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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The tatastha-‘region’

Dāmodar Das
The conception that the jīvas are from a taṭastha-region and choose between the spiritual and material world is false?”

“This is nowhere in śāstra and makes no sense.”

Dāmodar Das
“They quote

jīvera svarūpa hoy kṛṣṇera nitya dāsa;
kṛṣṇera taṭastha śakti bhedābheda prakāśa.”

“Where is a taṭastha REGION? South of Vladivostok? It says taṭastha ŚAKTI, not REGION. śakti means an ontological value,  not a location, like east of Amsterdam. What does the verse say?

jīvera svarūpa hoy kṛṣṇera nitya dāsa;
kṛṣṇera taṭastha śakti bhedābheda prakāśa

“The true form of the spirit soul is being an eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa. He is Kṛṣṇa’s marginal energy, being both different and non-different from Him.”

Where is it mentioned it is a region or he made a choice?  Where is this mentioned anywhere else? In the six Sandarbhas? Śrīmad Bhāgavata? Bhagavad Gītā? Caitanya Caritāmṛta? Caitanya Caritāmṛta also says the jīva is anādi bahirmukha, disinclined towards Kṛṣṇa from beginningless time. How they explain the word ‘anādi' in the very same book?”

Dāmodar Das
“Do you have Bṛhad Āranyaka Upaniṣad? They say that text 4.3.9 there proves their theory. They translate it as: "The jīva has 2 places: the material region and the cit-region. And there is another place, a border-region called tatastha, which forms the contact of the material and spiritual regions. Being in that region, the jīva sees these both places.”

That text is about consciousness, not about the jīva -

tasya vā etasya puruṣasya dve eva sthāne bhavataḥ: idaṁ ca para-loka-sthānaṁ ca; sandhyaṁ tṛtīyaṁ svapna-sthānam; tasmin sandhye sthāne tiṣṭhann, ubhe sthāne paśyati, idaṁ ca para-loka-sthānaṁ ca atha yathākramo’yaṁ para-lokasthāne bhavati, tam ākramam ākramya, ubhayān pāpmana ānandāṁś ca paśyati. sa yatra prasvapiti, asya lokasya sarvāvato mātrām apādāya, svayaṁ vihatya, svayaṁ nirmāya, svena bhāsā, svena jyotiṣā prasvapiti; atrāyam puruṣaḥ svayaṁ-jyotir bhavati.

“There are two states for that person, one here in this world, one in the other world, and a third in an intermediate state, the dream-place. When in that intermediate state, he sees both those states together, the one here in this world, and the other in the other world. Now whatever his admission to the other world may be, having gained that admission, he sees both the evils and the blessings. And wherever he dreams, then after having taken away with him the material from the whole world, destroying and building it up again, he dreams by his own light. In that state the person is self-illuminated.”

Otherwise the Upaniṣads would contradict Śruti and Vedānta, which unanimously say that ignorance and karma are beginningless.  These verses are speaking about the position of ātma in different states of existence i.e. waking, dream and birth and death. You can see this from the context. It is a dialogue between Janaka and Yajñavalkya. The king asks about ātma in 4.3.7. Yajñavalkya is explaining how ātma is different from all the modifications of the mind experienced in the waking and dream state: “He, remaining the same, wanders along the two worlds, as if thinking, as if moving. During sleep (in dream) he transcends this world and all the forms of death.” In 4.3.8 he explains about the transmigration of the ātma – “On being born that person, assuming his body, becomes united with all evils; when he departs and dies, he leaves all evils behind.” In 4.3.9 he combines what he said in 4.3.7 and 4.3.8. There is no talk of any spiritual world. Paraloka refers to next body or birth. In 4.3.18, another text they quote to prove the tatastha region-point, even the word svapna-sthāna, ‘dream-place’, is stated explicitly, “As a fish swims between two banks, the ātma experiences the waking and dream states.”

tad yathā mahā matsya ubhe kule' nusancārati pūrvaṁ ca paraṁ caivam
evāyam puruṣa etav ubhāv antav anusancārati svapnāntam ca buddhāntam ca

(Fall-vādī translation:) “Just as a large fish living in the river wanders from one bank to the other, so the jīva is of similar quality, and is equipped to wander in the Kāraṇa waters between the material and spiritual worlds (svapnānta and buddhānta).” Bṛhad-Āraṇyaka Upaniṣad

Here again are the words svapnāntam, dreaming state and buddhāntam, wakeful state of consciousness. Where is there any mentioning of the Kārana ocean? It does not fit in the context at all. That whole section of the Upaniṣad, texts 8-18, is all about consciousness.“

Monday, December 01, 2014


The bizarre idea that Mount Govardhan is female is based on the following assumptions -

"And those who go very deep will think that Giriraja Govardhana is like a sakhi of Śrīmati Radhika, having a female form in which to serve."
 "In the caves and kunjas of Govardhana, Giriraja is seeing all of the sweetest pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. Who can see them? Can any male person be there and serve at that time? It is quite impossible."
 "So many secret and sweet pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa and the gopas and gopis take place in the caves and groves of Giriraja Govardhana. It can be understood, therefore, that Govardhana is not male."

Advaitadas – The idea that Mount Govardhana is a sakhī of Rādhārāṇī based on the logic presented above is a pseudo-rasika consideration. If we apply this logic, that no male person can be present when the Divine Couple enjoy Their pastimes, then we are bound to conclude that all the trees, vines and birds present on the occasion must also be female only. This, of course, is an absurd proposal, because there are plenty of records of male animals being present in the nikuñja-līlā of Śrī Yugala Kiśora, perhaps the most famous examples being the two Śuka-parrots Dakṣa and Vicakṣaṇa, who participate in the concert of waking up the lovers in their pleasure grove during niśānta-līlā (Kṛṣṇa Bhāvanāmṛta, 1.28-32). And then there are the priya-narma sakhās, headed by Subala, who also have entrance into the nikuñja-līlā. Śrī Rūpa Mañjarī addressed a girlfriend who was very devoted to Subala (Ujjvala Nīlamani 2.14), saying:

 pratyāvartayati prasādya lalanāṁ krīḍā kali-prasthitāṁ
 śayyāṁ kuñja-gṛhe karotyaghabhidaḥ kandarpa-līlocitām
 svinnam vījayati priyā hṛdi parisrastāṅgam uccair amuṁ
 kva śrīmān adhikāritāṁ naḥ subalaḥ sevā vidhau vindati

 "Sakhi! When a quarrel arises between Śrī Kṛṣṇa and His beloveds in the course of their pastimes, Subala goes to Kṛṣṇa's sweethearts and pacifies them with different humble words, thus convincing them to return to Him. He makes a wonderful playbed fit for erotic pastimes for Śrī Kṛṣṇa in the kunja-cottages, and when Kṛṣṇa becomes tired of lovemaking and falls exhausted on His beloved's (Rādhā's) breasts, Subala picks up a fan and fans Them. For which services is Subala not eligible?"

Of course sometimes Śrīmati Rādhā, upon being plunged in the rapture of viraha-bhāva, may speak delirious talks, addressing any tree, creeper or animal as sakhī, but this can never be presented as a permanent ontological situation. Govardhana is Govardhana. When we see Govardhana in Vraja, we consider Govardhan to be the best of Hari's servants. When we worship the śilā of Govardhan, following in the footsteps of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and Raghunātha Dās Goswāmī, we worship it as non-different from Śrī Kṛṣṇa, along with a mālā of guñjā-berries as a sign of our allegiance to Rādhārāṇī.
  Girirāni proponent –

  pramada-madana-lilah kandare kandare te
    racayati nava-yunor dvandvam asminn amandam
    iti kila kalanartham lagnakas tad-dvayor me
    nija-nikata-nivasam dehi govardhana! Tvam
    "O Govardhana! Please grant me a dwelling near your side so that I can  easily witness and serve the youthful lovers Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa as They perform newer and newer secret, amorous lilas within your many caves, and where They become completely maddened from drinking prema. You are present there, and you make everything possible." (Śrī Govardhana-Vasa-Prarthana-Dasakam, verse 2)

    So many secret and sweet pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa and the gopas and gopis  take place in the caves and groves of Giriraja Govardhana. It can be understood,  therefore, that Govardhana is not male. Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa would not be able to play so many grove-lilas and kunja-lilas in front of a male. That would be absurd. Giriraja has actually come from the heart of Śrīmati Radhika. It is not that Kṛṣṇa became Giriraja Govardhana. Kṛṣṇa is the predominating Deity of Giriraja, but it has been written in the Tapani Upanisad and Bhavisya Purana that Giriraja Govardhana has manifested from the heart of Radhika.

Advaitadas – “I would like to see those verses. They must be heavily interpreted. Why should we concoct a novel method of worship, separate from the one very clearly instructed by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu to Raghunātha Dās Gosvāmī, our prayojana-ācārya? Is it so that the method of bhajan given to him is not high enough for us? Caitanya Caritamrita, Antya-lila, 6.295-298:

prabhu kahe, ei śilā kṛṣṇera vigraha
ihāra sevā koro tumi koriyā āgraha
ei śilāra koro tumi sāttvika pūjana
acirāt pābe tumi kṛṣṇa-prema-dhana
eka kujā jala āra tulasī-mañjarī
sāttvika-sevā ei śuddha-bhāve kori
dui-dike dui-patra madhye komala mañjarī
ei-mata aṣṭa-mañjarī dibe śraddhā kori

The Lord said: “This śilā is the vigraha (divine form) of Kṛṣṇa. Worship Him with great eagerness! Worship this śilā in a sāttvika way, and very soon you will attain the wealth of Kṛṣṇa-prema. Offer one jug of water and a tulasī-mañjarī. In this way, render sāttvika-sevā with a pure mood. With faith, you should offer eight tulasī-mañjarīs, each having two leaves and a tender bud in the middle.”

This leaves very little scope for speculation as to what was the concept of bhajan of Raghunātha Dās Goswāmī.

Girirāni proponent –
From the evidence of Śrī Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and from the evidence of Ragunatha dasa Gosvami's own writings, we see that there is some provision to worship Giriraja Govardhana as Kṛṣṇa Himself. There is no doubt about this. In Śrīmad Bhagavatam also, when all the Vrajavasis performed the annakuta mahotsava, Govardhana assumed a very large form, like Kṛṣṇa, and accepted everything as the Supreme Lord. This is very good, but we see many great Vaisnavas in our line worshiping Govardhana as Hari-dasa-varya, the servant of Hari, not as Hari Himself. There is also evidence for this. How can we reconcile these two approaches? It is very easy. Śrīla Gurudeva has given a simple example. We know Baladeva. Who is Baladeva? He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is Visnu-tattva, the almighty Supreme Lord,  non-different from Kṛṣṇa. Yet, at the same time, Baladeva is dasa. He is  the servant of Kṛṣṇa. At the same time, all those who go very deeply will know that Baladeva has become Ananga Manjari in order to serve the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa in madhurya rasa. In the same way, anyone may see Giriraja Govardhana as the supreme Lord Hari Himself. Anyone who goes deeper may see him as Hari-dasa-varya, the best servant of Hari. And, those who go very deep will think that Giriraja Govardhana is like a sakhi of Śrīmati Radhika, having female form in which to serve.
Advaitadas – It is generally accepted that Baladeva is also Ananga Manjari because His consort Jahnavā has that identity, and śakti śaktimator abheda, there is no difference between the energy and energetic. But Govardhana is not said to have such a female counterpart anywhere, by any ācārya or śāstra. This is pure conjecture or kutarka, false logic.

     Girirāni proponent –

 pramoda-madana-lilah kandare kandare te
 racayati nava-yunor dvandvan asminn-amandam
"In the caves and kunjas of Govardhana, Giriraja is seeing all of the sweetest pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. Who can see them? Can any male person be there and serve at that time? It is quite impossible. In our Guru-gayatri we see the word Kṛṣṇanandaya. Guru is giving pleasure to Kṛṣṇa and Kṛṣṇā (Kṛṣṇa with a long 'a'), Śrīmati Rādhārani. Therefore, if  gurudeva is Kṛṣṇanandaya, giving pleasure to both Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa, how can he have a male form in that realm? Surely this mantra is for remembering and praying for the mercy of guru in his sakhi form, as a maidservant of Śrīmati Rādhārani. In the same way, the various conceptions of Giriraja Govardhana can be reconciled.
Advaitadas – Same thing here. Śrī Gurudeva is confirmed by śāstra to have a male sādhaka and female siddha-form, but not Govardhana.

     Girirāni proponent –

rasa-nidhi-nava-yunoh saksinim dana-keler
dyuti-parimala-viddham syama-vedim prakasya
rasika-vara-kulanam modam asphalayan me
nija-nikata-nivasam dehi govardhana tvam

O Govardhana, O hill that provides the dark courtyard that witnesses the dana-keli pastime of the nectar-treasure youthful divine couple, O hill that brings great bliss to the best of they who relish transcendental nectar, please grant to me residence near you.

In this sloka it is seen that Girraja becomes Girirani as no males can witness the nikunja lilas, so this saksinim is female ,not saksi.

Advaita Das - No ācārya, past or present, ever claimed Govardhan is female, not even Gauḍīya Maṭh-ācāryas. The word sākṣiṇī applies to the place called Śyāma vedī (which is fem. gender), not to Govardhan (which is male gender). Rasa nidhi nava yūnoḥ = of the youthful couple, who are an ocean of rasa. Sākṣiṇīṁ = she is the witness, dāna keleḥ = of the dāna-pastime, dyuti parimala viddhāṁ = filled (female gender) with splendor and fragrance, śyāma vediṁ = blue pavillion (female gender), prakāśya = manifest (by Govardhana). Their own translation says: “O Govardhana, O hill that provides the dark courtyard that witnesses the Dāna-keli pastime of the nectar-treasure youthful divine couple.." That witnessing, sākṣiṇī, dark courtyard is the female Śyāma vedi. No one says Girirāṇī, but Girirāj, and Śrīmad Bhāgavata says haridāsa varya, not haridāsī varya. Kṛṣṇa Himself proclaimed ‘ śailo’smi’ – “I am the mountain!” as He lifted Mount Govardhana in Śrīmad Bhāgavata 10.24.35.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Rati Manjari, Giridhāri, bhāgavat-paramparā and rāgānugā at ruci.

Bhakta – “You say Advaita Prabhu is Rati Manjari but I thought Raghunātha dās Gosvāmī was Rati Manjari.”

Advaitadās – In Gaura Ganodddeśa Dīpikā different other identities are given to Rati Manjari too, is any of them wrong? Raghunātha dās Gosvāmī is said there to be Rasa Manjari. Can you limit identities in the spiritual world?

yā rūpa-mañjarī-preṣṭhā purāsīd rati-mañjarī
socyate nāma-bhedena lavaṅga-mañjarī budhaih 

(Gaura Ganodddeśa Dīpikā.181)

“Rūpa Manjari's closest friend is known by the varying names Rati Manjari and Lavanga Manjari by the wise and appeared as Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī.”

dāsa-śrī-raghunāthasya pūrvākhyā rasa-mañjarī
amuṁ kecit prabhāṣante śrīmatīṁ rati-mañjarīm
bhānumaty-ākhyayā kecid āhus taṁ nāma-bhedataḥ 

(Gaura Ganodddeśa Dīpikā.186)

“Śrīla Raghunātha dās Gosvāmī was the incarnation of Rasa-manjari. Some say that Raghunātha dās Gosvāmī was the incarnation of Rati-manjari, and others say he was the incarnation of Bhānumati-devi.”

Bhakta. Some say one should not take Giridhāri (the Govardhan śilā) out of Braja –

Advaitadās - Where did Giridhāri-worship start? In Puri, not in Braj. Śrīman Mahāprabhu himself took Giridhāri out of Braj. The problem is not with taking Giridhāri out of Braj but a possible lack of sadācāra and responsibility. The Deity is like a baby, and should be cared for non-stop.

Bhakta - Some want to prove bhāgavat-paramparā, a selection of the greatest ācāryas-only, by quoting Mahāprabhu instructing Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmi - ei śuddha bhakti iha hoite prema haya, pancarātre, bhāgavate ei lakṣaṇa kaya (CC Madhya 19.169)

Advaitadās – The proponent here does not give any translation. This is the translation:
‘This is pure bhakti, from which prema arises. Its symptoms have been described in the Nārada Pancarātra and in the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam.’ 
You see this has nothing to do with a hand-picked paramparā at all.

Bhakta – In this connection it is sometimes said that if one who is not realized gives dīkṣā, then the flow of realization will not reach the next generation. 

Advaitadās – Gaurakiśora dāsa babaji, Jagannāth dās babajī and Vaṁśīdās babaji all had brāhmin-gṛhastha gurus and became siddha still.

Bhakta - Some say rāgānugā bhakti starts at the stage of ruci, quoting for instance Bhakti Sandarbha (Anuccheda 310) - ato rāgānuga kathyate. yasya pūrvoktaṁ rāga-viśeṣe rucir eva jātāsti na tu rāga-viśeṣa eva svayaṁ, tasya tādṛśa-rāga-sudhākara-karābhāsa-samullasita-hṛdaya-sphaṭika-maṇeḥ śāstrādi-śrutāsu tādṛśyā rāgātmikāyā bhakteḥ paripāṭīṣv api rucir jāyate. tatas tadīyaṁ rāgaṁ rucy-anugacchantī sā rāgānugā tasyaiva pravartate. 
"Now we will discuss rāgānugā bhakti. When a person develops ruci for the aforementioned specific rāga, even though that rāga has not yet arisen in him, the heart becomes like a crystal, shining as it reflects the rays of the moon of that rāga. By hearing from śāstra etc. one develops ruci for the actions of the rāgātmikā-associates, Then, by following the rāga of a particular associate in accordance to one's ruci, one performs bhakti which is called rāgānugā."

Advaitadās - The phrase 'even though that rāga has not yet arisen in him' shows it has nothing to do with having to attain the generic term of ruci first. ‚According to one’s ruci‘ means according to one’s own taste, not that rāgānugā bhakti itself starts from the official generic stage of ruci, the 6th of 9 stages of devotional development as mentioned in Bhaktirasāmṛta-sindhu 1.4.15-16. Viśvanātha Cakravartī writes in Rāga vartma candrikā, 2.7 –  atha rāgānugā-bhaktimajjanasyānartha nivṛtti niṣṭhā-rucy-āsakty-antaraṁ prema-bhūmikārūḍhasya “Now it will be described how the rāgānugīya bhakta gradually advances through the stages of anartha nivṛtti (cessation of bad habits), niṣṭhā (fixation), ruci (taste), and āsakti (attachment to the beloved deity) up to the stage of prema.”
The course of development of both vaidhi- and rāgānugā sādhana is the same, and separate symptoms of the three stages of sādhana-, bhāva- and prema-bhakti of both vaidhi- and rāga-bhakti have been given in Bhaktirasāmṛta-sindhu (First wave, chapters 2, 3 and 4). One may claim that the stage of ruci is still within the boundary of sādhana bhakti, but the above statement of Viśvanātha Cakravartī about the course of rāga bhakti excludes that.

Bhakta: Then Bhakti Sandarbha Anuccheda 312 is quoted -
tasminn eva nānā-vikṣepavati rucy-abhāvena rāgātmika-bhakti-śailīm anabhijānāti 
"In the absence of ruci persons experience different types of mental distraction, and thus, they are unable to understand the behavior of the rāgātmikā bhaktas (eternal associates)."

Advaitadās - This does not say the generic stage of ruci is required to attain rāga bhakti. It speaks about anarthas that may occur while practising rāgānugā bhakti sādhanā itself, without having too much ruci at the time. Also, the text says bhakti, not bhakta, so it means „They do not understand the ways (śaili) of rāgātmikā bhakti‘.

Bhakta - Also in Anuccheda 312 - tato rucer viralatvād uttarābhāvenāpi yad aikāntikītvaṁ tat-tasyaikāntika-mānino dambha-mātram ity arthaḥ 
"Because this ruci is extremely rare, if one considers himself fixed in exclusive devotion, yet is without reverence for scriptural injunction, his so-called exclusivity in devotion is merely a pretense."
Thus it is shown conclusively that rāgānugā-bhakti is impelled by ruci, and without ruci one cannot follow the associates of Śrī Kṛṣṇa because one is incapable of even understanding the nature of their services. 

Advaitadās - This speaks about the rareness of taste for bhakti on the whole, it does not state that rāgānugā bhakti itself is not attained without being on the generic, official level of bhakti named ruci.

Bhakta – They then quote Bhaktirasāmṛta-sindhu: 1.2.5-6 -
vaidhī rāgānugā ceti sā dvidhā sādhanābhidhā. tatra vaidhī—
yatra rāgānavāptatvāt pravṛttir upajāyate. śāsanenaiva śāstrasya sā vaidhī bhaktir ucyate.
śrī-jīvaḥ: yatra bhaktau pravṛttiḥ puṁso rāgānavāptatvāt rāgeṇanavāpteti hetoḥ śāstrasya śāsanenaiva upajāyate . sā bhaktir vaidhī ucyate . rago’trānurāgas tad-ruciś ca 
visvanāthah: vaidhīti - rāgo’tra rāgas tad-ruciś ca.
"Bhakti performed without raga is vaidhi. In this context, rāga means ruci."

Advaitadās - The commentaries of both ācāryas to Bhaktirasāmṛta-sindhu 1.2.5-6 say tad ruci, taste for rāgānugā bhakti, not the official, generic bhakti-stage of ruci. ruci broadly means just ‚taste‘.

Bhakta - Śrī Jīva Goswāmī’s ṭīkā to Bhaktirasāmṛta-sindhu 1.2.300 is then quoted: yad vinā mūla-tat-tad-rūpa-līlādy-asphūrteḥ. "Without hearing there is no sphūrti (momentary vision) of the sweetness of the forms and pastimes." Here Srila Jiva Gosvami explains that lobha depends on "kincid anubhūti". In your sangha it is translated as "a slight feeling", but Jiva Gosvami explains in this purport that "kincid anubhūti" means a sphūrti, an actual realization, coming from sravanam. If raganuga-bhakti depended on a slight feeling than everyone would be qualified, but as we have shown earlier, the qualification is extremely rare.

Advaitadās - Bhaktirasāmṛta-sindhu 1.2.300 has nothing to do with the ruci-stage at all. No one in ‚our sangha‘ has said kincid anubhūti in this context means a slight feeling – these words are not there in Jīva Goswāmī’s ṭīkā to verse 300 at all. Instead they appear in his ṭīkā to Bhaktirasāmṛta-sindhu 1.2.292, and it does not mean that everyone would be qualified – there needs to be lobha in the first place which does not depend on personal purity as this is not mentioned in any śāstra at all. Without even the slightest lobha no one will be qualified for rāgānugā bhakti, which is simply attained by the grace Kṛṣṇa and His devotee – kṛṣṇa tad bhakta kāruṇyā mātra lābhaika hetukā  - Bhaktirasāmṛta-sindhu 1.2.309. Bhānu Swāmi translates kincid anubhūti as 'realizes to some degree'. Full text of his translation – „When a person realizes to some degree the sweetness of the love and activities of the inhabitants of Vraja through hearing from the scriptures such as Bhāgavatam, which describe these siddha devotees, his intelligence may develop disregard for the injunctions of scripture (śāstram) and logic (yuktim), though logic is certainly employed”

Bhakta - Furthermore, Bhaktirasāmṛta-sindhu 1.1.45 -
svalpāpi rucir eva syād bhakti-tattvāvabodhikā . yuktis tu kevalā naiva yad asyā apratiṣṭhatā.
srī-jivah: atra bahirmukhān praty anyad apy ucyate ity āha—kiṁ ceti. rucir atra bhakti-tattva-pratipādaka-śabdeṣu śrīmad-bhāgavatādiṣu prācīna-samskārenottamatva-jnānam.
Here Srila Rūpa Gosvāmi says that this bhakti-tattva is unintelligible for those who do not have at least a little ruci. Srī Jīva comments that ruci means the person has samskaras (impressions) of bhakti-śāstra such as Srimad Bhagavatam from the previous lives.

Advaitadās - If ruci in Bhaktirasāmṛta-sindhu 1.1.45  would be the generic stage of ruci mentioned in Bhaktirasāmṛta-sindhu 1.4.15-16, the official sequence, then even vaidhi bhakti would be unattainable. Bhānu Swāmi translates the verse properly as 'Even if one has a little taste (not official ruci-stage but just 'taste')  he can understand it.' Something totally different from 'one needs to have the ruci-stage of bhakti to commence rāgānugā bhakti'.

Imagination is technically rajasic and will never result in realization. 

Advaitadās - Meditation on the siddha deha is not imagination. rāgānugā mārge anutpanna rati sādhaka bhaktair api svepsita siddha dehaṁ manasi parikalpya - 'On the rāgānugā-path even sādhaka bhaktas who have no rati yet can think of his own desired siddha deha." (Kṛṣṇadās Kavirāja’s Sāraṅga Rangadā ṭīkā of Kṛṣṇa Karṇāmṛta - 3)

Bhakta – „Only chanting three lakhs harinama daily will sufficiently purify the heart for the spontaneous appearance of Sri Krsna's form, qualities and pastimes.“

Advaitadās - Where is the evidence for this? What if aparādha is committed?

Heno kṛṣṇa nāma yadi loy bahu-bāra; tabu jodi prem nohe nohe aśrudhār
Tabe jāni aparādha tāhāte pracura kṛṣṇa nāma bīja tāte na hoy ankur [CC Ādi 8.29-30]

‚Even if one chants the holy name of Kṛṣṇa many times but there is no prema and tears do not flow, then I know a lot of aparādha is committed, because of which the seed of the holy name does not sprout.‘ 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Goloka, Svayam Bhagavan and Brahma Samhita

Bhakta – “Tattvavādis do not accept Goloka.”

Advaitadas –
“In the Bhagavad-Gītā, Kṛṣṇa speaks several times about "His Dhām", for example in 15.6: tad dhāma paramaṁ mama. What is meant by "dhāma paramaṁ mama"? It is logical that this is the abode of Kṛṣṇa, as the Gītā is a dialogue between Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna (Not Viṣṇu, Rāma, etc). And 'Goloka' is just one of the words to indicate this very abode of Kṛṣṇa (“cow-world”). There are other words, such as, for example, 'Kṛṣṇaloka'. Is Goloka Vaikuṇṭha? Certainly. Rūpa Goswāmī teaches in Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu: siddhāntatas tv abhede 'pi śrīśa-kṛṣṇa-svarūpayoḥ “Philosophically there is no difference between Kṛṣṇa and Viṣṇu.” What is the problem in calling this special Vaikuṇṭha of Kṛṣṇa - 'Goloka'?  There is a spiritual Goloka where Kṛṣṇa's pastimes are eternal, and to think otherwise is māyāvāda – if they accept Kṛṣṇa then He must have an abode too. Śāstra says that each form of the Lord has His abode. There are 34 chapters in the 10th canto of the Bhāgavata describing Kṛṣṇa’s Vṛndāvan-pastimes, which eternally take place in the spiritual world, the highest abode of Kṛṣṇa, and it is not important how this abode is called - Goloka, Kṛṣṇa-loka or Vaikuṇṭha. Jīva Goswāmī quoted evidence for Goloka in Kṛṣṇa-sandarbha – first from Nārada Pancarātra –

tat sarvopari goloke śrī govindaḥ sadā svayam
viharet paramānandī gopī-gokula-nāyakaḥ

« Highest of all, in Goloka, Śrī Govinda always personally enjoys, in great bliss, as the Lord of the gopīs and Gokula. »

And from Mahābhārata, śānti parva 330.68-

evaṁ bahu-vidhai rūpaiś carāmīha vasundharām 
brahma-lokaṁ ca kaunteya golokaṁ ca sanātanam

The translation in KM Ganguly’s Mahābhārata – « In this way, O son of Kunti, assuming diverse forms do I rove at will through the Earth, the region of Brahma himself, and that other high and eternal region of felicity called Goloka.”

In the Bhāgavata (10.27.1) Goloka is mentioned as Indra’s world, but the above Mahābhārata quote cannot apply to that because the word sanātanam is there – eternal, while Indra’s world is not eternal. Furthermore, Goloka is mentioned many, many times in Brahma Vaivarta Purāṇa. The Madhvaites claim this is interpolated, but what is interpolated and what is not is very hard to ascertain. Brahma Vaivarta Purāṇa is mentioned in Bhāgavata 12.13.4-9 as having 18,000 verses.

Bhakta -
“Also the tattvavādīs challenge us, why we are calling Kṛṣṇa the highest? They say that "bhagavān svayam" is mentioned many times in the Bhāgavatam, about Dhanvantari and about Vāmanadeva -

tasyānucaritam upariṣṭād vistariṣyate yasya bhagavān svayam akhila-jagad-gurur nārāyaṇo dvāri gadā-pāṇir avatiṣṭhate nija-janānukampita-hṛdayo yenāṅguṣṭhena padā daśa-kandharo yojanāyutāyutaṁ dig-vijaya uccāṭitaḥ.

“The story of Bali will be told later. The Lord himself, guru of the whole universe, Nārāyaṇa, merciful to his devotee, stands at Bali’s door with a club. The Lord kicked Rāvaṇa ten thousand yojanas with his toe big toe, when Rāvaṇa came to conquer Bali.” (5.24.27)

Advaita Das:
“The word swayam here applies to akhila jagat guru, as well as that He Himself (swayam) stands guard. It does not say that Visnu is the original Personality of Godhead at all. By the way, this is one of many verses that show that Nārāyaṇa is jagat guru, not Balarām / Nitāi.” 

Bhakta – “Then they quote ‘dhanvantariś ca bhagavān swayam eva kīrtir’ (2.7.21)”

Advaitadas –
“Here swayam does not apply to bhagavan but to kīrtir - dhanvantariś ca bhagavān svayam eva kīrtir. This verse describes Dhanvantari. The Lord by the name Dhanvantari is the embodiment of fame (svayam kīrtiḥ). These verses were quoted out of context. They misplaced the adjectives in these two verses.”

Bhakta – “They are saying that Viṣṇu is not mentioned in the list of avatāras mentioned in the first canto of the Bhāgavata because He is the origin of the avatāras, and not an avatāra.”

Advaitadas –
“I quoted 'siddhāntatas tvabhede'pi' earlier. We admit that there's no difference between Kṛṣṇa and Viṣṇu, but rasenotkṛśyate kṛṣṇam, Kṛṣṇa's rasa is superior. Of the 336 chapters of the Bhāgavata, about 1/3 of them are about Kṛṣṇa alone.”

Bhakta -
“There is another verse -

samaḥ priyaḥ suhṛd brahman bhūtānāṁ bhagavān svayam
indrasyārthe kathaṁ daityān avadhīd viṣamo yathā (7.1.1)

Advaita Das
bhūtānāṁ bhagavān svayam - Again the same - He is Himself the Lord of all beings. It applies to bhūtānāṁ bhagavān, not just bhagavan.”

Bhakta –
patnī vikuṇṭhā śubhrasya vaikuṇṭhaiḥ sura-sattamaiḥ
tayoḥ sva-kalayā jajñe vaikuṇṭho bhagavān svayam (8.5.4)

Advaita Dās-
tayoḥ sva-kalayā jajñe vaikuṇṭho bhagavān svayam- He came there Himself, with His śakti. From the combination of Śubhra and his wife, Vikuṇṭhā, there appeared the Supreme Lord, Vaikuṇṭha, along with devatās called the Vaikuṇṭhas, who were his expansions.”
Here the Lord is pointed out as the origin of the devatās, not the origin of Kṛṣṇa.”

Bhakta – “My point is that why Kṛṣṇa cannot be vaikuṇṭho bhagavan svayam? That verse is not saying "viṣṇuloko bhagavān svayam". Also, are there other places where it is said 'ete cāṁśa kalā puṁsaḥ' in the Bhāgavata? That other avatāras are just aṁśas?”

Advaita Das
“Yes – It is like saying Laghu Vaisnava Tosani is 'Pleasing the light Vaisnavas' - applying laghu to Vaisnavas instead of to Tosani.”

Bhakta – “They claim Brahma Samhitā is written by Jīva Goswāmī to prop up his siddhānta.”

Advaitadās – “Not true - Rūpa Goswāmī quoted Brahma Samhitā twice in chapter 2.1 of his Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu, which was completed in 1541, when Jīva Goswāmi was just a child.”

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

paṭu and mṛdu synonyms

Originally I translated Śrīla Raghunātha dās Gosvāmī’s ‚Svaniyama Daśakam‘, verse 5, as follows –

anādiḥ sādir vā paṭur ati mṛdur vā pratipadaṁ
pramīlat kāruṇyaḥ praguṇa karuṇā hīna iti vā
mahā vaikuṇṭheśādhika iha naro vā vrajapater
ayaṁ sūnur goṣṭhe prati-jani mamāstāṁ prabhu-varaḥ

            anādiḥ - beginningless; sa ādiḥ - with a beginning; - or; paṭuḥ - harsh; ati - very; mṛduḥ -soft; pratipadaṁ - always; pramīlat - obvious; kāruṇyaḥ - compassion; praguṇa - greatest qualities; karuṇā - mercy; hīna - without; iti - thus; - or; mahā - great; vaikuṇṭheśa - Lord of Vaikuṇṭha; adhika - more; iha - here; naraḥ - human being; - or; vrajapateḥ - of the Lord of Vraja; ayaṁ - this; sūnuḥ - son; goṣṭhe - in Vraja; prati-jani - every birth; mama - my; āstāṁ - may he be; prabhu - lord; varaḥ - best.

            He may be beginningless or with a beginning, harsh or very tender, most compassionate or merciless, more opulent and powerful than the Lord of Vaikuṇṭha or just an ordinary human being - the son of the Lord of Vraja is always my worshipable Lord, birth after birth!

The words "paṭu" and "mṛdu" can both have two meanings, creating the possibility of two juxtapositions in the verse – „Kṛṣṇa may be very soft (mṛdu) or very hard or cruel (paṭu)“ or: „Kṛṣṇa can be very expert (paṭu) or very tender“, meaning weak or clumsy (mṛdu). Both juxtapositions apply in the context of the verse.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

sat-kriyā sāra dīpikā and saṁskāra dīpikā

Sat Kriyā Sāra Dīpikā and Saṁskāra Dīpikā are two manuals with rituals for Vaiṣṇavas, the former dealing with rules for householders and the latter with rules for aspirant renunciants. They are said to be written by Gopāl Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī, but they are nowhere mentioned as being his work, nor have any post-six-Goswāmī-ācāryas ever quoted them in their works. Other books by the Gosvāmīs are well known and accepted. The Bhakti-ratnākara, which was written in the 18th century, gives an extensive and correct list of the works of all the Gosvāmīs. It has a long discussion of Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī in the first chapter, but says nothing of this text. The only two texts that are associated with Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī in the Bhakti-Ratnākara are the Hari-bhakti-vilāsa and a commentary on the Kṛṣṇa-karṇāmṛta.

In the third chapter of the text, the author of Sat-kriyā-sāra-dīpikā recommends the worship of Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī in the Vaiṣṇava homa, “oṁ gopāla bhaṭṭāya svāhā”. Gopāl Bhaṭṭa Goswāmī was so humble that he did not want his name mentioned in Caitanya Caritāmṛta, so it would be a total contradiction if he would prescribe worship of himself in a book he wrote. Worship of the Pañca Tattva and Madhvācārya, which is nowhere prescribed in the Goswāmīs’ books, is recommended (Saṁskāra Dīpika 30), and in the same paragraph is the sentence vaiṣṇavatvena dvijatva siddheḥ, “being a Vaiṣṇava makes one a dvija“, which is as Gauḍīya Maṭh-ish as coals are from Newcastle. Then there is the ‘gopībhāvāśraya’ sannyāsa-mantra (Saṁskāra Dīpika 40), which is also not found anywhere in the Goswāmīs’ books. The same paragraph carries the text kutsitaṁ malinaṁ vāso varjanīyaṁ viśeṣataḥ kaṣāya-rahitaṁ vastraṁ, “Ugly and dirty clothes and clothes which are not saffron are to be given up“, but Haribhakti Vilāsa (4.147) says nagno rakta paṭaḥ “For a Vaiṣṇava, wearing red cloth is like being naked.” Although that is said in the context of arcanā, it is a general statement because a pūjārī does not change the color of his cloth when he gets off the altar. Saffron should not be worn by a Vaiṣṇava, on or off the altar – rakta vastra vaiṣṇavera poḍte nā yuwāy (Caitanya Caritāmṛta Antya 13.61).
Haribhakti Vilāsa also states: śukla-vāso bhaven nityaṁ raktaṁ caiva vivarjayet (4.152) “The Vaiṣṇava should always wear white cloth and give up red cloth.”

dhārayed vāsasi śuddhe paridhānottarīyake
acchinna sudaśe śukle ācamet pīṭha saṁsthitaḥ

“One must wear clean dhoti and chador, untorn and white, then take a seat and do ācamana.” (4.161)

kṛtopavāsaḥ śiṣya atha prāta-kṛtyaṁ vidhāya saḥ
śukla-vastraḥ suveśaḥ san viprān dravyena toṣayet

“The candidate for dīkṣā should fast and finish his morning duties. Dressed in a nice white garment he should satisfy the brāhmaṇas with gifts". (Haribhakti Vilāsa 2.110)

If Sat Kriyā Sāra Dīpikā and Saṁskāra Dīpikā were written by Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī, they would contradict his other book, Haribhakti Vilāsa. It could have been written by any other Gopāla Bhaṭṭa, as every other boy in India is named Gopāl, and Bhaṭṭa is also a common surname for Brahmins. Surely there are thousands of Gopāla Bhaṭṭas in India at any given time.

Other opinions on these books are inconclusive. In his Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava Sāhitya (2nd volume, page 2), Haridās Dās suspects the authenticity of this scripture. He also suggests the two booklets were written by another Gopāla Bhaṭṭa, not the Gopāl Bhaṭṭa who was one of the six Goswāmīs. He says that he asked Vanamālilāl Goswami, one of the Radharaman Goswamis, who was responsible for the service of Radharaman, about the book. Vanamalilal Goswami said that it was written by a Gopāl Bhaṭṭa who was a disciple of Hita Harivaṁśa. In support of this he points to a reference in the tilaka-section to the form of the tilaka being described as “rādhā-vallabhīya”, relating to the deity of Hita Harivaṁśa, not a Gauḍīya deity. 

These arguments are not so sound, because why would another sampradāya’s teacher speak so much of Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism, if at all?

Naresh Candra Jana, in his book Vṛndāvaner Chaya Gosvami (p. 212-213), considers it to be the work of a later author of unknown name who passed it off as a work of Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī. He points to similar inconsistencies. Dr. Jana, however, is a mundane scholar from Calcutta - what is his spiritual authority? 

Some say this Gopāl Bhaṭṭa was the grandson of Nārāyan Bhaṭṭa (the author of Vraja Bhakti Vilāsa, who was in the lineage of Gadādhar Pandit), or Vaikuṇṭha Vācaspati, a later Brahmin scholar.

Despite this, I am personally convinced these are not works of any Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī, for the following reasons -

Samskāra Dīpikā contains modern Bengali words like bhek, Bengali for veśa or sannyāsa, but meaning ‘frog’ in Sanskrit (Saṁskāra Dīpikā 21 – guruṇā data bahirvāsavād bhekāṅga-bhūta cīra-khaṇḍa-yugma, and bheka-dhāriṇām tu, Saṁskāra Dīpikā 29). It also controversially claims that Nityānanda Prabhu gave kaupina etc. to Raghunātha dāsa Goswāmī (Samskāra Dīpikā 22 - nityānandena prabhuṇā svayam eva śrī raghunātha dāsa gosvāmine kaupīnādikaṁ dattam).

Sat Kriyā Sāra Dīpikā states early on, in text two, that included in gṛhi brāhmaṇas (householder brāhmaṇas) are anyone of any caste, if initiated by a sat-guru – such a statement also has a distinct Gauḍīya Maṭh-flavor. Later ‘Gopāl Bhaṭṭa’ states that a brahmacārī is greater than a person who follows brahminical principles from the cradle to the grave. It is no wonder that all editions I saw of these booklets were published by Gauḍīya Maṭh or ISKCON, as it fits their agenda very well.

In the upanayana-chapter, paragraph one, it is said ṣoḍaśa varṣa paryantam upanayanādhikāraḥ ataḥ paraṁ sāvitrī patito brāhmaṇo nopanetara – A brāhmaṇa can get the upanayana (thread-ceremony) until the age of sixteen, if he does not receive it by then he is called fallen from sāvitrī and cannot receive the Brahmin-thread anymore.” 
Makes me wonder how 40-year old western hippies can receive it then?

Later the concept of mantravān pāñcarātrika brāhmaṇa (a brāhmaṇa with pāñcarātrika mantra-dīkṣā according to the translator) appears in the book. pāñcarātrika is also a typical Gauḍīya Maṭh concept which is nowhere mentioned in the Haribhakti Vilāsa. The dating of these books apparently makes it impossible that they are Gauḍīya Maṭh-products, but since they suit their agenda so well, they have always been their main publishers.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Worshiping Rādhā alone, Girirāja and Panca-mālā

Tongue of Govardhan at Rādhākuṇḍa


A friend of mine has a deity of Rādhā alone. He worships her without Kṛṣṇa. I never heard of any worship like that.

Advaita Dās:

That is not right, that is wrong. This is concocted. No śāstra and no ācāryas said this. No one did this either. People are uncultured - they do not know śāstra so they just make up one thing after the other.


Even he thinks that he is a mañjarī. How can explain it to him that it is wrong?

Advaita Dās -

Just repeat what I said - this worship must be:

1. Prescribed in śāstra
2. Coming through paramparā
3. Received from Guru

If that will not work then quote Rādhā-rasa Sudhānidhi 259 –

dhyāyaṁs taṁ śikhi pincha maulim aniśaṁ tan nāma saṅkīrtayan
nityaṁ tac caraṇāmbujaṁ paricaraṁs tan mantra varyaṁ japan
śrī rādhā pada dāsyam eva paramābhīṣṭaṁ hṛdā dhārayan
karhi syāṁ tad anugraheṇa paramodbhutānurāgotsavaḥ

            “I always meditate on Kṛṣṇa, who wears a crown of peacock feathers, I always sing His name in saṅkīrtana, I always serve His lotus-feet (the deity) and repeat His best of mantras (gopāla mantra and kāma gāyatrī), holding the desire for the supremely cherished service of Śrī Rādhā's lotus-feet in my heart.  When will that great festival of prema arise in my heart by His grace?”

paricaraṁs – paricaraṁs means worshiping the deity of (Rādhā-)Kṛṣṇa, while holding the aspiration for rādhā dāsya in the heart. Jīva Goswāmī quotes Viṣṇu Rahasya in Bhakti Sandarbha (283), saying that if one does arcanā, even with bhakti, without proper knowledge, one gets only 1% benefit. In other words, concocted arcanā, or arcanā not prescribed by Guru –

avijñāya vidhānoktaṁ hari-pūjā-vidhi-kriyām
kurvan bhaktyā samāpnoti śata-bhāgaṁ vidhānataḥ


Yes...sevā aparādha. Leads to no inspiration...loss of faith...confusion.

Advaita Das

Yes - like veganism. This is also sevā aparādha - cooking for your own bones.


This is a somewhat edited version of a conversation I had with a devotee in December, 2006 –

Bhakta - 

Please accept my obeisances. Praises to the Vaisnavas.
1. What is the difference from a Govardhana-śilā as Girirāja and that of a Govardhana śilā as Giridhāri? How is the identity and mood of worship different?

2. At Rādhākunda I have seen some chanting gāyatri with a cloth covered necklace on. What is inside the necklace and what is the significance of the articles inside, what is the reason for wearing it and historical context of wearing it?

Advaitadās -

1. Mount Govardhan is both Kṛṣṇa (Mahāprabhu told Raghunāth Dās Gosvāmī the śilā is kṛṣṇa kalevara, Kṛṣṇa’s body” (C.C. Antya 6.292), and Kṛṣṇa Himself said śailo’smi – I am the mountain’ in Śrīmad Bhāgavata 10.24.35) and haridāsa varya (the best of Hari's servants, in Śrīmad Bhāgavata 10.21.18), however the śilā is primarily worshipped as Kṛṣṇa. The mood is one of sweet rustic simplicity. The worship is briefly explained by Śrīman Mahāprabhu in Caitanya Caritāmṛta Antya-līlā chapter 6.

2. It seems you must have seen someone doing that out in the open. Actually mantra japa should be done in private, not in public. The wreath they wear is called a pañca mālā and consists of five substances – Guñjā-berries, cloth from Lord Jagannātha, Tulasī, Āmalakī or Dhātrī and clay from Rādhā-kuṇḍa and Śyāma-kuṇḍa. Some Vaiṣṇavas believe that it enhances concentration. I have not received such a tool from my Guru, nor have I seen it mentioned in any Vaiṣṇava śāstra.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Figures in śāstra.

10 years ago I had a very painful debate with the elite of the Gaudiya Discussions web-forum about figures mentioned in śāstra, in which I found myself practically alone combatting an army of mundane intellectual sceptics and frogs-in-the-well having devotee-names. Recently a couple of devotees posted an article on Facebook that supports my stance at the time (and now too). I wish to quote a selection of the evidence they provided here -

“Some of the numbers given in Vedic literatures seem too large to be true. For example, the forty-first verse of chapter ninety of the tenth canto of Śrīmad Bhāgavata states:

tasraḥ koṭyaḥ sahasrāṇām aṣṭāśīti-śatānica
āsan yadu-kulācāryāḥ kumārāṇām iti śrutam

“[In Dwarka] the Yadu family [had so many children] that they employed 38,800,000 teachers to educate them.” The next verse says lakṣeṇāstesa āhukaḥ — Maharaja Ugrasena had an entourage of thirty trillion attendants. Approximately 4,000 times the entire present population of the earth planet. And aside from that, there were also cooks, laborers, priests, housewives, children, soldiers, and the rest of a variegated population of Dvārakā. Regarding the number of personal servants of Mahārāja Ugrasena, Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartipāda offers an explanation in his commentary to the Śrīmad Bhāgavata 10.90.42 as follows:

atrāyutānām iti bahu-vacanaṁ kapiñjalādhikaraṇa-nyāyena. tritva-viśiṣṭāyāṁ saṅkhyāyāṁ paryavasāyitam ayutānām ayuta-lakṣaṇena bindu-trayodaśa-yuktena trayeṇa śaṅkha-trayeṇety arthaḥ. āsīd iti vaktavye āsta iti nitya-līlā-sphūrtyā uktam.

The plural in the term “ayutānām” should be understood according to the maxim of kapiñjala-nyāya. [The kapiñjala-nyāya says that whenever plural is used in context of numbers, it should be understood as the number 3]. Thus, the number here is 3 followed by thirteen zeros (30,000,000,000,000).

(This was evidence I quoted in the 2004 Gaudiya Discussions debate)

The present tense term “āste” (are) in this verse is used instead of the past tense “āsīd” (were) and this indicates that this great number is being spoken of by Śrīla Śukadev Gosvāmī from the remembrance of the continuous ongoing nitya-līlā of the Lord [in Goloka Vṛndāvana, and not from the pastimes that happened on earth]. 

What to speak of the cows of Vṛndāvana! In his purport to Śrīmad Bhāgavata 10.12.2, Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda says that the number of Kṛṣṇa’s cows exceeded one followed by seventeen zeros. That’s in the realm of one hundred quadrillion cows. And Visvanātha says that was just the young calves, the older cows far exceeded that amount. In his commentary on Bhāgavata 10.12.2, Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī explains:

evaṁ vatsānāṁ bālānañcānantyam uktam. itthaṁ vane bālaiḥ pālyamānānām api vatsānāṁ yadīyattā nābhūt tarhi vraje ruddhānām abhinavānāṁ tṛṇa-carāṇāṁ tathā go-saṅge gatānāñca mukta-stanyānāṁ vatsānāṁ tathā tan-mātṝṇām anyāsāñca gavāṁ tathā vatsatarīṇāṁ vṛṣāṇāñca śrī-gopāla-deva-prabhāveṇa nityaṁ vivardhamānānām iyattā katham āstām? mahiṣyādayaśca kena vā gaṇyā ity evam asaṅkhyeyāḥ paśavas tad-anusāreṇa gopa-gopyādayaś cānantā jñeyā.

“The boys and calves of Vṛndāvana together could not be counted. If the number of calves that they herded in the forest was beyond calculation, how many more calves must have been left back in Vraja -- the small calves taking milk from their mothers, as well as the mothers of the calves that went to the forest, other cows, the elder male and female calves, the bulls, whose numbers kept increasing daily by the power of Gopal, and the buffaloes as well? Thus the animals, cowherd and cowherd women were unlimited in number.”
How do we understand such numbers? Are they exaggeration? Allegory?
Śrīla Viśvanath Cakravartīpāda gives an answer in his Sārārtha-darśini commentary on Śrīmad Bhāgavata 10.12.3:

na ca ṣoḍaśa-krośī-mātrasya vṛndāvanasya pradeśe tāvanto vatsāḥ naiva bhāntīti vācyaṁ bhagavad-vigrahasyaiva dhāmnaś cāsya tathāparimitatve ‘py acintya-śaktyā vibhutvāt tat-pradeśaika-deśe ‘pi pañcāśata-koṭi-yojana-pramāṇa-brahmāṇḍārbudānāṁ bhagavataiva brahmaṇe etat-uttarādhyāye darśayiṣyamāṇatvād ata

“One should not argue that such a large number of cows could not possibly fit into the thirty-two square mile area of Vṛndāvana, because the dhāma is unlimited by the inconceivable energy of the Lord. Even a small portion of the holy dhāma is sufficient to accommodate billions of universes each measuring fifty million miles in diameter. Kṛṣṇa showed this to Brahma in a later chapter.”
Another example is found in Śrīmad Bhāgavata 10.33.38 which states brahma-rātra upāvṛtte — Kṛṣṇa danced with the gopīs for an entire night of Lord Brahmā. Kṛṣṇa describes the length of Lord Brahmā’s day and night in Bhagavad-gītā (8.17):

sahasra-yuga-paryantam ahar yad brahmaṇo viduḥ
rātriṁ yuga-sahasrāntāṁ te ’ho-rātra-vido janāḥ

“By human calculation, a thousand ages taken together form the duration of Brahma’s one day. And such also is the duration of his night.”
A thousand yugas together equals four million three hundred and twenty thousand years. The Bhāgavata describes that the duration of those thousand yugas entered into a single twelve-hour night in Vṛndāvana during which the gopīs danced with Kṛṣṇa. Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda compares this inconceivable expansion of time to the fact that many universes fit within the forty-mile range of earthly Vṛndāvana. Similarly, he says, one may consider how Mother Yaśodā was unable to encircle the abdomen of her child Kṛṣṇa using many, many ropes, or how on another occasion Kṛṣṇa displayed many universes in his mouth to Mother Yaśodā. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī writes in his Laghu Bhāgavatāmṛta (1.5.515):

ataḥ prabhoḥ priyāṇāṁ ca dhāmnaś ca samayasya ca
avicintya-prabhāvatvād atra kiṁ ca na durghaṭam

“In Gokula, nothing is impossible for the Lord, the devotees, the abode, and everything in the abode, by the power of the Lord’s inconceivable energy.”

Evidence from the Puranas
Kṛṣṇa, his devotees, and his abode are not in this material world and cannot be understood by the material senses. In his Śrī Mathurā Māhātmya, Śrīla Rupa Gosvāmī cites many evidences from various Purāṇas regarding the unlimited glories of Vṛndāvana. In text fifty-one he quotes the Ādi-varāha Purāṇa:

ṣaṣṭhi-koṭi-sahasrāṇi ṣaṣṭhi-koṭi-śatāni ca
tīrtha-sāṅkhyā tu vasudhe mathurāyāṁ mayoditā

“O Vasudha, I have manifested six-hundred-sixty billion holy places in Mathura.”

In the next text Rupa quotes the Mathurā-khaṇḍa of the Skanda Purāṇa:

bhūme rajāṁsi gananā kālenāpi bhaven nṛpa
māthure yani tīrthāni teṣāṁ saṅkhyā na vartate

O king, the particles of dust in this world may be counted in due course of time, but it is impossible to count the number of holy places that are present in Mathura.

Rupa Gosvāmī declares atha prapañcātītam — “[This area of Mathura] is transcendental to the material world.” he then quotes from the Ādi-varāha Purāṇa:

anyaiva kācit sā sṛṣṭir vidhātur vyatirekiṇī
na yat kṣetra-guṇān vaktum īśvaro ’pīśvaro yataḥ

“Mathura is completely different from the creation of the creator, because even the controller of this world is unable to describe the unlimited qualities of this holy place.” (Text 121)

Vṛndāvana is Like a Lotus
Another perspective is given in Prema-vilāsa (16, 174–191), wherein the author Nityānanda Dās relates a conversation that he had with Śrīla Raghunāth Dās Gosvāmī at Rādhākuṇḍa:

Raghunath Dās Gosvāmī said, “While staying here and visiting the various pastime places, be careful not to commit any offense even in your mind. The pastimes of Kṛṣṇa cannot be understood, but if you read the books of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī then you will understand them. If you did not read these books you must hear it from the mouth of the Guru. A faithful person becomes firm in his mind when he hears from (Guru’s) mouth. You should understand the different pastimes that Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa are performing day and night in different places in Vṛndāvana. Although Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa are always performing pleasure pastimes in Vṛndāvana, no one can perceive them. The amazing parakīya-pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa are only understood by the sakhīs.”

Nityānanda Dās replied to Raghunāth Dās, “There is one doubt in my heart. If you give me your kind permission I will express it to you. My inquisitive mind has become blessed by hearing from your lotus mouth about Vṛndāvana. The distance between Vṛndāvana and the bank of Rādhākunda and Śyāmakunda is about eight krośas [a krośa is about two miles or three kilometers] and Govardhan is two krośas from the kuṇḍas. Sanketa is eight krośas from Vṛndāvana, Nandīśvara is two krośas and Yāvat is one krośa. Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa travel between these places in a moment. How is it possible for Rādhā, Kṛṣṇa, and their associates to travel such distances daily? For a long time I have had a desire to hear the answer to this question. Otherwise how can a sādhaka understand these pastimes?”

kṛpā kori kohe śuno nityānanda dāsa! yei yei sthāne sadā kṛṣṇera vilāsa
padma-prāy jeno vṛndāvaner ghaṭan; śāstra vākye āche mahāprabhur sthāpan
mudita prakāśa haila dui to prakāra; vilāse mudita hon līlāya vistāra
ei rūpe hoy sob gamanāgamana; tadāśrita yei tāra hoy ei mana
yogamāyā bale ihā ghaṭanā āchaya; yāṅhāra gamana sei kichu nā jānaya

Mercifully, Dās Gosvāmī said, “Listen, Nityānanda Dās! All these places where Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes are eternally taking place in Vṛndāvana are like a lotus flower. Mahāprabhu has established this through śāstra. As a lotus, Vṛndāvana is manifested in two ways, closed and open. It closes itself in pleasure, vilāsa, and opens itself in sport, līlā. In this way Rādhā Kṛṣṇa and their associates come and go. Only surrendered devotees of the Lord can understand this. By the strength of yogamāyā one can understand these matters. Other persons cannot understand.”

Advise to sceptic mundane scholars – jāo bhāgavat poro vaiṣṇavera sthāne (Caitanya Caritāmṛta Antya 5.131) “Go and study the Bhāgavat from a Vaiṣṇava!” The Bhāgavat itself says (1.1.2) it is only understood by kṛtibhiḥ suśrūṣubhiḥ, saints who are eager to hear and obey. Ultimately, of course, the issue of such vast figures in the śāstras does not touch a rāgānugā devotee, because such huge figures will anyway damage the human view or conception of Kṛṣṇa-līlā which is required to relish sweet rasa. All figures need to be modest in order not to create a feeling of aiśvarya or superhuman divine majesty.