Thursday, December 01, 2022

Vilāpa-kusumānjali by Śivarāma Svāmī volume I – verses 1-17

 VILĀPA KUSUMĀNJALI by Śivarāma Svāmī  volume I – verses 1-17

Book review

Today’s blog coincides with the 40th anniversary of my first acquaintance with Śrīla Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī’s ‘Vilāpa Kusumānjali' through my divine master Śrīla Nikunja Gopāla Gosvāmī in his ashram in Navadwīpa. In my diary it says on December 1, 1982 —

Bābā enters into my room and places a small booklet before me, 'Vilāpa Kusumānjali' by Śrī Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī. He tells me to memorize it and possibly to translate it into English. He says it is a very important booklet and that his father Ānanda Gopāla Gosvāmī's pāṭhas on it were famous. এই গ্রন্থের যেকোনো শ্লোক তোমাকে ধ্যানের অমৃতসাগরে নিমজ্জিত করতে পারে গভীরে ডুব দাও - নীচে রত্ন রয়েছে " “Any verse from this book can immerse you in an ocean of nectarean meditation. Dive deep – there are jewels on the bottom.” In 104 prayers this booklet gives a complete description of all manjari sevās and līlās, briefly but very sweetly.


Now the review of the latest edition of Vilāpa kusumānjali, by Śivarāma Svāmī - volume I – verses 1-17


Vilāpa-kusumānjali 1

On page 166 Śivarāma Svāmī says manjaris are not eager for Kṛṣṇa's physical contact and their experience mirror Rādhā’s experience. That is not mentioned in the śloka but can only be found in purports on this verse by non-ISKCON-devotees like Prabhupāda Śrī Ananda Gopāl Goswāmī and Anantadās Bābājī. Prabhupāda Śrī Kiśora Gopāl Goswami, the eldest son of Prabhupāda Śrī Ananda Gopāl Goswāmī, spoke in his commentary on the same verse:

 “The Divine Pair becomes inebriated in Each other’s presence. In the course of these pastimes Śyāmasundara bites Śrīmatī's lips, leaving a mark there. The relationship between Svāminī and Rūpa Mañjarī is so pure that all the signs of Kṛṣṇa's love-making on Śrīmatī's body, such as His bite-marks on Her lips, become reflected on Śrī Rūpa Mañjarī's body also.”

Śivarāma Svāmī wrote a book against taking śikṣā outside ISKCON but this purport shows he himself clearly took śikṣā outside ISKCON.

Śivarāma Svāmī  then quotes Raghunātha Dāsa Goswāmī’s Vraja Vilāsa Stava verse 38 -

prāṇa preṣṭha sakhī kulād api kilāsaṅkocitā bhūmikāḥ

kelī bhūmiṣu rūpa mañjarī mukhās tā dāsikāḥ saṁśraye

which is accidentally also quoted by non-ISKCON-devotee Anantadās Bābājī in his purport to the same verse?

On pages 167-168 Śivarāma Svāmī quotes Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda’s commentary on Śrīmad Bhāgavata 1.9.34 which is ‘accidentally’ also quoted by non-ISKCON-devotee Prabhupāda Śrī Ananda Gopāl Goswāmī in his purport of Vilāpa Kusumānjali 17.

On page 169 Śivarāma Svāmī quotes Bhaktivinode’s Jaiva-dharma, chapter 17 saying that Gauḍīya sādhakas attain 2 siddha dehas – one in Kṛṣṇa-līlā and one in Gaura-līlā. Where is that mentioned in the 6 Goswāmīs’ books?

On page 173 Śivarāma Svāmī  quotes his Guru saying one ‘realizes his original position and wants to be reinstated as a friend, servant or conjugal lover of the lord’. This is contrary to śāstra (Śrīmad Bhāgavata 4.29.70, 5.25.8, 5.26.3, 6.5.11, 8.24.46, 11.11.4, 11.11.7, 11.22.10, 12.11.29, and Vedānta Sūtra 2.1.35) which says anādyavidyā – our conditioning is beginningless. ’Re-instated’ means you were with Kṛṣṇa before and this is not Vedic siddhānta but Christianity.

On page 174 Śivarāma Svāmī  quotes Govinda Līlāmṛta 11.137 -


spṛśati yadi mukundo rādhikāṁ tat sakhīnāṁ

bhavati vapuṣi kampa sveda romañca vāṣpam

adhara madhu mudāsyās cet pibaty esa yatnād

bhavati bata tad āsāṁ mattatā citram etat


exactly as non-ISKCON-devotee Anantadās Bābājī did in his Vilāpa Kusumānjali 1 purport. Coincidence? Or did he take śikṣā outside ISKCON?


Vilāpa Kusumānjali 2

In his commentary on Vilāpa Kusumānjali verse 2, on pages 188-193 of his book, Śivarāma Svāmī  takes more śikṣā outside of ISKCON by copying the entire purport of Prabhupāda Śrī Kiśora Gopāl Goswāmī, the eldest son of Prabhupāda Śrī Ananda Gopāl Goswāmī, peppering it with his own additions. There is simply too much to quote here in a mere blog. It includes even the final point “The fact that Svāminī is here addressed as 'land lotus', indicates that She is not close to the Śyāma-ocean of rasa (the word kamala means water flower, but She's named sthala-kamalinī, land lotus, here).

Vilāpa Kusumānjali 3

In his commentary on Vilāpa Kusumānjali 3, page 204, Śivarāma Svāmī quotes Prabhupāda Śrī Kiśora Gopāl Goswāmī, the eldest son of Prabhupāda Śrī Ananda Gopāl Goswāmī, a non-ISKCON devotee, from whom one should not take śikṣā, describing how Śrī Rati Mañjari quickly runs to the kunja and, hangs the bells back on Svāminī’s waist without being noticed by Her girlfriends, since she seems to be just joining in the dance.

On page 220 Śivarāma Svāmī writes, “Rūpa Manjari’s cloud-grey eyes contain the untold mystery of the Vedas” Is a pretty dry attempt at poetry, making comparisons with Vedas which have already been rejected in Bhagavad-Gīta 2.40-45, let alone by the rasika ācāryas of the Gauḍīya Sampradāya.

Vilāpa Kusumānjali 4

On page 225 Śivarāma Svāmī  makes aparādha to Yadunandanācārya by saying “even if Rūpa Gosvāmī is more spiritually prominent than his dīkṣā-guru.” The Guru is on the absolute level and not on relative or comparitive level. Śrīmad Bhāgavat (7.15.26) clearly says -

yasya sākṣād bhagavati jñāna-dīpa-prade gurau

martyāsad-dhīḥ śrutaṁ tasya sarvaṁ kuñjara-śaucavat

“For a person having faulty intelligence who thinks that the guru, who gives the lamp of knowledge and is the Lord Himself, is an ordinary mortal, all that he has heard from guru becomes as useless as cleaning an elephant who merely becomes dirty again.”

Śrīla Raghunātha Dāsa Goswāmī praises Śrī Yadunandanācārya in his ‘Mukta carita’ (4) as one to whom he owes the mercy of Śrī Rūpa Goswāmīpāda -


nāma śreṣṭhaṁ manum api śacī-putram atra svarūpaṁ

rūpaṁ tasyāgrajam uru purīṁ māthurīṁ goṣṭha-bāṭīm

rādhākuṇḍaṁ girivaram aho rādhikā mādhavāśāṁ

prāpto yasya prathita kṛpayā śrī guruṁ taṁ nato'smi


         “I bow down to my blessed Śrī Guru, by whose grace I have received the greatest name in existence, the holy name of Kṛṣṇa, the 18-syllable Gopāla-mantra, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, the son of Mother Śacī, Svarūpa Dāmodara, Rūpa Gosvāmī, his elder brother Sanātana Gosvāmī, the great city of Mathurā, the pastures of Vraja, Rādhākuṇḍa, the best of mountains Govardhana, and the hope of attaining Rādhikā and Mādhava.....”

On page 225, Śivarāma Svāmī says “Yet sādhakas should not look outside their spiritual master’s line for higher teachings …..” while we have already at this early point found many instances of he himself doing exactly that.

On page 226 Śivarāma Svāmī narrates how Sanātan Goswāmīpāda was chastised by Jagadānanda Pandit for wearing red cloth (saying that it is not for Vaiṣṇavas to wear) – providing food for thought why both the author, his Guru and his Param Guru disobey this prohibition?

On page 232 Śivarāma Svāmī claims that the brahma gāyatrī is part of Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava initiation while such practice is neither prescribed in Haribhakti Vilasa, nor has it been practiced by any other Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava but the followers of Bhaktisiddhānta Saraswati. Brahma gāyatrī is not a part of bhakti sādhana at all but of varṇāśrama dharma, and is only for men born in the upper three castes, to which the author does not belong.

On page 234 Śivarāma Svāmī calls gunjā-mālā ‘a small garland of conchshells’, while even every riksha driver in India knows they are red and black berries.


Vilāpa Kusumānjali 5

On page 245 Śivarāma Svāmī writes: “Raghunātha Dāsa Goswāmī shed his false ego and regained his original identity.” There are two mistakes here – Raghunātha Dāsa Goswāmī was an eternally liberated soul (gaurāngera sangi gane nitya siddha kori māni, Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākura) and we don’t regain our original identity as we did not fall down from the spiritual world (anādyavidyā, see my review of verse 1).

On page 252 Śivarāma Svāmī  writes that Mahāprabhu is the combined form of Rādhā - Kṛṣṇa; this is not correct. Śrīla Svarūpa Dāmodara Goswāmī writes rādhā bhāva dyuti subalitam naumi kṛṣṇa svarūpam – He is Kṛṣṇa endowed with Rādhā’s bhāva and luster (Caitanya-caritāmṛta Ādi 1.5).


Vilāpa Kusumānjali 6

On pages 290-291 Śivarāma Svāmī writes that Sanātan Goswāmī was called prabhu because he was an extension of Caitanya Mahāprabhu and an uttama adhikārī. Why then the members of Gauḍīya Math and ISKCON call every single new bhakta, and in extension even drunken riksha-wallas and meat-eating life-members ‘prabhu’? Is that not cheap imitation? In śāstra we see the word prabhu being used for luminaries like Vyāsadeva and Sanātan Goswāmī.

At the end of his commentary, Śivarāma Svāmī  recites a mantra -śrīṁ laṁ lavaṅga mañjaryai svāhā, which comes from who knows where but surely not from Haribhakti Vilāsa.

Vilāpa Kusumānjali 7

On page 320 Śivarāma Svāmī  quotes this verse from Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta (1.7.126) –

tathāpi sambhoga sukhād api stutaḥ sa ko'py anirvācyatamo manoramaḥ

pramoda-rāśiḥ pariṇāmato dhruvaṁ tatra sphuret tad rasikaika vedyaḥ


“….still this is ultimately a joy that is even greater than the transcendental bliss of meeting Kṛṣṇa, an indescribably beautiful abundance of ecstasy. Only the rasika devotees (who are able to taste the flavors of transcendental emotions) know this in truth.”

exactly at the same point that non-ISKCON-devotee Anantadās Bābājī does in his earlier Vilāpa Kusumānjali 7 purport. Coincidence? Or Śivarāma Svāmī took śikṣā outside ISKCON?

On page 326 Śivarāma Svāmī claims that one can take shelter of Śrī Rādhā in the aspired-for siddha deha at the stage of āsakti but fails to quote evidence for that from the 6 Gosvāmīs’ books. He contradicts himself immediately by quoting a verse by Raghunātha Dāsa Goswāmī where he prays to Śrīla Rūpa Goswāmī that he control his mind.

ābhīra pallī pati putra kāntā dāsyābhilāṣāti balāśva varaḥ

śrī rūpa cintāmala sapti saṁstho  mat svānta durdānta hayecchur āstām


“May my uncontrollable mind mount the horse of spotless thoughts about Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī that is mounted by the strong desire to serve the lover of the son of the lord of the village of cowherds.”

Is that the sign of āsakti? (though Raghunātha Dāsa Goswāmī is nitya siddha he makes a philosophical statement here in his own humility, that lack of mind control does not bar sādhakas from aspiring for rādhā-dāsyam).


Vilāpa Kusumānjali 9

On page 357 Śivarāma Svāmī writes that for Raghunātha Dāsa Goswāmī the holy names have not yet parted the curtain that covers Rādhā’s pastimes. Surely he must mean that these are Raghunātha Dāsa Goswāmī’s pastimes as a sādhaka, not reality.


Vilāpa Kusumānjali 10

On page 375 Śivarāma Svāmī quotes his guru Swami Bhaktivedanta saying that the Guru is a representation of Nityānanda Prabhu, a theory for which there is no scriptural evidence. Also Śivarāma Svāmī says Rādhā is the guru but Swami Bhaktivedanta didn’t say that. He said the guru is one of Rādhā’s confidential associates. Śivarāma Svāmī also mixes up the forest fire of material suffering which consumes the conditioned souls with the forest fire of divine separation felt by Raghunātha Dāsa Goswāmī, which are two totally different things.


Vilāpa Kusumānjali 11

On page 391 Śivarāma Svāmī quotes exactly the same Śrīmad Bhāgavata-verses (10.38.25-26) that non-ISKCON-devotee Prabhupāda Śrī Ananda Gopāl Goswāmī quotes in his lecture on Vilāpa Kusumānjali’s verse 8 about the power of Akrūra’s obeisances. Has Śivarāma Svāmī taken śikṣā outside of ISKCON or is this sheer coincidence?


Vilāpa Kusumānjali 12

On page 417 Śivarāma Svāmī  ascribes personality to the ankle-bells the way that non-ISKCON-devotee Prabhupāda Śrī Ananda Gopāl Goswāmī ascribed personality to the waist-bells in his purport of Vilāpa Kusumānjali verse 94. They are sad.

Immediately on the next page Śivarāma Svāmī quotes Rādhā Rasa Sudhānidhi (16) exactly at the same spot where non-ISKCON-devotee Anantadās Bābājī quotes it in his own purport on the same verse – is this coincidence or peeping inside a non-ISKCON book for some śikṣā outside of ISKCON?


pādāṅgulī nihita dṛṣṭim apatrapiṣṇum   dūrād udīkṣya rasikendra mukhendu bimbam

vīkṣe calat pada-gatiṁ caritābhirāmāṁ   jhaṅkāra nūpuravatīṁ bata karhi rādhām


         "When can I see Śrī Rādhā with Her charming form, shyly looking down at Her own toes when She sees the moonlike face of Kṛṣṇa, the king of relishers, from afar, as She steps along with jingling anklebells?"


On page 425 Śivarāma Svāmī presents the concept of vastu siddhi, when a devotee gives up his body to go to the spiritual world, something which is nowhere in the Gosvāmīs’ books.

Throughout the book, the residence of Śrī Rādhā is consistently misspelled as Yāvaṭā, when it should be Yāvaṭa.


Vilāpa Kusumānjali 13

On page 436 Śivarāma Svāmī claims that love of God is dormant and cites Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu (1.2.2) with a wrong translation - the words nitya siddhasya bhāvasya in that verse mean that the phenomenon of bhāva is itself eternally perfect, not that prema is dormant in the heart. That verse does not carry the word dormant at all.

Vilāpa Kusumānjali 14

On page 462-463 Śivarāma Svāmī quotes Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura’s song describing how he was introduced to Śrī Rādhā by Rūpa Manjarī, exactly as non-ISKCON-devotee Anantadās Bābājī did in his purport of the same verse. Coincidence? Or śikṣā outside of ISKCON?

Śivarāma Svāmī calls Madhumangala bhato; this should be baṭu instead.

The different drawings of Raghunātha Dāsa Goswāmī in this book are all wrong. If, in his ecstatic state, he wore any tilaka at all, it would have been tilaka of the advaita parivāra (the unbroken disciplic succession originating from Śrī Advaita Prabhu) in which he was initiated via Yadunandanācārya (see verse 4). And with almost 100% certainty it would have been tilaka from his beloved Rādhākuṇḍa, not gopī-candana tilaka.

Vilāpa Kusumānjali 15

On page 480 Śivarāma Svāmī says Yadunandanācārya was in the pancarātrika paramparā of Raghunātha Dāsa Goswāmī and Rupa Goswami was in his bhāgavat paramparā, while these concepts were only invented by Bhaktisiddhānta Saraswatī around 1918, some 400 years later. There is no such concept in any śāstra at all. What and where is Bhaktisiddhānta Saraswatī’s ‘pancarātrika paramparā’ then?


On page 483 Śivarāma Svāmī quotes Gita Govinda 1.3 -

yadi hari-smaraṇe sarasaṃ mano

yadi vilāsa-kalāsu kutūhalam |


śṛṇu tadā jayadeva-sarasvatīm


Śivarāma Svāmī’s translation includes the sentence “…if you wish to serve your pleasure pastimes at Rādhākuṇḍa…..” However sweet this is, it is nowhere to be found in the original text of this verse. I suppose he interprets the word sarasam to be ‘the lake’ – while Bhānu Swami translates it more truly as- in full of love (in mādhurya-rasa); B.V. Nārāyan Mahārāja says: “if you are hankering to contemplate upon him with intense affection”. The Bāla Bodhini tika (by either Caitanya Das or Prabodhānanda Saraswati) says: “The word sarasam indicates śṛṅgāra-rasa.”

On page 492 Śivarāma Svāmī claims the bridge to Ananga Manjari’s kunja in the middle of Rādhākuṇḍa is invisible, but the Govinda-līlāmṛta ślokas (7.100-101) that describe this place do not say that.


Vilāpa Kusumānjali 16

On page 524 Śivarāma Svāmī quotes Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī in his 'Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu' (2.5.128):


sañcāri syāt samonā vā kṛṣṇa-ratyāḥ suhṛd ratiḥ

adhikā puṣyamānā ced bhāvollāsa itīryate


while the non-ISKCON-devotee Prabhupāda Śrī Ananda Gopāl Goswāmī quoted the same verse in his lecture on the very same verse, which was later published by non-ISKCON-devotee Anantadās Bābājī in his printed edition. Has Śivarāma Svāmī taken śikṣā outside of ISKCON?

I also wonder where Śivarāma Svāmī got the teaching about tad-bhāvecchātmika bhakti from on page 525 - The devotional attitude of wanting to assist Śrī Rādhā and other yūtheśvarīs (gopī-groupleaders) in meeting Śrī Kṛṣṇa and enjoying amorous pastimes with Him and to relish the sweetness of these pastimes rather than to enjoy with Kṛṣṇa personally. It’s also in the Vilāpa Kusumānjali-edition of non-ISKCON-devotee Anantadās Bābājī.

On page 531 Śivarāma Svāmī introduces the concept of the manjaris being like Śrī Rādhā’s shadow – a concept presented no less than five times by non-ISKCON-devotee Prabhupāda Śrī Ananda Gopāl Goswāmī in his lectures on Vilāpa Kusumānjali.

On page 535 Śivarāma Svāmī quotes Bhaktisiddhānta Saraswati saying Kṛṣṇa’s cows and the flute are in śānta rasa. No śāstra says that. Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī says in his commentary on Śrīmad Bhāgavata (11.12.8) - gāvo vātsalya rasena “Vraja's cows are in vātsalya rasa.” He repeats that the cows are in vātsalya rasa in his comments on Śrīmad Bhāgavata 10.14.30-31 - aho'ti-dhanyā ityādibhīrāmātmaka vātsalyādi ratimanta eva stoṣyanti (30) ye tu tvad bhakteṣv ati-prakṛṣṭās teṣāṁ tvayi śuddha vātsalyādi rati-bhājāṁ padavīṁ prārthayitum ayogyā... (31) “I am not qualified to pray for their vātsalya rasa”), 10.20.26 (prītyā is motherly affection) 10.21.13 - “The cows (not the calves) are in vatsalya rasa-  na ca tatrāpi vātsalyabhāva eva mohane hetur astīti vācyam….., and “The cows stand still as they take Govinda within their hearts through their tear-filled eyes and embrace Him out of vātsalya bhava – sva manasaḥ kroḍe eva vātsalyāt sthāpayantyas tasthuḥ (Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī’s commentary). The statement vaṁśī priya sakhī from Brahma Samhitā (5.56) shows that Kṛṣṇa’s flute is even in madhura rasa, let alone śānta rasa!


Vilāpa Kusumānjali 17

On page 575, Śivarāma Svāmī says the gopīs are not good swimmers but śāstras like Govinda-līlāmṛta and Sankalpa Kalpadruma give the opposite view.

On page 577, Śivarāma Svāmī quotes Śrī Rādhā, being in the kunja at noon with Kṛṣṇa at Rādhākuṇḍa, that he is the supreme person, served by demigods, the Vedas and the sages. A worse type of aiśvarya-view isn’t imaginable at this pinnacle of mādhurya, in both time and place. Another instance is there on page 582, where Kṛṣṇa paints alta (foot-lac) on Śrī Rādhā’s feet, a most mādhurya event, but Kṛṣṇa recites an aiśvarya verse from Rādhā-kripa-kaṭākṣa-stava-rāja (12) –


makheśvari kriyeśvari svadheśvari sureśvari

triveda-bhāratīśvari pramāṇa-śāsaneśvari

rameśvari kṣameśvari pramoda kānaneśvari

vrajeśvari vrajādhipe śrī rādhike namo ’stu te


O queen of Vedic sacrifices, O queen of pious activities, O queen of the material world, O queen of the gods, O queen of Vedic scholarship, O queen of knowledge, O queen of the goddesses of fortune, O queen of forgiveness, O queen of the forest of happiness, O queen of Vraja, O empress of Vraja, O Sri Radhike, obeisances to You!”

Clearly totally out of tune.

More on page 585: While Kṛṣṇa is putting on Her foot-lac, Śrī Rādhā hears him think ‘the Vedas say that I am the unlimited Personality of Godhead. Then why am I outdone by this humble red liquid?” This is similarly totally out of tune with the immense mādhurya of this pastime.

On page 588 Śivarāma Svāmī quotes Kṛṣṇa saying“I am in My name. so if I write my name in the laksa I will also have a place on Rādhā’s lotus-feet.” Non-ISKCON-devotee Anantadās Bābājī wrote in his purport of the same verse: “ Everyone says that I am non-different from My name, so let My name stay on Her foot-soles then!"

The circumstances under which Śrī Rādhā kicks Rati or Tulasi are practically copied from non-ISKCON-devotee Prabhupāda Śrī Ananda Gopāl Goswāmī and non-ISKCON-devotee Anantadās Bābājī as well.


I heard that the next volume of Śivarāma Svāmī’s Vilāpa Kusumānjali will be issued around Janmāṣṭamī 2023. If both Śrīpāda Śivarāma Svāmī and yours truly are still around we will resume our review then.

Saturday, November 05, 2022

‘Vilāpa-kusumānjali’ by Śivarāma Swāmi, introduction.

 Book review: ‘Vilāpa-kusumānjali’ by Śivarāma Swāmi, introduction.

Perhaps I should rename my blog into vilapakusumanjali-blogspot because Vilāpa-kusumānjali became the main theme of my blogs in the last few years.

Vilapa-kusumānjali-publications follow each other now in quick succession. ISKCON now joins the club too with Shivaram Swami's extensive deluxe edition, which, he says, will take until 2025 to complete, in 1000s of pages. Hopefully both the author and yours truly, considering our age, will be still around in 2025, to complete writing and reviewing this project. This blog is a review of Shivaram Swami's 72-page introduction only.


On page 13, on the 3rd page of his preface, Shivaram Swami gives a wrong translation of the important sevā sādhaka rūpena-śloka of Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu (1.2.295). The word 'advanced devotee' is not there in the śloka, nor 'self-realized position' - the verse appears in the sādhana bhakti chapter, not in the bhāva- or prema-bhakti chapters, which deal with the self-realized states of bhakti. rāgānuga-bhakti is a sādhana, that is clearly said earlier in Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu (2.1.5) - vaidhī rāgānugā ceti sā dvidhā sādhanābhidhāThere are two types of sādhana – vaidhi and rāgānugā."

And the word rāgānugā does not mean ‘spontaneous’ but ‘passionate’. rāga means passion, anu means following, and ga means going. So devotion following one's divine passion. Vaidhi bhakti is spontaneous too. The residents of Vaikuṇṭha need not be woken up for mangalārati with a bucket of cold water either.

Throughout, Shivaram Swami uses the word 'conjugal' for Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa's love, but conjugal means married love, while Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa are not married. The proper word is 'amorous'.

Due to the ISKCON/Gauḍīya Math apasiddhānta that you have to be free from all material desires to do rāgānugā bhakti, many of their devotees are starved of rasa and it seems that it is to keep such devotees on board that Shivaram Swami is writing his books - to keep them from defecting to the bābājīs or to Nārāyan Mahārāja. Whether Shivaram Swami is himself a sincere rasika or not is impossible to say. His books could well be a deliberate GBC policy to keep the ISKCON flock from defecting. Shivaram Swami admits that much on page 14 of this first book -

" should stop new devotees from searching after elusive greener pastures" –

(Why elusive? Does he have proof that other gurus are all elusive?)

He repeats his motives on page 19 : "My whole purpose..............was to offer to devotees who are eager for kṛṣṇa kathā the opportunity to hear those topics in Śrīla Prabhupāda's line" , "I want to offer literature that will keep devotees in Śrīla Prabhupāda's fold..." and on p.28 "....the availability of rasika books and the temptations offered by teachers outside ISKCON"

In the preface the author explains he has been doing strict sādhana for 30 years which makes him qualified for reading and publishing Vilāpa-kusumānjali, but Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmīpāda says -

kṛṣṇa-bhakti-rasa-bhāvitā matiḥ

     krīyatāṁ yadi kuto 'pi labhyate

tatra laulyam api mūlyam ekalaṁ

     janma-koṭi-sukṛtair na labhyate

“Buy sensitivity for kṛṣṇa-bhakti-rasa if you can purchase it anywhere – the only price is greed. It is not attained with millions of lives of pure lifestyle (neatly chanting one's rounds and following the principles).”

puṣṭi-mārgatayā kaiścid iyaṁ rāgānugocyate


"rāgānugā bhakti is only attained by the mercy of Kṛṣṇa and His devotees”

Many of Shivaram Swami's godbrothers have done sādhana for a longer time than him and they are not inclined towards Vilāpa-kusumānjali at all. That shows that greed for rāgānugā bhakti has nothing to do with a quantity or quality of sādhana at all.

On page 38 the author claims Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa wrote a commentary to Stavāvalī, but that is incorrect. It is Bangeśvara Vidyālaṅkāra.

On page 47 the author graciously mentions me as one of the translators of Vilāpa-kusumānjali, but I am NOT free from all material desires, as the author's Guru demands as qualification for rāgānugā bhakti. Should he quote translations by conditioned souls? His Guru, Swami Bhaktivedanta, writes in his book Nectar of Devotion, chapter 16, 'Eligibility for Spontaneous Devotional Service':


“We must always remember, however, that such eagerness to follow in the footsteps of the denizens of Vraja is not possible unless one is freed from material contamination." 


While Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu, which Nectar of Devotion is supposed to be a rendering of, says in verse 1.2.5 that rāgānugā is a sādhana, not a siddhi - Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu (2.1.5) - vaidhī rāgānugā ceti sā dvidhā sādhanābhidhā - "There are two types of sādhanavaidhi and rāgānugā.

So Shivaram Swami graciously mentions me as one of the translators of Vilāpa-kusumānjali but I am not a member of ISKCON, while Shivaram Swami wrote a book prohibiting śikṣā outside of ISKCON. You cannot tell your followers to not take śikṣā outside of ISKCON and then do it yourself by reading the works of a non-ISKCON devotee. If you are an ācārya you must teach by example -


ācinoti yaḥ śāstrārtham ācāre sthāpayātyapi

svayam ācarate yasmād ācāryas tena kīrtitaḥ


“The ācārya is thus called because he has studied and understood the meaning of the scriptures, he establishes this meaning in the behavior of others and he practices what he preaches.” (Manu-Samhita, Vāyu Purāṇa)


On page 59, Shivaram Swami says that Kṛṣṇa in Braja is the essence of the Vedas and he quotes Bhagavad-Gītā 15.15. However that verse does not prove the superiority of Braja Kṛṣṇa at all.

On pages 61-62 the author quotes Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda's commentary to Śrīmad-bhāgavat’s verse 10.33.39 that is diametrically opposed to the teachings of his teachers in the ISKCON/Gauḍīya Math - Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda says there that it is foolish to doubt if prema (let alone rāgānugā sādhana) can appear in the heart that is still tainted by material lust.

On page 66-70 the author strikes the right note by pointing out that the sādhana and sādhya of Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism is manjari bhāva, not cowherd boy or so, since all ācāryas in our sampradāya are manjarīs. On page 69 he quotes the most under-quoted verse in ISKCON/Gauḍīya Math, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmīpāda's anarpita cari-śloka, that proclaims that gopī-bhāva is the true gift of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.

On pages 80-81 the author clearly took śikṣā outside of ISKCON by making the point that of the five types of sakhīs, the prāṇa sakhās and nitya sakhīs are maidservants, a point often taught by Ananta Das Bābājī in his commentary on Vilāpa-kusumānjali and other books. The same for page 82, where he quotes Ananta Das Bābājī who said that Mahāprabhu perceiving Radha Kṛṣṇa enjoying in a cave of Govardhana Hill is His relishing of manjari bhāva. Both these points are unique to the Radhakund bābājīs, who are outside of ISKCON.

On page 83, Shivaram Swami calls Bhaktivinode the ‘seventh goswami’. Bhaktivinode got the title seventh goswami from Mr. Shishir Kumar Gosh, a mundane Bengali nationalist who was not at all a pure devotee or liberated soul, out of friendship only.

On page 83-84 Shivaram Swami quotes Bhaktivinode, he says in the natural course of time of pure devotional service, the devotee attains the form of  a manjarī. That is bad propaganda for ISKCON because it means that very few of them do pure devotional service (phalena phala kāraṇam  anumīyate - know the tree by its fruits). After 56 years of ISKCON, most of them don't even KNOW what is manjari bhāva, let alone that they practise it.


On page 86, Shivaram Swami identifies Rati Manjari with Labanga Manjarī or Sanātan Goswāmī and this is suggested too in Kavi Karṇapūra's ‘Gaura Gaṇoddeśa Dīpikā, verses 181-182 -


yā rūpa-mañjarī-preṣṭhā purāsīd rati-mañjarī |

socyate nāma-bhedena lavaṅga-mañjarī budhaiḥ ||181||

sādya gaurābhinna-tanuḥ sarvārādhyaḥ sanātanaḥ |

tam eva prāviśat kāryān muni-ratnaḥ sanātanaḥ ||182||


“She who was Rati Mañjarī, dear to Rūpa Mañjarī, or according to some Lavaṅga Mañjarī, now became Sanātana Gosvāmī, worshipped by all, non-different from Gaurāṅga. The best of sages Sanātana (Kumāra) also entered him, to perform certain functions.”

An interesting view which is, however, neither shared by the bābājīs nor by us.


On page 91, Shivaram Swami compares Rādhā with the Tulasī-plant and the manjarīs with the buds whose lives depend on that plant. An interesting comparison.

At the top of page 95 Shivaram Swami says when Mahāprabhu saw Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī had matured in realisation he instructed him to write books, but fails to provide evidence for that.

On page 95, Shivaram Swami writes “The exoteric path of Vakreśvara Pandit is more suited to a restricted audience of brahminically qualified devotees..." – varṇāśrama, however, has nothing to do with vaiṣṇava sādhana at all.

On page 95, Shivaram Swami also speaks of goṣṭhyānandīs and bhajanānandis – such a subdivision of Vaiṣṇavas has, however, never been made by the six Goswāmīs.

On page 97, Shivaram Swami says ‘Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī the sannyāsi’. This is wrong. There is no sannyāsa in Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism, and certainly not with red cloth. Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī was a vairāgi instead.

On page 100, Shivaram Swami says Jīva Gosvāmī says that the shift from vaidhi to rāgānugā bhakti is generally not immediate, but gradual, but he provides no evidence for that.

The gopī-bhāva mantra for sannyāsīs Shivaram Swami mentions on p.101 is in no śāstra at all, nor is any Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava sannyāsa mentioned in Haribhakti Vilāsa.

On page 110, Shivaram Swami says that sannyāsīs and brāhmaṇas will be inclined to gopī bhāva. First of all, westerners cannot be brāhmaṇas because they lack the birth for that, secondly social status or perceived purity or seniority in years or piety do not provide access to rāgānugā bhakti. Only sacred greed does, and it can appear in anyone.

On page 114, Shivaram Swami presents the widespread misconception, and not only from ISKCON or the Gauḍīya Math, that only at the stage of niṣṭhā one qualifies for rāgānugā bhakti. Although niṣṭhā is indeed still a part of sādhana bhakti, there is no evidence in Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu that niṣṭhā is a prerequisite for rāgānugā bhakti.

On pages 118-119, Shivaram Swami is pleasantly candid about the social and economic comfort that most ISKCON devotees are attached to that may prevent them from pursuing rāgānugā bhakti (what to speak of going to other non-ISKCON Gurus like Goswāmīs or bābājīs!). ISKCON is not just a spiritual shelter but a socio-economic haven as well, whose meal-ticket provision prevents spiritual advancement. Shivaram Swami then makes the right point that true devotees are very rare, quoting Bhagavad-Gītā 7.3 and Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu 1.1.35, which makes short work of the well-meant but still false propaganda to attract newcomers of easily going 'Back Home Back to Godhead'.

Despite all the above criticism I must commend Shivaram Swami for trying to correct the mISKCONception that rāgānugā bhakti is ‘sahajiya’ or only for liberated souls, which daily leads to massive vaiṣṇava-aparādha by ISKCON-devotees. He is unfortunately one of the few ISKCON devotees who understood that.


The following chapter of Shivarama Swami’s book, the biography of Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī, is uncontroversial and alright, except for 3 points –


On page 131, Shivaram Swami says Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī received service as Śrīla Svarūpa Dāmodar's secretary, as if he was some ISKCON bureaucrat sitting behind a desk keeping book distribution scores. Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī was doing rāgānugā bhajan and tapasya and was taking spiritual guidance from Śrīla Svarūpa Dāmodar.

p.136 Does Shivarama Swami have evidence that Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī himself cooked for Mahaprabhu? Or did he spend 8 kuris each time to buy mahā prasāda from the Jagannath Mandir?

p.139  Does Shivarama Swami have evidence that Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī stayed first at Laghamohan Kund at Govardhan?