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Radha-rasa-sudha-nidhi at Munger temple

We were discussing the third verse in which it is being said that the dust of Radha's feet is a magic powder that immediately brings Krishna under control.

yo brahma-rudra-śuka-nārada-bhīṣma-mukhyair ālakṣito na sahasā puruṣasya tasya | sadyo-vaśīkaraṇa-cūrṇam ananta-śaktiṁ  taṁ rādhikā-caraṇa-reṇum anusmarāmi || I constantly meditate on the dust of Shri Radha's feet, which has limitless power, being the magic potion that immediately brings under her control that Purusha who is imperceptible to even such great souls as Brahma, Shiva, Shukadeva, Narada, and Bhishma. (RRSN 4) So the general discussion was centered on why should it be considered a good thing that the Purusha Krishna should come under the control of Radha. What is the meaning of a statement such as "controlling another person through love"? Needless to say this is a vast topic.

The specific context from the commentary by Harilal Vyas was that Krishna is warned by the sakhis who side with him, the priya-sneh…

Getting terminated at Munger temple

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I suppose it was only to be a matter of time before it happened, but last night Sadhu Maharaj asked me to discontinue giving my Rādhā-rasa-sudhā-nidhi classes. After discussion, I understood that his principal objections were that I was deviating and that what I said was rasābhāsa.

I suspected that there were in all likelihood more factors involved in his decision. No doubt he was starting to get feedback from those who were starting to dislike the fact that I was speaking in a Gaudiya Math affiliated temple. But the first thing he said to me was something to the effect, "I cannot follow what you are saying. I am a simple man. I want to hear Radha-Krishna kathā by the book. I told you to speak to the verses and not say anything of your own. I am now seventy years old, I don't have time for anything else."

Innocently enough, I explained that Westerner devotees have no understanding of Radha Krishna lila and without a proper background, explained to them in ways that are …

Another failed attempt to explain love

One of the reasons that I have been silent on this blog is because of the particular confused nature of my love life. I bifurcated my path from that of the Gaudiya Vaishnava orthodoxy and called it “Prema Prayojan.” I recognized that I was influenced by Sahajiyaism, and even called myself a Sahajiya, but at the same time I wanted to make a distinction between my own viewpoint and that which is traditionally identified with Sahajiyaism.

In fact, let us face it, most people have little real knowledge of what Sahajiyaism is. Most of what has been disseminated in the orthodox or Gaudiya Math worlds is a mish-mash of criticisms that stretches over a very broad area, from the traditional practitioners of Raganuga Bhajan (like Ananta Das Mahant of Radha Kund) to those doing kirtan professionally and making displays of emotion, to those who engage in some kind of sexual practices with apparently prodigious promiscuity in the name of Radha and Krishna.

In fact, I would say that Sahajiyas them…

Choosing between Spirituality and Activism: Vira-rasa and Madhura.

After Karttik Purnima I came down with a cold and a bit of exhaustion, and have been either sleeping or sitting here sipping brahmastra tea and catching up with international news of various kinds. Though many things, mostly same old same old, are features of the current world situation, I would summarize the following three principal points:
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(1) The American empire is expanding at a speed that I never would have imagined. If anyone had any illusions that Obama was progressive on this front when he promised to end the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, it is now clear that this was a smokescreen. The Military-Industrial Complex in the USA is the single most dominant force in dictating the international situation. The technological capacity to survey, control, and coerce ordinary citizens, combined with the total domination of the media in [at least] the USA for propaganda and control of information, is at levels that Communist and Fascist dictatorships of the past could only marvel at i…

Sādhakāśrayālambana

This is a couple of old posts from Gaudiya Discussions. I made no changes.

utpanna-ratayaḥ samyaṅ nairvighnyam anupāgatāḥ kṛṣṇa-sākṣāt-kṛtau yogyāḥ sādhakāḥ parikīrtitāḥ “These devotees who have attained rati (or bhāva), yet are still not completely free from obstacles, who are worthy of attaining a direct vision of the Lord, are known as sādhakas.” (Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu 2.1.276) Bhaktivedanta Swami : “A person who has attained the stage of attraction for Krishna and who is not freed from the material impasse, but who has qualified himself to enter into the kingdom of God, is called sādhaka. Sādhaka means one who is cultivating devotion in Krishna consciousness.” (NOD, 203)

Dhanurdhara Swami : “Sādhaka refers to an advanced devotee, not just to any practitioner. Only one who has ecstatic love can inspire that love to arise in others. Therefore, in this context, Srila Rupa Goswami has defined sādhaka as a devotee on the platform of rati, or one who feels attraction for Krishna. In ot…

Vrindavan: Today, Tomorrow, Yesterday

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I don't go out all that much, but whenever I do, the transformations that are taking place in Vrindavan on a day-to-day basis are constantly at the forefront of my perceptions. The other evening I cycled the length of the Chattikara Road from NH2 to the house and found it quite amazing to see how rapidly everything is mutating.

But that is quite the road at night now. New buildings -- hotels, ashrams, guesthouses, apartment buildings, residential developments, temples -- popping up everywhere, many of them looking quite posh in the night with their glass and polished granite facades and colored neon signage. With the dark night backdrop obscuring the old Vrindavan from view, one could be forgiven for thinking we were actually in at least the 20th century.

I went into the huge Akshaya Patra complex and attended arati there. It is a separate ISKCON, just a couple of centimeters different enough to be a "not-ISKCON", with a personality quite different from Krishna Balaram …

Shiksha Patra of Hariraya

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Another book I picked up since my return to Vrindavan and which I read from beginning to end, all 650 pages of it, is Śikṣā-patra. 41 letters by fourth generation Vallabhi guru Harirayji Mahaprabhu. I first read it in the English translation by Krishna Kinkari, a disciple of Prathamesh Goswami and godsister of the famous bhajan singer Shyamdasji, who passed away not so long ago. Despite the numerous flaws in the edition, such as spelling and layout, etc., on the whole it is a very readable translation and an illuminating book, understandably one of the important works in the Vallabha sampradaya.

http://www.pushtibhakti.org/abc/h.htm

The commentary by Gopeshwar, to whom the letters were written, is also very illuminating with plenty of verses quoted mainly from Vallabha's Sixteen Treatises. Anyway, there are several themes running through the book, mainly to give up anxiety and lamentation as a big impediment to spiritual life, sadhu-sanga, separation, etc. But the idea of grace, p…

The Restless River of Yoga (Intro)

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Over the next two weeks, I will be giving my attention back to Yoga-taraṅginī commentary to Gorakṣa-śataka as this project needs to be completed, and all that is left to do is a final redaction of the text and translation, and writing an introduction. So I will try to communicate those portions that I think are important or which affected me as I was doing the work.

I must confess that there has been a considerable change in lifestyles between the way I was living in Rishikesh at Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama and the way I am right now in Vrindavan. The three months at SRSG were fairly intense. Most of that time I spent in at least verbal silence, although I still used the internet. But even in that I was far more disciplined than I am now, as I kept my personal computer internet free. Besides that, I regularly meditated three hours a day and did hatha-yoga on a regular basis, including many of the disciplines that are described in the book I was working on.

Since coming back, one of the m…

That mysterious first verse of Gita Govinda

The first verse of the Gīta-govinda has been a source of confusion to scholars and devotees probably since it first appeared. There are a number of problems with it, all of which can be summarized as "it does not fit" what we know about the Radha-Krishna story in any source, Puranic or folk, prior to GG. Moreover, it seems to have little to do directly with the rest of GG.

To begin with, here is the verse:

meghair meduram ambaraṁ vana-bhuvaḥ śyāmās tamāla-drumair
naktaṁ bhīrur ayaṁ tvam eva tad imaṁ rādhe gṛhaṁ prāpaya |
itthaṁ nanda-nideśataś calitayoḥ praty-adhva-kuñja-drumaṁ
rādhā-mādhavayor jayanti yamunā-kūle rahaḥ-kelayaḥ ||1||

Lee Siegel:
The sky is densely clouded, the forest grounds are dark with tamala trees; at night he [Krishna] is afraid. Radha, you alone must take him home. This is Nanda's command, but Radha and Madhava stray to a tree in the grove by the path and on the bank of the Yamuna, their secret love games prevail.
Barbara Stoller Miller:
Clouds thic…