Sunday, January 18, 2015

State of Disunion

I am too split in various directions still. At my age, it is disconcerting to see me entering into the last phase of life with so many things unfinished. I have perhaps been too ambitious and now find myself in the unfortunate position of having bitten off so much more than I can chew that much of what I have done is inevitably going to remain incomplete.

(1) Swami Veda Bharati's Yoga Sutra 

Currently I am in Rishikesh working on the Yoga Sutra for Swami Veda Bharati.

Comment: Swamiji is 82 and in poor health, going through period crises related to his heart condition. Yesterday after evening meditation he called me into his room and told me that he was not certain that he would be able to live to complete the Yoga Sutra project.

In many ways I am indebted to Swamiji personally and I have given him my word that I will help him to finish his magnum opus, the four volume series of Yoga Sutra with reference to 22 commentaries and his own experience of the oral traditions of yoga as he received it from his master, Swami Rama.

Swamiji is a powerful yogi. Although he is not from the bhakti tradition, as am I, I have learned so much from him, especially in terms of yoga practice that I find beneficial to bhakti. Even now, here in Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama, after seven years of comings and goings, I am feeling the accumulated benefits of the practices I learned here.

But bhakti is really my only path. Concentration, meditation and communion are all positive when brought to bear on the Divine Couple, and so I feel no contradiction in what I am doing. Nevertheless, at some point I will have to move on back to full time commitment to the path of prema-bhakti, integrating what I have gained from here.

I pray to Swamiji to bless me with the gift of his own good qualities, his assiduity, his commitment, his unswerving determination to serve his guru and to fulfill his objectives as a teacher of his path. If he can help me go from the vikshipta to the ekagrata stage, that will be enough. If I can ever have one tenth of his virtues to render service to Radha and Krishna and their devotees, I will make my life perfect.

(2) Service to Satyanarayana Dasa of the Jiva Institute.

I have too many gurus. It is the result of my deep hunger to perfect my life and to know God. Satyanarayana Dasaji, like Swami Veda, has been exceedingly kind to me. He has engaged me in the service of participating as a team member in the translation and publication of the Six Sandarbhas of Jiva Goswami.

Babaji is another great scholar and an ocean of good qualities. His dedication to Srila Jiva Goswami makes him a very important person in my life. As you may know, I completed my PhD at the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies in 1992 on Srila Jiva Goswami's Gopala Champu. It was a case of extreme hubris on my part to skip to the very end of Jiva's life's work without having thoroughly studied the Sandarbhas. In actual fact, the ocean of Gaudiya Vaishnava literature is so deep and vast that even after studying it my whole life I cannot say that I have come near the end of it. After all, these scriptures are not academic knowledge to be acquired by study alone, but to be realized through sadhana.

As with Yoga Sutra, however, I am like a sieve. Most of the knowledge pours through me like water in a rusty old bucket. But I cannot call myself a Gaudiya Vaishnava without having completed going through the Sandarbhas thoroughly, especially Priti Sandarbha. We are currently working on Krishna Sandarbha, so there will only be the last volume to complete.

Besides this, I have also associated myself with Jiva Institute by taking a room there and offering my services as a teacher to anyone who wishes to study, thus helping Satyanarayana Dasaji to fulfill his goal of disseminating the teachings of Jiva Goswami and Rupa Goswami to those who will come to avail themselves of the facility given by the Institute.

This is also a promise I cannot break.

(3) Vrindavan Today. 

I have started and stopped VT several times now. This project is one that is dear to my heart and another thing that I don't want to give up, but it requires far more work than a single person can do, and so far I have been unable to find persons who understand what I have been trying to do here and are willing to commit to this important project, which goes far beyond a mere blog.

If I were young, I would live for Vrindavan Today. I cannot imagine a more exciting life than exploring the rich traditions and colorful people of Braj Dham and sharing my discoveries with the devotional world. How sad that for so many people, knowledge of the Dham and thus their love for it is vitiated by a sectarian mentality. The Dham is a fascinating place where the principal subject is love for the Divine Couple, so let Prema rule!

And prema in the Dham in these days has taken on a crucial aspect: that of preserving its essence. It cannot be done by any sect alone, but requires a concerted and combined effort and I see VT as serving a unifying role in bringing people together to give Vrindavan a strong voice for conserving its unique spiritual heritage.

Some help has been forthcoming. Jagannath Poddar has done a lot and Satyanarayana Dasaji is a supporter, but I cannot find competent and dedicated people to do the work. And with me being in Rishikesh after several months in Canada, this project has once again fallen into limbo.

(4) Dwadash Mandir

Last year I visited my guru's bhajan sthali and the birthplace of Bhaktivinoda Thakur in Ula Birnagar, West Bengal. I wrote several articles about it. (1) (2) (3). Currently Harigopal Dasji is there and doing some work on a perimeter wall. I fear for this place and its future, though perhaps it is wrong to think that it is in danger. But if there is one thing I think that will ruin it is if the 21st century or modern tendency to have to turn everything into a "preaching" center with magnificent trappings to attract the bahirmukhas to bhakti so that there will b
e great numbers of followers, opulence, and all the attendant distractions from bhajan.

My gurudeva was about bhajan without distractions. And though he made a tremendous effort to dig these old buildings out of a jungle nearly a century ago, he wanted it to be a place of bhajan, where the spirit of Bhaktivinoda Thakur as visualized in books like Jaiva Dharma would be kept alive. The more we move into the world of globalized bhakti, with the spirit of America in the forefront, the harder it becomes to preserve that mood.

What is really needed here is not an influx of money and crowds of wet-behind-the-ears white brahmacharis jumping up and down, but one or two serious bhajananandi Vaishnavas who are dedicated to preserving this particular aspect of Bhaktivinoda Thakur's legacy. Harigopal lives in Radha Kund. As you can see, I am all over the place and certainly haven't finished my business in Vrindavan, or even Rishikesh yet. So how can I be the man for this job?

And yet, Harigopalji asked me to participate and I gave it long and hard thought and finally said yes. But how? Where will I find the time? It is not a hit and run job, but one for someone who is ready to sit down and chant all day. Who can do that in this Kali Yuga of rushing around looking for money and followers to find self confirmation? But such a monastic atmosphere is exactly what the world needs, especially the Gaudiya Vaishnava world.

(5) Gaudiya Grantha Mandir

Here again Satyanarayana Dasaji has been supportive, but still because I cannot find people to commit to the work involved, progress has for all intents and purposes come to a halt. This is painstaking work, brethren. I just spent the last week going through and correcting the already typed commentaries of Vachaspati Mishra and Vijnana Bhikshu on the Third Pada of Yoga Sutras. This is what I call the 2.00 level of editing. Alternative readings and so on have not been noted.

Another important text I have been trying to complete is Jiva Goswami's last work, Sankalpa-kalpa-druma, which has about 700 verses. But for various reasons, it is still far from being completed and corrected.

And so it is with the more than 700 texts that were on GGM. Satyanarayana Dasaji has given funds for Sachinandan Das Babaji Maharaj to type in new texts and he is currently typing the remaining Gaudiya commentaries of the Tenth Canto, which in itself is a huge task. But his work needs to be corrected and edited carefully. We don't have the resources of the BBT and frankly, the last thing I want is to just turn this project over to ISKCON. If they want to support us, fine. And maybe one day we will have no other choice than to turn it over to them. Hari Parshad Das in Mumbai has shown interest in reviving the website and putting it back online. But that in itself is a monumental task. He is certainly qualified, but is a working man and also has other important service to do.

(6) My personal work

Now here we come to the place where I really start to get anxious. Not only have I done a lot of work that is worth publishing, translations and research, all of which is extremely relevant.

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