Monday, January 22, 2007

An autobiography in names

When I was born I was baptised Jan,
And for seven years that carried on.
I came to school where Jan was strange,
so thenceforth I was known as John.

Bhakta John at twenty, and shortly after,
I became Hiranyagarbha Das.
I was quite the “golden egghead” to some,
but “Hiranya garbage” to the mass.

I was “Brahmachari” for a while
Then became an “Adhikari”;
Then “Vanachari”, finally “Swami,”
but not “Goswami”—someone was wary.

Then Prabhupad left and so did I,
taking shelter of gopi bhav', the Ras.
Lalita Prasad gave the name I now use--
“Joy to the world,” Jagadananda Das.

At first I was Babaji, even Maharaj,
But that changed too, now I'm simply DAS.
I'm "Jagat" too, but I'm not "the world";
You're the world, and I your DASANUDAS.


anuradha said...

Dear Jagadananda,

Question about your previous post.

In general in vaisnava circles I was told that our authoritive scriptures, except the ones from the Goswamis, predate Christianity by thousands of years, and are written down by one Person named Vyasa.
Scientists argue that the oldest Veda, the Rig Veda, is estimated to be written down somewhere in the margin of 1500 and 400 BC. The Mahabharata is younger and so are the Puranas. Our Bhagavat Purana is said to be from much later times and came into being in medieval times, 800 to 1200 after Christ.
Linguïstics familiar with Vedic and classical Sanskrit seem to agree and seem to hold strong arguments in favour of their scientific view.

I realize that written documents of previous ages had something mystical about them. First of all not many people could read them, secondly they weren't widely available. No printing press and no pdf-format, only hand-written copies by scholars that could have easily added something in the process.

The Bhaktivedanta Club stimulates bhaktas to be in the scientific field to prove Vedic authority. Yet their arguments are not always scientifically strong. They are based on faith. If I sometimes read their comments on modern science I feel embarassed. Mixing science and dogmas.

Of course it is very attractive to the newcomer to say that we are from an ancient tradition that predates all religions of the world and that both Buddha and Abraham had their roots in the Vedas, and that the extract of it, personal bhakti, was ever present. But is it factual ?

Shridar Maharaja and Bhaktivinode Thakur talk about the progressive evolution of a certain idea reaching its climax in Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. In a way that is quit different. Contrary to what they promote this seems to be ascending instead of descending, isn't it ?

Could you shed some light on this ? You seem to be one of the view that is familiar with more than one viewpoint on this matter and dares to question every possible foundation. Your many names symbolize this fact.

Thanks in advance,

YOur servant

Jagat said...

If you don't mind, I will spend a week answering this question, mainly because it seems to fit in nicely with a part of today's seminar subject: the Holy Name.

Even the Holy Name must be seen in the context of Indian thinking on sound and mantra, which also develops over time. You could say that the difference between idealist ("spiritual") philosophies and empirical ("materialistic") ones is that the former believe that the idea precedes the thing, while the latter believe that the thing precedes the idea. The reason that religious people have difficulty with evolution as an concept is that they believe that the "idea" is fully revealed at some time or another, rather than understanding that only the seed of the idea is revealed at any time, and this seed gives rise to a tree, which in turn gives seeds of its own.

There is a certain potential for completeness in every individual, but the whole is out of range to everyone, even over cosmic time, what to speak of any specific historical moment.

anuradha said...


And waiting patiently for futher insight.

anuradha said...

I like the seed-concept. I overlooked it and I guess I do not fully understand it yet.