Showing posts from June, 2011

SKK 7: Yamuna-khanda

The Yamunā Khaṇḍa is the next section of the SKK. It is somewhat different as it has three divisions. Kāliya-damana-khaṇḍa, Vastra-haraṇa-khaṇḍa and Hāra-khaṇḍa. The section covers folio leaves 133/1 to 152/2.
Kāliya-damana-khaṇḍa (“The repression of , from 127.2 to 133.1 (songs 245 to 254)Vastra-haraṇa-khaṇḍa (“The stealing of the clothes”), 133.1 to 144.2 (songs 255 to 276)
Hāra-khaṇḍa (“The necklace episode”), 144.2 to 152.2, but with 145-151 missing, so only 5 songs are left, 2 of which are incomplete. Probably 8-9 songs are missing. This means that there would have been around 40 songs in the pālā, so I think we can imagine that these were meant to be performed on three separate nights. The events described do not take place on the same day. They simply have some continuity in terms of the plot. Some features of this section are that there is a wider range of participants than the three (Radha, Krishna and Barai) plus the other gopis, which we have become accustomed to. Nanda an…

Optimism is not the same as magical thinking

I recently came across the following headline on Alternet, Don't Look on the Bright Side: Pessimism, Not Magical Thinking, Is What Will Save Us.

My immediate reaction was, “Optimism is NOT magical thinking.” I have written about this before, that religion, reduced to its essence, is simply an optimistic world view.

Religion means optimism. Faith means accepting that Something is behind everything after all, that there is a meaning to existence, a purpose that has more depth than mere survival and the trivial enjoyments and pursuits that preoccupy the majority of people. Even an atheist has to find, accept or devise -- if for nothing more than practical reasons -- that there is some structure, some purpose to his own presence in the world. Science, for instance, cannot stand without a faith in the existence of structures and laws that are fathomable.

In a world where suffering is omnipresent, on//e needs a reason for living. Otherwise, the only logical option, in the face of ine…

Lament for the Impervious (from April 2004)

This article was written over several days in April 2004. I am republishing it mainly for the two UN verses that are quoted further down, as the subject of Chandravali came up in a Facebook conversation yesterday. It is always a curiosity to read old articles. Some interesting points, but the main thing I wanted was the verses from UN near the bottom.

The other day I was inspired to telephone an old Iskcon acquaintance who is an accomplished classical musician and composer. I thought I could sell him the idea of composing a work based on the rāsa-līlā according to the way I see its structure. Unfortunately, this devotee, who is now committed to the Ritvik camp, was very negative, even hostile.

Barely had the words rāsa-līlā come out of my mouth than my friend said, "We don't consider ourselves advanced enough to discuss such things." I made a few attempts to pierce the thick defensive wall he had thrown up, but he said, "We have made a decision to only listen to ou…

People only think they are free of myth

People only think they are free of myth. Myth is an integral part of psychology. Even the so-called "awakened life" is a myth. It is a helpful myth, but it is feeble, because it is without bhakti. That is what makes it a myth in the sense of illusion.

There is no bhakti without myth, no love without bhakti. Human beings are myth-making creatures because there is no reality without myth. Where would your reality go if it had no myth to follow?

Radha and Krishna are eternal archetypes. There is not much point in historical references except to see how the concept of the sacred nature of human love has developed.

As our understanding of love as Truth develops, our giving sacred form to that Love symbolically becomes a necessity.

Symbols encapsulate entire constellation of ideas. The words "Radhe Shyam" contain both the myth and the reality of Love. So sing the names of the Divine Couple.

Radhe Shyam! Radhe Shyam! Radhe Shyam! Radhe Shyam!

If our symbols are not con…

Some of Radha's qualities

Rādhā has twenty-five principal qualities that are described in the fourth chapter of Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi (11-15):

atha vṛndāvaneśvaryāḥ kīrtyante pravarā guṇāḥ |
madhureyaṁ nava-vayāś calāpāṅgojjvala-smitā ||11||
cāru-saubhāgya-rekhāḍhyā gandhonmādita-mādhavā |
saṅgīta-prasarābhijñā ramya-vāṅ narma-paṇḍitā ||12||
vinītā karuṇā-pūrṇā vidagdhā pāṭavānvitā |
lajjā-śīlā sumaryādā dhairya-gāmbhīrya-śālinī ||13||
suvilāsā mahābhāva-paramotkarṣa-tarṣiṇī |
gokula-prema-vasatir jagac-chreṇī-lasad-yaśāḥ ||14||
gurv-arpita-guru-snehā sakhī-praṇayitā-vaśā |
kṛṣṇa-priyāvalī-mukhyā santatāśrava-keśavā |
bahunā kiṁ guṇās tasyāḥ saṅkhyātītā harer iva ||15||

All of these qualities are said to bring Kṛṣṇa under her control. They are divided into four groups: physical, mental, verbal and social.

The six qualifications of the first group are that she is: (1) sweet, (2) a fresh maiden; (3) she has enchanting sidelong glances and (4) a glowing smile; she is (5) decorated with auspicious signs on her hands an…

Is a Universalist Radha-Krishnaist community possible or desirable?

I recently posted a review of Universalist Radha-Krishnaism, which led to personal discussions with the author and others. Without divulging the content of those discussions, I would like to share some thoughts.

It seems to me that one of the purposes of religion is community creation. For many sociologists and anthropologists, of course, that is the primary purpose of religion.

It has now become the habit of those who are individualists to say they seek “spirituality” and make a strong distinction between the social forms of religiosity and the personal.

I believe this is a false dichotomy, as society is made up of individuals, and a society of strong individuals is a strong society. But all societies need commonalities, otherwise there is no community. We should perhaps distinguish between society, with which an individual may have only tenuous identification, and community, where such identifications are much stronger. Society is larger, community more intimate. One finds only pe…

Sanātanātmā Prabhu

Sutradhara: My dear professor, you are a true scholar of the dramatic arts. I have now learned that we are about to stage a short play of the bhāṇikā type named Dāna-keli-kaumudī. But before so doing, it is incumbent on us to say a prayer to our chosen deities. (Folding his hands):

nāmākṛṣṭa-rasajñaḥ śīlenoddīpayan sad-ānandam |
nija-rūpotsava-dāyī sanātanātmā prabhur jayati ||
Glories to the guru, Sanatan Goswami,
whose tongue is always attracted to chanting the Lord's names,
whose character awakens bliss in the saintly,
and who gives a festival of joy to his disciple Rupa.
Or, (another meaning of the same verse)
Glories to that eternal lord,
whose name attracts the knowers of rasa,
whose activities always delight Nanda,
and whose beauty is a festival for all.
Rupa Goswami also uses this verse as his auspicious invocation to Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi (1.1). Since Krishna's name is not used directly, whereas his own name and that of his guru Sanatan are both found in the verse, I have ta…

DKK: The Bhanika

The sixth verse of DKK states the genre of play that will be performed by way of a pun.

avagaṇita-sandhi-bhūmā nāṭya-kaleyaṁ baliṣṭha-saptāṅgā |
parama-suvṛtti-yugāḍhyā vara-rājya-śrīr iva sphurati ||6||

The verse compares the play to a powerful kingdom that disregards the need for treaties (sandhi), which is empowered by seven great parts (which are svāmī (king), āmatya= (ministers), kośa (treasury), rāṣṭra (land), durga (fortresses), and bala (armies). The third characteristic of the powerful kingdom is that it is prosperous (āḍhyā) due to being highly just and righteous (parama-suvṛtti-yuk). The sutradhara will only make it clear in his next statement that the nāṭya-kalā he is here talking about is the bhāṇikā.

According to the Sāhitya-darpaṇa, there are 18 varieties of uparūpaka, or dṛśya-kāvya, that is to say a performance that is to be watched rather than to simply be read or heard (śrāvya-kāvya). In this he differs from the Bharata Nātya-śāstra, which only lists ten (18.2-3). …