Friday, July 29, 2016

Remembering Sudama Dasji Maharaj, founder of Sudama Kutir

From Vrindavan Today.

Yesterday, devotees gathered at the Sudama Kutir in Vamshi Vat to honor the memory of Sudama Das Baba. It has been eleven years since Sudama Dasji entered the eternal Vrindavan, but his impact on the sadhu community is still being felt.

Bhagavan Das and Sutikshna Das, his disciples and grand-disciple who succeeded him as Mahants of the ashram, lit the lamp and garlanded the murti of their guru that graces his samadhi shrine. This was followed by speaker after speaker who remembered his commitment to service, to the sadhus, to Mother Cow and to humanity at large.

Sudama Das, it was said, embodied the mantra from the Ramananandi tradition that all repeat constantly:

bhakta bhakti bhagavanta guru catura nāma vapu eka
inake pada vandana kiye nāsaiṁ vighna aneka

These four – devotion, the devotee, the Supreme Lord, and the Guru – are one in name and form. By worshiping them, all impediments will be destroyed.

Since he founded the Sudama Kutir nearly 90 years ago, it has become one of the most important ashrams in Vrindavan, and certainly the most prominent center for the Ramanandi sampradaya in the holy city.

Sudama Dasji was born to a Brahmin family in 1899 in a village in Bihar called Chipaya Farm in the Gopal Ganj district on the border with Uttar Pradesh. He was given his yajnopavita at the age of five years. Though a bright child, he only went to school up to the fifth class. After that he began spending a lot of his time at the Sita Ram temple in Matihani, where he showed his interest in reciting the Hanuman Chalisa and Ramacharita Manas. Being talented at playing the cymbals (manjira) he was always an enthusiastic participant in satsangs.

At the age of 14 he was given initiation in the Rama mantra by Ramsevak Das, the temple mahant, and continued on in this way without much interest in a worldly life until finally after seven or eight years he decided to become a vairagi.

He began traveling. His first destination was Janakpur in Nepal, which is the birthplace of Sita Devi. He spent six months there, doing a “chaurasi kos parikrama” of Janakpur Dham, getting the grace of the universal mother, Sita Devi, and then went on to Ayodhya, the birthplace of Lord Rama.

In Ayodhya he stayed at the Mani Ram Dasji ki Chawni, which is the largest and richest temple complex in Ram’s city, also known as Valmiki Ramayana Bhavan and later in various other places in Ram Dham. Here he established the habit of chanting a lakh of Sita Ram’s names every day, as well as studying the Ramayana. This is also where he became a dedicated servant to the sadhus, which is a strong tradition in the Ramananda sampradaya everywhere.

One day, however, he saw a performance of Radha Krishna lila by the troupe of Swami Damodar in Mani Ram Dasji ki Chawni and was completely mesmerized by it. His heart started to be attracted to Ras Bihari Krishna, whom he saw as non-different from Ram, and so a short time later, in 1926, he came to Vrindavan to stay permanently.

He stayed at various places in Vrindavan town, particularly in Gyan Gudri at the Ram mandir. He came into contact with Jagannath Prasad Bhaktamali and took to the study of Bhaktamal. After a few years of enjoying the Vrindavan life, he was invited to stay with Ram Kumar Dasji Maharaj, who had a grass hut at the current site of Sudama Kutir.

Being on the Parikrama Marg near the Yamuna, the site was frequented by many passing sadhus and sants. Maharaj would take daily bath in the Yamuna and after doing his morning bhajan would then go to beg madhukari from villages on the other side of the river. He would bring back enough to feed all the pilgrim sadhus. It is said that he also would gather wood and cowdung for fuel to cook. He then did the cooking himself and served selflessly.

In the short biography of his guru, Jagannath Das Shastri writes, “Whether begging or cooking or serving prasad, Sudama Dasji Maharaj never stopped chanting the names of the Lord. As a result it went beyond all aspects of sound and became inherent in him, automatic and continuous ajapa.”

Ram Kumar Dasji not long afterward turned the ashram over to Sudama Dasji. The seva kept growing as the ashram’s reputation spread and as Sudama started to gather followers who admired his spirit of service. Operating on the principle that Shyamasundar will provide, just as he promises in the Gita – yoga-kshemam vahamy aham – he never worried for the means to continue the seva.

There is one story that on a feast day, a repast of puris, bundi and sak had been prepared for the sadhus and around 125 of them had taken prasad. Sudama Dasji and the rest of the sewaks were about to sit down and eat when a large group of fifty sadhus suddenly appeared. The devotees panicked as the prasad was almost finished and there was not even enough in the pantry to make more for this group. The merchant who was sponsoring the feast also panicked. He did not want to commit an offense to the sadhus who had just arrived. It was a Durvasa and Draupadi’s akshay patra situation. Sudama Dasji told them not to worry, to just keep serving and he himself filled the buckets supplying them with prasad to distribute. There was enough so that all the latecomers were fully satisfied with their meal.

When the other sewaks expressed amazement, Sudama Dasji answered, “I was just filling the buckets without thinking of anything and there always seemed to be enough to fill them.”

On another occasion it is said that he did puja and prayed to the Yamuna when the rising waters threatened to destroy the buildings in the ashram grounds. In one hour the river had receded a dozen meters, and in the morning it was several hundred meters away.

One time he went to Banke Bihariji for darshan, but the curtains closed for the deity’s nighttime rest. Maharajji sat in the temple for a few minutes and then, disappointed, paid his dandavats and returned to the ashram. The next morning when he sat down to meditate on the Name, he heard a sweet voice saying, “Baba! Baba! I came. Yesterday you missed me when the doors closed, so open your eyes now and look.”

Baba opened his eyes and saw the sweet three-fold bending form of Bihariji holding his flute and a cowherd’s stick in his hands, a peacock feather crowning his head. Sudama Dasji felt his heart burst with love, his life’s purpose had been fulfilled, the unattainable had been attained. His bhajan and sadhan had born fruit, his residence in Vrindavan and his service to the Vaishnavas had resulted in this greatest benediction. There was nothing left to attain!

And just as suddenly, Bihariji disappeared, leaving only the impression of his smile.

And there are also many stories about his relation to his deities. Once in the cold season, he woke up in the middle of the night shivering and could not understand it as he was well covered with a heavy quilt. He dozed off somehow and dreamt that the deity Kaushal Kishoreji was feeling cold. He got up and went to the temple room and found that the pujari had forgotten to cover the deity properly and his quilt had fallen to the ground. Sudama Dasji picked it up and covered the Lord and went back to bed.

Sudama Dasji’s reputation grew and so did the ashram. He is credited with establishing the tradition of celebrating Ramananda Jayanti with a big parade through Vrindavan, joined by sants from the numerous other Ramanandi ashrams in the town, like Gore Dauji. There is usually a great show of martial arts with sword play and so on. And unfortunately I don’t have a picture to show you of that.

But they also celebrate the birthdays of Agradas (the founder of his lineage), the appearance of the Bhaktamal, Hanuman Jayanti and the appearance of Tulsi Das, the author of Ramcharita Manasa.

The current temple with new, larger deities of Sita Ram was inaugurated in 1972. As Sudama Dasji grew older, he relegated the service duties to his disciples and went across the Yamuna to a quieter place to do bhajan. In a short time, crowds began to follow him there also and a temple with residences for 50 sadhus, with a goshala and so on was built there. Sudama Dasji tried to get away again and went to Prem Sarovar and did bhajan there, but the same thing happened. He also left Vrindavan once to go to Rishikesh and spent a few months doing bhajan on the banks of the Ganges. There too, an ashram was given to him near Laxman Jhula. In each of these places, service to the sadhus, the cows and the local people was established, along with the religious activities of kirtan and reading from the books that are most holy to the Ramanandi Vaishnavas.

Baba lived a very long life and was deeply loved and respected by devotees from all over northern India. In 2006, on Shravan Krishna Dwadasi, he entered the nitya dham at the age of 106.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Bhajana Rahasya 8.5: The spiritual identity of the perfected devotee

Bhajana Rahasya 8.5: The spiritual identity of this perfected devotee

This is described by Prabodhananda Saraswati in the Rādhā-rasa-sudhā-nidhi (53)—

dukūlaṁ bibhrāṇam atha kuca-taṭe kañcuka-paṭaṁ
prasādaṁ svāminyāḥ sva-kara-tala-dattaṁ praṇayataḥ
sthitāṁ nityaṁ pārśve vividha-paricaryaika-caturāṁ
kiśorīm ātmānaṁ caṭula-parakīyāṁ nu kalaye

When will I see myself as an adolescent girl, excited by the mood of being married to someone else, expert in all varieties of personal service, standing beside the Divine Couple, wearing a dress and blouse formerly worn by my own mistress Radharani and affectionately given me by Her personally.

Extended translation: How sweet it is to think "I am Radha's maidservant!" How tender and delicious is the remembrance of one's siddha svarupa! Srimad Jīva Goswami said in Bhakti Sandarbha (304), "Even if one does not perform any other spiritual practice, one can attain perfection simply by having the attitude that ‘I am a servant of the Lord’ (dāso’ham)."

The practising devotee takes the forms, qualities and activities of the eternally perfect maidervants (nitya-siddha-mañjarī-gaṇa) as his example to nourish his self-identification of “I am an adolescent maidservant with such-and-such qualities, service and form. I am not this body, I am not this mind, and I am not these senses, but I am a transcendental female individual, eternally endowed with adolescent beauty!” This is how the aspirant shrugs off his bodily and mental consciousness.

The Upaniṣads state: “The soul is not female, not male and not neuter. It is only upon attaining a particular body that one is identified with a particular gender.” (Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad 5.10)

Prabodhananda Saraswati not only thinks of himself as an adolescent maidservant, but he also says, "I am dressed with the leftover blouse and dress that Swamini lovingly gave me with Her own hand when She was satisfied with my service!"

According to Srila Raghunath Das Goswami, all of Srimatī Radharāṇī's clothes and ornaments are made of transcendental emotions. Even a dried-up heart will become filled with rasa by remembering Srimatī's leftover blouses and dresses. Uddhava says, " We, Your eternal servants, who eat only the remnants of Your food, who are dressed in the garlands, unguents, clothes and ornaments You have worn, will easily conquer Your material energy. " (Srimad Bhāgavata 11.6.46)

This is all aiśvarya bhāva (a reverential conception), therefore in Uddhava’s verse, the conquest of Maya is mentioned as the benediction, but in the realm of sweetness, rasa is the benediction. The meditation on Radhika's sweet pastimes is interpenetrated by the memory of the blouse and dress that She mercifully gave with Her own hands. The bodily fragrance of Radha and Krishna is sweet prasad, and when the kinkari smells it she feels blessed. (Ananta Das Babaji Maharaj)

Bhaktivinode Thakur—

siddha-dehe gopī āmi śrī-rādhā-kiṅkarī
rādhā-prasādita vastra kañculikā paḍi
gṛhe pati parihari kiśorī vayase
rādhā-pada sevi kuñje rajanī-divase

In my spiritual body, I am a gopi, the maidservant of Srimati Radharani. I wear Radha’s used cloth and blouse. Though I am still an adolescent girl, I have left my husband at home to serve Radha day and night in the forest bowers of Vrindavan.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Bhajana Rahasya 8.4: The premi devotee is filled with humility

Bhajana Rahasya 8.4: The premi devotee is filled with humility

Rupa Goswami quotes the following prayer by Sanatan Goswami, which is a verse indicating fixed hope (āśā-bandha) in the mind of a devotee who has attained the state of bhāva.

na premā śravaṇādi-bhaktir api vā yogo’thavā vaiṣṇavo
jñānaṁ vā śubha-karma vā kiyad aho saj-jātir apy asti vā
hīnārthādhika-sādhake tvayi tathāpy acchedya-mūlā satī
he gopī-jana-vallabha vyathayate hā hā mad-āśaiva mām

O my Lord, I have no love for You, nor am I attached to devotional service in practice, such as chanting and hearing. I do not practice the disciplines of Vaishnava yoga; I have no knowledge or pious activities. I cannot even claim to be well-born. Despite my lack of any qualification, O beloved of the gopis, my sacred hope in You is so deep that it will not be uprooted, because You fulfill the desires of the least qualified, giving them even more than they ask. Alas, alas! This hope of mine is causing me pain. (BRS 1.3.35)

Comment by Jiva Goswami: In this verse, both direct and indirect means to attaining the Lord are listed, beginning with prema itself, which is the only direct means. The ninefold process of bhakti beginning with hearing, etc., is the means for attaining prema. Yoga refers to the eight-part (aṣṭāṅga) system, but by adding the word Vaishnava it indicates meditation and the such on the presence of the Lord in the heart, not an impersonal kind of meditation. Knowledge here means knowledge of Brahman. And works refers to auspicious actions such as following one’s Varnashram duties. Being well-born is a cause for eligibility in Varnashram.

It should be pointed out that all of these practices from yoga onward are to be performed in a way that is beneficial to bhakti for them to be considered even indirect causes of attaining Krishna. Thus, yoga should be understood from the instructions of Kapila in the Third Canto; knowledge from the Gita 18.54, “One who is satisfied in heart and at one with Brahman... (brahma-bhūtaḥ prasannātmā); and pious activity from the verses in the First Canto starting with, “Verily this is the supreme duty for humanity” (sa vai puṁsāṁ paro dharmaḥ, 1.2.6).

When [Sanatan Goswami in this verse] says, “This hope of mine,” he means that he has set out to attain Krishna for his own happiness. It is not the thirst of one who has set out on the path out of love for the Lord itself. The fact that it “will not be uprooted” is the result of its being connected to his own desire for happiness.

“So what must I do?” He answers his own question, “O beloved of the gopis! You fulfill the desires of the least qualified, giving them even more than they ask.” My hope for attaining You can be turned into love by Your will, which means it will thereby be effective. The pain is felt because of this lack of pure consciousness.

This example is one of a devotee’s humility that comes with the attainment of bhava; whereby the sense of lack of qualification does not impede the desire or intent to serve and attain the Lord.

Bhaktivinode Thakur—

śravaṇādi-bhakti prema-bhakti-yoga-hīna
jñāna-yoga-karma-hīna saj-janma-vihīna
kāṅgālera nātha tumi rādhā-prāṇa-dhana
tomāra pade dṛḍha āśāya vyākulita mana

I am without devotional practice, without the discipline that leads to prema-bhakti. I have neither knowledge, self-discipline, good works, nor noble pedigree. Yet, O treasure of Radharani’s life, You are the protector of the poor, and so I maintain firm hope in Your lotus feet, even though this hope disturbs my mind.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Prabhu Datt Brahmachari

Many of Vrindavan’s scholars and sants gathered at the Bhava Sadhana Ashram in Gaura Nagar in order to offer homage to Prabhudatta Brahmachari in a special Guru Puja celebration. Haribol Baba recalled the role that Brahmachariji played in the anti-cow slaughter movement. As a result of his leadership, those devoted to Gomata were united in their efforts to end the mistreatment of cows. Many others remembered the contributions of Prabhudatt Brahmachari to the cause of Hindu nationalism.

The following account of Prabhudatt Brahmachari’s life is taken from several sources, but primarily from G. Kamesh’s Athato blog.

Prabhudatt Brahmachari was born in 1885 to a poor Brahmin family in a village in Aligarh district. He took a deep interest in Sanskrit studies early in his life and left home to study in various Gurukula including ones in Mathura and Vrindavan, finally ending up in Varanasi where Swami Karpatri Maharaj was one of his co-students. It was when still a young student that he made a lifelong vow of celibacy.

He was also drawn by the fire of the freedom struggle and became a follower of Mahatma Gandhi. He jumped into the fight for independence, going through the ritual of being jailed by the British. One of his prison mates was Jawaharlal Nehru himself. The irony is that he would later stand against Jawaharlal Nehru, in the first elections held in independent India.

Prabhudatt Ji was deeply spiritual, and undertook tremendous tapasya, right from his early years. He became a wanderer, and met many sages, including the great sages Oriya Baba and Hari Baba. He was deeply inspired by these two saints, and took every opportunity to take their guidance. Fired with dispassion, he decided to go away to Himalayas and not return until he had attained the supreme state of spiritual realization.

Oriya Babaji, recognizing this fire in him, encouraged him by showing him a picture he had of the Buddha. In that picture, Buddha was seen in almost skeletal state – his body completely wasted by the intensity of tapasya. Showing him that picture, Baba recited a related shloka:

buddhaihāsane śuṣyatu me śarīraṁ
tvag-asthi-māṁsaṁ vilayaṁ tu yāntu
aprāpya bodhaṁ bahu-kāla-durlabhaṁ
ihāsanān naiva samuccaliṣye

In this seat, (where I do tapasya), well may my body dry up, my flesh and bones decay; But without attaining Self-Knowledge, which is extremely difficult to obtain even after eons, I shall not stir from this seat, whatever it takes. (Lalita-vistāra 19.57)

Taking this guidance, Prabhudatt ji left for the Himalayas. But after serious tapasya he became very ill and could no longer continue. Breaking his resolve, he returned to the plains, and going to Oriya Baba, he conveyed his disappointment. Baba was a jnani who could gaze into one’s heart and see such things as eyes of flesh do not see. He was kindness itself, and said, “No problem. In failure, the seeds of success lie hidden. You have a predilection for reading and writing. Go and write books.”

And so began the writing life of Prabhudutt Ji. And what a library he has written! Starting with the life story about Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (Sri Sri Chaitanya Charitavali), he went on to write on a whole range of subjects. His magnum opus is Bhagavati Katha. This is a series of 118 parts, each of which is 200 to 250 pages long. The first 68 parts are a rendering of Srimad Bhagavatam in traditional Hindi (Vraja bhasha), including translations and commentaries on key verses of Bhagavatam. Parts 69-74 of the series contain a commentary on Bhagavad Gita. Parts 74 to 106 contains commentaries on 191 upanishads. Imagine Perhaps no one else in history has done commentaries on as many Upanishads. Parts 107 to 118 contain explanations of different schools of Indian philosophy and a commentary on Brahma Sutra.

For writing this magnum opus, he opted for complete solitude. Delegating all his secular work to others, he acquired a houseboat which he anchored in the middle of Ganga river. And there he worked undisturbed, focused fully on his writing work. What a tapasya!

The Bhagavati Katha is respected as a great spiritual classic. The Braja language verses are sung with devotion even today at Prabhudatt Ji’s temple of Hanuman in Vasant Gaon, New Delhi.
Swami Prabhudatt Brahmachari’s main Asram is in Jhusi, near Allahabad, where he is said to have done sadhana of the Gayatri Mantra, standing in a state of samadhi in the waters of Ganga …. In this ashram, he held vibrant Nama Samkirtan festivals that were attended by some of the greatest contemporary sages of North India.

The great sage (Maharajshri) Swami Akhandananda Saraswati has written in his book Paavan Prasang, that he considered Swami Prabhudatt Brahmachari to be the one who was inspired him to become a public narrator of spiritual Katha. And those in the know recognize that it is to Maharajshri that we owe, in a very large part, the traditions of Bhagavata Katha in the form that we see now, all over India.

He became close to Golwalker, the founder of the RSS, in early 1950. Golwalker persuaded him to stand against Nehru on the cow protection platform and against the Hindu Code Bill. So in the first elections held in the Indian Republic in 1951, he openly challenged Jawaharlal Nehru’s election to the 1st Lok Sabha from the Allahabad constituency. This he did even though he had taken a vow of silence earlier that year.

From TIME magazine, Jan 28th, 1952.

He contested as an independent supported by ultra conservative Hindu groups like Swami Karpatri’s Akhil Bharatiya Ram Rajya Parishad and the All India Hindu Mahasabha. They had joined hands on one common platform: all were virulently opposed to Nehru’s Hindu Code Bill which sought to make sweeping reforms in inheritance, property and marriage laws for Hindus.

It was an amazing campaign, recorded in great detail by the January 28, 1952 issue of TIME magazine. Describing the Swami as one “who wears a luxuriant grey beard, orange-and-red-rimmed spectacles, a saffron robe and a long white loincloth,” the article states, “Holy Man Brahmachari toured Nehru’s constituency in a 1931 Dodge sedan accompanied by a troupe of Hindu singers. To the chanting of Hindu psalms, he danced on the platform, rhythmically tapping a pair of small brass cymbals. A disciple read from a pamphlet he had written.”

The article quotes from one such pamphlet: “Nehru,” he said, is a ‘black Englishman [who] studied in the West… The Hindu Code Bill will ruin religion, confuse castes, split every family, pit brothers against sisters and profit only lawyers.”

Needless to say, Nehru trounced him by a huge margin. The swami, who had taken a vow of silence and therefore resorted to writing what he wanted to say, justified his decision to jump into the electoral fray. “If today I participate in an election, it’s only because my innermost voice bids me to do so,” he wrote – Time magazine noted cynically – “with his Sheaffer fountain pen.”
He lost the election all right, but never lost his sense of political purpose. One of the most important causes that seized his heart was the protection of cows.

Prabhudatt Brahmachari in his Vrindavan ashram in the early 60’s. Deendayal Upadhyay, a founder of the Jana Sangh party and M.S. Golwalker, founder of the RSS are in the photo.

Brahmachari was one of the leaders of the movement against cow-slaughter in India. This became a life-long battle for him with the powers that be. He toured the length and breadth of the country for his campaign. In 1966, he formed SGMS (Sarvadaliya Gorakshana Maha-abhiyan Samiti or “All Party Cow Protection Movement”) which included people from all parties, even some Congressmen. He announced that a huge Satyagraha would be held on 7th November 1966, followed by a hunger strike. It is estimated that lakhs of people came to Delhi for this Satyagraha.

Sadly, the situation turned out of control, there were reports of vandalism, police resorted to firing, resulting in six or seven sadhus dying, and many were imprisoned. The Home Minister, Gulzari Lal Nanda, had to resign his post.

In 1967 he went on an indefinite fast on the issue of cow slaughter. He broke the fast after 80 days after Government intervened and gave some assurances.

Near the end of his life Sri Brahmachariji established a Hanuman temple in the Basant Gaon Sanskrit school premises. He uses to state that Sri Hanuman is the ‘kotwal’ (guardian) of India’s capital city. He had conceived a huge statue of Hanuman for this. He had it carved in Karkala, a place near Udipi by and with the help of Vrindavan’s Shripada Baba had it brought from Karkala to Delhi by special railway wagon. This story is quite an epic, and you can read about it on Kamesh’s Athato blog.
Shortly after the Hanuman image had been installed and the Prayag Magh mela in 1990, Brahmachariji came away to Sunrakh village, near Vrindavan, where he had renovated the ashram of Saubhari Rishi, in whose lineage he had been born. A celebration had been organized there, and Brahmachariji, even though in failing health, attended it.

After that, he came away to his ashram in Vrindavan, and his health was fast deteriorating. It was the second week of March, 1990. Devraha Baba would send one of his disciples to enquire about Brahmachariji’s health every hour, or even several times an hour – so critical was Brahmachariji’s condition. Baba would send medicine for him, but Brahmachariji would not take any. He had but one strong desire left, to go to his Hanuman in Delhi. Bowing to his will, his devotees brought him to Delhi. He arrived at the Basant Gaon Ashram in the evening.

Seated in front of Hanuman, he gazed at the Lord, his eyes streaming non-stop. Then he asked to be taken on a parikrama (circling) of the murti, even as he sat on his chair and entered the samadhi state. The next morning, at dawn, he merged into Golok Dham. The date was 11th March 1990.
It is said that Prabhudatt Brahmachari had four deep desires:
  • To build a temple of Hanuman in Delhi, with a 40 foot tall Hanuman murti
  • To build a temple of Vishnu (60 foot tall murti) in Indraprastha (Delhi – perhaps the Purna kila region)
  • To put an end to cow slaughter
  • Release of Ram Janma bhoomi
Of these, there is but one that he could see happen. The Hanuman in Delhi… The Kotwal of the Capital….

hanuman delhi

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Bhajana Rahasya 7.23: One attains Krishna through love

One attains Krishna through love

Love for Krishna is auspicious for all conditioned souls, for through such love, they will attain Him. Krishna says this to the gopis—

mayi bhaktir hi bhūtānām
amṛtatvāya kalpate
diṣṭyā yad āsīn mat-sneho
bhavatīnāṁ mad-āpanaḥ

Whoever engages in My devotional service attains immortality, i.e., liberation or eternal felicity. You are especially blessed on account of the deep love you have for Me, by which you will surely attain Me. That is most auspicious. This love forcefully attracts Me and makes Me come quickly to your sides. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 10.82.44)

Expanded translation: Expecting that the gopis will say, “O eloquent one! You are blaming the Supreme Lord for our separation, but everyone knows that You are none other than the Lord Himself. We also know it,” Krishna answers, “Yes, indeed. It is true. I am none other than the Supreme Lord. Even so, as the Supreme Lord, I am subservient to the affection that you, My devotees, have for Me. Even the slightest amount of devotion for Me results in immortality, or liberation. The affection that you gopis have for Me, however, has been most auspicious, for it has forcibly attracted Me to you. It draws Me to you and very shortly it will make Me stay by your side forevermore.” (Vishwanath)

Bhaktivinode Thakur—

āmāte ye prema-bhakti parama amṛta
tava snehe niravadhi tava dāsye rata

Because you have attained the supreme nectar of immortality, pure ecstatic love for Me, I am affectionately devoted to your service without cessation.

I don’t mind the pain He gives Me. All that concerns Me is His pleasure. My greatest joy is to see Krishna happy. If that happiness comes at the expense of My suffering, it still gives Me joy. That pain is My greatest pleasure.

Oh friends! Hear my words. Whenever I become absorbed in the mood of love, then the One who stole my mind appears before me. But whenever I want to see Him through my own craft, He absents Himself to my eyes.

When I cannot see Him, my life airs cry out and my misery knows no limits. He is the friend of the entire universe, and sometimes He takes me with Him, but however He chooses to treat me, He nevertheless remains the love of my life.

When He gives me the joy of seeing Him and speaks sweet words of love to me, He enlivens my being. Then He disappears again, turning my heart to cinders. He is my very life, and His absence is like death. But whatever gives Him happiness is joy for me. I am indifferent to my own personal happiness or distress.

Bhaktivinode says: “In union or separation, I know Him to be the only Lord of my life. As I am happy in His happiness, my Beloved is never separate from me.”

In the Yoga Pith in the forest of kadamba trees in Vrindavan, surrounded by the eight principal sakhis, sit Radha and Krishna the flute player, stealing the minds of all creatures in the universe. I surrender my life to Their feet.

I serve the Divine Couple according to the orders of the Sakhis. As a kept maidservant (pālya-dāsī) I meditate constantly on Their lotus feet. Sometimes They kindly take my hand and speak sweet words. I serve them betelnut condiments and eagerly place a garland around Their necks.

Then when I don’t see Them, for any reason whatsoever, my heart burns with separation. But whatever my condition, I am always the maidservant of the Divine Couple. In union, there is bliss, in separation torment. But I treat the two states as equal.

Radha and Krishna are my life force, in both life and in death. May They be happy, either by maintaining me or by rejecting me. Bhaktivinode knows nothing else but Them. Falling down at his sakhi guru’s feet, he remains in Radharani’s group, his mind fixed on the Divine Couple’s feet.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Bhajana Rahasya 7.21: The gopis only wish for Krishna to return home to Vrindavan

Bhajana Rahasya 7.21: The gopis only wish for Krishna to return home to Vrindavan

On meeting Krishna in Kurukshetra, Radha’s only prayer is that He return to Vraja—

āhuś ca te nalina-nābha padāravindaṁ
yogeśvarair hṛdi vicintyam agādha-bodhaiḥ
gehaṁ juṣām api manasy udiyāt sadā naḥ

O lotus-naveled Krishna! Brahma and other great yogis like him, who have unfathomable wisdom, meditate constantly on Your lotus feet in their hearts, for such meditation is said to be the best means for conditioned souls to climb out of the dark well of material existence. May those feet always manifest in our minds, for we are attached to our householder lives and families. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam10.82.48)

Expanded translation: O lord of My life! Kindly hear My submission. Vrindavan is My home, and if I cannot have Your company there, I will not be able to survive.

O Krishna! For the materialistic person, the mind that accepts and rejects sense objects is considered to be the heart. My mind, however, is free from all such desires for material sense objects and knows nothing but the desire to please Your senses. It is thus a place that is fitting for You to conduct Your pastimes, for it is of the same nature as Your eternal abode, Vrindavan itself.

To give such a heart instructions in philosophy and mystical practice is a waste of time. Previously You gave us such instructions through Uddhava and now You are personally doing the same thing here in Kurukshetra. Our hearts are naturally full of love for You and so we need no such advice.

Yogis work hard to detach their minds from material sense objects and fix them on You in Your form as the indwelling Supersoul. We, on the other hand, have to work hard to forget You for even a moment so that we can fix our mind on our daily household duties. We try with great efforts to do so, but our minds are so imbued with thoughts of You that we cannot manage it. So when You instruct us to meditate on You, it makes us laugh.

We gopis have completely left bodily consciousness behind. This is our natural state. So how can the words “dark well of material existence” apply to us? In fact, our suffering comes of having fallen into the ocean of separation from You, where the great sea monster of desire to serve You is swallowing us up. If You want to save us, then save us from that monster’s gaping mouth. In other words, You must save us gopis from Your separation and not from material existence as such.

It is most surprising to us that in spite of being the pinnacle of virtue, You have forgotten Vrindavan, Govardhan, the banks of the Yamuna River and the forest bowers where we had our pastimes. Worse still, You seem to have forgotten all those who love You, including Your own father and mother, Your friends and the other people of Vraja, none of who can live a moment without You. You too seemed to love them once and yet, alas, You have forgotten them. Forget about us, we are not important. But we cannot comprehend how You could become indifferent to the people of Vraja, who suffer so much in Your absence.

Perhaps You have no sympathy for us and our distress. We do not ask for it, but think for a minute about Your mother, the queen of Vrindavan. When the people of the cowherd community see her suffering, their hearts break. Do You not feel the slightest twinge of remorse when You see her in this state?

I don’t want to blame You for all this. We can only say that Providence has treated us unkindly and that is why You have become indifferent to us all. It is simply our destiny. We Vrajavasis find absolutely no pleasure in seeing You in Your royal garb, living in a foreign land, and Your attachment to new companions. Even so, we cannot leave Vrindavan to follow You. That is impossible, even if we have to come face to face with death itself as a result of not seeing You. Can You come up with any solution for our predicament?

Sometimes You kill us with Your separation and then sometimes, like today, You revive us by giving us the hope that we may be reunited again. Why do You do this? You are keeping us alive simply to kill us by again destroying our hopes.

You are the very life of Vrindavan. You are Nanda Maharaj’s life’s treasure. You are the only wealth the people of Vrindavan cling to. You are compassionate by nature, so please come and revive the people of Vrindavan by placing Your feet in this land again. (Bhakti Promode Puri Maharaj’s summary of Caitanya-caritāmṛta 2.13.133-148)

Bhaktivinode Thakur—

kṛṣṇa he!
agādha bodha sampanna yogeśvara gaṇa dhanya
tava pada karuna cintana
saṁsāra patita jana dharu tava śrī-caraṇa
kūpa haite uddhāra kāraṇa
āmi vraja-gopa-nārī nahi yogī na saṁsārī
tomā lañā āmāra saṁsāra
mama mana vṛndāvana rākhi tathā o caraṇa
ei vāñchā purāo āmāra

O Krishna! May the fortunate masters of yoga with their fathomless spiritual understanding meditate on Your feet. May those fallen souls who are deep in the hole of material existence grab hold of those feet, which alone can pull them out of that hole.

I am a simple cowherd woman; I am neither a yogi nor am I a materialistic person absorbed in household life. My entire life is centered in You. My mind is really Vrindavan. Please fulfill My wish and place Your feet there.


In the debate about union and separation, and the frequent assertions that the latter is "superior" to the former, I have never found the argument particular cogent. After all, it is clearly stated that separation serves to enhance the union.

Here in BR, BVT has named Ch. 7 "Love in Separation" while Ch 8 is "Love in Union." So the imperative of logic is that union is the highest. That is what we strive for. Separation is the price we pay for enhanced union. And whatever union comes to us as a byproduct of separation is considered inferior to "real" union, as the union of physical lovers in the real world.

This section appears at the end of Ch.7, so even the glorification of separation cannot be without praises and assurances of union. Vrindavan is the land of union.

Prabodhananda Saraswati: The three great commitments

Yesterday was Prabodhananda Saraswati’s tirobhava tithi. Jagannath and Tamal Prabhu organized a meeting of Vaishnavas at the samadhi in Kalidaha. I went at 5 when it was to begin and found several sannyasis from the Gaudiya Math, Gopananda Bon Maharaj and Bhaktivedanta Madhusudan Maharaj were sitting on in front of the samadhi temple. Prawal and I went to visit Siddha Jagadish Das Baba’s samadhi, which is just next door. We met Prem Das Shastri there and exchanged a few words.

Amazingly enough, there has only been a celebration here for two years now. The ashram is a poor babaji ashram, and I suspect that there was no celebration of Prabodhananda's tithi, sampradaya-wide, for many, many years. Last year, for the first time, Jagannath Poddar and Tamal Krishna Brahmachari of Imli Tala decided that Prabodhananda Saraswati was too important a figure in the history of Vrindavan that a meeting to discuss his contribution was a necessity.

The place is itself small and has been broken up into many kutirs for bhajanandis. I can imagine what it was like when it was surrounded by sand dunes, but now it is hidden away behind Kalidaha Ghat. In front of the samadhi there is an empty dirt space out in the open, with room for perhaps 100 people at most to sit. It was filled up quickly with devotees from various places — many babajis, devotees of the Gaudiya Math including several sannyasis.

The talks though given in Hindi could practically have been given in Bengali the crowd was so overwhelmingly Bengali and Gaudiya Vaishnava, and renounced, committed to living in Vrindavan. Bhajananandis, in other words.

Naturally, there was talk about Prabodhananda Saraswati's identity. Perhaps I should take some credit, as I opened by asking whether there was one, two or three Prabodhanandas? But I admired the elegance with which Madhusudan Maharaj gave his shloka bedecked talk to glorify the three nishthas, the three grand commitments that are exemplified in Prabodhananda Saraswati's works: the grand and total commitment to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in the Chaitanya Chandramrita, the grand and total commitment to Radha in the Sudha Nidhi, and then his total self-loss in residing in Vrindavan.
Madhusudan Maharaj took the position that there were two Prabodhanandas, one who was in South India and Gopala Bhatta's guru, and the other who was Prakashananda and then wrote all the works attributed to Prabodhananda.

To support the former, he said it was impossible in those days for a brother born in a family of Ramanujaite priests to become a Mayavadi sannyasi, and yet the author of Sudha Nidhi, in the Gaudiya recension, concludes with the following verse to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu–
sa jayati gaura-payodhir
māyāvādārka-tāpa-santaptam |
hṛn-nabha udaśītalayad
yo rādhā-rasa-sudhā-nidhinā ||
May the Golden Lake be ever glorious, who has cooled the sky of my heart, which was burning from the summer heat of the Mayavada sun, with the ocean of nectar that is Radha rasa, or, by revealing the verses of this book, Radha Rasa Sudha Nidhi to me. (RRSN 272)

Prema Das Shastri, like all the speakers, chose verses that illustrate the same three kinds of dedication. He pointed out that Prabodhananda, from the verses he wrote about Vrindavan, clearly did not believe in accumulating money to build temples or anything of the sort. His renunciation was immense and his bhajan intense.

For Chaitanya nishtha, he chose the following well-known verse from Chandramrita–

saṁsāra-sindhu-taraṇe hṛdayaṁ yadi syāt
saṅkīrtanāmṛta-rase ramate manaś cet |
premāmbudhau viharaṇe yadi citta-vṛttiś
caitanya-candra-caraṇe śaraṇaṁ prayātu ||143||
If your heart yearns to cross the ocean of material suffering,
If your mind takes pleasure in relishing the nectarean taste of sankirtan,
and if all your mental functions wish to swim in the ocean of prema,
then you should take shelter of the feet of the moon-like Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. (CC 143)
For Radha nishtha —
yasyāḥ kadāpi vasanāṁcala-khelanottha-
dhanyātidhanya-pavanena kṛtārtha-mānī |
yogīndra-durgama-gatir madhusūdano'pi
tasyā namo'stu vṛṣabhānu-bhuvo diśe'pi ||
I bow down to the direction in which Vrishabhanunandini is present, for even Madhusudan, whose characteristics are incomprehensible to even the greatest yogis, thinks himself to be most fortunate and fulfilled when the most glorious breezes arising from the playful movement of the hem of her garments wafts his way. (RRSN 1)
And for Vrindavan Dham nishtha, he cited the following verse from the Mahimamrita,

bhrātas tiṣṭha tale tale viṭapināṁ grāmeṣu bhikṣām aṭa
svacchandaṁ piba yāmunaṁ jalam alaṁ cīraiḥ sukanthāṁ kuru |
saṁmānaṁ kalayātighora-garalaṁ nīcāpamānaṁ sudhāṁ
śrī-rādhā-muralīdharau bhaja rasād vṛndāvanaṁ mā tyaja ||
O Brother! Stay each night at the foot of a different tree. Beg for food in the villages. Freely drink the Yamuna waters. Make yourself a nice shawl from torn and discarded cloth. Consider praise to be a most horrible poisonous cup, and lowly condemnation to be nectar. Worship Radha and the Player of the Flute with relish. Never leave Vrindavan. (1.48)

And of course, each verse was elaborated on with a sweet explanation. Other speakers included Achyuta Lal Bhatt Goswami and Sushri Savita Devi.

There is talk about protecting the samadhi (there is no other temple there) or "improving" it. I suppose they will have to improve it, probably by enclosing it with protection from the monkeys and perhaps from the rain, building a small nat mandir and so on. Many devotees came forth with contributions on the spot to enhance the facility and glory of Prabodhananda Saraswati.
But I was happy to see that both representatives of the Gaudiya Math and from the Gaudiya babaji community sitting together. But of course, any discussion of Prabodhananda Saraswati's glories without the presence of representatives from the Radha Vallabha sampradaya is to be considered incomplete.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

"The test of our actual dedication and sincerity to serve the Spiritual Master..."

Swami B. A. Ashram:
Here is what Prabhupada wrote to me: "Now, we have by Krsna's Grace built up something significant in the shape of this ISKCON and we are all one family. Sometimes there may be disagreement and quarrel but we should not go away. These inebrieties can be adjusted by the cooperative spirit, tolerance and maturity so I request you to kindly remain in the association of our devotees and work together. The test of our actual dedication and sincerity to serve the Spiritual Master will be in this mutual cooperative spirit to push on this Movement and not make factions and deviate."
Today, a devotee of Prabhupada to whom I had said that I was a disciple of Prabhupada, played for me Prabhupada's words which he had isolated on my behalf, which said, "A disciple is one who accepts the Spiritual Master's discipline." His purpose was to let me know that he did not accept my claim.

My first answer was, "Who are you to judge my relationship with Prabhupada? You cannot speak for him and you cannot speak for me, so who do you speak for?"

He took a concerned attitude, "No, I am only playing your Spiritual Master's words so you can hear what your Spiritual Master says. You think what you want."

We went on a little and made some further remarks parting company. But I have no reason to feel defensive about my statement that I am Prabhupada's disciple and have never stopped being his disciple.

One takes birth from one mother and father alone, and they remain father and mother until your death.

So then, what is the discipline? Is it truly the discipline to maintain the organization Srila Prabhupada founded, the church, which as we know from Siddhanta Saraswati is doomed to a rather worse fate than we could ever wish on a movement that is dedicated to spreading the Holy Name?

In my view, the goal is prema, and that is a very personal endeavor that may or may not be facilitated by a disciplinary social organism.

But the "may not" is highly more likely than the "may" in this instance.

In fact, let me go on to say, that the path from vidhi to raganuga passes by way of jumping over the walls of the institution.

Now thieves also cooperate. Those who cover-up child abuse to protect the organization -- for Prabhupada's sake, for ISKCON's sake, or whatever -- they also cooperate. Those who seek power become allies and power brokers. They also cooperate. In a big institution, a lot of cooperation goes on. A lot of it may be totally sincere and even have some spiritual dimension, but it is often quite indirect,

And it is not for everyone. It may well not be for most. And indeed let us hope it is not.

And one thing is certain: It not the last word in understanding what Gaudiya Vaishnavism is really all about.

Why do we have to insist that Prabhupada taught everything that needed to be known? He was here for twelve years. How do you communicate a 5000 year old culture in that time? How does one sadhaka digest enough of India to be able to enter the mind of Rupa Goswami, or Kaviraj, or Mahaprabhu Himself?

Of course. Prabhupada wanted to preserve ISKCON, and at the same time he wanted his disciples to display the highest character, whereby truly saintly personalities would, by the combined force of their saintliness, won through service to the Holy Name, transform the world.

But it is open to a great deal to understand that Gaudiya Vaishnavism is about abandoning Varnashram Dharma and ISKCON is about establishing Varnashram Dharma. It is about that to the extent that any institution is a worldly institution, even if it is engaged in a preaching mission to teach the Holy Name.


Sadhu sanga is the only remedy for spiritual malaise. Just worked on these verses:

parasparānukathanaṁ pāvanaṁ bhagavad-yaśaḥ
mitho ratir mithas tuṣṭir nivṛttir mitha ātmanaḥ
smarantaḥ smārayantaś ca mitho’ghaugha-haraṁ harim
bhaktyā saṁjātayā bhaktyā bibhraty utpulakāṁ tanum

Devotees talk to each other about the glories of the Lord, which are all purifying. In each other’s association, they increase each other’s joy and satisfaction, and together they achieve the cessation of the selfish ego.

Remembering Krishna and reminding each other of Krishna, who takes away all the distress of sin, as their devotional service in practice is transformed into devotional service in love, they experience ecstatic symptoms like hair standing on the body. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 11.3.30-31)

But such sadhu sanga....


Swami B. A. Ashram :

If you miss the phrase "*mutual* cooperative spirit," I believe you miss what I have always seen as the essence of the letter. Cooperation does not just mean submission. It means working together. I knew Siddhasvarupananda pretty well. I lived with him for a number of years. He loves Srila Prabhupada and gave up more than you and I did to join ISKCON.

Nevertheless, ISKCON's leaders pretty much drove him out not just once, but three times. And some still don't want to leave him alone. And as far as the rest of us are concerned, if we don't submit to their control, they will do what they can to see that they are branded as deviants, regardless of their actual fidelity to the process given by our beloved spiritual master.

Jagat: Precisely what I would call the INEVITABLE consequence of institutionized bhakti. Institutions run by priests are a breeding territory for ambition and hypocrisy.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Bhajana Rahasya : The enchantment of the Lord’s form

(Bhajana Rahasya 6.17): When the Holy Name blossoms, the Lord’s beautiful form, which amazes even the Lord Himself, begins to exercise its enchanting power on the devotee. Uddhava describes the wondrous power of the Lord’s beauty to Vidura:

yan martya-līlaupayikaṁ sva-yoga-
māyā-balaṁ darśayatā gṛhītam
vismāpanaṁ svasya ca saubhaga-rddheḥ
paraṁ padaṁ bhūṣaṇa-bhūṣaṇāṅgam

To demonstrate the power of His internal potency, Yogamaya, Krishna took this body, which is perfectly suited to His human pastimes. It is so beautiful that it astonishes even Krishna Himself. It is the supreme achievement of opulent beauty, the ornament that beautifies its own ornaments. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 3.2.12)

Expanded translation: Of all Lord Krishna’s transcendental activities, His earthly pastimes in the human form are the most excellent, for this is His actual, eternal identity. In this form He dresses as a cowherd boy, plays the flute, blossoms with ever fresh youthfulness and dances expertly. His activities resemble those of a human being.

Just listen, My dear Sanatan, to the description of Krishna’s most attractive transcendental form. Just a drop of that beauty submerges the three planes of existence, attracting all living beings to Him.
Krishna desired to show the world the wonders of Yogamaya, His internal spiritual energy, the transformation of existence in its purest state. He did so by revealing this jewel-like form of beauty, this secret treasure of all devotees, manifesting it from His eternal pastimes.

So beautiful is this form that when Krishna sees it, He Himself is astonished and the desire to relish it completely rises up in His mind. This form is thus called “Krishna’s own good fortune”; it is the eternal abode of all of Krishna’s virtues, beginning with His unequalled beauty.

Krishna’s transcendental body is so beautiful that it even beautifies the ornaments He wears. He poses in an attractive curved posture, His bow-shaped eyebrows dance, firing the arrows of His oblique glances, whose aim is true, piercing the minds of Radharani and the gopis.

Beyond this material universe lies the Spiritual Sky, where the Lord’s infinite expansions reside. Krishna’s beauty is so great that it attracts even these lesser forms of Himself. Furthermore, it forcibly steals the minds of the Lakshmis, their consorts, who are glorified in the Vedas as the topmost and most exemplary devoted and chaste wives.

Riding the chariot of the gopis’ minds, Krishna churns the mind of Cupid, and thus has been named Madan Mohan, the enchanter of Cupid. His form, taste, smell, sound, and touch are more powerful than the arrows of Cupid, which attack these senses. He is thus the new Cupid, in which form He takes the gopis to perform the rasa dance.

Krishna takes His companions to graze the cattle and play freely in the Vrindavan forest. While there, He plays on His flute, causing all living entities from the trees and plants to the animals and human beings to tremble, while tears flow in torrents from their eyes.

Krishna’s pearl necklace appears like a flock of white herons, His peacock feather like a rainbow, His golden garments like flashing lightning. Krishna Himself looks like a monsoon cloud appearing at the beginning of the rainy season. He rains down a storm of ambrosia on the crops of the world.

The Lord’s essence is found in the sweetness of His beauty that is displayed in Vrindavan. Vyasa Deva’s son Shuka described this beauty here and there in the Bhägavatam to let the world know of it. When the devotees hear these descriptions, they become intoxicated \with love for Krishna. (Caitanya-caritāmṛta 2.21.101-110)

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Bhajana Rahasya 5.8: Taking shelter of the mood of the gopis.

Ah, this chapter five. So Bhaktivinoda Thakur has very expertly taken us through the first four chapters and now we are at ruchi. So this is the stage where one starts thinking about the siddha deha. But first one follows in the footsteps of the gopis by hearing their mood and being affected by their words.
I have been through BR before many times, but going through it fairly rapidly from beginning to end like this is revealing the overall path of bhajan very nicely. Bhaktivinoda Thakur did an excellent job, I must say.
I should add that Satyanarayan Dasji started me on a program of daily chanting these verses from the Bhagavatam (i.e. the gopis response to Krishna's testing of their love when he sent them back to their husbands and families. I did a recording of it when we first started, but I think now that I have these verses memorized, i can meditate on them better and also sing them with more feeling than I did then. I am thinking of recording it again.
The Bhagavatam is really a very high level of Sanskrit literature, and these verses are among its finest.
5.8 Taking shelter of the perfected mood of the gopis.

Once again, the gopis reveal their attitude to Krishna—

vīkṣyālaka-vṛta-mukhaṁ tava kuṇḍala-śrī-
gaṇḍa-sthalādhara-sudhaṁ hasitāvalokam
dattābhayaṁ ca bhuja-daṇḍa-yugaṁ vilokya
vakṣaḥ śriyaika-ramaṇaṁ ca bhavāma dāsyaḥ
Once we had seen Your face encircled by curling locks of hair, Your lips full of nectar between the cheeks beautified by Your earrings, Your smiling glance, Your imposing arms bestowing fearlessness, and Your chest, the pleasure garden of the goddess of fortune, we simply had to become Your maidservants. (Srimad Bhagavatam 10.29.39)

Expanded translation: After conquering the moon and the lotus flower, Krishna set out his trap, placing in it the bait of his sweetly smiling lips. The ladies of Vrindavan kept coming, fell into the trap and became Krishna’s maidservants, giving up their shame, their husbands and their homes.
My dear friend! Krishna is behaving just like a hunter. He has no respect for right or wrong, does not care for piety or impiety; but steals the essence from his prey, the women of Vraja, and is always seeking new means to catch them.

Krishna’s dolphin-shaped earrings sparkle and dance on Krishna's cheeks, stealing the minds of all the gopis. Then, He pierces their hearts with the arrows of His sweetly smiling glances. He has no fear of killing women at all.

Krishna’s broad and powerful chest, which is decorated with the marks of Lakshmi and Srivatsa, acts like a highway robber to steal the minds and hearts of thousands upon thousands of damsels, transforming them with great expertise into His slaves.

Krishna’s beautiful arms are like long bolts. They are not arms, but black snakes that creep through the cleavage between the gopis’ mountain breasts to sting their hearts. The gopis then die in agony from the venom.

The palms of Krishna’s hands and the soles of His feet are cooler than a million moons, cooler than camphor, fragrant ushir roots, and sandalwood. Just one touch of those hands and feet, and the poison agony of lust is destroyed. Thus all women’s minds hunger for their touch. (Chaitanya Charitamrita, 3.15.71-76)

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Bhajana-rahasya 5.7: Developing the mood of a gopi.

Lord Krishna is the only enjoyer. The living entity is constitutionally the object of the Lord’s enjoyment. Therefore, as one worships the Lord more profoundly, he begins to feel a strong desire for the service of Srimati Radharani. This means that he begins to develop the mood of a gopi. Here is how the gopis pleaded with Krishna after He told them to return home—

tan naḥ prasīda vṛjinārdana te’ṅghri-mūlaṁ
prāptā visṛjya vasatīs tvad-upāsanāśāḥ
tvat-sundara-smita- nirīkṣaṇa-tīvra-kāma-
taptātmanāṁ puruṣa-bhūṣaṇa dehi dāsyam

Therefore, O vanquisher of all distress, please be merciful to us. We have abandoned our families and homes to come here in the hope of serving Your lotus feet. O jewel among men, our hearts are burning with intense desires aroused by Your beautiful smiling glances, so please allow us to serve You. (10.29.38)

Expanded translation: We have abandoned our homes and families and come to You, seeking Your service, just like Narayan’s devotees who renounce everything for His sake. Since You are the equal of Narayan, please be merciful to us. If You should say, “Your past karma is bad and makes it impossible for Me to be merciful. After all, does Narayan give His merciful blessings to just everyone?” We answer, “O vanquisher of all distress! Does Narayan not destroy the distresses of those who take shelter of Him? He most certainly does! We too have come here and are standing right next to You. What is more, we desire nothing else, for we have abandoned our homes and families.”

If You then say, “Since You have given up all the pleasures of family life for My sake, You may ask something from Me that will make you happy.” This is our answer: “We have come here desiring to serve Your lotus feet. We have not come in search of the pleasure that is the fruit of such service, even if You should give it us. Service means to seek Your pleasure, not ours. Even so, if we feel joy at seeing You, we suppose there is no fault in that!

“If You say that makes no sense, we will answer, ‘Then extinguish the fire in our hearts.’ You are in fact the cause of this fire, for You have set our souls ablaze with Your beautiful smiling glances. So make us Your servants, Your mistresses, not Your wives.

“ ‘What kind of service is this?’ You may ask. Well, You are a lover of many women and an ocean of sensual desire. As such, there is only one way for young women like us to serve You—by giving You joy through worshiping You with our bodies. Therefore, even if we ask You to pour water on the fire of our desire, this is also really a prayer to serve You. The fire of our desire is really the primary tool by which we serve You. Therefore it is appropriate that we should address You as the jewel among men. We are like gold, and You are like a blazing sapphire, so please adorn our entire bodies.” (Vishwanath)

Friday, July 01, 2016

Bhajana-rahasya 5.6: The service attitude becomes natural in bhava

Bhajana-rahasya 5.6: With the manifestation of bhava, a fixed service attitude is natural

Vritrasura spoke the following prayer—

ahaṁ hare tava pādaika-mūla-
dāsānudāso bhavitāsmi bhūyaḥ
manaḥ smaretāsu-pater guṇāṁs te
gṛṇīta vāk karma karotu kāyaḥ

O Lord, when shall I once again become the most humble servant of the servants of Your lotus feet? My mind will remember Your virtues, O master of my life, my power of speech will be used to glorify You, and my body will always be engaged in doing Your work. (Srimad Bhagavatam 6.11.24)

Expanded translation: When Vritrasura saw that Indra was not throwing his thunderbolt at him, he thought, why should I speak to this Indra whom I see externally. Why should I not surrender myself to my Lord? The Lord then appeared to him in his meditation and Vritrasura began to speak this prayer: “When shall I once again become the most obedient servant of those who have taken exclusive shelter of Your lotus feet? Tell me please, how long will it take before this happens? I am burning up with anxiety.

"If you say, ‘I am coming soon to make you Mine, choose any benediction.’ then I shall tell You what I desire: May my mind always remember You, O Lord of my life! And may my words glorify Your qualities, and my hands be engaged in massaging Your feet, fanning You and furnishing betel nut. In this way I will serve You constantly in body, mind and words." (Vishwanath)

Bhaktivinode Thakur—

chinu tava nitya-dāsa gale bāṅdhi māyā-pāśa
saṁsāre pāinu nānā-kleśa
ebe punaḥ kari āśa hañā tava dāsera dāsa
bhaji pāi tava bhakti-leśa
prāṇeśvara tava guṇa smaruk mana punaḥ punaḥ
tava nāma jihvā karuk gāna
kara-dvaya tava karma kariyā labhuk śarma
tava pade saṅpinu parāṇa

I was once Your eternal servant, but Maya tied a noose around my neck and ever since I have been suffering repeated birth and death in this world. Now once again I have begun to hope that I may become the servant of Your servant and attain a drop of devotion for You.

O Lord of my life, may my mind remember Your virtues again and again; may my tongue always sing Your holy names; may my hands find joy in doing Your work. I have surrendered my life to Your lotus feet.

Note that the language seems to indicate a perfect state that was forgotten, contrary to the siddhanta of the acharyas. Have no fear, it is a kind of hyperbole.

Something that is intrinsic to me is missing. It feels like I should have something, but it is not there. My natural state is to be one with God. I feel it instinctively. Why is it not manifest? Surely something has been forgotten.