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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Handling prasāda and imitating Guru

Bhakta -
Rādhe Rādhe
What is your opinion about this - if prasādam is pure then there´s no fault if you don´t wash your mouth after eating it?

Advaita Dās
ācaman is  a Vedic and Vaiṣṇava duty. Such duties don't cause offence to prasād. Though you can swallow the water instead of spitting it out. When you brush your teeth you also remove prasād from your mouth, that cannot be avoided completely - not to speak of digesting it and turning it into stool. You destroy it by chewing it. Though no sacred object is to be put on the floor, we take prasād from a plate on the floor too. Respect and bhakti are a matter of attitude only. Kṛṣṇa knows your attitude within your heart.

Dāmodar - 
I remember it is somewhere in śāstra that external habits and actions of the Guru should not be copied?

Advaitadas -
advaitaṁ ca parityajet (Haribhakti Vilāsa 1.89) - it is forbidden to copy [dvaita] the Guru, be a second Guru [dvaita]

Dāmodar - 
Actually it looks that it is one of main reasons of vaiṣṇava-nindā - this tendency to copy someone. Why? Because copying means that you associate devotion with certain external characteristics - which it is not. Just as Puṇḍarīka Vidyānidhi and Gadādhar Pandit - Gadādhar accepted Puṇḍarīk as Guru but never imitated him. When you have a certain pattern, "ideal" of externalities....

Advaitadas -
Yes, all that too, but to copy the Guru also means you want to take his place.

Dāmodar - 
A "hedonistic" gṛhastha would be the Guru of a vairāgi and vice versa. I think that's why it is forbidden. A vairāgi cannot copy the behavior of a gṛhastha. Every jīva is unique. You cannot become "as someone".

Advaitadas -
Well, yes, that also. There is anusaraṇa and anukaraṇa - following and imitating. We should follow the Guru, not imitate him.

Dāmodar - 
We can immediately understand who is the Guru of a devotee who gives a lecture. Most of them are copying the manner of speaking of their Guru.

Advaitadas -
Yes. Such imitation can be a type of bhakti, but it is forbidden still. It is artificial.

Dāmodar -
One of the biggest reasons of aparādha is when people think "This is such-and-such bābā - he is so sweet, an uttama bhakta, his manner of behavior is the highest." And when they meet some externally harsh guy "uff, this person cannot be a pure devotee, his behavior is not sweet". Our Baba once beat his [male] disciples for starting Tulsi-kīrtan while he was still speaking.

Advaitadās -
Hari bhakti vilāsa (1.99) quotes the Viṣṇu-smrti - na guror apriyaṁ kuryāt tāḍitaḥ pīḍito 'pi vā - The disciple should not displease the Guru, even if he beats or torments him. This obviously applies to very surrendered disciples. Weak and selfish disciples will otherwise hold a grudge agains the Guru, which will ultimately destroy their bhakti. Sweetness is a saintly quality but you are right, harshness can be very pure too. Our Baba was as soft as a flower and also harder than Rudra - bajra sama rudra rosh o kusum komal āśutosh. Rudra can be hard as a thunderbolt or He can be Ashutosh, easily pleased.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Tīrtha-maraṇa and kṛpā-siddhi

The Bhagavad-Gītā shows us that the attainment of Kṛṣṇa is rarely achieved - bahunam janmanam ante jñānavān mām prapadyante, „the wise man surrenders to me after many births“ (7.19) and māṁ tu veda na kaścana (7.3) „Nobody knows Me.“ That is the rule, but there are exceptions. For example, Dhruva, Nārada and even Ajāmila are mentioned in the Bhāgavat as attaining the Lord in one lifetime of sādhana. In the Bṛhad-Gautamīya-Tantra, Śrī Kṛṣṇa has personally described the glory of living in Vraja:

idaṁ vṛndāvanaṁ ramyaṁ mama dhāmaiva kevalam 
 atra ye paśavaḥ pakṣī mṛgāḥ kīṭā narāmarāḥ 
ye vasanti mamādhiṣṇe mṛtā yānti mamālayam 
 panca-yojanam evāsti vanaṁ me deha-rūpakam 
 kālindīyaṁ suṣumnākhyā paramāmṛta-vāhinī 
atra devāś ca bhūtāni vartante sūkṣma-rūpataḥ 
sarva-deva-mayaś cāhaṁ na tyajāmi vanaṁ kvacit 
āvirbhāvas tirobhāvo bhaven me’tra yuge yuge 
 tejomayam idaṁ ramyam adṛśyaṁ carma-cakṣuṣā 

“This Vṛndāvana is most delightful and is my only abode. All those domestic animals, birds, wild animals, worms, insects, humans and celestial beings who reside in this place go to my home when they die. This twenty-five mile Vṛndāvana is in reality My own body. The transcendental nectar-bearing Yamunā is its central artery. Gods and jīvas exist in subtle forms here, having accepted transcendental bodies. I, who contain all the gods, never leave this forest. In yuga after yuga I appear in this place and then disappear. This charming Vṛndāvana is possessed of great power, meaning its nature is pure consciousness, and it lies beyond the range of the physical eye.”

One should take these verses very seriously. Ultimately, attaining perfection is up to the mercy of the Lord. One should approach these ślokas with a broad mind. Dismissing them as vain glorification is narrow minded, mundane and offensive. Śrīla Rūpa Goswāmīpāda writes in Bhakti-rasāmṛta sindhu (1.2.244) -

alaukika-padārthānām acintyā śaktir īdṛśī 
bhāvaṁ tad-viṣayaṁ cāpi yā sahaiva prakāśayet

„The inconceivable power of these extraordinary five limbs of bhakti (worshipping the deity, hearing the Bhāgavata, sādhu sanga, chanting the holy name and residing in Vraja-dhāma) is such that it will manifest the state of bhāva and its object, Kṛṣṇa, at the same time.“

Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī’s Commentary:
From the text, one can understand that these five limbs of bhakti are extraordinary. This is confirmed by other verses as well. Concerning the form of the deity, it is said:

sakṛd yad-aṅga-pratimāntar-āhitā
manomayī bhāgavatīṁ dadau gatim
sa eva nityātma-sukhānubhūty-abhi-
vyudasta-māyo ’ntar-gato hi kiṁ punaḥ

„If even only once, or even by force, one brings the form of the Lord into one’s mind, one can attain the supreme salvation by the mercy of Kṛṣṇa, as Aghāsura did. What then is to be said of those in whose hearts the Lord enters when He appears here, or those who always think of the lotus feet of the Lord, who is the source of transcendental bliss for all living entities and by whom all illusion is completely removed? (Śrīmad-bhāgavat 10.12.39)

About hearing the Śrīmad-Bhāgavata, it is said:

dharmaḥ projjhita-kaitavo ’tra paramo nirmatsarāṇāṁ satāṁ
vedyaṁ vāstavam atra vastu śivadaṁ tāpa-trayonmūlanam
śrīmad-bhāgavate mahā-muni-kṛte kiṁ vā parair īśvaraḥ
sadyo hṛdy avarudhyate ’tra kṛtibhiḥ śuśrūṣubhis tat-kṣaṇāt

„Completely rejecting all duplicitous religious activities, this Bhāgavata Purāṇa propounds the highest truth, which is understandable by those devotees who are free from envy. The highest truth is reality distinguished from illusion for the welfare of all. Such truth uproots the threefold misery. This beautiful Bhāgavata, written by the great sage Vyāsadeva, is sufficient in itself for God realization. What is the need of any other scripture? As soon as one attentively and submissively hears the message of this Bhāgavata, the Supreme Lord is instantly established within his heart.“ (Śrīmad-bhāgavat 1.1.2)

Concerning association with the devotee of the Lord, it is said:

bhavāpavargo bhramato yadā bhavej
janasya tarhy acyuta sat-samāgamaḥ
sat-saṅgamo yarhi tadaiva sad-gatau
parāvareśe tvayi jāyate matiḥ

„When the material life of a wandering soul has ceased, O Acyuta, he may attain the association of Your devotees. Moreover, when he associates with them devotion unto You, who are the goal of the devotees, arises.“ (Śrīmad-bhāgavat 10.51.53)

Concerning chanting the name of the Lord, it is said:

sarveṣām apy aghavatām idam eva suniṣkṛtam
nāma-vyāharaṇaṁ viṣṇor yatas tad-viṣayā matiḥ

"The chanting of the holy name of Lord Viṣṇu is the best process of atonement. Simply by chanting the holy name of Lord Viṣṇu, such sinful persons may attract the attention of the Supreme Lord  (who then considers that person His protege).” (Śrīmad-bhāgavat 6.2.10)

Concerning residing in Mathurā district it has been said:

parānanda-mayī siddhir mathurā-sparṣa-mātrataḥ

„One achieves the highest bliss just by touching Mathurā.“
(Verse 212 of this chapter, quoted from Brahmāṇḍa Purāṇa)

Ultimately, the bestowal of perfection is entirely up to the mercy of Kṛṣṇa. There are cases of kṛpā-siddhas, but those are very rare, as we can see in Bhakti-rasāmṛta sindhu (1.3.6) -

sādhanābhiniveśena kṛṣṇa-tad-bhaktayos tathā
prasādenāti-dhanyānāṁ bhāvo dvedhābhijāyate
ādyas tu prāyikas tatra dvitīyo viralodayaḥ

„Bhāva appears in very fortunate persons in two ways: by absorption in sādhana or by the mercy of Kṛṣṇa or His devotee. Its appearance by sādhana is normal, and its appearance by mercy is rare.“

One may argue  –
The problem with thinking all that is needed is to die in Vṛndāvana has made Vṛndāvana very popular for elderly devotees or those with terminal illnesses, but without developing their spiritual self identity and spiritual desire and taste for a certain rasa with Kṛṣṇa, on what basis will Kṛṣṇa give them a spiritual form? It is always given on the basis of the devotee's desires developed during sadhana. If we say they developed prema in a past life, then why aren't they showing it now? Can prema or even bhava's symptoms be covered?

RESPONSE - It is not that "easy" to give up your body in Vṛndāvana. Without the mercy of the Lord you just CANNOT give up your body in Vraja. I lived with a Brijbasi brāhmin in Rādhākuṇḍa who was born there and lived there for 75 full years. He got a stroke and was brought to Agra hospital, where he left his body. On the other hand I heard of an American Gurukula child who came for a brief visit to Vṛndāvana and drowned in the Yamunā. Attaining prema is something else than attaining Kṛṣṇaloka. prema may take longer, that may be why Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda speaks of a transit stage in prakaṭa līlā (in Rāga Vartma Candrikā and Ānanda Candrikā). That is also Kṛṣṇa’s abode.

Śrī Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa writes in Govinda Bhāṣya (3.3.53) that by Kṛṣṇa's grace one can get prema while dying even if it wasn‘t achieved in one's lifetime –

tatrāpi tac-cakrādi-sparśa-mahimnā liṅga-paryanta-vināśāt. tataḥ priyatvādinā tad-dṛṣṭeḥ seti bodhyam.

„Even the subtle bodies (that contain their malicious attitudes) of the asuras that were killed by Kṛṣṇa are destroyed by the glorious touch of His cakra. By seeing the Lord thus they achieved prema.“

Kṛpā-siddhi was bestowed on Putanā, as was glorified in Śrīmad-bhāgavata (3.2.23) –

aho bakī yaṁ stana-kāla-kūṭaṁ
jighāṁsayāpāyayad apy asādhvī
lebhe gatiṁ dhātry-ucitāṁ tato ’nyaṁ
kaṁ vā dayāluṁ śaraṇaṁ vrajema

"Aho! Though she was so evil, Pūtanā, who offered her poisonous breast to Kṛṣṇa to drink with the intention of killing him, attained the position of a nurse in the spiritual world. Who else is so merciful?  I surrender to him!"

For sādhana-siddhi Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu gave the following instruction –

mone nija siddha deha koriyā bhāvan; rātri dine kore vraje kṛṣṇera sevan

(C.C. Madhya 22.157)

„Within your mind contemplate your siddha deha, with which you will serve Kṛṣṇa in Vraja day and night.“

One must beware of nāmāparadha, too. If you read such verses about attaining Kṛṣṇaloka automatically by leaving the body in the holy dhāma, and start sinning on strength of them, then that is nāmāparādha - „Oh, I already did that sādhana, now I will just boogie around and attain Kṛṣṇa still“ - you can't cheat Kṛṣṇa.

Friday, January 01, 2016

OK I know 'Santa' is a Sanskrit word, but this is ridiculous!

Westernization of India has now reached the center of rūpānuga bhakti, Śrī Rādhākuṇḍa, with western New Year celebrations and even Santa Claus coming to town. This is complete māyā. Christmas as celebrated on 25 December is all about making big money, especially on animal slaughter. It has nothing to do with Veda, Vaiṣṇavism or Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism whatsoever. This is a very sad state of affairs. What are the Vaiṣṇavas who indulge in this meditating on? Is this anywhere in śāstra? Does it have anything to do with Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa? Will Christmas and New Year soon be added to the Vaiṣṇava Panjikā as well? I understand we all have our own samskāras to transcend, but do we really have to make a huge celebration of our conditioning, right in the crown-jewel of Vraja-bhumi? The revelers should remember there is no spiritual benefit at all from 'observing' this.