Monday, October 31, 2016

Chanting Sanskrit mantras recording on Sound Cloud



I came across my original recording of "Chanting Sanskrit mantras." So I posted them to my Soundcloud page (https://soundcloud.com/jagadananda-das-168494194). Chanting Sanskrit verses (recording).

The written document can be found on this blog: Chanting Sanskrit verses (text).

It is old now and it could no doubt have been done better, more professionally. But this is what is out there. This recording was made in about 2000 if I remember correctly, in Ste-Adele at Mahavirya Das's studio.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Gadadhar Pran Das :: Sri Gaurasundar’s Main Activity (II)



Part Two: Sri Advaita Prabhu’s Madhura Upāsanā

Part I.

Vaishnavas wishing to learn about Gauranga’s original worship in Nabadwip are likely to be astonished at everything that Advaita Acharya’s Śrī Śrī Gaurāṅga-pratyaṅga-varṇanākhya-stava-rāja reveals about it. It is still quite surprising, however, that when Mahaprabhu’s preaching headquarters shifted from Nabadwip to Nilachala and then to Vrindavan after His departure, Advaita’s original mood of Gauranga worship was gradually forgotten. Another perspective on Gaura līlā, which came from Vrindavan, began to dominate. It was during this period that Krishnadāsa Kavirāja wrote Caitanya-caritāmrta on the basis of the siksha he received from Sanatan, Rupa, Raghunath Das, and his diksha guru, Raghunath Bhatta Goswami – all of whom had witnessed Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s astonishing Radha bhāva līlās at Nilachala.

We should also mention that it was a full 100 years after Nabadwip’s most spectacular events secretly unfolded that the Caitanya-caritāmṛta was written. Yet Advaita’s Stavarāja reveals that just as the Vraja gopīs become spellbound by Krishna’s beauty and deeply yearn to perform His premamaya sevā, those very same feelings awakened in the Nabadwip bhaktas’ hearts upon viewing Gauranga.

Sri Gaurasundar’s Rūpa Mādhuri: His incredible bodily splendor

So if romantic desires became stirred in one’s heart upon seeing or hearing about Sri Bhagavān’s stunning beauty, then naturally a deep hankering to perform His rasarāja upāsanā will also awaken. When considering such worship with Gauranga, Advaita’s Stavarāja provides a wonderful guideline. So, on the one hand, just as the Vraja Goswamis are steeped in Gauranga’s Radha-bhāva feature, on the other, His Nabadwip bhaktas focus on His Rasarāja Sri Krishna mood. Here are a few examples:

lasan-muktā-latā-nādha-cāru-kuñcita-kuntalam
sikhaṇḍāṅkita-gandhāḍhya puṣpa-gucchāvataṁsakam

“Hey Gaurasundar! As Krishna’s fine curling hair is bound in a topknot with a strand of pearls, adorned with fragrant flowers and topped with peacock feathers – so is Yours!” (Stavarāja 5)
Yet upon seeing Gaura’s hair displayed so attractively, Lochan Das warns:

jadi bāde vinoda cāde cācora cikhon cūla
tabe satī kulavatī rākhte nāre kula
“Hey young housewives of Nadia – you’d better watch out! For if you look to Gaura’s curling hair and enchanting topknot, He’ll certainly steal your chastity!”
Advaita goes on:
ardha-candrollasad-bhāla-kastūrī-tilakāṅkitam
bhaṅgura-bhrū-latā-keli-jita-kāma-śarāsanam
prema-pravāha-madhura-raktotpala-vilocanam
tila-prasūna-susnigdha-nūtanāyata-nāsikam

“O Gaura kishora! Your forehead beams like a half-moon with intriguing tilaka designs painted over it. But aho! As Your dancing brows outmatch the might of Kāmadeva’s bow – a stream of madhura prema comes surging from Your red lotus eyes to devastate Your loved ones! So, won’t the elegant curve of Your shining raised nose pierce their hearts too – just like Cupid’s arrow?”
Shrinivas Acharya’s poetic disciple, Sri Govinda Das [who wrote bhaja hure mana srinanda nandana], offers a similar testimony:

sacīr kongār gaurānga sundar dekhilum nayana kone
alakhita cita hāriyā lailo aruna nāyana bāne

“O sakhī! When looking from the corner of my eye – I saw Mother Sacī’s Son, Gauranga sundar. But O my! When no one was watching, He pierced me with His reddish glance to steal my heart!” – Pada-kalpa-toru
Advaita describes Gaurasundar’s immaculate limbs in this way, from His enchanting topknot to the bottom of His crimson, lotus feet. Narottama Das Thakur’s disciple Akinchan Das’ captures the Stavarāja’s essential message in a few words in his poetic Bengali translation:

prati aṅga tār pirīti pāthāra
“O Gaurasundar, how amazing! Every one of Your limbs appears like an ocean of romantic love!”
So now we may wonder, why has the Creator made Gauranga so stunningly handsome? Advaita was already anticipating this question ), and so His next verse answers our query:

The Main Activity
 
koṭi-kandarpa-lāvaṇya-keli-līlā-manoramam
sākṣāt līlā-tanuṁ keli-tanuṁ śṛṅgāra-vigraham
“Hey Madanmohan Gorā! Your glamorous prema-keli with Your beautiful consorts far outmatches the loving prowess of millions of Cupids! No wonder You personify śṛṅgāra (amorous love) – since Your transcendental body forms a beautiful abode for all of Your madhura prema affairs.” – verse 17.
Here we come to Gaurasundar’s main activity and greatest source of pleasure. Advaita is referring to Prabhu’s prema-vilāsa with His bhaktas. Yet Vrindavan Das Thakur tells about these pastimes in his Caitanya-bhāgavata, too:
 
hena mate śrī gaurasundara vanamālī
āchen gūḍha rūpe nijānande kutuhalī …
kāma-līlā karite yakhana icchā haya
lakṣārbuda vanitā se karena vijaya –
“Like Vanamālī Krishna, Gaurasundar enjoys confidential pleasure pastimes, but secretly. Because when desiring to relish madhura rasa (His kāma-līlā) Gaursasundar can easily defeat trillions of pretty damsels!” (1.12.232, 237)
Advaita will now reveal more:

vidagdha-nāgarī-bhāva-kalā-keli-manoramam
gadādhara-prema-bhāva-kalākrānta-manoratham
narahari-prema-rasāsvāda-vihvala-mānasam|
sarva-bhāgavatāhūta-kānta-bhāva-prakāśakam
prema-pradāna-lalita-dvibhujaṁ bhakta-vatsalam
“Hey Prānaballabha Gaura! The exciting bhāvas of the prema keli affairs You relish with Your rasikā nāgarīs are simply enchanting. Yet Gadādhar and Narahari’s exceptional prema, amorous talents and enchanting moods completely steal Your mind. What is more, at the slightest hint You warmly embrace Your Bhagavat bhaktas with Your lovely arms and become bhakta-vātsala for sharing Your splendid kānta-bhāva with every one of them!”
Let’s stop to ponder for a moment: Now why has Advaita Acharya offered us such an intimate look into the līlā? For in His previous passages He has brought us to the highest peak in Gaudiya Vaishnava worship. So does He earnestly desire that Gauranga’s kānta-bhāva bhajan spread in Kali-yuga? Because if this is truly so, by His desire more and more people can become attracted to take it up. After due consideration, however, what other reason could prompt Him to present such an intimate and beautiful doctrine?

Advaita’s passages form a wonderful meditation. Because just as Radha, Krishna and the gopis submerge in the eternal bliss of their numerous prema-keli affairs – Gaurasundar’s pastimes with His glamorously beautiful nāgarīs are similarly exciting and pleasureful.

But there is a mystery unfolding here: Many of the nāgarīs to whom Advaita refers are Gauranga’s male bhaktas who have internal female svarūpas which can manfest at any time in the līlā. Of all of them, Gadādhar and Narahari are the foremost. This rasa-tattva is presented in Narahari Sarkar’s Kṛṣṇa-bhajanāmrta:
 
gadādhara-paṇḍitas tu yathā śrī-kṛṣṇa-caitanya-sarvāvatāra- prakāśa-bhūmi-stha-sakala-vaibhava-maya-strī-samūha-pradhāna-bhūtaḥ, tathā tatraiva paṇḍita-dehe rādhā-bhāvena vilāsaṁ kurute. vilāsa-vinodamaya-sakala-svabhāvas tena rādhā-kṛṣṇa-milanam eva satyam, tathā śrī-kṛṣṇa-caitanya-gadādhara-paṇḍita-milanam eva satyam iti bhaktānām milanam eva satyam jīvanaṁ ceti.
“Just as Sri Gauranga is the Source of all Avatāras, His divine and opulent consorts (the nāgarīs) expand from Gadādhar Pandit. So because Radha (and Her bhāva) are within Gadādhar, Gauranga enjoys vilāsa keli with Her. In other words, just as Radha and Krishna’s enchanting rati vilāsa and other keli vinoda pastimes take place in female and male forms, so do Gadādhar and Gauranga’s. Moreover, Gauranga’s conjugal affairs with the bhaktas’ (female) svarūpas are not only factual, but their very life!”
This amazing passage from Narahari can help clear up the misconceptions that many people may have on this topic. For he states that just as the Vraja gopīs expand from Radha, the Nadia nāgarīs expand from Gauranga’s mūla śakti, Gadādhar Pandita. Hence anyone who reads it can discover a whole world of madhura prema bhajan in Mahaprabhu’s pastimes that they can not only take up but relish to their supreme spiritual satisfaction.

The Conclusion

The culminating siddhānta in Advaita’s Stavarāja runs as follows:

naṭarāja-śiro-ratnaṁ śrī-nāgara-śiromaṇim
aśesa-rasika-sphūrjan-mauli-bhūṣaṇa-bhūṣaṇam
rasikānugata-snigdha-vadanābja-madhuvratam
śrīmad-dvija-kulottaṁsaṁ navadvīpa-vibhūṣaṇam
“Hey Gaura natarāja! Because limitless rasīkā nāgarīs worship You as the crown-jewel of their loving affection, You are Sri Nāgar siromani – the greatest romantic of all! Thus in pledging to loot the honey of all these rasikā followers, You fondly go on kissing their loving sweet lips! Even so, every brahmin and Nabadwip resident reveres You as the greatest member of their community.”
Who could rightly say that our Gauranga Sundar isn’t a nāgara or flirtatious romantic? For then, wouldn’t they be overstepping Advaita’s conclusive verdict? Just consider the following: Since Advaita’s internal śakti Sita Thākurani is Yogamāyā, Who personally directs Prabhu’s parakīyā pastimes, Advaita is the first to know about them. Therefore, His madhura doctrine contains a form of bhajan that is universal. So why wouldn’t Gaurasundar wish to share this greatest source of pleasure with everyone?

The Author’s Submission

In summary, this essay has discussed basically three things:

1) that Sri Gaurasundar’s original worship in Nadia has somehow become lost in our world;

2) that in His form as Sri Nāgara śiromani – He is truly the greatest romantic among Sri Bhagavān’s limitless forms;

3) that every jīva is therefore eligible to perform Gauranga’s madhura upāsanā for attaining an intimate, loving relationship with Him.

Now, for us, doesn’t the last point sound the most meaningful? We are mentioning this because (knowingly or unknowingly) isn’t everyone searching for their ideal soul-mate, i.e., the person with whom we can deeply fall in love and share eternal happiness? For this primeval desire is spurred within everyone by the Paramātmā. In other words, as the ātma-ramaṇa, it is the Paramātmā who infuses our romantic feelings to unite with someone. But when conditioned by Māyā, we misdirect our inborn loving propensity, and become caught up in samsāra, the never ending cycle of birth and death. But just consider, this is why Sri Advaita’s doctrine is so invaluable. For it demonstrates how to direct our inborn loving propensity to Gaurasundar and become eternally happy.

We should emphasize that this doesn’t mean that the ānugatya-maya bhajan should be omitted. Rather, wouldn’t it be ideal to perform manjari bhāva and nāgarī bhāva bhajan together – since both sides of the coin are equally important and supremely worshipable? As Vasudeva Ghosh participates in these madhura pastimes, we end this essay with his following poem:

āre mora rasamaya gaura kishora
e tina bhuvane nāi emona nāgara
kulavatī satī rūpa dekhīyā mohita
guna suni torulatā hoy pulakito
sīla toru goli jāya khaga mrga kāde
nagarer nāgarī buka sthira nāhi bāde
surasiddha munir mona kore uccātāna
vāsughosa kohe gorā madan mohan –
Oh re ! My rasa-filled Gaura kishora! Since every young girl is going mad upon viewing Your beautiful form, You’re the Greatest Nāgar in the three worlds! Though in hearing Your glories even trees and creepers horripilate, stones melt, and the birds and deer cry! No wonder the nāgarīs’ hearts are swooning – since devatas, siddhas and sages lose their patience too! Vāsudeva Ghosh says: Gorā is Madan mohan!”
A closer look into the process of Gaura’s Nadia kishora worship is coming in a comparative study with the Rūpānuga bhakti process of Vrindavan in our next volume entitled Sri Advaita’s Stavarāja, Part One.

The fallen sādhaka, Gadādhar prāna dāsa. Contact.



One can see more photographs of Gadai Gauranga Kunj here.

Gadadhar Pran Das :: Sri Gaurasundar’s Main Activity (I)



I spent a week in September with my godbrother Gadadhar Pran Das at Gadai Gauranga Kunj, doing a small vrata with him and observing his bhajan pranali, I am sharing this article written by him. It has two parts.

At the present time, Gadadhar Pran spends the entire day in the service of Gadadhar and Gauranga, and is working on restoring a painting of his Nadia Yugal. For three days up to Purnima, however, we spent almost the entire day in japa and meditation, chanting three lakhs together in the beautiful environment of the Kunj, overlooking the Ganges, bathing three times in the holy river, doing kirtan and honoring Gadai Gauranga’s delicious prasadam prepared by Rai Kishori Devi.

The centerpiece of Gadadhar’s nitya bhajan paddhati these days is the recital of Śrī Śrī Gaurāṅga-pratyaṅga-varṇanākhya-stava-rāja, attributed to Advaita Acharya Prabhu and found in a book from the Srikhanda tradition called Bhakti-candrikā. Gadadhar Pran has gone to a lot of trouble researching this work and he is convinced that it is a genuine work by Advaita Prabhu as it is present in many ancient collections. I accept it on his word.

He recites this stava three times a day, in the morning he chants the Sanskrit and recites the Bengali prose translation. At lunch time, he chants the Bengali padyānuvāda of Akinchan Das, and in the evening the Sanskrit alone. This he does with great feeling, standing in front of his deities, his eyes fixed on them, his voice cracking with emotion.

The author promises in the phala-śruti that whoever chants it three times a day will surely attain Gauranga’s madhura-prema in the nitya Nabadwip. It is in the deep hope of attaining this goal that he has learned all these versions of the stava by heart and has unfailingly maintained this practice for several years now.

In the Yoga Sūtra, there is a statement (1.21) tīvra-saṁvegānām āsannaḥ: “When one’s practice becomes very intense, the goal is near to being achieved.” I have known Gadadhar for 40 years, most of which he has spent in complete devotion to his Gaura and Gadadhar in his beautiful Mayapur ashram. He has turned two properties near the confluence of the Ganges and the Jalangi into a natural paradise filled with flower and fruit trees, with chabutaras, cupolas and gazebos everywhere so that one can sit in the pleasant scented breezes cooled by the Ganges waters and fix the mind entirely on Gauranga Mahaprabhu as the Nadia Nagara.

But one should not think that he is doing this whimsically or that he did not pay his dues by doing the rāgānugā bhajan of the Rupanugas in Braj. As soon as I can, I intend to start serializing his translation and commentary of the Govinda-līlāmṛta on Vrindavan Today so that one can get an idea of how he actually practices his līlā smarana. I can honestly say that I have seen up close any devotee, Indian or foreign, that has taken to the core message of rāgānugā bhajan and unfailingly stuck with it in spite of all obstacles over his entire lifetime -- obstacles coming from both within and without.

There are many who still choose to find fault with Gadadhar for sins both real and imagined, and there are others who condemn him for his Gaura Nagara bhajan. It is clear that nobody can or will stop him. I know how much pain it causes him to be falsely accused of horrible misdeeds, but the bitterness of such calumny is washed away by the sweet nectar of his bhajan, and indeed it acts as a protection against insincere hangers-on and the externally oriented superficial dilettante devotees who have no idea of what it means to follow the āmnāya-siddhā guru-paramparā up to the revelation of one’s eternal svarūpa in the nitya-dhāma.

Gadadhar has written numerous books. Indeed I feel ashamed when I see with what diligence he has produced book after book -- about Mahaprabhu’s gift of rāgānugā bhajan in madhura rasa, the Govinda-līlāmṛta translation and commentary that took five years to complete, the Vishnupriya trilogy, translations of Lochan Das’s Dhāmāli and other works from the Srikhanda Vaishnava family, and now his work on the Stava-rāja. Through these one can observe the development of his own insights into the madhura-līlā of Gaura Krishna and his parshads. If one believes in the path of rāgānugā bhakti, there are few Vaishnavas -- and certainly none from the West who speak the English language -- of his caliber who are worthy of respect and support. And I therefore urge those who are capable of doing so to support the publication of his books and the deity seva at Gadai Gauranga Kunj. If anyone merits it, it is he.

kṛṣṇeti yasya giri taṁ manasādriyet
dīkṣāsti cet praṇatibhiś ca bhajantam īśam |
śuśrūṣayā bhajana-vijñam ananyam anya-
nindādi-śūnya-hṛdam īpsita-saṅga-labdhyā ||

One should mentally honor the devotee who chants the holy name of Lord Krishna. One should offer his humble obeisances to the one who has undergone spiritual initiation [dīkṣā] and is engaged in worshiping the Deity. And if one encounters a pure devotee who is advanced in undeviating devotional service and whose heart is completely devoid of the propensity to criticize others, one should associate with and faithfully serve him, recognizing him to be the ideal spiritual companion.

dṛṣṭaiḥ svabhāva-janitair vapuṣaś ca doṣair
na prākṛtatvam iha bhakta-janasya paśyet |
gaṅgāmbhasāṁ na khalu budbuda-phena-paṅkair
brahma-dravatvam apagacchati nīra-dharmaiḥ ||6||

One should not look upon any devotee in this world as being material, even if one sees in his body and mind flaws that are the result of his or her nature. The spiritual qualities of the Ganges water are not lost because of the bubbles, foam and silt that are characteristic of all rivers.
With regards to those who would condemn Gauranga Nagara bhajan as “unbonafide”, let it be said that the frog in the well cannot hope to know the ocean of the divine līlā. But I will let Gadadhar speak for himself:

Sri Gaurasundar’s Main Activity


Although Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Caitanya-bhāgavata and other Chaitanya shastras all describe Gaurasundar’s main activity in Nadia, most readers miss discovering this topic, since His biographers have presented it in a covered way. So it’s not surprising that Gaurasundar’s most attractive or internal pastimes have become almost entirely lost today. But now we may ask, “Why were they kept a secret?”

Well, to answer, isn’t it true that most of the people in Kaliyuga haven’t even got a clue that Sri Gaurasundar is svayam bhagavān? So how will this vast majority of the human populace be able to fathom His madhura līlās?

Moreover, because the Lord’s character is divine, never should it be compared with what is called love in our world. Therefore, it can be fatal if someone should hear about Prabhu’s romantic activities and then go on to blaspheme Him out of sheer ignorance concerning His Supreme, transcendental position.

But now the consummate bhaktas can bring up a very meaningful question: “If Gaurasundar’s main activity remains hidden, how will we learn about our eternal relationship with Him?”

Although we are writing this essay to address this important matter, we should first have some idea about our eternal relationship with Krishna. So here is a verse written by Kavi Karnapura’s gurudeva, Shrinath Chakravarti, that will give us some direction:

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s Essential Teachings

ārādhyo bhagavān vraje śa-tanayas tad-dhāma vṛndāvanaṁ
ramyā kācid upāsanā vraja-vadhū-vargena yā kalpitā
śrīmad-bhāgavataṁ pramāṇam amalaṁ premān pumartho mahān
śrī-caitanya-mahāprabhor matam idaṁ tatrādaro naḥ paraḥ

1) Vrajendra nandan Sri Krishna is our worshipable Lord; 2) His abode is the ever sweet Vrindavan 3) The topmost of worshiping Him is that devised by the gopis; 4) Srimad Bhāgavatam presents this evidence; 5) Prema is therefore our ultimate goal.
Here we learn about Gaurasundar’s desire that His followers worship Vrajakishora Krishna in gopī-bhāva. But how does the Bhāgavatam depict the gopīs’ prema-sevā to Krishna? Let’s sample two of its verses to find out:

nadyāḥ pulinam āviśya gopībhir hima-vālukam
juṣṭaṁ tat-taralānandi kumudāmoda-vāyunā
bāhu-prasāra-parirambha-karālakoru-
nīvī-stanālabhana-narma-nakhāgra-pātaiḥ
kṣvelyāvaloka-hasitair vraja-sundarīṇām
uttambhayan rati-patiṁ ramayāṁ cakāra

While strolling with his beautiful gopīs along the Yamunā’s moonlit shore – where the sand is white as camphor, and the cooling southern breeze escorts the fragrance of blooming lotus – Krishna desires to awaken their erotic feelings. Thus while tightly embracing His sweethearts – Krishna caresses their thighs, fondles their breasts, kisses their lips and unloosens their lower garment. Everything is done in a playful mood as Krishna’s soft, luring smiles captivate the gopis’ hearts. So just as Kāmadeva enjoys amorous keli with his consort, the goddess Rati, Krishna makes love with all the Vraja sundarīs. (10.29.45-6)
Srila Vishwanath Chakravarti comments on this stirring, romantic scene from the Bhāgavatam by first raising a relevant question:
“How is it possible that Krishna enjoys rati-keli with millions of gopa-sundarīs in this open area, which doesn’t have the privacy of separate kunjas or flower beds?”
His own answer: “Just as Svayam bhagavān Sri Krishna is limitlessly powerful, so is the transcendental land of Sri Vrindavan. For even a small particle of Vrindavan dust the size of a sesame seed can expand into a vast area containing private pleasure kunjas – along with fragrant flower beds, betel nuts, sandlewood paste, perfumes, cool drinking water and everything else needed for Krishna’s rati pastime. Sri Yogamāyā makes all of these things possible. And after Krishna’s rati-līlā, She withdraws everything as it was before. In this way, Yogamāyā increases Sri Krishna and the gopīs’ pleasure.”
At the conclusion of the Bhāgavatam’s rāsa-līlā narration, Sukadeva Goswāmī tells that Krishna accepts a human form and comes to our world to perform such wonderful pastimes as these simply to allure the bhaktas with His mercy. Because after hearing about the rāsa, they may then take up the gopīs’ method of bhajan to attain Sri Krishna’s madhura sevā just as they perform it.

Yet now it should be mentioned that some Vaishnavas may not feel inclined to follow the gopīs’ kāntā-bhāva, i.e., the mood of a consort, which the Bhāgavatam describes. Rather, they will submit, “Let us serve Radha and Krishna as manjari gopīs, since this is the mood of our Six Goswāmīs.”

Now which path should we follow? We ask because on one hand, Gauranga’s prema-dharma is based on the Bhāgavatam’s pure teachings which eulogize the gopīs’ consorthood prema. But on the other hand, won’t many bhaktas wish to follow our Six Goswāmīs’ mood in manjari bhāva?

After examining the exceptional merit of the rasa found in both paths and noting that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu duly authorizes both, however, wouldn’t it be befitting that we adopt both methods? Because, after all, both processes will serve a wonderful purpose in our nitya sevā to the Lord in the exciting course of His madhura prema līlā.

Here is what we are talking about: Since manjari bhāva sādhana is the recommended path in Vrindavan, one would be wise to take it up. But in Nadia also we can discover that Gauranga’s leading associates worship him in the Bhāgavatam’s kāntā-bhava mood. And in the previously quoted verse, Srila Shrinath Chakravartipāda has hinted at this when he says that this exalted prema is Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s matam idam, or main focus in the līlā. Thus his disciple, Srila Kavikarnapur, goes on to reveal the same siddhānta in his Gaura-gaṇoddeśa-dīpikā, 15:

Srila Kavikarnapur’s Verdict

tatra śrīman-navadvīpe viśvambhara-samīpataḥ
vilasanti sma te jñeyā vaiṣṇavā hi mahattamāḥ

Here is the verse’s external and internal meaning:
(1) The bhaktas who always enjoy pleasurable pastimes with Sri Visvambhara in Nabadwip are His greatest Vaishnavas.
(2) The bhaktas who enjoy conjugal loving pastimes (nitya vilāsa) with Sri Visvambhara in Nabadwip are His greatest Vaishnavas.

Now won’t most readers just take the first meaning and go on? That may be so, but the second, internal meaning reveals Srila Kavikarnapur’s message for the rasika bhaktas, those who are attracted to Prabhu’s madhura pastimes. Because just as Krishna’s greatest bhaktas, the gopīs, enjoy rati-keli with Him, they also become Gauranga’s greatest Vaishnavas and thus go on relishing those same pastimes in Nadia.

Srila Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī also indicates the same thing in his Caitanya-candrāmrta, 18:

bhrāntaṁ yatra munīśvarair api purā yasmin kṣamā-maṇḍale
kasyāpi praviveśa naiva dhiṣaṇā yad veda no vā śukaḥ
yatra kvāpi kṛpāmayena ca nije’py udghāṭitaṁ śauriṇā
tasminn ujjvala-bhakti-vartmani sukhaṁ khelanti gaura-priyāḥ

There is an exalted madhura bhakti path which was unknown to the greatest sages of our world, headed by Vyāsadeva. Sukadeva Goswāmī was also clueless about this matter, as it is undisclosed in the Vedas. Yet even the merciful Lord Sri Krishna didn’t reveal this secret to His Vraja bhaktas. These are the wonderful prema-keli affairs that Gauranga’s priyās eternally relish in their intimate loving relationship with Him.
By saying "Gaura-priyā", Srila Sarasvatī-pāda is referring to Gaurasundar’s limitless consorts who are, in fact, His madhura bhaktas. For as Prabhu’s svarūpa-śakti counterparts, they can manifest a beautiful female form to relish madhura bhakti rasa with Him.

Mahaprabhu and Ramananda Rāya’s Discussion
To help us understand this verse’s deep meaning, let us now go to the last part of Sriman Mahaprabhu and Ramananda Raya’s discussion in Caitanya caritāmrta, Madhya 8. Here, when Ramananda Raya mentions the gopīs’ kāntā prema, Prabhu ecstatically answers:
paripūrṇa-kṛṣṇa-prāpti ei prem’ haite
ei premāra vaśa kṛṣṇa – kahe bhāgavate

“This is the paripūrna kṛṣṇa prāpti, the most complete attainment of Krishna. For the Bhāgavatam declares, Krishna is totally subjugated by the prema of His gopī consorts.” (Madhya 8.88)
How does the gopīs’ kāntā-prema described in the Bhāgavatam surpass other forms of Bhagavat-prema? Ramananda answers:
guṇādhikya svādādhikya bāḍe prati-rase
śānta-dāsya-sākhya-vātsalyera guṇa madhurete baise

The qualities and relish of the dāsya, sākhya and vātsalya rasas can all be found in madhura-rasa. (Madhya 8.86)
Here the term “kāntā” specifically means a parakīyā consort. For just as she can be her beloved’s dāsī, sakhī, or care for him like a mother, and be his loving mistress – the complete attainment of Krishna lies in kāntā-bhāva alone. As Mahaprabhu’s questions (and Ramananda’s answers) begin from the first step and proceed to the very top of the Bhagavad-bhakti ladder, at this stage Ramananda thought he had reached the top, and was thinking to get a rest. But Mahāprabhu went on: “Is there not something more? If so, please tell me.”
Ramananda exclaimed:
ihāra āge puche hena jane
eta-dina nāhi jāni, āchāye bhuvane

“Oh my! I’ve never met anyone in the world who would inquire beyond this!” (Madhya 8.97)
But then he remembered: “Oh, Radha-prema comes next!”

Then Mahaprabhu became restless and asked, “If Radha’s love excels the gopīs’ kāntā prema, can you please explain why?”

Ramananda replied, “Radha’s love is incomparable in the three worlds. For when Krishna enjoys with millions of Vraja sundaris during the rāsa-līlā, only Radha can completely satiate His desires!” Radha’s pirīti is impossible in humans as it is limitlessly pure, deep, refined and sweet. But then Prabhu asked: “Is there not something more? If so, please tell me to give complete satisfaction to my ears.”

Hearing this, Ramananda became puzzled. “What could be higher than Radha prema?” he thought. Finally he admitted: “Swamin, I’ve reached the end; all of the śakti that You have given me has been depleted. So if You want to hear more, please bless me so that I can answer. Nevertheless, let me sing a song that I composed. Let’s see whether this will please You.”

pahilehi rāga nayana-bhaṅge bhela
anudina bāḍhala, avadhi nā gela
nā so ramaṇa, nā hāma ramaṇī
duṅhu-mana manobhava peṣala jāni’
e sakhi, se-saba prema-kāhinī
kānu-ṭhāme kahabi vichurala jāni’
nā khoṅjaluṅ dūtī, nā khoṅjaluṅ ān
duṅhukeri milane madhya ta pāṅca-bāṇa
ab sohi virāga, tuṅhu bheli dūtī
supurusa-premaki aichana
Radha’s Reply to Krishna’s Sakhī Messenger “Sakhī, when our eyes first met, my love for Krishna awoke intensely – and it ever goes on increasing! Now is He the ramana, and am I the ramanī? … we cannot tell! For Cupid has stolen our minds, pulverized them together – and made us one! O sakhī! During our last love-encounter a messenger wasn’t required – for Cupid directly united us! So why are you coming to unite us again? Just see the love of my splendid hero, Sri Krishna.”
As Rāmānanda sang, Mahaprabhu become restless and reached over to cover his mouth. This was to conceal His intimate affairs. Because herein Prabhu perceived His own svarūpa in Nadia, which only His intimate priyās can relish. This is what Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī’s verse has revealed: There is an exalted madhura bhakti path that was unknown to the greatest sages headed by Vyāsadeva. Sukadeva Goswāmī was also clueless, as this topic isn’t mentioned in the Vedas. And merciful Lord Sri Krishna didn’t reveal this secret either to His Vraja bhaktas. These are the wonderful prema keli affairs that Gauranga’s priyās eternally relish in their intimate relationship with Him.

Rupa Goswami’s Version

Sri Rupa Goswami’s renowned anarpita-carīm verse has a similar, deep meaning. So let us examine it:
anarpita-carīṁ cirāt karuṇayāvatīrṇah kalau
samarpayitum unnotojjvala-rasāṁ sva-bhakti-śriyam
hariḥ puraṭa-sundara-dyuti-kadamba-sandīpitaḥ
sadā hṛdaya-kandare sphuratu vaḥ sacī-nandanaḥ

May you always see Sachinandan Gaurahari’s beautiful golden form in your heart. For He advents in the Kali-yuga to award an invaluable gift that was previously unoffered: His very own unnatojjvala-prema-bhakti-rasa.
In our Vaishnava world there is a common opinion that the madhura-bhakti treasure that Rupa alludes to here is manjari bhāva. This special prema rasa is anarpita (new) because previously the Bhāgavatam and other ancient bhakti shastras haven’t mentioned it. Though it is also unnata (very exalted) – as the relish of manjari’s sevā excels even the bliss of Krishna’s gopī consorts. Hence Chaitanya Mahaprabhu wishes to promote this form of the madhura rasa in the Kali-yuga.

Although this view is befitting from the point of view of Krishna’s Vraja līlā, more can be discovered in Sri Rupa’s verse. Because he is praying to Sri Sachinandan, and blessing the bhaktas that they always see Him in their heart, the exalted madhura prema that he refers to must certainly be found in Nabadwip as well. In Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī’s verse also, the madhura prema of Gauranga’s priyās can also be termed anarpita (previously unoffered), since Vyāsadeva, Śukadeva and Krishna’s Vraja bhaktas were clueless about it. Moreover, in Mahaprabhu and Ramananda’s sādhya-sādhana-tattva discussion, this topic comes at the very end, after Radha prema. Therefore, the madhura prema of Gauranga’s priyās is surely, as Rupa defines it, a highly exalted (unnata) gift that Sri Gauranga mercifully wishes to offer the people of the Kali-yuga.

Ānugatyamaya and Pratyakṣa Worship

Now an important question arises: Where are these exciting madhura prema līlās eternally going on? The answer is in Goloka Nabadwip and Vrindavan, where every bhakta can serve Svayam Bhagavān in both the ānugatya-maya and the pratyakṣa or direct form of madhura-bhakti worship.

The ānugatya-maya bhajan is found with the manjaris for they serve Radha and Krishna under the leading sakhis' and mañjarīs’ direction. Yet the pratyakṣa worship can be seen in Srila Prabodhānanda’s verse where the bhaktas assume a Gaura priyā female svarūpa to serve Gaurasundar in a direct one-to-one loving relationship.

So apart from attaining a mañjarī siddha-svarūpa to serve Radha-Krishna, there are two more identities which are ideal for Gaudīya Vaishnavas to aspire for in Goloka Nabadwip. We refer to “two” because Gauranga’s madhura upāsanā has basically two main streams:

1) His Rādhābhāva, and
2) His rasarāja worship.

In Gaurasundar’s Rādhā-bhāva-līlā-prakāśa the bhaktas generally serve in handsome brāhmana kiśora forms. This is Mahaprabhu’s ānugatya-maya aṣṭa-kāla sevā which is executed by following Prabhu’s leading associates in the company of one’s guru and guru paramparā members. But when the bhaktas join Prabhu’s rasarāja līlā prakāśa, their pratyakṣa loving relationship with Gaurasundar takes place in their Gaura-priyā female svarūpa.

The following references show how Gauranga’s rasarāja upāsanā is sadopāsya, an eternal form of worship that everyone can take up:

(1) In Narahari Sarkar Thakur’s Bhakti-candrikā’s first verse he says:


kāntaṁ śāntaṁ aśeṣa-jīva-hṛdayānanda-svarūpaṁ param

“Taking the mood of the Amorous Hero (kānta) Gaurasundar can award supreme bliss and eternal peace in the heart of limitless jīvas.”

(2) In Sri Advaita’s Stavarāja, verse 28, He says:
sarva-bhāgavatāhūta-kānta-bhāva-prakāśakam
prema-pradāna-lalita-dvibhujaṁ bhakta-vatsalam

“O Gaurahari! At the slightest hint, You embrace Your bhaktas with Your lovely arms and become bhakta-vātsala[1], for sharing Your splendid kānta-bhāva [2] prema with every one of them!”

[1] bhakta-vātsala: the Lord’s affectionate behavior with His bhaktas [2] kānta-bhāva: the mood of the Amorous Hero

(3) In Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, 1.2.297-299, Sri Rupa offers two forms of madhura-bhakti sādhana for his rāganugā followers:
kāmānugā bhavet tṛṣṇā kāma-rupānugāminī
sambhogecchāmayī tat-tad-bhāvecchātmiketi ca
sā dvidhā keli-tātparyavaty eva sambhogecchāmayī bhavet
tad-bhāvecchātmikā tāsāṁ bhāva-mādhurya-kāmitā

1) sambhogecchā-mayī: the path for those desiring to attain the Lord’s prema-keli pastimes in kāntā-bhāva;
2) tad-bhāvecchātmikā: the path for those hankering to serve Radha Krishna as mañjarīs to relish Their enchanting bhāvas.

Purport: Here, because Sri Rupa offers his bhakta followers both of these paths neutrally, we can imbibe that both must surely have a useful utility in the līlā’s course. For just as the tad-bhāvecchātmikā mañjarī bhāva is the most befitting path in Vraja, the sambhogecchāmayī process is ideal for those wishing to follow after the internal moods of Gauranga’s Nabadwip bhaktas. Though in Svayam Bhagavān’s highest abode, Goloka, it should be noted that just as Sri Gaurasundar’s Nabadwip bhaktas serve in His Rasarāja and Rādhā-bhāva-līlā-prakāśa, so do the Six Goswamis.



Go to Part II. One can see more photographs of Gadai Gauranga Kunj here. Contact Gadadhar Pran.

 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

First week of Bhakti Tirtha courses completed Classes at Jiva Institute

I have not talked much about current events in my life on this blog of late.

Mahamuni Dasji and Advaitadasji have been giving excellent introductory lectures to Nyaya-sutras and Yoga-sutras respectively. And of course Babaji gave his introduction to Sanskrit. We have a good group of students. Unfortunately Advaita and Mahamuni will only be here teaching for three weeks.

Any English speaker in the area who is tempted by a crash course in these two subjects is well advised to attend. Jai Radhe.




So we have completed one week of classes at Jiva and are part way through the second week. I am pretty happy with my own classes. We completed the four essential verses of the Sandarbhas, which gave me the opportunity to give an overview of Jiva Goswami's philosophy seen from the end-point rather than working through from the beginning.

For me, giving daily classes is challenging. And with people of great learning and enthusiasm in the audience increases the challenge. But it also seems to be bringing all the classes by all the teachers to a very high standard. But the students are delighted with the other teachers as well.

I encourage anyone in the area to come to the morning session from 10-1 (Mon-Fri) where Sanskrit, Yoga-sutra and Nyaya are being taught. After Nov. 7, the schedule will change, but Gopala Champu will continue at 5 p.m. Classes are free and open to all, though the courses might present difficulties to those who are not regularly participating or learning Sanskrit.
 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

"তুমি আমার প্রাণের বন্ধু !"

আজকে রাধাকুণ্ডে গিয়েছিলাম। রাধাকুণ্ড মহান্ত শ্রী শ্রী অনন্তদাস পণ্ডিত বাবাজী মহারাজের কাছে গিয়েছিলাম দর্শনের জন্য । উনি আমার সঙ্গে কিছু ক্ষণ কথা বললেন । পুরানো স্মৃতির আবৃত্তি হলো কিছু ।
 
বাবাজী অসুস্থ হলেও, ৯২ বৎসর বয়সেও এ বৎসরে নিত্য নিয়মিত পাঠ করবেন নিয়ম সেবার সময়. আমাকে রাধাকুণ্ডে থাকতে বলেছেন. আমি যে গোপালচম্পূ পাঠ করব বললাম. উনি খুশী হলেন.
 
বার বার বলছিলেন, "এসো, থাকো রাধাকুণ্ডে." আমি বললাম গোপালচম্পূ পাঠের কথা. বাবাজী মহাশয, "ভালো ভালো" বললেন.
 
আমি বলেছিলাম, "এত দিন পরে আপনার দর্শনে এলাম্. আপনার সঙ্গ লাভ করতে হলে আমার পুনর্জন্মের অপেক্ষা."
 
শেষে আমার মাথায় হাথ বুলিয়ে আমাকে বললেন, "তুমি আমার প্রাণের বন্ধু !" কি সুন্দর কথা, আমি চোখের জল সংবরণ করতে পারলাম না । ভেসেই গেলাম ।
 
রাধাকুণ্ডের পরিক্রমা করার সময, তিনকুডির প্রভুর আশ্রমের সামনে দিয়ে আমার সেই পুরানো স্মৃতি এলো -- সে নিয়ম সেবা যখন সেখানে তাঁর কাছে থাকলাম এক মাস । ঐ ছোট সরু শিরির দিয়ে আমি নেমে ঠাণ্ডা জলে, শীতের হাওয়ায় শ্রীকুণ্ডে স্নান করতাম ভোর বেলায়।
 


এই বার যখন নবদ্বীপে গিয়েছিলাম,গদাধরপ্রাণজী আমাকে তিনকোডী প্রভুর আর আমার একটা বিস্মৃত কথা মনে করিয়ে দিল.

তিনকোডী প্রভুর অপ্রকটের কিছু দিন আগে, আমরা দুজন তাঁকে দেখতে গিয়েছিলাম. উনি খুব অসুস্থ বলে অনেকে তাঁর দর্শনের জন্য যাচ্ছিলো. সেই সমযে প্রভুপাদ মদনগোপাল গোস্ৱামীও গিয়েছিলেন । তিনি কখনো কারো কাছে প্রণাম করতেন না, কিন্তু এই বার সাষ্টাঙ্গ দণ্ডৱৎ করে তিনকোডী প্রভুর সামনে প্রণাম করলেন.
 
তিনি আমাকে সেখানে দেখে তিনকোডী প্রভুর কাছে বললেন, "এই লোকটা গৌডীয় বৈষ্ণব সম্প্রদায়ের একটা মস্তবড অস্ত্র হয়ে যাবে. একে কৃপা করুন." এই ভাবে আমাকে মদনগোপাল প্রভুর আর তিনকোডী প্রভুর এক সঙ্গে আশীর্বাদ মিলল. জয় রাধে! জয় গৌর!
 
মাফ করুন, নিজের কথা বললাম. বাবাজী মহাশযের প্রীতি পেয়ে আনন্দ আর ধরল না, তাই কিছু বললাম.

 
 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Visual Media and Radha and Krishna



It also has something to do with brevity. In our day, wisdom has to be Twitter length.

Madanmohan Dasji wrote: Well, as for that, I noticed that when I post some verse or other, people only 'like' it if it is posted with an illustration; then I wonder if it was the picture or the writing that was 'liked". Maybe since the introduction of film and TV and ubiquitous screens in every home, we have lost, to some degree, the capacity to visualize in the mind, which is necessary in reading and hearing, and its real pleasure.

Mathura Dasji wrote: The visual arts or written/spoken word coupled with sound or music is the most powerful of art forms, and that is why TV, cinema, drama and theatre are so popular. More senses are involved and hence for the majority of people (the masses) these art forms thrive.

That also holds for spiritual music such as kirtan, bhajans and other forms of classical Indian music, and is why it is so important to understand aesthetics and the power of harmoniously blending these divine art forms. The Bhakti traditions all contain highly evolved aesthetic/spiritual art forms. Otherwise how will the majority of people understand and appreciate concepts and emotional expressions of rasa and bhava?

________________________________________

So in that respect, the Sanskrit poeticians gave importance to the word. I think that even for people of his day the language of Shakespeare was likely to have been somewhat challenging. His genius was that he was able to capture his audience primarily through his poetry.

I think though, referring back to Madan Mohan's original statement, that the process of visualization derived from the words is something that is being lost because of the sheer availability of images.

The power that Mathura talks about is used to inundate people's brains as the most effective brainwashing media that humans have ever been able to create.

But presenting Krishna etc., in a visual medium, though I don't doubt it can be done by a great genius, is very difficult. Think of the cartoons of Krishna that recently became popular, think of Braja Rasa Lilas and how Western people react to them. Mastery of special effects have brought the "reality" of the "fantasy" to extremely high levels. They are literally able to create the worlds that the proud Sanskrit poet could only aspire to : kavir eva prajāpatiḥ -- "Because he creates his own world, the Poet is God."

So now, who can create Krishna's world, or the Krishna world, or _a_ Krishna world that will capture today's mind? And be able to give it a taste of rasa?

The genius of the rasa theory is that it makes you think about religion from the aesthetic and human perspective.

The aesthetic is about producing rasa, but the full spectrum of human experience is not. As a matter of fact, genuine human experience is pretty much denied under a barrelfull of rules. Love, which is of course the essence of all rasa, is only a promise -- if you follow the rules, you will be loved by mummy and daddy.

So the very use of drama and entertainments to preach becomes a necessity. From the vidhi point of view to increase faith in the rules and to present the aiśvarya of Krishna's līlā.

From the rāga point of view though, it is absolutely necessary to be able to identify with the personalities in the play, and not as Gods except inasmuch as all archetypes have some God-ness to them.

The problem with the devotee is Krishna's perfect love-life. Well I can tell you that the success of Krishna as a popular figure is precisely because of the effectiveness of līlā kirtan in Bengal. The songs were good, they were sung well, and even within the Krishna-ness of the story, the Love itself was humanly human.

So, this is exactly what the devotees fear -- that Krishna should be seen as human. We have to always remind ourselves that he is God, and indeed most of the time we are not allowed to think otherwise. But is not a handsome film actor a god? Don't we even call them gods? Krishna is indeed a God like these.

But though Angelina and Brad Pitt may be gods and goddesses in the Swarga known as Hollywood, the love they portray is something we can all identify with. Every man is a Brad Pitt in his dream self world, and every woman an Angelina Jolie.

So it is for identification with Radha and Krishna. You cannot say, first I become a manjari or even a devotee before I can experience rasa. You cannot say that the _natural_ process of identification with Radha and Krishna is NOT what is desired and is indeed expected.

It is because the story of pure love in separation struck a deep chord. The story of a pure illicit love, with the suffering it entailed. It is very much comparable to Tristan and Iseult.

So now, where does that stand in relation to Krishna bhakti. Rupa Goswami himself says that you are to identify 'as a devotee, not as Krishna." And he gives the famous example that you are to identify with Rama and not with Ravana.

So it seems clear enough. At least in most cases. Think though of the relation of love itself to the capacity to identify with a character in a play or film. If love means complete identification with the beloved, then one MUST identify with the Beloved also.

So naturally, Krishna and Radha as the Hero and the Heroine are every hero and every heroine.

But the fear is to portray them as less than archetypal.

In other words, if Brad Pitt plays Krishna and Angelina Jolie were to play Radha and Krishna... nope, nope, it is not working for me either.

And yet, because Radha and Krishna are the root of all erotic love, spiritual or material, their _human_ love is the most perfect of human loves, all loves are theirs.

But Their love is the love that is entirely free of kama.

Now there are two states: nitya-siddha and sadhana-siddha. The sadhana-siddha person struggles to attain the state of perfection. The nitya-siddha person needs no education in suffering. They have learned the meaning of suffering and its relation to love and they have no more need of lessons.

The sadhaka knows kama. And the nitya-siddha knows that the appearance of kama, the perception of it, can always enter even the nitya līlā. Think of baby Krishna and Yashoda. Krishna acting as a baby dislikes his mother's action of stopping the milk from boiling over. He is forgiven his naughtiness by us, and maybe Ma Yashoda is also laughing, but she is serious too. She has to educate the boy.

This is the nitya-prakaṭa līlā. I call it that because it is the nitya-parikaras and Krishna within a world where time exists and where changes happen and so on. So in that respect, the archetypal actions are also manifestations of pure love within a world where misunderstanding is possible.

BUT, it must be recognized that without a story, there is no rasa. Without time and the world, there are no stories. This was a problem for Jiva Goswami, which is why he wrote the Gopala Champu. The prakaṭa-līlā is more real than the aprakaṭa līlā. The aprakaṭa līlā, if we were to put it crassly, is like an old, happily married couple sitting around watching reruns of their own wedding video.

But the level we haven't got to appreciating is the līlā nature of our own lives. If Krishna is too divine, we never understand how the most normal part of our lives -- our love lives -- are really at the center of our sense of self. A Radha Krishna devotee who doesn't understand this is really not at the madhyama stage.

I guess the question really is: Here, the uniqueness of the visualization is actually what we want. There is really no problem with having Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt play Radha and Krishna, because you accept as your basic premise that they can, at best, be tiny sparks of Their splendor. But if we allow them their human failngs and allow them to capture us in their story, Radha and Krishna's story, the Story beyond their limited story, the Eternal Story of stories, then it will find its way to Spiritual Knowledge and Love.

Friday, October 07, 2016

My trip to Bengal and the delimitations of the lila



Is bhakti a transcendent religion, or is it anchored in time and place? In other words, is it delimited by historical and cultural factors, which by definition would make it material?

Recently I said that the purpose of Gaudiya Vaishnava sadhana appears to be "entering" the eternal pastimes of Radha and Krishna, and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. And that this required our identifying with the historical, linguistic and cultural circumstances into which their lilas transpired. One of my friends objected that this jeopardized Gaudiya Vaishnavism’s claims to universality and demonstrated a cultural chauvinism -- i.e., ahankara -- that diminished the transcendent glory of this religion. Indeed, for those in the West who on the whole find many defects in the Indian culture, past, present or future, it seems a travesty to be chained to a culture that, in the end, they do not admire all that much.

I apologized to my friend that I had been unable to resolve the conundrum. And he kindly answered that he thought if anyone could do it, it would be me. Indeed, I have churned the question over in my mind and taken different positions at different times, primarily as I tried to take the universalist and transcendent side. My usual approach has been to search out and stress the symbolic meanings, thus detaching the message of the lila from its vehicle. But, this is, in my view, the jnana aspect of bhakti. The bhakti part requires the forms, names, dhamas, and lilas as they manifested in history and in myth. Without them, there is no rasa. Here, in fact, lies the entirety of the achintya-bhedabheda conundrum.

The tasting of rasa is the means to prema, and prema is the means to tasting rasa.

The goal of Gaudiya Vaishnavism is Prema. The lilas of Radha-Krishna and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu are the means for attaining Prema. In other words, entering those lilas is the sadhana for prema. Prema is a universal quality that can be realized through different methods, and part of the process for attaining the goal is to meditate (in the sense of mananam) on both the process and and the goal. Such meditation requires understanding both the universality of prema as a concept integral to the human experience everywhere, as well as its manifestation in the particular, i.e., the lilas of the incarnations that form the basis of our spiritual culture or sadhana. Wherever we stand in our own here and now, our spiritual here and now is in those idealized manifestations of a culture that has its basis in Prema, is permeated with Prema, and through Prema shows its fulfillment.

In Vrindavan, in the Jiva Institute where I am right now, I am in a bit of a mixed culture. Most of the visitors here, Babaji's admirers, are from the West, and Babaji himself has made a conscious decision to preach to devotees from the West, now spending several months a year traveling to Europe, South Africa and the United States to speak to audiences there, building up a clientele of interested foreigners. In fact, the success of his concept is evidenced by the group of some 35-40 students coming here from the abovementioned places. They will be staying six months, some even committing to the ambitious five-year program of study, in which learning Sanskrit, even conversational Sanskrit, is a major objective.

In Rishikesh also, though I was teaching Sanskrit and living in an ashram in India, in many ways it was designed for the Western practitioner of yoga. Swamiji, like Babaji, was quite aware that too much "Indianness" was not necessarily a plus, and indeed I have heard both these great men speak in both positive and negative terms about their fellow countrymen, as well as having positive sentiments about many aspects of the Western personality. (If I can speak so broadly of the European-American civilization.)

From a purely objective point of view, the historical state of the Indian civilization, either that of the Krishna cycle, or closer to us historically, the Bengal of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, are not presented as times when human civilization had reached its pinnacle. Rather, positive and negative elements are presented. Indeed, the presence of demonic elements in the worlds of Krishna and Chaitanya are rife and contextualized as either happening just prior to the onset of the most degraded age of Kali, or in its midst. But when we talk about the nitya-lila, we are talking about extracting an ideal essence that is apparent in the lives of these two (or one) Divinities. And that ideal essence is one that has percolated from the Indian mind and out of the languages and literature of the subcontinent. For us, that means primarily Sanskrit, Bengali, and Braj Bhasha (not so much Hindi). And, it is also the ideal essence that has acted on the characters of a few rare souls who have exemplified the character of a “devotee”, that imaginary creature who is glorified as one who is exclusively devoted to the Source of Love, who blames no one, and who knows the secrets of entering that ideal essence of Love.

In Bengal, I was in places that would not strike the Western mind as ideal. But when I speak on the Chaitanya Charitamrita in Bengali, these people enter that world with a naturalness that the Western mind cannot. Besides which, the Western mind seems almost congenitally incapable of entering that realm without asking for some scientific proof, or absolute logical consistency, or something else that ideal essences don’t provide. So, I am going to go full throttle on this experiment: To become an eternal participant in the lila, first enter the bhauma lila of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu by attaching yourself to one of his families, try to find the most authentic manifestation of that ideal essence and enter into it.

I was just listening to a video I made a few months ago and in the introductory portion I say really want I want to say here. It comes down to language. You need to enter the language to really understand the mind of a Rupa Goswami or a Jiva Goswami or a Govinda Das.

No matter how well translated, a translation is always a kind of treason to the original. This is nowhere more true really than in this sadhana, where the goal is actually to transform the mind into one that is suitable to enter the lila. Yes, if you understand the underlying symbolism, etc., which can be transmitted through the translation you can apply that knowledge, and even get some of the rasa, but if you are avid for the rasa and want the full taste, your work is cut out for you.

http://jagadanandadas.blogspot.in/2015/07/the-sandarbhas-summarized-in-four-verses.html.