Sunday, September 09, 2007

Bhagavad-gītā and the Babajis

I have been busy with the Grantha Mandira of late, fixing up the Bhagavad-gītā section where I have now merged all the separate chapters into whole volumes for Ramanuja, Shankara and the four commentaries of Sridhara Swami, Madhusudana Saraswati, Vishwanath and Baladeva.

Ironically, as I was working on this, I ran into this famous passage that someone quoted from one of Bhaktivedanta Swami's lectures:

Sankirtan means you discuss Krishna's activities, that is also sankirtan. It is as pure… Otherwise, what interest we have got to read Bhagavad-gītā?...

Therefore, those who are sahajīyās, they simply go to the pastimes of Lord Krishna with the gopis…. That is, they differentiate the absolute activities of the Absolute. That is called sahajīyā. The sahajiyas will never read Bhagavad-gītā, because they have been elevated to the mellows of conjugal love. Therefore they have no interest in Bhagavad-gītā. So when you discuss Srimad Bhagavatam on the philosophical points, they do not attend. If you discuss the philosophy of [the] Upanishad and Vedanta, will not attend.

I have seen it myself. Sometime in 1934, my Guru Maharaj was discussing the Upanishads regularly in Radha Kund. There are many babajis living in Radha Kund. When they first came to know that Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, such a learned scholar and the establisher of the Gaudiya Math, had come to speak, they came to hear him out of curiosity. But when they saw that he was discussing the Upanishad, they gradually stopped coming. So my Guru Maharaj recommended that "These people are not living in Radha Kund. They are living in Naraka Kund [the pond of Hell]." I heard him say this personally…

Now there is such an abundance of misinformation and propaganda in this paragraph that it is almost embarrassing. Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati comes to Radha Kund with the deliberate intention of showing the babajis that they need to come back to the very beginnings of the scriptural tradition, in other words to tell them that they are not qualified to hear and chant about Radha and Krishna, but need to study the Upanishads. When they do not show interest, just as he knew they wouldn't, his prejudice is confirmed and he makes the rather obnoxious statement that they are living in Naraka Kund.

But if the babajis really had adhikara for Radha and Krishna lila, this is exactly how they would and should act! What do Rupa Goswami and Prabodhananda Saraswati and the rest of our rasika acharyas say? What do Narottama Das and Bhaktivinoda Thakur say? kobe gauòa vane suradhunī taṭe hā rādhe hā kṛṣṇa boli...

Prabhupada says, "They differentiate the absolute activities of the Absolute. That is called sahajīyā." What the heck is the Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu if not an elaborate differentiation of Krishna's activities? And even when Prabhupada himself makes distinctions between Krishna consciousness and other religious beliefs and practices, is he not differentiating the absolute activities of the Absolute? Not differentiating is called Mayavada, isn't it?

The fact is, as Jiva Goswami has shown in Bhakti-sandarbha, there are two kinds of devotees, the vicāra-pradhana and the ruci-pradhāna. Jiva, himself a vicāra-pradhana devotee, acknowledges the superiority of the ruci-pradhāna devotee, who can skip all the philosophical concerns of the vicāra-pradhana devotee. Bhaktivinoda makes pretty much the same argument when he talks about the path of the madhyamādhikārī and its relationship to çraddhā.

Those who are vicāra-pradhana will continue to read the Bhagavad-gītā and the Upanishads, ultimately in order to confirm that their faith in Radha Krishna and the path towards them are justifiable rationally. But, as Jiva Goswami says, when their faith is confirmed, by whatever standard of rationality, they come back to the ruci-pradhana process. So there are babajis and other rasika bhaktas who know the Gītā and the Upanishads very well, but their sādhanā is still focused on exclusive devotion to Rasaraja-Mahabhava Yugala Kishor.

If some big shot comes and tells you that what you are doing is wrong, the sign of niṣṭhā is to ignore him. For the big shot to then insult them just sounds like a demogogic tactic.


Devi said...

If you look at the Pure bhakti website you will see that this calumny has not ended. The article is called Be very careful about this. Take a look.An eighty year old swami Narayan is warning people about 'sahajiyas.' Now what the hell is his motive ? Damn it!!

Anonymous said...

Jagadananda just accused Bhaktisidhanta of being 'sour grapes', abnoxious and basically a stupid mayavadi. So the insults continue from both sides...

Rasaparayana d

Anonymous said...

Hi Jagatji,

I am confused when you use the term 'Prabhupad' - I keep thinking of my Blessed Gurudev, but then it seems you are using this term to refer to Bhaktivedanta Swamiji.

Jagat said...

I went back and changed my sentence to "sounds like sour grapes." When I read Devi's comment, I felt a little uncomfortable because I do not really want to incite negative feeling. The way that the particular scene that Bhaktivedanta Swami describes sounded to me like a kind of staged event, where the outcome was predictable. This was then exploited for a particular purpose.

In general I have always tried to be fair and objective when speaking of Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati, Bhaktivedanta Swami, or any other Vaishnavas. The first offense states that one should not insult those from whom the glories of the Holy Name enter into the world. I recognize that my own engagement with Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's dharma comes as a direct result of the efforts of the two above named.

At the same time, I also recognize that the profound engagement with the sweet pastimes of Radha and Krishna has come to me as a result of the Radha Kund babajis, currently led by Ananta Dasji, and their preservation of the culture developed by Rupa and Raghunath. Whether they are perfect or imperfect, kanistha, madhyama or uttama devotees, is immaterial. They have kept the esoteric core of Gaudiya Vaishnavism alive. To condemn them for it, and to say that they are living in "Naraka Kund" is, to me, an inconscionable insult.

So, Rasaparayanaji, do not be so sensitive about these matters. I am not making meaningless insults for the sake of it. I am making a point about the nature of the quest.

Jagat said...

I often use the word Prabhupada to indicate Bhaktivedanta Swami simply because that is the habit I have picked up and because it has become common usage. Disciples of Prabhu Santanas usually refer to their own guru as Prabhupada. I generally refer to my guru as Prabhu, or "my Prabhu."

Sorry for the confusion.

Anonymous said...

If you don't want to incite negative feeling, my humble advice to you Jagadanandaji is that you treat both sides equally. You were introduced to Gaudiya Vaisnavism by Bhaktisidhanta's campaign. And obtained further insight into the lila with the help of the babaji section. Both events are equally important and comments favoring one side over the other is unbecoming of you.

Your perception of Bhaktisidhanta's words at Radhakunda may be quite accurate but it is still your opinion. Only Bhaktisidhanta himself can respond as to his motives in speaking of 'nara kunda'. Because even after making such statement, his subsequent actions were helpful to many throught the world.

Perhaps the real exalted babajis themselves have never taken those words too seriously. But the warning has proved useful and necessary nevertheless. At least for some section of Radhakunda dwelers it applies precisely. It was just recently that the news circulated among devotess of an emerging spiritual leader of sorts taking liberties at Radhakunda and using drugs and promiscuous sex as part of his practices. Bhaktisidhanta wasn't wrong all thru for naming such state of mind 'nara kunda'.
So I am not simply being 'sensitive' about this matter but rather taking the liberty to advice you who seems to be the one taking a personal emotional stance. There is a point about the quest that you seem to overlook. If you are not the kind of sahajiya Bhaktisidhanta was speaking about, then there is nothing to be worried on this.

Rasaparayana d

anuradha said...

Good you edited yourself.
The whole thing becomes a bit Ernesto Ché-like. Keep the hate alive.

I am still thoroughly convinced Srila Bhaktissidhanta wasn't aiming at the sincere raganuga-bhaktas at all.

People accusing him of establishing himself at the costs of others are either denying the existence of what he was fighting against (hypocrisy and elitarianism) or are doing the very thing they accuse him of doing, namely deriving a sense of identity from pointing out his so called offensive attitude.

Indeed the pure ragatmika bhaktas present at that time couldn't care less. They had other things on their blissfull minds.

If you say that Srila Bhaktissidhanta sometimes generalizes to make a point, I'll probably agree.
But who doesn't ?

His message was coherent and constant all his life from boyhood till his last hour.
It's a shame that propagandic tendencies from within his own movement and opposing parties overshadow this.

I see only beauty in his coming into this world.

Jagat said...

Well, I only mentioned it because I am a "sahajiya" and I just posted six commentaries of the Bhagavad Gita on the Grantha Mandir website. So I was struck by the irony.

It is almost impossible to express an opinion without heating passions. Nevertheless, I stand by my opinion. Radha Kund is never Naraka Kund, not even for the rats and cockroaches.

Jagat said...

Just to speak to your very nice post, Anuradhaji, I agree that the devotees absorbed in their bhajan could not have cared less. That was precisely the point that Bhaktisiddhanta and Bhaktivedanta are making--but they are making it a reason to criticize. "Oh, they are too absorbed in madhura rasa bhajan, they have no time for the Bhagavad Gita or the Upanishads!"

In fact, as I said, this is exactly what we should hope for--by the instructions of those texts themselves. The Brihadaranyaka and Chandogya go explain about Uttaryana and Dakshinayana to great extent, the Gita also discusses the matter in the 8th chapter. But the point is: Remember Krishna and Uttarayan and Dakshinayan don't matter.

So if I am remembering Krishna and don't give a hoot about Dakshinayan and Uttarayana, as I am sure is already the case with advanced devotees like the readers of this blog, then why bother reading an extensive discussion of the point, or listening to a lengthy lecture on the subject. If your stomach is full, will you fill your bowl with porridge?

anuradha said...

The difference of opinion between us in interpreting the past is our assumptions in the extent in which people were authentic in their bhajan. It is not for me to judge, but apparently Srila Bhaktisiddhanta noticed a decay in the authenticity and thought many would be better of re-studying Upanishads. Some agreed and didn't take offense. A senior traditional teacher in the line of Gadhadara Pandit, who by the way is critical about SBSST-reforms, makes a similar point in the present day. It isn't just Srila Bhaktisiddhanta and his "rebel"-reformers who have noticed.

OBL Kapoor who apparently later in his life studied with and under members of the "traditional" school accounts that in private SBSST couldn't stop talking about the beauty of Radha, Krishna, Gaura and the glories of the ragatmika bhaktas. Raganuga was something very very special to him.

Clearly SBSST never intended to downgrade Radha Kunda or the ragatmika-bhakta with his remark. Just the opposite. He was only frustrated with the situation, that you say wasn't that bad at all.

I wasn't there in the past, so I can only assume. But to my friends interested in Krishna consciousness today I never say.. just book a ticket, take a train to Mathura and everything is gonna be alright, the pure raganugas (or vaidhis for that matter) will welcome you with open arms.
Actually I tell them it's a jungle out there and that they should be very carefull otherwise one might get frustrated with Krishna consciousness for life.

I guess that is the point that SBSST tried to make in his stark comment. For neophytes without knowledge of the local language, life experience or scriptural knowledge the Holy Dhama isn't necessarily safe. It can be dangerous on many levels.

Okay, but still the Naraka-thing can be considered somewhat too stark if you have friends or teachers living there or if you take it as a literal comparison with the Holy Kunda (which of course it wasn't !)

Trindy said...

you are doing good Jagat

Anonymous said...

Rasaparayana - "It was just recently that the news circulated among devotess of an emerging spiritual leader of sorts taking liberties at Radhakunda and using drugs and promiscuous sex as part of his practices." Who is the mysterious person and what tie does he/she have with the Babaji's? Or is there tie actually with ISKCON, GM and Haridasa Sastri, you know, all the non Babaji groups?

anuradha said...

Non babaji groups ?
Another example of generalization, and not subtle either.

Or maybe we hold different views on what is a Babaji ? Actually I never met anyone who was 'non Babaji' in any of those groups. In a Gaudiya Math where I lived their glories were sung on a daily base, not only Babaji's from our own ranks by the way.

If you meant to say 'groups more hesitant to start early lila-smaranam' you might carefully lump them together on that theme. But that is an old discussion and each individual has to decide for himself which route to follow. In this discussion I stand here, Advaita das there and Jagadanadadas yet another place. You decide for yourself.

I am always there for respectfull disagreement and my tone is not necessarily the same as that of my teachers. Unfortunately some older and 'wiser' counterparts seem to never get enough of repeating their mantra that Srila Bhaktissidhanta was making great offences towards the whole vaisnava establishment of that time for having critique.

The irony of the whole thing is that you yourself rightfully stand up for your Gurudev when you feel he is unjustly criticized or historical facts about him are being distorted. You seem broadminded and intelligent enough to place everything into perspective. Yet you cherish ambivalence towards SBSST where you shouldn't have. And you yourself refuse to view him in the proper historical context as others do in reference to your Gurudeva. It is completely unnecessary. But your account on the Naraka-comparison betrays a most of the time hidden annoyance.

But how many times in life you yourself went overboard in verbally making a point ? Is your language always waterproof ? Do you curse when you bump your small toe around a corner ? I do. Have people ever placed your remarks entirely out of context ? You are able to relate normally to Advaita das even after he called you so many things on his blog.
Then why be sour about a Naraka-comparison, that was never intended to downplay the holiness of Radhakund or the raganugas in the first place ?

anuradha said...

Let me add I agree that some compilations of texts and lectures, especially within Iskcon, tend to emphasize the controversial remarks made by ACBVS and SBSST. If a certain remark was made once, it can be repeated one million times for propagandic purposes.

I think ACBVS was kind of liberal and modern considering the time he lived in and his background. Yet if we continuously repeat some of his remarks about woman, Darwin, godbrothers, etc. for propagandic reasons, he will go into history as an old-fashioned, backward autocrat. Some people in Iskcon think that that is a good thing. But I think that does not do justice to what he is and what he came to bring.
I love to watch old video tapes of ACBVS. I see a very soft and caring person, non-elitarian, powerfull and accepting drugged hippies as his disciples knowing too well some of them would fail to keep their vows.

Jagat said...

Well, first of all, Anuradhaji, we are talking about a point that was made by Bhaktivedanta Swami. We can discuss what he and his guru meant until the cows come home, but the words remain. I believe that I dealt with the words in my comment without any ill feeling or underlying anger. You say that I have shown balance in the past, I believe you yourself mentioned that my article on Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati in Edwin Bryant's book was considered fair-minded by Iskcon scholars. So why not see my remarks in the context of my overall work?

I harbor no annoyance to Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati whatsoever. I just think that the little show he put on at Radha Kund was meant for his own followers, not for the babajis. He wanted to distinguish his own sampradaya from theirs, and he did so. I am OK with that. I believe that the solid foundation in the Upanishads and Bhagavad-Gita is helpful for the kanishtha and madhyamadhikari. But for someone who has gone beyond that and has decided to follow Rupa Goswami's upadesha-sara, then what is the need?

Yugala Kishor, a young Russian devotee who lives in Radha Kund, told me that he was travelling and preaching and finally came to Radha Kund on pilgrimage. He read Upadeshamrita and said to himself, If this is the ultimate sadhana, to remain in Radha Kunda and chant and do smarana all day and night, then why not try it? And he has never left since.

Now even if you do this imperfectly, there are factors involved that need to be taken into consideration. The very fact that you can understand that this is the ultimate instruction is an indication of lifetimes of punya. To have the opportunity and capacity to do so is another indication of lifetimes of punya. To be able to continue to live there, or even more wondrously, to not be able to leave there, is another indication of lifetimes of punya. What to speak of living there with faith and in blissful devotional activity.

Now, if after all that accumulation of bhakty-unmukha-sukriti, one should not have any taste for discussing the benefits of karma-yoga or the superiority of bhakti over jnana, what loss is it to him? And even if he falls down into some sinful activity, what harm is done? Of course, it is a great sadness if someone lives in Radha Kund and is unconscious of the merit, or becomes absorbed in material concerns rather than in bhajan, but that is to be expected and hardly the general rule. There are, always have been and always will be, sincere sadhakas who preserve the essential mood of Radha Kund.

And yes, we can be grateful to Saraswati Thakur, for even Yugala Kishor would never have heard Rupa Goswami's upadesha-sara were it not for him. Nor I, nor you. But the upadesha sara is interesting and significant in that it places no preconditions. It does not say, do this first and then follow the upadesha sara. It does not say, as the Advaitins do, that the adhikara is a complex accumulation of appropriate birth and good behavior. Rupa Goswami says that just like everyone can take a bath in the Ganges during the month of Magh, everyone--regardless of birth, ethical qualifications, etc.--is eligible to perform bhakti. And if you fail? Tyaktva sva-dharmam caranambujam harer, etc.

So my bone to pick with Saraswati Thakur has nothing to do with anything other than these words, this siddhanta. If he had really wanted to influence the babajis, he would have spoken to them about Radha and Krishna, and then made it clear that there ARE obstacles to attaining prema. That these obstacles can come even when one is in Radha Kund, etc. He could have spoken of Radha and Krishna and brought in relevant passages of the Upanishads or Gita when it spoke to the subject. But that is not what Saraswati Thakur wanted to do. He wanted to say to the babajis: You are deficient because you are not learned in the Upanishads and Gita and therefore you are not qualified to live in Radha Kund. This is what his words, as mediated by Bhaktivedanta Swami, tell us. I believe that this is incorrect siddhanta according to Rupa Goswami.

One more thing, which I have stated on many occasions, maybe even on this thread already: The devotees in Radha Kund and Braj have jealously preserved the esoteric traditions of Gaudiya Vaishnavism like a valuable jewel in a treasure chest. Sridhar Maharaj's followers make so much of his name, bhakti-rakshaka, but these devotees, as a group, have done that since the time of Raghunath Das Goswami. Just listen to a lecture by Ananta Dasji and ask yourself if anyone is closer to that treasure than he. Without this treasure, the entire Gaudiya sampradaya is empty, flailing in the water without any ultimate purpose. So, honor them, that's all, whatever Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati or Narayan Maharaj or anyone else says.

yAvan na vRndAvana-vAsi-jantuSu |
tAvat praviSTo’pi na tatra vindate
tato’parAdhAt padavIM parAt parAm ||

VMA 17.83

anuradha said...

To your last comment.

I agree this "show", as you put it, was indeed meant for his own following. And therefor nobody needs to feel insulted.

"So, honor them, that's all, whatever Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati or Narayan Maharaj or anyone else says."
SBSST DID order his disciple to honor those that jealously preserved the esoteric traditions of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. The only thing he didn't do was point to one particular person present at that time. Well, he did, for example Vamsidas Babaji Maharaja. But it became clear very soon that Vamsidas's behaviour could create confusion in the minds of some of his disciples. He then prohibited them further contact for a short while.

If I have an adhikara, then it is kanistha at best. So authenticity is hard for me to judge. So that is why I feel safest at the feet of SBSST.

That's all

Jagat said...

I would like to thank you, Anuradhaji, for your level-headed expression of your understanding.

I myself feel safest by pushing ever towards the goal of prema, the prayojan. May I always honor the devotees, kanistha, madhyama or uttama.

Anonymous said...

Anuradha - Of course my question wasn't subtle just as Rasaparayana's remark wasn't subtle. The problem is that Rasaparayana's remark was incorrect. He leads you to believe that this person is an example of those that live at Radha Kunda and based on the context of this conversation not-so-subtly implies that this person is tied to the Vaisnava groups, or Babaji's as they are always somehow thrown together, that are based at Radha Kunda. The problem is he is talking of an ISKCON/GM/Haridas Sastri castoff, who doesn't represent any of those groups, what to speak of anyone at Radha Kunda! Nor does he even live at Radha Kunda or India!

One doesn't always need to walk on egg shells especially when someone is making a point that is factually incorrect and they know it is.

The interesting part is that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta uttered a comment once and since then a large portion, or maybe just the loudest portion, of his followers have yelled it from the rooftops since that day for no other reason than to demean others and propagate themselves. I am sure if Srila Bhaktisiddhanta saw the state of ISKCON and the his own Gaudiya Matha he would also utter some heavy words that would have made his Naraka Kunda comment seem kind! So who knows to what extent Srila Bhaktisiddhanta hoped his comment would infiltrate the hearts, minds and culture of his institution but there is no doubt it has. I have spent my whole spiritual life inside his offshoots and it is propagated more than any other comment he spoke or thing he wrote. I know we should all be very glad that no one sees us in such a light that any comment we ever made or make will become gospel for everyone that follows.

Jagat said...

Of course, speaking of Advaitaji, he and I had a discussion some time ago about the Vrajavasis in Radha Kund, where I said that it was alright to think that something they did was inacceptable, and that there were ways of saying it.

As I recall, my argument was that Radha Kund belongs to us all, and we all have a say in the way that it shows its face to the world. If I recall correctly, it was not an all black and white argument, as I recognized the position of foreigners as newcomers and guests who must show respect to those who came before.

Nevertheless, in matters like the cleanliness of the site, prohibition of motorized vehicles on the parikrama path, especially during major parikrama days, and other kinds of improvements would not be a bad thing and there is no reason to not say so.

So, in a way, I have been arguing Advaita's position in this thread, while you have been taking mine.

advaitadas said...

Recently there was a politician in Holland (Pim Fortuyn) who became worldfamous for daring to say things that most people only dared to think (this is called being politically incorrect). Bhaktisiddhanta was such a person also, good or bad, I dont know, its too complicated to say. After living at Radhakund for a long time I got the realisation too that many of its residents might indeed do well by getting some basic spiritual education, like Bhagavad Gita. I can think of, f.i., verses 3.6 and 5.18. Naraka Kund may well exist in the minds of many of Radhakund's inhabitants. It was a very emotional statement by Bhaktisiddhanta, which should not be pulled out of context. On the other hand, it is indeed regrettable that he and his followers 'educate' innocent and ignorant westerners in the understanding that every Vaishnava other than themselves are sahajiyas. That he rubberstamped three babajis, Jagannatha Das, Gaurakishor and Vamsidas, does not make up for that I'm afraid.

Anonymous said...

The person I was speaking of had indeed a connection with at least one babaji, so perhaps the anonymous poster here and I are speaking of two different individuals. But whether the objectionable person(s) is/are connected with babajis or not, that is besides the point. The point Bhaktisidhanta made is that there is a state of consciousness which he called Naraka kunda. There was such mentality at his time, there is to this day, and unfortunately, as Bhaktipromode Puri Maharaja has stated, there will always be because, as he opined, that is the nature of this world. Narayana maharaja continues to use the term 'babajis' to refer to this class of people. One of his followers recently insisted that their camp should add 'sahajiya' to the term so to at least differentiate the authentic traditional babajis from the 'sahajiya' group. Who are the sahajiyas according to GM? So far its been a matter of individuals trying on the shoe and seeing if they like the fit. One never hears any name specifically, and definitely Ananta Das Babaji is not counted as a sahajiya by that section. When asked what is then the objection to the mixing of the two groups, the answer has been that its one of feeling: At Radhakunda Bhaktisidhanta’s GM is not accepted as authentically in line with Mahaprabhu.

Which brings us back to Jagadananda. He also makes this charge, that Bhaktisidhanta started a new sampradaya and this presents a problem of some sort. But the saraswatas say that the format Saraswati gave to his preaching is secondary in the context of the goal being pursued. The essence was retained, regardless of the form it has taken, they say. Ironically Jagadananda says exact the same thing of his own innovation. He insists that whatever means one may resort to, that is secondary if the prayojana is kept intact.

BTW, comparing Jagadananda’s philosophy of spiritual sexuality with Bhaktisidhanta’s philosophy of rejection of sexuality altogether, personally I think Bhaktisidhanta was not only very brave but extremely futuristic in his view. If there is anything annoying in this world is the shackles of attraction which are clearly a challenge to the freedom of the spirit.
But Jagat thinks otherwise and so feelings being duly respected, his right to pursue prema must be acknowledged.

Jai Sri Radhe!

Rasaparayana d

Jagat said...

It is good to see that almost everyone is capable of taking a nuanced position. This is one of the advantages education brings us and makes the possibility of reconciliation real. Even the agreement to disagree on certain issues can neutralize the bitterness of being contradicted.

anuradha said...


I guess the comparison with Pim Fortuyn is just in the sense you meant it to make sense.

I have to comment though that as an innocent and ignorant westerner I was never trained in thinking vaisnavas outside the Gaudiya Math were all sahajiyas.
My teachers (in the line of SBSST) warned me again and again not to label devotees that easily. But then again... I avoided teachers that tried to teach me otherwise....

anuradha said...

By the way,

I am happy too with the way this discussion is going on. It seems most of the commentators know what they are talking about, although presenting different points of view.

advaitadas said...

"I guess the comparison with Pim Fortuyn is just in the sense you meant it to make sense."

Let me explain. For me, calling someone 'politically incorrect' is a compliment. My attitude towards Fortuyn is just like that towards BSS: I admire their guts to speak out, at the risk of persecution, though I strongly oppose some of their views.

Anonymous said...

Rasaraparayana d - I imagine you are speaking of Pitambara Das? His "connection" with a Babaji is that he met one but he certainly never received any guidance or siksa from one. He took diksa and guidance from Srila Narayana Swami and Haridas Sastri in Vrindavana although he certainly doesn't represent any of those he credits as being his Guru's. Ask anyone in their groups and they cringe at the name.

Back to the point made by Anuradha and I it seems that people love to repeat statements of those the claim to follow to suit their whim without ever considering the time, place and circumstance which led to the statement. Just see how most utilize Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami's words to insult and degrade his godbrothers. Regardless of how I have ever viewed those statements I could never understand why he was so heavy and seemingly insulting but to see the manner in which his followers utilize those same statements is horrifying and had a lot to do with why I left the associations of these missions. Now I am a spiritual orphan.

anuradha said...


I understood you and knew you were complimenting.

I am still angry about the murder. Though it was to be expected considering his critical standpoint in the islam debate, nobody expected the murderer to be a vegetarian animal rights activist angry over a fur issue.

It seems that stepping on peoples' toes is inevitable as soon as you hit the spotlights.

advaitadas said...

Anuradha: "It seems that stepping on peoples' toes is inevitable as soon as you hit the spotlights."

That is precisely why I made a PR- U-turn after quitting Gaudiya Discussions - from then on no more direct, public attacks on or criticism of the big Gurus with many followers. (Hoge bomen vangen veel wind)

Anonymous said...

I suppose naming Pitambara directly has become inevitable. His actions have become emblematic of the very thing Bhaktisidhanta strongly stood against. For the motivated comdemners in GM', he could mean just that precious piece of evidence the prosecution needed to make its case. But fortunately for everyone, Pitambara does not call himself 'baba'.
Pitambara indeed has connections with both sides, but follows neither. I believe Bhaktisidhanta Saraswati, as well as his successor Bhaktivedanta Swami, both made strong localized statements that were ultimately based on a wide and general principle of philosophy. They were not wrong. There are incidents emerging even today that prove them correct.

Anon - I am sorry you find yourself a spritual orphan. And in this you are not alone.

Rasaparayana d

anuradha said...


If you have the time please clarify ?

I thought you came to this U-turn because of the realization that the effects of your critique were uncontrolable. Bhakti is a fragile thing in the beginning, faith of the neophyte is easily destroyed and with an article on the net you offer no instant aftercare. Plus you took back some of the more speculative criticism. Most of your critique still stands, but from that moment on you dealt with it in a more subtle and polite manner.

But now I get the impression it is fear that brought you to this. Fear of the unlikely possibility of a bhakta turning into Volkert van der Graaf or Mohammed Bouyeri after reading your GD contributions. I do not think you are THAT high-profile and the chance that a frustrated bhakta starts chasing you with a baseball bat are practically nil.

I think disagreeing with or opposing the BIG gurus we are talking about, also my beloved SBSST, is everyones right in our 'free' world. In Holland I vote liberal. Gays have the right to organize a pride-festival on the canals, we can attend a Ratha-yathra on Dam Square.

So if fear is the reason, put it aside, and continue your quest to oppose the BIG gurus as you previously did. My only advice is... remember that SBSST IS a devotee of your Lord Krisha as well and thus it is in everyones SPIRITUAL interest to have the discussions with its disagreements in a civil and attentive manner.

That wasn't always the case in the past.

advaitadas said...

Anuradha, every sampradaya and camp has its Bouyeris and vander Graafs (or for the non-Dutch: Its Bin Ladens and Tirtha Dases (Tom Dreschers). Call it fear, but please consider the following phrases from the Gita: tan akrtsna vido mandan krtsnavin na vicalayet (3.29) 'The wise do not disturb the minds of the ignorant'. And anudvega kara vakyam satyam priyam hitam ca yat....vanmaya tapa ucyate "One's words should not upset anyone and should be truthful, dear and beneficial. This is verbal discipline." (17.15)

Jagat said...

A spiritual orphan should strive to be a spiritual grownup.

The ironies in this thread are many. But this is one: Bhaktisiddhanta's disruption of the traditional guru parampara system had the intention of promoting individualism. He himself made himself an orphan, or perhaps he was forced into orphanhood, by rejecting Bipin Bihari Goswami and thus depriving himself of the natural course--initiation by his real inspiration and father, Bhaktivinoda Thakur. In a similar vein, Bodhayan Maharaj wrote an article where he asked the question why Saraswati Thakur did not obey Gaur Kishor Das Babaji, who explicitly told him not to go to Calcutta, the seat of Kali.

All these things are part of the modern approach. Therefore Saraswati Thakur could propose creating an institution for preaching while recognizing that it was more or less doomed if it was successful. This is all part of that great and eternal debate about what kind of society is most favorable to a person attaining full individuation.

The limitations of a religious society, possessing certain powers of coercion (as is always the case in any institution--the power to punish and reward behaviors, to expel, etc.), particularly when in the hands of kanishtha adhikaris, are evident to any madhyamadhikari. Being a madhyamadhikari is to say, in a way, I am now an orphan.

However, the past is not something that needs to be rejected out of hand. Bhaktivinoda Thakur said that the shallow critic and the fruitless reader are the two enemies of progress.

Reformers and revolutionaries tend to excite the heroic mood in their followers through divisive rhetoric. Bhaktivinoda is saying that this is not the way to real progress. Perhaps he had been reading Hegel. Human society insists on synthesis, on the conjunction of opposites. Saraswati Thakur's criticisms, as even Advaitaji concedes, were not altogether without basis.

On the other hand, something has been lost in the Gaudiya Math reform. And that is what Advaitaji and others like him, and even to some extent Narayan Maharaj's group, are quite conscious of. This is also what I have been most concerned with over the years. However, I take it a step further.

Rasaparayan Dasji says that Saraswati Thakur was "futuristic" in his promotion of celibacy. I do not agree here. I think that in this, he was a product of his times and not ahead of them. The model of a celibate priesthood may have been novel and have provided a certain powerful élan to the expansion of the movement, but in reality its conception of sexuality is narrow in focus and ultimately limited in its potential. Certainly, time is passing this model by. This is implicit in the Radha Krishna symbolism itself.

advaitadas said...

After pondering the meaning of the word 'spiritual orphan' used in this debate, I hastily took it down from my profile on my blog. I surely didnt mean that in relation to my Guru. I took it to mean that the Guru is physically gone, but not that one has drifted away or defected.

Jagat said...

Perhaps I explained my conception poorly, Advaitaji. There is no need for you to change something if you mean it a certain way.

I have been saying, more or less since the beginning, is that we have to recognize that we are individuals. A kanishtha adhikari is someone who still thinks that he can become a clone of his guru, and worse, expects others in his group to conform to that same stereotype.

By way of contrast, the madhyamadhikari recognizes that he is undeconstructibly individual. That even his perception of his guru differs from that of his brother's; that his God, even if he has the same name, is unavoidably different, even if only minutely, from that of his godbrother's.

When this happens, the sense of communitas that was so strong in the kanistha adhikari stage is lost, though it leaves a deep impression, and one naturally feels orphaned. However, this means really that we have been given an impetus to going higher in our spiritual search. Indeed, it could be called the second step to becoming a guru oneself.

I often like to quote Freud, who said that the death of one's father is the most important experience in a man's life. How much more important is the death of one's spiritual father! How much more of a challenge when there is no easy absolute authority to refer to any more and one has to seek within to find an interpretation of shastra and experience.

Of course, the use of the word orphan is a somewhat limited metaphor, since we are never really separated from Guru, who was Krishna anyway.

Anonymous said...

The celibacy Bhaktisidhanta spoke about wasn't for the "here and now" - his or any "here and now" at any point in time in this world. The Radha-Krsna symbolism in Gaudiya Vaisnavism means Manjari. Manjaris are not interested in romance for themselves as individuals. There is a sense of sisterhood (sakhihood, if you will) to be attained and that is where the future of the human spirit lies. It is a fact that the man-woman relation in this world has never been promotive for the individual but on the contrary, as soon as the contract is sealed, there is competition. How can it be otherwise when the event is based on temporary, false identities? Bhaktisidhanta saw this and worked based on the ideal. Granted, there is still a tremendous amount of work to do in this task, and many mistakes will be made along the way. But the idea is brilliant, and hits the vein of the human problem. Sexuality is the binding shackle of the spirit in this world. Indulging in it is sheer madness. I am sorry for disagreeing so radically but that is just my two cents.

advaitadas said...

I'll think about that, Jagat. Still, others may misunderstand the words 'spiritual orphan' if they read it, since it may get the meaning given to it by Rasaparayan. Your final paragraph convinces me the word 'orphan' is out and stays out:

(Jagat:) "Of course, the use of the word orphan is a somewhat limited metaphor, since we are never really separated from Guru, who was Krishna anyway."

anuradha said...

"All these things are part of the modern approach."

I don't get it. What is part of the modern approach ?

anuradha said...


I am very disturbed nowadays that in Holland discussions about Islam are checked because writers, philosophers and journalists fear being beaten up or even killed.
It is disturbing to see that this fear also excits amongst critics of my religion.

To all the critics out there, keep on criticizing as critically as you can !!!

Jagat said...

Modern = tendency to individualism.

If you don't mind, dear friends, I will stop answering in this comment section. I am sure, Rasaparayanji, that we will soon have occasion to discuss this and most of the other points still hanging out there. I will make a point of answering to this argument in the blog proper at some time in the not too distant future.

advaitadas said...

(Jagat, If you want us to quit I will just post this final one on the fear-factor. I know it is off-topic:)

I dont think my blog and website are cowardly, though. It is clear from reading them that I am not a gung-ho Bhaktisiddhanta stooge. And in the Gita 17.15 verse I quoted is the word satya - one should speak the truth, but it must also be priya, dear.
I am not willing to risk my life for telling the truth like local heroes Wilders and Ayaan (Dutch politicians who get police protection for speaking out
against Islam), at least not yet. You may think it wont get that far with Vaishnavas, but you cant imagine what reactions I received whenever I became a little too bold on my blog. I have learned from experience exactly how far I can go in speaking the truth without rocking the boat too much. There is more than one Tirtha Das among us, and already Jesus Christ, Martin Luther King and Pim Fortuyn, among many others, are famous examples of paying the ultimate price for speaking out.

Anonymous said...

Sure Jagadanandaji, as Bhaktisidhanta himself would have said, "the future belongs to those who wait".

Jagat said...

Advaitaji, I don't want you to quit. I just don't want you to be insulted if I don't answer. I want to prepare some other things.

Anonymous said...

Rasaparayana d - I find your logic very strange in how you link the story of Pitambara das to the comments Srila Bhaktisiddhanta or Srila Bhaktivedanta made regarding the conversation at hand and Jagat's post which started this conversation?

Pitambara was a disciple of Srila Narayana Maharaja and Srila Haridasa Sastri! There is no tie to the "Babaji camp" or whatever strange way it is described. Speaking to a Babaji here or there doesn't make a connection but diksa certainly does. The point being is that a lousy disciple is a lousy disciple. We have free will to follow our Guru or not follow our Guru. It doesn't matter what camp you are in.

I don't know what you know of Haridasa Sastri but he is what most would consider extremely conservative! Do you know anything of the sadacara expected of followers of many of the Babaji Guru's at Radha Kunda? They make the GM/ISKCON expectations (i.e. 4 regs, etc.) look downright laughable and simplistic. That doesn't make one better than the other but none of them are what I would consider cheap unless the disciple takes it cheaply.

Do you think Srila Bhaktisiddhanta would speak highly of ISKCON or the GM? ISKCON has had over 80 Sanyassi's and Guru's fall down and their problem wasn't a focus on Radha Krsna, lila smaranam or anything of that nature. They read Bhagavad Gita everyday for 20+ years and still they had severe issues with basic fundamental moral living! Is this emblematic of the very thing Bhaktisiddhanta stood against? Or is it simply the sad state of human nature?

Be consistent in how you view others and if you are going to piece together A and B in hope of validating a point please be sure they are relevant to one another.

Finally I think it is important to understand that there is no Babaji camp. If you were to gather all of the prominent Babaji's at Radha Kunda you would probably find wide and varying approaches, beliefs, sadhana, etc. They, unlike GM or ISKCON, are not united by one Guruvarga. They are diverse and sometimes as similar to one another as a Swami Narayana disciple who is a Sanyassi to that of a Sanyassi in the GM or ISKCON. Just as the title Swami doesn't mean they all believe, practice and conduct themselves the same neither does the Babaji title.

Jagat said...

This is indeed an interesting question. Is there a correlation between a particular set of beliefs and the actions of a group or individuals? The answer must be yes, but how to explain the exceptions?

A discuter. In due time.

Anonymous said...

While you wait (soft elevator music)...

Anonymous said...

"BTW, comparing Jagadananda’s philosophy of spiritual sexuality with Bhaktisidhanta’s philosophy of rejection of sexuality altogether"

BSST was a lifelong celibate by choice. However, he did not forbid all of his disciples to marry, so how can you say that he rejected sexuality (for others) altogether? Indeed, he had many married disciples and guess what? They were making love!

Jagat said...

I rather doubt that, though we hear this often enough. The question is, what was his siddhanta? What was all that noise about Sahajiyas supposed to be about? You can have sex, just don't think of Radha and Krishna when you do it? And what is the general understanding among his disciples?

This is not about whether or not you can be a devotee and have sex. It is about how to make Radha-Krishna smarana as understood by the Goswamis come alive through sacralizing the act of lovemaking. This is why I said that naturalistic sex is not the answer.