Friday, December 21, 2012

Me and Santa Claus

Teaching Sanskrit in the winter sun at SRSG.

Ever since I arrived at Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama ashram a couple of months ago, people have been suggesting that I take the role of Santa Claus in the annual Christmas celebrations.

Now it is a strange fact, perhaps mostly due to the presence of numerous American and European residents here that Christmas is probably the most celebrated festival on the calendar. Deepavali, Janmasthami, Shivaratri and other important holidays do not go unnoticed, but Christmas is celebrated with a tree and many other familiar trapping, as well as a kind of "talent" night with different ashramites putting on performances of various types.

In past years I have participated. One year I told the Dickens' story "A Christmas Carol" in Hindi, another time I attempted to tell O.Henry's "A Gift of the Magi," with much less success. But the groundswell of requests to have me play Santa this year made me progressively uneasy. Perhaps the five years I have been in India, especially the last two in Vrindavan, have changed me to such an extent that the very memory of the treacly carols that bombard the average Canadian for the two months from Halloween to Christmas day give me a feeling of nausea..

Finally I wrote the following on Facebook:

Dear friends as SRSG. I know I have grown a big white beard, but that does not mean I am Santa Claus. I refuse to play the role of the incarnation of Western Consumer Culture. I came to India to get away from Christmas. Whoever St. Nicolas may have been originally, or even as recently as a generation ago, to me he is no longer a saint. I see him as a symbol for the root problem of modern civilization. I will not play along. Sorry.
I do not doubt that the Santa symbol has many positive aspects, and I certainly can sympathize with the highest ideals of Christianity, but I felt and still feel that dressing up as Santa is not my role.

At one point I had been thinking that perhaps I could dress up as jolly old Saint Nick, and put on some kind of one-man play about how he had been transformed from a kindly saint giving to the poor into the poster boy for conspicuous consumption. But I quickly realized that dampening others' innocent fun is not my style either.

Although many people understood and approved this comment, there were several others who found it curmudgeonly, and the usual words associated with a lack of Christmas spirit -- "humbug" and "grinch" -- were soon in appearance. But the more that others defended Santa, saying that I was being selective in my understanding, projecting my own negativity onto the symbol rather than seeing its original positive aspects and trying to redeem them, the clearer my sense of revulsion for the entire consumer culture that this figure represents sprung to my mind, and I responded that he is in fact irredeemable.

You have to look at what he represents in today's world. Practically speaking there was no Santa 100 years ago. Take a look at Dickens' Christmas Carol... there is no Santa there. Practically speaking, Christmas itself is a construct of the consumer culture. And Santa Claus was the creation of marketers and advertisers, who made use of the positive connotations of kindness and giving to sell ever more useless stuff.

At least it seems that the Jesus symbol has not been degraded to quite the same extent, even though I must say that the disfigured merciless Jesus of the Christian Right in America, the one who is barely distinguishable from Ayn Rand, may have put even him beyond redemption.

I am a Vaishnava. I left North America precisely because I rejected the the rajasik and tamasik ethic of hard work, competition and sense gratification that it idolizes. I see the Western civilization, which unfortunately is being blindly copied by the rest of the world, including India, as engaged in a helter skelter rush to destruction. I cannot support this misguided civilization and I won't put lipstick on this pig by pretending that Santa Claus represents something other than the wasteful world of modern capitalism.

The British environmentalist writer George Monbiot writes in a recent article that the level of consumption in western society has become pathological. In other words a kind of collective madness. One that has become so normalized that to oppose it is to "expose yourself to opprobrium and ridicule."

But the consequences of this "collective madness" are apocalyptic. Is it not madness when an entire civilization is so convinced that insane levels of consumption are the only way that societies can progress economically?

Yet this destructive course is symbolized by Santa Claus, a harmless looking jolly elf, but whose one purpose and one purpose only is to suck you into this vortex of consumption, making you buy things nobody needs, which leads to environmental degradation, and simply supports the cycle of more and more consumption.

If you are spiritually minded in any tradition--Christian, Buddhist, bhakta, yogi, environmentalist, whatever--even if you just have a little bit of common sense, you should see through this scam and realize that it is destroying the world itself, which means it is demoniac. You may dress it up with a jolly "HO HO HO!" but that won't fool me and it should not fool you, either. It is the symbol of a progressively self-destructive, demonic world view.

You cannot separate the symbol from the symbolized. It may seem commendable to try to redeem St. Nicolas, but my position is to just say, "No more!"

Perhaps if Santa Claus did not exist, there would only be something else to take his place to push us to consume, but let us begin our revolution by removing this Santa's mask. I am pessimistic about efforts to turn back the clock on this monstrous distortion, this appropriation of religious figures to justify a demonic course for civilization, well meaning as they may be.

I favor the revolutionary approach. The situation is drastic and it is time to speak loudly against the symbols that drive the world in this direction.

Most likely we will have to wait to see what remains after the apocalypse, when the smoke has cleared and the cinders have cooled. In the meantime, I say it is time to change the gods. Silence the infernal repetition of "Santa Claus is coming to town" and chant Radhe Shyam nam.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Ecstasies of the Yogi

Swami Veda quoted this Bhagavata verse last night in Yoga Sutra class while discussing sutra 4.25.

vāg gadgadā dravate yasya cittaṁ
rudaty abhīkṣṇaṁ hasati kvacic ca |
vilajja udgāyati nṛtyate ca
mad-bhakti-yukto bhuvanaṁ punāti ||

One who is united with me in bhakti yoga, whose words are choked with emotion, whose mind has melted, who cries constanty and sometimes laughs, who shamelessly sings alound and dances... such a devotee purifies the entire world. (11.14.24)

Swamiji does not usually quote full verses in his classes, though he makes a point of teaching his disciples the Sanskrit terminology used in the Yoga Sutra. Needless to say, it was a pleasure to hear him recite this sweet verse so nicely. And he pointedly said that he was doing so for me. Because "Jagat knows the Bhagavata."

The context here was the following sentence from Vyasa's bhashya,

yathā pravṛṣi tṛṇāṅkurasyodbhedena tad-bīja-sattānumīyate,
tathā mokṣa-mārga-śravaṇena yasya romaharṣāśru-pātau dṛśyete,
tatrāpi asti viśeṣa-darśana-bījam apavarga-bhāgīyaṁ
karmābhinirvartitam ity anumīyate |

"As the existence of seeds is infered from blades of grass shooting forth in the rainy season, so it is infered that he whose tears flow and whose hair stands on end when he hears of the path of liberation, has a store of karma tending to liberation (apavarga) as the seed of recognition of the distinction [between the puruṣa and sattva]." (B.D. Basu edition, 1912).

Swamiji said that here was evidence of the presence of emotional bhakti in the Yoga Sutra. He also said that there was a time when he was young whenever he heard the word "God" or īśvara, even in a bus or train, he would be overcome with tears and trembling. This, he said, went on until he met his spiritual master, Swami Rama. Indeed, the sutra itself, in the context of the concluding portion of the Yoga Sutra, describes a first rung of sadhana (viśeṣa-darśana) that then proceeds through
  • viveka-khyāti (2.26-28)
  • prasaṅkhyāna (3.55)
  • dharma-megha samādhi (4.29)
  • kaivalya (4.34)

You will have to look those terms up yourselves, dear readers. I put the relevant sutra numbers in there. But I thought the Bhagavata verse preceding the one he cited is perhaps even more appropriate for the context:

kathaṁ vinā roma-harṣaṁ
dravatā cetasā vinā |
śudhyed bhaktyā vināśayaḥ ||

"How can one's storehouse of karma (karmāśaya) be purifed without the hairs standing on end? Without a heart that has melted, or without streams of tears flowing with joy from the eyes? Without bhakti, devotion?" (11.14.23)

Of course, there may be a small technical difference here... between the Bhagavata and Yoga-Sutra. Nevertheless, the language of Vyasa, simply by virtue of touching the language of ecstasy, does indeed ring the bells of bhakti.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Human typology and Religious Institutions

Many people criticize and condemn religions and religious institutions because of the evil done in their name. This is often based on a predisposition to anti-religious sentiment. One should recognize that religion is a human institution and subject to the same frailties as all human institutions. Those who are in such institutions should recognize these frailties and take steps to control and counteract them.

According to Patanjali's Yoga-sūtra (4.7), there are four kinds of people. Patanjali does try to estimate what percentage of human society fits into each category, no doubt since modern ways of enumerating populations was not yet devised. In any case, such percentages no doubt change as societies change.

Patanjali divides people according to the kind of work they do in relation to the goal of enlightenment. The first three are (1) kṛṣṇa (black, or dark karmas), which are the actions performed by the evil; (2) śukla-kṛṣṇa or mixed karmas, which evidently are the kinds of activity performed by the greater number of people; and (3) śukla-karmas are the activities of sincere sādhakas engaged in the kriyā-yogas described in YS 2.1, etc. The commentators say that these types correspond to the tamas, rajas, and sattva guṇas respectively.

The fourth category, which is the specific object of sūtra 4.7, is called akṛṣṇāśukla, neither white nor black. This is the activity of the the yogi or the perfected transcendentalist. Such liberated transcendentalists, though engaged in activity in the world, are not bound because they are nirguṇa, beyond the guṇas of Prakriti.

Any religious group will have representatives of all these four kinds of people. Though obviously Patanjali was not thinking in the same ways that modern psychologists such as Robert Altemeyer of the University of Manitoba do, there is some interesting correspondence between them, as well as with the Bhagavata Purana's division of kaniṣṭha, madhyama and uttama bhāgavatas.

Patanjali's first group correspond to what Altemeyer calls "social dominators." They are the most dangerous humans because they are ruled by the "demoniac nature." They can be identified primarily by their thirst for power, their holding on to that power, and what they do once they have it. Such persons can be most expert in playing the role of a saintly person and using religion or other kinds of idealism for social manipulation, especially of those that can be grouped in Altermeyer's "authoritarian followers."

They are the asuras of Bhagavad Gītā 16. Though the Bhāgavata-purāṇa's kaniṣṭha is not an asura, he has tāmasika tendencies as described in Gītā 18.22. If these become dominant in his religious life, he can become very destructive, either as a leader or a follower.

The second group, because they are mixed, are easy fodder for the manipulations of the first group. Paradoxically, this happens especially if they are more pious, with a tendency to superficial religiosity, foolishness and wishful thinking. They are easily led into hypocritical behavior, mainly because they deny the tāmasika half of their nature and like to pretend they are better than they really are. These people can be salvageable in the right circumstances, but the danger is that they may just as easily become Nazi foot-soldiers if the circumstances are changed.

But there are also sincere sādhakas and real yogis also. And for them, the religious symbols reveal their true meaning. So critics should be careful not to mistake the religious system, the practices and symbolic meanings as exploited by tāmasika and rājasika practitioners for the true meaning of these things. By the same token, it is always dangerous in principle to over generalize about people.

Institutions tend to create an environment wherein Patanjali's kṛṣṇa-karma people, the asuras or social dominators, find it easy to rise to the top. They in turn eliminate the śukla and akṛṣṇāśukla people because these are not good institutional types. The śukla people generally are forced out one way or another, while the latter group usually shun institutions by nature.

So, it is not that complaints about religious institutions are unfounded. The kṛṣṇa- people will dissimulate their real motives and in order to maintain power and position, they need at all cost to preserve the appearance of religiosity. Hypocrisy is their trademark; it is their bread and butter in the religious institution for it is the way these power grabbers dupe their weak-minded followers.

Though criticisms of defective institutions that have come under the influence of such leaders, even if relatively benign, are thus well-founded, it is still my opinion that a critic would be well-advised to become a simple saint first before trying to play the role of an Old Testament prophet. Worse yet are those who make blanket criticisms of all religion or one specific religious institution without understanding the mixed nature of all social groups, including religion. We have enough prophets, each proclaiming hell-fire and damnation from their pulpits on the mountain tops of their own idiosyncratic belief systems. Better one should first climb to the top of the mountain of love and teach by example before condemning the fallible.

The truth generally lies between extremes. I do not believe you can become an uttama or advanced sādhaka by skipping the beginning or kaniṣṭha stage. You can get stuck in the lower levels of spiritual progress, but that does not mean you can avoid them. You can't jump to the top of a ladder. That is why we have ladders.

The ekāgratā or single-minded purpose of mind of all yoga systems is also adored in the cultic form of religious institution as well as in totalitarian political ideologies, since that is the way they accomplish their goals. We must learn how to manage ekāgratā in order that we progress to higher stages of spirituality and not get led into tamas.

In other words: sādhanā may give the impression of creating stress, but this is actually good stress. In the beginning it is hard to manage and results in the cult-like symptoms that one sees in some religious institutions. If one is fortunate, one does grow out of it, without losing the ekāgratā, or single-mindedness that is its principal feature. And all the rewards of sādhanā arise from ekāgratā.

The real test is what the goals of such ekāgratā are. If the goal is prema, as we say in Gaudiya Vaisnavism, we have to be on our guard for symptoms of "not-prema," which are the consequences of an institution that is dominated by asura types. If we are told that we are "not ready," etc., for prema, as in dicta like "Work now, samādhi later," then in all likelihood we are getting the wool pulled over our eyes.

On the other hand, it is not enough to just stick it out with an institution (as some say) as though the institution itself is the bestower of prema. Rather you should stick it out with your own original ideals of purpose, and the meaning of the symbol system and fundamental practices that you were given, if they match that ideal purpose.

The great conundrum for religions is how to preserve the essence of a tradition without becoming prey to the anarthas that institutions tend to produce.

Joseph O'Connell introduced me to the concepts of "hard" "soft" and "medium" institutions. Hard institutions have strong lines of authority with strict guidelines of orthodoxy and orthopraxy, and centralized power to censure and excommunicate non-conformists. Soft institutions include the books, literature and sādhanā practices of a tradition, where there is a great deal of individual freedom of interpretation. Medium institutions in the pre-modern era were usually concentrated around festivals and informal sat-saṅgas. The paramparā or disciplic succession was also considered a medium institution because the lines of authority are looser than in a hard one.

The hard institution is that which is most subject to anarthas. But other kinds of institutions will still have to exist, even if it is something as simple as two people meeting for a shared friendship in relation to spiritual progress, such as internet discussion groups.

Human institutions, saṅghas, are an inevitable feature of human life, for we crave like-minded human association. Therefore we need to apply our intelligence to the best, or least damaging, ways of managing this need.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

The gopis insult the banyan tree

We have been reading about the gopis in separation and how they are madly asking the trees for Krishna's whereabouts. In 10.30.4, the first trees the gopis approach to ask for Krishna's whereabouts are the ashwattha, plaksha and nyagrodha, all variants of the banyan or sacred fig. This is ostensibly because they are the tallest trees and would have been best able to see Krishna from their lofty height.

They are also the kings of the forest, representing Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma respectively. But when these trees don't answer their polite request, which is accompanied by a confession of their distressed state of mind ("the son of Nanda has stolen our minds and run away!"), Vishwanath paraphrases the gopis' reaction, saying that they insult them, saying, "You are just dirty-minded men and, besides, you just have small fruits!"

When I read this, I burst out laughing because of the implications of this insult.

Some people suggested that the gopis are pointing out that the devas and the three presiding deities of the three gunas who only give lower or small fruit and cannot really give Krishna himself, who is beyond the gunas.

This interpretation is appropriate, but here [I think Vishwanath intends to say] the gopis first approach the male trees, the "big shots." But as in the next verse, they don't trust them because they are men and Krishna is a man, and so they will naturally take his side over theirs. Besides, such important personages don't really understand or sympathize with the plight of women in love. Moreover, they are Krishna's friends or servants and do not dare to offend him.

So the gopis say they are duṣṭāntaḥkaraṇa, "polluted in mind," since they put other concerns ahead of charity and empathy. And furthermore, because they lack the courage to betray Krishna by helping them, they make use of a popular insult that refers to the roundish, seed-bearing entities that males possess.

This of course is my own dirty mind seizing on the implications. But I suspect that these forest dwelling milkmaids (āraṇyā) are not necessarily above such things! Since the meaning is somewhat ambiguous, and they only said it to each other, and since they are under great stress, we may forgive them.

In the next verse, they go to the flower bearing trees like the ashoka, thinking that they will be more sympathetic, even though they too are males. The flowers are representative of smiles and a lighthearted, purer and kinder nature. But unfortunately, those trees also let them down. But at least they shake their heads by way of a slight breeze that moves their uppermost branches to let them know that they cannot answer or do not know.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Only Bhakti is the path of joy

In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna describes the joy that a devotee feels in the execution of devotional service. Those who emphasize the jnana, karma and yoga practices described in the Gita have no understanding of how the bhakta experiences such joy in his love for the Lord and the association of other devotees.

mac-cittā mad-gata-prāā
bodhayantaḥ parasparam |
kathayantaś ca mā nitya
tuṣyanti ca ramanti ca ||

Their minds fixed on me, their lives totally dedicated to me, they spend their time in explaining the path of devotion to one another. Speaking of me constantly, they feel intense delight and pleasure. [Gita 10.9]

The Bhagavata Purana also describes the joy the devotee feels in the company of other devotees.

satāṁ prasangāt mama vīrya-saṁvido
bhavanti hṛt-karṇa-rasāyanāḥ kathāḥ
taj-joṣaṇād āśv apavarga-vartmani
śraddhā ratir bhaktir anukramiṣyati

If you have the good fortune to be in the company of devotees, you will hear of my glories, which are like magic medicine for the ears and heart. By becoming absorbed in these talks, you will quickly traverse the path of liberation, from faith, to joy, to love. (SB 3.25.25)

Swami Veda Bharati paraphrases Vyasa's Bhashya to YS 2.14, "For ordinary people, pain is felt to be discordant with one's own nature, whereas the yogi has this feeling of natural discordance whether he experiences either pleasure or pain."

The bhakta experiences a similar discord whenever he even hears of the notion of kaivalya or mukti, where consciousness and the object of consciousness are so merged as to make any awareness of an Other impossible.

Is it possible to have being without an object of being? Perhaps... But what is the meaning of being if it be like that of a rock or a lump of clay?

Is it possible to have consciousness without an object of consciousness? Perhaps, but what is the meaning of such consciousness? What is its purpose? What is its joy?

Is it possible to have bliss without love? And is it possible to have love without an object of love? And the supreme bliss must come in relation to the Most Complete Being, the fountainhead of all being, consciousness and bliss.

No wonder Prabodhananda says that being "solo" (kaivalya) is hell. My apologies to all my yogi friends and to Swami Veda himself. I cannot stop feeling this way. I love yoga and I love my yogi friends, but for me, kaivalyaṁ narakāyate. Or like our Raghunath Das says, kathā mukti-vyāghryā na śṛṇu kila sarvātma-gilanīḥ: "Don't even listen to the talks of liberation. They are like a tiger which will surely swallow your soul."

Bhakti is the natural condition of the soul. One must cultivate BOTH Oneness and Otherness. But recognizing the Other is in itself a path to the Oneness of love. Oneness without Otherness contradicts the natural relation of the part to the whole.

Some say that to become Brahman means to become Love itself. This is actually closer to the Vaishnava view, but is still inadequate. Yes, Love is the all-pervading Ground of Being, but if the Supreme Truth is Love, then variety, distinction, even that of God and individual soul, must be eternal!

The proper understanding of aham brahmāsmi is that we become Love, and that we become one with the object of Love in love. In his inconceivable nature, God is the one, undifferentiated Absolute, who in order to fully manifest his potential for love, divides himself into the infinite multiplicity of human experience. To describe or experience the former without the latter is an inadequate description or experience of the Absolute.

If you have become love, then have you lost your personhood or kept it? Does love exist without a subject and an object? As soon as there is love there must be both! And such love can only exist within the matrix of the individual soul's love for the Supreme Soul and the reciprocation of that love through grace.

Please don't take offense. I believe in the sincerity of all seekers. And I respect each and everyone's niṣṭhā. But I was taught long ago that the desire for liberation was the "last snare of nescience," and I cannot give up the conviction that this is the truth. The desire for liberation is the trap of sattva-guna; it is the refusal to give up the last latent bahir-mukhatā or reluctance to serve God, in other words, to give up one's own claim to actually be God.

But what kind of God must we become to become God!! On the way we accumulate a few mystic powers, but those too we must give up to become the salt dissolved into the ocean, the ghaṭākāśa become paṭākāśa, or to become floating monads in a sea of undifferentiation. To become god we must give up the very jewel of our personhood.

And even when we pretend to try to attenuate our egoistic desire for liberation by a Bodhisattva doctrine of delaying liberation or nirvana until "all souls are liberated", it is still a false love, because we only seek to make them too "negative" Gods in the same image: "the-grapes-are-sour-gods" "sore-loser" gods.

Enlightenment without service to the personal God is darkness. You can be one with God, but you cannot BE God. Freedom from suffering is only half of the hen, the other half, the positive half, is love of God. The bhaktas have things to learn from yogis and jnanis and karmis, but the fundamental Truth is that we are eternal servants of God, and liberation from anarthas only serves to makes us more perfect servants. If we abandon the positive half, what does it gain us to be rid of the negative?

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Rasa and theodicy

Without situations there are no stories. Without stories there is no rasa. Therefore, the existence of evil in the world is only to create situations. With no obstacles to overcome, love is unrealized in its scope.

Someone may object: What about horrendous evil?

Evil is not being condoned. Simply it is being said that the greater the evil, the greater the potential for heroism. And love shines all the brighter in the darkness.

This of course requires accepting the world-view of the Bhagavad Gita which says that there is no true death, no true suffering. We are engaged in a play in which the only reality or value is Rasa. raso vai sah.

This of course includes the karma doctrine, which means that everyone answers for their evil. But the law of karma does not answer ultimate questions about evil, for it too faces the problem of infinite regression.

There is a hierarchy of rasas, which are arranged in order from horror (bibhatsa), fear (bhayanaka), anger (raudra), pity (karuna), heroism (vira), wonder (adbhuta), the comic (hasya) and romantic love (shringar). Without evil, without obstacles, none of these rasas can manifest in their purest form. Take, for example, Schindler's List as a tale of heroism in the face of horrendous evil.

I understand heroism to be the primary male rasa, shringar the primary female rasa, with shringara being the overall primary rasa. All rasas are not equal.

I am of course refering to the classical eight rasas here. But if we use Rupa Goswami's model, then the five kinds of relationship in love, or the five kinds of love become the real emotional backdrop in which the other rasas are played out

I am not really saying anything radically original here. Theodicy is always a dicey game to play. For someone who views evil with the conviction of its existential reality, i.e., as a force that actually has or can have the upper hand in absolute terms, in other words, someone who has not completely given up the belief that evil is a winning strategy, the problem is intractable.

Rasa is just an extra dimension to understanding the problem. Rasa is the way we give life meaning. Everyone, including the evil person, is looking for rasa. Rasa includes external sense gratifications etc., but it mostly includes the meaning that we invest in that sense gratification. Rasa is about the story of our own lives. Rasa does require a certain distancing, the ability to see oneself as an objective character, a player in the play.

Great evil also requires this kind of framing of one's one heroism. Like Ayn Rand, who admired a serial killer for his complete indifference to the rules; she thought of him as a kind of superman. Or a Hitler or Stalin, whose acts of barbaric evil were contained within a vision of radical heroism, framed as they framed it.

Although narcissism is not what rasa is about, nevertheless, no one can stop being the center of his own universe. We create ourselves as an author creates the character in a story. But the difference between volitional evil ("the demoniac nature" or pathological narcissism) or the saint, and the common person, is in the strength of the story line.

Yet, we all exist in relationship with the "other" however we conceive of it, through our upbringing and predispositions from other lifetimes and our natural instincts that are a result of our particular species of life. Our lives are about the relationship of self to non-self, the other.

The other is conceived of as either personal or impersonal. This is the difference between love and evil. In Martin Buber's language, this is called "I-Thou" and "I-It". Impersonalism reduces people to objects, Personalism elevates all things, all others, or rather it _recognizes_ all others as the Other, the Divine Conscious Being, present in infinite variety in relation to ourselves.

"I am That" means that I and That are together in the same story. His/her story. We are engaged in a dance. A love story.

The world and the presence of evil are there for the dramatic contrast.

Bhakti and Social Activism

India has recently passed a law that will allow mass retailers to enter the Indian market. This is ostensibly to make the retail sector more "efficient" in the way that Western retail markets are efficient. We should be wary of the effects such a move will have on the Indian economy. The opening of the Indian economy in the last 20 years has resulted in great increases of prosperity for a large number of people, but the limits of such prosperity are currently being experienced in the advanced economies.

Walmarts' presence in North American towns has resulted in the gutting of the shopping districts of entire towns as its "efficiency" in exploiting economies of scale makes competition impossible. Walmarts is famous for its reduction of labor costs by shifting the burden of health care and so on onto the taxpayer, paying the absolute minimum in salaries, avoiding hiring full time workers as far as possible. In many markets, because they have driven all competition into bankruptcy, they are among the only potential employers, with the result that employment in the United States, for example, has become increasingly low-salaried work which barely covers the cost of living if at all.

Moreover, recent fires in Bangladesh in "sweat shops" producing garments for such big box stores in the American market were being blamed on refusal by Walmarts and other buyers to ante up for safety protections for the workers. Though there are still some doubts that this was actually the case, it would fit into the history of the company's style.

It should be remembered that the owners of the Walmarts empire, the family of the founder, Sam Walton, include four of the richest people in the United States, even the world. Their wealth, which now has reached extents that are beyond the imagination of even many countries, has been built on this take-no-prisoners capitalism. Though such entrepreneurship is the hallmark of modern capitalism, we have to ask ourselves whether it truly benefits the larger society, in particular one such as India, where low paying work is still the backbone of the new economy, which benefits a small portion of the society, not everyone.

As devotees of Krishna, we have been trained to think that worldly happiness is illusory and that the real sources of happiness are spiritual.

Our goal is Krishna prema: Love of God and love of others. Devotees should keep in mind that a human society that does not promote justice is not conducive to prema. Therefore worldly concerns about justice are favorable to the culture of prema, even though it is not considered to be bhakti directly.

Anyone who believes in varnashram in the way intended by Srila Prabhupada should oppose the kind of exploitative capitalism that results in Walmarts and its many imitators. Someone who is reducing the consumption of worldly goods as a part of his or her devotional practice should never support this capitalism by shopping at such places.

Buy local. Grow your own. Stay away from the consumerist ethic. Let's follow Prabhupada's dictum of simple living and high thinking and drop out of the consumerist economic system, which destroys the planet and kills people so that a few people can become so filthy rich and powerful they are like modern-day Hiranyakashipus and Hiranyakshas.

Too many devotees have compromised with the "American way of life." They have not succeeded in presenting an alternative, spiritually-based way of living, but only a low class version of mundane religiosity. But still, who do we have besides the devotees? Let us encourage each other with kindness in our words and gentleness in our manner.

The Hare Krishna movement has too many branches and phases and has become too splintered for anyone to make blanket judgments about any of them. There are individuals in all these groups who are attempting to find a mature spirituality, while others indulge in enmity and foolishness. This goes on on nearly all sides. We all need to grow. Encourage people as individuals to progress, but do it intelligently. Or leave them alone.

A lot of the problem arises from institutional loyalties and suspension of judgment. Even as an outsider, it sometimes seems to me that some of the bigger Vaishnava institutions' world leaders would like to become a bit more like the Walmart of religion. A similar philosophy governs their management style: Treat their devotees the way that Walmart treats its workers. Sell their product cheap at a big markup by cutting costs; let the profits accrue to those at the top. And whenever the lowliest servants ever have the temerity to need help, abandon them. And if any devotee starts to rock the boat by pointing out injustices, purge them like Walmart purges its unionizing activist employees.

Read the 16th chapter of the Gita. Remember Prabhupada gave no quarter to the demons. Demons are sociopaths, power hungry lizard people who would destroy the world for the sake of increasing their power and wealth, beyond all reason.

And American society has become complicit in this culture of arrogance and thus shares in the evil. We devotees cannot close our eyes to it. We cannot condone it, and we certainly must not support it. Indeed, the future of the planet depends on it.

Prabhupada told us to learn to live simply and to find happiness in prema, love of God and our devotee relationships and in the pleasures of high thinking... and perhaps we can add a little heroic activism against the machine.

For those who are active by nature, let them be militant devotees and fight in whatever way they can, following the spirit of Arjuna in the Gita. For those who are less activist by nature, let them show by example what a life of simple love is like, minimizing their involvement with the materialistic society, which is hellbent for destruction, as far as possible.

In either case, we can be allies with a broader spectrum of similarly minded people in society, thereby elevating their estimation of devotees and making the devotional message attractive.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

American brothers and sisters! Vote for the human being in this election.

There are three kinds of people: the authoritarian followers, who are sheep. The social dominators, who are like wolves. And the autonomous thinkers, who are real human beings.

There are two kinds of wolves, those in sheep's clothing, and those that are openly predatory, the naked wolves. Sheep follow irregardless.

There are two kinds of society, those that are run by the wolves and those run by the human beings. Wolves prefer fascisms and dictatorships of whatever kind. If there is democracy, the wolves try to usurp it. It will be saved by the human beings.

Oh American brothers and sisters! Vote for the human being in this election. Fight back. Take back your country. Don't give into cynicism. Push for hope and real human society. The only hope is for human beings to act.

Too many people have become cynical and think that Obama and Romney, the Democrats and the Republicans are exactly the same, puppets for the real global masters, the Military Industrial Complex, but they are wrong. The difference is day and night.

Being president of the United States is a hugely difficult task. There are many impediments and it is quite correct to point out the dominance of the MIC. And there is indeed truth in the feeling that the Democratic party has become supine and spineless over the last 30 years, giving in to wolves, or being themselves wolves in sheep's clothing.

But Obama is not one of them. Voting for him is a move in the right direction. You just can't expect this frigging mess to turn around in a day. You have to start somewhere. And in a democracy, you do so by making your voice heard.

America is a sick society. Half the population is really a stewing pile of ignorance. And it is not atheism, homosexuality or abortion that are the basis of this sickness, believe me. Most atheists are far more humane, realistic and wise than the so-called Christians and their "family values" and "moral majorities." Indeed, because the true Christian values of charity and cooperation are genuine human values, I see more true Christians among the atheists than amongst those who beat drums and declaim from the pulpits.

You may find it strange that someone who believes strongly in individual morality, religion and spirituality, etc., would say that, but it is true. Because the so-called moral majority is the most hypocritical group of deceptive powermongers the United States has. Wolves in sheep's clothing.

They speak one thing, but their purpose is opposed to genuine Christianity. The new dispensation of the Sermon on the Mount is not their main teaching, but the repressive legalism of the Old Testament. A pox on them all.

Let people practice their religion in freedom, but those who wish to impose their religion on the entire society are misguided. Let them show through the examples of love and tolerance the very things that Christ was teaching and spread their message that way. But to create a religious fascism in cooperation with, of all things, Randian social Darwinism, is really a marriage created in Hell.

Ayn Rand is the spokesperson for the naked wolves. And though Mitt Romney can't seem to make up his mind whether he is a naked wolf or a wolf in sheep's clothing, his sidekick is as naked a wolf as e'er there was.

God save us from the Christian fundamentalists. God save us from the antisocial Randian so-called conservatives. God save the world from the Republican party.

Listen to what Obama says and hold his feet to the fire. Make him live up to his words. And give him a Congress and a Senate that will help change American corporatist fascism and pseudo democracy back into the ideal that it originally intended to be. Vote for Obama and prevent the Republicans from creating a Supreme Court that will instill their demoniac corporatist values for another generation. Use what is left of your democracy to move back to democracy.

Give up your cynicism and do the needful.

Start from the position of what is right and then ask what is possible. Voting for Obama is not the final answer. How can it be when the United States is in such a far gone state of disease? Nevertheless, Obama stands for something, at least in words.

So start there, from a principle. People are meant to cooperate. Society is about working together for the common good. The vision of a human jungle with a few lions feeding on the antelopes is not one that is progressive. Progress is in cooperation and the giving of opportunity. That is the progressive ideal. That is the Democratic ideal at its best. Even if this principle is betrayed due to weakness, cowardice or incompetence, it still remains the ideal. Vote for the ideal and then insist that it be upheld. That is the correct path in a democracy. And Obama has said it himself.

If you cannot tell the difference between the vulture or vampire capitalist Mitt Romney and Obama, whose roots are in social service and activism, your brain really has been fried by the conspiracy theorists.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Lalita Prasad Thakur's স্বীয় শ্রীসিদ্ধ-ভজন-প্রণালী

শ্রীগোদ্রুমচন্দ্রায় নমঃ

অকিঞ্চন ললিতাপ্রসাদঠাকুরের

স্বীয় শ্রীসিদ্ধভজনপ্রণালী


স্ব বা স্বীয় সিদ্ধ পরিচয়

ভকতিবিনোদ শিক্ষা ইহাই আমার দীক্ষা

ইহাতেই নিজাভীষ্ট লই

গুরু পদ হৃদে ধরি অনন্য শরণে বরি

ভজন আনন্দে সদা হই ।1

জড় মায়া যাহা হয় চিদে নাহি মিশ খায়

পঞ্চ ভূতে রক্তমাংসাতেই

অতি হেয় তত্ত্ব হয় জন্ম মৃত্যু জানি তায়

অবিনশী আত্মদেহ লই ।2

আত্মার সন্ধান লই জড়দেহ ভুলে যাই

আত্ম দেহ মানসেই বরি

আত্মভাব কৃষ্ণোন্মুখী তাহে হই চিরসুখী

গোপীদেহ মনে বনে ধরি ।3

আমার স্বরূপ যাহা আত্মাবস্থা হয় তাহা

জীবাত্মাই নিত্য কৃষ্ণদাস

অনিত্য অসত্য ত্যজি নিত্য ও সত্যেতে মজি

চিদ্ভাব করি সুপ্রকাশ ।4

আমার চেতন যাহা আচ্ছাদিত হয় তাহা

চেতন উন্মুক্ত আমি করি

চেতনেই চিদ্ পাই সত্য ধরি সদে রই

তাহাতে আনন্দ লাভ ধরি ।5

সত্য সৎ চিৎ ধরি তাহাতে আশ্রয় করি

আত্মার আনন্দ লাভ করা

জীবাত্মার কার্য্য হয় তাহা ভুলা ভাল নয়

গৌরের শিক্ষাতে এই ধারা ।6

গোপীভাবামৃত সিন্ধু আস্বাদিতে এক বিন্দু

লোভে বিধি ছাড়িতে অপার

অনাসক্ত আচরণে থাকি গৃহে কিম্বা বনে

লোকমধ্যে করি লোকাচার ।7

রাগানুগা ভক্তসঙ্গে শ্রীযুগল ভজন রঙ্গে

তদুদিত গুরুর কৃপায়

শরীরে সাধক মূর্ত্তি উজ্জ্বল রসের ক্ষণি

সদা মম হউক হিয়ায় ।8

সাধিতে উজ্জ্বল রস আছে ভাব একাদশ

সম্বন্ধ বয়স নাম রূপ

যূথ বেশ আজ্ঞা বাস সেবা পরাকাষ্ঠাশ্বাস

পাল্যদাসী এই অপরূপ ।9

(হরিনামচিন্তামণি 15.58)

মম সিদ্ধ ভাব যাহা গুরু আজ্ঞা কৈল তাহা

সেব্য সেবা সম্বন্ধ আমার

রাধাকৃষ্ণ ব্রজ বনে সেব্যতত্ত্ব এক মনে

নিত্য সেবা আমার আচার ।10

শুদ্ধভাব মনে এনে সাড়ে বার বর্ষ গুণে

বয়স আমার হয় জ্ঞান

নিত্য দেহ সিদ্ধ সদা হ্রাস বৃদ্ধি নাহি কদা

সদা তাহে কাল বর্ত্তমান ।11

নিত্য দেহে আমি যেই ব্রজে নিত্য দাসী সেই

নাম মম শ্রীলতা মঞ্জরী

এ দেহের নাম সব জড় ধর্ম সমুদ্ভব

অনিত্য দেহান্তে যায় মরি ।12

শুদ্ধ তপ্ত কাঞ্চনাভ শুদ্ধ সত্ত্ব সুবৈভব

যাহে আমি ত্রৈলোক্য মোহিনী

যূথেশ্বরী অনুরূপা রূপ মম রস কূপা

যাহে আমি কৃষ্ণ বিনোদিনী ।13

যূথেশ্বরী শ্রীললিতা সর্ব্ব গুণে সুললিতা

শ্রীরাধার নিত্য সহচরী

আমি নিত্য তাঁর গণে তদাজ্ঞা পরিপালনে

থাকি আমি তাঁহার কিঙ্করী ।14

তারাবলী পরিবেষ বসন ভূষণ শ্রেয়

মম সঙ্গে সদা শোভা পায়

মম দেহ অনুরূপা বেশ মম অপরূপা

যাহে নন্দসুত মন ধায় ।15

যূথেশ্বরী আজ্ঞামতে রাধাকৃষ্ণ সেবাব্রতে

রহি সদা পরম আনন্দে

যূথেশ্বরী গুরু মম বিনা তৎ প্রসাদ ক্রম

গতি কভু নহে কৃষ্ণানন্দে ।16

যাবটে আমার ঘর কোন গোপবংশধর

গ্রহণ করিল মম পাণি

অনঙ্গ সুখদ কুঞ্জে ললিতার কৃপাপুঞ্জে

শ্রীঅনঙ্গমঞ্জরী সঙ্গিনী ॥17

যুগল সেবনেশ্বরী ললিতা করুণা করি

ব্যজনের সেবা দিল ধরে

চামর লইয়া করে পরম আনন্দ ভরে

সেবা সুখ ভুঞ্জি কুঞ্জান্তরে ।18

সেবা বলে সেই রূপ রাধাকৃষ্ণ সখী রূপ

পেল রূপ মঞ্জরী প্রভৃতি

হয়ে সখী অনুগামী অদ্যই লভিব আমি

রাধাকৃষ্ণ নিত্য সেবা রীতি ।19

এ মত ভাব লয়ে পরাকাষ্ঠা বলি তারে

ভাব জানি যুগল সেবনে

সেই পরাকাষ্ঠা বলে সখীর অনুরূপ চলে

যুগল ভজিব ব্রজবনে ।20

পাল্যদাসী ললিতার আপনাকে জানি সার

বৈসি তাঁর শ্রীকুঞ্জ মন্দিরে

তাঁহার আবেশ মত সেবাকার্য্যে রহিয়াত

পরিচর্য্যা পাইব সত্বরে ।21

তাঁহার আদেশ যত এ লতা মঞ্জরী তত

কমল মঞ্জরী পদে থাকি

পালিছে উত্তম ভাবে শিখিয়া যোগ্যতা লাভে

অষ্টকাল সেবাব্রতে ঝুকি ।22

তাঁহাদের সাথে রয়ে রাধাকৃষ্ণ সেবা লয়ে

তাঁদের অনুগ ভাব লই

নিজেকে এরূপ ধরে জড়মায়া পরিহরে

রাধাকৃষ্ণ সেবা ধরি রই ।23

মোর গুরু যেই দীক্ষা দিয়াছিল মন্ত্র ভিক্ষা

সেই মন্ত্র আদরে বরিব

আর তাহা ফুটাইতে ভকতিবিনোদ মতে

যত্ন করি সদাই যুঝিব ।24

এই একাদশ ভাব সাধনে করি প্রভাব

সাধক জীবনে পঞ্চ দশা

লাভ হয় সুনিশ্চয় শ্রবণে বরণে তায়

স্মরণে আপনে করি আশা ।25

সম্পত্তিতে বস্তু সিদ্ধি স্বরূপেই হয় বৃদ্ধি

সাধন সিদ্ধার সেই কালে

ইহাই উজ্জ্বল রস ব্রজ ভাবে করে বশ

পূর্ণানন্দে নামানন্দ বলে ।26

কাম কৃষ্ণপ্রীতে গুণ ধরিব আমার মন

স্থির ভাবে রহি সর্ব্ব ক্ষণ

জানি মায়া জড় ভাব কেবল অনর্থ সব

সু আশ্রয় করি ব্রজ বন ।27

শ্রীমতীর বাম্য ভাব খণ্ডিতার যে স্বভাব

তাহা হয় অতি গোপনীয়

রাধারাণী যূথে রয়ে ললিতার গণ পেয়ে

হয় সব অনুভবনীয় ।28

চিদাবস্থা চিদ্বৃত্তি সকলিত তবে

আমারিত নিজ সত্ত্ব সর্ব্বক্ষণ হবে ।29

মঞ্জরীর ভাবে আমি রব সর্ব্বকাল

সেব্য ও সেবক ভাব সম্বন্ধ প্রবল ।30

এ জগতে যতদিন রহিব প্রকট

অনাসক্ত ভাব লয়ে হব নিষ্কপট ।31

পঞ্চ দশা যাহে আমি করিব সাধন

তাহা ইথে ক্রম ধরি সুন্দর বর্ণন ।32

কমল মঞ্জরী গুরু বড় দয়া করে

দিল এই ক্রম ব্যাখ্যা নিজ গণে ধরে ।33

সিদ্ধ ভাব যাহাদের নাহি জানা আছে

খুব সাবধানে থাকি তাহাদের কাছে ।34

সিদ্ধ ভাব সাবধানে ব্যক্ত আমি করি

মনে বনে সিদ্ধ ভাব সুভজনে ধরি ॥35

অথ শ্রবণ দশা

নিজাপেক্ষা শ্রেষ্ঠ শুদ্ধভাবুক যে জন ।

ভাবমার্গে গুরুদেব সেই মহাজন ॥৬১॥ 36

তাঙ্হার শ্রীমুখে ভাবতত্ত্বের শ্রবণ ।

হইলে শ্রবণদশা হয় প্রকটন ॥৬২॥ 37

ভাবতত্ত্ব দ্বিপ্রকার করিবে বিচার ।

নিজ একাদশ তত্ত্ব কৃষ্ণলীলা আর ॥৬৩॥ 38

রাধাকৃষ্ণ অষ্টকাল যেই লীলা করে ।

তাহার শ্রবণে লোভ হয় অতঃ পরে ॥৬৪॥ 39

লোভ হইতে গুরুপদে জিজ্ঞাসা উদয় ।

কেমনে পাইব লীলা কহ মহাশয় ॥৬৫॥ 40

গুরুদেব কৃপা করি করিবে বর্ণন ।

লীলাতত্ত্বে একাদশ ভাবসঙ্ঘটন ॥৬৬॥ 41

প্রসন্ন হইয়া প্রভু করিবে আদেশ ।

এই ভাবে লীলা মাঝে করহ প্রবেশ ॥৬৭॥ 42

(হরিনামচিন্তামণি 15.61-67)

আমি তব প্রতি সত্য হইব সদয়

অচিরে লভিবে সিদ্ধি যুগল লীলায় ॥43

অথ বরণ দশা

শুদ্ধ রূপে সিদ্ধ ভাব করিয়া শ্রবণ ।

সেই ভাব স্বীয় চিত্তে করিবে বরণ ॥৬৮॥ 44

বরণ কালেতে নিজ রুচি বিচারিয়া ।

গুরুপদে জানাইবে সরল হইয়া ॥৬৯॥ 45

প্রভু তুমি কৃপা করি যেই পরিচয় ।

দিলে মোরে তাহে মোর পূর্ণ রুচি হয় ॥৭০॥ 46

স্বভাবতঃ মোর এই ভাবে আছে রুচি ।

অতএব আজ্ঞা শিরে ধরি হয়ে শুচি ॥৭১॥ 47

রুচি যদি নহে তবে অকপট মনে ।

নিবেদিবে নিজরুচি শ্রীগুরুচরণে ॥৭২॥ 48

বিচারিয়া গুরুদেব দিবে অন্যভাব ।

তাহে রুচি হইলে প্রকাশিবে নিজভাব ॥৭৩॥ 49

এই রূপে গুরু শিষ্যে সংবাদ ঘটনে ।

নিজসিদ্ধভাব স্থির হইবে সেই ক্ষণে ॥৭৪॥ 50

আমি গুরুপদে পড়ি করিব মিনতি ।

মাগিব ভাবের সিদ্ধি করিয়া কাকুতি ॥৭৫॥ 51

কৃপা করি গুরুদেব করিবে আদেশ ।

আমি সেই ভাবে তবে করিব প্রবেশ ॥৭৬॥ 52

শ্রীগুরুচরণে পড়ি বলিব তখন ।

তবাদিষ্ট ভাব আমি করিনু বরণ ॥৭৭॥ 53

এ ভাব কখন আমি না ছাড়িব আর ।

জীবনে মরণে এই সঙ্গী যে আমার ॥৭৮॥ 54

(হরিনামচিন্তামণি 15.68-78)

অথ স্মরণ দশা

নিজ সিদ্ধ একাদশ ভাবে ব্রতী হয়ে ।

স্মরিবে সুদৃঢ়চিত্তে নিজভাবচয়ে ॥৭৯॥ 55

স্মরণে বিচার এক আছে ত সুন্দর ।

স্মরণ আপন যোগ্য কর নিরন্তর ॥৮০॥ 56

অযোগ্য স্মরণ যদি আপনার হয় ।

বহু যুগ সাধিলেও সিদ্ধ কভু নয় ॥৮১॥ 57

আপন সাধনে স্মৃতি যবে হয় ব্রতী ।

অচিরে আপনদশা হয় শুদ্ধ অতি ॥৮২॥ 58

নিজ শুদ্ধভাবের যে নিরন্তর স্মৃতি ।

তাহে দূর হয় শীঘ্র জড়বদ্ধমতি ॥৮৩॥ 59

জড়বদ্ধ জীব ভুলি’ নিজ সিদ্ধসত্ত্ব ।

জড় অভিমানে হয় জড়দেহে মত্ত ॥৮৪॥ 60

তবে যদি কৃষ্ণলীলা করিয়া শ্রবণ ।

লোভ হয় পাইবারে নিজ সিদ্ধধন ॥৮৫॥ 61

তবে ভাবতত্ত্বস্মৃতি অনুক্ষণ করে ।

ভাব যত বাড়ে তার ভ্রান্তি তত হরে ॥৮৬॥ 62

স্মরণ দ্বিবিধ বৈধ রাগানুগ আর ।

রাগানুগা স্মৃতি যুক্তিশাস্ত্র হৈতে পার ॥৮৭॥ 63

মাধুর্য্যে আকৃষ্ট হয়ে যে কালে স্মরণ ।

অচিরাতে প্রাপ্ত হয় দশা ভাবাপন ॥৮৮॥ 64

বৈধভক্ত স্মৃতিকালে সদা বিচারয় ।

অনুকূল যুক্তিশাস্ত্র যখন যা হয় ॥৮৯॥ 65

ভাবাপনে হয় ভাব আবির্ভাবকালে ।

শাস্ত্রযুক্তি ছাড়ে তবে জানিয়া জঞ্জালে ॥৯০॥ 66

শ্রদ্ধা নিষ্ঠা রুচ্য্আসক্তিক্রমে যেই ভাব ।

আপন সময়ে তাহা হয় আবির্ভাব ॥৯১॥ 67

ভাবাপনে রাগানুগা বৈধভক্ত ভেদ ।

নাহি থাকে কোন মতে গায় সর্ব্ব বেদ ॥৯২॥ 68

(হরিনামচিন্তামণি 15.79-92)

রাগানুগা ভক্তি স্থান তোমার হৃদয় ।

শাস্ত্র যুক্তি কভু নহে তোমার আশ্রয় ॥ 69

মাধুর্য্য লোভেই তুমি সেব শ্রীযুগল ।

শ্রীগুরু গৌরাঙ্গ স্মৃতি করিয়া প্রবল ॥ 70

তত্ত্ব গুরু ধ্যান করি স্বকীয় মণ্ডলে

স্বরূপ শ্রীরূপ রঘু প্রভৃতি সকলে ॥71

বেষ্টিত শ্রীগৌরচন্দ্রে ভাব অষ্টকাল ।

তাহে সেব রাধাকৃষ্ণ চরিত রসাল ॥72

নিজের নির্দিষ্ট সেবা কর অনুষ্ঠান ।

যূথেশ্বরী আজ্ঞা শিরে করিয়া ধারণ ।73

সেবা করি কাঁদ সদা আকূতি করিয়া ।

যাহে ভাবাপন শীঘ্র আসিবে ধাইয়া ॥74

অথ ভাবাপন দশা

যত দিন স্থূল লিঙ্গে করি অভিমান

করিব স্মরণ ক্রিয়া ভজন বিধান ।75

তত দিন ভাবাপন নাহি হবে সিদ্ধ

স্মরণ মনন কবে মায়া জড় বিদ্ধ ।76

সেই কালে নিজ সিদ্ধদেহ অভিমান ।

পরাজিয়া জড়দেহ হবে অধিষ্ঠান ॥৯৫॥ 77

(হরিনামচিন্তামণি 15.95)

তখন স্মরণে ব্রজে বাস হবে জানি

ভাব রূপ স্মরণের সম্ভব তখনি ।78

ভাবাপন স্ব স্বরূপে হেরি ব্রজবন

যূথেশ্বরী গণে তবে হইব আচম্বিতে ।79

কাকূতি করিয়া আমি পড়িব চরণে

মাগিব চরণাশ্রয় অকপট মনে ।80

যূথেশ্বরী শ্রীললিতা কৃপাবলোকনে

তুলিয়া আমাকে লবে আপন চরণে ।81

অনঙ্গ মঞ্জরী করে আমা সমর্পিয়া

বলিবে করহ কৃপা শ্রীচরণ দিয়া ।82

অনঙ্গ শ্রীরূপ আর কমল মঞ্জরী

সেবা শিক্ষা সব দিবে বহু কৃপা করি ।83

কভু তাঁহাদের কৃপা হইলে প্রবল

পাইব শ্রীরাধাপদ সখীর সম্বল ।84

এবম্ভূত সিদ্ধ দেহে নিত্য সেবা কালে

গৌর রস ব্রজ রস মিলিবে রসালে ।85

দুই সিদ্ধ লীলা তবে অভেদ ভাবেতে

প্রকাশ হইয়া শীঘ্র আমাকে মাতাবে ।86

গুরু যূথেশ্বরী কৃষ্ণ গৌরাঙ্গ স্বরূপ

রসরাজ মহাভাব দুহুঁ এক রূপ ।87

বাহ্য দেহে রবে মাত্র শ্রবণকীর্ত্তন

শ্রীমূর্ত্তি দর্শন ভক্তি শাস্ত্র আলোচন ।88

হরিতিথি সুপালন তুলসী সেবন

রূপানুগা জন সেবা ধাম নিবসন ।89

বাহ্য দেহ যাত্রা অভিমান শূন্য সদা

অন্তরেতে গোপী দেহ নির্বৃতি সর্ব্বদা ॥90

অথ ভক্তিসম্পত্তি দশা

আপনে স্বরূপসিদ্ধি লভে ভাগ্যবান্ ।

লিঙ্গভঙ্গে বস্তুসিদ্ধি সম্পত্তি বিধান ॥৯৭॥ 91

(হরিনামচিন্তামণি 15.97)

বস্তু সিদ্ধি গোপী দেহে জড় গন্ধ হীন

ভাবাপনে সুভজনে হইয়া প্রবীন । 92

নিত্য প্রিয়া গণ সহ সালোক্য লভিব

যূথেশ্বরী আনুগত্যে যুগলে ভজিব ।93

মহাভাবাবধি ভাব ভজনের সীমা

ব্রহ্মা শিব নাহি জানে সে ভাব মহিমা ।94

নিত্য প্রিয়া গণের যে ভাব সুবিমল

সেই মত হয়ে তবে ভজিব যুগল ।95

হইয়া সাধনসিদ্ধা নিত্যসিদ্ধা সহ ।

সমতা লভিয়া কৃষ্ণসেবে অহরহঃ ॥৯৮॥ 96

সেবাভঙ্গ আর তার কভু নাহি হবে ।

পরম উজ্জ্বল রসে সদা হিয়া রবে ॥৯৯॥ 97

(হরিনামচিন্তামণি 15.98-99)

এই স্থলে আছে এক তত্ত্ব পুরাতন

সাধন কালের আশা হয়ত পূরণ ।98

সাধন সময়ে যার গৌরে দৃঢ় মতি

আপন দশাতে গৌর রসে মাতি অতি ।99

শ্রীভাব সম্পত্তি কালে নিত্য গৌর ধামে

লভে শ্রীপার্ষদ দেহ গৌর সেবা কামে ।100

কৃষ্ণে গৌরে রতি যার সম সুনির্মল

সম্পত্তি সময়ে দুই হয়ত প্রবল ।101

দুইত স্বরূপ সেই দুই নিত্য ধাম

অনুরূপ সেবা করে নিত্য যামে যাম ।102

অত এব সর্ব্বদাই ইহা জানি রব

ভকতিবিনোদ শিক্ষা গৌর কৃষ্ণে পাব ।103

আমিত উজ্জ্বল রসে স্বভাবত ব্রতী

আপনে আমার গৌর রসরাজ মূর্ত্তি ।104

ব্রজরস মাত্র মম সম্পত্তি সময়ে

একান্তে যুগল সেবা সিদ্ধ গোপী হয়ে ।105


বৈধ রাগানুগা দুই সাধন প্রকার

শ্রীরূপ শিক্ষায় জীবে পরম উদার ।106

যে জীবের শ্রদ্ধা ক্রমে গুরু পদাশ্রয়

তাহ হৈতে নববিধ সাধন উদয় ।107

সাধন বলেতে যত অনর্থোপগমে

নিষ্ঠা রুচ্যাসক্তি ভাব হয় ক্রমে ক্রমে ।108

তাহার সাধন ভক্তি বৈধী অনুগত

ব্রজ লীলা কথা রুচি জন্মে যার স্বতঃ ।109

সেই ভাগ্যবান্ করি গুরু পদাশ্রয়

গোপীভাব স্মৃতিযোগে সাধন করয় ।110

অনর্থ নিবৃত্তি যোগে ভাবের আপন

লিঙ্গ ভঙ্গে সিদ্ধি লভে রাগানুগা জন ।111

বৈধ আর রাগানুগা ভক্ত দুই জন

ভাবাপন কালে এক শ্রেণীতে গণন ।112

সেই ভাব রতি রূপ সামগ্রী সহিত

পুষ্টা হয়ে রস রূপ লভে এই রীত ।113

রাগানুগা শীঘ্র ভাবাপন দশা পায়

রাগানুগা সাধকের শ্রেষ্ঠতা তাহায় ।114

যে সময়ে জীব অরে গুরু পদাশ্রয়

শিষ্য অধিকার গুরু করিবে নির্ণয় ।115

শ্রদ্ধা পর জনে দিবে বৈধাঙ্গ সাধন

রুচি পরে রাগানুগা পথের অর্পণ ।116

বিপর্য্যয়ে সাধক্রেঅ ফল নাহি হয়

অত এব অধিকার অগ্রেতে নির্ণয় ।117

আর এক গূঢ় কথা আছে এই স্থলে

ভাবাপনে ভজন নৈপুণ্য বলি বলে ।118

ক্ষণ পর্য্যন্ত হয় সাধন নির্ণয়

ভাবাপনে স্মরণের স্বরূপ লভয় ।119

ভজনের ফলরস প্রাপ্তি সংঘটন

লিঙ্গ ভঙ্গে সে রসের সম্পত্তি অর্জ্জন ।120

শ্রীগুরু প্রসাদ আর সাধ সঙ্গ বলে

সাধন সময়ে সিদ্ধি আসে করতলে ।121

অসদ্বার্ত্তা মুক্তি কথা বৈকুণ্ঠ পিপাসা

কাম আদি মৎসরতা মিথ্যাচার হিংসা ।122

কুটিনাটি প্রতিষ্ঠাশা জড়তা শঠতা

অনর্থ পটলী আর অভিমানাশ্রিতা, 123

স্মরণ সময়ে সাধু গুরু কৃপা বলে

ছাড়িবে সাধক সব সাধন কৌশলে ।124

এই সব দুষ্ট ভাবে না দিব আশ্রয়

স্মরি একাদশ ভাব কৃষ্ণলীলাময় ।125

কাকুতি করিয়া গুরু শ্রীকৃষ্ণ বৈষ্ণবে

অনর্থ ছাড়িতে শক্তি মাগিবে গৌরবে ।126

যত যত সে অনর্থ হইবে বিগত

তত তত ভাবাপন হবে অবিরত ।127

সম্পূর্ণ অনর্থ গতে পূর্ণ ভাবাপন

ঘটিবে অবশ্য মম স্বরূপ লিখন ।128

নিতাই জাহ্নবা পদ ছায়া যারে দিল

স্বনিয়ম সেই ভক্তিবিনোদ রচিল ।129

শেষ কথা

ভকতিবিনোদ প্রভু হইয়া সদয়

ইথে কৃপা যা করিল পূর্ণ কৃপাময় ।130

তাহা যবে শিষ্য লভ্য হইল সহজে

তার তরে শেষ কথা যাহে ভক্ত মজে ।131

এখন বলিব হেথা গুরু সহ রহি

তাহাতে ভজন বৃদ্ধি আমারিত কহি ।132

ললিতা প্রসাদ মূঢ় কিছু নাহি জানে

গুরু যা বলান তাহা মনে প্রাণে মানে ।133

গুরু পরম্পরা সিদ্ধ ভজন প্রণালী

গুরু কৃপা পেযে শিষ্যা হয় বলশালী ।134

হৃদয় বিশুদ্ধ করি যে ভজন করে

তাহে যা অনন্ত সুখ সে বুঝিতে পারে ।135

এইত নিগূঢ় তত্ত্ব হৃদয়ের ধন

যথা তথা নাহি হয় এর প্রকাশন ।136

জড় বুদ্ধে মায়াশ্রিতে দেহী জীবগণ

ইহা বুঝিবারে নহে সক্ষম কখন ।137

নিজ আত্মা গুরু আত্মা সংযোগ করিলে

গুরুর ভাবেই ভাব নিজ মিশাইলে, 138

তন্ময় ও তন্মনস্ক হইয়া তখন

ভজনের সূক্ষ্ম ধারা যাহা প্রয়োজন, 139

লভিবারে শক্তি পায় এই কথা সত্য

বিশ্বাস করিয়া ভজি, না ভজি অনিত্য । 140

অনন্য শরণাপত্তে যে স্মরণ লয়

তাহাতে জানিবে সত্য ফলোদয় হয় ।141

একাগ্রতা ঐকান্তিক ভাব মনে ধরি

নিষ্কপটে দম্ভ ছাড়ি নামাশ্রয় করি ।142

দীন অকিঞ্চন ভাব যবে নাহি হয়

উন্নতির আশা তাহে সদা ঘুচে যায় ।143

হৃদি খুলি গুরুপদে লইয়া শরণ

গুরু পরম্পরা ধরি ধরিয়া স্মরণ ।144

ভাবাপনে স্থিত হয়ে থাকি সর্ব্ব ক্ষণ

উলূক চুলূক ভাব সদা করিয়া বর্জ্জন ।145

ইতি উতি মনকেই করিয়া মর্দ্দন

দেহান্তে সুসিদ্ধাবস্থা হয় সংঘটন ।146

ব্রজে বাস সুস্বচ্ছন্দ্যে হয় সেই ক্ষণ

অষ্টকাল নিত্যলীলা মধ্যে সুমগন ।147

অতি স্বল্পে সূক্ষ্মে ভাবে ভজন প্রণালী

ব্যকত হইল হেথা শুদ্ধ পথে চলি ।148

পুনরায় বলি এবে সাবধান হয়ে

অনুসরি রব সদা আনন্দেই রয়ে ।149

আপন ভজন কথা যেখানে সেখানে

প্রকাশ ন করি রব আপনার মনে ।150

মহাজন শিক্ষা ইহা ভুল নাহি করি

নচেৎ ভজন মোর নিরন্তরে ধরি ।151

যোগ্য স্থানে যোগ্য পাত্রে ভজনানুরাগী

সাধু বৃত্তি যেবা ধরে না হইয়া ভোগী ।152

আর শ্রদ্ধাপর হয়ে যদি কেহ যাচে

তবে এই সব বলি তাহাকেই বেছে ।153

এই শিক্ষা গুলি হয় ভজনের সার

অষ্টকাল সেবা ব্রতে স্বভাব ইহার ।154

এবে গুরু পদে রহি নিজসেবা ধরি

রাধারাণী দাস্যে রহি আত্মভাব বরি ।155

তাহাতে অবশ্য সিদ্ধি হইবে আমার

ইহাতে সংশয় নাই এই কথা সার ।156

ললিতাপ্রসাদ সদা সুবিশ্বাস করি

কমল মঞ্জরী পদে রহে রুচি ধরি ।157

ভকতিবিনোদ প্রভু নিত্যধাম হতে

এ মানব দেহে আসি সঙ্গত সংযতে ।158

অনাদি কালের যেই সম্বন্ধ আমার

তাহা ধরিবারে আসি প্রকাশ তাঁহার ।159

আমার আমিত্ব বলি কিছু নাহি আছে

আমার অস্তিত্ব বুঝি রহি তাঁর কাছে ।160


গুরুপদে নিবেদন

ওহে গুরুদেব তুমি মোরে দয়া করি

আমার হৃদয়ে চিদানন্দ দিলে ধরি ।161

আত্মশুদ্ধি লাগি হেথা তব শিক্ষাগুলি

আত্মার অপূর্ব্ব তত্ত্ব মনে হৃদে বলি ।162

সিদ্ধ শুদ্ধ ভক্ত মাঝে গুরু ধারা ধরি

সৎ চিৎ ানন্দ ভাবে সুভজন করি ।163

সেই ধারা ছেড়ে আমি কভু নাহি রব

আমার ভজন সিদ্ধ আমিত করিব ।164

প্রীতি সূত্র বাঁধি সেই গুরু ধারা চাই

সেই সূত্র হৃদে প্রাণে ধরিব সদাই ।165

সেই সূত্রে যত ভাব আর সেবা হয়

সে সেবাতে আর যাহা প্রয়োজন রয় ।166

সকলি আমার হৃদে গ্রথিত করিব

চিদানন্দে পরানন্দে নিজেকে ধরিব ।167

গুরুদত্ত একাদশ ভাব যাহা হয়

সকলি আমাতে যাহে প্রস্ফুটিত রয় ।168

মরণে জীবনে তাহে তাহা না ছাড়িব

আমার সে নিজ বস্তু বুঝি সদা লব ।169

একাদশ ভাব মোর গুরু কাছে পেযে

তার সহ পঞ্চ দশা তুলিব ফুটায়ে ।170

আমার গুরুর গুরু আত্মা বস্তু হন

প্রীতি সূত্রে আত্মা বস্তু প্রসারিত রন ।171

আত্মা বস্তু ভিন্ন তারা অন্য নাহি জানি

আত্মা মাত্র গোপী ভাবাপন হন মানি ।172

সেই গোপী ভাবাপনে ধরি মম মন

তাহে মম মনোরথ স্ফূর্ত্তি অনুক্ষণ ॥১॥ 173

জড় দেহকেই আত্মা কভু না বলিব

জড় দেহ বিনশ্বর সদা বুঝি রব । 174

আত্মা দ্বারা সিদ্ধি লাভ আত্মা সিদ্ধ বিন্দু

আত্মা বুদ্ধি শূন্য জীব ভুগে ভব সিন্ধু ।175

মায়িক আনন্দে কভু আনন্দ না রয়

মায়া জড় বস্তু কভু গুরু নাহি হয় । 176

যুগলের প্রীতি তবে জীব বিদ্যমান

সে কথা ভুলিয় জীব হাবুডুবু খান । 177

মায়াগ্রস্ত হয়ে জীব জড়ে মত্ত রয়

নশ্বর অবস্থা পেয়ে চিদ্ ভুলে যায় ।178

জড় দেহ তত্ত্বে অজে তাহে যেই জন

নশ্বরত্বে মরে বাঁচে তার ক্ষুদ্র মন ।179

তাহে তার দেহে মনে কত কষ্ট হয়

তাপ রিপু ঊর্মি আদিতেই ভুগে রয় ।180

দেহে আত্মবুদ্ধি আমি কভু না করিব

দেহ নাচাইয়া আমি কভু না ভজিব ॥২॥ 181

নাম আর কৃষ্ণে কোন ভেদ নাহি জানি

বাহ্যেন্দ্রিয়ে গ্রাহ্য নহে ওই নাম মানি । 182

আত্মএন্দ্রিয়ে প্রীতি যাহা তার নাম কাম

বাহ্যেন্দ্রিয়ে বাহ্য কাম্য হেয় পরিণাম ।183

বাহ্যেন্দ্রিয়ে প্রেম নাম কভু সত্য নয়

অপ্রাকৃত প্রেম বস্তু বাহ্যে ভুল হয় ।184

জড়ে আর চিদে কভু এক ধর্ম্ম নয়

উপাদেয ইপরীত হেয় ভবে হয় ।185

কাম আর প্রেম কভু মায়া জড়ে ভিন্ন

কিন্তু ওই দুই চিদে সর্ব্বথা অভিন্ন ।186

সত্য সত্য ত্যাগ ভাব যার নাহি আছে

সেত গুরু বলি গ্রাহ্য নহে মোর কাছে ।187

মন্ত্রৌষধি আর পথ্য সাধন ভজন

মায়া জড় কলিকেই করে নিরসন ।188

কৃষ্ণ বই রক্ষা কর্ত্তা আর কেহ নয়

গোবিন্দ পালিছে মোরে জেনেছি নিশ্চয় ।189

গোপীজনবল্লভের পদে রাখি মন

চিৎ প্রকৃতি সহ করি আত্ম নিবেদন ।190

সকলি গোবিন্দ পদে সমর্পণ করি

নাম সংকীর্ত্তনে সদা বলি হরি হরি ।191

অনাচার অপরাধ ত্যজি মনে প্রাণে

হরিণামে ওই দুই সর্ব্বনাশ আনে ॥৩॥ 192

ভকতিবিনোদ কৃত শরণাগতিতে

অপূর্ব্ব অদ্ভুত শিক্ষা লভি হৃদে চিত্তে ।193

তাহাইত অষ্টাদশাক্ষর মন্ত্র জানি

কৃষ্ণই গোবিন্দ হয়ে রাখে পালে মানি । 194

সম্বন্ধ অভিধেয় প্রয়োজন তত্ত্ব

মোর মনে উদিয়াই মোরে করে মত্ত । 195

Document truncated. Last page lost.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Disconnect to reconnect

Disconnect to reconnect.

Radha and Krishna are my device. But there is a little recharging necessary. The recharge comes itself from the device, but it needs to be rebooted through realization, understanding, sadhana, deep penetration, application in other dimensions, etc. But the basic premise is the same.

The thing about religion is that it is full of symbolic content that requires lengthy contemplation. These contents arise from the depths of the collective unconscious through the medium of the extraordinary spiritually aware individuals who plunged those depths.

There is little way to prove the validity of their value objectively. Of course, the psychological, social, or even physical benefits of religion have been shown to some extent through various studies, but to the rational people who see the negative consequences of religious intolerance, etc., these do not hold much weight. The balance shifts to the negative side and the blame is given to irrationality. After all, their presupposition is that anything that is irrational is prima facie negative in its impact.

For me, religion enhances the experience of life on earth. The inner journey is the journey to God. And if there is one thing I would like to do in this life, it is to show that religion also has a rational component, a mature component, one that enhances human life exponentially.

Scientists mock Indian religion or spirituality for its so-called claims to being scientific. Swami Veda Bharati, who has been studying the limits of measurability in meditation and so on for decades, ultimately comes to the conclusion that the subjectivity factor, at least for the moment, is something that science, in its current state, cannot overcome and probably never will.

But my speculation is that eventually it will be found that there are states of spiritual bliss that are unattainable by any other means than those discovered through thousands of years of experimentation with the spiritual technologies (or devices) known as yoga, which are primarily verifiable through subjective means.

But it cannot be done without mature practitioners who have demonstrated by their personal integrity the value of these yoga-produced subjective experiences in their personal relationships, community and society at large.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Advaita Bhakti: Madhusudana and Karpatriji

I have been reading a book by Swami Karpatriji, Rādhā-sudhā (Vṛndāvana: Rādhākṛṣṇa Dhānukā Prakāśana Saṁsthāna, 2004), which I picked up last time I was in Vrindavan. I have to admit that I am more than a little impressed by Karpatriji's erudition, as well as by Madhusudana Saraswati, with whom he seems to have had a spiritual connection.

Madhusudan Saraswati is known mainly for a book called Advaita-siddhi, in which he counters the arguments of Vyasa Tirtha of the Madhva school, a part of the longstanding debate between the two views of the theistic and the monistic traditions of Indian religious thought. But as shown in the previous post, both in legends about him and in his own words, a distinct devotional streak can be observed in Madhusudan. His commentary on the Bhagavad-gita and another on the Bhagavatam are not the only books he wrote that have some interest for the devotionally minded. According to Anant Shastri Phadke, he wrote the following works: Bhakti-bhāṣya-nirūpaṇam, Bhagavad-bhakti-rasāyanam, Veda-stuti-ṭīkā, Hari-līlā-vyākhyā, Rāsa-pañcādhyāyī-ṭīkā, Śāṇḍilya-sūtra-ṭīkā, as well as a play on Krishna lila, Kṛṣṇa-kutūhalam.

It is sometimes difficult to follow Madhusudan's commentary on the Gita, as it seems that he is fluctuating between one doctrine and another. Devotees especially want clear statements of commitment to the reality of Krishna's form and pastimes, and easily get worried when they hear things that emphasize the monistic point of view. As we showed in our previous post, Madhusudan did make strong devotional statements, but he never abandoned his fundamental faith in the unity of all things. Nor should he have, as most Vaishnava acharyas, with the exception of the Madhva school, have conceded that the Supreme Truth is unitary, as indeed has the Bhagavatam in its lakshana verse 1.2.11, which is taken by Jiva Goswami to be the basis of his exegesis of the Bhagavatam.

But let us take a look at the Bhagavad-bhakti-rasāyanam, his best known work on bhakti, and see if that sheds any light on his doctrine, and indeed on bhakti itself.

Bhagavad-bhakti-rasāyanam is a fairly short work consisting of three chapters, called ullāsas, of 37, 79 and 30 verses respectively. The first chapter is elaborately explained in a commentary by the author himself, containing copious quotations, mainly from the Bhāgavatam, with a preponderance of verses from the 11th book. In the commentary to the first verse, he places bhakti above jnāna (See here.).

Karpatriji quotes (source to be added), which I think is safe to say represents the official post-Madhusudana position on bhakti:

dvaitaṁ mohāya bodhāt prāk prāpte bodhe manīṣayā |
bhakty-arthaṁ kalpitaṁ dvaitam advaitād api sundaram ||
pāramārthikam advaitaṁ dvaitaṁ bhajana-hetave |
tādṛśī yadi bhaktiḥ syāt sā tu mukti-śatādhikā ||
Duality leads to illusion for those who have not realized the truth. But after realization through knowledge, if one continues to imagine duality for the sake of devotion, that is more beautiful than even non-duality. Non-duality is the transcendent reality, duality is for the sake of bhajan. If one engages in devotion in a state of knowledge, then it is a hundred times greater than liberation.
Of particular interest is Madhusudana's commentary to Gita 18.66 where he says that there are three levels of śaraṇāgati:

tasyaivāhaṁ mamaivāsau sa evāham iti tridhā |
bhagavac-charaṇatvaṁ syāt sādhanābhyāsa-pākataḥ ||
Thought the maturing of the practice of sādhana, one's surrender to the Lord progresses through three stages: In the first, one thinks, "I am the Lord's." In the second, "He is mine." In the third, "I am nothing but He."
This last point is the one on which the devotee has a problem. What is really meant by the total identity of the lover with the Beloved? A popular Hindi couplet attributed to Kabir is often quoted in this regard:

prem gali ati saṁkari, tā meṁ doū na samāi
jab maiṁ thā tab hari nahīṁ, ab hari hai maiṁ nāhīṁ
The path of love is very narrow, two can’t pass through it at one time
When there was an I, there was no God (Hari), but now there is God and I am not.
To attain true love, one has to give up his ego. When the ego disappears, God appears. So the devotee must give up his ego to realize God
Madhusudan uses the Yoga-sūtra (1.22) terminology, mṛdu ("soft"), madhyaṁ ("middling"), and adhimātraṁ ("in greater measure"), in reference to the intensity of the sādhana. The first, which is an example of the state where one thinks "I am the Lord's," is the following. This verse is well known and is is quoted in Prīti-sandarbha 84 by Jiva Goswamipada:

saty api bhedopagame nātha tavāhaṁ na māmakīnas tvam |
sāmudro hi taraṅgaḥ kvacana samudro na tāraṅgaḥ ||
Even when there is no difference between us, O Lord, I am yours; it is not that you are mine. Waves are always "of the ocean," and it can never be said that the ocean is a product of the waves.
The verse is sometimes attributed to Shankaracharya, but I have not been able to find its original source. Jivapada does not reference a source.

His second example, illustrating "You are mine," is also well-known. It is found in the second century of Kṛṣṇa-karṇāmṛta. No doubt you will have heard it before,

hastam utkṣipya yāto’si balāt kṛṣṇa kim adbhutam |
hṛdayād yadi niryāsi pauruṣaṁ gaṇayāmi te ||
You may forcibly push away my hand and run off, Krishna, what is so wonderful about that? I will only consider it an act of great power if you are able to escape my heart! (KK 2.95)
The example of the third state, "I am He," is taken from the Viṣṇu-purāṇa. It is an instruction from Yamaraj to his messengers, telling them to keep away from the devotees of Lord Vishnu:

sakalam idam ahaṁ ca vāsudevaḥ
parama-pumān parameśvaraḥ sa ekaḥ |
iti matir acalā bhavaty anante
hṛdaya-gate vraja tān vihāya dūrāt ||
Stay far away from those devotees in whose hearts the infinite Lord is fixed and who have the unshakable conviction that "All this, I too, and Vasudeva, the Supreme Person, the Supreme Lord, are one."  (VP 3.7.32)
Now, needless to say, after the first two verses, this last verse as an illustration of the highest level of conviction of pure bhakti in the sense of oneness with the Lord is extremely disappointing. First of all, the context is that of Yamaraj advising his minions to keep away from the devotees, and is mixed in with various other characteristics of the bhakta. From the point of view of bhakti itself, it does not show the grand glory of the identity in love such as that described in mahā-bhāva,
rādhāyā bhavataś ca citta-jatunī svedair vilāpya kramāt
yuñjann adri-nikuñja-kuñjara-pate nirdhūta-bheda-bhramam |
citrāya svayam anvarañjayad iha brahmāṇḍa-harmyodare
bhūyobhir nava-rāga-hiṅgula-bharaiḥ śṛṅgāra-kāruḥ kṛtī ||
The God of Love is a great craftsman:
he has taken the lac of Radha's soul and yours,
and melted them together with his perspiring heat.
O king of the elephants in the groves of Govardhan!
He has joined your souls together and washed away
any sense you had of difference between you.
Then, in order to paint the inner chambers
of the universal mansion, he added
yet more vermilion color to the mix. (UN 14.155)
Karpatriji has quoted the following verses (sources to be added) from less well-known works that also play with the idea of abheda-bhakti.

viśveśvaras tu sudhiyā galite'pi bhede
bhāvena bhakti-sahitena samarcanīyaḥ |
prājñeśvaraś caturayā milite'pi citte
cailāñcala-vyavahitena nirīkṣaṇīyaḥ ||48||
The Lord of the Universe is to be worshiped with love and devotion by the intelligent, even after the difference between the devotee and the Lord has melted away. Even when the Lord has been encountered in knowledge in the mind, one should look at him as though from behind a veil.
tavāsmīti bhajaty ekas tvam evāsmīti cāparaḥ |
iti kiñcid viśeṣe'pi pariṇāmaḥ samo dvayoḥ ||23||
antar bahir yadā devaṁ deva-bhaktaḥ prapaśyati |
dāso'haṁ bhāvayann eva dā-kāraṁ vismaraty asau ||24||
One person worships thinking, "I am yours." Another thinks, "You are mine." Even though there is some difference between the two, in the end they come down to the same thing. When the devotee sees God both within and without, the first syllable of the expression dāso'haṁ ("I am a servant.") drops away to become so'ham, "I am He."
In my opinion, in the rasāvasthā there is a state of complete self-forgetfulness and total absorption in the object of love. It is comparable to the relation of vyutthāna and samādhi in yoga. When this is understood, the difference between the Advaita and bhedābheda positions becomes inconsequential. However, by accepting the validity of the Advaita position, devotees are freed from the sectarian consequences that arise from absorption in duality. 

Monday, August 06, 2012

Vrindavan Bhajan

Living in Vrindavan, even for a quasi-hermit like myself, is a spiritual boon. First of all, the raj, the dust of Vrindavan itself has an inexplicable power that nurtures one's devotion. It may be imperceptible even to some who reside here, but I think that a devotee will eventually remark upon the subtle transformations that take place after enduring contact with this magic powder.

Normal, mundane-seeming activities like eating and sleeping become seamlessly tied into bhajan until there is really no distinction.

Though I don't go out much, it sometimes does happen. The occasional parikrama, for instance. Darshan of the main temples on Hariyali Teej. A few days ago Manjari Dasi (Tenant) invited me to Gopinath Bhavan for a conference on Rupa Goswami that is held there annually. I got to slip in the mud on my way and get anointed by the Braj raj to keep me nice and humble before arriving, and there I was able to hear Shrivatsa Goswami and Achyuta Lal Bhattaji speak in glorification of our beloved mula acharya. Achyuta Lal Bhatta Goswami was especially powerful in his presentation on rasa-niṣpatti, even though speaking in English in which he is not entirely fluent. I should have blogged on that...

A couple of Narayan Maharaj's women disciples of whom I had previously heard, Savita Dasi and Uma Didi, were other speakers. I met some old acquaintances and afterwards we had prasad at Rupa Sanatan Gaudiya Math. Now that is nice "living in Vrindavan" stuff.

Yesterday, Jagannath Poddar phoned me up and asked me to edit an article he had written in English. I haven't been doing anything for Vrindavan Today for a long while now. But still, the connection is there and a little external seva to the Dham is going on. Another small positive from being here in the Dham.

The other day I stepped out to buy something. Sugar, I think. I ran into my next door neighbor. I have several nice neighbors here. This one lives right behind Ananga Sukhada Kunj. His name is Jai Kishor Sharan, a Nimbarki who is also the editor of the Sarveshwar monthly magazine, which is probably the most official Nimbarki publication as it has the stamp of approval of Shriji Maharaj, Sri Sri Radha Sarveshwar Sharanji Maharaj.

Jai Kishorji was waiting to see the doctor because he has not been feeling well lately. In my usual inconsiderate way I did not inquire from him too much about his physical difficulties. The weather is giving colds and fevers to a lot of people right now. Despite my complaints about the late arrival of the monsoon, rains seem to be above average in Vrindavan this year, and that usually leads to various health problems. I was a little too happy to see him. We talked for about 15 minutes.

Jai Kishor is a householder. He has been living in Vrindavan for the last 31 years. I wanted to ask him about where he was from and how he came to live there, and so on, but never got to those questions. He told me that he is currently working on a new edition of Mahāvāṇī. Mahāvāṇī is one of the most important rasika works of the Nimbarka sampradaya. Indeed, ever since I was given a copy by Brahmachari Brajvihari Sharan at Golok Dham Ashram in Delhi (Surata Sukha from Mahāvāṇī) I have been enjoying this work, piece by piece.

Some time back I also picked up a copy of Sribhatta's Yugala-śataka, also published from Vrindavan's Shriji Mandir way back in 1973 and still available for peanuts! This has many scholarly articles and Prem Narayan Shrivastav's excellent commentary, which I have been enjoying quite a bit.

Jai Kishorji told me how he spends day and night working on this new edition of Mahāvāṇī, giving a word-for-word definition for all the difficult Brajbhasha words, depending entirely on Radharani's divine grace, since many of them cannot be found in any dictionary. (Though I must say that for Rs. 3000 you can now get Winand Callaewert's magnificent three-volume Brijbhasha dictionary, which is especially meant for the poetic literature of Braj. I will get one as soon as I can spare the change.) There are indeed many words in Braj that escape explanation even in Beriwala and Shrivastav's editions of these works.

Jai Kishor also lives pretty much like a hermit himself. He says he has no other purpose but to remain absorbed in the nitya-vihāra day and night so we shared some common sentiments there. So for the last couple of days, I have been reading Yugala-śataka as my bedtime reading and getting a great deal of pleasure from it and from Prem Narayan Shrivastav's extensive remarks liberally sprinkled with quotations from the vāṇī literature of all the sampradayas.

Here is one that I have been memorizing. Shribhatta is nearly always brief, with the words of the dohā repeated in the pada. His work was arranged probably by subsequent members of the sampradaya, and so have the same categories or chapters as found in Mahāvāṇī, but in a different order. This pada is from the Siddhānta-sukha section. For those who don't know any Hindi, just try to repeat the sounds and feel the melody in the words.

sevya hamāre haiṁ sadā, vṛndā vipina vilāsa
naṁdanaṁdana vṛṣabhānujā, carana ananya upāsa
saṁto! sevya hamāre śrī piya pyārī, vṛndāvipina vilāsī
naṁdanaṁdana vṛṣabhānu-naṁdinī, carana ananya upāsī
matta pranai basa sadā ekarasa, vividha nikuṁja nivāsī
śrībhaṭa juga baṁśībaṭa sevata, mūrati saba sukharāsī
We always serve the romantic pastimes in the Vrindavan forest. This is the exclusive worship of the lotus feet of Nandanandan and Vrishabhanu Nandini.

Oh saints! Hear me as I proclaim that our worshipable objects are the Lover and the Beloved, forever engaged in their sensuous pastimes in the Vrindavan forest, for we are exclusive worshipers of the lotus feet of Nandanandan and Vrishabhanu Nandini.

The Divine Couple are governed by intoxicated love joy, absorbed in the one flavor of the nitya-vihāra, residing in the different bowers of Vrindavan. Sri Bhatta serves that Divine Couple, the form that is the sum total of all happiness, at Bamsibat.
This is what I like about these rasika vāṇīs, simple and direct, exclusive bhajan of the nitya-vihāra.

I love this simple enthusiasm, along with this dancing joyful language of Braj. This is the upāsanā of eternal union. I have had discussions with Gaudiyas about the relative merits of union versus separation, and although I am an unalloyed and unequivocal follower of Srila Rupa Goswami, my preference is for the worship of the Divine Couple in union. After all, the culmination of separation must be union, and even separation is glorified as a kind of union!

I shared these thoughts with Jai Kishor Dasji and he of course agreed. "This nitya-vihār is the one eternal underlying Truth from which everything arises and in which everything finds its ultimate resting place."

The other day I was relishing a song from Narottam Das's Prārthanā, one of his many heartfelt prayers for a life in Vrindavan Dham.

hari hari ! āra kabe pālaṭibe daśā |
e saba kariyā bāme yāba vṛndāvana dhāme
ei mane kariyāchi āśā ||1||

dhana jana putra dāre e saba kariyā dūre
ekānta ha{i}yā kabe yāba |
saba duḥkha parihari vṛndāvane vāsa kari
madhukarī māgiyā khāiba ||2||

yamunāra jala yena amṛta-samāna hena
kabe piba udara pūriyā |
kabe rādhā-kuṇḍa jale snāna kari kutūhale
śyāma-kuṇḍe rahiba paḍiyā ||3||

bhramiba dvādaśa vane kṛṣṇa-līlā ye ye sthāne
preme gaḍāgaḍi diba tāɱhā |
sudhāiba jane jane vraja-vāsī-gaṇa sthāne
kaha āra līlā-sthāna kaɱhā ||4||

bhojanera sthāna kabe nayana-gocara habe
āra yata āche upavana |
tāra madhye vṛndāvana narottama dāsera mana
āśā kare yugala-caraṇa ||5||

(1) Hari Hari! Oh when will my situation change? When will I put all these things aside and go to Vrindavan Dham. For so long I have cherished this hope.

(2) Abandoning property, society, children and wife, I will go there, completely alone. Leaving all my suffering, I will reside in Vrindavan, begging for my food.

(3) When will I fill my belly drinking the water of the Yamuna, which is like the nectar of the gods? And when will I bathe joyfully in the water of Radha Kund, and lie down to rest on the banks of Shyama Kund?

(4) I will wander through the twelve forests, rolling in the dust wherever Krishna performed his pastimes. I will ask the local people, every one of them, where the other holy places are.

(5) When will the place where Krishna had his picnic with the cowherds appear before my eyes, and all the other minor forests? Of all these forests, Vrindavan is where Narottam Das's mind yearns to serve the Divine Couple.
This is the feeling of separation from Vrindavan. When I was singing this pada a couple of days ago, I could feel the rikshaw wallas who live in the usual poverty stricken hovels just on the corner of my street. Though living in what we would call squalor with their wives and urchins, I could feel how this Narottam Das song had dragged them here, and even the words madhukarī māgiyā khāiba resonated. Their driving rickshaws is what, if not begging for their food? Are they not treated with almost the same contempt as beggars?

And the same can be said of the widows, so popularly lamented about all over the world, making Vrindavan famous as a symbol of oppression to women! They too came to Vrindavan because of something other than economic opportunity.

I can relate to this mood of separation from the Dham. When I left India in 1985, not to return until after a long exile of twenty years, I often remembered Narottam Das, who himself never returned. This is the song I remembered over and over back then:

aneka duḥkhera pare layechile braja-pure
kṛpa-ḍora galāya bāɱdhiyā |
daiva-māyā balātkāre khasāiyā sei ḍore
bhava-kūpe dileka ḍāriyā ||3||

punaḥ yadi kṛpā kari e janāre keśe dhari
ṭāniyā tulaha braja-dhāme |
tabe se dekhiye bhāla natubā parāṇa gela
kahe dīna dāsa narottame ||4||
After so much suffering, you dragged me to Vrindavan, tying the rope of mercy around my neck. Then cruel fortune loosened that rope and threw me back into the well of material life. If you would only again show your mercy and grab me by the hair, pull me out of this hole and throw me down in Braja Dham, then things will look well. Otherwise I may as well just die. Thus says the unfortunate Narottam Das. (Song 5)
It is true that separation from the Dham itself is a rare state of mind that is bestowed on only the rarest of mortals. The vision of the Dham as real and eternal, beneath the coverings that material consciousness gives it, externally and internally, is another even rarer gift.

Vrindavan Dham is the land of Divine Union. To be here in the company of devotees, in the state of mind that is enthusiastic about bhajan, is the rarest grace of all.

Of all the millions of jivas who are in the world, only a few are even remotely potential devotees of Radha and Krishna. Of such potential devotees, only a few have heard even the Holy Name. Of those, how many have become even part-time devotees with a little positive sentiment for Krishna? And of those, how many have had the good fortune to meet a rasika devotee who will reveal to them the joys of the Divine Couple's lilas. And of such devotees, how many will commit to bhajan? And of such bhajananandis, how many are fortunate enough to be dragged by the hair to Vrindavan and left there in the company of devotees (tad-anurāgi-janānugāmī) to deepen their love for the Divine Yugala?

I am truly most fortunate. May this bliss never cease.

Jai Sri Radhe! Jai Sri Vrindavan Dham!

dhanyo loke mumukṣur hari-bhajana-paro dhanya-dhanyas tato’sau
dhanyo yaḥ kṛṣṇa-pādāmbuja-rati-paramo rukmiṇīśa-priyo’taḥ |
yāśodeya-priyo’taḥ subala-suhṛd ato gopakāntā-priyo’taḥ
śrīmad-vṛndāvaneśvary-atirasa-​vivaśārādhakaḥ sarva-mūrdhni ||

The one seeking liberation is fortunate in this world, but more fortunate than he is the one who is committed to the worship of Hari. More fortunate than such a person is one who has placed love for Krishna's lotus feet on the highest place of worship. Greater than that is the worshiper of Krishna as Rukmini's husband, then the son of Yashoda, the friend of Subal, and then as the lover of the gopis. But the most fortunate of all, who stands at the head of all the spiritualists of the world, is he who worships Krishna as the one who is totally overwhelmed by the excessive rasa that comes from the Queen of Vrindavan, Srimati Radharani. (VMA 2.35)

Friday, August 03, 2012

Banke Bihari's darshan comes a day late

I have a young friend who is teaching me the harmonium. He is also my main audience for evening classes in Dana-keli-kaumudi, thirsty for bhakti-rasa, AND he uses my internet, so he is here quite a bit.

My friend, Rupa, is going home to Mumbai in three weeks and is in some anxiety about it. His father is actually a well-known classical singer, at least according to him. Rupa also says that his father and grandfather's musical tradition (gharana) is very special and has features that are unique to it. But because he spent a lot of time over the past few years wandering around Braj, he stopped practicing for three years. He only took it up again fairly recently and has been teaching, but he feels he needs to get a little bit more from his musical guru.

Only trouble is that his father is also his music guru, on whom he depends for his perfecting his art. And his father does not care much for his Vaishnava trip. He is all in favor of him continuing the tradition, but he wants him to do it by staying in Mumbai, getting married, etc.

So Rupa is caught in a quandary. Yesterday we spent some time talking about it, and I was of course suggesting this that and the other way of approaching the problem, but Rupa was not encouraged. Finally I suggested "magic": go to your favorite temple, make some offering and pray for a solution. Go to Radha Raman, but remember that he is a bit too busy with Radha to pay attention, so perhaps one of Yogamaya's many forms--Katyayani, Chamunda, etc.--might be a better place to go.


Day before yesterday Rupa and I went for darshan to some of the main temples for Hariyali Teej. I have been living like a bit of a hermit, barely going out at all as I try to make some headway with the Paramatma-sandarbha. So I decided to accept the suggestion and we headed out around five in the direction of Bankey Bihariji.

Now, one of the things that we Westerners have a problem with is sad-achara. By which I mean a kind of habitual attitude or behavioral attitude. Me, especially, even thogh I spent ten years in India way back when, and especially when I was a babaji, adapting to the Vaishnava social milieu, the long interlude in the west, and even in Rishikesh, alienated me further from many of these cultural norms. So as we approached Bankey Bihariji, I observed that I was in this touristic mode. What one friend of mind calls the "National Geographic mindset." The most clear indication of this was the camera I brought with me -- for the first time in ages.

So I was taking photos of the crowds, the shops, which seemed to be especially colorful in view of the Jhulan season, which will bring hundreds of thousands to Vrindavan over the next two weeks. An observer rather than a participant. I remember long ago first hearing that Narayan Maharaj always began his 84-kos parikramas by educating the participants in the difference between tourism and pilgrimage.

So in my touristic mode, I went into the temple wanting to get a photo of Bankey Bihari in his "green" mood. Hariyali Teej is the beginning of the "swing" season (jhlan) and it is green becase there is supposed to be a rainy season going on here. Not that you would ever know it. But the rule in Bankey Bihari -- and, I found out, in a lot of other places, at least on this day -- is no photos. So when I started, I was immediately pounced upon by security people who tried to wrestle the camera from my hands. I managed to get out of the situation, but the photographic results were appropriately dismal. Clearly Bihariji was successful in thwarting my touristic endeavor. (This was actally the best one.)

Inside Bankey Bihari's temple with the special altar of silver and gold, the four sakhis, priests dressed in green. One feature of Hariyali Teej is that Bihariji does not disappear ever few seconds behind a curtain, but remains available to his devotees for constant darshan.
We then went on to various other temples, some allowing photography, others not.

Radha Vallabh Ji.
In Sewa Kunj I again was chastised by the priest for taking photos when it was forbidden. Among the things he said was that if I took photos, I would not myself see the deity. By the time I got to Shyamasundar, I was starting to feel uncomfortable. The Gosai was standing greeting people. I had not been bowing, not even paying panchanga pranams to any deity, what to speak of gosais. Rupa afterwards exclaimed to me that I should have offered my respects and so I felt a little more uncomfortable.

So finally, at Radha Damodar, I went in and assiduously did sashtanga pranam to Sri Jiva Prabhu, Kaviraj Goswami, Sri Rupa Prabhu and to Srila Prabhupada. The effects were immediate and transformative. When I left Radha Damodar, I was no longer a tourist, but a bhakta.

Radha Damodarji.
At Radha Raman, after darshan, Rupa introduced me to Pushpang Goswami, a young man of the Radha Raman family who has taken up the career of Bhagavata preacher. One of the reasons I posted my picture above was to show the difference in age between myself and Pushpang.

Sri Pushpang Goswami

Pushpang Gosai is young, but learned and eloquent. These things are something that I have to confess, make me feel always like a crow amongst swans. This language which has nurtured Braja bhakti, which have clothed and fed Braja bhakti for centuries until the two are indistinguishable... for me the languages of India are inseparable from bhakti.

For all our criticisms of the caste system and privilege to birth, there are those occasions when such a birth in a traditional family of Vaishnava teachers reveals its glory. What grandeur to be born in a family of devotees and to be trained from birth to speak poetically the glory of Radha Krishna and Braja Dham! What pointless arrogance to pretend that any other birth is its equal!

Our conversation passed from the briefest of formalities to wide-ranging topics of Hari katha. Some things I learned were in relation to the Radha Raman family history. Somehow the topic turned to Prabodhananda Saraswati, about whom I have written in the past. Prabodhananda was Gopal Bhatta Goswami's uncle and according to the Gaudiya Math, someone other than Prakashananda Saraswati.

Pushpangji Maharaj recounted that according to the family tradition they were indeed one and the same person. When Mahaprabhu was in South India, he stayed with the family of Gopala Bhatta where he learned of their illustrious uncle in Kashi. So one of the prime purposes of Mahaprabhu's visit to Kashi was to revive Prakashananda's Vaishnava samskara. When Prakashananda returned to the fold, he also returned to his earlier name, which was Prabodha.

So I asked about the relation of Hit Harivams to Gopala Bhatta.Here too I heard something that I had never known. Gopala Bhatta Goswami traveled to Nepal not long after coming to Vrindavan before he established himself permanently. On that trip, he passed through Deoband, which is on the way to the north. There he met Gopinath Acharya, who became his disciple. As a matter of fact, Gopala Bhatta made several disciples in the area, including Hit Harivams, who was also from the same area and a friend of the family. Later when the service to Radha Raman was established, Gopala Bhatta sent for Gopinath, but Harivams also was inspired to come to Vrindavan.

We did not talk about the falling out very much, but went on from there to talk about sectarianism in Vrindavan. Pushpang Maharaj was adamant that Vrindavan, being the topmost dham, is completely free from any sectarianism. I remembered Hariram Vyasa whose verses reveal a spirit of shared enthusiasm of all the great saints who were living together in Vrindavan at that time. Pushpang painted a nice picture of how Swami Haridas and so many others would gather at Radha Raman where Raghunath Bhatta Goswami would speak daily on the Bhagavatam. At that time there was a common unifying thread that only unraveled when the competitive spirit entered. No harm, competition to serve the Divine Couple is welcome. Even Radharani, who is without any equal, pretends to compete with Chandravali.

He quoted several nice verses from the Bhagavatam in glorification of Vrindavan.

वृन्दावनं सखि भुवो वितनोति कीर्तिं
गोविन्दवेणुमनु मत्तमयूरनृत्यं

vṛndāvanaṁ sakhi bhuvo vitanoti kīrtiṁ
yad devakī-suta-padāmbuja-labdha-lakṣmi |
govinda-veṇum anu matta-mayūra-nṛtyaṁ
prekṣyādri-sānv-aparatānya-samasta-sattvam ||
O friend! Vrindavan brings glory to the earth, for it has attained the fortune of being touched by Krishna's lotus feet. When the peacocks hear Govinda's flute, they become intoxicated and begin to dance, seeing which makes all the other creatres by Govardhan abandon their other activities to become still and simply watch.
The commentators beginning from Sanatan Goswami state that Vrindavan bringing glory to the earth ltimately means that it is more glorious than even Vaikuntha. So because of its topmost status, there is no question of anything more than apparent divisions. At the same time there is a rivalry between Chandravali and Radharani, or the semblance of one...

तद् भूरिभाग्यमिह जन्म किमप्यटव्यां
यद्गोकुलेऽपि कतमाङ्घ्रिरजोऽभिषेकम् ।
यज्जीवितं तु निखिलं भगवान् मुकुन्द-
स्त्वद्यापि यत्पदरजः श्रुतिमृग्यमेव॥

tad bhūri-bhāgyam iha janma kim apy aṭavyāṁ
yad gokule'pi katamāṅghri-rajo'bhiṣekam |
yaj-jīvitaṁ tu nikhilaṁ bhagavān mukundas
tv adyāpi yat-pada-rajaḥ śruti-mṛgyam eva ||
The greatest good fortune would be to take any birth whatsoever in this forest of Vrindavan, for here it would be possible to be bathed in the dust of any one of the cowherd community’s residents’ feet. For their entire life and soul is the Lord Mukunda, the dust of whose feet is the ultimate objective sought for by all the Vedic scriputres. (SB 10.14.34)
Here Pushpangji remarked that Lord Brahma had spoken so many verses in glorification of Krishna, many of them philosophically very deep and powerful, yet Krishna remained indifferent to these prayers until Brahma began glorifying Vrindavan and its residents.

After our talk, we were given a bit of prasad and we both bowed down to Pushpang in panchang pranam. Despite the great difference in our ages, I followed the protocol of the Ages. After all what is the harm if one is humble? Is there any loss in bowing down to one who has served such a delicious helping of Hari-katha without letting material considerations interfere?


The next day, I was giving my usual class to Rupa and I began talking of our little Hariyali Teej adventure. I was talking about the glory of darshan... as described by Rupa Goswami himself. There are 64 devotional activities, but principal among them are five: associating with devotees, chanting the Holy Name, hearing the Bhagavata and similar texts in glorification of Krishna, seeing and serving the Lord's murti, and residing in Vrindavan. Of course, it could easily be said that residing in Vrindavan is best, because it alone makes all five easily possible.

aṅgānāṁ pañcakasyāsya pūrvaṁ vilikhitasya ca
nikhila-śraiṣṭhya-bodhāya punar apy atra kīrtanam
durūhādbhuta-vīrye’smin śraddhā dūre’stu pañcake
yatra svalpo’pi sambandhaḥ sad-dhiyāṁ bhāva-janmane
Though these five pillars of devotion were mentioned previously, they have been repeated here in order to emphasize their centrality to the entire devotional process. The amazing spiritual power of these five practices is difficult to comprehend. Even the smallest engagement in any one of them results in the awakening of divine ecstasy in the pure-hearted, what to speak of their effectiveness for those who have faith. (BRS 1.2.238)
In the description of the power of murti-darshan, Sri Rupapada sings the following verse:

smerāṁ bhaṅgī-traya-paricitāṁ sāci vistīrṇa-dṛṣṭiṁ
vaṁśī-nyastādhara-kiśalayām ujjvalāṁ candrakeṇa |
govindākhyāṁ hari-tanum itaḥ keśi-tīrthopakaṇṭhe
mā prekṣiṣṭhās tava yadi sakhe bandhu-sange 'sti raṅgaḥ |
Smiling, in his famous triple-crooked stance, with his big crooked glance.
His flute resting on the red twig of his lower lip
so brightened by the peacock feather on his crown,
that is the form of Hari named "Govinda."
He is not far from Keshi Ghat, my friend,
but do not go to see him, not
if you still seek pleasure in worldly company!
(BRS 1.2.239
I recited the verse with some amusement. I remembered back a few months ago when I went to Nidhivan to see Gaurava Krishna Goswami, where Banke Bihari made his appearance to Swami Haridas. Though Gaurav Krishna and his father glorified the place and Swami Haridas, Gaurava Krishna Maharaj still quoted the paean to Govindaji as sung by Rupa Goswami. Even when talking about Banke Bihari and the exclusive greatness of Swami Haridas, he still found a place for Rupa Goswami.

Look how after describing Govindaji's beauty, he even tells his friend how to find him, just near Keshi Ghat. Walk the parikrama trail. You can't miss it. But don't bother, it's too dangerous. He will enchant you with his beauty and then, it is game over!

Somehow, as I was talking I closed my eyes and Banke Bihari appeared to me clearer than I had seen him even on the previous day in the temple. I guess my mind had taken the photo after all.

I said to Rupa, there was a definite before and after: from tourist to bhakta in the course of a few hours. This was my reward.


And, yes, while describing Govindaji and the glories of darshan, I realized that I was also talking about Rupa's family problem. If you still desire worldly association... well it was too late. Not only Banke Bihari, Radha Vallabh and Radha Raman, Radha Shyamsundar and Radha Damodar, but all in one day. No looking back from that. It reminded me of another verse from Padyavali by Madhavendra Puri:

mugdhaṁ māṁ nigadantu nīti-nipuṇā bhrāntaṁ muhur vaidikāḥ
mandaṁ bāndhava-sañcayā jaḍa-dhiyaṁ muktādarāḥ sodarāḥ |
unmattaṁ dhanino viveka-caturāḥ kāmaṁ mahā-dāmbhikaṁ
moktuṁ na kṣamate manāg api mano govinda-pāda-spṛhām ||81||
Let the moralists call me foolish, the Vedic brahmins can say I am misled. My family can say that I have gone bad and my fellow sannyasis who love liberation can tell everyone that I have a mundane intelligence. The money makers will say I have gone mad and the intellectuals will say that I am way too proud, but I don't care. I am unable to abandon, even for a moment, my hopes of attaining Govinda's lotus feet.
I just happened to have an extra picture of Govindaji that had been given me last year at Pandit Baba's feast at Bhagavata Niwas, so I gave it to Rupa to help him keep his priorities.