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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Jhulan Yatra 2012


"Blissfully the sakhīs reduce the speed of the swing, to the pleasure of the Divine Pair. Now that the swing has slowed down they find the opportunity to place betelleaves in Their mouths."


"Other sakhīs take fragrant sandalpaste and flowerpollen within their hands and blissfully shower this over the bodies of our Hero and Heroine."


"Some sakhīs dance and play enchanting mṛdanga-drums, singing along with the rhythms and tunes of different musical instruments with nice voices."


"Seeing this, the goddesses in the sky become ecstatic as they hover in the sky. Uddhava dāsa says: They are showering flowers all of the time!"

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Notes on Sarartha Darshini

Sripad Bhānu Swāmi's English translations of the śāstras are great and carry a higher philosophical integrity than most other English translations, and a higher quality altogether. I do have just these few small remarks about the following translations by Swāmiji of Sri Visvanatha Cakravartipad's Sarartha Darśini-commentary -

1.9.26 "they become gṛhasthas" should be grhasta eva sadeti - "He is always a gṛhastha", making the point that there is a natural subdivision in human society between rāgīs and vairāgīs.

1.17.39tasmād evaṁ kim api sthānam ahaṁ prāpnuyāṁ yallokair dustyajyam “This place (wealth) is the best place for me (Kali) to be because it is so hard for people to give up.” Bhanu Swamiji forgot to mention this.

4.28.34 guroḥ sevāyāṁ pravṛttaḥ śiṣyaḥ śravaṇa kīrtanādīnyapi bhogān tad utthāna premānandān api gṛhān tad ucita vivikta sthalam api naivāpekṣate. śrī guru sevayaiva sukhena sarva sādhya siddhyartham ityupadeśa vyañjitaḥ sevāyā eva vedena sarvādhikasyoktatvāt
Sri Bhanu Swami writes- "Just as the wife serves the husband by rejecting enjoyment, the disciple engages in service to guru by hearing and chanting, giving no regard even to solitary places (gṛhān) which could give rise to the bliss of prema (bhogān), in order to attain with ease the perfection of all goals by serving guru."

Actually the meaning is the opposite -

"A devoted and chaste wife, while absorbed in the service of her husband, does not care even for her son. Similarly, a disciple deeply absorbed in the service of the guru does not even depend on hearing and chanting, knowing that by guru-sevā he can easily attain complete perfection in devotion. Just as a devoted wife does not want any sense enjoyment and home comfort, a disciple completely absorbed in guru-sevā does not seek even premānanda arising out of hearing and chanting nor even seek secluded places suitable to his bhajana. The Vedas say that service to the Guru is the greatest.”

7.15.26 sākṣād bhagavati gurau bhagavad aṁśa buddhir api na kāryā.
Sri Bhanu Swami writes: "For one who thinks by faulty intelligence  that the guru, who is an amsa of the Lord (sākṣāt bhagavati),.."

But this should be - "One should  not even see the Guru as a fragment of the Lord but as God Himself."

7.15.27 Not only the Guru's relatives but also His neighbors see Him as a human being. Swamiji forgot the neighbors.

11.2.45 atra paśyed iti tathā darśana yogyataiva vivakṣitā na tu tathā darśanasya sārva kālikatā. “The fact that he sees Kṛṣṇa does not mean he sees Him all the time, but that he is qualified to see Kṛṣṇa.”
Bhanu Swamiji, however, writes: "one must gain qualification for seeing, rather than being able to see like this at all times." The imperative case is not in the sentence, however.

11.3.22 Bhānu Swamiji translates the verse as: "the Lord, who gives himself in the deity form, is satisfied."
and the commentary as: "The Lord gives his self in the form of the deity in order that one may see, touch and know him."
vigraha is in the text and usually means deity but in context with the Guru this seems to make no sense. I see it like this:
"Kṛṣṇa is giving His personal form to the disciple, that can be seen and touched directly."

11.11.41 tena darbha mañjaryādīni śāstra vihitānyapi loke iṣṭatamatvābhāvāt tathā madyādini saṅkarṣaṇa priyānyapi śāstra iṣṭatamatvābhāvān na nivedayed iti bhāvaḥ. tatrāpi yacca ātmanaḥ svasyāti priyaṁ tat tu viśeṣato nivedanīyam ityarthaḥ

Sri Bhānu Swamji says: "Scripture says that Kuśa-buds are wonderful, but because they are not esteemed by the common people they are not to be offered to the Lord."

This should be - "Articles described by scriptures like Darbha shoots are not the most palatable, but wine and other beverages may be loved by Sankarṣana (Balarama), but since they are not dear to the scriptures they should not be offered."

11.21.15 Bhānu Swāmiji writes -Suitable knowledge from the mouth of the pure guru purifies a mantra."
This should be — sad guru-mukhāt yathāvat parijñānaṁ mantra-śuddhiḥ  "Purification of the mantra is done by learning it properly from the mouth of a bonafide Guru."

Friday, July 13, 2012

Brahman merely the mode of goodness? Fall-vada in Paramatma Sandarbha?


Recently I wrote the following mail to Dr. Satya Nārāyan Dās about a problem I had with an 11th Canto-verse:

Dear Panditji, Rādhe Rādhe
I am studying now Śrīmad Bhāgavat 11.25.27, some problem is there. It says faith in spiritual things like adhyātma is in sattva guna, but what about Śrīmad Bhāgavat 1.2.11? This says that the Absolute Truth is Brahman, Paramātma and Bhagavān, and thus all three features of the Absolute are transcendental, not in the modes of nature. It contradicts. Kānupriya Goswāmi says bhakti is nirguna and the addition of bhakti to sattvik jñāna makes it nirguna but i find that hard to swallow, for jñāna, leading to Brahman, is nirguna too, not sāttvik. No ṭīkā gives a clue. Same for Śrīmad Bhāgavat 1.2.24, sattvam yad brahma darśanam. Śrīdhar Swāmi, Jīva Goswāmi and Viśvanāth don't mention the point in their ṭīkās. Is Śrīmad Bhāgavat 11.25.27 (or even all of ch.25 of the 11th canto) just a glorification of Kṛṣṇa?

Dr. Satya Nārāyan Das replied :
"I think the mistake here is to translate adhyātma as "spiritual things". Then the last part of the verse becomes redundant because of the words mat-sevāyām - "In My service' i.e. bhakti is also a spiritual thing and thus already included in adhyātma. The meaning of adhyātmā is knowing the self as different from the body, (It is actually adhyātma-śāstra which teaches this). In Śrīmad Bhāgavat 1.2.24 sattvam yad brahma-darśanam does not mean that sattva gives brahma-darśana by itself. Brahma-darśan is not possible without bhakti. So all it means is that sattva is a doorway to brahma-darśana. Through sattva one can get an idea of its existence but not the realization. Compare it with Bhagavad-Gītā 18.20.
Jai Rādhe


Hṛdayānanda Swāmi's translation of Śrīmad Bhāgavat 11.25.27:
"Faith directed toward spiritual life is in the mode of goodness, faith rooted in fruitive work is in the mode of passion, faith residing in irreligious activities is in the mode of ignorance, but faith in My devotional service is purely transcendental."

Bhānu Swāmi's translation of the same verse -
"Faith in ātmā is in sattva, faith in prescribed karma is in rajas, faith in irreligious activities is in tamas, but faith in my devotional service is beyond the guṇas."

Gita Press translation -
"Faith in things spiritual is sattvic"
None of the major ācāryas - Śrīdhar Swāmī, Jīva Goswāmī, Viśvanātha Cakravartī - explain the word adhyātmik in their commentaries.

Bhagavad Gītā 18.20
BBT translation -
"That knowledge by which one undivided spiritual nature is seen in all living entities, though they are divided into innumerable forms, you should understand to be in the mode of goodness."

Bhānu Swāmī's translation -
"Know that the process of knowledge is sattvic in nature when the individual indestructible soul with individual form is seen to exist successively in different bodies."

Viśvanāth Cakravartī's commentary on Bhagavad Gītā 18.20, translated by Bhānu Swāmi -
This verse speaks of sāttvic process of knowing. Seeing one soul (ekaṁ bhāvam), with one form (avibhaktam) which is indestructible (avyayam) residing successively in different forms (vibhakteṣu) such as human, devatā, or animal for the purpose of enjoying various fruits, which are temporary, through knowledge related to action  (verse 18), is known as sāttvic knowledge.


I then wrote another mail to Dr. Satya Nārāyan Dās:

Panditji Rādhe Rādhe
Kuśakrath Dās has made the following fall-vādī translation of Paramātma Sandarbha, complete with word-for-word and perverted-reflection-vāda as well. Could you give the correct translation please? The text is here below -

Anuccheda 29 [at beginning]:
tasmiṁś cānandātmake jñāne pratibimbaṁ yusmad- arthatvam na bhavati. kintv ātmatvād asmad-arthatvam eva. tac cāsmad-arthatvam aham-bhāva eva. tato 'ham ity etac chabdābhidheyakāram eva jñānaṁ śuddha ātma prakṛtyāveśo 'nyathā nopapadyate. yata evāveśāt tadīya-sanghata evāham ity aham-bhāvāntaram prāpnoti. tad etad abhipretya tasyāham-arthatvam āha

tasmin - in this; ca - and; ānandātmake - blissful self; jñāne - knowledge; pratibimbam - reflection; yusmat - of you; arthatvam - the purpose; na - not; bhavati - is; kintv - however; ātmatvāt - because of the self; asmad-arthatvam - for our sake; eva - indeed; tac - that; ca - and; asmad-arthatvam - for our sake; aham- bhāva - ego; eva - indeed; tataḥ - therefore; aham - I; iti - thus; etac - this; śabda - word; abhidheyakāram - to be said; eva - indeed; jñānam - knowledge; śuddha - pure; ātma - soul; prakṛti - matter; āveśaḥ - entrance; anyathā - otherwise; na - not; upapadyate - is attained; yata - from which; eva - indeed; āveśāt - from entrance; tadīya - like that; sanghata - combination; eva - indeed; aham - I; iti - thus; aham-bhāva - false ego; antaram - after; prāpnoti - attains; tat - this; etat - that; abhipretya - knowing; tasya - of him; aham- arthatvam - false ego; āha - says.

"When that blissful spiritual consciousness is pervertedly reflected in material consciousness, the individual soul thinks, I will not act for your benefit. I will only act for my benefit". In this way the individual soul comes under the grip of materialistic false-ego. Thus influenced by false-ego, the pure soul enters the material world. Without this false-ego it would not be possible for the soul to enter the material world. In this way the individual soul comes under the grip of false-ego. This is described in the following words of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (3.26.6):

evaṁ parābhidhyānena     kartṛtvaṁ prakṛteḥ pumān
karmasu kriyamāneṣu     guṇair ātmani manyate

evam - in this way; para - other; abhidhyānena - by identification; kartṛtvam - the performance of activities; prakṛteḥ - of the material nature; pumān - the living entity; karmasu kriyamāneṣu - while the activities are being performed; guṇaiḥ - by the three modes; ātmani - to himself; manyate - he considers.

Because of his forgetfulness, the transcendental living entity accepts the influence of material energy as his field of activities, and thus actuated, he wrongly applies the activities to himself."

(Note by the blogger:) Here in the word-for-word the word āveśa has been translated twice as 'entrance' while it means 'absorption'. It is the word praveśa instead which means entrance, but this is āveśa and not praveśa. āveśa can mean entrance too, but that is not the intention of Jīva Goswāmī here.

parābhidhyānena prakṛtyāveśena prakṛtir evāham iti mananena prakṛter guṇaiḥ kriyamāneṣu karmasu kartṛtvam ātmani manyate. atra nirahambhāvasya parābhidhyānāsambhavāt parāveśa-jātāhaṅkārasya cāvarakatvād asty eva tasminn anyo'haṁ-bhāva-viśeṣaḥ. sa ca śuddha-rūpa-mātra-niṣṭhatvān na saṁsāra-hetur iti spaṣṭam.

parābhidhyānena - arabhidhyānena;prakṛty-aveśena - by entering the material world; prakṛtiḥ - matter; eva - indeed; aham - I; iti - thus; mananena - thinking; prakṛteḥ - of matter; guṇaiḥ - by the modes; kriyamāneṣu - being done; karmasu - ac tions; kartṛtvam - the doer; ātmani - in the self; manyate - is thought; atra - here; niraham- bhāvasya - freedom from false ego; parābhidhyāna - by the false identification; asambhavāt - because of being impossible; parāveśa - entrance; jāta - born; ahaṅkārasya - of false ego; ca - also; āvarakatvāt - because of covering; asti - is; eva - indeed; tasminn - in that; anyaḥ - another; aham-bhāva-viśeṣaḥ - false ego; sa - that; ca - also; śuddha-rūpa-mātra-niṣṭhatvān - because of confidence in the spiritual form; na - not; saṁsāra - of the material world; hetuḥ - the cause; iti - thus; spaṣṭam - clear.

Here the word parābhidhyānena" means  by entering the material world and thinking `I am made of matter'." In this way the transcendental living entity accepts the influence of material energy as his field of activities, and thus actuated, he wrongly applies the activities to himself (prakṛter guṇair kriyamāneṣu karmasu kartṛtvam ātmani manyate). A person who is free of false-ego does not think in this way. Only when a person is covered by materialistic false-ego does he think in this way. A soul who is convinced of his spiritual identity has no reason to enter the material world. That is clear.

(Note by the blogger:) Note here that the word 'āveśena' which means 'by this absorption', has again been mistranslated as 'entering', which is praveśena, a similar word which is not in the text however. Later the words para-āveśa are translated again as entrance, while it means absorbed (āveśa) in something else (para)
Dr. Satya Nārāyan Dās then sent his own translation of Section 29 -

The jīva is the direct meaning of “I” (This title is given by me). The jīva is not the intended meaning of the word “You” [in the statement “You are That”] signifying an individual reflected in the consciousness that is bliss by nature, but has the meaning of “I,” since it has the characteristic of being the self. The meaning [of the word] “I” is only found in the sense of being “I.” Thus consciousness, which is the primary meaning of the word “I,” is the pure atma; otherwise absorption in matter is not possible. Because of this absorption, the jiva acquires an alternative feeling of “I” identified with the aggregate of the elements [i.e., the body]. It is with this intention that Śrī Kapiladeva speaks about the soul’s being the meaning of “I”:

evaṁ parābhidhyānena     kartṛtvaṁ prakṛteḥ pumān
karmasu kriyamāneṣu     guṇair ātmani manyate

By identifying with something that is different [the mind-body complex] from himself  (parābhidhyānena), the soul attributes to himself the doership of actions that are being performed by the guṇas of nature. (3.26.6)
Parābhidhyānena means “by identifying with the material nature (prakṛti),” i.e., thinking “I am nothing other than prakṛti,” one considers himself to be the agent of works performed by the guṇas of prakṛti. Because one who does not have a sense of “I” cannot identify with something different from himself, and because the ahaṅkāra or ego born of identifying with the other [prakṛti] is a covering [over that original sense of self], there is certainly another distinct sense of self in the soul. And because that sense of self is grounded exclusively in its pure identity, it is clearly not the cause of its material bondage. These very two kinds of ahankāra are shown in the following verse [from the Eleventh Canto]: "The Atma remains unaffected in the state of deep sleep when the senses are contracted and the ego has become dormant. Its continuity [through the stages of sleep] is proven by the fact that [on awakening] we remember [the enjoyment of a sound sleep]. (11.3.39) Because the ahaṅkāra related to the body is inactive in deep sleep, later on one deliberates only on the basis of the ahaṅkāra of the self in statements such as “we remember” and “I slept happily.” Therefore in the notion [conveyed by the statement] “I did not know myself” there is a lack of knowledge of the ahaṅkāra related to the body. But the other ahaṅkāra [in relation to ātma] is understood to be the witness of the ignorance [of the material ahaṅkāra].

In this section Śrī Jīva establishes that pure soul has “I” consciousness as its very nature. There is “I” consciousness in relation to the physical body because of which we make statements such as “I am weak,” “I am slim,” or “I am tall.” In these sentences “I” refers to the physical body. We also make statements such as “I am happy,” “I am angry,” etc. “I” in these sentences refers to the mind. Beyond this material “I” there is a real “I” within the soul. The Advaita-vādis do not accept “I” consciousness in the soul. According to them the “I” is manifest only when Brahman is limited by ajñāna and is called jīva. When ajñāna is removed by the practice of jñāna then the jīva is Brahman, which has no “I” consciousness. They propose that Brahman is pure, uniform consciousness and bliss and when it reflects in ajñāna it is called jīva; this jīva is the meaning of the word “You” in the famous statement, “You are That” (tat tvam asi). In this statement “That” (tat) refers to Brahman and “You” (tvam) to the jīva. By this they try to deny the meaning “I” to the pure jīva because, according to them, the pure jīva is the same as Brahman, which is devoid of I-consciousness. Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī refutes this by saying that the jīva has a real ‘I’ and is not same as Brahman being conditioned by ajñāna. Thus it cannot be the object of “You” referring to each individual jiva in the famous tat tvam asi mahā-vākya. He refers to the verse of Bhāgavata Purāṇa (11.3.39) which says that during deep sleep one is not aware of either the subtle or gross bodies. That means that the material “I” is dysfunctional, dissolved. Deep sleep is not possible without getting disconnected from the material “I.” In the wakeful state, one is aware of gross body, senses and the internal senses, which include the material “I.” In the dream state, one is not aware of the gross body and senses, but only of the internal senses. In deep sleep one is not aware of anything. Nevertheless, on awaking a person remembers the happy experience of sleep. This happy experience of sleep in which one was not aware of anything would not be possible if there were no “I” in that state. There can be no experience without a sense of ‘I’, the experiencer. Only a person who experiences can have a recollection of the experience. Since one remembers, then it logically follows that there must be an experiencer. Therefore, there must be a real “I” besides the material “I.” On awakening, the material “I” is superimposed onto the real one. In the statement, “I slept well and did not know anything,” there are two parts. One is the knowledge of sleeping well and the other is ignorance of everything else.
This is part of the commentary.

There is no talk of falling from Vaikuṇṭha. Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī is discussing the characteristics of ātma on the basis of description given in Padma Purāṇa and Jamar Muni which he quotes earlier. He is refuting the concept of Advaita-vāda."

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Dying at Radhakund, chillies and carrots


In November, 1992 I translated Śrīla Raghunātha Dāsa Goswāmī's Sva Niyam Daśakam, and only now, 20 years later, I saw that I forgot to translate a very important phrase in verse 9, in the line mariṣye tu preṣṭhe sarasi khalu jīvādi purataḥ

- I wrote back then:
"Certainly I will leave my body in front of Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī and others."

While it should have been:
"Certainly I will leave my body near my beloved lake in front of Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī and others."
The verse can be found in volume 3 of my translation of the Stavāvalī-collection.


Bhakta: “Are chillies mentioned in the śāstra?”

Advaitadas: “The red and green mirch [Hindi] or lanka [Bengali] that are eaten nowadays in India were imported by the British, but the word mirch does have a Sanskrit source in the word marica. This is also still in use in India as the small black pepper-balls.”

Bhakta: “Does it have any role in the emotions in Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa Līlā?”

Advaitadas: Yes in fact it does. In Govinda Līlāmṛta (11.86) it is said:

premājya-narmāli-sitā-rasāvalī mādhvīka-manda-smita-candra-samyutā |
asyā mṛṣerṣyā maricānvitādbhutā vāṇī rasālollasatīśa-tṛptidā ||

"Śrī Rādhā satisfies Her Lord with Her amazing words, that are like a beverage named Rasālā, flavoured with the ghee of love, the sugar of humor, the honey of Her rasika talks, the camphor of Her smile and/or the black pepper of Her false jealousy."

No commentator has said exactly what is meant with mṛṣerṣyā, or false jealousy, but I suppose that Her jealousy is not real as She can never be really angry with Kṛṣṇa.

Bhakta: “Speaking of food, I heard Vaiṣṇavas are not supposed to eat carrots?”

Advaitadas: “Carrots are not eaten in any Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava group anywhere, not even in the Gauḍīya Math. Unlike marica, carrots are not mentioned anywhere in the lengthy descriptions of preparations made for either Śrī Kṛṣṇa (see Govinda Līlāmṛta, chapter 3) or Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu (see many places in Caitanya Caritāmṛta). Haribhakti Vilāsa does not mention carrots, the edition of Bhūmipati dās mentions it as a forbidden food (17.48-49), but it is an incorrect translation of the word gṛñjana, which means turnips or onions.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Mr. Mādhavī, Preaching Strategies and Puruṣottam vows

Bhakta: "What do you think of the new custom of giving women the title 'Prabhu'?”

Advaitadās: "The word Prabhu is of masculine gender, and translated into English it would be 'master', 'lord' or 'mr.' Some lady is named Mādhavī for instance, so you would say Mr. Mādhavī? That is just too absurd for words. It is not that ladies should not receive respect, but this is just totally out of frame and linguistically totally wrong. Needless to say, this is not coming down through paramparā. Furthermore, even for men the title Prabhu is not meant for every vagabond and totally loose fellow. In shastra that title is reserved, even for men, for great acharyas like Śukadeva, Vyāsadeva, or Sanātan Goswāmī.

Returning to the ladies, the title 'mātājī' is also not meant for every 15-year old girl but is traditionally reserved for elderly female gurus, although shastra does say that all women other than one's own wife should be considered mother - mātṛvad para dāreṣu. Sādhu Bābā gave great respect and position to women, and he did address young girls as Mā, or mother, but not as mātājī, for that is for another class of ladies, the elderly female Guru. Generally in traditional Vaiṣṇavism ladies are addressed with the Hindi/Bengali word 'didi' or sister. As a westerner it is hard to imitate a great sādhu like Sādhu Bābā by addressing young women as 'Ma' and we have a totally different culture here too, but Prabhu [Mr.] Mādhavī is really totally out of frame. If you said that in India you would really make a ridiculous fool of yourself."

Bhakta: "Do you think it is good if devotees preach fall-, envy-, free will-, choice-, or fall-from-taṭastha theories just as preaching strategies?"

Advaitadās: Such preaching strategies strengthen already so strong causal or Christian logic in the western minds. When it is apasiddhānta it is apasiddhānta, and it creates the heavy task for properly educated Vaiṣṇavas of re-educating 10000s of misinformed devotees. Some philosophical issues are really hard to conceive, if not impossible to conceive, with simple logic - they require shastriya shraddha, or scriptural faith instead and must be accepted without questioning or rationalizing."

Bhakta: "Puruṣottam Month, the extra Vedic month, is approaching, and many devotees make special tapasya this month."

Advaitadās: "One should follow one's own Guru in this. If Guru has prescribed special tapasya on that month, then follow that, but don't just adopt some self-invented vow this month which Guru has never given. Haribhakti Vilāsa does not prescribe special devotional vratas for Puruṣottam Month. Just chant Hare Kṛṣṇa with love and devotion bol haribol. I took dīkṣā in Puruṣottam Month in 1982, and later, when I found that out, I asked Sādhu Bābā, if it was either very auspicious or inauspicious. Sādhu Bābā shrugged his shoulders and said it did not make any difference. Haribhakti Vilāsa (2.16, 19) actually says mala-māsaṁ parityajet, one should not take initiation in Puruṣottam, the stool-month, but this is clearly in the context of karma kāṇḍa. This also counts for the last verses in chapter 16: "During the Puruṣottama-adhika-māsa, one should donate thirty-three milk cakes cooked in ghee to householder brāhmaṇas who are well-versed in the scriptures, while remembering Lord Kṛṣṇa. By failing to do so, one will lose all the piety that he had accumulated during the previous year." There is no more on Puruṣottam Month in the Haribhakti Vilāsa."