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Sunday, November 11, 2018

Śrī Ananta dās Bābājī Mahārāja (1927-2018)

Śrī Ananta dās Bābājī Mahārāja lecturing in Gopinath Mandir, Radhakund, Kartik 1984


Śrī Ananta dās Bābājī Mahārāja left his body today in sacred Vraja-dhāma in the holy month of Kārtik. He was 91.

Born in 1927 in Bengal’s westernmost district of Puruliya, he came to Śrī Rādhākuṇḍa in the 1960s and received dīkṣā from Śrī Kunjabihāri Dās Bābājī who asked him to serve the Vaiṣṇavas with pāṭh, devotional lectures on rāgānugā bhakti and rādhā-dāsya. His relationship with his Guru Kunja Bihari dasji was intense. Kunjabihari dasji needed not be informed of his disciple's arrival in Radhakund in advance - he got such a strong intuitive feeling that he walked to the busstop of Rādhākuṇḍa to wait for him. Ananta dasji indeed stepped out of the bus and Kunja Bihari dasji embraced him.

This blog will contain an anthology of quotes from and about him from my Indian diaries from 1982 onwards.

I regard it as a great honor to have translated nearly all of his – originally Bengali – books into English, his books and pāṭhs were perfect. A great rasik ācārya departed.

In the 1990s Śrī Ananta dās Bābājī Mahārāja wrote me many letters to help me translate and answer other questions on rāgānugā bhakti and rādhā-dāsya as well.

Around the early 1970's Śrī Ananta dās Panditji had begun to give pāṭh (devotional lectures) in Rādhākuṇḍa's Govindajī Mandir, and the Vaiṣṇavas wanted to hear Vilāpa Kusumāñjali from him. Kṛṣṇa dās Madrasi Bābā told Panditji that a Gosvāmī in Vṛndāvana had the notes of my Gurudeva’s father, Śrīla Ānanda Gopāl Gosvāmī's lectures on Vilāpa Kusumāñjali. A śrutidhara (Nivāran Bābu) had noted it down, but he passed away and now it was in the hands of the Gosvāmī. Paṇḍitjī went to Vṛndāvana and told the Gosvāmī that he was serving the Vaiṣṇavas at Rādhākuṇḍa (with pāṭh) and hence he wanted to have the notes. Gosvāmījī declined, afraid it would be broadcast, but since he came from Rādhākuṇḍa and was a Vaiṣṇava he could look at it and read it. Paṇḍitjī said: "I don't have the memory of the ṛṣi yuga (previous age when all could be learned from a single hearing or reading)", so he read it but could not remember all of it. When he returned to Rādhākuṇḍa Kṛṣṇa dāsa Madrasi Bābā asked him what happened and Paṇḍitjī said: "He will not give it." Kṛṣṇa dāsa Bābā laughed and said: "You see, it is with me—if you like I can read it to you, but it is written in Malayalam script." The script is Malayalam, but the language is Bengali, so there was no problem for Paṇḍitjī to understand it when Kṛṣṇa dās Bābā read it to him. Ananta dās Paṇḍitjī used to give pāṭh at that time in Govindajī Mandira from 2.30 to 3.30 p.m. Then he would take a little rest and at 4 he would come to Kṛṣṇa dās Bābā and write down what he dictated. The final page was torn out by the monkey and was somehow rewritten.  Kṛṣṇa dās Madrasi Bābā himself said of it (In a letter to me dated May 18, 1997): "Our Mahant (Ananta dās Bābāji) Mahārāj heard these notes at Śrī Vrindavan, but could not get them, so with a broken heart he returned here (to Śrī Rādhākuṇḍ), where this humble self informed him that the same notes are here. When they were given to him there was a complete change in his hari kathā. Then he wrote commentaries first on Śrī Rādhā Rasa Sudhānidhi and then on Śrī Vilāpa Kusumāñjali, Śrī Stavāvalī and Stavamālā." 

Some anecdotes from my diary -

October, 1982, first meeting - Jagadānanda takes me to Jai Singh Ghera for lectures of Ananta Dās Pandit—"In this way you can both learn Bengali and hear the great pāṭhas of this great Vaiṣṇava." Ananta dās Paṇḍitjī has clearly the status of a leading Vaiṣṇava, although he lectures in a simple hall on a simple Vyāsāsan. He is corpulent and wears glasses, and has clear leadership charisma. When we walk from Jai Singh Gherā to Keśi Ghāṭ, he happens to walk in front of us. I see that he is also a bābājī. He wears a bahirvāsa. He has an elegant step like a swan, a real sādhu. I am impressed by him.

September, 1983
Ananta dāsjī gives pāṭha in Jaisingh Gherā. He lectures on Vilāpa Kusumānjali, the dressing-sevā, verses 18-44. Paṇḍitjī depicts the Rāsa līlā: "ek dike kalāvati o ār dike kalānidhi". On the one hand the artistic Rādhikā and on the other hand the ocean (or juwel) of arts Śrī Kṛṣṇa."

October 18, 1983
When I arrive in Rādhākuṇḍa for my first extensive stay for Kārtik, Ananta dās Panditji is just giving pāṭha about Rādhā Rasa Sudhānidhi in the kīrtana-hall east of the kuṇḍa (this was much smaller in 1983 than it is now). It is so beautiful and real! With great difficulty I find a place near the entry. I see Jagadānanda sitting in the back. After pāṭh Jagadānanda blissfully exclaims: "He (Ananta dāsa Paṇḍitjī)'s an avatāra!"  I totally agree with him. Ananta dāsjī also gave Dāma-bandhana (chapter 9 of the 10th Canto of the Bhāgavata, the story of Dāmodara Kṛṣṇa bound by the love of His mother Yaśodā) pāṭha in the Rādhā Ramaṇa Mandir that Kārtik month, which I also attended.

August 24, 1984 — After Ekādaśī I go again to Rādhākuṇḍa and yes, this time Kṛṣṇa dās Baba says I can start translating and living with him! Now the time is ripe to live at Rādhākuṇḍa. After my arrival there is no time for idle chatter, though. Ananta Dās Paṇḍitjī gives pāṭha in the Gopīnāth Mandir, right opposite Kṛṣṇa dās bābā’s place. Kṛṣṇa dās Bābā drags me over there just as I arrive, without asking me anything. A great beginning. Kṛṣṇa dās Bābā sits in front, between the senior Vaiṣṇavas of Rādhākuṇḍa, and places his cassette-recorder before Paṇḍitjī to record the lecture. Afterwards he says: "Even if you don't know Bengali you must still come and listen, just to get purified by the sound of the class and the presence of the Vaiṣṇavas."

In September 1984 Ananta dāsji asks me to translate his book "Rasa Darśana (the philosophy of taste)" into English. I give it up after a few pages, it’s too complicated for me.

October 6 1984— Niyama Sevā begins. One month non-stop at Rādhākuṇḍa. Anantadās Panditjī gives pāṭha 3x a day. At midday in the Gopīnātha Mandir (no longer in the small building on the east bank of Rādhākuṇḍa, that became too small now), in the evening dāma bandhana līlā in Kṛṣṇa dāsa Bābā’s Rādhā Ramaṇ Mandir and late in the evening Śrīla Narottama Dās Ṭhākur Mahāśaya's 'Prema Bhakti Candrika' in the Dharmśālā.

May 1985 - One day Madrasi Bābā and me go to Ananta dās Paṇḍitjī in Vrajananda Gherā, as we do more often, to consult him on Caitanya Bhāgavata. I make some remark about certain devotees being so offensive towards Bābājīs and Gosvāmīs, but Ananta dās Paṇḍitjī says nothing. He does not join in in such critique and I feel embarrassed by the short and painful silence that follows.

August, 1985 — I daily go to the Caitanya Caritāmṛta-pāṭha of Ananta dās Paṇḍitjī in Jai Singh Gherā in Vṛndāvana.

December, 1985 - In the afternoon I go with Dharmavīr and Rohiṇi Bābu to Ananta dās Paṇḍitjī's pāṭha on the Bhramara Gīta, song to the bee, in honour of the first anniversary of the expiry of Nṛsiṁha Ballabh Gosvāmi in his house in Taṭīya Sthāna. During the pāṭha a prominent mahātmā enters, offering flowers to Nṛsiṁha Ballabh Gosvāmī's samādhi and talking through the pāṭha, not realising because of his old age that he disturbs. Panditji continues undisturbed.

August, 1986 — In Jaisingh Gherā Ananta dās Paṇḍitjī lectures from Caitanya Caritāmṛta, the Mahāprabhu-Rāmānanda Samvāda.

August 27, 1986 — Śrī Kṛṣṇa Janmāṣṭamī. Ananta dās Paṇḍitjī now really closes off his lecture-series with a special Janmāṣṭamī-pāṭha. Though Janmāṣṭamī is not the most rasika festival, Paṇḍitjī still makes it rasika by reading the first verses of the birth story from the Bhāgavata (Canto 10, chapter 3), how the lotus flowers blossomed, the bees buzzed and the birds sang, and how the breeze over the Yamunā carried a sweet scent. He can get rasa out of anything. 

September, 1986, Barsana - Gopīballabh tells me that the Rādhā Ramaṇa Banyātrā has arrived, headed by Ananta dās Paṇḍitjī and Puruṣottama Gosvāmi. We check them out just outside of Barsana, near the College, they have a big Shibir where Paṇḍitjī sits on a vyāsāsana. He speaks in Hindi about the meaning of the different līlā-sthalis. He names the eight līlā-sthalis of Douji Mahārāja as Douji, Rāla, Chaṭīkarā, Bhadravan, Āḍiṅ, and Narī Semarī. Deha Kund is a small lake where Paṇḍitjī holds a short speech. I am spacing out somewhat and when I turn around I face Paṇḍitjī close up; smilingly he tells me in Hindi: "If you bathe here you get a gopī-deha!" 

February 10, 1991 — I go to see Panditjī Ananta dās in Gokulānanda Gherā. Panditji sits writing behind his desk as we bow down to him. I hand him a copy of my English translation of Vilāpa Kusumānjali. He leafs through it attentively (although to my knowledge he doesn’t know English) and then returns it to me with a smile, saying: “এই কাজ আপনারই উপকার হইবে !” You will be the one who has most benefit from this!" You can interpret that in two ways: "The translation work is so intense that no one but the translator can go so deep into the text', or: "Nobody in your countries will be interested in this topic except you." 

February 16, 1991 — Keśī Ghāṭ, Vṛndāvana. Ananta dās Paṇḍitjī gives pāṭha on Vilāpa Kusumānjali verse 12. He explains that Rādhārāṇī is the icchā-śakti and hence the origin of creation, and thus the hlādinī-śakti is the foundation of the world.

February 20, 2000 -
I returned to India after a 9-year absence. In the evening we go for darśana of Ananta dās Paṇḍitjī. He sits on a chair in front of a small corona of Western disciples and greets me very heartily. We speak in Bengali; a wonderful exchange of praises starts. Panditji is surprised to hear me speaking Bengali so fluently (much better actually than in the '80s), and asks me আপনার দেশে কত বাঙ্গালী লোক আছে? ("How many Bengali people are living in your country?") কেহ নাই ("Nobody"), I reply. I then return the compliment by saying that Jagadānanda told me that I should learn Bengali by going to the lectures of one Ananta dās Paṇḍitjī. To this Ananta dās Paṇḍitjī says: "There are two foreigners who know Bengali — Jagadānanda and Advaita. Jagadānanda used to attend my pāṭhas with a khātā (notebook)." Ananta dās Paṇḍitjī asks me what changes I noticed in these nine years. I say this and that and then I say: আগে থেকে অনেক বেশি বিদেশী লোক আছে , দ্বিগুণ বা ত্রিগুণ ("There are twice or thrice as many foreigners here than before") He then says: "That is because of you." He then compares rāgānugā bhakti with the stream of the Gaṅgā, and I say that he has brought this stream down to earth — I am only carrying it. He then replies by saying: "Bhagīrathi told Śiva that only He was able to carry the Gaṅgā-stream on his head. That is why you wear the jaṭās." He then requests me to translate Mādhurya Kādambinī. I object: ভাষা ত কঠিন The language is difficult. He assures me: "Rādhārāṇī will help you."

February 22, 2000 — Ananta dās Paṇḍitjī starts 7 days of pāṭh about the single verse 26 of Rādhā Rasa Sudhānidhi. The first item of the verse deals with the phenomenon of lāvaṇya. Everything that is touched by black also becomes black; there is only one exception and that is the complexion of Rādhā. It remains golden, even if Kṛṣṇa, with His black complexion, assumes it. During Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa's kuṇḍa milana (at midday, as is described in Govinda Līlāmṛta, chapter 8), They do not recognise Each other, out of extreme navatā, the feeling of novelty which arises from anurāga. It is the limit of anurāga.

February 23, 2000 — We are invited for prasāda by Ananta dās Paṇḍitjī. He tells us we should stay at Rādhākuṇḍa, because my guru vaṁśa was totally dedicated to Rādhārāṇī. আনন্দ গোপাল গোস্বামী রাধারাণী ছাড়া কিছু জানিতেন না তাহার পুত্রও তেমনই  ("Ānanda Gopāla Gosvāmī did not know anyone else but Rādhārāṇī - the same goes for his sons.")
In his pāṭha he says “The word kudeha (in Rādhā Rasa Sudhānidhi 60) means 'bodily consciousness', and nirmalaḥ means manjarī svarūpāveśa. He also tells that Kṛṣṇa bathes in the Yamunā further (downstream) than Rādhārāṇī, so that He can be touched by the waves that She makes.

February 25, 2000 — Ananta dās Paṇḍitjī says that Anaṅga Manjarī is a sakhī, not a manjarī. She is only a manjarī by name, due to her tender age. She is after all situated in the middle of Rādhākuṇḍa.

March 4, 2000 - I ask Ananta dās Paṇḍitjī if it is not an aparādha that my books are being copied, since they are so intimate, and he says: "No, that is not your fault", but he reminds me that he told me (in 1996) that I should not translate such intimate books. He finds it better if I translate Mādhurya Kādambinī. Panditji says that his Gurudeva said that everyone must pay for the books, otherwise they will throw them away or disrespect them. If I suggest that unqualified people will read these books he says: "Why should they be unqualified? They come from so far, spend so much money to come here and tolerate all these hardships here, fasting and so.” 

November 5, 2000 — I consult Anantadas Paṇḍitjī on Mādhurya Kādambinī. Anurādhā tells me that Anantadas Paṇḍitjī also humbly offered his obeisances when I bowed down to him. Anantadas Paṇḍitjī says that the three kinds of faith, sattva-raja-tama, are all laukika śraddhā. smaraṇa, dhyāna and dhāraṇā take place in sādhana bhakti stara, dhruvānusmṛti in bhāva bhakti stara and samādhi in prema bhakti stara. When bhāva stara is attained ruci also increases. rati bhajana means those who worship in nāyikā bhāva, embraced and kissed by the Lord. Mahāprabhu gave due regards to Nṛsiṁha, as He did to all deities in Their temples when He wandered in South India. All Viṣṇu-mūrtis are respectable for us, but They are not our dhyāna dhāraṇā upāsyas.

February 22, 2001 — Ananta dās Paṇḍitjī had a bad accident; one of his eyes is stitched after he fell into his own spectacles. I tell him I wonder who will read Mādhurya Kādambinī, but he says it will be read by those who are seriously investigating.

March 1, 2001 — Dinahari tells me he asked his Guru Ananta dās Paṇḍitjī if the exiled deities in Rājasthān are the originals and the ones in Vraja pratibhūs. Ananta dās Paṇḍitjī replied: "No, the ones here (in Rādhākuṇḍa) are the originals.'

March 12, 2001 — I ask Ananta dās Paṇḍitjī about Śrīla Ānanda Gopāla Gosvāmī's statement in Vilāpa Kusumānjali purport of verse 75 "আমি রাধাদাসী" ইহা চিন্তা করিয়া আনিতে হয় না | আমাদের চিন্তা করিয়া "রাধাদাসী" এইভাবে আনিতে হয় | Paṇḍitjī explains that the awareness of 'I am Radha's maidservant' is natural to the jāta-rati bhaktas; they need not deliberately think like that. But the ajāta-rati sādhakas must train their minds in thinking like this.

March  24, 2001 — I translate 3 days pāṭh of Ananta dās Paṇḍitjī. How the kiṅkarīs themselves can see Svāminī when She is on তিমিরাভিসার ? Just as the bees find the flower by smelling it, the kiṅkarīs find Her by smelling Her.

November 4, 2001 — Like Mathurā Prasād last year, Anantadās Paṇḍitjī says, according to Acyutānanda, that a midnight bath is not necessary on Bahulāṣṭamī. One who is born at 1 a.m. does not celebrate his birthday at that time but in the daytime. The śloka also does not mention midnight. kārtike bahulāṣṭamyāṁ tatra snatvā hareḥ priyaḥ.

November 14, 2001 — Dīpāvalī. Ananta dās Paṇḍitjī lights dīpas for a boat to be floated on the kuṇḍa and lights some fireworks like the ālāt cakra (firebrand).

November 28, 2001 — I ask Ananta dās Paṇḍitjīji whether the three adhikārīs described in C.C. Madhya 22.64-67 are vaidhi or rāgānugā bhakti adhikārīs, since Rūpa Gosvāmī says that rāgānuga bhakti is not prompted by śāstra and yukti. He says they are both, because although rāgānugā bhakti is not prompted by śāstra, it is also based on it. The madhyama adhikārī understands the philosophy himself but cannot explain it, the uttama adhikārī can explain it. When I ask him about the following 4 verses, 68-71, what is the difference between them and the other three adhikārīs, since now the division is considered according to rati and prema, Paṇḍitjī says that the first three are classified according to faith and the other three (Ś.B. 11.2.45-47) according to advancement in bhakti - rati and prema. Even the madhyama adhikārī has rati, but not the prākṛta bhakta. mati for Kṛsṇa is also called ratyaṅkura. The uttama bhakta has prema." Then I ask him about the difference between mātsarya and vidveṣa in the guru (Bhakti Sandarbha 238). He says: 'mātsarya means being unable to tolerate another bhakta's superiority. nirmatsarānāṁ satāṁ. He commits aparādha but also has bhakti. There will be a delay in prema.”

February 25, 2002 — Nityānanda Trayodaśī. Ananta dāsji tells me that these short trips and all the trouble are just there to increase my eagerness and save me from aparādha.

February 26, 2002 — On Kunja Bihārī dāsjī's maps is written that Rādhārāṇī takes 24 minutes to walk between Nandīśvara, Vṛṣabhānupura, Rādhākuṇḍa and Vṛndāvana. Ananta dās Paṇḍitjī says it takes Candrāvalī longer - in this way she never reaches Kṛṣṇa in time.

March 16, 2002 — When I take leave from Ananta Dās Paṇḍitjī he praises me again for translating the Granthas. I say: এই সব গ্রন্থ ত আপনার কাজ - আমি শুধু শুকের মতন কথা বলছি  Paṇḍitjī – “শুকের মতন হউক - এই বৃন্দাবনে আপনি শুকের মতন জীবন যাপন করিবেন.”

October 31, 2002 – Ananta dās Paṇḍitjī’s classes are still increasing in popularity – in 1984 the Bhagavat Bhavan on the shore of the Kunda became too small, so he moved to the Gopīnātha Mandir, then in 1995 this was again too small, so he had his own pāṭh-bāṛi built, and now, in 2002, this is again too small! If you come too late there is simply no more space to sit. More than 1,000 persons attend. People sit on the staircases!

October 31, 2004 – Ananta dās Paṇḍitjī says in his Rādhā Rasa Sudhānidhi pāṭha that sa no dharmī (Govinda Līlāmṛta 8.112) means that śṛngāra rasa is a dharma, but Kṛṣṇa Himself is the dharmī or source or embodiment of that rasa, and he quotes Gīta Govinda’s śṛṅgāra rasa mūrtimān as evidence.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Lakṣmī in the Rāsa-līlā


Vaiṣṇava – “Bābā, some say that the verses in Śrīmad-bhāgavata glorifying the gopīs’ good fortune as being greater than that of Lakṣmī to be mere glorification, as Kṛṣṇa carries Lakṣmī on His chest in the form of the Śrīvatsa mark, also during the Rāsa-līlā performance, while there are verses in Śrīmad-bhāgavata saying Lakṣmī is doing tapasya for entry into Rāsa-līlā  - yad-vāñchayā śrīr lalanācarāt tapaḥ (Śrīmad-bhāgavata 10.16.36) and nāyaṁ śriyo'ṅga u nitanta-rateḥ prasādaḥ (Śrīmad-bhāgavata 10.47.69).”

Advaitadās – “Yes, in one way it is mahimā kīrtana (glorification), like the Devahūti-verses about the chanting dog-eater being qualified to perform fire sacrifices (Śrīmad-bhāgavata 3.33.6-7), but in the rasa-viewpoint it is also an actual truth. It is true about Śrīvatsa being on Kṛṣṇa’s chest during the Rāsa-līlā performance but the bhāva of the gopīs is definitely missing in Her. Let me explain -  the Panca Pāṇḍava ghāṭa is there at Śyāmakuṇḍa. The Pāṇḍavas have no adhikāra for mañjarī bhāva at all, so they do tapasya there out of respect for Kṛṣṇa. Similarly there can be a crore Śrīvatsas on Kṛṣṇa's chest in the Rāsa-līlā but that does not qualify Lakṣmī devī for gopī-bhāva - it is not a matter of physical location at all. Reversely, Śrīman Mahāprabhu did rāga bhakti in Jagannātha Puri, which is Vaikuṇṭha dhāma.”

Vaiṣṇava – “Radhika is Lakṣmī and vice-versa, isn’t it?”

Advaitadās – Yes, but quality vs quantity is also there. They are one in quantity but not in quality. Radha is mādhurya Lakṣmī and Lakṣmī is aiśvarya Lakṣmī. There is bhedābheda (difference and non-difference) in everything, also in this. Śrīla Rūpa Goswāmīpāda says: siddhāntas tvabhede’pi śrīśa-kṛṣṇa svarūpayoḥ rasenotkṛṣyate kṛṣṇaṁ (Bhakti-rasāmṛta Sindhu 1.2.59) “Though philosophically (ontologically) there’s no difference between Viṣṇu and Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa is more excellent in rasa” – the same thing goes for Lakṣmī and Rādhā.”

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Advaita Ācārya's Śālagrāma-śilā


There is this famous picture depicting Advaita Ācārya worshiping Śālagrāma-śilā to invoke the advent of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, and this is also widely taught, but this is not correct.

Advaita Ācārya indeed had a Śālagrāma-śilā, as Advaita prakāśa, chapter 4, says –

koto dine āilā puṇya gomukhī parbote; tabe gelā śrī gaṇḍakī śālagrāma kṣetre
tahi snāna kori prabhu korilā viśrāma; hari nārāyaṇa nāma jape aviśrāma
dekhi eka śilā cakra sarva-sulakṣaṇa; bhakti kori tāhā loiyā korilā gamana

“After dancing in ecstatic love and offering His obeisances Advaita Ācārya continued to holy Mount Gomukhī and Śrī Gaṇḍakī Śālagrāma Kṣetra, where He bathed and rested. He untiringly performed japa of the holy name of Hari Nārāyaṇa here, and found a Cakra-Śīlā, endowed with all auspicious marks, which He took along with great devotion.”

Caitanya Caritāmṛta (Ādi 3.105-109) describes Advaita Ācārya’s invocation of Śrīman Mahaprabhu as follows –

ei ślokārtha ācārya korena vicāraṇa; kṛṣṇake tulasī-jala deya yei jana
tāra ṛṇa śodhite kṛṣṇa korena cintana - ‘jala-tulasīra sama kichu ghare nāhi dhana’
tabe ātmā veci’ kore ṛṇera śodhana; eta bhāvi’ ācārya korena ārādhana
gaṅgā-jala, tulasī-mañjarī anukṣaṇa; kṛṣṇa-pāda-padma bhāvi’ kore samarpaṇa
kṛṣṇera āhvāna kore koriyā huṅkāra; e-mate kṛṣṇere korāila avatāra

“Advaita Ācārya considered the meaning of the verse in this way: “Not finding any way to repay the debt He owes to one who offers Him a Tulasī-leaf and water, Śrī Kṛṣṇa thinks, ‘There is no wealth in My possession that is equal to a Tulasī-leaf and water.’ Thus the Lord clears the debt by offering Himself to the devotee.” Thinking like this, the Ācārya began worshiping the Lord. Thinking of the lotus feet of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, He constantly offered Tulasī-mañjarīs and Gaṅgā-water, appealing to Śrī Kṛṣṇa with loud roars and thus made it possible for Kṛṣṇa to appear.”

There is no mentioning here of Him worshiping a Śālagrāma-śilā for this purpose. Śrī Caitanya Bhāgavat (Ādi-khaṇḍa 2.78-83) also gives a summary description of the event, also without mentioning Advaita Ācārya worshipping a Śālagrama-śilā.

sei navadvīpe boise vaiṣṇavāgragaṇya; ‘advaita ācārya’ nāma, sarva-loke dhanya
jñāna-bhakti-vairāgyera guru mukhyatara; kṛṣṇa-bhakti vākhānite jeheno śaṅkara
tribhuvane āche joto śāstrera pracāra; sarvatra vākhāne,—’kṛṣṇa-pada-bhakti sāra’
tulasī-mañjarī-sahita gaṅgā-jale; niravadhi seve kṛṣṇe mahā-kutūhale
huṅkāra koroye kṛṣṇa-āveśera teje; ye dhvani brahmāṇḍa bhedi’ vaikuṇṭhete bāje
ye-premera huṅkāra śuniyā kṛṣṇa nātha; bhakti-vaśe āpane ye hoilā sākṣāt

“In that Navadvīpa the leader of all the Vaiṣṇavas, named ‘Advaita ācārya ‘, lived, who was the most blessed in all the worlds. He was the main guru of jñāna (knowledge or wisdom), bhakti (devotion) and vairāgya (renunciation). He was like Śaṅkara (Śiva) in His explanations of Kṛṣṇa-bhakti. He preached all scriptures that existed in the three worlds and explained them all to mean ‘devotion to Kṛṣṇa’s feet is the best’. In great eagerness He always worshiped Kṛṣṇa with Tulasī-mañjarīs and Gaṅgā-water. He roared in a powerful absorption in Kṛṣṇa, and that thunderous sound pierced the shell of the cosmos, resounding in Vaikuṇṭha. When Lord Kṛṣṇa heard these premik roars, He appeared (on earth, as Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu), being subdued by (the love of) His devotee.”

Here also, there is no mentioning of Śṛī Advaita-ācārya invoking Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s advent with a Śālagrāma-śilā. Śṛī Advaita-ācārya’s prāṇa-nātha was Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Madangopāla instead. 

Friday, May 11, 2018

pūrva rāga rahasya


Vaiṣṇava - On the one hand we see Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa meeting from birth, as Padma Purāṇa says that Rādhikā was born blind and got Her vision only when Kṛṣṇa visited Her and on the other hand in the opening acts of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmi's 'Vidagdha-mādhava'-drama, we read about pūrva rāga, how Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa first hear of Each other when they are already in adolescence.

Advaitadās - Yes, Vṛṣabhānu Mahārāja and Nanda Mahārāja are neighbors, presiding over Barsānā and Nandagrām respectively, so it is inconceivable that Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa did not know each other before adolescence. There are several answers to this question.

First of all, Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism focuses on nitya līlā, the eternal pastimes, not naimittika līlā, occasional (but in a sense also eternal) pastimes.

Secondly, we must remember that līlā does not take place in linear time as we know it in the material world. Jīva Goswāmī explained that in his commentary on Bhagavata 2.9.10 — kāla-vikrameṇa hi prakṛti-kṣobhāt sattvādayaḥ pṛthak kriyante | tasmāt yatrāsau ṣaḍ-bhāva-vikāra-hetuḥ kāla-vikrama eva na pravartate tatra teṣām abhāvaḥ sutarām eveti bhāvaḥ - “The power of time in Vaikuṇṭha works separately of (beyond) time which is prompted by material modes like sattva. Hence there are no six transformations caused by the power of material time there (birth, growth, full grown state, decay and death).” 

What I said just a few seconds ago, that is gone forever. In the meantime I became a few seconds older. That cannot be recovered. You cannot become younger anymore, you cannot turn back the hands of time. Linear time is destructive. The pastimes of the Lord take place outside of the linear time frame. Kṛṣṇa is often addressed in the Bhāgavata with names denoting pastimes He had not performed yet at 'that' time. Durvāsā Muni blessed Śrī Rādhikā that whatever She would cook would give strength and health to Kṛṣṇa. But the līlā of Her cooking for Kṛṣṇa, which happened 'later', as a result of it is also eternal. So how does it work? There is no 'past' before it. How is it possible? 

So it is the same with pūrva rāga - Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa always meet again for the first time. This is the point of the whole concept of anurāga. When Rādhikā sees Kṛṣṇa on top of Mount Govardhana She says to Her sakhīs in the Dāna-keli-kaumudī (28)—

prapannaḥ panthānaṁ harir asakṛd asman-nayanayor
apūrvo’yaṁ pūrvaṁ kvacid api na dṛṣṭo madhurimā 
pratīke’py ekasya sphurati muhur aṅgasya sakhi yā
śriyas tasyāḥ pātuṁ lavam api samarthā na dṛg iyam

"Kṛṣṇa has crossed the path of My eyes so many times before but I have never before seen such sweetness as today. My eyes cannot drink even a drop of the beauty in one portion of one limb."

So the time-frame of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa's 'first meeting' does not apply here, and there is also the divine deluding power of Yogamāyā. Even if They had known Each other from birth, they would still be in an illusion of a 'first meeting' during Their adolescence.

We contemplate this aṣṭakāla līlā now for 36 years and we could think 'Oh I know that stuff now, it is old.' But it isn't. Read it and contemplate it again and it is exactly like the first time, but even more attractive than before. vibhur api kalayann sadābhi vṛddhim (Dāna Keli Kaumudi 2) "Though this nectar is all pervading it always increases again still." If we experience ever freshness, then what to speak of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, Who are at the pinnacle of anurāga? Every word, every movement there is eternal. If Guruji says you are 12 years 3 months and 15 days old, if you wake up the next morning, you will not be 12.3.16 days old but again 12.3.15 days. It is an eternal loop.

Another thing we must consider is that Kṛṣṇa can perform many different līlās at the same time, as Nārada Muni discovered in the Bhāgavata, when he visited Kṛṣṇa in Dvārakā [Canto 10, chapter 69], and that dramas like Vidagdha Mādhava are templates, blueprints, school-examples to introduce new sādhakas to the different situations and bhāvas in Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa-līlā, rather than a mere continual story.   

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Vrajavāsīs' Vaikuṇṭha-darśana and sādhana-exemption

Śrīmad Bhāgavata, 10.28.16, speaks of the Vrajabāsīs' darśana of the spiritual world -

te tu brahma-hradam nītā magnāḥ kṛṣṇena coddhṛtāḥ
dadṛśur brahmaṇo lokaṁ yatrākrūro’dhyagāt purā

"The cowherd men were brought by Kṛṣṇa to the Brahma-hrada, made to submerge in the water, and then lifted up. From the same vantage point that Akrūra saw the spiritual world, the cowherd men saw the world of the Absolute Truth."

Viśvanātha Cakravartipāda comments: "The unlimited spiritual effulgence, called the brahmajyoti in Text 15, is compared to a lake called Brahma-hrada, which actually exists in the river Yamunā. Śrī Kṛṣṇa submerged the cowherd men in that lake literally, and also in the sense that He submerged them in the awareness of the impersonal Brahman. But then, as indicated by the word uddhṛtāḥ (uplift), Kṛṣṇa lifted them up to a higher understanding, that of the world of the Lord, Vaikuṇṭha. This is also stated in the Bhāgavata (2.7.31): ahnayāpṛtaṁ niśi śayānam ati śrameṇa lokaṁ vaikuṇṭham upaneṣyati gokulaṁ sma, “Kṛṣṇa brought the Gokula-residents, who were sleeping at night after a day's hard labor, to Vaikuṇṭha."

Though 10.28.16 seems impersonal, in the next verse it is said that Kṛṣṇa showed them Vaikuṇṭha - 10.28.17 - kṛṣṇaṁ ca tatra cchandobhiḥ stūyamānaṁ su-vismitāḥ 'He was praised there by the Personified Vedas, to the cowherds' astonishment'

So this vision could not have been of the indistinct brahma-jyoti if the Personified Vedas are there.

Śrīdhara Swāmī's ṭīkā to 2.7.31 is nice -

ahni āpṛtaṁ vyāpāra-yuktaṁ niśi śayānam iti ca vaikuṇṭha-prāpti-sādhanānuṣṭhānābhāvo darśitaḥ


"The Brijbasis were so busy in the day that they slept at night. It shows one can attain Vaikuṇṭha without practising sādhana (just by being dear to Kṛṣṇa)"

So verse 2.7.31 shows the power of love beyond sādhana prasaṅga bhakti (the devotees´ regular duties of chanting one's rounds etc). 

It is also a beacon of hope for gṛhastha bhaktas who may have no or little time for nāma-sādhana.

The same thing goes for the Pāṇḍavas, as Sanātana Goswāmī comments on his Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta (1.4.109) - vinaiva kiñcit sādhanaṁ tān prati prasannaṁ kṛta kāruṇya-bharam "Kṛṣṇa was pleased with them without them doing any sādhana, He was filled with compassion."

There is a caution given however, that if there is spare time it must surely be utilized in sādhana.
Sādhu Bābā’s householder disciple asked: “Bābā, how can we be devoted to the Lord?”
Bābā replied: “Take shelter of Śrī Guru’s lotus feet, believe Śrī Guru’s words, earnestly do bhajana according to Śrī Guru’s instructions, then surely the goddess of devotion will be pleased with you. 'sādhya-vastu' 'sādhana' vinu keho nāhi pāy (C.C.) “Without practising no one can attain spiritual perfection.” Those who must work all day should at least in the evening do some japa and meditation, for the śāstras provide us with this hope: krome krome pāye lok bhava sindhu kūle (C.C.) “Slowly and gradually the people will reach the shore of the ocean of material existence.`

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Is love free?

It is often heard that if we cannot freely choose, then there is no question of love. Is love actually really 'free', however?

Let us look at the ācāryas' explanations of the famous sentence muktiṁ dadāti karhicit sma na bhakti yogam ("The Lord sometimes bestows mukti but not bhakti") from Śrīmad Bhāgavata 5.6.18. It is a most important and often quoted sentence, and it shows that

1. bhakti is greater than mukti.
2. bhakti is rarer than mukti.
3. love is a gift, it is not free choice - as we will see in the following commentaries.

This makes all the difference. 'sma na bhakti yogam' literally means 'He never bestows it', but it practically means that He hardly bestows it, otherwise I would not be writing this and no one would be reading this. 

Charity begins at home, so let us start in the family and first study the ṭīkā to this important sentence by Śrīnātha Cakravartī, the famous disciple of Advaita Ācārya and Guru of Kavi Karṇapura. He writes in his Caitanya Mata Mañjuṣā:

mukundo mokṣa-prado’pi bhajatāṁ karhicit kadācid api muktiṁ na dadāti tarhi kiṁ dadāti tatrāha—bhakti-yogaṁ bhaktau yogo yasya sa bhakti-yogaḥ premā tam 

"Although Mukunda is the bestower of liberation he never gives it to those who do His bhajan. Then what does He bestow? It is said here - He gives bhakti yoga and that bhakti yoga means prema."  

Śrīla Sanātana Goswāmīpāda comments on this sentence:

evaṁ bhagavat-prasādaika-labhyatā, anyathā ca parama-daurlabhyam iti darśitam 

"Thus it is only attained by the grace of the Lord, otherwise it is seen to be very rarely attained."

Śrīla Jīva Goswāmī confirms this in his Krama Sandarbha ṭīkā -

bhakti-yogam atra premāṇam 

"Bhakti yoga here means prema (which He bestows - rarely)."

Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda comments -

bhavadbhyo hy abhajadbhyo’pi parama-premādhikya-dānasya 

"That he gave the highest prema even to you, who do not worship him, is the highest position."

From all these explanations of Śrīmad Bhāgavata it is clear that prema or love is a gift and not a free choice or so, though this is the popular (mis-)conception based on material experiences.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

7 Instances of siddha deha in Śrīmad Bhāgavat

7 Instances of siddha deha in Śrīmad Bhāgavat 

On October 14, 2014, I published a blog which listed 4 instances in which a siddha deha, personal spiritual body, was described or mentioned in Śrīmad Bhāgavata, while the Bhāgavata mostly describes liberation as merging into Brahman or into Bhagavān. Since then I myself and several other devotees have found more verses on siddha deha in Śrīmad Bhāgavata, so I decided to delete the old blog and replace it with this updated one, adding 3 more instances to it. 

Nārada Muni in Śrīmad Bhāgavat 1.6.27-8-

evaṁ kṛṣṇa-mater brahman nāsaktasyāmalātmanaḥ
kālaḥ prādurabhūt kāle taḍit saudāmanī yathā

"O brāhmaṇa Vyāsa! Concentrating only on Kṛṣṇa, not attached to material enjoyment and pure in mind, the time of receiving my spiritual body occurred simultaneously with that of giving up my material body, like lightning flashing simultaneously with lightning."

prayujyamāne mayi tāṁ śuddhāṁ bhāgavatīṁ tanum 
ārabdha-karma-nirvāṇo nyapatat pāñca-bhautikaḥ

"Having been awarded a transcendental body befitting an associate of the Lord, the body made of five material elements, with karmas relating to the present body, fell away."

Śrīdhar Swāmī ṭīkā - bhagavatā mayi prayujyamāne nīyamāne – the word prayujyamāne means ‘the siddha deha is brought by the Lord’. anena pārṣada-tanūnām akarmārabdhatvaṁ śuddhatvaṁ nityatvam ity ādi sūcitaṁ bhavati: the bodies of the associates of the Lord are pure, without prārabdha-karmas, and eternal.

Viśvanātha Cakravartī ṭīkā - "The Lord previously promised hitvāvadyam imaṁ lokaṁ gantā maj-janatām asi: giving up this low body you will become my associate. (SB 1.6.23)  At the time of being made to accept a body which was śuddha-sattva (śuddhām) because it was not a material body and because it belonged to the Lord (bhāgavatīṁ), my material body (pāñca-bhautikaḥ) fell away. Giving up my material body and attaining a spiritual body were simultaneous, like the expression “I am walking while the cows are being milked.” The Lord’s own words were hitvāvadyam imaṁ lokam. The use of the verb form hitvā (giving up the material body) in this case indicates simultaneously giving up the material body while receiving the spiritual body. It is said:    

kvacit tulya-kāle ’pi upaviśya bhuṅkte ṛṇat-kṛtya patati cakṣuḥ saṁmīlya hasati mukhaṁ vyādāya svapitīty ādikam upasaṅkhyeyam -

There are examples in which the participles indicate simultaneous actions as in sitting down and eating, assuming debts and falling from esteem, closing the eyes and laughing, lowering the head and falling asleep. (Bhāṣā-vṛtti)."

Śrīmad Bhāgavata 1.15.32 -

niśamya bhagavan-mārgaṁ saṁsthāṁ yadu-kulasya ca 
svaḥ-pathāya matiṁ cakre nibhṛtātmā yudhiṣṭhiraḥ 

“Hearing the arrangements of the Lord and the proper situation of the Yadu family, without others knowing, Yudhiṣṭhira fixed his mind on attaining Kṛṣṇa’s abode. “

Normally the word svaḥ refers to the material heavens but in this case it means Kṛṣṇa's abode because later on in Śrīmad Bhāgavata [1.19.20] it is said about the Pāṇḍavas' final attainment -

na vā idaṁ rājarṣi-varya citraṁ
bhavatsu kṛṣṇaṁ samanuvrateṣu
ye ’dhyāsanaṁ rāja-kirīṭa-juṣṭaṁ
sadyo jahur bhagavat-pārśva-kāmāḥ

"O best of kings! It is not surprising that those desiring to associate with the Lord, born in the Pāṇḍava family and devoted solely to Kṛṣṇa, immediately gave up the royal throne served by kings' crowns."

From the context of this verse it is clear that bhagavat-pārśva-kāmāḥ means wanting to attain the Lord's side in the spiritual world because the departure of Kṛṣṇa from the material world had already taken place in chapter 14 of the same Canto.

Śrīmad Bhāgavata 3.2.23 is the clearest case of a soul attaining a personal relationship with Kṛṣṇa in a spiritual body, and it is most astonishingly bestowed to someone who tried to kill Him -

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

"Oh! 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!"

Another very clear one - Śrīmad Bhāgavata 3.15.25:

yac ca vrajanty animiṣām ṛṣabhānuvṛttyā
dūre yamā hy upari naḥ spṛhaṇīya-śīlāḥ
bhartur mithaḥ suyaśasaḥ kathanānurāga-
vaiklavya-bāṣpa-kalayā pulakī-kṛtāṅgāḥ

"Those who are far above rules by following the Lord with dedication, who are superior to us, and whose qualities are desirable by us, and whose bodies develop goose bumps and uncontrolled tears through attraction to discussions of the Lord possessing most excellent qualities, enter Vaikuṇṭha."

Verses 13-24 were an elaborate description of Vaikuntha so the context of this verse is crystal clear.

Dhruva undergoing transfiguration, his human body turning into a spiritual body on the spot, in Śrīmad Bhāgavat 4.12.29 –

parītyābhyarcya dhiṣṇyāgryaṁ
pārṣadāv abhivandya ca
iyeṣa tad adhiṣṭhātuṁ
bibhrad rūpaṁ hiraṇmayam

"Circumambulating and worshipping the plane which brought him to Dhruvaloka, an outpost of Vaikuṇṭha, offering respects to the two associates of the Lord, assuming a golden form, Dhruva desired to board the plane."

Ajāmila in Śrīmad Bhāgavat 6.2.43 -

hitvā kalevaraṁ tīrthe
gaṅgāyāṁ darśanād anu
sadyaḥ svarūpaṁ jagṛhe
bhagavat-pārśva-vartinām

"After seeing those forms, Ajāmila gave up his body at this holy place on the Gaṅgā River and immediately attained a spiritual body as an associate of the Lord."

Śrīnātha Cakravartī, disciple of Advaita Prabhu, comments in his Caitanya Mata Mañjuṣā-ṭīkā – sadyo’vyavadhānenaiva – sadya means seamlessly, (this happens) without a break, immediately.

Gajendra says in Śrīmad Bhāgavat 8.3.19 –

yaṁ dharma-kāmārtha-vimukti-kāmā
bhajanta iṣṭāṁ gatim āpnuvanti
kiṁ cāśiṣo rāty api deham avyayaṁ
karotu me 'dabhra-dayo vimokṣaṇam

"Persons desiring dharma, artha, kāma and mokṣa worship the Lord and attain the desired destination. What to speak of other benedictions, they also receive a spiritual body. May that Lord of unlimited mercy liberate me and bestow such a spiritual body."

To my knowledge there are no more references in Śrīmad Bhāgavata of the siddha deha.