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Bhakti and the culture of the human body (deha-sadhana)

In response to my discussion of asana-siddhi, it was suggested that this was intended to impress others rather than to be a value in itself.


Of course this is not about impressing anyone, except for impressing on them the importance of physical culture, deha-sādhana. I cannot possibly agree with those devotees who think that proper care of this human body is irrelevant to the pursuit of bhakti. Who think that exploring the potential of the human body has no relation to the culture of Krishna prema.

śarīram ādyaṁ khalu dharma-sādhanam
The body is the beginning point of all spiritual culture.
The shastra glorifies the human body as the vehicle to spiritual realization, but we think it is only talking about the human brain and we ignore the rest of the possibilities and glories of this body. Dattatreya says the human body is the 25th guru. In other words, of all the "natural" gurus, the human body is the best.

Yet we think that listening to and learning from this miraculous engin…

Recognizing the channel of Grace

Bhakta : I find it a bit odd that the person (you) I respect and admire is defending someone (Prabhupada) who is the exact opposite. What I like about you is that you allow your perspective to change and grow as you become more realized, whereas Prabhupada presented himself as having all the answers for the next 10,000 years. If Prabhupada were here today he would probably deride you as a sahajiya - and yet you defend him. I know he is your first spiritual master... but, he is not your kind of a person.

People sometimes claim that if it weren't for Prabhupada then they would not have known about bhakti. I dismiss those arguments because we don't know what would have happened otherwise. I'm not so sure if on the balance what Prabhupada presented has caused more good than harm.

Jagadananda Das: Radhe Radhe. You can't talk about your life theoretically. Your life is all you have. The process of bhakti is to recognize the presence of Grace. And Guru Tattva means recognizing…

Sitting meditation postures and Bhakti Yoga

Thoughts after morning meditation. I am trying to attain asana siddhi, which means sitting for 216 minutes without moving - no stretching, twitching, itching, scratching.

What is interesting about asana siddhi is that you can't achieve it without pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi. But pranayama, etc., really only start after one has attained asana siddhi.

Question: Doesn't Vipassana do it?

Jagadananda Das: All meditation systems require sitting still. But Vaishnava meditation is meditation on Krishna mantra, Krishna rupa, Krishna lila, and on the world of prema.

Prabhupada disciple: In this age Lord Caitanya gave the process of chanting Hare Krishna as the only and proper way quick spiritual advancement. Much better use of 216 minutes than trying to attain asana siddhi.

Jagadananda Das: Thank you for your input. Now my question to those who talk like this is, what is the goal of chanting?
Is one meant to concentrate on the Holy Name?

Does chanting lead to the de…

What is bhakti yoga?

I was asked by my friend Gustavo Plaza, the editor of Sadhana, a Spanish language magazine on yoga published from Ecuador, to answer some questions for their next edition, which will focus on Bhakti Yoga. Answers were requested to be short.


1. In your words, what is Bhakti Yoga?

Bhakti yoga is the application of the principles of yoga, i.e., single-pointed concentration, to the art of love. It is the path of achieving union with God through the art of love.

2. What is the relation, connection and similarities of Bhakti Yoga with the traditional paths of Classical Yoga (Raja, Dhyana) and its practices? And what are the main differences of Bhakti Yoga to these other yogas?

All yoga systems follow the fundamental outline of the Yoga Sutra, proceeding from external practices to internal transformation. As one becomes purified by the external practices of Bhakti-yoga, one enters into subtler realms of consciousness. The principal difference in bhakti yoga is the emphasis on God as a person.…

Truth and the Deceiver

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I have a reluctance to speak of politics on this blog, though it is not a hard and fast rule. As a non-American observer living in a distant land, it may seem presumptuous of me to comment on the recent American election. Indeed, many of my friends think that as a devotee living in Vrindavan, such an interest is inimical to my vocation. However, my response is that in today's world, where globalization is bringing us all closer together day by day, awareness of trends in the most powerful nation-state on the planet is to be concerned with the entirety of humanity and the fate of the planet itself. We live in Vrindavan because it is the holy center of our religious path, but we do not reject the world as false. Out of concern for humanity we state our truth. Moreover, out of concern for the principles of our religion, we state our truth.

Those who find me "too concerned" with mundane affairs, or accuse me of prajalpa (!) are often devotees who simply hold differing view…

Vaishnava scholar Fakir Mohan Dasji nearing the end

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I just heard from Madhavananda Dasji of Bhubaneswar ISKCON that Fakir Mohan Das, a noted scholar of Orissan religious history and literature, is extremely ill and will probably not survive this crisis. His kidneys are failing and various other problems mean that the 90 year old sage and naishthika brahmachari is close to the end.

We met for the first time in many years just a few days ago in Vrindavan, where he had come for Karttik Niyam Seva, as was his wont. It was a wonderful, sweet meeting. I am sorry I missed the opportunity to associate with him more over the years as he is a fountain of knowledge about the history of Chaitanya Vaishnavism in Orissa.

I was a bit sad that he left Vrindavan when the heart problems struck again, but for him, Orissa is every bit as much a divya lila sthan as Braj. He was staying here with Nabadwip Chandra Das, a disciple of Gaur Govinda Maharaj, who was himself a childhood friend of Fakir Mohan's. When Gaur Govinda Maharaj opened the Bhubaneswa…

Three validations

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The amazing Ed Bryant (Advaita Prabhu Das) just received here at Jiva the final proofs for his new book, "Yoga in the Krishna Bhakti Tradition" to be published by the same company that did his Yoga Sutra, Macmillan. He has promised to give me a few excerpts for Vrindavan Today, so look for them in the coming days.

For all my friends in the AHYMSIN tradition, I will just say that Swami Veda Bharati wanted me to do something like this, research yoga in the Bhagavata Purana. He even had Ram Charit photocopy and paste all the relevant verses from BhP so that he could have it as a ready reference. And I even wanted to do it, and if I hadn't committed to Vrindavan  and the Sandarbhas project, I may have gotten around to it.

Swamiji was planning projects that he knew he could never ever finish to his final day.

Anyway, his desire has been fulfilled by a reputable scholar and, I may say, a great admirer of Swamiji's work. He relied on it heavily for his own Yoga Sutra work …

Kevala kumbhaka and nadi shodhana

One of the great good fortunes I had in my life was to get the association of Swami Veda Bharati. Two things he taught me come to mind this morning:  The actual meditation takes place on the outward breath. So lengthen the outward breath."And, "It is one thing to meditate in a secluded place, but can you maintain that same meditative state at the main crossroads of the Rishikesh bazaar?" What fortune that I have a place in the Dham where I can sit in silence and contemplate the name of the Lord. At the same time, I do have occasional contretemps which challenge my equilibrium and pretensions to saintliness. May love and peace rule our hearts and minds. Jai Radhe.

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For those wishing more information about breathing and meditation, you can look here for more information). In short, the sequence of learning goes through the following steps:

(1) abdominal breathing through the nose; put an end to mouth and chest breathing; even when chanting japa, mouth breathing shoul…

Love and vastu shakti

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Abhi sent me the following verse in comments on the debate post.

saṅgo yaḥ saṁsṛter hetur asatsu vihito ’dhiyā sa eva sādhuṣu kṛto niḥsaṅgatvāya kalpate
Association with the unholy that is undertaken by one in ignorance is the cause of material bondage. The very same association -- even in ignorance -- done with the saintly leads to freedom from material attachment.

Association for sense gratification is certainly the path of bondage. But the same type of association, performed with a saintly person, leads to the path of liberation, even if performed without knowledge.

If one keeps the company of the wicked, then the result will be a life of deep entanglement. Even if we don’t make the judgment who is a good person and who is bad, we will still receive the results of such association. On the other hand, if we associate with the saintly, we will be freed from all material attachment. (SB 3.23.55)
Vishwanath says that this verse shows that vastu-śakti (the innate power of a thing in itself…

A video about my fulfilling one of Prabhupada's last desires

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This video was filmed very nicely and professionally by Radha Madhava Das. I am not particularly eloquent, but it gave me a chance to speak of what I consider a very important experience in my spiritual life.


Out and about in Vrindavan, end of Karttik

I was just out and about in Vrindavan. I ran into Jack Hawley, a great scholar of Surdas who happens to be in Vrindavan doing a research project on the current state of affairs here.

Because of Vrindavan Today, he has already been to see me once. But I have stopped Vrindavan Today for the last two months and practically never go out in the street any more, even to go to the temples. It is too painful for me.

It is Karttik and Purnima is just a couple of days away. The streets are full of people, Traffic jams. Impatient motorists honking incessantly when there is no way to move forward. Crowds of people in front of the banks trying to get their 500 and 1000 rupee notes changed. The town is filled with more garbage than ever. If there is a garbage can, it is empty and surrounded by mountains of styrofoam cups, empty bottles, plastic wrappers and other crap being fed on by cows, monkeys and crows.

It is not a scene from the holiest place on earth.

Every day, the situation in Vrindavan …

God in human form, love in this world, and the future of human society

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We shall see what comes of this rather shocking election result in the USA. Some of my friends are very positive about it. They think that Trump knows the true hideous form of militant and imperialistic Islam and will rally the civilized world against it. The war of "civilizations" is finally being embraced wholeheartedly. The Wahhabis and their fellow travelers are out to convert India to Islam, to bring it back under their thrall as their quest for word domination continues and Trump is thus an ally in protecting Hindu India from them.

We are devotees. We are indifferent to the worldly powers. We know that God works his ways mysteriously. Who is to deny that evil is everywhere in the world? We believe that God ultimately favors his true devotees, even in the blackest of times.

The other day I was giving class on Gopala Champu on the second meaning of the introductory verse and the following expression came up:

नराकृति परं ब्रह्म narākṛti paraṁ brahma
Rupa and Sanatan, and …

Debate on love in the world at Jiva Institute (video link)

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The other day in my Gopala Champu class, I said the following:

"We can't understand the love of God without knowing love in this world. It has to reflect reality. You won't find love of God through failure of love in this world."
This comment did not pass unnoticed and one of the students asked Babaji for clarification. He said he disagreed and the student asked us if we were willing to debate the issue. Since we have been doing Nyāya and Babaji is something of an aficionado, he presented his point of view as a logical syllogism, making that the center of debate rather than my original statement, which made the discussion a little untidy. I was not prepared to answer his argument directly, but many in the audience were disappointed by the radical bifurcation of kāma and prema.

At one point Babaji says that desire is not in the soul. Frankly, I think that there is a bit of confusion in the sampradāya due to the Hindu world-view arising from Mayavada and Yoga. This is…

Three weeks of Bhakti Tirtha completed

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This is the team of teachers at the Karttik session of the Bhakti Tirtha course at Jiva Institute. From left to right, Dr. Edwin Bryant, Dr. Måns Broo, Dr. Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji Maharaj, my alter ego, and Dr. Matthew Dasti.

The first three weeks will conclude tomorrow after which Dr. Bryant and Dr. Dasti will be be going back to their real lives. The three weeks went by far too quickly. It is, of course, madness to think that they would be able to find the time away from their other obligations to do this entirely voluntary service in Vrindavan.

Babaji has gotten the students working on Sanskrit quite intensively. Our two guest lecturers have gone into the nitty gritty of Yoga Sutra and Nyaya, thereby generating a lot of philosophical questioning about God and the nature of God, etc., the reality of the world, and so on, as well as making these texts relevant to Gaudiya Vaishnavas in other ways.

The collegial spirit of the teachers and the students, which has people from a very …