Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Reflections on Bhajana Rahasya


As I go through the Bhajana Rahasya for hopefully the last time, I am still finding some verses for which no commentary was added. Sometimes this is understandable and has to be left aside, because giving explanations of something like vaco-vegam might take pages or even books in their own right.

In fact, too much explanation is the wrong way to go with Bhajana Rahasya. Someone who is ready for this summary by Bhaktivinode Thakur of how to enter into and take up ekanta raganuga bhajan, should already be pretty familiar with most of the concepts, which are being given in reminder fashion, rather than as narrowly focused guide to eliminating anarthas.

In the later sections where the verses summarizing the entirety of the sakhi kriyas or the different kinds of sambhoga, etc. are meant to indicate to the practitioner the _next_ level of study. The same is applicable to the Ashta-kala-lila sutras that come at the end of each chapter.

It is rather cool, actually, the way that Bhaktivinoda Thakur weaves the variants of the number eight: Eight pairs of names in the Maha Mantra, the eight verses of Sikshashtakam, the stages from shraddha to prema, the eight yamas of the Ashtakaliya lila,

In fact, it might be asked, if we are starting at the point of shraddha and going through anartha nivritti, before we can get to the "good stuff" then why is the first verses of the Smarana-mangala-stotra right there at the end of the first chapter, like a reward of rasa to relish after a hard slog through vidhi land.

Of course we need to remember the glories of the Holy Name, and if we understand the glory of the Holy Name we will know that the Name and the Lila are not different. The Name is "only as good" as the attitude we take, i.e, as clearly as we see the Name according to our devotional proclivity. It can just as easily become the vehicle for our sensual desires or any other desire anywhere on the ladder from the grossest to the subtlest material and spiritual desires without ever become madhura-rasa bhajan.

The first chapter of the Govinda-lilamrita is naturally the one that the serious raganuga sadhaka attempting to enter the svarasiki lila is going to come into contact with. And in many ways, Krishnadas Kaviraj is at his purest and most joyous, this is his "utsaha-mayi" stage. When we come to the picture of Radha and Krishna intertwined in loving fatigue, his black body intermeshed with her gold one, barely conscious they have to go home, the fear of moving and disturbing the other, is a beautiful mantramayi meditation that can go on for hours.

And each verse to some degree or another is like that. It is the way Sanskrit poetry works. Each verse tends to present a snap shot. It is like a film that has a strip of shots taken a second apart, time lapse photography. But as you go from one to the next, your mind learns how to fill in the spaces.

So really the first exercise of svarasiki lila smaran begins with Chapter one of Govinda Lilamrita, and it should take you a long time before you can really go on. Learn this chapter inside and out.

Then I should say we could proceed to chapter two, where we learn a little more about the indirect path, which unfortunately must be brought up. After all, you may be fooling yourself about your lobha, my friend, so make sure that you don't let yourself get distracted. You are probably not where you think you are, so get ready for some hard lessons.

But we will finish that chapter with another Govinda Lilamrita chapter. And we will go on in this way until we reach the culmination in Sambhoga, the Rasa Lila at night by the Yamuna. Then we can take a little rest.

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