindra tried to find a fusion between sakhī-bhāva and mañjarī-bhāva.

On page 144 he interrupts all the lovely sweetness with some crude rasābhāsa, telling Kṛṣṇa in American slang: "“Not so fast, buster! She’s our property!"

On the following 23 pages Aindra rewrites some of the main aṣṭakāliya līlās in his own way, involving him/herself as an amorous lover of Kṛṣṇa, thus following in the footsteps of pre-1996 Gadādhar-prāṇa. On page 159, however, Aindra insists his sakhī-bhāva-mixed mañjarī bhāva does not compromise his bhavollāsa rati, claiming his/her separate meetings with Kṛṣṇa would cause Rādhā's 'absolute delight'. There is much evidence against this, I will quote just a few verses here:

ananya śrī rādhā padakamala dāsyaika rasadhī
hareḥ saṅge raṅgam svapana samaye nā'pi dadhati
balāt  kṛṣṇa kūrpāsakabhidi kim apy ācarati kā-
py udāśrur meveti pralapati mamātma ca hasati

(Vṛndāvana Mahimāmṛta 16, 94)

The maidservants, that are exclusively devoted to the service of Śrī Radha's lotus feet, that are like an ocean of nectar, do not enjoy with Śrī Hari even in their dreams. When Kṛṣṇa forcibly pulls at their bodices they cry out: 'No, no!', while Rādhikā watches and laughs."

rādhā raṅga lasat tad ujjvala kalā sañcāraṇā prākriyā 
cāturyottaram eva sevanam ahaṁ govinda samprārthaye
yenāśeṣa vadhū janodbhata manorājya prapañcāvadhau 
nautsukyaṁ bhavad aṅga saṅgama rase'py ālambate man manaḥ

One sakhī was picking flowers for making a vana-mālā and Kṛṣṇa, seeing her, told her: "O beautiful girl! Make your birth a success by joining Me for a while in this kuñja!" Hearing this, that sakhī (mañjarī) said: "O Govinda! I only want to serve while You make love with Śrī Rādhā, showing Your erotic dancing arts on the stage of erotic dancing named Śrī Rādhā!

tvayā yad upabhujyate murajid aṅga saṅge sukham
tad eva bahu jānati svayam avāptitaḥ śuddha-dhīḥ
mayā kṛta vilobhanāpy adhika cāturi cāryayā
kadāpi maṇi mañjarī na kurute'bhisāra spṛhaṁ

Śrī Rādhikā engaged one sakhī to make Maṇi Mañjarī meet with Kṛṣṇa, but that sakhī returned to Rādhā unsuccessfully, saying: "O Rādhe! Maṇi Mañjarī finds more happiness in Your meeting with Kṛṣṇa than in her own! Just see how pure her consciousness is! Although I expertly tried to tempt her to go out and meet Kṛṣṇa, she never desires this!" (Ujjvala Nīlamaṇi, sakhī prakaraṇa 89)

The language of this passage of Aindra’s book is surely very tasty. On page 167 Aindra leaves the nitya līlā format and continues with the prakat līlā, wherein Akrūra comes to take Kṛṣṇa away to Mathurā. He creates a strange juxtaposition in page 168, where he claims he will be able to console Rādhā at that time on the strength of many lifetimes of transcendental book distribution and other practises. He continues his description of sudūra pravāsa for 5 pages, also in a relishable way.

On page 173, the fourth heartfelt effusion starts, where Aindra plunges into Gaura līlā. He writes:

"When will Your magnificent Gosvamis of Vrindavana, headed by Shri Rupa, leniently bestow upon this fallen derelict the priceless treasure of loving service to Your prema-nama-sankirtana-lilas in the Nitya-navadvipa sector of Goloka-dhama?"

Problem is only that none of the 6 Goswāmīs ever mentioned a Nitya-navadvīpa sector of Goloka-dhāma.

On page 179, Aindra makes the good point that the books [and hence book distribution too] only are meant to induce harināma saṅkīrtana. He then writes a charming essay of how all devotional services are meant to support harināma saṅkīrtana, and in page 192 he admits that book distribution, unlike harināma saṅkīrtana, is not eternal.

On page 197 Aindra compares japa with the intimate Rāsa līlās and nagara sankīrtan with the less intimate Rāsa līlās. A strange claim, especially considering the fact that most Vaiṣṇavas walk all over the market places with their japa mālās in their hands - it is as public as harināma saṅkīrtana.

p. 203: "Transcendental book distribution can be compared to a sakhi’s campaign to enlist new girls to become dedicated followers of Maha-bhava-svarupini, Shri Radhika. Certainly, no book distributor in the line of Rupa Gosvami would be caught dead canvassing on behalf of Candravali! Raga Manjari is perhaps the Lord’s best and most reliable messenger, having opted to become His vamshi flute. Knowing the purposes of her svamini’s inner heart, Raga Manjari serves, in the form of the flute, to mercifully break the resolve of Radha’s mana, or jealous pouting, forcefully facilitating the fruition of her mistress’s deepest desires to intimately satisfy Her beloved Shyama...."

p. 204 "The mercifully extended flute-call (book distribution) magnetically allures the vraja-sundaris (fortunate souls) away from their so-called husbands (all superficially binding mundane considerations) to excitedly dash off to join the rasa dance festivities (hari-nama-sankirtana)."

The appendix has Aindra's word for word hare kṛṣṇa mantra explanation, which starts off right away with some fall-vāda, in the first word:

HARE: "O Radhe! Mistakenly leaving aside the shelter of Your soft lotus feet, I have come to this world to suffer unbearable material pangs and continuously offend You. Please forgive me."

Then for Rāma he puts him/herself again in sambhogecchātmikā sakhībhāva dressed as mañjarī-bhāva: 

O debauchee number one! Don’t touch the delicacies! Do You think we are up for grabs? Don’t think we can be gotten so easily."

Rama: “O You nonsense! Let go of my sari! Get back! Stop grabbing me!”

This was a review of the e-copy of the book, I do not have a hard copy but have been told by owners of the book that the differences between the two are negligable. If anything has been overlooked or misjudged, please add it to the comments pages.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Shiva Rātri 2011

After finding evidence in Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta about Shiva being white in complexion, I found now also this beautiful verse in the Bhāgavat itself - 3.14.25 (in some editions verse 24)

devas tribhiḥ paśyati devaras te

"With His glittering mass of matted hair thrown into disorder and soiled by the dust raised by whirlwinds sweeping the crematorium, and His immaculate golden body covered with a coat of ashes, your (Diti's) brother in law Shiva, is watching with His three eyes."

Śrīla Śrīdhara Swami comments: sa devas tribhiḥ somārkāgni-netraiḥ paśyatīty asyottara-śloka-traye’py anuṣaṅgaḥ

"That god sees all the three worlds too with His three eyes, that are the moon, the sun and fire."

Two verses further another jewel-like verse:

yasyānavadyācaritaṁ manīṣiṇo
gṛṇanty avidyā-paṭalaṁ bibhitsavaḥ 
nirasta-sāmyātiśayo’pi yat svayaṁ
piśāca-caryām acarad gatiḥ satām 

"Those wise men who are keen to pierce the veil of ignorance recount His immaculate activities. Although no one is equal to Him, much less greater, and He is the goal of the saints, He behaves like a fiend."

How does He behave like a fiend? Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda explains:

nanu tasyāpi dig-ambaratayā sadaiva striyā saha mithunībhūya tiṣṭhataś citābhasmāsthi-bhūṣaṇasya sarvaṁ sac-caritam ahaṁ jānāmīti

'Though He always runs around naked, is constantly in intercourse with His wife and adorns His person with ashes and bones from the funeral pyre, I know that all this is actually good behaviour (for Him)."

Translated by Advaita Dās for Shiva-Rātri 2011

prabhuṁ prāṇanāthaṁ vibhum viśvanātham
jagannātha nāthaṁ sadānanda-bhājam
bhavad bhavya bhūteśvaraṁ bhūta-nātham
śivam śankaraṁ śambhum īśānam īḍe 1

I praise (Iḍe) Śiva Śankar Śambhu, Īśāna, the Lord, the Lord of my heart, the all-pervading, the Lord of the universe, the Lord of Jagannath, the vessel of eternal bliss, the Lord of past, present and future (bhavad-bhavya-bhuta) and the Lord of the ghosts (bhUta-nAtha).

gale ruṇḍa mālam tanau sarpa-jālam
mahā kālakālaṁ gaṇeśādhipālam
jaṭājuṭa bhaṅgottaraṅgair viśālam
śivam śankaraṁ śambhum īśānam īḍe  2

I praise (Iḍe) Śiva Śankar Śambhu, Īśāna, who wears a garland of skulls around His neck, around whose body snakes slither, who is the destroyer of the universe (mahā-kāla) and time personified (kāla), the maintainer of Ganesh, and whose matted locks break the strong and huge current (of the Ganga).

mudām ākaraṁ maṇḍanaṁ maṇḍayantam
mahā-maṇḍala bhasma-bhūṣā dharantam
anādiṁ hyapāram mahā-moha-hāram
śivam śankaraṁ śambhum īśānam īḍe  3

I praise (Iḍe) Śiva Śankar Śambhu, Īśāna, who is the source (ākara) of bliss (mudā), who is adorned by ornaments as well as with ashes (bhasma-bhūṣā), who is the lord of the three maṇḍalas – Sūrya, Soma and Agni, who is beginningless and endless and who wears a great captivating necklace.

baṭādho nivāsaṁ mahāṭṭāṭṭa-hāsam
mahā-pāpa-nāśaṁ sadā suprakāśam
girīśaṁ gaṇeśaṁ sureśaṁ maheśaṁ
śivam śankaraṁ śambhum īśānam īḍe  4

I praise (Iḍe) Śiva Śankar Śambhu, Īśāna, who lives under a Banyan tree (baṭādho nivāsa), who laughs loudly and madly (aṭṭa-hāsa), who is the great destroyer of sin, who is always nicely manifest (su-prakāśa), who is the Lord of the Himalaya (girīśa), of all people (gaṇeśa) of the devatās (sureśa) and the great Lord of all (Maheśa).

girindrātmajā saṅgṛhītārdha-deham
girau saṁsthitaṁ sarvadā sannageham
para-brahma brahmādibhir vandhyamānam
śivam śankaraṁ śambhum īśānam īḍe  5

I praise (Iḍe) Śiva Śankar Śambhu, Īśāna, who accepted the daughter of the mountain (Girīndrātmajā, Pārvatī) as His better half (ardha-deha), who lives on the mountain (girau), who is always (sarvadā) the shelter (geha) of the depressed (sanna), who is the Supreme Brahman and who is eulogized by Brahmā and others.

kapālam triśūlaṁ karābhyaṁ dadhānam
padāmbhoja namrāya kāmaṁ dadānam
balīvarda-yānam surāṇāṁ pradhānam
śivam śankaraṁ śambhum īśānam īḍe  6

I praise (Iḍe) Śiva Śankar Śambhu, Īśāna, who holds a skull (kapāla) and trident (tri-śūla) in His hands, who fulfils the desires of he who bows down (namrāya) to His lotus-feet (padāmbhoja), who travels on a bull (balīvarda) and is the chief of the gods.

śaraccandra gātraṁ guṇānanda pātram
tri-netram pavitraṁ dhaneśasya mitram
aparṇā kalatram caritraṁ vicitram
śivam śankaraṁ śambhum īśānam īḍe  7

I praise (Iḍe) Śiva Śankar Śambhu, Īśāna, whose body (gātra) shines like the autumn moon (śaraccandra), who is the vessel (pātra) of great bliss (guṇānanda), who has three eyes (tri-netram), who is sacred (pavitram), who is the friend of Kuvera (dhaneśasya mitram), whose wife (kalatra) is Pārvatī (Aparṇā) and whose character (caritra) is amazing (vicitra).

haraṁ sarpa-hāram citā-bhū-vihāram
bhavaṁ veda sāraṁ sadā nirvikāram
śmaśāne vadantaṁ manojaṁ dahantam
śivam śankaraṁ śambhum īśānam īḍe  8

I praise (Iḍe) Śiva Śankar Śambhu, Īśāna, who is the universal destroyer (hara), who wears a garland of snakes (sarpa-hāra), who is primordial nature (bhava), the essence of the Veda (veda-sāram) who is always free from transformations (sadā nirvikāra), who revels in crematoriums (śmaśāne and citā-bhū vihāre), and who burned Cupid to a crisp (manojam dahantam).

stavaṁ yaḥ prabhāte naraḥ śūla-pāṇe
paṭhet sarvadā bharga-bhāvānurakta
sa-putraṁ dhanaṁ dhānya mitraṁ kalatram
vicitrai samāsādya mokṣaṁ prayāti 9

Any person who recites this jewel-like stotram to the bearer of the trident in the morning, always attached to Lord Shiva (bharga) with feeling (bhāva), will attain liberation along with his wife, son, wealth, friends and grains.