Gaudiya vedanta publications: The end of an era?

I was first introduced to Gurudevas books in 2002, and I have since had a 15 year love relationship to His books. I have loved the work of Gaudiya Vedanta Publication, the beautiful art work, the bindings on the books which are so beautiful at times. It hasn’t only been about the content of the book, but the book itself. There is a lot of art work in just producing the beauty a book can be and GVP has done so, expertly.

My favorite color is golden brown (/copper), just like the cover of Gurudevas Sri Gita Govinda version. The coptic binding on Gaura-vani pracarine. Book publishing is a craft. There’s a lot of emotions connected to Gurudevas books.

I have tried to be careful about expressing emotions on this blog because I find people have a tendency to favor emotions before using sound judgment (or just common sense as I like to call it). In the case of the changes made in Gurudevas books though, describing emotions has an important place.

At first it was disbelief (nooo, they can’t have stooped to that level). Now it has been disappointment for a while which are slowly entering grief. I have loved GVPs work: Gurudevas books, the content and the physical book. The bhaktibase app is really good. The GVP facebook page which published new content often and with different reports. A few cartoons. My latest favorite is the youtube videos of different people who talks about their favorite book. For me, the GVP has really shown what jewels devotees are. You see it in the work that are presented. The people behind all the work is not shown, the work itself really shines like diamonds.

I’m slowly realizing that my love relationship is coming to an end.

Why, oh why, do you edit the books to suit your siddhantical belief? Why can’t you let Gurudevas words talk for themselves? In the case of controversial topics that are presented in books, why not just print the words exactly as Gurudeva said them? There is no need to edit the words to fit your belief. If your belief is correct, those words will speak for themselves.  If those words are true, the truth prevails.

There is larger issues at stake here as well, more than just two parties disagreeing. As Malati didi points out in a comment in the previous blog entry, the edited books becomes unfit to be used for book distribution to people for ethical reasons. The disagreements aren’t really that important in the larger sense, it’s for those who have been devotees for a long time. But we who hold opposite views will not present such books to new devotees, to avoid later confusions and to make sure the truth prevails.  We don’t want new devotees to think we fell from Vaikuntha, we want them to begin by having a correct basic understanding before the controversies/confusion enters.

If GVP could stick to the exact words of Gurudeva, this problem resolves itself in a way that should be satisfactory for both sides. Both sides claim they follow Gurudevas words, so let’s stick to Gurudevas exact words. 

Problem solved?

Okey, I know it’s a simplistic notion to believe that Gaudiya Vedanta Publication will change their stance and print Gurudevas words exactly (I can’t believe I’m writing that sentence even). When something like this happens, its because a rot has entered the organization – meaning many people.

This has even broader implications. So they want to argue their position that all of the parampara is only manjaris and only manjaris can be rupanugas. So they change Gurudevas books to prove themselves. So when they are questioned – they can just point to the books they themselves edited to prove their own point. That is fabrication.

This is UNACCEPTABLE!

Okey, so the use of the strong word “fabrication” implies intent. That the changes made are done intentionally, and not because of a misunderstanding or lack of understanding the impact. I’m not convinced that there is intent there – that is yet to be proved.

But it is very problematic that they are making up their own proof. This is something that should interest people no matter what side they are on.

In no other tradition is it usual that books become edited and even published after an author is dead – yet for us it is business as usual. I’m not sure if that’s okey.

So – now another work begin. To track changes in the books – track and transcribe the audio behind these statements to prove the changes made and what is actually being said.

So I created a page to begin tracking the discrepancies found  in books, lectures, dates, whatever.

It will be a big job. I hope I’m up for it. Any help and tips will be appreciated.

Because I’m getting worried. The legacy of Gurudeva must be protected.

Sign of life

Just as a well-filled day brings blessed sleep, so a well-employed life brings a blessed death.”

Leonardo da Vinci

A year ago in Vrindavin, Didi told me I needed to listen to as much harikatha as possible. There would come one word to me, she said, that from everything will blossom. But to receive that word I needed to listen to all harikatha that was spoken.

During that trip I was “out of it”, struggling with spirituality and not really there mentally or physically. Then came those words from Didi. That was such a strange thing to say, right? I would receive ONE WORD that everything would blossom from. So I pressed her, what word? But she didn’t know. Just one word? Really?

I put that statement in the back of my head, because you can’t really force something like that and you can’t push something to happen. And one word? Really? As if one word can change me? Well…. okey. I didn’t know what to make of it, but I was open. If she is connected, then it would come.

So a couple of days later, the morning arrived with arti at KBM. Then afterwards I went to the arti of Yogamaya. If you have visited her, she is so beautiful. I told one of my friends this and she said “everybody loves yogamaya”. There is something so attractive about her. I’m not really that attracted to deities, arti and puja, but there is something about Yogamaya that touches me. I ended up sitting there for a while since the pujaris were late that day. As I was sitting there for myself, thinking about Yogamaya, the WORD came to me. I can’t help but think that Yogamaya wanted to give it to me.

As soon as the stores opened up around 10am, I was outside one bookstore and immediately purchased “Art of Sadhana”. The word I was given was ART (which I have written about before, and before, ). Sadhana and spiritual progression is something I have long looked upon as an art, but of course, I keep on forgetting my own realizations. There was no room of forgetting now.

Living is an art form. Spirituality is art. It’s the process of invention, not imitation. There is some rote memorization of verses, but progressing is a way of making this path our own. My path is not like yours. This is what this blog is about. When Didi gave me the order to share my realizations with the world, it’s a process of invention. Its a creative way of working through sadhana, its art. An art form.

But art doesn’t just come flying from the sky, randomly hitting a bystander. It requires work, moving through life and changes. The levels and direction of inspiration changes as life changes.

After my trip to Vrindavin and getting fired from my last job – and dealing with an obsessed psychopath, I just gave up. My whole life I have been pushing myself. My motto has been “never give up, never give in, never surrender” in how I deal with life. But by then I was so exhausted, completely wiped. I was done. With everything. I was done. So completely done.

Being done transformed into apathy. I had pushed myself so hard through life, but the result was so meager compared to the effort I had put in. So I gave up and apathy took me. I have spent so many days with no energy, lying on the sofa where even moving my little finger was an effort.

Then apathy which really is learned helplessness transformed into something more healthy. I stopped pushing myself, I put no demands on myself. Slowly I allowed myself to just BE. It was so healthy and good. It took a long time, but I slowly became a bit bored, which is fantastic. I’m almost never bored, but if I get bored it means I have created enough space in my life. It means that my default feeling of being overwhelmed was retreating. From boredom, creativity can begin to blossom again.

That is where I am now. I am not gone. Writing a spiritual blog where I am supposed to share my realizations can’t be fake. If I have downtime, then that will show itself on this blog. If I struggle then silence will be a companion. Whenever progress has been made in my life, it seems to come in waves. There is a long period of seemingly standstill. Then suddenly things lift and it does so in many areas at once, like a wall has been breached and the wave spill over into so many different areas.

The art of my life required that I learned to not push, to not demand something of myself all the time. It seems like I’m now entering a state where I connect differently. Live my life differently, and it’s a more healthy way of being.

Among his various possible beings each man always finds one which is his genuine and authentic being. The voice which calls him to that authentic being is what we call “vocation”. But the majority of men devote themselves to silencing that voice of vocation and refusing to hear it. They manage to make a noise within themselves … to distract their own attention in order not to hear it; and they defraud themselves by substituting for their genuine selves a false course of life.

Jose Ortegay Gasset

 

 

Preserving Gurudevas legacy

The devotees of KBM keep on publishing refutals on siddhantical disagreements which are technical in nature. This is exactly what is needed when arguing siddhanta. It has to be technical.

For most of us lay people this debate is difficult to enter. We don’t have enough background and effort to really get into it (because damn it, we have a life to attend to).

There are many layers to this debate which increases the complexity of these issues and by being aware of them, we can slowly unravel some of it:

  • Who is rupanuga?
  • Can our parampara only consist of manjaris?
  • Did Gurudeva deceive us and how am I supposed to make sense of it?
  • Senior devotees disagrees and it never seems to end
  • There are strong emotions on both sides and I find it difficult to understand it
  • Senior devotees I previously admired are loosing my esteem
  • Who can we put our faith in as there seem to be backstabbing from anybody towards anybody with some following?
  • The sanga is splitting into groups who seem to be unable to talk to each other
  • Everybody is crying up about vaishnava aparadha everytime there is a problem
  • Empathy, see an issue from multiple sides and learn the ability to differentiate
  • Accepting flaws in others and may be admitting our own

No wonder this is uncomfortable for most of us to dive into, but if we do we will be richer for it. The siddhantical differences is especially important for us as this has broader implications for who we accepts as Gurus and take siksa from.

This debate will never end until one side has won, because this is about preserving the truth and Gurudevas legacy. I want to emphasize the last one, because its important: We need to preserve Gurudevas legacy from watering down until it becomes unrecognizable.

The Gaudiya Vedanta publications are run by those who believe that only those who have manjari moods are rupanugas and can be in the guru parampara. This becomes problematic if Gurudevas books becomes edited to suit their belief.

We are entering a situation where what editions a book is in matters. This is just like the “as it is” books of Srila Prabhupada. The editing of Srila PRabhupadas books was very controversial after His disappearance, and the consequence was that many of the books are now sold “as it is” – the original books without editing. Personally, I have several of those books as I find them more appealing.

Now I find myself wishing I knew Hindi so I could read Gurudevas words exactly as he intended them so the only lack there is, is in me. This is creating a dangerous precedence. Please, please – can we avoid a situation where we don’t trust the books published with Gurudevas name as author on them? Can we avoid an “as it is” situation on Gurudevas books?

I truly believe that GVP should issue a statement on this which specifically targets the changes and how GVP will treat siddhantical disagreements. Not Syamarani, but GVP so that we can feel secure that we can trust Gurudevas books.

Doing translations of Gurudevas lectures is difficult as there are varying degrees of sound quality, people speaking on top of each other, understanding the context, so many different people talking and one don’t always know who and not the least: so much can be said so quickly and humor and body language and gestures are lost. We appreciate the work being put into it.

I hope we avoid an “as it is” situation. Preserving Gurudevas legacy is too important.

The path of pain

To lead a spiritual life is projected to be full of bliss. If we just chant enough rounds, we will be happy. Surrender, and be free. Liberation is not enough of happiness, we can go even further!

We don’t talk much about the pain which is integral in devotional life. I have come to believe that pain is as much, if not more a part of progressing in bhakti. Usually we frame pain and hardships through bad karma, but what if its part of the process? The necessary component to wreak change in us. Are you able to progress through beneficial circumstances? I’m not. Sure, superficially it’s easier to chant etc. but its not real progress that create lasting changes in me.

We automatically shy away from everything that is uncomfortable, whether it’s physical or mental. We are designed to move towards what we like, what is comfortable and we do everything in our power to avoid pain. But at the same time we are obsessed with our problems. When we talk with confidantes, we talk about our struggles. We focus so much on problems, because we don’t accept it. We don’t accept uncomfortableness and pain. We don’t want uncertainty.

The mind is in a constant flux of accepting and rejecting, and we prefer to focus on the rejection of what causes us pain.

But by choosing a spiritual life we actually seek pain, for moving away from material life brings pain to check us if this is really what we want and may be to remind us that this is no place for a gentlewoman.

I’m being forged in the path of pain. I used to think that because I’m a devotee, I should have an easier time of life. Progress through blissful ignorance. My resistance to pain instead shows how my ego want to enjoy. If I had true servant attitude, I would accept the pain and consider it Krishnas mercy. My resistance shows I am no servant. The pain is there for me to surrender my will to His and if pain is the way to do it, I should be grateful. But of course I’m not.

I see how things I thought were beneficial, instead turns into ashes. A relationship that was joyful, turns into something really bad. The heavenly apartment turned hell when upstairs neighbor is a psycopath. A need for change is blissful in the beginning and turns out to be a bad decision later.

That happiness which is derived from contact of the senses with their objects and which appears like nectar at first but poison at the end is said to be of the nature of passion.

Bhagavad-gita 18.38

The harder your ego is, the harder the pain to soften you. The softer you are, the easier the lesson is.

What I am learning now is to embrace the pain. Embrace the hardships. The spiritual path is not for comfort, to relax at our position. The pain is there to propell us forward, to destroy the ego, to ensure we move forward.

There is a danger in growing complacent, cozying up to spirituality. If something feels painful to you, embrace it and  process it. Google it, seek professional help, turn to trusted friends. Understand that whatever it is, it’s an opportunity to go deeper into who you are.

The pain is not there to be rejected. It just is.

 

Oracle of Rama

Often when insecurity plagues us or we would like to know our future, have answered some struggle we go through or just plain know what will happen the next few months we turn to oracles of some kind wether they be astrology, tarot, healers whatever. In vedic tradition we have Joytish.

Believing in karma opens up for sooth sayings of different kinds since karma means that there are circumstances that are set in our life like what kind of family we are born to, sickness we have to endure etc. For us very little is accidental and our free will boils down to the choices we make which in turn generate new karma.

I have purchased a horoscope every year on my birthday and have found it interesting. It has for the most part been able to predict the large layers of my life except this year which have really been anything but what is written in that horoscope. I have tarot cards I have used, though I haven’t used it for years now.

I find a lot of enjoyment in these things. It’s fun and it helps me just relax a bit when I need some reassurance. I don’t take it seriously, but still there is a part of me that believe a little bit. A part that takes the general direction seriously even when there is a bigger part of my mind saying: This is ridiculous. But often I find myself needing reassurance, and these things give that. It gives me a peace of mind when that said mind is a bit troubled.

I have left the Tarot cards, because I have found an even better tool – The Oracle of Rama. The cards use the life of Rama to answer questions. Rama’s life takes many turns from fortune to misfortune. Something that can seem very beneficial turns out to be the opposite. There are great victory, and great heartbreak and everything in between.

The Oracle of Rama has been created by stringing gems of destiny with the thread of faith.

The Oracle of Rama 7.7.7

I have used it to ask all kinds of questions, and so many times when I look at the answers the cards give me I laugh because the answer is spot on. You choose two cards – one is connected to Ramas story and the second is the divine guide. The first card represent a chapter in Ramas life and a section in that chapter and gives an indication. The second card indicate what verse in that chapter and the divine guide behind it.

Today I asked whether I would be able to keep my apartment since I struggle financially (and I know that talking about money is an even bigger taboo than sex). The answer I received was the following card:

Chapter 1: Removing obstacles.
Section 6: Rama and his brother journey home with their wives. A powerful opponent challenges Rama, but is won over.
Indication: An obstacle must be overcome to benefit from previous gains.
Divine Guide 3: Bharata (the power of responsibility). Verse 3: A happy return home.

Which made me laugh since my question was directly related to home and my apartment is certainly a benefit from previous gains.

What I really like is that the cards themselves give such complex answers, they tell a story with subtleties.

And like a friend of mine said: When you use it, it always comes down to bhakti no matter what the cards say.

Abscense

Every monday I look forward to the recent realizations of Dhanurdhara Swami. He has also written a nice experience of my Gurudeva, Narayana Maharaja. He has what I am lacking in – realizations. His newest post could as well have been written about what I’m experiencing now.

About a month ago, after making a mistake in not only how I was thinking about something, but in how I had reacted to it, and then seeing the anxiety it caused, I had a very strong realization that seemed to correct and complete my vision of the world. I was surprised because I was convinced that I was already seeing the world perfectly clear, but I had one doubt. This pattern has been repeating itself every year, often several times a year, for the last 42 years, since beginning Kṛṣṇa consciousness. I always think that I am seeing things clearly, until some upheaval, big or small, comes along that gives me a newer, more complete vision and with the same certainty as before. I often share this story with others with the background music of Goofy to express how hapless we are in walking the world with a vision of confidence, although destiny repeatedly turns our world on its head again and again.

I think my folly, however, is not unique, for until one’s mind is completely pure, it is the nature of the mind to see the world through a defective lens without even realizing one is looking through it. I think therefore my story should be, in a sense, everyone’s story on the spiritual path. Our natural confidence in how we see the world should be repeatedly shaken by destiny to help give us newer and higher visions of reality even though at the time we are probably not aware that we are seeing things through a distorted lens.

Why do we make God work so hard

I have received a new lens of the world, but it’s a rather grim one. What is the reason for our existence? If we look aside from the religious one but the material reason – it becomes clear. It’s for us humans to take care of each other, cooperation. Yet this world is described as a dangerous place, filled with unknown dangers and evil at every step. We intuitively understands that there’s truth in that, but why is it so? Because of humans.

Sure, we have natural disasters but humans are the reason the world is so dangerous Because we humans view each other with competition instead of cooperation. If we humans had begun helping each other out, caring for each other even if we are not family, then society would become different. If we could accept that a persons flaws without reacting to it and still be there and help within our capacity. Even when we don’t like a person – which probably would be most people over time.

My mother once said to me that when I died she wanted to have my TV. Would you say something like that to a person you love? Yet her dysfunction is nothing compared to a malignant narcissist. It’s being punched into me every day so many times that I am nothing. I have no value. I am worthless and unlovable.

Yet apparently there is still something valuable in me that Krishna wants. It’s the reason for my existence which unfortunately never seem to end.

I have a new lense of the world, but my vision has still not acclimatized. I don’t know who this new person is or are supposed to be. I have been broken, and I am sick of my troubles. Troubles are boring – everybody has them. Which is why I have such problems writing now. I have received a new lense, but I don’t know what to make of it.

Daily planner

Today is aksaya-tritiya. So, in honor of this day I would like to give away my daily planner. I created a monthly spiritual planner a while ago as a way to track one’s sadhana. But it wasn’t enough for my needs. I like writing a journal and track my task list. The daily schedule I use to keep track of what I’m doing , when I wake up, lunch, whatever.

So in honor of aksaya-tritya, here is my daily planner I hope it receives you well.

 

Past lives and spiritual struggles

The weirdest blog post I have ever written is the one where I write about how to Recognize spiritual progress from past lifes. It was a blog post that wasn’t me at all, but wouldn’t let me go until I pressed publish. Though I believe in karma and reincarnation, the whole past lives etc. becomes just too new agey for me. There are tons of blog posts I can’t remember, but yet this one I kept on thinking about, because it was so strange to me.

Then one devotee published this on facebook:

WHEN ONE BECOMES A DEVOTEE, GENERATIONS OF HIS FAMILY ARE LIBERATED. THE NUMBER OF GENERATIONS DEPEND ON ADHIKARA OF THE DEVOTEE. WHAT KIND OF ‘LIBERATION’ DO THEY GET? THEY DO NOT GO TO THE SPIRITUAL WORLD, THEY BECOME DEVOTEES.

 

READ BELOW:

śrī-bhagavān uvāca
triḥ-saptabhiḥ pitā pūtaḥ
pitṛbhiḥ saha te ’nagha
yat sādho ’sya kule jāto
bhavān vai kula-pāvanaḥ

TRANSLATION
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: My dear Prahlāda, O most pure, O great saintly person, your father has been purified, along with twenty-one forefathers in your family. Because you were born in this family, the entire dynasty has been purified. [SB 7.10.18]

PURPORT
The word triḥ-saptabhiḥ means seven multiplied by three. In one’s family one can count back four or five generations—to one’s great-grandfather or even one’s great-grandfather’s father — but since the Lord mentions twenty-one forefathers, this indicates that the benediction expands to other families also. Before the present family in which one has taken birth, one must have been born in other families. Thus when a Vaiṣṇava takes birth in a family, by the grace of the Lord he purifies not only that family but also the families of his previous births.

—————-

A devotee, although born in a caṇḍāla (dog-eater) family, can purify his whole family for one hundred generations, past and future, by devotional service, whereas a proud brāhmaṇa cannot even purify himself.
[Teachings of Lord Caitanya, ch 2.]

—————-

So my point is: by serving the Supreme Lord, one gives the best service to the family, because if one becomes a Vaiṣṇava, pure Vaiṣṇava, the whole family, up to fourteen generations, they become liberated. Therefore tīvreṇa bhakti-yogena. We should not divert our attention for any other service. We should simply concentrate for rendering service to the Supreme Lord. This is the conclusion. [Srila Prabhupada’s Lecture on SB 3.25.44]

—————

Pañca-draviḍa: What kind of liberation does the family get of a pure devotee?

Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: One who becomes a devotee, the statement is that fourteen generations of his family, past, present and future, become liberated. So what kind of liberation does the family members of a pure Vaiṣṇava get?

Prabhupāda: Liberation means — that is explained by Caitanya Mahāprabhu — to become devotee. That is liberation. To become…. To become a devotee is itself liberation. [break] …will come.
[Morning walk, Mayapur March 17, 1976]

————————————————————————-
From Upadesamrta: The Nectarean Instructions
by Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada

QUESTION: When a devotee is born in a family, does that family benefit from his or her birth?

SRILA BHAKTISIDDHANTA: When a great saint, a pure devotee, appears in a family, then his ancestors and descendants for a HUNDRED GENERATIONS each are elevated. When a devotee of the middle stature (madhyama bhagavata) appears in a family, then his ancestors and descendants for FOURTEEN GENERATIONS each are elevated. When a neophyte devotee appears in a family, then his ancestors and descendants for THREE GENERATIONS each are elevated.

Suddenly that blog post for years ago made sense to me. I write a lot about the struggles I have in being a devotee. I have had this belief for twenty years, and still I struggle with even the basics like chanting. It hasn’t made sense to me. If I was a devotee in previous life, why am I fighting an uphill battle where even the smallest progress has been precluded with great struggles and difficulties? The only thing that has remained steady with me is my belief which is rock solid.

The answer is because I have never been a devotee before. I am a devotee because I was in the family of a devotee in a previous life and that person gave me this boon. It makes sense to me now why nothing comes to me naturally spiritually (except the faith).

I have always been certain that this life is the first one where I have encountered an uttama-bhagavata. I have always looked forward to my next life, because I know that things will be so much easier then. I will be born into more auspicious circumstances.

It’s such a relief to finally understand why everything is so difficult for me spiritually.

Ascertaining the truth

When we look for religious truths, the vedas say that truth are threefold: sadhu, sastra and guru. So wouldn’t it be pertinent that in siddhantic disagreements, we have to verify our stance with all three?

Sadhu sastra, guru vakya, tinete kariya aikya. Spiritual realization can be perfected by three parallel process. Sadhu. Sadhu means saintly persons, who are realized souls, sadhu. And sastra. Sastra means scriptures, authoritative scriptures, Vedic scriptures, sastra. Sadhu, sastra, and guru, a spiritual master. Three parallel line. And if you place your car or vehicle on these three parallel line, your car will go direct to Krsna. Tinete kariya aikya. Just like in the railway line you see two parallel lines. If they are in order, the railway carriages are carried very smoothly to the destination. Here also, there are three parallel lines–sadhu, sastra, guru: saintly person, association of saintly person, acceptance of bona fide spiritual master, and faith in the scriptures. That’s all. Then your carriage will be going nicely, without any disturbance.”

Srila Prabhupada Lecture, 10-18-68, Seattle

One of the things I have noticed in the siddhantical debates when discussing what siddha-deha Srila Prabhupada has, is that the madhurya-rati side only references Gurudevas words.But even a Gurus words have to be checked against sadhu and sastra – not because we think we know more than Gurudeva, but to make sure our understanding is correct. Just quoting Gurudeva is not enough when dealing with siddhantical disagreements. Quoting Gurudeva is certainly a valid source in all instances, but when disagreements arise there need to be several sources (specifically sadhu and sastra) which agrees with Gurudevas statements.

The siddhantical issues that are being put into question is:

  1. Our lineage contains only manjaris and other moods belongs somewhere else.
  2. If one has another mood than madhurya, one is not a rupanuga

Gurudeva has specifically said that our lineage is only manjaris:

When it comes to the lineage, it can be easily refuted by sastra:

yuga-dharma pravartāimu nāma-saṅkīrtana
cāri bhāva-bhakti diyā nācāmu bhuvana

I shall personally inaugurate the religion of the age, nama-sankirtana. I shall distribute the four mellows of devotional service (dasya, sakhya, vatsalya and madhurya).

Sri Caitanya Caritamrta, Adi-lila 3.19

Here we have a case of Gurudeva saying one thing, and sastra saying something else.

Can Gurudeva have opinions that differ from His own diksa Guru?

Certain sahajiyas, following the theory of ‘ichari-paka’, or expecting ripe fruit prematurely, say that “rupanuga-bhajana’ consists of only the acceptance of parakiya madhura-rasa. They have established that other rasas such as dasya, sakhya and vatsalya are not included within rupanuga-bhajana. Such statements identify the sahajiyas section as being without proper understanding of rasa-tattva, and as being uncontrolled [independent]. These days, many persons situated within the line of conception flowing from Sri Saraswati Thakura and Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura, are fallen from the true line of thought of Sri Rupa Goswami, and have actually taken shelter of the feet of the followers of the sahajiya-section, and are believers in this ‘ichari-paka’ philosophy; Such imitationists say ‘what will you get from preaching? What is there in kirtana? Do bhajana, just do bhajana!” This class of offenders think that their exchanging of the chanting of the Holy Name for deceitfully ‘pulling rope’ on their japa-mala, while sitting and performing silent bhajana, is actual bhajana. It is a matter of great astonishment that even though a great many people are doing this, still they have no shame. Service to Hari kirtana is actual rupanuga-bhajana, otherwise not.

Sri Bhaktiprajnana Kesava Goswami Maharaja
The appearance of Sri Baladeva, 21 August, 1958. Appearing in Sri Sri Bhagavat Patrika, 1-12, 2017.

This statement from Kesava Maharaja addresses both siddhantical disputes. When it comes to the thesis that only manjaris are rupanugas, I believe its because one is unable to see it from several viewpoints. From Gurudeva (a manjari), a rupanuga would mean following Rupa Goswamis internal moods. But for jivas with other intrinsic mood, they would interpret being a Rupanuga as following his teachings (as their mood may be different, but teachings are still very much current for them).

In other words, there is room for all moods in the gaudiya vedanta lineage. Now, there may be biological families whose moods are within one of the four mellows, but they still are within the gaudiya vedanta lineage. I’m happy that Gurudeva is my Guru, but I would have been honored to have had a Guru with a different mellow as long as he was authentic.

The funny thing is that those who belongs within the madhurya-rati side is also discussing the age-old question on whether the jiva fell from vaikuntha. It’s an excellent case of history repeating itself. In Isckon, during and after Srila Prabhupadas disappearance there was a belief that the jivas had been in Vaikuntha, but fell down to this material world. Gurudeva refuted this belief and showed how the jivas came from the tatastha region and that it’s not possible to be in Vaikuntha and fall down from the moods there. The same disciples who argues the correct understanding toward this isckon misconception, is the same ones who has the misconceptions in terms of madhurya rasa. It really is history repeating itself.

That Gurudeva was able to cheat us on these things is really a glory of his, not something that limits him. Gurudeva’s knowledge is so powerful that we still discuss and disagrees on it even today. That’s how powerful his influence is. Preaching tactic doesn’t subtract from his glory, it adds to it.

Furthermore, what evidence is there that having misconceptions disqualify one from spiritual progress? None, because misconceptions are not what we are being measured on. If we were measured on our misconceptions, none of us would stand a chance.

Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth.

Bhagavad-gita 04.34

This verse have two parts: What makes a perfect Guru, and what makes a perfect disciple.

A real disciple is someone who gets that experience too, from the wise, by means of three things:

प्रणिपातेन
praṇipāt(ena)
Submission

परिप्रश्नेन
paripraśn(ena)
Rigorous inquiry

सेवया
seva(yā)
Service

The interesting quality in this context is “rigourous inquiry” which means there are room for questioning, having misconceptions. Just as long as one keep on working on our understandings, it will be fine. Just don’t let pride stand in the way.

(I’m taking away that last sentence there, because its wrong. I’m leaving it visibly lined through so that you can see my error)

Bhakti-rasayana

During Gurudevas presence, I used to go to the festivals in Europe. I was an avid reader and whatever books I could get my hands on, I purchased. One could always see me hovering around the book table. I’ve been to many of Gurudevas lectures, but those were difficult for me. I didn’t understand what Gurudeva said (I struggled with his dialect) and even if I wrote things down it was in one ear and out the other. I had and still have a teflon brain where nothing sticks.

The last few years I have been unable to read books. I loved reading books and devoured them, it was even the primary way I stayed connected during my years of no association. Now I’m unable to read. I don’t know how many books I have begun reading and only come a few pages into them, never to be continued. It’s been frustrating. Perplexing. Reading used to give me so much pleasure and now this quality has disappeared. Poof.

Instead I have turned to audiobooks and I have found it a wonderful avenue. Audiobooks now gives me what reading used to give me. I love it. I put my headphones on, and I can do whatever I want to while still listening to harikatha and books. It’s amazing.

The first audiobook I turned to was Bhakti-rasayana. It was specifically this video that got me on the track of audio narrations of books.

I remembered I had a CD with the narration of this book by Bhaktivedanta Tridandi Swami and I can greatly recommend it. Tridandi swami has a voice that works perfectly for listening to and his narrations is well spoken. He enhances the story, not getting in the way of it.

I have tried to find the books online, but without luck. I sent the following letter below to GVP Publications (contact form: http://gvpbookdistribution.com/contact/ ) in the hopes they will make them available. If this is something that speaks to you, send them a letter as well as this is a very important service I would like to see so much more of.

(I have the mp3s, but I’m not making them available as they are not my intellectual property. It’s better to mail GVP and hope they become enthused to publish them online)


Dandavat pranamas.

All glories to Guru, the Vaishnavas and Gauranga!

I have been greatly enjoying the narration of Bhakti Rasayana (Ambrosia of divine love). It’s a cd I purchased many years ago. I have been looking to see if its possible to download it somewhere, but it isn’t.

Is it possible to make it (and all other audiobooks) available? For example on amazon.com?

The audiobooks are expertly produced and Tridandi Swami has a perfect voice for narrations. I’m hoping that by me sending this mail, you will make the audiobooks available for devotees and hopefully produce more of them. It’s an overlooked service that I am now very grateful for receiving.

Most fallen,
Haridasi