Monday, April 13, 2009

A Little Taste of Radha Nama

Actually, we are having very nice Rādhā-rasa-sudhā-nidhi classes by the Ganga, thank you. Ananta Das Babaji's purports are wowing whoever listens and at least one person has said they are sending away for a copy--to keep in the Swami Rama Sadhana Mandir ashram. The place we have our readings is just out in front of the ashram, and they end when the pujari comes out and does Ganga arati.

This is actually only one of about four ghats along the promenade where Ganga arati is held. Down towards the town, the next ghat over really has a hopping women's bhajan program every sandhya with at least 50-60 women attending. They also end with arati. Further down, at the end of the promenade, there is a Rama temple where a lot of people go regularly and do their own little thing.

Anyway, Ananta Dasji, if I may say, is pretty amazing. He does not miss anything, and often finds stuff that you just never would know or find on your own. His knowledge of Bengali padavali is vast and he regularly quotes the Sandarbhas with appropriate and relevant citations. What to speak of Caitanya-charitāmṛta or other Goswami texts. Really, between him, Satya Narayana and Swami Veda Bharati, I am a real baka among swans.

Anyway, in an attempt to share just a little of what we enjoyed this evening, I am going to take a little side trip into Rādhā-rasa-sudhā-nidhi.

I may have said before that I don't think Ananta Dasji read Harilal Vyasa's commentary. My judgment on that is still out, as there are occasional common points, but eventually I will need to examine this more carefully. I suppose I could just ask him, but I tend to think Ananta Das would avoid following too closely anyone from another sampradaya, but you know how curious people are, they go anywhere for a good idea. I am going to take advantage of the decision to do this post to examine the two commentaries on this verse closely and see if there is any reason to think that there is common ground.

मञ्जुस्वभावमधि कल्पलतानिकुञ्जं
राधाभिधं द्रुतमुपाश्रय साधु चेतः॥

mañju-svabhāvam adhi kalpa-latā-nikuñjaṁ
vyañjantam adbhuta-kṛpā-rasa-puñjam eva |
premāmṛtāmbudhim agādham abādham etaṁ
rādhābhidhaṁ drutam upāśraya sādhu cetaḥ ||

O pious mind of mine! Take shelter of that bottomless, limitless ocean of love ambrosia named Radha, so sweet in nature. She is a reservoir of the waters of amazing grace, revealed in the Vrindavan desire creeper kunja.

"Amazing grace" is definitely a word that came into Sanskrit way before English: adbhuta-kṛpā-rasa-puñjam eva.

Harilal Vyasa's preliminary gloss is as follows: The word cetaḥ implies, "O mind, if you are a conscious entity, then follow my advice. Quickly (drutam take shelter of that substance named Radha (rādhābhidham)... If there is any delay, I don't know what might happen.

Or, drutam can mean "melted." In other words, if you are going to think of Radha as I tell you, then do not do so in a lifeless way, but do so in a state where you are melting with love.

Further in the commentary Harilal Vyasa supports this with a great verse from Bhāgavatam--

kathaṁ vinā romaharṣaṁ dravatā cetasā vinā |
vinānandāśru-kalayā śuddhyed bhaktyā vināśayaḥ ||

How can the heart become purified without the hairs standing on end, without the mind melting? Without the flowing of tears? Without devotion for the Lord? (11.14.23)

[I really couldn't see anyone passing up on this great interpretation. But there is no sign of it in Ananta Dasji.]

HLV: Furthermore, the author addresses the mind as sādhu. The idea is that you should behave in a way that will enhance your reputation. This will be a good act to take shelter of this thing named Radha. upāśraya, upa means nearby, so get close and serve Radha constantly, not simply admiring or appreciating her from a distance.

[Ananta Dasji goes into an extensive discussion of the word sādhu. He has found a really nice quote from Jiva Goswami's comment to BhP 9.4.46: "A sadhu is defined as someone who has given up all self-deception up to and including the desire for liberation." (sādhubhiḥ projjhita-kaitavair mokṣa-paryanta-kāmanā-rahitair ity arthaḥ). Prabodhananda Saraswati used to be a mukti-vādin, but through Mahaprabhu's grace was able to give it up and become familiar with Vraja rasa. So after this transformation, it is appropriate for him to call the mind sādhu.

Ananta Dasji talks of śaraṇāgati as "the life-enhancing power (jīvanī-śakti) of bhajan." Without a firm basis in the śaraṇāgati mood, one's bhajan simply will not happen. He then follows Jiva Goswami (BhaktiS 236) and equates śaraṇāgati with ananya-gati ("having no other shelter"), which is manifest in two ways: not seeing any other shelter besides Krishna, and for those who are not so realized, through the rejection of any other shelter.]

"So you have told me about 'something' called Radha. Could you tell me a little more about this 'something'?"

Of course. She is "an ocean of love ambrosia," the embodiment of the unique essence of transcendental love, from which it can be inferred that she is an ocean producing gems of such love. agādha means very deep.

[Ananta Das: The material ocean will one day dry up, but this transcendental ocean is eternal, not even a drop of it will ever dry up and disappear.]

"Are you not worried that, as in the ocean, there are sharks, killer whales, volcanos and other dangers?" No, no. This ocean is abādha, it has no limitations or dangers. In no way are there any obstacles. This will be stated later in verse 103 of Rādhā-rasa-sudhā-nidhi:

no kiñcit kṛtam eva yatra na nutir nāgo na vā sambhramo
rādhā-mādhavayoḥ sa ko’pi sahajaḥ premotsavaḥ pātu vaḥ ||

May you be delivered by Radha and Madhava's natural celebration of love, in which there is no sense of duty, never any show of reverence, no possibility of offence and no fear.

I actually quoted this verse and another, relevant verse from Vidagdha-mādhava some time ago, here.

"O.K., you tell me this ocean is very deep. But oceans are full of sharks and killer whales. What about this ocean?" No, not so. This ocean is abādhā, "without dangers."

[Ananta Das: The material ocean has dangerous creatures lurking in its depths, but in this ocean, the sharks and killer whales of desires for sense gratification and liberation have no place whatsoever.]

"We have heard that the ocean of milk has sweetness and other qualities as part of its nature. Can you tell us what this ocean is like?" Yes, it is mañju ("beautiful , lovely , charming , pleasant , sweet" MMW) by nature. The meaning here is that just as water is cool by nature, so Radha, even though in her loving activities with Krishna displays negativity, anger, or bewilderment, Radha remains sweet at heart. Of course, that goes without saying. In something that is beautiful, what is not beautiful? In love, qualities like crookedness are pleasing. As Nandadas sings, tere rī manāyabe teṁ nīko lāgata māna "Your māna is appropriate and it suits you." And if such crookedness increases the lover's pleasure, then how much more it is so.

[Ananta Das touches on this subject in the next verse, going into somewhat greater detail. But for the purposes of this exercise, I will restrain myself. About mañju-svabhāva, he says that Radha's sweet and affectionate nature is manifested in three ways: in her relation to Krishna, to the sakhis and manjaris and to the world's jivas. For the first, he says that her nature is to joyfully serve Govinda without any desire for personal sense satisfaction. He gives the example of CC 3.20, Kaviraj Goswami's translation and commentary on the last verse of the Śikṣāṣṭakam.
I am Krishna’s maidservant and he is the storehouse of all joy. Whether he should embrace me and makes me his own, or not allow me to see him and cause my body and mind to suffer, he is still the only lord of my life.

My dear friend, please hear what I have decided: Whether he returns my love, or whether he makes me so unhappy that i die, Krishna alone is the lord of my life.

Sometimes Krishna makes me feel like the most fortunate woman in the world when he leaves all his other women and gives himself to me, body and mind. At those times, he makes all the other women suffer by showing off to them while dallying with me.

Then, at other times, that unfaithful cheater, that shameless rascal womanizer, goes off with those other girlfriends and dallies with them right in front of me. Even so, he is still my only love.

I don’t mind the pain he gives me. All that concerns me is his pleasure. My greatest joy is to see Krishna happy. If that happiness comes at the expense of my suffering, that still gives me joy. That pain is my greatest pleasure.

If Krishna is attracted by another woman, lusting for her beauty, and he feels unhappy because she is unattainable, then I fall down at that woman’s feet and take her by the hand to Krishna’s side and make him happy by having them enjoy together.

Sometimes Krishna gets pleasure when his mistresses are angry with him. He enjoys being chastized and told off. When it is proper, I get angry with Krishna, knowing that he enjoys it, but he can always always appease me without much effort. (CC 3.20.48-54)

Interestingly, Ananta Dasji does not quote the last verse, but it ties in nicely with the theme raised by Harilal Vyasa and which Ananta Das more actively pursues in his next commentary. It should be noted that the above discourse from CC would have no place in the Radha Vallabhi school, where Krishna is so completely in Radha's thrall that there is no question of Krishna's giving a thought to any other woman. This is why in not only the Radha Vallabhi school, but in all the rasika traditions of Vrindavan, a distinction is made between "gopi" and "sakhi" moods. In the sakhi mood Krishna knows no one other than Radha. They could never imagine Radha's being put in the position of having a competitor.

Radha is filled with protective affection for her sakhis and manjaris and so she shows her sweet nature by inundating them with mādhurya-rasa. And where the jivas of the world are concerned, that Radha gives herself to them without thinking or judging. This was revealed in the pastimes of Gauranga Mahaprabhu.]

"O.K. You have described Radha as an ocean, but the ocean is a big thing, unlimited. So this seems to be prominently about aiśvarya, because in order to serve and relish her, she needs to limit herself (paricchinna). Is it not so?"

In answer, he says the rest of the first two lines beginning with adhi, etc. "She is a reservoir of the waters of amazing grace, revealed in the Vrindavan desire creeper kunja." Such a rare and unobtainable thing has entered the desire creeper kunja and there reveals this reservoir of amazing grace. By saying this, it is shown that she has limited herself and become capable of being served easily.

This should be seen in relation to the previous verse and indeed, all the qualities described in this verse are related to the different manis (jewels) that were mentioned there.

[Ananta Dasji does this part completely differently. Unfortunately, that is all the time I have today. I am posting anyway, but this has been a total, albeit pleasurable, distraction... There is tons more. I only covered about 1/4 of Vyasa.]

One interpretation that Ananta Dasji opens up, which Vyasa does not seem to have followed, is that the word rādhābhidha can mean just Radha's name. Then all the adjectives describe her name and not her directly. This is a very nice interpretation. "The Name is the incarnation of the mercy of the Named."

Ananta Dasji goes into a discussion of the etymology of the word nāma in Sanskrit, derived from the root nam, "to descend." He concludes by saying, "Radha's name is the maha-mantra for attracting Krishna." And then he invites the reader to relish the following three verses. I am just going to translate these rapidly and then stop:

यज्जप्तं सकृदेव गोकुलपतेराकर्षकं तत्क्षणाद्
यत्र प्रेमवतां समस्तपूरुषार्थेषु स्फुरेत् तुच्छता।
यन्नामाङ्कितमन्त्रजापनपरः प्रीत्या स्वयं माधवः
श्रीकृष्णोऽपि तदद्भुतं स्फुरतु मे राधेति वर्णद्वयम्॥

yaj japtaṁ sakṛd eva gokula-pater ākarṣakaṁ tat-kṣaṇād
yatra premavatāṁ samasta-pūruṣārtheṣu sphuret tucchatā |
yan-nāmāṅkita-mantra-jāpana-paraḥ prītyā svayaṁ mādhavaḥ
śrī-kṛṣṇo’pi tad adbhutaṁ sphuratu me rādheti varṇa-dvayam ||

May these two letters of Radha's wondrous name
become manifest for me:
This name, which on being muttered
immediately attracts the Lord of Gokula,
which would make all the goals of human life
seem as nothing to the loving premika,
and the mantra composed of which name
Krishna Madhava himself
is dedicated to chanting with love.

कालिन्दीतटकुञ्जमन्दिरगतो योगीन्द्रवद्यत्पद
ज्योतिर्ध्यानपरः सदा जपति यां प्रेमाश्रुपूर्णो हरिः।
केनाप्यद्भुतमुल्लसद्रतिरसानन्देन सम्मोहितः
सा राधेति सदा हृदि स्फुरतु मे विद्या परा द्व्यक्षरा॥

kālindī-taṭa-kuñja-mandira-gato yogīndravad yat-pada-
jyotir-dhyāna-paraḥ sadā japati yāṁ premāśru-pūrṇo hariḥ |
kenāpy adbhutam ullasad-rati-rasānandena sammohitaḥ
sā rādheti sadā hṛdi sphuratu me vidyā parā dvy-akṣarā ||

Hari goes to the forest bower abode by the Yamuna's banks,
and there, like a great yogi with eyes full of tears,
devotedly meditating on the light from her lotus feet,
enchanted by some amazing excited joy of erotic flavors,
he constantly chants that two-syllable mantra rā-dhā.
May those two syllables manifest always in my heart.

देवानाम् अथ भक्तमुक्तसुहृदाम् अत्यन्तदूरं च यत्
प्रेमानन्दरसं महासुखकरं चोच्चारितं प्रेमतः।
प्रेम्णाकर्णयते जपत्यथ मुदा गायत्यथालिष्व् अयं
जल्पत्यश्रुमुखो हरिस्तदमृतं राधेति मे जीवनम्॥

devānām atha bhakta-mukta-suhṛdām atyanta-dūraṁ ca yat
premānanda-rasaṁ mahā-sukha-karaṁ coccāritaṁ premataḥ |
premṇākarṇayate japaty atha mudā gāyaty athāliṣv ayaṁ
jalpaty aśru-mukho haris tad amṛtaṁ rādheti me jīvanam ||

This name that is so far from the experience of the gods,
[Vaikuntha] devotees, liberated souls and Krishna's friends.
This name, which upon being chanted with love,
confers the ultimate joy of tasting the bliss of prema.
It is this name that Hari listens to lovingly,
sometimes murmurs, sometimes joyfully sings aloud,
and chatters incessantly among Radha's sakhis,
his face covered with tears.

The nectar of Radha's name is my life.


dr.jaya said...

The nectar of Radha's name is my life.Truy refreshing!!!
I fell in love with the verse of 'Radha Sudha Nidhi' which was introduced to me in 1960s by Radha Vallabhis long before we met Srila Prabhupada in 1970s. My all time favorite verse from the beginning itsellf-
rAdhA nAma sudhA rasaM rasayituM jihvAstu me vihvalApAdau tat padakAGkitAsu carataM vRndATavi vIthiSu
satkarmaiva karaH karotu hRdayam tasyAh padaM dhyAyatAt
tad bhAvotsavataH paraM bhavatu me tat prANa nAthe ratiH

Anonymous said...

Dear Jagat,
I couldn't help sharing this with you since you are also very fond of Radha Seva but never revealed to other general devotees.

When I was in my medical school (India), studying the extremely hard big medical text books (graduated M.B.B.S in 1968) in my room, I could not escape from overhearing the slokas and bhajans of Radharani as my brother and sister-in-laws used to invite this young, very handsome Swami from Vrindavan, who melodiously sang Radha Vallabhi Kirtans and RSN on our open terrace.
At that time, though I was fully preoccupied with my material pursuits, may be due to my previous devotional sanskaras, I had the privilege of listening to the songs of 'Nikunja Lila of Radha-Madhava' but I used to think differently.
These confidential, intimate pastimes of God are no body's business and not for the cheap public entertainment nor for indecent exposure! How awkward does any one feel if one's private adventures of one's bedroom are exposed in public!

So I was reluctant to join them but they being sincere devotees, could not understand how I was able to resist that nectar!
I guess, subconsciously, I was still pulled away by the sacred verse though I didn't get their full benefit earlier itself.

Jaya Sri Radhe!

Jagat said...

Yes, RRSN has many good verses about Radha nama. This one rolls off the tongue very nicely.

Jagat said...

Yes, RRSN has many good verses about Radha nama. This one rolls off the tongue very nicely.

Jagat said...

Yes, RRSN has many good verses about Radha nama. This one rolls off the tongue very nicely.

Anonymous said...

This one rolled off the keypad very nicely thrice.