Adventures in Humility

News, Views, and Chews on spiritual issues.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Krishna's Supremacy

Having downloaded an internet copy of Sri Jiva Gosvami's Krishna-sandarbha, I've skimmed across the first anuccheda or so without having time to read it carefully.

As far as I can see, Sri Jiva begins by explaining the supremacy of 'Bhagavan'. I assume that later on he will argue that Krishna is identical with Bhagavan, and that this is the foundation for the GV doctrine of Krishna's supremacy.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Awaiting the Heroes' return

I can hardly wait for the return of Madhava and Advaita from Vraj. The level of philosophical/thelogical discussion at GD (or lack thereof) is highly disappointing. Jagat is busy with his niyam-seva and class preparation.

It's awfully quiet at GD. No one seems to be talking much except for a few whispers here and there about practical matters. I've tried to kick-start a few discussions regarding some aspects of siddhanta, but no such luck. I'm surprised that no one seems to have responded to the 'Supremacy of Krishna' topic, which is like 'Point 1a' of Gaudiya siddhanta. I guess I will have to try and find it out for myself by downloading an internet copy of Sri Jiva Gosvami's Krishna-sandarbha.

I don't trust internet copies since they are usually poor translations, but a poor translation is better than any in times of desperation. I'm also not a fan of reading huge documents on the computer. I am essentially an "offline guy" in matters of study. I like to have a physical book in my hand rather than read a virtual document for some hours. I like to interact with people when I'm online; read and respond to posts, write emails, chat on messengers and so on.

Also, as far as my previous brief readings of Krishna-sandarbha have gone, there is a lot of dicussion as regards Krishna's supremacy in relation to the other Vishnu-tattvas. I will have to sift through these types of arguments as I am more interested in the reasoning that is employed behind the belief in Krishna's supremacy. I guess I'll go download it right away.

Thursday, October 20, 2005


Nothing much going on at the moment, as I am busy with Uni these days. I'll need to keep up with my CB readings. I'd like to log down the reference to 'Visvambhara' from the Rig Veda, as that could be an interesting point to make in the future.

It seems to me that I sometimes contradict myself as regards my activity on GD and what I write here. I think I need to maintain a sense of control and equilibrium. Panditah sama-darsinah.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Need to Read

When I first met Madhava all those years ago, he dazzled me with his abundant knowledge of shastra. Wow, how he answered all of my questions with scripturally-correct answers, and even quoted the relevant passages to back up his point. It was obvious to me that he was and is a very learned guy. I felt a twinge of envy, not in a bad way of course, but a healthy admiration sort of envy. Here was a guy who knew EVERYTHING!

At the same time I realised that all that was needed to come to such a stage was some serious learning and reading of our philosophy and theoogy. Madhava is not the only one who has done this. Others like Jagat and Advaita have done this too, Advaita knows practically all of Bhagavatam by heart!

I note with a feeling of of sadness how devotees these days seem to be more pre-occupied with issues of controversy and excessive contemplation regarding the application of philosophy to reality. Either they talk of IGM this-and that or rail against raganuga-bhakti, or discuss endlessly about giving up sexual desires and so on. Nobody knows the meaning of 'Nimai' or why it was chosen for Mahaprabhu as a second name. No one finds it interesting to talk of Srimati's ontological position in Gaudiya Vaishnavism. Nobody is fussed to "intellectually" understand whether Srimati has blue or black eyes, and so on..

It's no one's fault, really. Ignorance has no explanation as I have often found to be the case. In this way I'd humbly suggest that people should make the effort to undertake a deep study of our philosophy of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. Learn all the little details. We must know, and realise! Our knowledge should not have any blank spaces or gaps. If we are expected to get all of the details right for our siddha-deha-dhyana, then why can we not get details right for discussions?

I make a humble effort to learn this by my current reading of CB. For all those devotees who look at me quizzically every Sunday whenever I ask a question, I would humbly urge them to do the same. A deep study of shastric literature. 'Tis an education in itself!

Saturday, October 15, 2005


Hmm, I've been meaning to pen my latest thoughts about the Gaura-nagari tradition for some time since it's been on my mind lately, so here we go while I'm in the mood for it. One of the main things is not the tradition and the belief system itself, but the deception that is used to explain it.

Some time back when I posted pics of my Deities on a picture thread at GD, I noticed the Deity pics of other members in that same thread. It seemed to be very much Radha-Krishna deities, which had been dressed up as Gaura-Gadadhar. Some time ago, I came across a thread where some members had scanned some Gaura-nagari-mood pics from some old books that they had and posted it on the forum. Some of these pics also were representations of Radha-Krishna as Gadai-Gauranga, whereas another one in particular just depicted Gauranga in a nagara mood.

Now while I can perfectly understand the reasoning that leads people to believe that Gadai-Gauranga is none other than out beloved Radha-Krishna, it utterly disturbs me that there is actually a living tradition behind this philosophy! Here was I, thinking that this philosophy was all contained in 'minority' books and that the devotees of the Gaura-nagari were still on a par somewhat with the Rupanugas in that they also had the goal of manjari-bhava as an attainment.
How was I to know that the tradition translated into such things as depicting Gauranga in nagara-moods, dressing up Radha-Krishna deities as Gadai-Gauranga, and so on.

Every time I see such things, I cannot help feeling astonishment, despair, a deep sense of wrongness and, dare I say it, disgust? Despite the fact that I love Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundara with all of my heart and soul, I just cannot conceive of Gauranga in this way. I have tried to. Some time back I was a little confused about all of this, but now I see that I had turned in that direction by mistaking it as a place where I could store my love for Gauranga. I figured that because I love Gauranga, and "here is a tradition that worships Gauranga paramountly", it was ideal for me. How wrong I was. Anyway this part is a little too complicated.

But I do understand that if I was ever interested in making a deeper study of the Gaura-nagari tradition, I would like to listen to teachers and read the works of those other than Gadadhar Pran das. From what I have read of his teachings via the articls posted on GD, it does not appear to me that he is teaching the totality of the Gaura-nagari philosophy, as his various references to Sri Bhaktivinoda in selected articles seem to give the impression that he wants to validate his views for an IGM audience. But that is only as far as I have read anyway. The various padas and so on that have been posted elsewhere, I find interesting to read. and appreciate. I do recognise that there is a long history and tradition of this Gaura-nagari view that was undenibaly practised by some of Mahaprabhu's associates, but I tend to disagree with the preaching as presented by Gadadhar Pran.

For example, whenever the "concept" of praising Gauranga as a 'nagara' comes up, these followers invariably quote "yadyapi sakala stava sambhave tAhAne" ("all such praises are possible with Him") as some sort of justification for this concept.

This is hat I meant with that dishonesty comment earlier. The above quote is taken way out of context, and even when the full quote is given and the proper context presented, no one appears to even bat an eyelid which is disturbing. Here is the section of Caitanya-bhagavata that is being quoted:

'strI' hena nAma prabhu ei avatAre
zravaNo nA karilA - vidita saMsAre
ataeva yata mahA-mahima sakale
'gaurAGga-nAgara' hena stava nAhi bale
yadyapi sakala stava sambhave tAhAne
tathApiha svabhAva se gAya budha-jane"

In this avatara Prabhu did not hear the word 'woman,' this is known throughout the creation. Therefore great devotees do not offer prayers addressing Him as 'Gauranga Nagara.' Although all kinds of prayers may be offered to Him, intelligent persons glorify only those internal moods that a particular incarnation manifests."
(Caitanya-bhagavata 1.15.29-31)
So it seems that they quote very selectively in order to establish their views. Similar instances are noted elsewhere with quotes from the CC taken out of context too. I would not like to believe that this is true. I speculate that there might be a much more robust presentation of Gaura-nagari-vada by teachers other than Gadadhar Pran das which I would like to hear, that does not twist the meanings of selected quotes and present them completely out of context.

Given the current state of affairs with the regular misquoting and uncontextual interpretations, I cannot feel that there is any authenticity here. Not where so much deception is exposed.


Perhaps I spoke a little too soon in regards to preaching. My recent activity in the sakhi-vesh topic will not have helped my case for mellowness very much.

In any case, I am quite disappointed in how the topic has turned out. I noted earlier on that one or more of the sakhi-vesh advocates had already admitted an attachment to the guru in question (Bodo Baba), and so as I noted later how I felt that the arguments in favour of sakhi-vesh seemed to be more rooted in sentimental attachment to Bodo Baba than it was to the siddhanta as presented by Sri Sri Rupa-Sanatan and later Acaryas such as Srimati Jahnava Thakurani and Sri Visvanath Cakravartipada.

It is quite sad to see this, but what can we do? it would be an effort to go through this now, but I'm beginning to realise the presence of a certain mentality among sadhakas as a whole. Not just Gaudiyas, but sadhakas of perhaps every spiritual path out there. A worrying trend of modernity increases the risk of eclipsing the authority and control that was spelled out by the ancients. In this case, attachment to the words and practices of a recent teacher (Bodo Baba) seems to outweigh the words and practices of earlier and foundational Acharyas.

The GAura-nagaris, while being of this ilk, seem to b an entirely different case altogether.

Friday, October 14, 2005


I think I was on the wrong track the other day, when I wrote about preaching. I've realised that I don't feel like that at all. Perhaps it will be an issue that returns periodically to haunt me, but one thing is for sure' I have definitely become more mellow as time has passed.

If I like to "debate" about anything, it would be about some lila or other rather than something "elementary" such as mayavada-bashing, karma, vegetarianism, and the like.

Why does mellowness develop? Is it something to do with age? Does the same thing happen to everybody? Youth is marked by wildness and revolutionary spirit, the "jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel, seeking the bubble reputation even in the canon's mouth" as Shakespeare put it. It could always be something to do with spiritual maturity; the time will come when you will tire of reading 'ABC' and it is time to move onto other things. I think this is true and makes more sense. Everyone is on a journey after all, and you'll pick up some things along the way.

As I continue reading the CB, a lot of questions arise in my mind which often disappear when I put the book down. As I read, I think of topics to start and discuss on GD, envisioning possible replies and all. And just as soon as I put the book down I forget what to write about. Why does that happen?

Maybe I should figure out some way of highlighting select verses so that I don't forget them. I am not keen on using a luminous highlighter pen as some devotees do as I feel that this practice disrespects the shastra. And it doesn't look very good for presentation either. Perhaps I should think about inserting strips of paper to act as bookmarks. At least that way the pages are 'marked' for future reference.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Preaching is as preaching does

Well I have been suffering from a bad cold recently, which has developed into a fever. I feel better now though I'm not totally out of the woods yet. As it may do for everyone, illness is a really annoying occurrence. I was unable to go into Uni today although I'm sure I was not missing much in the lectures.

I'm loving Advaita's recent blogs. I wonder where he is that he can get a connection to the Net over there, given the troubles Madhava was having last time he went to Vraja. How great of him to not just report what he is up to, but also to discuss some of the things he's reading and researching over there.

My thoughts circulated to an earlier period in my devotional career, and the fire of preaching. I had always been amazed at how much love I had for preaching that whenever I would fall ill with fever, I only needed to find a topic like demigod-worship or mayavada-bashing and proceed to explain the faults of these to whoever would listen. Surprisingly my fever would go and I would feel somewhat, if not totally, better. I guess that preaching had always suited me rather well as I have inherited a fiery personality, and also the fact that I had much to rail against due to episodes that pccurred in my pre-Vaishnava spiritual journey.

I wonder if it was the power of preaching that cured me, or whether it was a simple case of putting enough effort and passion (and physical exertion) into a discussion? The latter would be a near-impossibility as the act of dragging myself out of bed to the grocery to get milk and bread today was physically exhausting. Now that I have become much more mellow these days (or so I think!) thanks to the association of the wonderful devotees at GD, I wonder what there would be to preach about? What exactly is there to preach about for a raganugiya Vaishnava? Especially to people who know next-to-nothing about it, or those whose first point of contact with it has been via ISKCON?

Preaching is as preaching does. There are some good discussions going on at GD at the moment. I'm involved with at least three right now even though I am supposed to be trying to reduce my participation. Since Madhava has gone to Vraja, there seems to be a reduction of activity and the onily real buzz seems to be coming from the topic about sakhi-vesh. I'm also trying to figure out why previous generations had virtually no access to Mahaprabhu's gift of love. I feel so sad that they had no opportunity. It is interesting to see what Sri Kanupriya Gosvami has to say about this:
"The good fortune is available to anyone born in this age starting from the full moon day in 1486 when Mahaprabhu appeared until the end of the age, the reason being that the Supreme Lord is the institutor of the religious process for the age or yuga dharma. In this age there is no work of any sort for any other incarnation to do. In the Satya and other ages which follow this Kali-yuga, the regular procedure will once again be followed with the ordinary yugavatars appearing to establish the particular religious systems for their ages. Then, the residents of those ages will remember back on this extraordinary age and will think of themselves as most unlucky to have missed such a wonderful opportunity."
It is truly joyful to think that we - we! - have the great opportunity to think of this wonderful fortune, but I still feel a gnawing tinge of sadness about the countless souls who will not be afforded this opportunity. :-(

Madhava brought up a wonderful point about Mahaprabhu's wholesale liberation, which I would lie to deal with as another topic in its own right. The other topic I'm thinking about is the fluidity of religious movements as a whole. Even including Gaudiya Vaishnavism within the context, are religious movements hard-wired to splinter off into different sects, or can it be guided along one particular avenue? It may be that the splintering takes place due to circumstances that have arisen, but does that mean that the doctrinal foundation of a movement is hard-wired to splinter?

Last of all, the buzzing sakhi-vesh topic. I am very glad that not fights have broken out as I can see that this is a sensitive topic for many of its participants. However, my main concern is fidelity to the theology. Madhava has made this point many times, especially in reference to the various Gaura-nagari topics that we've had in the past, that while "deviations" may occur it remains to be seen exactly how faithful they are to the foundational teachings of the Gosvamis. Assuming of course, that everyone accepts that Sri Rupa Gosvami was uniquely empowered to define Mahaprabhu's contribution to bhakti. If not - then we have a problem, Houston.

Yep, preaching is as preaching does.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


Eeeeps! I haven't been keeping up with my own thoughts lately, for the sake of this blog! Been so busy rushing around with Uni that I need to sit down for a bit and take it all in.

For now I'd just like to list a number of topics that I have been chewing over so that I may deal with them in future blogs. Here we go:

- Gaura-nagari philosophy
- My inability to participat ein world-religion topic
- Morbidity of atheistic/darwinist worldview
- Before Mahaprabhu

.. and so many other things that pass through my mind...