Showing posts from April, 2014

Higher Education, the Humanities and the Neoliberal Agenda

A good friend of mine in the academic world reported recently that he has been cut back to a session lecturer with only two courses per semester. He is looking for ways to make up the difference in lost income, but it is clearly a huge disruption in his life. It will be challenging and I hope the best for him, but this is by now getting to be a pretty old story in the academic world, especially in the humanities.

This is the new world order, the way that the bean counters of the neo-liberal ruling classes have ordained that everyone should live -- in as much insecurity as possible. I myself experienced something similar after I finished my doctorate and was unable to find work in the academic field in Canada or the U.S.A. One can only wait so long, and the universities have long discovered that tenure and tenure track positions are more expensive than temps and grad students. When I was 43, I finally recognized that I did not have the time to wait; I had to make a decision and luckily…

Chandrabati: Tragic love in old Bengal

I generally have secondary reading material lying around, stuff that is meant more for entertainment and distraction than anything else. Nevertheless, I generally speaking keep an open mind and betwixt and between I also don't mind cross-fertilizing my brain with books that often fall into my hands serendipitously. Bizarre as that may seem.

I remember once when I was living in Nabadwip and I was invited to a small village on the Katwa-Burdwan medium-gauge line. It was not a particularly prosperous village. I had several friends on that line, including Shambhu Narayan Ghoshal, one of the most colorful personalities in the Vaishnava world I ever met. Srikhanda and Jajigram are on that line, close to Katwa, but these villages were further.

The bhakta who invited me was once an ordinary man, but then he cured a couple of people in the village -- brahmins, and he wasn't one -- of leprosy, by chanting the Holy Name. Then he had become a pakka Vaishnava, even though he was not a dee…

Worklife Resumes

My attention span seems to last approximately three minutes since GN left. But slowly my center is returning. The warm weather is back and the baking heat is to my liking. I like walking outside to the corner store barefoot, in just a babaji sarong.

Like many men, I use work as an escape from life. I have actually countless escapes from life. I am a real fire gazer. But that is the true grace of being alone, is that you can seek out a fire in which to gaze and find the Glory of God therein.

Of late I have been working on Kṛṣṇa-sandarbha and, for the past few days, Tattva-sandarbha. We are hustling to complete the Jiva Institute editions. Satya Narayan Dasji has now found a generous donor who is willing to subsidize the entire project, so a new, revised and updated edition of the Tattva-sandarbha will be published along with Bhagavat-sandarbha, which is the first of the books that I helped with. 

Paramātma-sandarbha is currently in the able hands of the third member of our team, Nava…

Radha Kund, West Bengal pushkarinis


Bengal I

My next door neighbor here in Vrindavan was a woman named Krishna Kumari Dasi, a disciple of Srila Prabhupada’s who had had a pretty rough life in ISKCON, to say the least. At any rate I wrote about this place on Vrindavan Today a couple of years ago. LINK.

As it so happens, things change and right now, the garden stands empty... Akhiladhar has gone to St. Petersburg with his wife to settle visa issues and to collect money to develop the property. He wants to create a separate venue with guest house for Russian devotees.

gave me the key and so the last couple of nights I have been going there to do a little kirtan. The dominant feature there is the rather full sized figures of Gaura Nitai standing in front of the Yamuna, with Madan Mohan temple in the background. But as I sing the Gaura arati of Bhaktivinoda Thakur, the river sure looks like the Ganga to me.

The statues were made by Akhiladhar, though he told me he was not an artist... I had to laugh at the uncanny resemblance Gaur…

Krishna West/East

"Krishna West" is a VERY big deal. What I see is that Western devotees want to appropriate Krishna bhakti, make it their own. It is as though they are saying, "Indians did okay up until now. Now it is our turn." Like every other good idea, Westerners want to make it better.

After all, the West rules the world and has imposed its ways on India, the giant sloth, for 250 years now. What will be left of Vrindavan when it has been westernized completely? Will Krishna leave Vrindavan for New Vrindavan? Is Krishna really so localized that he must stay here and bend with the times?

I am a leader of Krishna West, figuratively speaking, and who is more Krishna East than me? Hell, ISKCON was not Indian enough for me. But I am not worried about whether dhotis look like diapers -- I spend most of my frigging days walking around in nothing more than a kaupin -- I have been trying to figure out what the hell this whole Hare Krishna business is about anyway, what to…

The embarassment of love

It seems that the hardest thing to do in this sahajiya approach (forgive me for continuing to use this word, but I am currently stuck with it and have been unable to find an alternative) is to measure one's success.

The only measure I have at the present is "emotional intensity." This is not happiness or sadness but union or separation, which are both sides of the same coin.

When the object of love becomes coterminus with the Supreme Truth, then the happiness and distress arising from that love is constant and unrelenting. It seems to be mostly suffering, peppered with occasional bursts of extreme ecstasy. In other words, it appears to be an exacerbated version of the material experience itself. In other words, illusion.

Yoga and jnana cannot help. Knowing it is all illusion is part of the unrelenting dynamic of love. Concentration on the object of love is too painful. Like the verse says of Radha, her yoga is to stop thinking of Krishna.

It is too painful to love and to…

The sustainability of relations

Your theory is irrelevant, in my view, where it does not offer a solution to the problem of sustainability in relationships. You insist that this is achieved through incorporating yoga in the routine, but I disagree that it needs even consideration at this stage of the commitment of two bhaktas. Body is not the first priority in our tradition. Let me say that I think that this sādhana is at least potentially a solution to the sustainability of relationships. Prema Prayojan Dasji's model of sādhana in a couple, i.e. where the husband and wife participate as companions in bhajan of Radha and Krishna, is pretty much right on.

But I certainly don't think that any relationship can be sustainable if there is not a third point to the triangle, which is the Sacred, which in our case as Vaishnavas means Radha and Krishna. Without that external focus of the Divine Ideal, how can there be sustainability? Even the Catholics say the family that prays together stays together.

But the conce…