Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Harilal Vyasa, a few observations

The Rasa-kulyā commentary on RRSN is pretty interesting, which will gradually come out. As you may already know, there are several points of connection between Gaudiyas and Radha-vallabhis, not the least of which is Prabodhananda Saraswati's role in developing the theology of the school--even if we don't accept that he is the author of RRSN.

Of course, since Prabodhananda was an independent spirit and became more of a Radha-vallabhi than a Gaudiya, there is no point in trying to interpret RRSN as a text following pure Gaudiya siddhanta. (One of the arguments by today's defenders of Harivamsa's authorship are based on the premise that if Prabodhananda wrote RRSN, why does it not follow Gaudiya siddhanta?) Nevertheless, it is clear that Harilal Vyas had a very thorough knowledge of Gaudiya literature.

The reason I am writing this now is because I came across a reference to the Gopa Kumar story from Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta (to verse 96). So far I have come across numerous quotes from Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi, and Alaṅkāra-kaustubha. These are not as numerous as quotes from the Bhagavatam or Vṛndāvana-mahimāmṛta, which tops the list with literally hundreds of verses throughout the commentary. I have yet to come across a reference to the texts of any other sampradāya.

Of course, the principal source Harilal Vyasa relies on to develop his interpretation consists of internal references from RRSN. Interestingly, there are a few, but not many, citations of Harivamsa's own Brajbhasha songs. This may be due to the inability to do so. Even in the introduction to this edition, the editor tries to defend against the argument that Harivamsa's songs present a different vision of Vraja līlā, and are not at all the same kind of strict exclusive devotion to Radha found in RRSN. (I also made this argument in my articles on the subject.) For instance, in Sphuṭa-vāṇī, it is clear from quite a number of verses that Radha-vallabha Krishna is the iṣṭa-devatā. The editor's explanation is that the words Radha-vallabha indicate a preference for Radha. The argument is a little weak, since the RRSN is going a step beyond Krishna with Radha to the predominance of Radha over Krishna. (See page 15).

Part of this reliance on Gaudiya materials probably has to do with the fact that he is writing in Sanskrit in a sampradāya that has functioned almost exclusively in Brajbhasha. There is literally no material from his own lineage that he can draw on.

At any rate, this familiarity with Gaudiya sources shows the connections between the two sampradayas appear to have been open until at least the time of Harilal Vyasa in the mid- to late 18th century, which is pretty late. Harilal Vyasa, of course, does not have any doubts about Harivamsa's authorship nor any of the other hagiographical material about his life--he received the mantra "Ra-dha" from Radharani herself, etc. This is Harilal's verse--

rādhaiveṣṭaṁ sampradāyaika-kartā-
cāryo mantra-daḥ sad-guruś ca |
mantro rādhā yasya sarvātmanainaṁ
vande rādhā-pāda-padma-pradhānam ||

I bow down with all my being to him whose worshipable deity is Radha, the founder acharya of whose sampradaya is Radha, whose mantra-guru and teacher is Radha, and whose mantra is Radha's name. He [Hita Harivamsa] place Radha's lotus feet above all else. (maṅgalācaraṇa to RRSN commentary)


Ekendra Dasa said...

Jagadananda Panditji,

_o/\__ ... _o___ ... _o/\__

Is this the same Srila Prabhodananda Sarasvati who penned Sri Caitanya Candramrita? If so, it boggles me how he could write anything but Gaudiya siddhanta. I'm not any kind of scholar so I'd be happy if you could teach me how to reconcile the idea that he wasn't teaching in Mahaprabhu's line with this excerpt from chapter 5 of the above-mentioned prose (Dravida Prabhu's translation):

"5.38 Again and again He tastes the great sweetness of His own holy names. Again and again He is overcome with ecstasy. Again and again He says, "Sing! O sing the glories of the king of Vraja!" They who have not seen Lord Gauracandra in this way find pure love for Lord Krsna very difficult to attain.

5.39 Why should grass not sprout without seeds? Why should the blind not see? Why should the lame not be able to leap over mountains if those persons who have no devotion for Lord Caitanya, the master of the wonderful unparalleled opulence of the nectar of pure love of Krsna, could somehow attain the bliss of that pure love?

5.40 A devotee of Lord Govinda whose mind is not rapt in meditation on Lord Gaura, the philanthropist who, by wonderfully preaching the glories of the sweet nectar of pure love of Krsna, gave in charity the wonderful bliss of pure love of Krsna, is a bewildered fool. He is an animal in the guise of a man."

Sanskrit here.

ys, Ekendra Dasa

Jagat said...

There was no such thing really as Gaudiya Vaishnava siddhanta until Narottam and Srinivas came back to Bengal with the Goswamis' books. There were a lot of different ideas floating around about who Chaitanya was, about what the sambandha, abhidheya and prayojan were. You just have to dig a little to know about it because the discourse established by Krishnadas Kaviraj has become so dominant.

The fact that Prabodhananda, who wrote what was really one of the first stotras about Mahaprabhu was not mentioned at all in Chaitanya Charitamrita is a clue.

Anonymous said...

Please clarify what you mean by RRSN not being within gaudiya siddhanta. Radha is there, her seva is there. What else do you need?

Jagat said...

(1) Svakiya-rasa, marriage celebrated
(2) Nitya-vihara only, though a little less than Swami Haridas, who doesn't even want to call Krishna Nandanandan.
(3) Radha mantra
(4) Rejects certain vidhis
(5) More likely to accept sambhoga with Krishna.

See here http://jagadanandadas.blogspot.com/2008/09/hita-harivamsas-method-of-worship.html

Jagat said...

Also see this--