Friday, August 08, 2008

Bhagavata Chapters -- Maybe You Need Some Help...

Since the Bhagavatam is all transcendental and Krishna himself in book form, it is no doubt offensive to discuss which chapters are best. Nevertheless, one tends to pick favorites. And there are certainly verses that are used more often than others by the acharyas as illustrative of specific points

The Bhagavatam has 336 chapters, I believe, so there is lots of competition for the best. However some clearly stand out. So for those to whom the numbers are bewildering or meaningless, here is a quick reminder of what's what: (Note, when I say that there are quotable verses, I am making a quick estimate based on what has been underlined in my handy Gita Press Bhagavata, which I have carried around with me for more than 30 years.)

  • 1.2 is the great second chapter of the Bhagavatam. It starts with a couple of mangalacharana verses to Sukadeva Goswami (tam pravrajantam, etc.) that many people use at the beginning of Bhagavata recitals. But almost all the rest of the chapter is substantive, including such verses as sa vai pumsam paro dharmo, nasta-prayesv abhadresu, etc. It is top ten material for sure. Speaker is Suta.
  • 1.5 is Narada's instructions to Vyasa when he was puzzled about his dejection. This has numerous seminal verses like tyaktva sva-dharmam caranambujam, tad vag visargo, etc.
There are a lot of other good chapters in the First Canto:
  • 1.1 really is part of the class with the magnificent mangalacharana of three inspired verses--and several other nice anusthup verses also.
  • 1.3 naming the avatars has krishnas tu bhagavan svayam, but not much else that is really memorable.
  • 1.7 has Vyasa's samadhi vision, which is often quoted and also the atmarama verse, I count 7 quotable verses.
  • 1.8 is Queen Kunti's prayers, in which I count 18 quotable verses, but this is probably skewed because it is the first chapter I ever started memorizing verses from. Still, some of them are all time favorites--vipadah santu tah, janmaisvarya-sruta-sribhir, etc.
  • 1.9 is Bhishma's prayers, but not much in there sticks. (I count 3).
  • For the rest of the First Canto, there are five verses at the end of chapter 11 that talk about Krishna's relation to the queens which are fairly frequently refered to: uddama-bhava-pisuna, tam ayam manyate lokam, etad isanam isasya... But not a candidate for a whole chapter...
The Second Canto is short but has several good chapters.
  • 2.1 starts off Sukadeva's recital with a bang and there are many good verses right at the beginning. Some I still quote a lot--nidraya hriyate naktam (3), dehapatya-kalatradisu (4), parinishthito'pi nairgunye (9), etan nirvidyamananam (11). I count 15 altogether.
  • 2.3 has that famous section by Suta describing the uselessness of the senses without service to Krishna. The most famous verse is tad asma-saram hridayam (24), but those other verses are lots of fun, too. The verse ayur harati vai pumsam, taravah kim na jivanti, sva-vid-varahostra-kharaih (17-19) are all great as well. Prabhupada used to quote 19 a lot, "People who are like dogs, hogs, camels and asses..." akamo sarva-kamo va (10) is also in this chapter. I count 11 quotable verses.
  • The second chapter has some good verses at the beginning (3-5) that were among the first that attracted me to the Bhagavatam back in 1970, but that is only 3 quotable.
  • Chapter 4 has Sukadeva's mangalacharan, which is very good. I have six verses underlined. The most famous there is kirata-hunandhra-pulinda-pukkasah (18), but only two or three of the others have really stuck with me.
  • The other candidate chapter is 2.9, which has the famous chatuhshloki and also the verses describing Brahma's visit to Vaikuntha. I have 8 verses underlined.
The Third Canto does not really have any outstanding chapters, at least not so that they made to my top 20 list.
  • 3.2 has Uddava speaking to Vidura. There are three very important verses in this chapter--yan martya-lilaupayika (12), svayam tv asamyatisaya- (21), aho bakiyam (22).
The rest of the canto contains only a smattering of memorable verses.
  • 3.25 with satam prasangat (25) and na karhicit mat-parah (38) has two important verse.
  • Chapter 29 is probably the best candidate of the entire Canto, with the verses beginning with mat-guna-sruti-matrena (11) and the other verses describing bhakti in the modes of nature. A very important chapter. I have 9 quotable.
  • Chapter 31 has 7 underlined, but those are about stri-sanga.
  • Chapter 33 has those two very important verses about bhakti and birth--yan nama-dheya-sravananukirtanad (6) and aho bata svapaco'to gariyan (7)
Canto 4 is another that has very few chapters with a concentration of memorable verses. I only count a half-dozen underlined verse in the whole Canto.

Canto 5 is mostly in prose. 5.5 is a great exception with Rishabhadeva's instructions to his sons. This has a lot of great verses--nayam deho deha-bhajam nri-loke (1), mahat-sevam dvaram ahur vimuktes (2), gurur na sa syat (18), etc. Chapter 12 is Bharata's instructions to Rahugana, which has some good verses: rahuganaitat tapasa na yati (12), but does not have 5 according to my reckoning.

Canto 6 has the Ajamila story, so there are several verses about the power of Harinam. Yama's instructions to the Yamadutas in chapter 3 is probably the best candidate in the whole canto, with the verses about the Mahajanas, etc. (5 underlined).

As far as I am concerned, the most memorable verses in the whole canto come at the end of chapter 11 in the prayers of Vritrasura as he is dying, killed finally by Lord Hari's own favoritism to Indra. These carry that Alvar flavor vividly: aham hare tava padaika-mulam (24), ajata-paksha iva mataram khagah (26) and mamottama-sloka-janesu sakhyam (27). But that is only 4 verses.

Canto 7 has a few candidates.
  • Chapter 1 is famous for its verses 29-31 describing how any mood in relation to Krishna is liberating. These are quoted in BRS in connection with raganuga bhakti.
  • Chapter 5 is Prahlada's instruction to the daitya schoolboys. Verse 5 is tat sadhu manye'sura-varya dehinam (5), a truly great one. "O best of the demons (Dad!), what have I learned in school? Well what I think is really good for all embodied beings is to get out of this blind well called samsara, which is the downfall of the soul; make for the forest and take shelter of Hari!" Sravanam kirtanam visnoh (23-24) is a key verse for bhakti practice, of course. But verses 30-32 are also very powerful: matir na krishne paratah svato va, na te viduh svartha-gatim hi vishnum, naisam matis tavad urukramanghrim, all of which were oft-quoted by Prabhupada and which speak to the importance of sadhu-sanga, an important theme in 7.9 as well.
  • 7.9 is one of the sure top ten chapters, as far as I am concerned. This is Prahlada's prayers to Nrisingha. These prayers are comparatively long (42 verses), so there are naturally many good ones. Humble mentioning of his asura birth -- kvaham rajah prabhava isa (26), evam janam nipatitam prabhavahi-kupe (28), jihvaikato'cyuta vikarshati (40, repeated in the 12th canto), naivodvije para duratyaya (43), yan maithunadi-griha-medhi-sukham hi tuccham (45) are some of the more memorable. I have 11 underlined.
There are only 15 chapters and I don't see any other really good ones.

Cantos 8 and 9 are not particularly strong in terms of siddhanta or rasa. 9.4, which is the story of Ambarish and Durvasa contains those famous verses in which Vishnu glorifies the devotee (63-68), which are required learning for all devotees, as well as the sa vai manah krishna-padaravindayoh verses (18-20) about Ambarish's way of serving with all the senses. 9.24.65 is a great verse, but that's about it for Canto 9.

Canto 10, of course, has many, many good chapters. The ones I listed are
  • 10.2, the prayers of the demigods to Krishna in the womb, which has some really beautiful and important verses, satya-vratam satya-param tri-satyam (26), tvayy ambujakshakhila-sattva-dhamni (30), svayam samuttirya (31), ye'nye'ravindaksha (32), tatha na te madhava (33), to name a few. But I only have six underlined.
  • 10.3 Devaki's prayers (2),
  • 10.9 Damodara lila (4) have merit.
  • 10.14, though, has a double whammy. There are the 40 verses of Brahma-stava, of which 20 are on my to-memorize list. Then there are the verses 50-59 which describe how the self is what everyone truly holds dear. This is the second set of lessons to be taken from the Brahma-mohan lila. That ends with a favorite of Srila Prabhupada's--samasrita ye pada-pallava-plavam, mahat-padam punya-yaso murareh, etc. Altogether 30 verses.
  • 10.15 has the two verses of the gopis' purva-raga, well worth putting on any to-memorize list (42-43).
  • 16 is Kaliya-damana with the prayers of the Naga-patnis--kasyanubhavo'sya, etc. (36), but that is really the only important verse in the chapter.
  • 10.21 is Venu-gita, which philosophically is perhaps not important, but from the point of view of rasa is very significant. I had the whole chapter (21 verses) underlined.
  • 10.22 is Katyayani-vrata, which I translated a couple of years ago on Gaudiya Discussions for Agrahayan month. But from the point of view of quotable verses, there are only three or four.
  • 10.23 is Yajnapatni uddhara, which similarly only has two or three verses that are truly worthy of memorization. Verse 22, for instance.
  • 10.28 is very important for Jiva Goswami because it describes the transcendental Goloka, which Krishna showed in a vision to Nanda and the gopas, so verses 9-17 are often quoted in his work.
  • The Rasa-lila is the crown jewel of the Bhagavatam, so several of its chapters are top ten shoo-ins. 10.29 in particular, with its beautiful introductory verses, the description of the gopis running to Krishna, but most particularly Krishna's challenge to them and their response are all potent. I think that the best part of the chapter is the gopis' prayers, verses 31-41, for which alone this chapter is a primary candidate.
  • 32 has the verses about Radha, but verses are of less standing power individually, so I did not nominate it.
  • 10.31 is the Gopi-gita, which is probably the most spoken on chapter from the Bhagavatam. It contains only 19 verses, many of which are gems. tava kathamritam (9), surata-vardhanam (14), yat te sujata (19) are my favorites.
  • 10.32 merits consideration for tasam avirabhuc chaurih (2), but mostly for the gopis' question and Krishna's answers (16-22), which include of course na paraye'ham (22). I have 10 of the 22 verses underlined.
  • 10.33 contains numerous verses of importance, describing the Rasa dance--tasam madhye dvayor dvayoh (3), tatratisusubhe tabhir (7), evam parisvanga-karabhimarsa (17), evam sasankamsu-virajita nisah (26). But then this is followed by Maharaj Parikshit's questions and Sukadeva's answers, which is an important series of 11 verses, most of which are worth committing to memory.
  • 10.35 is the Yugala-gita, which is nice, but probably the least significant of the poetic chapters of the Bhagavata's gopi cycle.
  • 10.39 is Krishna's departure and the gopis' prayers at that time. This is one of the least known segments of the gopi cycle, but it is actually pretty good. Verse 19, aho vidhatas tava na kvacid daya is nice, and so are many others, but they are less memorable.
  • 10.47 is the next big chapter, with the Bhramara-gita, Krishna's message to the gopis, and Uddhava's glorification of the gopis. I would say about 20 verses underlined, more could easily be added.
There are a few other good stavas, etc., in the rest of the 10th canto--the prayers of Mucukunda (51), Rukmini's message to Krishna (52), which deserves an honorable mention--srutva gunan bhuvana-sundara (37), ka tva mukunda mahati (38), yasyanghri-pankaja-rajah (43)--the whole seven verses are relishable, but it does not quite make it to the top 20. You pretty much have to go all the way to chapter 82, which is the meeting in Kurukshetra before you come to another solid sequence, verses 40-49, but only 3 or 4 of them are top grade. The end of chapter 83 has the verses where the Mahishis glorify the gopis.

10.87 is the Shruti-stuti and is pretty significant. It is a tough chapter from many points of view, but it is one of the most serious in the entire Bhagavatam, with sophisticated references to the Upanishads throughout. The commentaries are very thorough and they merit deep study. I only have six verses underlined (out of 27), but I think that the chapter has a great deal of gravitas, so I put it in the top 20 at least.

In the Eleventh Canto, there are many philosophically important chapters. On the whole, it is probably the biggest source of quotes for the Sandarbhas (I should do the count). But as far as chapters are concerned, 11.2 and 11.5 really stand out. These are both part of the Nava-yogendra-samvada.
  • Chapter 2 has a great sequence on the Bhagavata Dharma from 35-43 included such verses as bhayam dvitiyabhinivesatah syat (37), evam-vratah sva-priya-nama-kirtya (40), bhaktih paresanubhavo (42). This is followed by Hari, another Yogendra, who gives the prakrita, madhyama and uttama bhagavata descriptions (verses 45-55), most of which are worthy of memorization. (14 underlined altogether).
  • Chapter 3 has some really important verses also--tasmad gurum prapadyeta (21), tatra bhagavatan dharman (22), parasparanukathanam (30), smarantah smarayantas ca (31), kvacid rudaty acyuta-cintaya kvacit (32). A candidate no doubt.
  • Chapter 5 has Karabhajana's teachings about the avatars, including the verses in which we recognize Lord Chaitanya. (7 underlined).
  • Chapters 7-9 have the teachings of the Avanti Brahmin, which I just posted.
  • Chapter 12 has a description of pure bhakti--na rodhayati mam yogo (1), and a pretty frequently quoted section on the gopis (verses 10-14), ramena sardham mathuram pranite (10), tas tah ksapah presthatamena nitah (11), ta navidan mayy anusanga-baddhah (13), matkama ramanam jaras hy asvarupa-vido'balah (14), tasmat tvam uddhavotsrijya codanam praticodanam (15).
  • Chapter 14 contains a good description of the pure bhakta and his ecstasies. The famous verse--

    nirapeksam munim shantam nirvairam sama-darshanam
    anuvrajamy aham nityam puyeyety anghri-renubhih

    "I follow my devotees in the hope of purifying myself with the dust of their feet." (16)
    na sadhayati mam yogo (20), bhaktyaham ekaya grahyah (21), katham vina romaharso (21)... Actually why don't I just quote these in their entirety, they really are special:

    katham vina romaharsham
    dravata cetasa vina
    vinanandashru-kalaya
    shuddhyed bhaktya vinashayah

    How can a person’s heart or be purified without the ecstatic devotion that causes his hair to stand on end, his mind to melt with love and tears to flow from his eyes? (SB 11.14.23)
    vAg gadgadA dravate yasya cittaM
    rudaty abhikSNaM hasati kvacic ca
    vilajja udgAyati nrityate ca
    mad-bhakti-yukto bhuvanam punati

    The person blessed with my devotion, whose words stutter with divine love, whose mind melts, who cries constantly and sometimes laughs, who shamelessly sings and dances out of love—such a person purifies the entire world. (11.14.24)
    yathagnina hema-malam jahati
    smatam punah svam bhajate ca rupam
    atma ca karmanushayam vidhuya
    mad-bhakti-yogena bhajaty atho mam

    Just as gold when heated is freed of its impurities and retrieves its natural brightness, so does the soul become purified of its accumulated karmic reactions through bhakti-yoga. When one has been thus purified, he worships me. (SB 11.14.25)
    yatha yathatma parimrijyate’sau
    mat-punya-gatha-shravanabhidhanaih
    tatha tatha pashyati vastu sukshmam
    cakshur yathaivaïjana-samprayuktam

    Just as an eye that has been treated with balm can see physical objects more clearly, the spirit soul cleansed of all sin by listening to the telling of my holy pastimes becomes able to see the most subtle truths clearly. (SB 11.14.26)
    Vishwanath comments, “‘Subtler truths about me’ means the particular experience of the sweetness of my svarupa, or essential being, such as my form and pastimes.” (tattvam mad-rupa-liladi-svarupam sukshmam tan-madhuryanubhava-vishesham.)

    vishayan dhyayatash cittam
    vishayeshv anushajjate
    mam anusmaratash cittam
    mayy eva praviliyate

    The mind which dwells on sense objects becomes attached to sense objects. The mind which constantly remembers me becomes absorbed in me. (SB 11.14.27)
    What can I say about how those verses influenced my life?
The rest of the 11th canto is pretty philosophical. A nice section of 11 verses at the end of 11.20, starting with jata-sraddho mat-kathasu (27). There is a further smattering of verses throughout this canto, but nothing concentrated like the above examples.

The Twelfth Canto similarly has a lot of good verses about Hari-katha scattered throughout. Chapter 12 is probably the best, tad eva ramyam ruciram navam navam (49). Some of these are repetitions from 1.5. Chapter 13 has some big verses--yam brahma varunendra (1), sarva-vedanta-saram hi (15). And in view of this survey of the Bhagavatam, why don't we conclude with 12.13.18--


srimad-bhagavatam puranam amalam yad vaishnavanam priyam
yasmin paramahamsyam ekam amalam jnanam param giyate
tatra jnana-viraga-bhakti-sahitam naishkarmyam avishkritam
tac chrinvan vipathan vicarana-paro bhaktya vimucyen narah

The beautiful Bhagavatam is the spotless purana, the scripture which is most dear to the Vaishnavas. The supreme knowledge which is the unique wealth of the paramahamsas is glorified herein. One who reads it will discover the liberation that comes from knowledge, renunciation and devotion. A human being who hears and studies the Bhagavatam and then discusses and meditates on what he has heard and studied will, by this devotional act alone, be liberated. (SB 12.13.18)
That deserves an ahaha!!, and a little shiver of ecstasy, I think.

So vote for your favorite chapter, please! If you like, you can do a write in. Your approach may be entirely different from mine. As a matter of fact, it probably is.

You don't have one? I am afraid you haven't been reading it. Read the Bhagavatam for the spots of nectar.

13 comments:

visnudas said...

Wow- thank you so much! I love when a senior (or just another) bhakta gives his darsan (or faves)on a text- otherwise it can be hard to get a handle on it.
This should be a regular activity among friends.

Jagat said...

Hmm. New poll:

1. Nobody is reading this blog.
2. Nobody knows the Bhagavatam well enough to give an opinion.
3. People are still thinking.

Jagat said...

You can vote for as many chapters as you like. So if you want to pick 19 of the 20, that's OK.

You don't need to pick just one.

visnudas said...

OK- I tried to vote multiple times and was only allowed to change my original vote. So be it!
10:31 just for "tava kathamritam"
My dear Swami Chetanananda used to begin every talk with that verse. To hear it with a thick Bangla accent is still my preferred flavor.

Babhru das said...

I would have had more fun voting if more chapters had been included as choices. I have always liked 1.8. I don't even think I need to explain why. I also like 1.17. When my wife was reading this a couple of years ago, it became painfully clear that Vidura was talking to me. I like the end of 10.22, where Krishna praises Vrindavana's trees to his friends. And I like the last verse, which ends the Bhagavatam glorifying nama-sankirtana:

nama-sankirtanam yasya
sarva-papa pranasanam
pranamo duhkha-samanas
tam namami harim param

Jagat said...

Thank you, Babhru, write-in votes are most welcome. For obvious reasons, I was limited in the number of chapters I could put on the list. But I realized that my own selection was pretty subjective, so I rather wanted to be able to have write-ins.

Jagat said...

So, as per the second comment on this thread, it looks like only (1) or (2) can be considered live options.

I installed "Counter" and "Google Analytics" and they both tell me that I have had NO visitors at all since the day I installed them a week or so back. So I guess that (1) is my answer... though since I have had one or two letters of feedback in that time, I must conclude that something is wrong with the counters.

Jagat said...

I have to confess to feeling a little disappointment at the lack of response.

On the one hand, it is not unlikely that only a small number of visitors come to this site. But even if only 20 people come, how is it that just 10 of them have voted--one of them being me?

Even accepting that there may be elements in the Bhagavatam that are hard to grasp, or are downright unacceptable, or purely mythological, or from such a different time and place and culture and therefore irrelevant, there is much in it that remains (1) the philosophical and theological backbone of Gaudiya Vaishnavism, and (2) eternally cogent and persuasive.

Since I expect that most people visiting this site are to a greater or lesser extent familiar with Gaudiya Vaishnavism, I would have expected them to have some familiarity and some engagement with the Bhagavatam, even if it is only with a few verses here or there.

As a matter of fact, the exercise in picking chapters was meant, in a way, to assist in this process of prioritizing and rearranging the Bhagavatam according to levels of meaningfulness to us.

As I have been explaining for the past more than 20 years, historically, all religions engage with their own tradition by sifting through its revelations, prioritizing some and relegating others to the background. It is vital that we engage in this process as well. If we don't do this, then it means (1) either it never really meant anything to us, or (2) it never meant enough to continue being relevant. So perhaps this should be the next poll.

I personally am a follower of Bhaktivinoda Thakur, who said in his pamphlet on the Bhagavata that we should build on the past rather than reject it outright. The insights of the Bhagavatam, the insights of the Goswamis, even those of Siddhanta Saraswati and Bhaktivedanta Swami, are all vital elements in OUR spiritual journey, even for those of us who have rejected direct institutional affiliation with Gaudiya Vaishnavism, or who have even rejected some of its basic tenets. Therefore, out of respect for our own individual spiritual history, it behooves us to seriously analyze our rapport to those insights and see what resonates and what does not.

The point being that SOMETHING did resonate, even though other things may not.

If we can recognize the distinction between meaningful and not meaningful in the texts, then we can build on that to get further insight into Truth as it revealed Itself to us. It is not that by picking and choosing we are somehow unfaithful to our disciplic succession and the kind of unalloyed commitment that we have always been told is required for spiritual progress. Rather, we should think of it as service to the disciplic succession; it is picking up the pieces, chewing the remnants, as it were.

The essential revelation is that God is personal, He is the most intimate beloved, and He expresses this intimacy and love through lilas in which we both can and do participate.

Piercing the divine mystery is not a job that can be achieved even if all of eternity were granted us. But this is not really our choice; the Bhagavatam has in fact chosen us. If you are in this, directly or indirectly, because an old sadhu from India chose to come and chant Hare Krishna in a park in the Manhattan Bowery in 1967 instead of rolling over and dying in the dust of Vrindavan, then you need to recognize the role the Bhagavatam plays in all this. Prabhupada only got the courage to come West when he had completed the First Canto.

If the Bhagavatam is inaccessible to you--though even if you just read the first two chapters of the First Canto, you cannot fail to be impressed by it--then there are other books based on the Bhagavatam--the Sandarbhas by Sri Jiva, Bhagavatarka-marichi-mala by Bhaktivinoda Thakur, Bhakti-ratnavali by Vishnu Puri, Krishna-bhakti-ratna-prakasha by Raghava Pandit Goswami, etc., which are compilations of essential verses from the Bhagavatam, "greatest hits" or "best of" compendiums, if you like.

Anyway, I simply think that this proves, to some extent anyway, that people don't really know that much about the basics as they should.

Is it that really important? That is a question that I don't know the answer to. It has always seemed important to me, but the Lord is gracious even to the less motivated, and recognizes the value of even a single utterance of the Holy Name.

Yet somehow I feel that it bodes poorly in general. Is it because everyone is so absorbed in the Gita? or the Govinda-lilamrita? Maybe another poll for that question...

Jagat said...

Just looking at Bhakti-ratnavali by Vishnu Puri. He writes:

nikhila-bhAgavata-zravaNAlasA
bahu-kathAbhir athAnavakAzinaH |
ayam ayaM nanu tAn anu sArthako
bhavatu viSNu-purI-granthana-grahaH ||1.9||

May this compilation by Vishnu Puri be of value to those who are too lazy to read the Bhagavatam all the way through, or who haven't got the time to sift through the many stories to get the philosophical essence.

shiva said...

Jagat you said:

Anyway, I simply think that this proves, to some extent anyway, that people don't really know that much about the basics as they should.

I don't know if you can conclude that from not getting a large response to your poll, but I do agree that most devotees don't have a good grasp of "the basics" as taught by the Bhagavatam.

You may remember some years back I used to give Madhavananda and you and others a hard time on this point. I would often say to you guys and gals that your immersion in rasa-tattva was premature, you needed to understand Bhagavat-tattva better before you can understand rasa-tattva. Especially when it comes to the nature of God, both in the here and now, and in God's inner ontology.

For years I have tried to get devotees who are totally immersed in rasa-tattva while holding erroneous and poor understandings of Bhagavat Sankhya and Krishna-tattva to go back to the Bhagavatam because they are misunderstanding rasa-tattva.

You end up becoming like the proverbial bee licking the outside of the jar of honey. You can see the honey but you don't taste it because you aren't educated and realized enough to get into the jar. You can end up like Madhavananda, rejecting Krishna altogether because you expected to taste the nectar that was promised and all you got were mythological romance novels to mull over.

There is a reason that devotees are warned about getting prematurely immersed in rasa-tattva. Loss of faith is a very real possibility if you expect to become inundated with ecstasy from immersion in rasa-tattva - yet end up with without the promised ecstasy due to a lack of proper education and realization.

But mostly I seem to be whistling into the wind. Over at Nitai's forum there has been a long debate about Gaura nagari-bhava between a German devotee named Anadi and others. I remember some 5 years ago or so debating Anadi on the India Divine forum. Back then he was a follower of Narayana Maharaja and obsessed with preaching manjari-bhava in the same way that he is now obsessed with nagari-bhava. We had long debates where I would try to get him to understand the true nature God being a single rather than a dual entity. I would try to get him to understand how without that basic element in your understanding of rasa-tattva that you cannot enter into rasa with Radha-Krishna in the here and now. That you will end up like the bee unable to taste the honey. Of course he argued vehemently against me, like Madhavananda, arguing for a dual vision of the nature of God. Like Madhava he was unable to maintain his enthusiasm and went to another theology to seek rasa. The problem remains though, as long as you misunderstand Radha-Krishna tattva you will never taste rasa regardless of your approach to sadhana and lila smaranam.

Babhru das said...

Well, I think the dearth of response to your poll says a little too much about Gaudiya vaishanvas who spend time online. If you had made a non-pc (or overly pc) comment about women, a particular race or religion, maybe even nationality, not to speak of someone's guru, you would likely have been inundated. Ask us to consider which parts of the Bhagavatam we like best, and over a period of several weeks you get twelve votes and a couple of comments. Oh, well . . .

Jagat said...

Even so, we did get a clear winner--the Gopi Gita. Here in this ashram, many people know many of the Gopi Gita verses by heart. At least everyone seems to know the jayati te'dhikam verse. Even yesterday someone else came up to me and chanted it. Said, "We know the verses but don't know the meaning..."

Anonymous said...

We had long debates where I would try to get him to understand the true nature God being a single rather than a dual entity. I would try to get him to understand how without that basic element in your understanding of rasa-tattva that you cannot enter into rasa with Radha-Krishna in the here and now. That you will end up like the bee unable to taste the honey. Of course he argued vehemently against me, like Madhavananda, arguing for a dual vision of the nature of God. Like Madhava he was unable to maintain his enthusiasm and went to another theology to seek rasa. The problem remains though, as long as you misunderstand Radha-Krishna tattva you will never taste rasa regardless of your approach to sadhana and lila smaranam.

The fact that people change their views is not necessarily a sign that they have abandoned bhakti. And even if one abandons bhakti temporarily, this is not necessarily a result of misunderstanding tattva. It is in fact said that loosing taste is very likely the result of aparadha.

As for the the "real" nature of tattva being that God is non dual, that is widely debatable. It is in fact easily rejectable.