Saturday, April 27, 2013

Becoming a bhūrido janaḥ

Over the last few days I have gone through a few anxious moments. There is no moment in life where a conflict does not lurk. In Gaudiya Vaishnavism, there is a big conflict between the so-called bhajanānandī and the goṣṭhyānandī, introverts and extroverts.

I have been living in Vrindavan, the ultimate destination of all Vaishnavas, at least according to Rupa Goswami, who lived in a different time, a different world from the one today. I love Vrindavan and I wish to cultivate love for Radha and Krishna in the way I do best, by doing bhajan and writing. Indeed, I have a strong introverted tendency. For me it has been characterized by a sense of unworthiness, that I am never good enough or accomplished enough to make a worthwhile contribution. 

On the other hand, in my youth I underwent a period of intense indoctrination in ISKCON to the idea of preaching. And that is characterized, as we often see, by an overinflated and borrowed sense of confidence. Neither of these character extremes can be considered ideal.

But who will not remember Krishnadas Kaviraja's inspired paraphrasing of the gardener Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's wish to share the fruits of love with the world?

ekalā mālākāra āmi kāhāṅ kāhāṅ jāba
ekalā vā kata phala pāṛiyā bilāba
ekalā uṭhāñā dite haya pariśrama
keha pāya keha nā pāya rahe mane bhrama
ataeva āmi ājñā diluṅ sabākāre
jāhāṅ tāhāṅ prema phala deha jāre tāre
As I am the only gardener, to how many different places can I go? And since I am all alone, how many fruits can I pick and give away? It is extremely tiring to gather up the fruits and distribute them by myself; it disturbs me to know that some people will receive my fruit and others will not. Therefore I order everyone to and distribute these fruits of love to everyone they see wherever they go. (CC 1.9.34-6)
ātma icchāmṛte vṛkṣa siñci nirantara
tāhāte asaṅkhya phala vṛkṣera upara
ataeva saba phala deha jāre tāre
khāiyā hauk loka ajara amare
I constantly water my tree with the nectar of my personal desire. As a result, there are countless fruits of love upon it. Therefore, everyone, distribute these fruits to absolutely everyone so that by eating them, they can all become free from old age and death. (CC 1.9.38-9)
So even when I was a babaji in Nabadwip from 1980 to 1985, I spent a great deal of time traveling to towns and villages in Bengal to speak on the Caitanya-caritāmṛta, trying to perfect my presentation in Bengali and trying to share my realizations. It wasn't always easy because my approach started changing. It gradually stopped being the vaidhi bhakti approach of "make your human life successful, become a devotee." That is good, but I wanted to share something more, try something a little different. It was not easy, because to share higher realizations requires different techniques and tactics.

But in Rishikesh also, I spoke on the Bhagavad-gītā to good audiences, intelligent people, yogis. Not devotees so much, but still I got to hone my skills somewhat.

Since coming to the rāgānugā way of thinking, however, I have kept my eyes on Srimati Radharani and her seva, and I have always thought that the crowning jewel of my life would be to glorify her, to have the capacity to chant her glories in the company of devotees. I often remember Narottam Das's verse from Prema-bhakti-candrikrā as a strong expression of that sentiment:

āna kathā āna vyathā, nāhi yeno yāi tathā,
tomāra caraṇa smṛti sāje |
avirata avirala, tuyā guṇa kala kala,
gāi yeno satera samāje |
Other topics are just another source of suffering, may I never go into them. All that suits me is the thought of your lotus feet. May I constantly and copiously sing your divine glories in the company of your devotees. (PBC 40)
It is my feeling that the dual relationship, which lies between the introverted singular and the extroverted plural relation states, is the necessary key to making the other two work. But for one who has developed an unhealthy unbalance to the singular, to the point, you could say, of narcissism, the challenges are not small.

I wrote on Facebook:
Anybody who talks about love is a dreamer, an idealist. Sooner or later, such people have to confront reality and see if love stands.
A number of thoughts followed and I will not go into that out of some embarrassment. This morning, though, I gave my Bhagavad-gītā/Sanskrit class to my audience of two and felt decidedly upbeat afterwards. Then I discovered the following [below the break] on my hard disk, more or less by accident, and I thought, yeah, to become a bhūrido janaḥ is a good ambition, and still not outside the realm of the doable. Someone wrote on the thread following that comment that biography is the best way to judge, in other words your life itself is proof of your commitment to your ideals and beliefs, and the extent to which you have been able to realize them in reality. So I approve that sentiment and realize that there is still quite a bit of work to do where the old prema is concerned. Challenge indeed.

Anyway, all this ended up with the following comments on my part, offering homage to both my introvert and extrovert tendencies:

yasya sphūrti-lavāṅkureṇa laghunāpy antar munīnāṁ manaḥ
spṛṣṭaṁ mokṣa-sukhād virajyati jhaṭity āsvādyamānād api
premṇas tasya mukunda sāhasitayā śaknotu kaḥ prārthane
bhūyāj janmani janmani pracayinī kintu spṛhāpy atra me
O Mukunda, giver of liberation!
Who in the world is there with the courage
to pray for the gift of sacred love,
of which even the slightest manifestation,
brushing slightly against the minds of the great sages,
makes them forget the happiness of liberation,
even as they are tasting it?

My prayer therefore to you is this:
that I should simply desire for such prema,
and that this desire should increase forever,
in this world, birth after birth.

(Rūpa Gosvāmī, Aṣṭādaśa-cchanda, Vastra-haraṇa, 2)

And I will say this: I will preach Prema Bhakti as I have been, whether I do so sitting here in Vrindavan or traveling, whether I get one ounce of support or not, and Prema Bhakti will be victorious.

I am just posting this pretty much as is. Normally, I would work at it more, but I will just post what is there without doing too much further research.


Introduction : In the previous verse, the gopis glorified Krishna’s sweet words. Now they ask who is capable of glorifying such sweetness. In answer to their own question, in this verse they will now say that even when spoken by someone else [in other words simply by hearing from another person], any discussions related to Krishna are better than both kinds of ambrosia [either that relished by the gods or the ambrosia of liberation].

tava kathāmṛtaṁ tapta-jīvanaṁ
kavibhir īḍitaṁ kalmaṣāpaham |
śravaṇa-maṅgalaṁ śrīmad-ātataṁ
bhuvi grṇanti te bhuridā janāḥ ||
The ambrosia of talks related to you is like water to those whose lives burn with suffering; because they destroy all sins, they are sung by the poet-philosophers. They bring auspiciousness to the ears, for they are permeated with good fortune. Those who sing these topics on this earth are the most generous givers.
What makes topics related to you ambrosial? In what way are they similar to these other kinds of nectar? They bring to life all those who have been made to suffer by the great disease of material life and repeated birth and death. At the same time, they bring relief to those who are suffering from the pain of your separation. As such it is greater than the ambrosia of the heavenly planets, as well as that of liberation.

So it has been glorified by great philosophers like Dhruva and Prahlad. For instance, Dhruva states in the verse beginning yā nirvṛtis tanu-bhṛtāṁ (4.9.10) that the two other kinds of ambrosia give him no pleasure:

yā nirvṛtis tanu-bhṛtāṁ tava pāda-padma-
dhyānād bhavaj-jana-kathā-śravaṇena vā syāt
sā brahmaṇi sva-mahimany api nātha mābhūt
kiṁ tv antakāsi-lulitāt patatāṁ vimānāt
O Lord, the bliss felt by embodied beings through meditating on Your lotus feet or from hearing about You from pure devotees cannot be had in the experience of Your Brahman effulgence, what to speak of the temporary pleasures found in the heavenly planets, which is ended by the separating sword of time. (4.9.10)
Furthermore, this ambrosia destroys all sins, including prārabdha-karma, which the ambrosia of the heavenly planets cannot. Indeed the pleasures of heaven simply increase desires and even create new ones. Neither does the nectar of liberation destroy prārabdha. Neither of these kinds of ambrosia are auspicious (maṅgala) like these topics, which simply through hearing are not only relishable, but also bring about the fulfilment of one’s innermost desires.

This ambrosia is śrīmat, because it brings the greatest good fortune or riches, the treasure of divine love. Furthermore, it is ātataṁ, expanded further and further at every moment by those who recite them, which cannot be said for the two other kinds of nectar. Thus those who sing these topics are the greatest givers, they are the most charitable, for they give so much that no one could ever be able to repay them for their gifts.

An alternative interpretation of the verse is given as follows. In the previous verse, it was said just how sweet Krishna’s voice is, but for the gopis, Krishna’s voice alone, without his direct personal association, is unwelcome and a source of great distress. In other words tava kathā mṛtam – “Talk of you is death for us.”

 How is that? taptaṁ jīvanaṁ. It causes our lives torment. The implication is that your kathā is like water sprinkled on boiling oil (rather than bringing peace or pleasure, it causes an explosion). [translating taptaṁ jīvanaṁ as “heated water”]

If that is the case, you may ask why the Puranas have so glorified these topics. In answer, we say that it is in the nature of poets like Vyasadeva and others to simply describe things, which is what they have done here too. But these are simply [empty] words.

The words kalmaṣāpaham imply that yes indeed such topics destroy past sins, but it is through the suffering they cause, as suffering is the way that past sins are expiated. Those people who listen to these stories find that their well-being is destroyed [I am not quite sure how he gets this meaning of maṅgala], so if intelligent people consider that by hearing them unhappiness will result, then they won’t listen to them and your topics will die out.

Those who are puffed up with their own good fortune and wealth (or seeking to make a fortune and good name for themselves, but secretly harboring) the hope that everyone will be killed off, travel from country to country, village to village, to preach the words of the Puranas and establish their authority. Therefore this verse says, “Those who glorify these topis are bhūrida”, only here this should be interpreted as meaning those who destroy or tear apart (dyanti from the verb root dya, which means to break asunder and destroy) many, many listeners (bhūri). Those who preach your topics are worse than the wolf that enters in sheep’s clothing (lit. the enemy hunter who acts so nice and kind), and are to be avoided at all costs by anyone who has any brains.

It will later be said [in the Bhramara-gita], in a similar vein –

sakṛd-adana-vidhūta-dvandva-dharmā vinaṣṭāḥ |
sapadi gṛha-kuṭumbaṁ dīnam utsṛjya dīnā
bahava iha vihaṅgā bhikṣu-caryāṁ caranti ||

As soon as the nectar of your pastimes enters the ears of a person, it immediately cause all dualities to cease. The unfortunate person to whom this happens at once leaves his home and family and as a result there are many of them wandering around like birds, begging in the streets. [10.47.18]
In fact, this verse is a vyāja-stuti, praising the greatness of the topics of the Lord and those who speak them, but doing so by pretending to condemn them.

Here is a little bit from one of Sanatan Goswami's commentaries, with some similarity to that given above.:

His second interpretation: When we get these special flashes of your topics (tvat-kathā-sphūrti-viśeṣeṇa) while in separation from you, they kill us. Therefore they are death itself; (tapta-jīvanam) they cause one’s life to become so overcome with suffering, for it is the nature of love to so burn one up in its fires that it immediately brings one to the point of death. Even so the poets glorify these topics because they destroy sin [no further explanation here]. And furthermore, they are pleasing to the ear. Those who are puffed up with their great good fortune, like Brahma and others have spread these topics all over the world (śrīmadātatam). In fact these two descriptions, i.e. of being pleasing to the ear and being spread by those who are obsessed with their own wealth and fame, are criticisms, not praise. Thus those who spread these topics in the world are the causers of great destruction (bhūrida).


Gauraharidas Avadhuta said...

Awesome blog. Nice to hear your sincere intimate thoughts on these subjects and also you quote great prema filled verses that glorify the ultimate goal.

Anonymous said...

wallowing in misery, i've been directed to your blog.

your talk of bhajananandi and gosthyanandi reminds me of aindra prabhu's book...the relationship between the external activities and the internal cultivation of love. What did you think of that book? Being a sanskrit person what is your definition of "niskincana-bhajananandi"

Jagat said...

I haven't read it, so I really can't comment. There are several books coming out of ISKCON right now that try to suss out the raganuga path from various texts, but these people are doing it independently, without any tradition and, in my opinion, with only textual knowledge. They feel that Prabhupada has given them everything, but this is of course not so.

Besides, the vaidhi mentality applied to raganuga bhakti is still vaidhi bhakti, no matter how sentimental we get.

Anonymous said...

thank you for you kindness of response.

I'm on page 75 of aindra's book (downloaded) and when i get further along i'm going to come back here and hope for some more discussion on bhaja... and gosth... I would appreciate that. His book is not what you might think.