The sādhanā of identity and the two husbands dilemma

So, by the magic of modern transportation, I have been teleported from Gauda Dham to Braja Dham. And according to the acharyas of our parampara, we can have either or both. But how to be ekāgra in sādhanā, and yet ekāgra in more than one thing? More than one identity?

I can see that there is much seva to be done at my guru's bhajana sthali, the birthplace of Bhaktivinoda Thakur. When the Thakur was considering living in Radha Kund after his visit there in 1884, he happened to be in Tarakeshwar and Shivaji visited him in a dream to convey the message: "What's all this about going to Braj? Is there nothing for you to do in Gaura Dham?"

There is no doubt that the conception of Nabadwip as a Dham and a Tirth Sthan along the lines of Vrindavan was very much _the_ contribution of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur. There are some who debate the authenticity of the Chaitanya birthplace in Mayapur, but there is little likelihood that ANY of the consciousness of Mahaprabhu's Dham that is currently present in Bengal and the rest of the world is can be credited to anyone other than him and those who followed him.

How many beautiful songs the Thakur wrote about Nabadwip --

কবে নবদ্বীপে, সুরধুনী তটে
হা গৌর নিত্যানন্দ, বলি নিষ্কপটে
নাচিয়া গাইয়া, বেড়াইব ছুটে
বাতুলের প্রায়, ছাড়িয়া বিচার
কবে হবে বল সে দিন আমার?

kabe nabadbīpe suradhunī taṭe
hā gaura nityānanda bali niṣkapaṭe
nāciẏā gāiẏā beḏāiba chuṭe
bātulera prāẏa chāḏiẏā bicāra
kabe habe bala se dina āmāra?

When on the banks of the Ganges in Nabadwip
will I sincerely call out "Ha Gaura Nityananda"?
Dancing and singing, I will run hither and thither
practically mad, without care for others !
When, O when, will that day be mine?

I also read last night in an article Ananta Vasudeva Das Paravidyaratna (Puridas) wrote for the 100th anniversary of Bhaktivinoda Thakur's birth, what Bhaktivinoda Thakur said about Ishodyan, the area just where you get off the ferry on your way to Mayapur. Bhaktivinoda called this place "God's garden" and revealed that it was the place where Gaura and Gadadhar have their madhyāhna līlā pastimes.

When I am with Gadadhar Pran in his house in Ishodyan, it is very clear to me that he is doing bhajan in the footsteps of Bhaktivinoda Thakur, even while following his own personal inspiration and inclination. Who else is doing rāgānugā bhajana of Gaura-Gadadhara in Ishodyan?

I am also discovering a little more what it means for me personally to be a follower of Bhaktivinoda Thakur.

It is probably true that when I left Iskcon to join Lalita Prasad Thakur, I was thinking more of the connection to the source of the sampradāya, the avatāra generation (as I wrote recently), but the connection is still through Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur, and I pride myself that it is a more direct one than it is through Iskcon or the Gaudiya Math, even though each is following Bhaktivinoda Thakur  in his own way. It is just that there is a slight difference in the way that he has been mediated to us.

Even though Gadadhar Pran and I follow our own independent conceptions of just about everything, rather than being strict vaidhī bhaktas who follow any particular rule particularly strictly, or profess to follow externally. Our sādhanā is primarily internal. By which I mean we seek the transformation of identity in terms of the Lord's līlā. We do not wish to be deprived of the ultimate goal by being tied down to accidents of time and place.

But three months at the Thakur's birthplace has made me think over my external awareness of Bhaktivinoda Thakur's person, his personality, his work, or his "avatāra" as an exemplary human being and Vaishnava, as well as being our connection, and through the "good" son Lalita Prasad Thakur, our spiritual father and grandfather.

I have always put certain aspects of my connection to Bhaktivinoda over others. Siddhanta Saraswati and Lalita Prasad had two different visions of Bhaktivinoda Thakur, and this can be looked at as two sibling rival sons for their father's love. Which in this particular lila, in this particular human līlā, turns out to be for the best, because Bhaktivinoda Thakur himself had innumerable facets, and to ignore one part for another does not give one the most joyful or fullest vision, especially not to us (me and Gadadhar Pran) who are the spiritual grandchildren of Bhaktivinoda Thakur, in a way twice over!

[I should mention here, as an aside, that the other day, when I spoke about being Narayan Maharaj's senior, this is what I met -- how many generations of mediation exist between you and Bhaktivinoda Thakur? Does it make a difference? I think it does.]

So the priorities that Iskcon and the GM derive from Bhaktivinoda Thakur's teachings are justified, but my Gurudeva also took a certain priority in following his father, and that was towards the culture of inwardness. The duality created between him and his brother must have energized him to follow his path perhaps more doggedly than would have happened otherwise. But the result is the same and highlights more acutely the differences in the visions of Bhaktivinoda Thakur, ones that came in different father-son contexts, a father who was different from the person he had just been a few years before, and thus a different person to his different sons.

Nevertheless, there is one point on which both certainly agreed, though their expressions of it were different, and that is the idea of the Nama Hatta and the Nam Tahal: i.e., the final necessity of Nam Sankirtan and preaching Gauranga's message.

As the Thakur says in the same song, kabe habe bala se dina āmāra?

কবে নিত্যানন্দ করিবেন দয়া
ছাড়াইবে মোর বিষয়ের মায়া
দিয়া মোরে নিজ চরণের ছায়া
শ্রী নাম হাটেতে দিবে অধিকার
কবে হবে বল সে দিন আমার

kabe nityānanda karibena daẏā
ghucāibena mora biṣaẏera māẏā
diẏā more nija caraṇera chāẏā
śrī nāma hāṭete dibena adhikāra?
kabe habe bala se dina āmāra?

When will Nityananda be merciful
and release me from my material illusions?
When by giving me the shade of his feet,
will he permit me to attend the market of the Holy Name?
When O when will that day be mine?

And in the concluding verse:

কবে জীবে দয়া হইবে উদয়
নিজে মান হীন, সুদীন হৃদয়
ভকতিবিনোদ করিয়া বিনয়
শ্রী আজ্ঞা টহল করিবে প্রচার
কবে হবে বল সেই দিন আমার?

kabe jībe daẏā ha-ibe udaẏa
nije māna hīna sudīna hṛdaẏa
bhakatibinoda kariẏā binaẏa
śrī ājñā ṭahala karibe pracāra
kabe habe bala sei dina āmāra?

When will mercy for the lost souls arise in me,
when in true humility I put a stop to my self-importance?
Bhaktivinoda humbly prays, "When will I preach
Gauranga's order from door to door?
When, O when, will that day be mine?"

So there is no doubt that Gaura Dham and Gaura līlā -- even in its external forms -- was central to Bhaktivinoda Thakur's sādhanā. I think sometimes he was torn between the three centers (Vrindavan, Gaur Dham and Puri), it was Gaura Dham that ended up taking precedence.

For me, after giving lectures and classes in Bengali for the last three months, I really think that following this concept of Mahaprabhu's līlā as a behavioral example, is the appropriate form that I need to follow in my life at this time. And that is saying a lot for me, after being five years continuously in Vrindavan and fairly committed to being here and staying here forever.

I am writing something else I am going to post on Vrindavan Today. It is actually a rehash of another article I wrote earlier. I will link to it in the comments. This will illustrate to you the idea of identity as a sādhanā, and how the very purpose of such sādhanā is to simplify and reduce to one identity!

Gadadhar Pran manages to juggle three identities! He has taken acting (in his siddha deha) as the path to salvation and has mastered each role he was asked to play by his own desire. And all that along with his identity in this world, which is really the reflection of all these inner worlds -- as it is for all of us. But as this identity becomes real, i.e., as it stops being a construct that is being built and is one that is natural and without any effort at new efforts at external design or deception. The inner self, the sculpted essence of spiritual desire, rules the external.

The thing is that for most of us our this-worldly identity is hazy, a self-made construct that is really directionless and limited and, from the point of view of sādhanā, shallow and misdirected.

The yogic necessity for concentration makes it very much of great importance that you narrow down your sādhanās to as few as possible. Only through ekāgratā can you hope to transcend the possibilities and failures that the material identity and all it entails bury us in. In other words ahankara. And that ekāgratā of identity is to be in the divine līlā: for those who are so blessed, both in Gaura's world, and in Krishna's world, or in both: for by some divine magic, they are both one and different. One is to find one in the other and the other in one.

কৃষ্ণ-লীলা অমৃত-সার, তার শত শত ধার
দশ-দিকে বহে যাঁহা হইতে
সে চৈতন্য-লীলা হয়, সরোবর অক্ষয়
মনো-হংস চরাহ তাহাতে

kṛṣṇa-līlā amṛta-sāra, tāra śata śata dhāra
dasha-dike bohe jāɱhā ha-ite
se caitanya-līlā haẏa sarobara akṣaẏa
mano-haṁsa carāha tāhāte

The pastimes of Lord Krishna are the essence of all ambrosia,
they flow in hundreds and hundreds of rivulets
in all directions, out from the pastimes
of Chaitanya, the inexhaustible reservoir.
Put your mind-swan to disport thereupon.
Who says these identities are contradictory?

Which reminds me of a poem by Gopinath Basak, [it seems I have been amiss in sharing these on this blog, I will correct that in the near future, in the meantime] please let me share:

The two husbands dilemma

Part I.

দিদি ! দুই ভাতারের ঘরকন্না কি বিষম দায়
সব বিরুদ্ধ স্বভাব তাই ।
ঠেকেছি বিকিয়ে মাথা দুই ঠাকুরের গুরুর পায় ।

O sister ! What a predicament I am in !
I have to manage two husbands’ households,
and they are the complete opposites in every way!
I have really done it by selling my soul
to the feet of two different holy masters.

তায় কারো সঙ্গে নাই কারো মিশাল
একটা বাঙ্গাল একটা দেশাল
কেহো ডাল ভাত খোসাল, কেহো মাখন রুটি চায় ।

tāẏa kāro saṅge nāi kāro miśāla
ekaṭā bāṅgāla ekaṭā deśāla
keho ḍāla bhāta khosāla, keho mākhana ruṭi cāẏa |

Neither seems to get along with the other.
One is a Bengali, the other’s from the back country.
One likes rice and dahl;
the other wants ghee and rotis.

আবার জেতেও তারা দুটা দু তাল
একটা বামন একটা গোয়াল
কাজেই দুটোর দুরূপ খেয়াল
আমি ঠেকলাম দুটানায়

ābāra jeteo tārā duṭā du tāla
ekaṭā bāmana ekaṭā goẏāla
kājei duṭora durūpa kheẏāla
āmi ṭhekalāma duṭānāẏa

And then, they are of different castes—
one’s a Brahmin, the other a cowherd !
So they have whims that go in opposite ways;
I am being pulled in rival directions.

গোয়ালা কয় মাখন তোল
বামুনে কয় ফুল তুলসী তোল
ভোরের বেলা দুটোর দুটি রোল
আমি খাটবো কার কথায় ?

goẏālā kaẏa mākhana tola
bāmune kaẏa phula tulasī tola
bhorera belā duṭora duṭi rola
āmi khāṭabo kāra kathāẏa

The cowherd says, “Go churn the butter.”
The Brahmin says, “Go pick flowers and Tulasi!”
These are the orders I get at the break of dawn—
which one of the two must I obey?

(আবার শুনো দিদি মজার কথা)
গোয়ালা কয সাজো ষোডশী
আমি মেয়ে ভালোবাসি
বামুনে কয় হও সন্ন্যাসী
ছেঁড়া কাঁথা দিয়ে গায়

(ābāra śuno didi majāra kathā)
goẏālā kaya sājo ṣoḍaśī
āmi meẏe bhālobāsi
bāmune kaẏa hao sannyāsī
cheɱḏā kāɱthā diẏe gāẏa

(Now listen, sister, while I tell you something amusing.)
The cowherd says, “Dress up in all your finest!
Make yourself up! I love girls!”
But the Brahmin says, “Renounce everything!
Shave your head and dress in rags!”

নদীয়া বামুনের ছেলে
নাচে গায় হরি বোলে
বৃন্দাবনের রাই বোলে
গোয়ালা বাংশী বাজায়

nadīẏā bāmunera chele
nāce gāẏa hari bole
bṛndābanera rāi bole
goẏālā bāṁśī bājāẏa

In Nadia, the Brahmin's son
dances and sings and shouts “Haribol!”
In Vrindavan, the cowherd calls for Radha,
playing songs on his enchanting flute.

Part II

দিদি কলি-যুগে দুই ভাতারই সদ্-উপায়
দুই সিদ্ধ-দেহে ভজবি তায়
একটী পুরুষ একটী নারী
তুই বেশ করেছিস বেচে মাথা
দুই ঠাকুরের গুরুর পায় ॥

didi kali-yuge dui bhātāra-i sad-upāẏa
dui siddha-dehe bhajabi tāẏa
ekaṭī puruṣa ekaṭī nārī
tui beśa karechisa bece māthā
dui ṭhākurera gurura pāẏa ||

O sister! In this age of Kali,
two husbands are indeed the best way to go!
Worship them both in two spiritual bodies—
one male, the other female.
You have done well, girl, to sell your soul
at the feet of these two, different, holy masters.

এই দেখো তোর সিদ্ধ দেহ আছে পড়ে
একটী পুরুষ আর একটী নারী
গুরুর বাক্য অনুসারে
ঠিক কোরে নে আগে তারে
আন্তরিক ভাবনায়

"ei dekho tora siddha deha āche paḏe
ekaṭī puruṣa āra ekaṭī nārī
gurura bākya anusāre
ṭhika kare ne āge tāre
āntarika bhāvanāẏa

Look – your spiritual bodies are there waiting —
one a man, the other a woman.
Follow your guru’s directions
and clarify both together with him,
according to your most deeply-felt inner thoughts.

শুনো ওলো প্রাণ সই
তোর সিদ্ধ দেহ হলে সয়ি
তুই দুই হয়ে দুই দেহে জাবি
ব্রজ গোয়ালিনীর প্রায়

śuno olo prāṇa sa-i
tora siddha deha hale saẏi
tui dui haẏe dui dehe jābi
braja goẏālinīra prāẏa

Listen, my dearest friend!
You have a spiritual body, which is just lying there.
You will become two, and into both of 
you will go as a cowherd girl in Braja.

দেখ শ্রীরাধিকা বৃন্দাবনে
রাসরস সুবসনে
ললিতাদি সখীর সনে
মেয়ের দেহে কুল কলঙ্কিনী হোয়ে
বাংশীর তানে নাচে গায় !

dekha śrīrādhikā bṛndābane
rāsarasa subasane
lalitādi sakhīra sane
meẏera dehe kula kalaṅkinī hoẏe
bāṁśīra tāne nāce gāẏa

Just see Radha in Vrindavan,
all dressed up beautiful for the rasa dance
amidst the gaggle of girlfriends led by Lalita
there, in a girl’s body, blackening your family name,
you will sing and dance to the song of Krishna’s flute.

আবার সেই রাধা নদে পুরে
সেই গোয়ালিনী রাধা নদে পুরে
গদাধর নাম ধরে
আজন্ম সন্ন্যাস করে
মেয়ের গন্ধ নাহি গায়

ābāra sei rādhā nade pure
sei goẏālinī rādhā nade pure
gadādhara nāma dhare
ājanma sannyāsa kare
meẏera gandha nāhi gāẏa

Then again, that same Radha has come to the town of Nadia,
that cowherd girl Radha is here in Nadia town
taking the name of Gadadhar,
renounced from birth, never even touched
by the scent of a woman.

তেমনি তুই মেয়ের দেহে
বৃন্দাবনে মধুর রস ভজনে
তোর গোয়ালা ভাতারের সনে
কুল-শীল তেয়াগিয়ে
নাচবি লো কদম্ব তলায়

temani tui meẏera dehe
bṛndābane madhura rasa bhajane
tora goẏālā bhātārera sane
kula-śīla teẏāgiẏe
nācabi lo kadamba talāẏa

So, you will take a girl’s form in Braja
worshiping in the madhura rasa,
with your cowherd “husband”,
renouncing family and acceptable mores,
you will dance at the foot of a kadamba tree

(আবার সেই তুই) গদাইর মত পুরুষ দেহে
দাঁড়বি শ্রীবাসের গেহে
তোর বামুন ভাতারের বামে
সময় বুঝে নদীযায়

(ābāra sei tui) gadāira mata puruṣa dehe
dāɱḏabi śrībāsera gehe
tora bāmuna bhātārera bāme
samaẏa bujhe nadīyāẏa

And the very same you,
taking a male body like Gadadhar’s
will go to Srivas Thakur’s house
and stand to the left of your Brahmin “husband”
understanding what is right for his Nabadwip mood.

গৌরেশ্বর বৈষ্ণব জগতে
এ-রস রসে গোপতে
গদাধরের অনুগতে
অন্যে না সন্ধান পায়

gaureśbara baiṣṇaba jagate
e-rasa rase gopate
gadādharera anugate
anye nā sandhāna pāya

In the Vaishnava world of Lord Gauranga
this secret delectable mood has been hidden
revealed only to those who follow Gadadhar;
others have not a clue.

আদর্শ দণ্ডক বনে
রামচন্দ্রকে মুনি-গণে
মধুর রস ভজনে
উপভোগ করতে চায়

ādarśa daṇḍaka bane
rāmacandrake muni-gaṇe
madhura rasa bhajane
upabhoga karate cāẏa

The example is found in Dandakaranya
where the silent sages who saw Rama
were enchanted and wished to enjoy him
in the sweet mood of romantic love.



Prem Prakash said…
This is so very beautiful. To clarify, who is the author of the poem?
Jagananda dass and Gadadhar pran dass together; now that must be a party!
Here's a question: If we contemplate two bodies in lila realm(s), is it, or is it not productive to contemplate one's current form -- the annamaya kosha itself -- as being in Hari's lila?

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