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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Advaita Prakāśa and Caitanya Bhāgavat

Discussion on April 4, 2011

Bhakta: “Some say Advaita Prakash was written only in the 19th century?”

Advaitadas: "The fact that Advaita Prakāśa was found in a library in 1896 does not mean it was written then. There were no printing presses before the British came and books were copied by hand, but that does not mean the texts did not exist before. The hand-copying could indeed have resulted into interpolation, it is hard to verify. Caitanya Caritāmṛta contains material from Advaita Prakāśa because Caitanya Caritāmṛta is anyway a collection of older works, not an original work. It is like an anthology of Gaur līlā and Kṛṣṇa tattva. It is clearly written in the colofon of the Advaita Prakāśa that is written in 1568, (caudda śata navati śakābda) 40 years before the Caitanya Caritāmṛta."

Bhakta: "Then how did Kṛṣṇadās Kavirāj Goswāmī get the information from the Advaita Prakāśa in Rādhākuṇḍa?"

Advaitadas: “He might have taken the Advaita Prakāśa with him when he first came to Vraja, or others may have brought it to Rādhākund from Bengal, on Kṛṣṇadās Kaviraj Goswami's request. You see, we were not there and both opponents and proponents of the Advaita Prakāśa can only guess what happened back then."

Bhakta - 'Scholars say there was a development of theology about Mahāprabhu, that first He was seen as Lord Nārāyan by Caitanya Bhāgavat, but later another conception was developed that He was Kṛṣṇa accepting the mood of Rādhā."

Advaitadas: "That is a typically mundane, external vision. Svarūpa Dāmodara was a personal associate of Śrīman Mahāprabhu and he wrote a korchā, which means diary. Diaries are usually written on the spot and not afterwards, so most probably he wrote it during Mahāprabhu's time, and in the diary he wrote rādhā bhāva dyuti subalitaṁ naumi kṛṣṇa svarūpam, that Mahāprabhu is Kṛṣṇa accepting the feelings of Rādhā. The same scholars say that Caitanya Bhāgavat was written in the 1540s, which is at least a decade after the end of Mahāprabhu's pastimes, probably after Svarūpa Dāmodara established Mahāprabhu as Kṛṣṇa accepting the mood of Rādhā. Also to write such a large book must have taken Vṛndāvan Dās Thākur years. So already historically there is no question of a development. Spiritually speaking of course, anyway, any svarūpa or form of the Lord, along with its characteristics, is timeless and eternal."

Bhakta: "If the conception of Svarūpa Dāmodara is older than the aiśvarya-conception of Vṛndāvan Dās Thākur, then why could Svarūpa Dāmodara's school not convince the Vṛndāvan Dās Thākur-school of that?"

Advaitadas: "Even supposing that they contacted each other in the pre-telephone, pre-internet era, the two conceptions are eternal. There is a lengthy discussion between Śrīvāsa Paṇḍit and Svarūpa Dāmodara in Caitanya Caritāmṛta Madhya-līlā Chapter 14, in which Śrīvāsa defended the aiśvarya-conception and Svarūpa Dāmodara defended the mādhurya but there was no conversion on either side. the debate was not won by either side because both conceptions and sthāyi bhāvas are eternal. Non-devotee scholars cannot grasp that. bodhayanta parasparam [Gītā 10.9] - satsanga leads to mutual enlightenment."

2 comments:

  1. Biblical scholars have a long tradition/strong tools for deconstructing a text to analyze it for origins, date of authorship, etc.

    Granted, one has to be an expert in the language to tell if it is consistent with 16th century authorship vs. 19th century authorship, but this method is there - do you know if any of this kind of work has been done on GV texts?

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  2. Dave, yes it has been done. Modern scholars doubt whether an alledged mediaval book like Prema Vivarta was really written by Jagadananda Pandit because its Bengali is typically 19/20th century and not the alledged 16th century. I am not that expert in scriptural Bengali but I don't get the impression Advaita Prakash is written in anything other than 16th century Bengali.

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