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Showing posts from March, 2015

Is it not just selfish desire?

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Yesterday I went to listen to the Bhagavatam around the corner, where a seven-day program is going on. The speaker is in the Swami Haridas line, but he is a real non-denominational Vrindavan lover and seems to have equal affection for Harivansh Goswami and Radha Vallabha as he has for Swami Haridas and Banke Bihari. He also told some Gaudiya stories, like about Shyamananda finding the nupur in Seva Kunj, and Rupa Goswami’s warning not to look at Govindaji or you would lose everything.
smerāṁ bhaṅgī-traya-paricitāṁ sāci vistīrṇa-dṛṣṭiṁ
vaṁśī-nyastādhara-kiśalayām ujjvalāṁ candrakeṇa |
govindākhyāṁ hari-tanum itaḥ keśi-tīrthopakaṇṭhe
mā prekṣiṣṭhās tava yadi sakhe bandhu-saṅge'sti raṅgaḥ ||  My friend, if you still want to find pleasure
in the company of your friends and relatives,
then don't look at this form of Hari called "Govinda,"
not far from here at Keshi Ghat, smiling,
in his famous triple-crooked stance,
with his big crooked glance.
the red sliver of his lips…

Swami Vishwananda's Bhakti Marga and Parampara

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It has been a little strange here at Jiva these past few days. Swami Vishwananda is here with his troupe of disciples, of whom there are a goodly number, perhaps 80 or so.

When I arrived in Vrindavan already a couple of weeks back, almost the first thing I noticed at the corner of Mathura Road and the Parikrama Marg was a big billboard with Swami Vishwananda’s charming smile and glowing tilak staring charismatically out at the world and announcing that he would be giving darshan on March 8 at the Jiva Institute. Below him, in a smaller frame was Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji, who besides being his host will be speaking on the Bhāgavatam at the darshan event.

This is not the first time that Vishwananda and his group have been at Jiva. Satyanarayana Dasaji calls Vishwananda a friend, and indeed the relations between the two are very cordial. Vishwananda's group is mostly young and enthusiastic, predominantly European (German and points east), who are very enthusiastic about kirtan and …

Nala and Damayanti

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Yesterday I read Sunil Gangopadhyaya’s version of the Nala-Damayanti story. This is a rather famous story in the annals of Sanskrit literature originally found in the Mahābhārata, and I must surely have read it through before, but in this case I found that it was unfamiliar and new. And it still requires a bit of digestion, but on the whole it is a story of the glories of a woman’s love. Once she has picked her man, she remains faithful until death, no matter how lost her man becomes. Of course, by the intervention of the gods and the power of her devotion to her husband, all is well in the end. And she even becomes the power of compassion in her husband’s kingdom.
The story is, briefly, as follows. Nala is the king of Nishadh. He has a half-brother Pushkar who has an unimportant role as a prince in the kingdom and he hates Nala for having received their father’s blessings. A swan acts as a go-between and brings Nala and Damayanti together at her svayamvara. Since the swan has so com…

Asamprajnata samadhi and rasa.

I recently wrote an article in which I began to inquire into samādhi and bhakti-yoga. So, ever since I have been involved with hatha yoga, seeing what it offers to a bhakti-yogi, I have been fascinated by the insistence that many people make that the ultimate goal of all paths is one.

Now in one sense, one has to agree, since nothing exists outside of God, and whatever the varieties of enjoyments on offer to us by the three gunas, it is all indirectly and directly interaction with God and nothing else, so how can anyone say that they are not all one? And it is certain that with a little awareness one will see the God present, though hidden, in the material manifestations, the mirages that we go running after in the desert.

But the connoisseurs, those who are rasikas of the eka-rasa, want to know the mechanics of rasa and samādhi, because that is the promised land in the direction of which we have been pointed, somewhere beyond the desert.

So, generally speaking, the yoga-śāstra is de…

Identity with the sādhaka-deha

The other day I was attending Satyanarayana Dasaji’s Bhāgavata class and something came into my head when I heard it said that we are not these bodies.

So I asked him the question, “If a devotee’s body is spiritualized when he takes initiation, then would he not identify with it as the sādhaka-deha?”

Babaji’s answer was no, the spiritual identity is internal, we do not identify with the material body. I told him I would prepare my argument and submit it to him when it was ready.

My thinking goes like this: Vaishnavism is all about identity. “I am a servant of God.” That identity exists as a servant in the material body, which once we become sādhakas ceases to be, strictly speaking, material. This is the sampradāya-siddhānta: Since all the senses are engaged in devotional service, the body can no longer be called material. There is only one energy of God, which serves different functions, parāsya śaktir vividhaiva śrūyate. The appearance of difference is illusion.

So, this means that…