Showing posts from September, 2007

Photos from 1972

Uttamasloka Das just sent me 27 photos taken in Toronto 1972, at the installation of Radha Kshirachor Gopinath in the Gerrard Street temple.

The first one has Jagadish, Rochan and Vishwambhar in it. That's me knocking heads with Jagadish over the fire vedi. We were still wearing synthetic yellow broadcloth for dhotis.

What a surprise to see Subal Swami in this photo, wearing genuine Indian duds. India-returned was a big deal in those days. I would never have remembered that he was there on that day. How'd you like that, Subal?

A picture of the newly installed deities.

Japa meditation and asana

Hatha-yoga names several sitting postures for meditation purposes. There is a hierarchy in these posture, and there are definite advantages for the person chanting japa to make use of these techniques to improve concentration on Harinam and smarana.

There are probably more, but the main sitting postures are: sukhāsana, siddhāsana, svastikāsana, ardha-padmāsana, vīrāsana, gomukhāsana and padmāsana.

The main point of the sitting posture is that it should be comfortable enough to sit in for a long stretch of time. Changing postures can be helpful when the legs or back get tired, and occasionally getting up to walk around or to stretch the legs and back may be necessary.

For most people, some kind of back support is beneficial in all the sitting postures. You should place a pillow or something else (a rock, a piece of wood, a book (!) ... anything) under the sacrum (the tailbone). This will help keep the back straight.

The straighter the back, the deeper one can breathe, since the stomach…

The Three Kinds of Bhakta and Symbolic Understanding

A lot of the recent posts, along with their responses, having been dealing with the questions related to the place of Krishna consciousness in the modern world. Subal, Anuradha and Krishnadas, amongst others, have all said something in relation to this matter.

Since this is an ongoing and open-ended dialogue, I am not going to try to answer everything all at once. And, unfortunately, since much of my livelihood comes from contract work, I am suddenly constrained by the arrival of a fairly hefty contract with a short deadline.

I really wanted to respond to Anuradha's last comment, most of which I could agree with. As far as the question of initial conversion to GV, this is one of the things that I have been tossing around, as you may have noticed. I have placed a question mark on whether my own path of getting to where I am is "the only way" of getting here (as if that were a worthwhile goal!). But, obviously, I would not really know anything about this until I myself mak…

Updated and backdated posts

I cleared up a backlog of posts that had been started and left half finished over the past month or so. They are the following, as far as I can remember:

Babajis and Paradigm shifts

Trip to New York

Centenary of the Modernist Crisis

Hindu Encounter with Modernity: Sahaja Samadhi
I think that's it. Some of them are still a little half-baked, but, this is a blog, after all, where any trivial nonsense is still worthy of apotheosis.

Friends of Vrindavan

A Sampradaya Sun article about the Friends of Vrindavan prompted me to write a letter to the author, Jagannath Poddar, in which I congratulated him on the progress that FOV has made and offered him my moral support. I also expressed the hope that the methods they had developed and the achievements they had made would be taken up elsewhere, such as in Govardhan.

Jagannath wrote back the following:

Dear Jagat ji,

Radhe Radhe! We at Friends of Vrindavan, wish you a Happy Radha Ashtami. Thanks for your commitment for supporting us morally. I have forwarded this message to Michael. We are also concerned about the situation in Goverdhan. But to set up the infrastructure in a new place in Goverdhan costs a huge amount and we have yet to achieve our goal in Vrindavan. Secondly, we have made our foundation strong in last one decade and we really didn't try to raise fund for the organisation.

We appreciate you for giving value to Braj seva. As you don't reside here, thus you can't help…

We Need a New Sexual Revolution

On the Guardian's "Comment is Free" page today, there is a short article by Theo Hobson, We need a new sexual revolution, which echoes something that I have been thinking for a long time.

It has been my feeling that sex is underdiscussed in Gaudiya Vaishnavism and that whatever discourse there is lacks subtlety. Thus, anyone who even mentions the possibility that sexuality has a more complex human function than procreation on the one hand or is of an unambiguous materialistic darkness on the other, is immediately accused of immorality, as indeed has happened to me. The discourse surrounding Sahajiyaism is thus so clouded by reactionary thinking that all rational discussion is clamped down on before anything really meaningful can be accomplished.

Hobson's article does not say much, I admit, but at least he points out that the so-called "sexual revolution" has trivialized sexuality to a level of complete irresponsiblity, seemingly confounding sexual freedom w…

The devotee's psychic hierarchy


Radhasthami and the day after

I took Philippe, my friend from work, to the Montreal temple yesterday to introduce him to Radharani.

There is an irresistible force leading all followers of Lord Chaitanya to Radha. They can't avoid it. Even so, Vishwambhar, who has been a devotee since 1968, began his lecture by reading a statement from Srila Prabhupada warning against Prakrita Sahajiyaism. But then he went on to explain Radha-tattva from the Chaitanya-caritāmṛta and tell some stories from Camatkāra-candrikā and so on. He more or less made it through alright and it was nice to listen to, even though he hadn't gotten to the yugala-milana when time started running out. He said, "Well, looks like time is almost up. I don't think I'll have time to finish." I couldn't help bursting out, "Get to the yugala-milana, man. You can’t stop now." But it was completed in haste.

The kirtan was a noisy rail-gari affair ("Rail Gari" is a nickname I once got in India for my kirtans, …

We Are Radha's Dasis

For the occasion, and oldy but goldy from Gaudiya Discussions, July 22, 2004:

olo ! āmarā rāiera dāsī !
āmarā rāiera dāsī ! āmarā rāiera sevā bhālovāsi

Listen everyone! We are Radha's dasis !
We are Radha's dasis, and we love to serve Radharani.

rāi jokhon je bhāve thāke, āmarā ghire basi
rāi kāndile āmarā kāndi, hāsile āmarā hāsi

Wherever Radha is, in whatever mood she is,
we gather all around her.
If she cries, we cry; and if she laughs, we laugh.

rāi śyāmake bhālovāse, tāi āmarā-o bhālovāsi
rāi ānugatye śyāma sevā kori, dekhe rāi boṛo ullāsī

Radha loves Shyam, so we love Shyam, too.
When she sees that we serve him
according to her directions,
she becomes ebullient.

rāi śyāma-nāma bhālovāse, tāi āmarā nāme piyāsī
rāi sukhe nāma kori bale, sei bhālovāse kālośaśī

Rai loves Shyam's name,
so that makes us thirst for it.
And because we sing his name for her pleasure,
she loves him even more.

rāiera mukhe kṛṣṇa-kathā śuni, mora soba divāniśi
rāiera kathā kṛṣṇa-mukhe śuni, āmarā hoi …


Here it is, Radhe, your birthday. And here am I--infinity + 10,000 miles away from you and your kund. Since last night, I have been looking around in different books, trying to find something to say, something that took me out of theory and into the real world of your devotion and love. But my heart is so dry that none of the things I read, nectar though they were, seemed able to quench its thirst.

Finally, this morning I turned to Ananta Das's Vilapa-kusumanjali, which opened spontaneously on verse 96--

तवैवास्मि तवैवास्मि न जीवामि त्वया विना । इति विज्ञाय राधे त्वं नय मां चरणान्तिके ॥
tavaivaasmi tavaivaasmi na jiivaami tvayaa vinaa ।
iti vijnaaya raadhe tvam naya maam charanaantike ॥

Oh Radhe ! I am yours alone. I am yours alone. I cannot live without you. You know this full well, Oh Radhe, so give me a place at your lotus feet.
This verse is the heart and soul of the Vilapa-kusumanjali. It is as if all the meditations on Radha's lila and the heartfelt prayers for service that Das …

The Implications of Our Gurus' Moral Failings

Now that I have done the easy part—explaining why, from an impartial examination of the evidence, I have doubts about the authenticity of three texts published by Bhaktivinode Thakur—I am left with the more difficult task of responding to the fallout that has come from making such a statement.

Once again, I must begin by apologizing for entering such a delicate subject matter as the apparent failings of a guru, but I think that it is something that merits honest discussion. I would ask that those who have reservations about me personally first read my “personal preamble”, even though I realize the prejudices that certain quarters hold against me are unshakeable. As one devotee wrote to me some time ago,
[Our disagreement] is neither a matter of argument or narrowmindedness, but one of love and trust. We simply love and trust our guru varga and have distrust and not much love for you since you have rejected them. Krishna chose to reside with Vidura rather than stay in Sisupala's pa…