Saturday, March 21, 2009

Ganga Ma

The sky is cloudy today and there is quite a breeze, almost automnal. My most enthusiastic listener was there today with his wife and two small boys. Turns out he has only been in Rishikesh for a couple of months. He is the pujari at an ashram near the river. A couple of other people also joined us today, but his enthusiasm for Hari-katha definitely makes it a little more festive than on other days. I was feeling a little low before I came, and left in much better spirits.,

Today's verse--

vṛndāvaneśvari tavaiva padāravindaṁ
premāmṛtaika-makaranda-rasaugha-pūrṇam |
hṛdy arpitaṁ madhupateḥ smara-tāpam ugraṁ
nirvāpayat parama-śītalam āśrayāmi ||13||

O Vrindavaneshwari ! I take shelter of your supremely cooling lotus feet, so full of the unlimited essence of the ambrosia of pure love, which when placed on Krishna's chest, extinguish the violent blaze of his desire.

Ananta Das talks about separation in the commentary. He makes the point that separation is not just considered by Rupa Goswami to be something that supports and augments union, but is a rasa in its own right. No doubt, viraha is the crucible. Excruciating.

At one point we were discussing a sentence of Ananta Das in which he said, "Although love appears to be delicate, it conceals infinite power." I tried to tell the story of Bilvamangala, but I kind of screwed it up. My friend (whose name I still don't know) went and told it, though he knew it in relationship to Tulasi Das. Exact same story.


On the way back I ran into Ma Seva Bharati, whom I may have mentioned before. She is Dhanurdhara Swami's cousin. She was quite pleased to see me and told me that she had just spent six weeks in Vrindavan as Dhanurdhara's guest, including some time at Govardhan where she followed a retreat with Sachinandan Swami, Bhurijan and others whose names she did not remember. She kept repeating how she could feel the spiritual potency of Braj.

She also seemed impressed by the devotees she met, although she said she could never submit to the Iskcon regime. She seemed quite surprised at how much she liked bhakti... and how well she was hosted by her cousin. Actually, she never has anything but the nicest things to say about him, so kudos to him.


Last night my Gita class was mainly on 6.46-47. It was a little awkward because it wasn't held in the meditation hall, but in the knowledge center because of carpet cleaning, etc., going on in the usual lieu. The last two verses of the sixth chapter really round out that whole first six chapters on karma-yoga rather well and segue into the next section of the Gita. But I found myself falling a little short of the message that flings itself to my eyes every time I meditate on those two verses. Bhaktir eva gariyasi.

Tilak is such an Advaita-vadi. He does so well on the score of karma-yoga and seeing how that is at the core of the Gita's message. What he fails to see is how the Gita is placing bhakti on the most elevated platform. He still thinks that bhakti is nothing more than a device or stratagem for the less intellectually endowed, leading to Advaita jnana.

On this score, Jagadish Ghosh is much better, even though his understanding of Bhakti is deeply anchored in the concept of worldly welfare work. Nevertheless, the idea that seeing and serving God in all creatures is not entirely foreign to my way of thinking.

Tilak has some important insights, despite being fundamentally wrong about the ultimate nature of the Supreme. I mean, if it is so important to continue doing prescribed duties after one is situated in knowledge, then why wouldn't bhakti also continue while in the state of kaivalya? As I go through his chapter on Bhakti-yoga, I will give a more detailed opinion and critique.

Radhe Radhe !

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