Showing posts from November, 2018

What am I doing right now?

I am currently working on getting my 1992 Gopāla-campū doctoral dissertation ready for publication. I knew this wouldn't be easy and I have been procrastinating because there are just so many other projects that beg for attention. But the opportunity has arisen for the Gopāla-campū work to finally be published so it is do or die now.

When I finished the thesis work at SOAS, my advisor, J.C. Wright, wanted to get it published by the university publisher. Career-wise it would have been a good move. But I have never been very career-oriented, no doubt a huge character flaw where worldly life is concerned.

Something Friedhelm Hardy said during my oral examination also affected me disproportionately. Hardy was a professor at King's College and a scholar for whom I had great admiration. He was jovial and gregarious as well as a brilliant man. He lived not very far from where we were staying in London, though I was hardly a part of his social circle. I only went there once, and I al…

A synchronicity : Ananta Das Pandit merges with the Braja Raj

At 7.30 yesterday morning, when most of us at the Jiva Institute were still engaged in our morning bhajan, Manjari came to my neighbor Pradeep Das’s door and in a trembling voice announced that their Guru, Ananta Das Babaji, the Mahant of Radha Kund, had left his body a few minutes before. There are three initiated disciples of Mahanta Maharaj living at Jiva. They immediately made arrangements to go to Radha Kund. I joined them. We traveled in silence, each preoccupied by our own memories of Pandit Baba

By some turn of events, Babaji had left his body in Vrindavan and was being transported by ambulance to the Gopinath temple in Radha Kund, where he lay in state for a few hours near the samadhi temple of Srila Raghunath Das Goswami, whose throne he had adorned for the past three decades.

There I sat with the kirtaniyas, thinking that I am only a distant admirer of Babaji Maharaj and I should not get in the way of his disciples and certainly not for any crass purpose like taking a pho…

VMA 1.28 : I will raise my ears to hear the sweet flute sounds

tais taiḥ kiṁ naḥ parama-paramā-nanda-sāmrājya-bhogaiḥ kiṁ vā yogaiḥ para-pada-kṛtaiḥ kiṁ parair vābhiyogaiḥ | vāsenaiva prasannam akhilā-nanda-sārātisāraṁ vṛndāraṇye madhura-muralī-nādam ākarṇayiṣye || What need have we for all those pleasures
of the empire of supreme, supreme bliss?
And what need have we of the yoga paths
that lead to the supreme destination,
or any other philosophical argument?
Here in Vrindavan, I will raise my ears
to hear the sweet flute sounds,
the essence of the essences of all the varieties of bliss,
which will play, pleased with me simply for residing here. (1.28)


Another "what need have we" verse, indicating the continuity of mood between this one and VMA 1.25. Prabodhananda continues to meditate on Krishna's flute. Krishna's flute sound in Vrindavan's background noise. Just like ether pervades all the other elements and sound is its tan-mātra. One hears Vrindavan before one can see it. In the morning darkness two hours before su…

VMA 1.27 : …where a swarthy, lusty youth leans on a kadamba and plays the flute

veṇuṁ yatra kvaṇayati mudā nīpa-mūlāvalambī saṁvīta-śrī-kanaka-vasanaḥ śīta-kālindī-tīre | paśyan rādhā-vadana-kamalaṁ ko’pi divyaḥ kiśoraḥ śyāmaḥ kāma-prakṛtir iha me prema vṛndāvane’stu || May I always have love for Vrindavan,
where a swarthy youth with a lusty nature
leans on a kadamba tree by the cool Yamuna,
wrapped in a beautiful golden garment and,
joyfully playing his flute,
gazes longingly upon Radha’s lotus face. (1.27)


Krishna's flute is one of the symbols most closely associated with his iconography and has a great deal of significance, which helps to account for its power and resilience. For Rupa Goswami, it is one of the four special characteristics of Krishna that separate him from all other forms of the Vishnu-complex of deities.

sarvādbhuta-camatkāra- līlā-kallola-vāridhiḥ | atulya-madhura-prema-maṇḍita-priya-maṇḍalaḥ ||41|| trijagan-mānasākarṣi-muralī-kala-kūjitaḥ | asamānordhva-rūpa-śrī-vismāpita-carācaraḥ ||42|| līlā-premṇā priyādhikyaṁ mādhuryaṁ veṇu-rūpayoḥ…

VMA 1.26 : May Vrindavan be like a nourishing mother

śaṁ sarveṣām aprayāsena dātrī dvitraikānti-prema-mātraika-pātrī | ānandātmāśeṣa-sattvā nidhātrī śrī-vṛndāṭavy astu me’ndhasya dhātrī | The Vrindavan forest easily gives joy to everyone
she is the sole object of love for just a few exclusive devotees;
she is the soul of joy and the resting place for all living beings.
May she be like a nourishing mother to me, a blind child. (1.26)Commentary

One of the themes that is recurring in the VMA is Prabodhananda’s insistence that the joys of devotion to the Divine Couple are easily obtained in Vrindavan, even effortlessly. Rupa Goswami in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (1.2.60-64) clearly states that every human being is eligible (adhikārin) for bhakti. This is doubly true in Vrindavan, for there is spiritual benefit for every living being there, even without making any supplementary effort. Bhakti enters by osmosis, as it were.

And yet, at the same the Dham, like bhakti itself, is very demanding, for only by exclusive devotion can she be truly known. She is…

VMA 1.25 : What business do we have with kings or gods?

kiṁ no bhūpaiḥ kiṁ nu devādibhir vā svāpnaiśvaryotphullitaiḥ kiṁ ca muktaiḥ | śūnyālambair vaiṣṇavair vāpi kiṁ naḥ śrīmad-vṛndā-kānanaikānta-bhājām|| What business do we have with kings or gods
who are puffed up with riches that are like dreams,
we who are the exclusive devotees of Vrindavan?
And what do we care for liberated souls
who take shelter of emptiness,
or even for the worshipers of Vishnu? (1.25)

Prabodhananda continues to demonstrate his niṣṭhā for the sadhana of Brajavasa. He seeks a vision of the eternal Vrindavan that lies outside the purview of those who only have empirical vision. The real vision of Vrindavan is internal. The single-minded devotee of the Lord has no time for those whose hearts have not been opened to this vision. The prizes of this world are ephemeral. Recognizing this is the beginning of spiritual life.

tasyaiva hetoḥ prayateta kovido na labhyate yad bhramatām upary adhaḥ tal labhyate duḥkhavad anyataḥ sukhaṁ kālena sarvatra gabhīra-raṁhasā For this…