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Thursday, September 24, 2015

vyavahārika kārpaṇya and a compromise with vegans

In Bhakti Sandarbha (173) Śrī Jīva Goswāmī speaks about the absence of vyavahārika kārpaṇya in a devotee, who has faith that Kṛṣṇa will take care of him. Some translate this vyavahārika kārpaṇya as ‘materialistic miserliness’ (meaning: he hesitates to spend his money because he is afraid that he will go broke and Kṛṣṇa will not provide more funds), and others translate it as ‘acting pitifully like a beggar, hoping that people will come and support him’. I think both meanings to these words apply.
After this, Śrī Jīva Goswāmī quotes Kṛṣṇa’s famous assurance in Bhagavad-Gītā (9.22) -

Ananyaś cintayanto māṁ ye janaḥ paryupāsate
Teṣāṁ nityābhiyuktānāṁ yoga-kṣemaṁ vahāmyaham

‘Whoever thinks exclusively of Me and fully worships Me, to those who are eternally connected with Me, I provide what they lack and preserve what they have.”

About acting pitifully, I remember that in the early 1980s I used to send letters from India to my concerned mother about all the hardship and diseases I suffered there, subtly hoping she would send some financial aid, prompting a rebuke from my elder brother that I should not criticize the lifestyle of persons that I am subtly begging from. I told this to Sādhu Bābā, who said that my brother was right. Sādhu Bābā taught that one should not beg, flatter, pretend to be a saint or perform a pitiful theatre to attract donations, but that IF money was offered spontaneously and with love or affection, it could be accepted with both hands.


In the weeks I suffered from stomach flu I had to offer feasts mentally – either partially or wholly – to Giridhāri because I was either unable to prepare them or to digest them physically. Sādhu Bābā gave permission for mental devotional service on the condition that it would not replace physical service out of laziness. It may be the way vegans can actually get their way. On the past festival days I was unable to either buy or digest milk, so I physically offered Giridhāri His abhiṣekha with water while mentally turning the water into milk, yoghurt and ghee. If vegans could at least mentally offer a dairy pancāmṛta abhiṣekha to the deities it could be an acceptable compromise……..

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Logic, bed-bringing, pāraṇa-cheating and vinata

Too often scriptural evidence is dismissed or overruled by rational logic in important philosophical discussions, such as fall from perfection, dormant love, free will, eligibility for rāgānugā bhakti and caste-distinctions. Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī writes in his commentary on Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu 1.2.17: 

tasmāc chāstrārtha-viśvāsa eva śraddheti labdhe śraddhā-tāratamyena śraddhāvatāṁ tāratamyam āha—śāstra iti dvābhyām | nipuṇaḥ pravīṇaḥ | śarvatheti tattva-vicāreṇa sādhana-vicāreṇa puruṣārtha-vicāreṇa ca dṛḍha-niścaya ity arthaḥ | yuktiś cātra śāstrānugataiva jñeyā | yuktiś ca kevalā naiva [ 1.1.45] yukteḥ svātantrya-niṣedhāt | śrutes tu śabda-mūlatvāt [ve.sū. 2.1.28] iti nyāyāt | pūrvāparānurodhena ko nv artho’bhimato bhavet | ity ādyam ūhanaṁ tarkaḥ śuṣka-tarkaṁ tu varjayet || iti vaiṣṇava-tantrāc ca | evam-bhūto yaḥ prauḍha-śraddhaḥ sa evottamo’dhikārīty arthaḥ ||17||

“Conviction in the contents of the scriptures is called śraddhā or faith.  According to the degree of faith in the scriptures, there will be classifications of persons possessing that faith. That is now the topic of discussion for two verses. Śāstre yuktau nipunaḥ means “conversant with scripture and logic.” This person developed firm conviction (dṛdḥa-niścayaḥ) through studying thoroughly the principles of philosophy (tattva), the sādhana, and the goal (puruṣārtha). That is the meaning of sarvathā (in all ways). Logic (yukte) should here be understood as logic following the statements of scripture, because independent logic is condemned in verse 1.1.45: one cannot understand bhakti by dry logic (yuktis tu kevalā naiva). This is also understood from the Vedānta-sūtras 2.1.27: śrutes tu śabda-mūlatvāt: The Lord can be understood only through the scriptures.”

pūrvāparānurodhena ko nv artho ’bhimato bhavet 
ity ādyam ūhanaṁ tarkaḥ śuṣka-tarkaṁ tu varjayet

“A meaning should be accepted with reference to what precedes and follows. Such reasoning is the logic to be used. Dry logic should be rejected."   

(Vaiṣṇava Tantra)

In other words, one should not quote texts out of context because that may be a distorted form of scriptural ‘evidence’.

A person who is qualified as above, and has deep faith, is the uttamādhikārī.

Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī s Tattva Sandarbha, 9 – 

athaivaṁ sūcitānāṁ śrī-kṛṣṇa-tad-vācya-vācakatā-lakṣaṇa-sambandha-tad-bhajana-lakṣaṇa-vidheya-saparyāyābhidheya-tat-prema-lakṣaṇa-prayojanākhyānām arthānāṁ nirṇayāya tāvat pramāṇaṁ nirṇīyate | tatra puruṣasya bhramādi-doṣa-catuṣṭaya-duṣṭatvāt sutarām alaukikācintya-svabhāva-vastu-sparśāyogyatvāc ca tat-pratyakṣādīny api sa-doṣāṇi ||9||

“Four topics were suggested in the previous anuccheda: Śrī Kṛṣṇa as the subject (viṣaya), the connection between Him and the words describing Him (sambandha), service to Him as the recommended process (abhidheya or vidheya), and pure love tor Him as the ultimate goal (prayojana). Now to understand these we should first determine the means of acquiring valid knowledge. Human beings are bound to have four defects: they are subject to delusion, they make mistakes, they tend to cheat, and they have imperfect senses. Thus their direct perception, inference, and so forth are deficient, especially since these means of acquiring knowing cannot help them gain access to the inconceivable spiritual reality.” [9]

Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī s Tattva Sandarbha, 10 – 

tatas tāni na pramāṇānīty anādi-siddha-sarva-puruṣa-paramparāsu sarva-laukikālaukika-jñāna-nidānatvād aprākṛta-vacana-lakṣaṇo veda evāsmākaṁ sarvātīta-sarvāśraya-sarvācintyāścarya-svabhāvaṁ vastu vividiṣatāṁ pramāṇam ||10||

“Consequently, for us who are inquisitive about that which is beyond everything, yet the support of everything—which is most inconceivable and wondrous in nature—direct perception, inference, and so on are not suitable means of gaining knowledge. For this purpose the only suitable means is the Vedas, the transcendental words that are existing without beginning. They are the source of all mundane and spiritual knowledge and have been passed down in paramparā.” [10]



Bhakta – “We try to imbibe the bhāva of the mañjarīs. There is one thing which kind of "disturbs" my inner mood when worshipping my Giridhāri. I know that we pray to Him for rādhā dāsyam and all is fine...But the things is that bringing Him to bed feels weird a bit vātsalya bhāva coming up...I am not quite comfortable with this "bed-bringing"...How to "deal" with this...any ideas/inspiration? I felt better without bringing my Giridhāri to bed...

Advaita Das: śāstra says āgaccha śayana sthānam priyayā saha keśava

“O Keśava! Come to bed with your priyaji! (Haribhakti Vilasa 11.40)
How can He love Priyāji if we don't put Him to bed?

Bhakta – Thanks. So in this mood...and we think the mālā is Rādhikā.”

Advaita Das : “Yes, the gunjā-mālā should go to bed with Giridhāri. Some versions of this verse say priyābhiḥ which means a plural number of sweethearts sleep with Him. In either way, the gunjā mālā should sleep with Giridhāri.



Bhakta: “Can we not break the fast of Nṛsiṁha Caturdaśī or Janmāṣṭamī on the time the Lord appeared in India, instead of our local time?’

Advaitadās – “If you did that, you would not have to fast at all on the American west coast. Midnight in India is morning time of the same day on the American west coast. Full day fasting is our birthday present to the Lord. It is the attitude of dedication that counts.”


Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad-gītā : vainateyaś ca pakṣinam - 'Of birds I am the son of Vinatā (Garuḍa).' 

Vinatā is the mother of Garuḍa, who the winged carrier of Viṣṇu. vinata means humility. nata means bowing down and vi means completely. The Bengali word binoy (vinaya) comes from it. It means that only humility can carry away the Lord.