Adventures in Humility

News, Views, and Chews on spiritual issues.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Vedanta reflections

Phew! Those last few posts were a bit cerebral, weren't they? I thought that I was done with cerebral-type arguments and was ready for a bit of the easy life in regards to developing my own bhakti-relationship with Yugal-Kishor. Obviously not, even though it's not actually that bad because at least I am contemplating some ideas of Gaudiya Vaishnava Vedanta.

I personally am not that keen on using scriptures in arguments anymore although I used to be rather active on this front in the past. I just generally feel that scriptures should be properly learned with a view to receiving knowledge, rather than cherry-picking bits and pieces and looking up things for the purpose of using it as a "weapon" in debate. I do this in come places but I am not all that keen on it anymore. Sometimes it has to be done, but not all the time. The most important thing is to properly learn all of this stuff, preferably under the guidance of a guru, and consider the teachings with a sober (dhIraH, calm) mind. At the moment the only guru I have is Chaitya-guru.

Still, it's an absolute joy to read the Govinda-bhashya. My dear friend Advaita dasji recently said, "There seems to be incredibly rasik stuff in the Upanishads." He's not kidding! You would think that Vedanta is a rather cerebral subject but the more I read it, there more I feel that I have come closer to Radha-Krishna. It's so strange, the bhashya is full of Upanishadic quotations and Veda references and all. I guess that I am just feeling extremely gratified how our Gaudiya tattva has been so beautifully elucidated by Sri Baladeva Vidyabhushan. But still, this strange feeling keeps coming every time I read the bhashya.

Of course, the traditional belief is that the bhashya was dictated to Sri Baladeva by Govindaji Himself so there is the concept of reading the direct words of Govindaji. Was it Sri Rupa Gosvami's Govindaji, I wonder? I'm quite sure that Vasu was a devotee. If he was not, then he was at least favourable to the Gaudiyas. He makes a reference to Mahaprabhu being "the last of the Avataras" in his introduction and he signs off his intro with "S.C.B." We all know the Bengali convention of swapping "v's" with "b's" and vice versa so there is a possibility that Vasu was Bengali as well. It appears to have been submitted at Benares in 1912 so it is quite an old book.

But, wow! I'm extremely glad that I got this book, it's worth every penny! There's so much to read and so many little tidbits that can afford illumination on topics that I never considered before. And the beauty of the bhashya (as with any bhashya) is that everything is properly referenced with shastric quotations. Yummy!

Today I found out something interesting. There is a section where the process of reincarnation is described. The idea is that after the soul has squandered his merits in the heavenly planets and needs to come back down again, he brings along with him a snall amount of karma that was not suitable for enjoyment in the heavenly planets and which is suitable for his next life to experience. I can't remember the exact way it works, but it has something to do with the returning soul's connection with plants and food grains (rice, corn, etc). The ideas is that the food-grains will be eaten and the soul will be transferred form the food into the male's semen, which will then be transferred into the woman after sex in order to get a physical vehicle for he next birth. Of course, the type of parents one gets is dependent on the type of karma one returns with.

This made me realise why it is very very important not to waste food and certainly not to throw it away! It also shows how important it is to eat food because if you eat all your food you will be doing th jivas (present in the food) a big favour by offering them the chance to enter your semen and have the chance to be born. Well, only one sperm cell will get that chance so it's survival of the fittest anyway. Eating all of food is thus important, and I was reminded of a story about the Prophet Muhummad which I had encountered in my studies of Islam: The Prophet enjoined his followers to eat every last bit of food and even to lick up all your fingers so as to prevent any amount of wastage, and he did this by his own personal example too.

It's just funny, a lot of things came together when I read that part. Of course I wouldn't expect any rational or scientific-minded person to accept any of this stuff but they wouldn't accept any religious stuff anyway. It also gave me an insight into why grains are forbidden on Ekadashi; the traditional idea is that grains on Ekadashi are contaminated by the sins of everyone in the jagat. Would it have something to do with the jivas who are present in the food grains, and that it is their sins who we are consuming? Baladeva does not directly say this, it is an inference which I am making. It's an interesting consideration. Vedanta has lots of things for consideration.


  • At 13 August, 2006 06:25, Blogger advaitadas said…

    "Would it have something to do with the jivas who are present in the food grains, and that it is their sins who we are consuming? Baladeva does not directly say this, it is an inference which I am making."

    Is there any hint given of this in the text you read, and if so, can you quote me the Sanskrit? I have been avoiding karmi-grains for 28 years so its kinda nice to finally have a scriptural backup.

  • At 13 August, 2006 06:48, Blogger "Gaurasundara das" said…

    It is only an English translation :-( so no Sanskrit as such. It is only an inference that I'm making. It is clear that jivas are present in plants/food grains so it is proper to eat food and not throw it away in order to give them a chance of birth.

    On another thought, this is an argument against premarita/extra-marital sex and also masturbation since that could be construed as wilfully kiling jivas.


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