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Showing posts from February, 2008

Raganuga Bhakti and Sahaja Sadhana, Part I

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In general, I have until now primarily written for an audience of people who have some experience of bhakti, i.e., either have or have had faith in the path of devotion to Krishna. This is why I am periodically asked to defend my ideas with quotations from shastra.

Now, the fact of the matter is that, amongst those who have some experience of the bhakti path, there are very few who have progressed beyond the stage of vidhi-bhakti. Even those who have gone to Narayan Maharaj or some other rasika guru, only a few have taken initiation in the rāgānugā process by receiving ekādaśa-bhāva from him. Even less in number are those who have actually taken up a serious study of the līlā-granthas and practiced aṣṭa-kāla līlā smaraṇa, even briefly, what to speak of with intensity and niṣṭhā.

Of those foreign students who have either done or not done these things, there are probably even a smaller number who have learned Bengali and attended Nama kirtana yajnas or listened to lila kirtan and thus…

Is there love in this world? Our doctrine and traditional Sahajiyaism

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If there were no love in this world, there would be none in the next either. But nobody would be able to doubt the existence of love in this world if they were not busy trying to find love apart from God. Krishna says, "I am the source of all. All things begin with me. Those enlightened persons who know this, worship me with love." (Gita 10.8)

The very fact that we can conceive of an "ideal" is the beginning of the ontological argument. In this sense, it is connected to other arguments for the existence of God, like those of first origins or of teleology, i.e., the purposefulness of existence, both of which point to God. So, God as Person is the truest result of understanding, as it is Personhood, capable of the highest love, that stands at the pinnacle of creation.

But when I say that love is the result of the discovery of God as a Person, it is because of the connection of the two, i.e., the personhood we encounter in this world, which is given value and sacredn…

Kalankini Rai

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In my bouncing ball way, I have been working on Gadadhar Pran's Govinda-līlāmṛta over the past few days. It will never be edited the way it should be, but the idea is to just get it out there. So I have put a one month or so time limit on the project. When we get there, that's it. Off it goes to Ras Bihari Lal and Sons.

But let's not minimize the work Gadadhar has done here. It is actually quite exceptional. It is chock full of good stuff, as far as Radha Krishna aṣṭa-kālīya līlā is concerned, supplementing Govinda-līlāmṛta with plenty of material from Bhāvanāmṛta-sāra-saṅgraha, Kṛṣṇa-bhāvanāmṛta, Kṛṣṇāhnika-kaumudī, the Guṭikā, Nāndīśvara-candrikā and lots of relevant quotes from Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Narottam Das and Bhaktivinoda Thakur as well, not to mention many, many mahājana-padāvalī. And, I may add, lots of samples of his own svārasikī bhajana. I dare you to find anyone else who has dared...

For a taste, I give you this brilliant song by Ramananda Basu, one of Maha…

The Razor's Edge

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Sorry, friends, for not posting much of late. As usual, there are many beginnings, but most don't pass the editor's desk. This post was begun on the 16th. I am posting on the 21st, so there are mixed time references.

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Interesting day, yesterday. First a lengthy class and discussion with Satya Narayan, and then a visit to Haridas Shastri. I spent the earlier part of the day indulging in my greatest distraction and perhaps the bane of my existence, typing a book, the Sarva-siddhānta-saṅgraha, attributed to Shankaracharya, but clearly not. Even here, in the section on Nyaya, the following verse is found—

varaṁ vṛndāvane ramye śṛgālatvaṁ vṛṇomy aham
vaiśeṣikokta-mokṣāt tu sukha-leśa-vivarjitāt 40
yo veda-vihitair yajṣair īśvarasya prasādataḥ
mūrcchām icchati yatnena pāṣāṇavad avasthitim 41
I prefer to be a jackal in the beautiful land of Vrindavan rather than accept the liberation of the Vaiseshikas, which is without even a drop of happiness. By performing the …

In Vrindavan II

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Quick post. Five minutes to closing time.

Whatever all you people who are negative about Radha-Krishna, Indian men, women, dirt, frenetic development and all the rest, I am sorry, I love Vrindavan. I love the color, I love the sounds, I love the outlandish sadhus, the brahmin students, the girl students, the Goswami houses, the narrow alleys, the temples, the sadhus when they speak about Radha Krishna, the monkeys huddling together on the tops of walls as it gets dark before they go to sleep, the slim feminine dogs who beg for a scratch. Today, most of all, I loved Banke Bihari and his temple.

Yesterday I wrote about a verse, today I write about Banke Bihari and his big eyes. Shiva was right, no one can invent this or replace it with anything else. No Jerusalem, no Mecca, no Rishikesh or Benares, no saintly city anywhere on this earth can compare to Vrindavan and Braj.

I thank all my gurus, from Srila Prabhupada to the sahajiya sleepily singing the Hare Krishna maha mantra over a mike…

In Vrindavan

(Written yesterday.) I just got into Vrindavan and I will likely be pretty busy over the next couple of days. I would like to thank the many Anonymous posters for their interesting comments, some of which touched on many crucial points. In particular I would like to answer one or two things for the person who asked about genuine realization and other things.

With regards to realization, I try to write only from such, and only use scriptural quotations where it is helpful or tasty. But I do also consider scripture and the insights of previous acharyas an important source of realization.

The other day I completed the walk through Rajaji park that I mentioned a while back, and I was carrying some verse cards that I use for memorizing. I felt such elation as I sang the viśveṣāṁ verse from Gita Govinda that I thought I was a very lucky person and wished I was able to share some of what I was feeling. That is part of the purpose of this blog, of course.

With regards to your point about th…

Bhagavat-sandarbha readings

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I have been working on Satya Narayana Dasji's translation of Bhagavat-sandarbha with erratic assiduity over the past month. I haven't been getting as much done as I would like, as on occasion I reach bottlenecks, or passages in which I cannot understand how the translation relates to the original. Previous editing work has proved to be a major impediment and I have found it more useful to use Satya Narayanji's original work, which is for the most part correct, simple and straightforward.

Let it be said right away that Satya Narayanji is, as many already recognize, a Gaudiya scholar without equal anywhere in the English-speaking world. As the name of his institute clearly shows, he has committed himself to interpreting and disseminating the teachings of Jiva Goswami, and nowhere is this more evident than in those works that are most philosophical in nature.

In this, his work is independent and original, in the sense that he is not simply translating his own guru's versi…

Lila: The Death of a Devotee Girl

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It is hard to know what to say on occasions like this, or whether it is even necessary to say anything at all. I do not know anyone or anything involved in this event, except for the setting of Vrindavan. And yet, because I am deeply concerned about the flaws in human nature and society that make such evil possible, and because many of those reading this blog are equally if not more concerned, I am mentioning this here in order to express my deepest sympathies for all those affected.

May they find the strength to go on with the work of human life. After all, this is the hand of destiny reminding us all what that work is.

It is almost impossible to offer comfort without sounding callous, or do anything other than try to find someone or something to blame for tragedies like this. Those poor souls who are in charge of providing comfort, usually those who have some connection to God, are left fumbling for words. From the immediated culprits to the society and culture that created the crimi…

Gangesh Chaitanya

One of my students is a 25-year-old brahmachari named Gangesh. He is from a well-to-do family in Bangalore, but has taken a vow of naishthika brahmacharya from Swami Veda since joining the Gurukula in September last year.

Gangesh is dark-skinned with his head shaven, leaving a large, South Indian sikha. He is a bit stocky, strong looking, and his face, with bright and even teeth, exudes an effulgent good humor. Yesterday he came into my room to show me his latest enthusiasm, a copy of Tirumantiram, the Tamil Shaiva Siddhanta work, which according to Gangesh “contains everything.”

I leafed through it and it does indeed look interesting. It is a famous work which I have unfortunately never read, so I put it on my mental filing cabinet for things that I must one day and hopefully will do.

Then Gangesh, with the force of the Ganges as it passes under Lakshman Jhula, began to tell me of his adventures over the past few years. To repeat everything would take more time than I have, but I though…