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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.