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Showing posts from January, 2012

Bhava-rasa in RRSN 147 (continued)

Now HLV gives a short analysis of this verse, in particular looking at the meaning of the word tāratamya, listing a number of items that have been analyzed in the Radha-vallabhi doctrine in the comparative or graded approach.
With regard to Radha and Krishna, the mutual distinction of who is object and who is subject (rati-viṣayāśraya-bheda) and thus who is the attached (āsakta) and who is the object of attachment (āsajya). This latter is a favored terminology of HLV and used throughout his commentary. Though Radha and Krishna are mutually object and subject, in the end HLV stresses the superiority of seeing Krishna as the lover of Radha and Radha as the object of his love. AtIn the sakhis, there is a gradation of independence and dependence depending on the distinctions between rasa and bhāva.Where Vrindavan is concerned, in the matter of the Braj and the nikuñja, and so on, there is a gradation of externality and internal, i.e., degrees of confidentiality and intimacy of the pastime…

Prabhavishnu Swami's fall from sannyasa

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Prabhavishnu Swami, a leading ISKCON sannyasi and guru, 60 years old, was recently caught in flagrante delicto with a woman, apparently a non-devotee, in Bangkok. Another tiresome episode that has ISKCON's critics jumping up and down with indignation, and many disciples crying in pain and disbelief.

Where are the pure devotees? They cry. All the gurus are false, they scream. ISKCON is full of fakers and misleaders, they say. Prabhavishnu himself has given a litany of excuses -- overwork, too much travel, etc. But they refuse to put their finger on the obvious.

Neither the ISKCON leadership nor their critics in the Prabhupadanuga camp have identified the real flaw, which is the sannyasa institution itself.

Sannyasa, like brahmacharya, is something of a cult trick. It is a leftover from the Mayavada influence on India that rejects the world, and therefore sees woman and sexuality as false. An organization like ISKCON demands uncompromising and absolute fidelity to the cause, and th…

Bhava-rasa in RRSN 147

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Harilal Vyasa (HLV) has given a lengthy 157 verse introduction to his commentary in which he points out his principal intentions in his work. In it, he cites verse 146 (147 in the Gaudiya edition) as a case of rasa-bhāva-vivecanam, and the point he makes there is the following:

rasopasarjanī-bhūto bhāvo mukhyo rasaḥ smṛtaḥ |
bhāvaḥ śyāme raso gaure yasya sādhāraṇo na saḥ |
[Since] bhāva is that which produces the rasa, rasa is therefore the more prominent [of the two]. One whose bhāva is in Shyam and rasa in Radha is not common. (103-104) This is meant to be a quick summary of HLV's understanding of the verse and a highlighting of its importance. Now let's look at the verse itself in a little more detail:

na jānīte lokaṁ na ca nigama-jātaṁ kula-paraṁ-
parāṁ vā no jānāty ahaha na satāṁ cāpi caritam |
rasaṁ rādhāyām ābhajati kila bhāvaṁ vraja-maṇau
rahasy etad yasya sthitir api na sādhāraṇa-gatiḥ ||
One who does not know the ways of the world, nor the scriptures, nor the family t…

Yeah, the nostalgia thing

Life in the age of the internet. I posted something on Facebook and had barely finished when I got a phone call from a friend in England commenting on it...

And now I am listening to Radio-Canada Espace Musique (easy listening music in French) just like I used to when working in my basement in Laval. The weather is cold enough and I have a space heater near enough to nudge me into a state of nostalgia.

It coincides with a recent concerted look at the five past years of this blog... I need to organize this material and publish a book. It is clear that people don't really take a blogger very seriously unless he is notable for other reasons. I have been thinking recently about my various projects and having to prioritize. That is really a priority... much as all the other stuff is desirable, necessary, even a moral imperative.

But the blog... It is not just what was written, but what was not written. I recently wrote about being a hybrid. Being a hybrid is nothing unusual; I think mo…

Chips from the workshop

A bit like old days... Alone working at the computer, listening to the radio and throwing chips from the workshop at the internet... Nostalgia is a curious beast. I was going through my old blogs for the past five years. Some of the most creative moments came from the cavern of a troglodyte.


kālena pādaṁ labhate tathāyaṁ
tathaiva pādaṁ guru-yogataś ca |
utsāha-yogena ca pādam ṛcchec
cchāstre ṇa ca pādaṁ ca tato'bhiyāti ||

The disciple learns one-fourth from the guru, one-fourth by his own effort, one-fourth by discussion with his co-disciples, and one-fourth by the efflux of time. (Sanat-sujatiya 3.13, according to Shankara commentary) The translation does not give the four items in the same sequence as the Sanskrit, following the commentary ascribed to Shankara. Swami Veda's translation, which is more faithful to the original:
The disciple attains a quarter in time, a quarter through association with the guru, a quarter through his own enthusiasm and diligence, and the final qua…

New Year's Reflections, III: Vrindavan Today and Gaudiya Grantha Mandir

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As I mentioned in the previous post, I started an on-line newspaper a year and a half ago called Vrindavan Today. This post has been sitting here for more than a week, unfinished. As usual, when this happens the flow of time is producing changes, fluctuations of mood, and so does not truly represent the way I felt on January 1. On the whole, I am much less optimistic about the fate of this project.


When I started this post, I had just posted an article on Vrindavan Today about Shripad Baba. While researching that, I read something about him that was on a blog by Hindi writer Karan Singh Chauhan. I did not have time to translate any of the interesting anecdotes that he wrote. But here is one:

तो देखा आपने बाबा का प्रभाव । पैसे की क्या कमी है ? उनके इशारे पर लाखों आ जाते हैं । आप जानते ही होंगे देवराहा बाबा को । पेड़ पर जो रहते थे । बड़ी-बड़ी हस्तियां उनके दर्शन को आती थीं । पैसे की तो चाह नहीं फिर भी आने वाले बोरा भर कर रख जाते थे ।

आश्रम के चार कमरे नोटों की बोरियों से भरे रहते थे । ख…

Brief meditation on pravartaka and sadhaka stages

Understanding the relationship of the pravartaka stage to the sādhaka stage.

There is a gulf of difference between these stages, as the higher level is practically unrecognizable as part of the same path to one in the lower stage.

As one progresses and gets closer to the subsequent stage, one inevitably thinks that he is coming close to either siddhi or to self-destruction. It is a confusing state until one has completed the transformation.

That transformation is easy to misunderstand for numerous reasons, which is why it is often condemned in various ways, usually by using the sahajiyā label as a term of opprobrium. Such propaganda serves the purpose of creating a wall around the next stage.

Like most steps prior to making a leap of progress, this can be characterized as the "wall of dharma" like the one the gopis had to cross to reach Krishna in the forest of Vrindavan on the night of the Rāsa-līlā.

In the pravartaka stage, the practices of devotional service themselves b…

2011 Grinds to a halt: Part II: Vrindavan

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If I had to say what the main event for me was in 2011, it was definitely the move to Vrindavan. Since the end of 2007, I have been spending most of my time at the Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama in Rishikesh, which was recently named the fourth best yoga ashram in India. Life was good there and, in terms of my own spiritual practices, I was given plenty of time to study, learn, teach and write. This year, I finished editing the revised and enlarged edition of Swami Veda Bharati's Yoga-sütras. I went back in September for a month to complete the project, and there are still bits and pieces left. I am also signed on with Swami Veda to work on a couple of other books. I like Swami Veda and I like his people; I also like the ashram. But Vrindavan has been calling for a long time. Vrindavan is my home.

About two years ago I got involved with the Braj Vrindavan Heritage Alliance and not long afterwards started Vrindavan Today. Actually, when I came to India in 2005, I realized that it was alm…

2011 Grinds to a halt: Part I: Prema Prayojana

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One year is over, another begins. Happy New Year to all.

For me, it is again a time for some reflection. It has been an eventful year for me, but still not entirely satisfying, mainly because of my own limitations. What have I done this year? What have I accomplished? And where am I going and what do I hope to yet achieve? I am going to make a couple of blog posts musing on these matters, which will no doubt look like navel-gazing, but then what are blogs for?

Of course, the main, basic, fundamental point is prema. This is such a grand and cosmic goal that it sometimes gets lost in the day-to-day functioning of life, the immediate goals, but one should never forget it. And in fact, everything that I do, in one way or another, is connected to that overarching principle, prema is the prayojana. Even when it appears otherwise, that is the principle that I live by to the best of my understanding. And if one ever feels satisfied, then that merely means his hunger was not great enough.

A…