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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Balarāma's birthday, part 2

Bhakta: "Why Balarām’s birthday is not celebrated but Nityānanda’s and Advaita’s days are?"

Advaita Das: "None of these tithis are in Hari Bhakti Vilāsa - there is Janmāṣṭamī, Nṛsiṁha caturdaśī and Rāma Navami. Not even Rādhāṣṭamī is official - they are adopted according to bhāva (sectarean feelings). In our family we do a big utsava on Advaita Saptami and Shiva Rātri, but those things are hardly observed in ISKCON at all. Reversely, ISKCON is doing big things on "Balarām Purnima" which we do not even recognize at all

Bhakta- “I see. And the date of Balarām’s birth, though not celebrated, is different from the one given by IGM. At least according to the calendar I got from Rādhākuṇḍa....that date is two days before Rādhāṣṭamī.”

Advaita Dās- “We are not devotees of Balarām anyway, but of Kṛṣṇa, but it is a bit intriguing. This is from Garga Samhitā 1.10.27-28-

atha vraje panca-dineṣu bhādre     tithau ca ṣaṣṭhyāṁ ca site budhe ca
uccair grahaiḥ pancabhir āvṛte ca     lagne tulākhye dina-madhya-deśe
sureṣu varṣatsu su-puṣpa-varṣaṁ    ghaneṣu muncatsu ca vāri-bindūn
babhūva devo vasudeva-patnyāṁ     vibhāsayan nanda-gṛhaṁ sva-bhāsā

“Then, in Vraja, after five days, in the month of Bhādra (August-September), on the sixth day of the bright fortnight, when Mercury, five exalted planets, and the constellation Libra were on the horizon, at midday, as the demigods showered a beautiful rain of flowers and the clouds sprinkled drops of water, (Śrī Baladeva), illuminating Nanda's home with His splendor, was born from Vasudeva's wife (Rohiṇī).”

Advaitadās: “ISKCON and Gauḍīya Maṭha are not alone in observing Śrāvaṇa Pūrṇimā as Baladeva’s birthday; the Brajabāsīs also do it. Problem is, I have little faith in Garga Samhitā.”

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Truth is offensive? Bhakti is Cancala, and Modakas


Bhakta: “Sometimes you spreak strongly about other Vaiṣṇavas. Are you not supposed to refrain from finding faults with Vaiṣṇavas?”

Advaitadās: “Not finding fault with Vaiṣṇavas is ridiculous and dangerous. If you know a Vaiṣṇava is a thief would you let a rich devotee rent a place from him? If a Vaiṣṇava is a debauch would you let a pretty single woman rent a place from him? If a Guru abuses young female disciples or sucks all the money out his followers, and even tells you all kinds of immoral bogus teachings as well, is it an offence to warn people against him? I think it is a much greater aparādha to a Vaiṣṇava to have him or her duped and exploited by another Vaiṣṇava, who appears superior or sincere but is actually rotten within. Sometimes the text nindāṁ doṣa kīrtanam is quoted, from Jīva Goswāmī, to say that one should not criticize a Vaiṣṇava, even if he is wrong, but that text is just a gloss. It does not mean you should not criticise any Vaiṣṇava. So many disasters have taken place because of such a foolish mentality. A Guru should be madhyama bhāgavata - īśvare tad adhīneṣu bāliśeṣu dviṣatsu ca prema maitri kṛpopekṣā make distinction between the Lord, the devotee, the ignorant and the envious.

Bhakta - "But my Guruji never criticises everyone."

Advaitadas - "You can take dīkṣā from an uttam bhāgavat, no problem, but you cannot imitate such a great saint if you are not yourself free from material desires. So after taking dīkṣā from an uttam bhāgavat go and take śikṣā from a madhyam bhāgavat who will give you proper instructions how to behave in the practical world. Having said all this, this does not mean that one should fritter away one’s short and precious human life gossiping about or making politics against Vaiṣṇavas all day and night for no good reason, or out of sheer malice or envy. That means you have no ruci for bhajan and that is likely to get worse as a result of such genuine Vaiṣṇava aparādha. If an innocent person is about to get duped by a crooked Vaiṣṇava or Guru, though, one should certainly warn such a person with critical words about that Vaiṣṇava.”


Bhakta - “Do you have a clue why he (some devotee) gave up? Something serious must have happened."

Advaita Das - "Not necessarily. Bhakti devi comes and goes as she pleases. We cannot explain why people join and also not why they leave. Bhakti is independent, ahaituki  (SB 1.2.6).”

Bhakta- “But it was a traditional Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava.”

Advaitadas – “Whatever - traditional or IGM, in connection with Bhakti, such are mere adjectives. Even if the Guru demands little or no sādhanā from the pupil, Bhakti may still go. Bhakti comes and goes as she pleases.”

Bhakta- “I know, but there is always a story, so something happened…”

Advaita Das: “Well if you analyse it further, there are two things -

1. nāyam ātma bala hīnena labhya - People are weak and they get burned out in the long run. They cannot resist māyā anymore due to weak Bhakti.”
2. aparādha. Some devotees are too smart, too clean etc. so they get proud and condescending. As a result of this arrogant attitude they displease Bhakti-devī and leave the path.


The word modaka in Rādhā Rasa Sudhānidhi 243 means sweetballs, not just any square sweet. This change has been processed in the blueprint of my Rādhārasa Sudhānidhi translation. In modern parlance modaka also means fried things like samosas, but back when Rādhā Rasa Sudhānidhi was composed it was probably just sweetballs like perā, gulab jamon and laḍḍu.