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Sunday, February 01, 2015

Women sannyāsa, Baladeva on bhoga and sakhīs‘ viśrambha


Bhakta – „What does your lineage think of women-sannyāsa?“

Advaitadās – Though he did not give or take sannyāsa, Sādhu Bābā did encourage not only his male but also his female followers to be single. With husband and children a woman has no chance to do any sādhana for many years. The prostitute who was converted by Haridās Thākur was the first female Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava sannyāsīnī, shaving her head and wearing a single white garment.“

Bhakta – „They say that brahmacāriṇī is not in śāstra.“

Advaitadās – That is not so. Please see Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Goswāmī’s ‚Muktā Carita‘, verses 429 and 467. 

As for sannyāsa in general, in our family we have only 2 āśrams – brahmacārī and gṛhastha. A brahmacārī has all the benefits of the sannyāsa āśrama – freedom to move and keeping all time and funds for oneself, and even if there is an accident there will be no completely destructive infamy that the sannyāsī suffers if he falls down. There are no privileges or superior prestige offered to brahmacārīs, so there is no risk of taking sannyāsa for all the wrong reasons either.


In reference to my blog of May 4, 2010, Selfless bhakti, which rejects the idea of some fanatics that devotees (should) not enjoy anything, Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa comments on Vedānta Sūtra 4.4.14 –

bhāve vigraha-sattve jāgradvad bhogaḥ. pūrva-pakṣas tu bhoktavyasya rasāder bhagavat-prasādatvena spṛhaṇīyatvād eva na yuktaḥ. tṛptasyāpi harer bhaktecchayā bhogecchādayaḥ. muktasya tu tat-prasāde bhogye bhaktyaiva spṛhādaya iti bodhyam

“The word "bhāve" here means, "When there is a body". When there is a body the pleasure is like that in the waking state. Our opponent claims that the liberated soul does not desire to enjoy the delicious tastes and other pleasures mercifully offered to him by the Supreme Lord. Though the Lord is self-satisfied, he desires to enjoy by the desire of the devotee. The liberated soul, desiring to render devotional service, certainly does desire to enjoy the pleasures that the Lord in His kindness offers. He does this out of love for the Lord. In this way it should be understood.”

This explains the verse in Śrīmad Bhāgavata (3.15.17) describing the residents of Vaikuṇṭha flying in their airplanes with their lovely wives –

vaimānikāḥ sa-lalanāś caritāni śaśvad
gāyanti yatra śamala-kṣapaṇāni bhartuḥ
gandhena khaṇḍita-dhiyo’py anilaṁ kṣipantaḥ

"Flying their planes with their spouses and entering the water, the devotees constantly sing the glories of the lord which are devoid of all faults, while criticizing the wind, since it distracts their minds with its perfume of Mādhavī-blossoms filled with honey."

Part of the Commentary by Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda -

vaimānikā svara-viśeṣodbhāvanārthaṁ vimānād avatīrya sarovarasyāntarjale kaṇṭha-magna-jale ity arthaḥ. yad vā, taṭa-vartinīnām eva jala-saṁlagna-vṛkṣa-śākhām āruhya tāḥ sva-patrādibhir ācchādayantīnām antar-jala eva vikasantīnāṁ madhu-yukta-mādhavīnāṁ gandhena khaṇḍitāḥ bhagavac-caritāsvādanaikatānatve savighnīkṛtā dhīr yeṣāṁ tathā-bhūtā api gāyanty eva, na tu gānād viramantīty arthaḥ - 

"These devotees descend from their airplanes in order to produce special notes in their singing.  They sing while immersed in the lakes up to their throats.  Or, placing their consorts on the trees on the bank of the water, they cover them with leaves, and then have them enter the water. Their attention fixed only on the describing the Lord they may be disturbed by the fragrance of the blossoming Mādhavī-flowers filled with honey, but they continue to sing.  They do not give up singing."  


The relationship between Rādhā and her suhṛd / aṣṭasakhīs is one of viśrambha, total trust. There is no jealousy or rivalry at all. Like the Pāṇḍavas - they were not jealous of each other at all, though they shared one wife among the five of them. An example of Rādhā’s affection for a friend is given in Ujjvala-Nīlamaṇi (13.104):

sakhyāṁ sva-sneho, yathā—
śaila-mūrdhni hariṇā viharantī roma-kuḍmala-karmabita-mūrtiḥ
rādhikā salalitaṁ lalitāyāḥ paśya mārṣṭi lulitālakam āsyam

„One day on mount Govardhana, Śrī Rūpa Manjarī observed Śrī Rādhikā displaying extreme affection to Lalitā during the course of her dalliances with Kṛṣṇa. She said to one of Lalitā’s friends in praise of her great fortune: “O friend, just see how Rādhikā is cleaning the perspiration and rearranging the hair from Lalitā’s face even though she is simultaneously sporting with Kṛṣṇa.”


  1. I saw that you don't consider sat kriya Sara dipika an authentic text . Is there any other text written by the goswamis or other gurus on performance of rituals samskaras like vivaha and yajna procedures distinct from smarta rules? Is there any such thing in the hari bhakti Vilas?

  2. No, and I suppose that due to lack of vivāha-instructions in Haribhakti Vilāsa, one could use non-controversial guidelines from Sat-kriyā sāra dīpikā, use smārta vidhi [for born Hindus] or just register at the town hall [for occidentals].

  3. I heard that our acharyas have the opinion that Sri Krishna took birth both from the womb of devaki and yashoda at Mathura and gokula respectively... Could you please elaborate on the views of our Acharya and provide the necessary pramanas from whatever books and logic they applied to arrive at this wonderful conclusion..

    1. Yes this is true and I think the Gaudiya Sampradaya is unique in this conception. It was first revealed by Sri Rupa Goswami in his Laghu Bhagavatamrita. He says there that Yaśoda gave birth to twins, a boy [Kṛṣṇa] and a girl [Yogamāyā]. Vasudeva then took the girl alone with him to Mathurā. Later this view was also propounded by Jīva Goswāmī and Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa.

  4. Yes and I even read that Vasudeva took the Mahamaya portion of the girl and Yogamaya remained in vraja...but what is the pramana of this dual birth in shastra and why is it considered a secret pastime?

  5. Generally I don't think you should look for pramāṇa in Purānas or Vedas for these kinds of things. The Goswāmīs books are based on rasa, not so much on historical facts.