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Monday, April 28, 2014

The Rādhe Rādhe Resolution

The Rādhe Rādhe Resolution

A sermon delivered in Amsterdam, April 25, 2014

The governing body commission of ISKCON has, during their annual conference in Mayapur, passed the following resolution  -

315: Chanting of the Holy Names of Srimati Radharani

Whereas many devotees have expressed concern that the standard upheld during Srila Prabhupada’s presence in regards to the chanting of Srimati Radharani’s holy names and related mantras appears to be diminishing;

Whereas there have been conflicts amongst our devotees arising as a result of not having a definitive policy on this topic.

Whereas although it is neither mandatory nor necessary to do so because all personalities are automatically glorified within the maha-mantra, it is understandable that some devotees may want to emphasize the name of Srimati Radharani on Radhastami; 

Whereas it is well known that no one could come before Srila Prabhupada and chant “Radhe Radhe” repetitively as he would not allow it. He always told us to chant the Hare Krishna mantra.  Srila Prabhupada himself was never heard chanting “Radhe Radhe”.  There is no evidence to show that Srila Prabhupada chanted or encouraged others to chant Srimati Radharani's names in isolation at any time, including Radhastami. Whenever Srila Prabhupada was greeted with “Jaya Radhe” he always replied by saying “Hare Krishna”, even in Vrndavana.

Whereas there is risk of deviation if we do not follow Srila Prabhupada and the acaryas. Srila Prabhupada disapproved of the introduction of mantras which were not given by the previous acaryas or were not found in shastra


The following should be avoided in all temple and public programs, as well as in recorded media:

(1) Chanting of the holy name of Srimati Radharani without the holy name of Sri Krishna, i.e.  Radhe, Radhe, Radhe, Radhe, Radhe. . . .

(2) Chanting of the holy name of Srimati Radharani within mantras that were not introduced by Srila Prabhupada, previous Gaudiya Vaisnava Acaryas, or in sastra, including but not limited to:

(a)  Jaya Radhe, Jaya Radhe. Jaya Radhe Jaya Radhe
(b)  Radhe Radhe, Radhe Radhe
(c)  Jaya Radhe Jaya Radhe Radhe, Jaya Radhe Jaya Sri Radhe
(d)  Radhe Radhe Radhe Radhe Radhe Govinda
(e)  Radharani ki jai, Maharani ki jai
(f)   Radhe Shyam, Radhe Shyam, Shyam Shyam, Radhe Radhe

On Radhastami, devotees may chant Srimati Radharani’s holy name in isolation of Sri Krishna’s name to a limited degree, not more than two or three minutes.

If ISKCON devotees want to give some special emphasis or attention to the glorification of Srimati Radharani, beyond chanting of the maha-mantra, they should do so by chanting mantras or bhajans which are authorized by Srila Prabhupada and our disciplic line.  An example of this is the chanting of Sri Radhika-stava from the Stava-mala of Srila Rupa Goswami.

Advaitadas -
It should be understood that there is no tradition in the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava Sampradāya of extensive Rādhe Rādhe kīrtan. There is a lot of glorification of the holy name of Śrī Rādhā in the bhakti śāstra, especially in the Rādhā Rasa Sudhānidhi, but practically we have never seen, nor do we see now, in the current age, any Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava group, be it ISKCON, Gauḍīya Maṭha, bābājīs, or Goswāmīs, doing any daily lengthy kīrtana with just Rādhā-nāma. An exception is the all-night Rādhe Rādhe kīrtana in Barsānā on the eve of Rādhāṣṭamī at the Śrījī Mandir. The ban will therefore not practically contradict existing traditions. One may wonder why no Rādhā kīrtan is being done since Rādhā-dāsya is the prayojana or the goal of the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava sampradāya, much more so than Kṛṣṇa-dāsya is. A very popular chant in Braja is rādhe rādhe shyām milā de, which means ‘Rādhe! Help me meet Śyāma!’ The rasa of this conception is, however, inferior to the opposite attitude, that of the Gauḍīya Sampradāya, ‘Śyāma! Help me meet Rādhā!’ - this explains why there is no extensive Rādhā-kīrtan in the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava Sampradāya. Sādhu Bābā taught me the following verse from Rādhā Rasa Sudhānidhi (259) –


            “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?”

It is said here – tan nāma sankīrtayan – I do sankīrtana of the name of Kṛṣṇa –

Hare kṛṣṇa hare kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa hare hare
Hare rāma hare rāma rāma rāma hare hare

The holy name of The Lord comes in three ways here – Hari, Kṛṣṇa and Rāma, but both Jīva Goswāmī and Gopālguru Goswāmī have explained the vocative name ‘Hare’ to mean both Hari and Harā, Harā meaning Rādhā. So Rādhārāṇī’s holy name is already included in the Mahāmantra. In this way the ban cannot have any impact on those who aspire for rādhā dāsya. In my ISKCON-days kīrtans were often ended with a few rounds of jaya rādhe jaya rādhe jaya rādhe. I do not know if this is now also banned because to my knowledge this was also the custom during the manifest pastimes of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami.
In Sādhu bābā’s ashram we follow the consensus program of Gaura-, Rādhā- and Kṛṣṇa evening ārati and, though all of Navadvīpa uses the greeting Jai Nitāi, we always say Rādhe Rādhe.
On the other hand, the greeting Rādhe Rādhe is universal and is a consensus in the Vraja-region – not only Rādhā-bhaktas, but also Kṛṣṇa-bhaktas, Rām-bhaktas, yogis, gyānīs, karmīs, shopkeepers, hotel managers (even in Delhi!) and Rikshawallas use it. I suppose they are all wrong?
This was quoted fully in the GBC resolution -

(a)  Jaya Radhe, Jaya Radhe. Jaya Radhe Jaya Radhe
(b)  Radhe Radhe, Radhe Radhe
(c)  Jaya Radhe Jaya Radhe Radhe, Jaya Radhe Jaya Sri Radhe
(d)  Radhe Radhe Radhe Radhe Radhe Govinda
(e)  Radharani ki jai, Maharani ki jai
(f)   Radhe Shyam, Radhe Shyam, Shyam Shyam, Radhe Radhe

It must have been an exceptionally blissful GBC meeting with so much Radhe Radhe Namabhasa!

The ban will of course have no effect on individual devotees greeting each other with rādhe rādhe in private. The aspiration (paramābhīṣṭa) for rādhā-dāsya can of course never be banned from the heart. The Six Gosvāmīs chanted he rādhe braja devike ca lalite he nanda sūno kuta – “O Rādhe! Goddess of Vraja! O Lalita!”, but this is a very advanced stage of viraha bhakti. This was almost certainly not organized mass kīrtan chanting, but the expression of their private feelings. Understandably a grass roots mass preaching movement will not allow such chanting to go on.

Now, that gender-based kirtans are also banned is a very good thing – not that it matters to me since I left ISKCON 32 years ago, but I hate the idea that I’d be deprived of half a kirtan because I have to wait till the matajis have finished their round of responding to the kirtan. This is crazy and completely concocted. In my long devotional life I have never seen this type of kirtan performed anywhere at all. Hopefully this ban will be rigidly enforced.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The end of desire, peanuts, the process of Vedic learning, self-promotion and Tulsī leaves.

Once the Muslim emperor Akhbar asked his Hindu minister Birbal – ‘At what age does a man become free from sex desire? “ Birbal replied: “Never.” Akhbar could not believe this, so Birbal said: “Come with me to the hospital and take your 18-year old granddaughter with you.” In the hospital a 99-year old man lay on his deathbed, his wife by his side. The herald announced:  “Rise! The Emperor has come!”, but the dying man just lay there with closed eyes saying “Pranams Maharaja!” When, however, he smelled the young girl’s perfume, he opened his eyes and when he beheld the girl’s beauty he stared at her with wide open eyes. Birbal said – “You see Maharaja, there is no end to this.” Sādhu Bābā taught us this verse from Śaṅkarācārya -

aṅgaṁ galitaṁ palitaṁ muṇḍaṁ danta vihīna jātaṁ tuṇḍaṁ
vṛddho yāti gṛhitvā daṇḍam tad api na muncatyāśā piṇḍam

“In old age the body deteriorates, the head is covered with grey hair, the mouth becomes toothless, and one clutches a staff to keep straight – yet still one cannot give up material desires.” Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad-Gītā (3.39) - jñānino nitya vairina – “lust is the eternal enemy of the wise”. In his commentary to Śrīmad Bhāgavata 3.31.39, Śrīla Jīva Goswāmī writes – pramadāsu svīyāsvapi, one should not only give up one’s attachment to women in general, but even to one’s own wife.”


Some sādhus are of the opinion that peanuts should not be eaten on Ekādaśī, as it is named mung-phali in Hindi, mung referring to pulse. I phoned my Guru-bhāi Śrī Tapan-kumār Adhikāry, who told me that peanuts can be taken as they are not a śim-viśeṣa, a type of bean. In the Padma Purāṇa narration of the pāpa puruṣa it is mentioned that sin is present only in grains.


When I used to study bhakti from my superiors I was often amazed how I got answers that were wholly unrelated to my questions, but they were actually upakāra [helpful and useful] – I thought it might have something to do with the abstract mind-frame of Indian people, but now that I am myself a bhakti-teacher my students also tell me they experience the same – I don’t answer their questions as they expect it. So it has nothing to do with western rationalism vs. abstract Indian thought – it is just the way Bhagavān teaches through His media and His messengers.


Here is a striking verse about blatant self-promoters we so often see in our Vaisnava world -

ghaṭaṁ bhittvā paṭaṁ chittvā kuryād vā gārdhabhaḥ-svanam
yena kenāpy upāyena prasiddhaḥ-puruṣo bhava

“Either by breaking pots or tearing off one’s clothes, or braying like a donkey to get attention, one way or the other, a man wants to be famous.”

A devotee quoted this on Facebook. The source reference is unknown, but it’s a great verse.


It is often said that it is offensive to chew on Tulsi-leaves, but that is not right. If that were so one should not chew Prasad either!