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The pitfalls of Yugal Bhajan, Part I

One of the verses that struck me when reading the Haṭha-yoga-pradīpikā was the following

tatra vastu-dvayaṁ vakṣye durlabhaṁ yasya kasyacit |
kṣīraṁ caikaṁ dvitīyaṁ tu nārī ca vaśavartinī ||
I will now tell you of two things that are very rare for anyone in this world. One is milk. The other is an cooperative woman. (HYP 3.84) I found the verse a little troublesome, first of all because milk does not seem all that hard to find, not like a spiritual partner for bhajan, and also because this word vaśa-vartinī seems to indicate a kind of patriarchal model of male-female relations, which I as a worshiper of the female deity, Radharani, i.e., as a worshiper of the Divine Feminine, Shakti, felt was philosophically incompatible. After all, Radharani is known as the one who controls Krishna through bhakti, indicating a primacy of the feminine.

My position has always been that of the spiritual complementarity of the sexes, a position that is closer to the Shakta philosophy than to the renuncia…

Being transported through a portal to another dimension

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I have been enjoying getting back into the "groove" as it were. I had been off-kilter since the latter portion of the Jiva Tirtha program and was finding it hard to orient myself. Too many foreigners!!!

Going to Barsana and immersing myself in Braj bhava and Bhakti Sandarbha has been tremendously rehabilitating.

The company of Binode Bihari Baba in particular has been very salutary. Kirtan each night with him and his core group -- Pandit, Madhu Baba and Ram Kamal Dasji -- was a very powerful reinitiation into the Yuga Dharma.

The heat was stifling. I had a room on the top floor of the Radhika Nivas guesthouse. 250 Rs. a night. No A/C or cooler. I spent my days sleeping and working on Bhakti Sandarbha. In the evening I would go to the Ladli temple and drink in the ambience. Then at about nine I would go to Binode Bihari Baba's ashram for kirtan. For my main meal I was going either to Binode Baba's or to Ladli Das Babaji's ashram in Radhika Bagh.

I slept a lot …

Accidental erasing of comments

My apologies to Prem Prakash, Alexander Shenkar, Maccidananda Nath and some other anonymous commentators. I accidentally pressed on delete instead of publish. Your comments are gone forever. I am really sorry. I only read a couple of them.

The Holy Dham is Nirguna and independent in its power

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Jiva Goswami spends several sections of the Bhakti Sandarbha (152-159) explaining that bhakti is free of the material qualities. In this discussion, he also mentions the Holy Dham and so I wish to discuss the nirguṇa nature of the Dham here.

When I started Vrindavan Today, I was imbued with a nostalgia for the Braj-Vrindavan of yore, which looked lost under the influence of India’s economic development. At the same time, we have an apparently insurmountable dogma: The Holy Dham is not within the material qualities of nature.

So we have to understand what that means. What does it mean that bhakti is not within the guṇas when everything in this world, according to the Gita and Sankhya philosophy, is just the interplay of these qualities? How can something, like Vrindavan, which is clearly being influenced by the Maya saṁskāras that surround it, the saṁskāras of saṁsāra, be considered transcendental to the guṇas?

The relevant verse here is the following from the Eleventh Canto, where K…

Shraddha and Bhakti Sandarbha

Since I have been reading about śraddhā in the Bhakti Sandarbha, I will discuss some thoughts on the subject.

Let me begin by giving Jiva Goswami's definition of faith, which is repeated several times and is brief and clear: Faith is a belief in the truth of the scriptures that deal with bhakti.

Faith is the qualification for bhakti. This is where the discussion begins. Though faith is not directly a part of bhakti, because bhakti, being directly a part of the svarūpa-śakti of Bhagavan, is independent of any belief or otherwise on the part of a being. The only problem is the recipient. If the recipient is crystal clear and innocent, then bhakti will act immediately, as it did with Ajamila. If not, it is like fire and wet fuel, it will take time.

Faith is, then, an intellectual act. Here is a verse that is taken from Brahma Vaivartta (I imagine this is a Madhva pramāṇa):

kiṁ satyam anṛtaṁ ceha vicāraḥ sampravartate |
vicāre'pi kṛte rājann asatya-parivarjanam |
siddhaṁ bhavati p…

Braj Bhava and the English OS

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I have been watching a lot of strange videos over the past few days. A rather abrupt and inexplicable detour from the few days of more intense bhajan in the association of Bengali Babajis in Barsana.

While in Barsana, I was standing in the Ladli temple on the outside terrace portion and someone appeared to have fainted. An elderly Brijbasi Gosai, with a bushy white moustache, a colorful turban and yellow silk dhoti, a stick in his hand, was walking toward me. For some reason I was impelled to say something stupid and started to speak, but my Hindi tongue was tied and could not express, "We must all pass by that."

At the Brajvasi's insistence I repeated myself again without success and ended up stuttering out the words andham tamah. Which I knew the instant they came out of my mouth that they did not fit at all what I really wanted to say, pointless as it was.

The Gusai responded vehemently in a tone of chastisement, but even singing a Brijbhasha song, glorifying Braj D…

Romantic Love and Sexual Repression

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premā dvayo rasikayor ayi dīpa eva
hṛd-veśma bhāsayati niścala eva bhāti |
dvārād ayaṁ vadanatas tu bahiṣkṛtaś cet
nirvāti śīghram athavā laghutāṁ upaiti
The Prema of the Rasika pair is a wondrous lamp
that floods the room of the heart with light
and burns bright with a steady flame.
Should the door of the mouth be opened
and the lamp brought out into the wind,
it quickly is extinguished, or its effulgence reduced.
Prema-sampuṭikā 68
Secrecy is the essence of romantic love. Secrecy means being able to control your sexual desire. The problem is that no one today is trained in this. I was reading in Gopinath Kaviraj's explanation of "Tantric" society, by which he was giving a Tantrik explanation to the Vedic or Varnashram social system, he says that the first stage of life, brahmacharya, is all about controlliing the bindu. The essence of education is to control the bindu.

It was being able to control the bindu that made you eligible for householder life. It was controllin…