Adventures in Humility

News, Views, and Chews on spiritual issues.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Six Goswamis

The debate about the 'eternality' of Gaura-lila is still going on in Advaitaji's blog, where I spotted the following comment made by him:

"Whatever the case, the 6 Goswamis are the Supreme Court. The buck stops there."

I have heard this line presented in all sorts of discussions where 'deviations' and other curious happenings are being discussed. The basic premise of it is thus; if it's not in the books of the Six Gosvamis then it's unauthorised and not worth bothering with.

I have to admit that I am rather tired of this reasoning as it seems to be a very convenient way to inhibit deep technical discussions about this or that issue. It seems to be used as a weapon, almost as if to continue with any 'deviant' discussions holds you in contempt of the Gosvamis.

Now let me make this very clear so that I am not misunderstood: I do not question the authority of the Six Gosvamis, nor do I seek to minimise or disrespect them in any way. They are indeed the "Supreme Court" and they are the most beloved servants of Sriman Gauranga Mahaprabhu, empowered with His shakti to formulate the doctrines of Gaudiya Vaishnavism for the samaj to follow. Having said that, we need to carefully consider the merits of using the "If it's not in the Six Gosvamis' books.." argument by considering what it is that they actually wrote.

Apart from Sri Rupa Gosvami's magnum opus (Bhakti-rasamrita Sindhu), the Sat-sandarbhas of Sri Jiva Gosvami and the Hari-bhakti-vilas of Sanatana/Gopal Bhatta Gosvami (just generally off the top of my head), what else did they write? Mainly books of lila and nataka-candrikas, dramas and plays. One could argue that only the first wave of BRS has any use for sadhakas in terms of practical hints and tips and the rest of it being examples of lila, and it is also possible to argue that the Sat-sandarbhas were just formulations of the actual doctrine in terms of philosophy, and that the HBV is the "lawbook" that mainly concentrates on the mechanics of rituals, prohibitions and so forth, one cannot seriously expect to resolve any controversies of deviancy or heterodoxy from any of the Gosvamis' books because they appear to be insufficient for those purposes!

One cannot expect BRS to deal with controversies like Gaura-nagara-vada (for example) because the subject is off-scope! The only real controversy is when Sri Visvanath Cakravartipada threw out Rupa Kaviraja for his sakhi-bhekhi ideas (or whatever it was), which wasn't done by any Gosvami because the theory probably wasn't around in their times. Also, arguing that "it is false because the Gosvami's wrote nothing about it" is a logical fallacy.

Therefore I think that comments about the buck stopping at the Gosvamis are ultimately useless for presenting in debates and discussions. It is simply unfair to use the Gosvamis as a weapon to halt or inhibit serious discussion on issues especially when they have nothing substantial to contribute. I also have used the Gosvamis as weapons in the past which is why I can say that it is not a very nice thing to do.

If Krishna is svayam-bhagavan and appears in a certain universe only once in a day of Brahma, the same holds true for Gaura and this is official Gaudiya doctrine. Consequently if Krishna can have a prakat-lila going around like a firebrand yet remain in Nitya-Vrajadham, it can also follow that Gaura similarly follows Krishna like a firebrand and remains similarly situated in Nitya-Navadvipa as it were. Every avatar, no matter how miniscule they are, has their own abode so why not Gaura? And why can't sadhakas go there if they want to? To me, it is absurd.

And stating that "the Gosvamis never said anything about it" is rather unhelpful.

2 Comments:

  • At 10 October, 2006 01:19, Anonymous Myrla said…

    Pranams

    This is a most profound topic indeed.

    How do you fit in the whole debate the concept of sakhis such as Rupa (Srila Rupa Goswami, etc), Rati and Lavanga, playing in nitya lila with Radha_Krishna. Should’nt they be with Gaura if Gaura lila is ‘eternal’. Can Gaura-lila be simultaneously going on with Radha-Krishna lila?

    I thought in the absolute level , there is only one sadhya ( goal) and
    tattva ( truth) and that
    is Radha-Krishna.

    Also, if we think about the 3 reasons why Gaura descended in Kaliyuga, there is no reason why Gaura lila should be playing in the absolute realm. (Pardon, if that sounds rude, but I am just playing with logic here, ok)

    Having said that, I am thinking of what Krishna said in the Gita, that whatever state of mind one has at the time of “death”, one will surely attain that without fail. If one is, for argument sake, 100% thinking of Gaura at time of death, will the devotee be “transported“ to the gaura-lila realm? If so, Gaura and Krishna-lila exists simultaneously, then.

     
  • At 10 October, 2006 04:08, Blogger "Gaurasundara das" said…

    Myrla: "How do you fit in the whole debate the concept of sakhis such as Rupa (Srila Rupa Goswami, etc), Rati and Lavanga, playing in nitya lila with Radha_Krishna. Should’nt they be with Gaura if Gaura lila is ‘eternal’. Can Gaura-lila be simultaneously going on with Radha-Krishna lila? I thought in the absolute level, there is only one sadhya ( goal) and tattva ( truth) and that is Radha-Krishna."

    Where do I fit in? Honestly, I do not know, and I certainly know nothing in the face of advanced and learned devotees such as yourself, Advaitaji and Madhvanandaji. I am only offering my speculations based on what I have learnt.

    I have no doubt that Rupa Gosvami et al are in their manjari-dehas in the nitya-lila with Radha-Krishna, and what is there to suggest that they are not in Nitya-Navadvipa? Actually that is a little bit complicated because Rupa Gosvami never had any part in prakat-Navadvipa per se, having been despatched to Vrindavan with Sanatana et al to write the literatures, but there are meditations listed in the gutika of Siddha Krishnadas Babaji and others which inform us how to (meditate) celebrate on occasions like Gaura Purnima in more or les the same way as we are supposed to do for Radha-Krishna. Here's an example.

    About only one sadhya; it seems that this is the point of controversy. The Advaita-parivar insists that only Radha-Krishna are the sadhya, whereas other parivars (Nityananda-parivar being amongst the biggest supporters) support the idea of two distinct realities vis-a-vis entrance into the eternal Vraja and Navadvipa-dhamas. Sri Bhaktivinod Thakur wrote about this clearly in his Jaiva-Dharma book, I am unaware of any other references for this idea. So this is the point of controversy, whether there are one or 'two' sadhyas to speak of.

    Myrla: "Also, if we think about the 3 reasons why Gaura descended in Kaliyuga, there is no reason why Gaura lila should be playing in the absolute realm. (Pardon, if that sounds rude, but I am just playing with logic here, ok)"

    Sure, no problem, I understand. That is a good point actually. However, the fact still remains that whenever Krishna comes only once in a day of Brahma, Gaura comes immediately after that. Is it just purely coincidental that every time He becomes "inspired" to experience the feelings of Radha? Radha-bhava is indeed a unique and wonderful thing for Gaura (Krishna) to experience, but on another level it can't be that unique that He comes to experience it in every kalpa? I would like to write more of this in a separate post.

    Myrla: "Having said that, I am thinking of what Krishna said in the Gita, that whatever state of mind one has at the time of 'death', one will surely attain that without fail. If one is, for argument sake, 100% thinking of Gaura at time of death, will the devotee be 'transported' to the gaura-lila realm? If so, Gaura and Krishna-lila exists simultaneously, then."

    Yes. :-) Although according to the dual-sadhya theory one should aim to attain two abodes, which is why Vraja-lila-smarana is preceded by the introductory Navadvipa-lila-smarana so that the sadhaka is absorbed in both moods and hopefully attain both destinations. :-)

     

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