Thursday, December 06, 2007

Some remarks on Hari-bhakti-vilasa and commentary

Most of the eleventh chapter (vilāsa) of HBV is about the Holy Name. More than the Vedas, more than any tirtha--nothing compares to the glories of the Name.

kiṁ tāta vedāgama-śāstra-vistarais
tīrthair anekair api kiṁ prayojanam |
yady ātmano vāṣchasi mukti-kāraṇaṁ
govinda govinda iti sphutaṁ raṭa ||

My dear boy, what need is there of all the vast body of Vedic and Tantric scripture? And what need have we of visiting all the holy places? If you truly want the liberation of your soul, then loudly repeat the names Govinda Govinda! (11.384)
I just noticed in the commentary to 11.631, Sanatan refers to Rupa Goswami as śrīman-mahānubhāva, saying, "As (Sri Rupa) has discussed these matters in detail in Bhakti-rasārṇava (i.e. Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu), I have not gone into it any further here." This would indicate that BRS (which mentions HBV) was written before the commentary to HBV. However, Sanatan mentions Bṛhad (Laghu?) Bhāgavatāmṛta several times also.

In the commentary to 11.632, he again mentions Bhakti-rasārṇava along with Vopadeva's Muktāphala, and a book that I don't recognize called Viṣṇu-bhakti-candrodaya.

Also, it should be noted that in the commentary to 11.627-629 (for those looking for ammunition to use against me), Sanatan says clearly--"Since the anus and genitals are not appropriate for direct use in devotional service, devotional service characterized by their functions has not been written about here." (pāyūpasthayoś ca tatra sākṣād-ayogyatvāt tad-vṛtti-rūpa-lakṣaṇaṁ na likhitam).

Quoted from the Skanda Purana, in the section about śaraṇāgati--

govindaṁ paramānandaṁ mukundaṁ madhusūdanam |
tyaktvānyaṁ vai na jānāmi na bhajāmi smarāmi na ||
na namāmi na ca staumi na paśyāmi sva-cakṣuṣā |
na spṛhāmi na gāyāmi na vā yāmi hariṁ vinā ||

I know nothing other than Govinda, the Supreme Joy, Mukunda, Madhusudhan. Other than Him, I worship no one, I think of no one. I bow to no one, I praise no one, I look on none with mine own eye. I hope for no one, sing of no one, I take shelter of none but Hari. (11.673-674)
Reading Sanatan's comments to 11.676-677, he talks a lot about sakhya. I wonder whether that was his rasa. If you think of Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta, with Gopa Kumar and all being his alter ego, I would tend to assume as much.


Anonymous said...

Although unofficialy, our tradition holds that Sanatan Gosvami was the guru of Rupa Gosvami. Rupa in turn is unanimously celebrated as the sampradaya manjari acarya. If Sanatan Gosvami was short of a taste for madhurya, whom then did Rupa receive that inspiration from?

Jagat said...

Interesting question. The concept of guru-tattva, sampradaya and parampara has boggled our understanding about how human institutions evolve and about the possibility of original thought. It is quite possible that Rupa Goswami may have had an original idea, you know.

There is something in the air in 16th century northern India. Where did it come from? In Western thought we call these things Zeitgeist. We can point to individuals here and there, but can we really point to one person?

In our tradition, clearly Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was important, because he was seen as experiencing Radha-bhava, and according to Krishnadas Kaviraj, sakhi or manjari bhava also, at times. From the rasika point of view, the distinction is one of degree. Rupa Goswami is the one who is credited, along with Svarupa Damodar and Ramananda Ray, of recognizing this. Sanatan is never mentioned in that way.

Sanatan's verses to Chaitanya, especially in HBV commentary, are always prayers for mercy and the such. They do not enter into theology. I recently recommended to a PhD candidate to study Sanatan Goswami's writings--they are not inconsiderable--to establish the extent of Sanatan's influence, where he has been marginalized (if anywhere), etc. I think it would be a fascinating study. Just a look at where and in which contexts Rupa and Sanatan refer to each other would be interesting in itself.

Sanatan had insight into madhura-rasa, as is clear from the Brihad-Bhagavatamrita, but that book does not promote manjari bhava. The line of manjari bhava and madhura-rasa worship in our sampradaya is clearly from Rupa to Raghunath to Krishnadas Kaviraja and outward. The period of ferment is in Vrindavan in the period from 1515 to 1555, when Rupa and the Goswamis, Haridas Swami, Hariram Vyas, Prabodhananda, Hit Harivams, Hari Vyas and the Nimbarkis, the Ashta Chap, Vitthalanath, and the other Vraja acharyas were in their prime. Whether we can point the finger and say that Rupa was really at the origin of this entire manifestation of sakhi/manjari-bhava or not is almost impossible to say, but one thing is clear: Almost no discussion or analysis of the phenomenon is possible without reference to his work. He writes the theory, provides the theological framework, while the rest compose songs. Sanatan's work in providing the theological framework is not negligible, however.

shiva said...

Jagat you quoted Sanatana Goswami

"Since the anus and genitals are not appropriate for direct use in devotional service, devotional service characterized by their functions has not been written about here."

Clearly there is something not altogether correct in the literal sense of what you have translated. Either the translation is a bit off or the subtleties of the original are lost in translation. I mean it is so obvious I am quite surprised you didn't see that the above quote you give has to be wrong on some level. I mean really, how can you let that go and continue on with your gaudiya centric sahajiya claims? I don't agree with your sahajiya vision but still I can easily see that the above is clearly wrong.

Look, if the genitals cannot be used in Krsna's service then why do they exist as they do?

Jagat said...

Well, now you are repeating MY arguments. So what you are disagreeing with is the same thing I am disagreeing with.

HBV 11.627-629 are original verses by the author, not quotes. They go through the different sense and their potential use in devotional service. These are familiar from other contexts, such as the Bhagavatam, etc. E.g. darzanaM bhagavan-mUrteH, etc. "looking at Krishna's deity form," etc. The section concludes, "For the others, you should know them in accordance with scripture. (anyaj jJeyaM zAstrAnusArataH).

So Sanatan is responding to the question of the genitals and evacuating organs not being mentioned as having the potential for dovetailing in devotional service. There is nothing wrong with my translation.

Jagat said...

Someone informed me that Advaita responded to this post. For the record--

Engaging all the senses in Krishna's service

shiva said...

I still say that there is something wrong in thinking that the genitals cannot be used in bhakti, maybe the exact translation you give is correct, but in the context in which it is being used there must be something which doesn't contradict common sense.

Advaita has taken that quote and claimed that the genitals cannot be used in bhakti, but the translation you give does not really state that. It says that genitals cannot be of "direct use", then it says that is why he doesn't discuss it. Thus implying there is an indirect use in bhakti.

Common sense tells us that if the genitals have no place in bhakti, then why is the sexuality between men and women the most distinguishing feature of men and women? Clearly men and women seem to have been designed with sex as the prominent feature.

Evolutionists will claim that that appearance of design is an illusion, that this is due to survival of the fittest. That men and women evolved from asexual single cell creatures through mutative trial and error, ending up with the dual sexual nature of men and women based upon reproductive imperatives i.e. the more men and women are attracted to each other for sex, the more of a chance there is for large numbers of offspring, resulting in an increased chance of survival.

But vaisnavas understand that male and female forms originate in the spiritual reality. There we find male and female forms which exist without being caused by some biological imperative for survival of the fittest. Rather the purpose of male and female forms in vaikuntha are to enhance the pleasure of those existing as male and female. Since sexuality is the main distinguishing feaure between male and females, therefore we can conclude that the male and female forms were designed with sex as the main consideration in that design. Therefore to claim that sex cannot be used in bhakti is tantamount to saying that there is no sex in vaikuntha, to say that even though human forms are designed to emphasize sexuality, that that serves no spiritual purpose. Those conclusions are faulty on the face of them, therefore to conclude that sex serves no devotional purpose under any circumstance, is false. Clearly sex serves as devotional activity in vaikuntha, therefore sex can serve as a devotional activity anywhere if the proper conditions are met.

I can only conclude that what Sanatana wrote was written in the context of claiming that for those on the level of needing to perform sadhana bhakti, that for them sexual activity serves no direct devotional purpose, that is that for them sex doesn't directly enhance their level of consciousness as it would for someone engaged in lila, although it may be used in indirect service e.g.

balam balavatam caham
dharmaviruddho bhutesu
kamo 'smi bharatarsabha

Jagat said...

Here we are in perfect agreement.

Jagat said...

Here we are in perfect agreement on all points. The point about "direct" service is clearly the point. I don't think that anyone is going to advise have sex with life-size Radha and Krishna dolls (or deities)!

Anonymous said...

On his blog Advaitadas has censored some comments in the debate. He alleges that the commentators are missing his point which is to discuss the philosophical aspect of the matter and not the moral aspect. But I think Advaitadas is the one missing the point. The discussion here naturally took on the philosophical nature it deserves without any need for censoring. Indeed, the moral and the philosophical cannot be separated in this matter.

Hopefully there will be more contributions here.

Jagat said...

Most of the things that Advaita says are not new, and I have already tried to answer those earlier in this blog. Doing household cleanup today, I came across a photocopy of Siddhanta Saraswati's Anubhashya to CC 2.8.206, in which he makes the statement: "Under the influence of a sensually directed psychology, those who identify themselves as sakhis in an imaginary spiritual body are also engaged in ahangrahopasana. Those who engage is such imaginary practices are destined for residence in the realm of the Goddess (i.e. Maya)."

He quotes the largely irrelevant Jiva commentary to BRS 1.2.306 which condemns direct identification with (for example) Subal and Nanda Maharaj or any other nitya parshad.

In the previous paragraph Saraswati Thakur here mentions Gaura Nagaris and Sakhi Bhekis. That passage can be translated as follows: "Gaura Nagaris, Sakhi Bhekis and other Prakrita Sahajiyas are under the influence of bodily identification and so they dress up this material body, which is destined to feed the dogs and jackals, thinking that they please Krishna by so doing. They do not, nor can any other such activity that brings pleasure to the material senses bring joy to Krishna. The bodies, homes, clothes and decorations worn by the completely spiritual Srimati Radharani and her sakhis are also completely spiritual; their only purpose is to bring pleasure to Krishna's senses and thus they possess a power over Krishna. None of these things have anything to do with the fourteen planes of existence in this Abode of the Goddess. Krishna is the enchanter of the world, but the gopis are not enchanters of the world, they are enchanters of the mind of him who enchants the world (bhuvana-mohana-mano-mohini)."