Monday, December 24, 2007

Adventures in the land of the Mayavadis

Due to the difficulties of getting online, I have fallen far behind in posting on this blog। In particular I wanted to give my impressions of Rishikesh and the ashram where I am staying. Getting settled in has been difficult, as I had a cold that left me fairly exhausted, my computer cable adaptor went completely dead, and I hadn't started teaching Sanskrit yet. I have been teaching for two days now and my cold is a bit better. The computer problem still has not been overcome, but hopefully tomorrow we shall overcome.

These are going to be briefs. Sorry.

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As I was blogging at 3.30 on Christmas day, Tim, a yoga teacher from Calgary came up to me and said that as part of the Christmas celebrations he thought it would be nice to recite the Hail Mary in Sanskrit in front of the statue of Madonna and Child that is near the meditation hall. I had approximately half an hour to do it. I obliged with the following, which has now been somewhat corrected and revised.


hā mārīye kṛpa-pūrṇe īśo'sti tava sannidhe
dhanyāsi viśva-nārīṣu dhanyas te garbhaja isuḥ
namo pavitre mārīye īśvara-janani namaḥ
asmākaṁ pāpinām arthe prārthayasvesu-sannidhe
idānīm apy anta-kāle ca prārthanāṁ kṛpayā kuru


The program that followed was interesting. There is a woman sannyasi disciple of Swami Rama who has her own ashram down the street. Her name is Ma Chaitanya Jyoti. There is a music school on the grounds, which is open to talented children for free. A group of these children played together in a nice band with sitars, violins and other Indian instruments. Then she followed that up with a series of Krishna bhajans of her own, including Jai Radhe Jai Sri Radhe. Rather pleasant, after so many days without kirtan or hearing Radha Krishna's name.

One person I met at the program was Ma Seva Bharati, who recognized my spiritual predilections by my tilak and beadbag and asked if I was from Iskcon. I said that I was persona non grata in Iskcon and that some people felt this was a good thing. She responded by saying that her cousin is Dhanurdhar Maharaj and he is also a persona non grata in Iskcon! We had a short but interesting talk. She asked me how I felt in an impersonalist environment. She said that when she sees Dhanurdhar, which apparently she does not infrequently, she often jokes by calling herself an impersonalist scoundrel.

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When leaving the Ganges ghat in town, I saw a procession of sadhus walking toward the river to celebrate the appearance day of Dhanvantari. The guru of the group was wearing nothing but a kaupin with the added decoration of a silver Shesh Nag that hovered over his linga. The following day, when walking in another part of town, I walked into a Bengali Shiva temple and asked the resident sadhu what it meant. He could not say. To me, it kind of made the symbolism of the linga clear, no matter what anyone (including my Bengali sadhu say).

Next door to the above-mentioned Shiva temple is Neem Karoli Baba's temple with a giant Hanuman murti outside. It is about 8 meters high. There was kirtan going on inside the temple, also dedicated to Hanuman. Most of the people participating in chanting Jai Ram Sri Ram Jai Jai Ram were Westerners. When I talked to the sevait distributing chick pea prasad outside, I found out that it was the famous American kirtanwalla Krishna Das who was leading. Here at the Swami Ram Sadhak Gram, many residents made the trip over there over the next few days to listen to him. To my mind he was pretty mamuli.

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I have walked into the town three times now, despite my weakened state. I keep thinking I am close enough to normal to act it, and I end up exhausted. Anyway, not too far from this ashram, I walked past a Radha-vallabhi ashram. Since my eyes have been open for any sign of my Yugal Sorkar, I read the information etched into the arch over the entrance and was a bit amazed to see that it had been founded by Kishori Sharan "Sur Das." Now as an aside, I should mention that when we were on our way from Vrindavan to Faridabad, I showed Satya Narayanji the Radha Rasa Sudha Nidhi I had purchased in Athkhamb. He recognized it and said he had both volumes in his library and added that it had been publised by Kishori Sharan "Sur Das." Interestingly, he told a little about his childhood. Apparently Kishori Sharan came from the same village as SN and his family had donated land and money for him to build an ashram there before he went on to greater fame. According to SN, he was one of the leading Radha Vallabhi sadhus of his generation. He was, as his name indicates, blind. I have not checked OBL Kapoor's book to see if he is mentioned in there. It would be worth checking.

At any rate, I went in and have to admit I was a little disappointed that they have no deity of Radha and Krishna. I talked to the Mahanta and said, "Baba, Rishikesh is a holy place for everyone, including the Vaishnavas. But when the Vaishnavas come here, they feel as though they have come to a desert, and empty place, because there is no trace of their ishta devata anywhere. You need to install deities of Radha and Radha Vallabha as soon as possible!" He actually agreed with me.

The first verse of RRSN seems suddenly very appropriate--



yasyā kadācid vasanāñcalottha-
dhanyātidhanya-pavanena kṛtārtha-mānī
yogīndra-durgama-gatir madhusūdano'pi
tasyā namo vṛṣabhānu-bhuvo diśe'pi

I bow down to the very direction where stands the daughter of Vrishabhanu, for when Madhusudan, the goal unattainable by the greatest of yogis, is occasionally touched by the most fortunate breeze that arises from a slight movement of her veil, he considers himself to be completely fulfilled.

2 comments:

Ananga Manjari said...

यस्या कदाचिद्वसनाञ्चलोत्थ
धन्यातिधन्य पवनेन कृतार्थ-मानी ।
योगीन्द्र दुर्गम गतिर्मधुसूदनोऽपि
तस्या नमो वृषभानु भुवो दिशेऽपि ॥

যস্যা কদাচিদ্বসনাঞ্চলোত্থ
ধন্যাতিধন্য পবনেন কৃতার্থ-মানী ।
য়োগীন্দ্র দুর্গম গতির্মধুসূদনোঽপি
তস্যা নমো বৃষভানু ভুবো দিশেঽপি ॥

bAH

Jagat said...

Radhe Radhe, Anangaji ! Nice to hear from you. I get frustrated using the Blogger Hindi fonts. But when I have my computer I can use Unicode typer which goes much more naturally.