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VMA 1.31 : Pull up the root of material hopes…

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tyaktvā saṅgaṁ dūrataḥ strī-piśācyā sarvāśānāṁ mūlam uddhṛtya samyak |
daivāl labdhenaiva nirvāhya dehaṁ
śrīmad-vṛndā-kānane joṣam āssva ||
Renouncing from afar the company of witch-like women,
pulling up the very root of all material hopes,
maintaining the body by whatever fate gives you,
lovingly take up residence in Vrinda Devi’s forest. (1.31)
Commentary

Here we have another of Prabodhananda’s intense vairāgya verses. In the modern age, statements that associate the words woman and witch to one another are very difficult to reconcile with current ways of thinking.

Generally, however, it is conceded by spiritualists of all paths that the greatest danger to spiritual life results from an attachments to sense desires, if they take us away from service to God. If a woman who acts like a piśācī is a source of bondage for a man, then the same is true for a woman who attaches herself to a materialistic man, a piśāca.

[Misogyny, MGTOW and the Bhagavatam.]

On the other hand, a saintly m…

VMA 1.30 : Know Suffering Here to be Joy

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duḥkhāny eva sukhāni viddhy apayaśo jānīhi kīrtiṁ parāṁ
manyethā adhamaiś ca duṣparibhavān saṁmānavat sattamaiḥ |
dainyāny eva mahā-vibhūtim atisallābhān alabhān sadā
pāpāny eva ca puṇyamanti yadi te vṛndāvanaṁ jīvanam||
Know suffering here to be joy.
Know ill-repute here to be the greatest glory.
Accept that being defeated here
at the hands of the lowliest people
is equal to being honored by the saints.
Know that poverty here is the greatest wealth
and the greatest pious gains here
are as nothing of any value at all.
Know too that sins here contain piety within them.
If you can know all this,
then alone will Vrindavan be your life. (1.30) Commentary

In the previous verse, Prabodhananda Saraswatipada exhorted his fellow aspirants for Braja bhakti to practice indifference to the dualities of this world. Now, however, he goes on to explain that Vrindavan is different: things here are not what they seem.

In his allegory Prema-pattanam Rasikottamsa says that there exists a glori…

VMA 1.29 : : Real life is to take refuge in Vrindavan

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śrī-vastrābharaṇādibhiḥ kara-padādy-utkarta-dāhādibhir
nindā-saṁstava-koṭibhir bahu-vibhūty-atyanta-dainyādibhiḥ |
jīvann eva mṛto yathā na vikṛtiṁ prāptaḥ kathaṁcit kvacit
śrī-vṛndāvanam āśraye priya-mahānandaika-kandaṁ param||
Whether I am covered in beautiful clothes and ornaments,
or suffer from cuts and burns to my limbs;
whether I am copiously criticized or lavishly praised;
whether I live with great riches or in complete poverty,
like a dead man, I will remain unchanged
at all times and in all circumstances,
but I will definitely be alive,
for I take refuge in Vrindavan
the single supreme root of all the great joys
of my beloved Lord and Lady. (1.29)

Commentary

[This verse is where I stopped posting daily meditations from the Vṛndāvana-mahimāmṛta. When I reached it, I found I had written nothing previously and I hit an inspirational brick wall. So I let it sit for all this time. This time, some thoughts occurred to me.

In actual fact, I first started working on Vṛndāvana-mahimāmṛta a…

A rare early poem by Bhaktivinoda Thakur

I was going through Bhaktibinoda Bāṇi Baibhaba, Sundarananda Bidyabinoda's compilation of quotes from across the spectrum of his writings, when I saw this poem for the first time.

The poem is dated February 1870 and written at Motihari in eastern Bihar, where he was stationed at the time. It was only published in Sajjana-toshani in 1893 under the title "Invitation to the Vaishnavas" (বৈষ্ণব নিমন্ত্রণ). I don't have the original, so I cannot judge why the It was written under the Saccidananda Premalankara name, but he adds his own name Kedarnath, probably only at the time of publication in SJT. There are probably numerous other articles written under this name that are not available any longer.

The poem is written in free verse, which was something that Bhaktivinoda Thakur experimented with at around this time. It was written ten years before initiation. Translation is below.


যবে প্রভু গৌরচন্দ্র আনন্দ তরঙ্গে
রসাইল ভূমণ্ডল, সমুদ্র যেমতি
পুরা কালে ভাসাইল পৃথিবীর উচ্চ

Yet more reflections on Guru Tattva (III)

There is something about being chained to your guru. When you sell yourself to your guru, then you are bound to be brought back to him, even if in some cases you try to renege. The prodigal son who returns is twice as dear.

I wanted to use the example of runaway slaves, but that is unfortunately a little incorrect politically, triggers the wrong kinds of response. But bhakti, dāsya, is voluntary slavery to the will of God.

The will of God is primarily mediated through Guru-tattva. Guru-tattva is that aspect of God that occupies itself with the education of humanity. Guru-tattva is the manifestation of intelligence, individually and cosmically..

You can find a discussion of this verse here (towards the end):

sei bhakta dhanya, ye nā chāḍe prabhura caraṇa
sei prabhu dhanya, ye nā chāḍe nija-jana

“Glorious is that devotee who does not give up the shelter of his Lord, and glorious is that Lord who does not abandon His servant."

durdaive sevaka yadi yāya anya sthāne
sei ṭhākura dhanya t…

More reflections on Guru-Tattva (II)

Anyway, the whole subject must be looked at in the context of the sociology of religion. Religions, like any other social phenomenon, go through periods of stagnation and reform. All reforms, which are usually carried out by charismatic individuals.

In the wake of a charismatic founder or reformer's death, the followers are bewildered because nobody can equal the divine messenger. So other lines of legitimacy have to be established.
The primary legitimacy usually is "the person who was closest to the divine messenger, his companion, the greatest recipient of his grace, etc."

In the first generation of Gaudiya Vaishnavism, this legitimacy was extended to ALL of Mahaprabhu's associates. That is the purpose of texts like Gaura-gaṇoddeśa-dīpikā and the other Vaishnava vandanās and śākhā-nirṇaya type texts. gaurāṅgera saṅgi gaṇe nitya siddha kari māne.
And this legitimacy was extended to all their descendants.

But of course there is a caveat, and certainly BBG in his

Reflections on Guru Issues

[I have been working on the introduction to Bhaktivinoda Thakur's autobiography for the longest time and still haven't finished fine tuning it. On a couple of threads on Facebook I dashed off a few of my considered thoughts. I also went back and looked at an early article I wrote on the subject, which might still prove useful, The Parampara Institution in Gaudiya Vaishnavism.

Not so long ago I wrote an article "All this parampara business, why do I bother? Those same thoughts come over me again. After all, isn't the human race about to go extinct, so what is the point on what appears to be a trivial matter and a personal obsession? What can I say? I am working on Bhaktivinoda Thakur now and so it is preeminent in my mind. So I shall continue reflecting on it until I am liberated from it.]

Someone suggested that Jagannath Das Babaji gave initiation to Bhaktivinoda Thakur, as would appear to be the case of the Gaudiya Math paramparā, but of course there is no possibilit…

Misogyny, MGTOW and the Bhagavatam

Radhe Radhe. The other day I mentioned the name of Gaurahari Das Babaji at Bhagavata Niwas. I had hoped to talk to him before leaving, but he apparently has a kutir in Radha Kund also, so I was thwarted. Bhagavata Niwas has certainly become steadily more vibrant over the past two years since he made his presence felt there. Bhagavata path, regular kirtan for kunja bhanga and other actions accompanying the deity service, the deity worship of all the Giridharis is unique and striking.

Moreover, the grounds seem much better taken care of, with Babajis themselves actively taking care of the gardens, including vegetable plots. Garbage disposal is still a problem, but not as bad as before. But there was a vibrancy of bhajan in the air. All the sadhus there appear to be serious sadhakas and the doors-closed policy to external visitors milling around during the day is a good one. This place is too holy to be not protected. It is my fervent prayer that the difficulties that currently exist bet…

Last day in Vrindavan: Bhagavata speakers

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I started writing this while sitting in the Moscow airport. Now in Montreal, Canada.


I just want to talk about my last day in Vrindavan. I already confessed to a wide and long detour into English language entertainments. Now that I knew I was finally leaving, I regretted all that I am missing even though present in the Dham. Even after a serious attempt in my three days in Barsana, I still hadn't finished my introduction to the Jivani, though I did make progress. I had hoped to finish it before departure, but I could not manage, though it seems tantalizingly close.

One thing that has always been difficult for me with Guru-tattva is this disagreeing with the Guru or finding flaws in the Guru. Naturally, any intelligent observer is bound by nature to apply his powers of rationality to assess the validity of information received from an authoritative source or of one's own sensory perceptions. Information from authoritative sources still has to be confirmed by experience or it re…