Showing posts from April, 2008

Nikunja Rahasya Stava (Part II)

Go to Part I

stavakita-maṇi-dāmnā preyasā gumphitātyad-
bhuta-sulalita-veṇī-preyasī-kḷpta-cūḍau |
mitha udayad-akhaṇḍa-prema-rajjū-vibaddhau
smara nibhṛta-nikuñje rādhikā-kṛṣṇa-candrau ||14|| Flower-clusters dangle from both sides of Sri Yugala Kishor’s jewel-ornamented hair, but still Keli Chand Krishna wants to decorate Rai’s wonderful veni, and she begins to arrange his chura! With every second they are becoming more and more bound within the limitless ropes of prema! Oh my mind! Just meditate on Radha and Krishna within the hidden nikunjas!jaghana-lulita-veṇī-visphurad-barha-cūḍau
kanaka-rucira-cūḍā-kaṅkaṇa-dvandva-pāṇī |
smara nibhṛta-nikuñje rādhikā-kṛṣṇa-candrau ||15|| When Rai Kishori’s veni is braided, it dangles over her buttocks; Krishna’s peacock-feathered crown is captivating. The Divine Couple both wear bangles and bracelets on their wrists. Radha’s silken undergarment is red and Krishna wears his pitambara. Oh my mind! Just meditate…

Pravartaka, sadhaka, siddha

This article was written in answer to some questions from a Swami Prema Ananda. I revised it subsequently to make it less like a letter, but it still tends to feel like one.

The tripartite system of sādhakas has been frequently referred to on these pages. I recently made a decision that I will no longer use the term kaniṣṭha, as this is generally considered by orthodox Vaishnavas to be somewhat insulting, and is frequently used to condemn someone as not being very advanced. Someone recently told me a nice story about Bhakti Promode Puri Maharaj, though, which should put that into perspective.

It seems that Sridhar Maharaj was talking about different levels of adhikar (or qualification for spiritual life) and, following the Bhagavata’s description of the kaniṣṭha being primarily interested in the worship of God in the temple, cited Puri Maharaj as an example. Some of Puri Maharaj’s followers were there, and eager to find insult in Sridhar Maharaj’s words, went and told Puri. But instea…

Therefore Be a Yogi, Arjuna

One of the many projects that I have on my desk right now is a translation of a French book on Krishna's teachings in the Bhagavad-gita by a longtime and very worthy Prabhupada disciple named Vishnurata Das. Practically speaking, it is a simplification of the Bhagavad Gita As It Is, seen through the eyes of the author.

I recently went through his sixth chapter, which as you know is the one on raja-yoga. According to Madhusudana and Vishwanath, this is the last verse of the first set of six, which presumably deal with karma-yoga.

In Vishnurata's version, the instructions on mind control, etc., have been reduced to practically nothing more than the merest skeleton, and the bulk of the chapter is focused on the impracticability of the practices described in the age of Kali. This is coupled with frequent references to the superiority of bhakti-yoga.

Yoga is seen as an exercise in mind and sense-control, but since there is no practical engagement of the mind and senses in the m…

Nikunja-rahasya-stava (Part I)

This prayer is sometimes attributed to Rupa Goswami, but I am almost completely convinced that it is by Prabodhananda Saraswati, whose mood seems to pervade it. This 32-verse rasika poem was introduced to me by my Godbrother Sashanka Shekhar Balniyogi, Doctor Babu as we called him. He published a Bengali translation by Dina Sharan Das Babaji on a flimsy sheet of paper, which I carried around with me for a long time.

The rasika mood is very intense, and I believe that Doctor Babu himself was a closet Sahajiya who meditated on this poem at the appropriate moment. nivṛttānupayogitvāt. May I suggest the same to my friends. Just repeat the refrain: smara nibhṛta-nikuñje rādhikā-kṛṣṇa-candrau! "Oh my mind! Just meditate on Radha and Krishna within the hidden nikunjas!" May their lilas bless you all.

This is a revised version of Gadadhar Pran's translation.


nava-lalita-vayaskau nūtna-lāvaṇya-puñjau
nava-rasa-cala-cittau nūtana-prema-vṛttau |

Gora by Rabindranath Tagore

Somehow or another I found myself reading Gora, which I found in the Gurukula library. Written in 1910, this novel is sometimes said to be Rabindranath's masterpiece. I started reading it 20 years ago in Bengali but never finished it. translation, done in 1924 by W.W.Pearson, is in the literary English of the period and keeps the spirit of the original quite well. The overall flavor seems to have been touched by the feminine social and romantic mood of Jane Austen or the Brontes, or even Louisa May Alcott. Perhaps more Dickensian social overtones would have been welcome, and where Rabindranath uses irony, it seems insufficient. Indeed there is enough earnestness in this work to make me wonder if it was not written by a much younger man than the 50-year-old Tagore was in 1910.

It is also quite clear from the historical references that the events described are taking place in a Bengal of a few decades earlier, when the Brahmo Samaj was a greater force in Bengali society than it was b…

My stay at Gadadhar Pran's

I spent the last few weeks travelling and on my return to Rishikesh became involved with other preoccupations, so I have neglected this blog. It is hard to gauge changing times, but certainly Madhavananda's departure from our little virtual world of scattered devotees, some barely "limping along," as Advaita Dasji put it, makes me think that perhaps there is some significant tectonic shift taking place.

I had accumulated things to say, but most of them have withered into silence, where in all likelihood they belonged. Wheat and chaff are separated by the steady sighs of time.

I spent a little more than two weeks at Gadadhar Pran's. On the whole it was a good stay, but the encroaching Ganga has Gadadhar feeling as though he is under siege. Nothing new there: if you are a raganuga bhakta in the domain of Iskcon and the Gaudiya Math, their animosity is like a steady tide that wears at the banks of your self-assurance anyway. But it is a cruel blow to have Nature attack on…

More ruminations on friendship and loss

I realized that Madhavananda is still with me, despite my having spoken of him twice in the past several days. There is a deep vexation in my mind, of which I need to speak. This feeling has several parts and is in some need of analysis.


At the root of it is a deep sadness that he did not love Radha and Krishna like I do. That he did not love the devotees, even the most kanishtha among them, that he did not love Vrindavan, Govardhan and Radha Kund, despite the thick overlay of rajas and tamo-gunas that are such an obstacle to that love. That he did not love us enough to recognize that we loved him.

Yes, it is all very well and good to talk siddhanta, but the real problem was, as he himself seems to have recognized, in the area of emotional fitness. But even there, I am still saddened by the fact that there was not enough love to keep him around.

Ah well, enough said. Madhava is Radharani’s own dasi, and if he wants to avoid that truth for another lifetime or two, let him. Let him ex…

More thoughts on Madhavananda Dasji

On reflection I thought I should be a little more sympathetic to Madhavananda’s case in view of my own experience. From 1985, the time I left any external manifestation of Krishna consciousness, right up until I came onto the internet and started interacting again with devotees, in other words for at least seven or eight years, I went through a period that could be called a crisis of faith.

During that entire time I was engaged in various kinds of intellectual processes, as well as a kind of unconscious processing, in which I underwent a reevaluation of my previous experiences and so on.

Of course I never subscribed to another religion. Even so, when my son was born, I made the rather fateful decision to have him brought up Catholic. Looking back on it now, whatever reasons I gave for that decision at the time, it would seem that subconsciously it was a prediction that I would not stay with my family. That is rather a harsh conclusion to come to, but it is the only one that makes sense…