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.

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.

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)

Is there room for all rasas in the Gaudiya Lineage?

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Whenever somebody (isckon) had a statement to show that Narayana Majaraja (Gurudeva) preached something different from Srila Prabhupada, Gurudeva refuted it. There is even a book which lists the different misconceptions and refutations: Our Gurus: One in siddhanta, one in heart. Very good examples of misconceptions is that one couldn’t speak about the pasttimes of manjaris and whether the jivas fell from vaikuntha or the tatastha region.

The speciality that Gurudeva came to give us was the manjari mood. Nobody had spoken openly about this until Gurudeva received the blessing to do so. It wasn’t forbidden, just hidden.

That Gurudeva had to clear up some misconceptions after Srila Prabhupadas disappearance was to be expected. So isn’t it to be expected that there will be some weeds that needs to be cleared after Gurudevas disappearance as well? The devotees may have matured in their understanding, but that doesn’t mean there still isn’t things to deal with.

The belief that the Gaudiya lineage can only contain those in manjari mood seem to be one of the weeds that have grown. There is two misconceptions that are linked: Caitanya Mahaprabhu only came to give the manjari mood and that one can only be a rupanuga if you follow Rupa Goswamis mood.

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

Caitanya Mahaprabhu had external and internal reasons to manifest himself. One of the internal reasons was to taste the manjari mood (and more specifically Srimati Radhikas moods). So can only those who follow the inner mood of Mahaprabhu be a follower of him?

Sri Caitanya Caritamrta, Adi-lila 3.19 refutes this. Mahaprabhu came to distribute the four rasas to everybody, but He Himself relished the madhurya mood. So do you have to only follow Mahaprabhus moods to be a follower of His teachings? Of course not, the verse refutes this.

The same thing with who can be called a rupanuga. You don’t have to follow Rupa Goswamis moods to be a follower of His teachings. His book “Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu” delineates how to go from the lowest stage of bhakti until prema. If you have a mood different from manjari, you can still follow the stages Rupa Goswami has described, and therefore follow his teachings.

It would be strange of our Parampara could only consist of manjaris. That there is a predominance of manjaris in the parampara is without question, but if it only could be manjaris – where would the other rasas go?

The spiritual world supports all the rasas and somehow they even manage to cooperate to serve Krishna. But in this world we have to create a distinct line between the rasas without cooperation? The different rasas have to have different lineages? It doesn’t make sense.

There are four different recognized sampradayas:

2016-07-14_2147

Nowhere is there a lineage below the Brahma sampradaya that says that each rasa has their own lineage. There may be certain villages and biological families that have a predominance of a certain mood, but that doesn’t make them a lineage in their own right. The community and village of Saptagrama were especially blessed by Nityananda Prabhu (from O My Friend).

Even the origin of our sampradaya and creation (Lord Brahma) is in sakhya-rasa.

Narada is a bit of a special case, but he is identified with Madhumangala-sakha. As Narada he is in dasya-rasa, but Krishna also had Narada experience madhurya-rasa as Naradiya Gopi.

Vyasadeva appears in Gaura lila as Vrindavan Das Thakura who also had the cowherd boy Kusumapida inside of him.

Sukadeva who is in dasya mood, but somehow still was given the empowerment to speak Srimad-Bhagavatam.

Let’s entertain the thought that Nityananda manifested himself now – in 2016. The same Nityananda that we perform artik to with Gauranga. Nityananda is steeped in sakhya bhava. Would we say to him: “I’m sorry. You are in sakhya bhava, so you can’t possibly be in our Guru parampara. You have to go to your own lineage.”

Why would we limit Nityananda so? Are we afraid that if our mood is madhurya, that Nityananda can’t give it to us? Do we think that Nityananda can’t arrange the madhurya mood to manifest in us? There is no need to create boundaries for what siddha-dehas can do, they are expert at arranging Krishnas pastimes. They are probably expert at “arranging” us conditioned beings as well.

It becomes doubly laughable, because who is the original spiritual master? Nityananda who is the first direct manifestation of Balarama. To say he isn’t in our Guru parampara because he has sakhya bhava is apasiddhanta.

I would happily receive guidance from a pure devotee in another mood than mine, and I will have no doubts that he will be able to arrange the blossoming of madhurya mood in somebody else. I would even go so far and say that (S)He is in the Gaudiya Lineage. It’s not so far fetched really.

Translation faults: Gurudeva said… what?

One of the main arguments of the madhurya-rati side is the insistence that they follow Gurudevas words, the underlying understanding is that the sakhya-rati side does not follow Gurudeva. They point this out with quotes like the one below from the bhava.guru site:

2016-02-01_1115

The mixed-rati side claims that Gurudevas words are open for interpretation where he never specifically states that Srila Prabhupada is a manjari, but instead focuses on the madhurya aspect of Srila Prabhupada.

So, whenever there’s a philosophical debate it becomes important that whatever translations of Gurudevas words are as close to the original message as possible. The madhurya rati side have brought forward especially one such quote which deviate a little bit from the audio. The deviations has been marked with uppercase letters.

Walking with a saint – 2008, page 238

HOUSTON TEXAS 30 MAY 2008

Sayarsi dasa: One of my god-brothers named Maha-mantra, took sannyasa within Isckon society and is now living in New Vrindavan. He talks about and follows the path of sakhya rasa. He says that Srila Prabhupada is a priya-narma-sakha.

Is it possible for Srila Prabhupada to be a manjari and at the same time train his disciples who are in sakhya- rasa?

Srila Narayana Goswami Maharaja: All rasas- santa ,dasya, sakhya, vatsalya, and madhurya are present in the gopi”s madhurya mood. The gopis can manifest santa, dasya, sakhya, vatsalya and madhurya.

Sayarsi dasa: Is it okay for a particular disciple whose stayi-bhava maybe in sakhya-rasa to see Srila Prabhupada as a priya narma cowherd boy?

Srila Narayan Goswami Maharaja: SOMEONE CAN THINK LIKE THAT, IF HE DESIRES BUT he is quite wrong. Wrong and wrong and wrong. 

Brajanath dasa : That sannyasi quotes from Jaiva Dharma, where Vijay Kumar and Vrajanath see their guru in two different ways. One sees him as a manifestation of Subal as Priya-narma -sakha, and the other sees him as an intimate sakhi of Srimati Radhika.

Srila Narayana Goswami Maharaja: Actually, pujyapada Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja has come in line of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Srila Rupa Goswami, so he must be like them. He has written this in his books”

Sripad Bhagavat Maharaja: He has written that “I am a servant of Srimati Radhika”

This is the translation from the audio itself, Houston morning walk 30th may 2008: 09.30 minutes in.:

Sayarsi dasa: One of my godbrothers have taken initiation within isckon society in New Vrindavin

Srila Narayana Maharaja: What name?

Devotees: Maha mantra dasa

Srila Narayana Maharaja: I know him very well.

Sayarsi dasa: He has been talking about preya rasa, cowherd boy fraternal relationship, he has been following this path and he has been saying that Srila Prabhupada is a priya-narma sakha. That can also be true if he is manjari, he can also train his disciples who is only in sakhya rasa?

Srila Narayana Maharaja: You should know that in gopis mood, all rasas are there. sakhya, dasya, vatsalya all are included. They can manifest sometimes santa rasa, dasya rasa, sakhya rasa, madhurya rasa. All.

Sayarsi dasa: But  for that particular disciple who may be sthayi bhava, may be sakhya rasa. Srila Prabhupada may be appearing to him like a cowherd boy, like a priya-narma sakha?

Madhava Maharaja: This is a conclusion of his mind.

Sripad Bhagavat Maharaja: This sanyassi is saying that Srila Prabhupada my Swami Maharaja in in sakhya rasa, he is a priya-nama-sakha. That is his conclusion. His idea.

Srila Narayana Maharaja: Oh, he is quite wrong. Wrong and wrong and wrong.

(laughter)

Sayarsi dasa: But if he, maha mantra maharaja is …

Srila Narayana Maharaja: Let him do, no harm.

Madhava Maharaja: But even if maha mantra maharaja himself, radha krishna, how he himself

Brajanath prabhu: He tries to explain like in Jaiva Dharma, Vijaya Kumara and Brajanath. One is  seeing him like Subala, like priya narma sakha, another like an intimate sakhi of Srimati Radhika.

Srila Narayana Maharaja: Anyone can be like that, no harm, but actually for Swamiji he was not in this.

Devotee: Manjari

Srila Narayana Maharaja: He has come in the line of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Rupa Gosvami, so he must be like them. Because he has written in his books.

Sripad Bhagavat Maharaja: I am the servant of Radhika. He has written like that. I am the servant of Radhika.

The first part of the added words is: “SOMEONE CAN THINK LIKE THAT, IF HE DESIRES BUT he is quite wrong. Wrong and wrong and wrong.”

If we hear the original audio, we see that what is wrong can be understood based upon the listener’s understanding. We can also understand that Gurudeva is saying that a priya narma sakha only have sakhya rasa to be wrong, that priya narma sakhas also have madhurya. So this quote can be understood both ways – as a validation for both the mixed rati and madhurya rati side. The change also makes the mood heavier, it really emphasizes what the madhurya rati side wants to be true.

If we deviate too much from the original message, we may come close to the quote: “If anyone thinks he can correct the writing or teachings of our Gurudeva”, however intentionally or unintentionally it’s done.

The madhurya rati side have linked to this qoute, sometimes with the last sentence added: “THANK YOU FOR READING SRILA GURUDEVA”S OWN WORDS!!!”

One of my favorite pages on Facebook is Gaudiya Vedanta Publications, and especially when they come with information on new publications. I think they are doing a good job. So please, try to stay close to Gurudevas own words. We now see how important this is whenever some philosophical debate arises.

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

How to recognize a sadhus mood

Nemi Maharaja posted a new entry in regards to why he believe that Srila Prabhupada is a gopi. It’s a nice reflection on why he believes what he believes without the “fighting” or “we must defend” mentality.

I have truly appreciated and loved the feeling behind the last two postings he has. This is responses where the temperature has fallen in the debate and instead a loving mellow is seeping through. It’s just so nice! It’s so wonderful to admire the response of a person who you disagree with. It’s so lovely to admire how he presents his case. This is beauty.

I also very much appreciates that Nemi Maharaja kept his posting public. It takes a lot of strength to posts publically and spend the time dealing with comments, but Nemi Maharaja is doing the effort. There usually is a lot of inappropriate comments when they do so, but my take is that it’s an opportunity to work on an individual. There may be inappropriate comments, but by dealing with them authentically we can hopefully raise peoples awareness while still disagree. The bad side, we don’t see any change happening as this usually take a lot of time. I’m sorry to see that many devotees only posts controversial issues among their friends, though I do understand that dealing with the repercussions can be very hard.

So, let’s speak on the message again. Nemi Maharaja again goes back to the view that Gurudeva lied to his disciples. I’m sorry to see the word “lie” coming back. I slowly had to understand that this isn’t about lying, but that Gurudevas words can be intepreted both ways. Gurudeva speaks in a hidden way. So can we please instead use something other word than lying? For example, I used to refer to this debate as a “controversy” and “conflict”. I have moved away from those words and instead use “debate” and “discussion”. I saw how these words increase the division and conflict, and therefore I changed how I wrote. Words have power. We have a responsibility to consider how we use them. At least I hold myself responsible and to keep on improving how I relate.

“There are so many higher realities that Srila Prabhupada never talked about, because we were not ready.

In any case, Srila Gurudeva did not have to make up stories to attract us. He is not such a feeble and inept preacher.”

So very true. But didn’t Gurudeva explain Srila Prabhupada to the iskcon devotees and revealed so much understanding that was missing…. because you were not ready?

Is it so hard to imagine that may be the same can be true of Gurudeva. That there are so many higher realities that Gurudeva never talked about, because we are not ready? The rasa of Srila Prabhupada is one of these issues.

When we read the books of our acaryas, they reveal themselves and their mood. Each acarya sees the world through colored lenses. The color is the mood they have, so their understanding of madhurya is different depending on their mood. The Gopas know of the gopis and they know they have this madhurya mood, but their view on madhurya will be different.

But what is the meaning of madhurya? Madhurya means not to have any aisvarya. In madhurya you may have dasya-rasam, sakhya-rasam, vatsalya-rasam and sringara-rasam. Rasas are different. And those who spontaneously have an attachment toward a particular rasam they will cultivate it from the beginning and they will get it. Not all jivas must become madhurya-rasa or srngara-rasa devotees. But is is said that adya eva paro rasah-srngara rasam is the superior. Amongst all rasas, srngara-rasa is the supreme.

….For example, Dama and Sudama have their particular rasam with Krishna and those who are attracted by that rasan have to take them as their Gurus. Similarly those who have a tendency toward vatsalya-rasam have to accept Nanda or Yasoda as their Gurus. This in madhurya bhava. In this way the devotees will proceed.

Sri Guru-vani by Sri Srimad Bhakti Vaibhava Puri Gosvami Maharaja

 

Look at how Puri Maharaja define madhurya. No talk on manjaris etc. Acaryas writing and definitions reflects what mood (and understanding) they have. If you are a gopa, wouldn’t you consider your mood to be the highest and best? If you are a manjari, wouldn’t you consider your mood to be the highest? A manjari and a gopa meets and they begin to bicker about which mood is the highest. A gopa will say: “I built the temple with the highest point, so our mood is the best”. A manjari will say: “Krishna goes away from the temple to meet our svamini, so our temple attracts Krishna more”. So it will continue and it will be lovely because it’s a transcendental bickering.

Acaryas understand the vedas based on their mood. This understanding is important for us sadhakas so that we can get closer in understanding our sadhu-sanga.

Video by Nemi Maharaja

Nemi Maharaja has made a video explaining his point on why he means Srila Prabhupada can’t be a priya-narma sakha. The video is excellently made! The sound quality is fantastic, he explains his point in a very simple way that I think all devotees will be able to follow, the surroundings are nice and he keeps his message so short that everybody will watch the video to the end and not get lost on the way.

I mean, it was just excellently made! I loved it ! Quality in the making. Truly, excellent work.

Then there’s the message. The easiest way to counter his arguments is that priya-narma sakhas have sakhi-bhava, thereby he’s disregarding Gurudevas own words in his book Bhakti rasamrta Sindhu bindu p.254:

The priyanarma-sakhas are superior in every way to the three other types of sakhas. They are engaged in extremely confidential services and are possessed of a very special bhava (sakhi-bhava). In other words they perform confidential services for the preyasis (lovers) of Sri Krishna, they assist Krishna in meeting with the preyasis and they desire to give pleasure to them. These include Subala, Arjuna, Gandharva, Vasanta, Ujjvala and Madhuma∫gala. Of these Subala and Ujjvala are the best.

 

 

 

The Breakup of a matha

After the passing of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura (BSST), there was a breakup of the Gaudiya matha. As a result, most of the sannyasis established their own mathas.

In the 1950, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and Bhakti Prajnana Keshava Maharaja wrote and published article on the breakup, the first in a series. Such a hue and cry of protest arose from the mass of devotees arose that they decided not to publish further articles on the matter. Bhakti Prajnana Keshava Maharaja was certainly in a position to know all the details firsthand, having at one time been falsely accused of murder and arrested along with his entire Math.

Sons of the sons: The breakup of the Gaudiya Matha

If somebody have the articles, I would love to read those especially because I suspect those articles may address something I’m very curious about:

Can a breakup of a matha be favorable? If so, how?

It happened after BSST, and now that Krishna Balarama Mandira has been banned from preaching in America, are we seeing the contours of the same happening now? Are the organization (ipbsys) that was put in place fractioning up?

There have been several challenging issues that have arisen since Gurudevas disappearance. It’s the falldown of one of the sannyasis, that one sannyasi took on babaji vesa and now the debate on what rasa Srila Prabhupada has. And those are only the ones I know about.

I have also noticed something curious about myself. I try to follow those who have been within the matha for a long time, and I have followed more closely the arguments of those favoring madhurya-bhava than I have KBM. But I can also say that now that the dust has settled and I still follow them, I find myself less interested. When I see what they quote of Gurudeva, I think “This is just low levels of vaidhi-bhakti”. Why are they quoting this? Is this  an indication of where they are? So I become disinterested because I see that whatever vitality I’m searching for is not there. I have preached the middle ground and I see no reason to harbor any animosity. On the contrary, I think we all can do a great, nice kirtan together. But yet, I want vitality with my harikatha. I may not think Nemi Maharaja have digged enough into his own arguments, but I fully respect that he keeps on digging. That shows me vitality in action. I want him to keep on digging, and I will keep on listening because his digging encourage me to keep on working on my own understanding.

“Unless there is some disagreement there cannot be hari-katha” (around 28:00)

Bhaktivedanta Damodar Maharaja

Syamananda prabhu emails me regularly with something interesting he wants to show me. Often I find myself empty, but then he mails me something that prods me back. This is vitality.

KBM challenged me with their statements. This is devotees who keep on challenging me and I need it.

But I just don’t understand how a split can be favorable. If we take the devotees that have been a part of Gurudevas sanga for years which I now may have come a little less interested in. They have done more service than I ever will. They are more advanced than I ever will be. Many have sought the guidance of Bhakti Vijan Bharati Maharaja which from my understanding is a pure devotee. I have the utmost respect for them. So what am I missing?

Damodar Maharaja said to Gurudeva “You are making so many plans for the future, but you never say who will come after you. Who will be the Guru? Acarya? But if you don’t appoint an acarya, they all will become acarya and they will all fight amongst each other and everything will be burnt to ashes.

Gurudeva laughed “Very good. I will be watching the fire and I will be laughing. Cause actually I’m not interested in what will happen after. This is not my business. There is Krishna and he will take care of this.”

Lecture by Damodar Maharaja (58 minutes in)

I can’t for the life of me understand the benefits of a breakup. I just don’t understand it. If we take the madhurya-rati side it seems like they keep themselves connected. What positive side effects does a breakup have?

I understand that people are different and this translates to devotees as well. During the trips I’ve had to festivals there was only a very select few I really connected to and those devotees shine bright for me. The rest I avoided which pretty much made up most of the devotees. But this spiritual path is not a popularity contest. It’s not about who’s in and who’s not. This spiritual path is for everybody.

So what is achieved by a breakup? Gurudeva gave the response “Very good” when Damodar Maharaja said that everything will be burnt to ashes if he didn’t select a successor acarya.

This indicates that a breakup can be good. By dividing, Krishna can achieve something. But what?


For the record, I don’t hold any opinions on this matter myself (at least not now). I just like the philosophical understanding that can come of this.

 

Sakhi-bhava vs anumodanam

Syamananda Prabhu mentioned that the last contribution of Nemi Maharaja is a rehash of Prema Prajoyanas postings. I haven’t mentioned Prema Prajoyans (PP) contribution much, because it was at that point things got beyond my head in this debate. It just became too deep. But now it seems the time has come to push through this barrier and look at this issue from both sides.

In Nemi Maharajas last posting he pretty much made two interesting statements:

  • That the primary rasa (sakhya bhava) does not disappear.
  • That PNS have a difference of service from the manjaris.

This is the main verse of the arguments:

atha priya-narma-sakhah—
ätyantika-rahasya-jnah sakhi-bhäva-samäsritah.
sarvebhyah pranayibhyo’sau priya-narma-sakho varah
sa gokule tu subalas tathä syäd arjunädayah.

“The priya-narma-sakhas are aware of Sri Krsna’s most confidential pastimes, having taken complete shelter of sakhi-bhava. They are the best among all the dear friends of Krsna. In Gokula, Subala and Arjuna are among the priya-narma-sakhas.” (Ujjvala-nilamani 2.13)

This verse is quoted as the evidence that the male mood of the priya-narma-sakhas gets covered by sakhi-bhava.  So how are we to understand the word sakhi-bhava? This is what KBM says on this:

When priya-narma-sakhas become absorbed in tadatmika-bhava with Srimati Radhika, they enter in madhurya-rasa because She is madhurya-rasa-siromani. They taste something of Her mahabhava. At that time, they have gopi-bhava. They completely lose their sakha mood and male identity, and experience tadatmya with Radhika like manjaris. This is tat-tad-bhava-icchamayi, nothing like a sambhogamayi relation with Sri Krsna KBM: They are unable to touch Srila Gurudevas heart

Prema Prayojana refers to this verse as evidence that we should not construe sakhi-bhava to mean madhurya-rasa:

Locana-rocani: sakhi-bhavah sri krsna-tat-preyasyoh paraspara-melaneccha tam samasrita iti tena tasya purusa-bhavascavrta iti bhavah. tad-anumodanam eva na tu tat sphrha sakhibhavad eva (Locana-rocani 2.13/15)

“The term ‘samasrita’ indicates that the priya-narma-sakhas’ male sentiment remains concealed by ‘sakhi-bhava.’ Here ‘sakhi-bhava’ means ‘the desire for Sri Krsna and his beloved to meet.’ The cause of this ‘sakhi-bhava’ is only approval of, or sympathy for, the gopis’ sentiments. It is not that the priya-narma-sakhas personally desire such sentiments for themselves.” (Locana-rocani 2.13 / 15)

From PPs side, this verse seem to be a claim that PNS doesn’t aspire for, or have manjari bhava. According to PP “sakhi-bhava is only approval of, or sympathy for, the gopis’ sentiments where he empasizes the word anumodanam. More specifically, this verse is used as a claim that pns have a desire for sambandhanuga-bhakti (familiar relationship which encapsulates dasya, sakhya and vatsalya rasa). KBM addresses this here:

Madhuro-bhava is sandhi and not samas. Here the word madhurah is visesan, the word bhava is visesya and the word bhavita is kriya. So it means that Subala-sakha is absorbed in madhura-bhava. This means Subala is not the doer but madhura-bhava is the doer. For this reason Subala is decorating the kunjas and also arranging the meetings between Radha and Krishna.This is not only anumodana but he is also absorbed in madhura-bhava and is tasting it.
KBM: PRIYA NARMA SAKHA SUBALA IS NOT SAMBHOGA-ICCHA-MAYI (IN SAMBHOGА-RASA).

So on the first disagreement “That the primary rasa (sakhya bhava) does not disappear.” The madhurya-rati side makes light of the usage of the work sakhi-bhava in Ujjvala-nilamani 2.13 and emphasizes anumodanam.

But, Narayana Maharaja himself emphasizes the words sakhi-bhava, when he writes about priya-narma sakhas in Bhakti rasamrta Sindhu bindu p.254:

The priyanarma-sakhas are superior in every way to the three other types of sakhas. They are engaged in extremely confidential services and are possessed of a very special bhava (sakhi-bhava). In other words they perform confidential services for the preyasis (lovers) of Sri Krishna, they assist Krishna in meeting with the preyasis and they desire to give pleasure to them. These include Subala, Arjuna, Gandharva, Vasanta, Ujjvala and Madhuma∫gala. Of these Subala and Ujjvala are the best.

So no matter how one decide to interpret the word sakhi-bhava, one should be careful to take it lightly. In such a case one also have to consider if there is further ways to understand the word sakhi-bhava.

Their purusa-bhava (male mood) is covered by sakhi-bhava (Srila Jiva Goswami).

Radha-Krsna-ganoddesa-dipika,Laghu-bhaga 198:

Priya-narma-sakhas are sakhi-bhavabhavita:it means that they are not sambhoga-icha-mayi.

Maan (jealous anger): Priya-narma-sakhas are not separately tasting maan but through tadatma-bhava of Radhika.
KBM: PRIYA NARMA SAKHA SUBALA IS NOT SAMBHOGA-ICCHA-MAYI (IN SAMBHOGА-RASA)

Syamananda pointed this out in his comment:

“The priya narma sakhas are eligible for srngara-rasa to some extent.” (JD chapter 30, 625).
“His priya narma sakha, srngara-rasa himself, reigns splendidly, fully manifest in Vraja” (JD, chapter 34, pg 707). The meaning more clearly derived from the original Bengali and Gurudeva’s Hindi edition, is “The priya narma sakhas are the deity (murtiman) of srngara-rasa in Vraja.”

 

“Sakhya is also of two types: siddha sakhya and unnati-garbha sakhya. The characteristics of siddha sakhya are that rati, prema and pranaya are in a fixed unchangeable form. In unnatigarbha sakhya there is a sprout of vatsalya and kanta (madhurya) bhava… When sakhya rasa is nourished then it will become either vatsalya rasa or madhurya rasa.” (Premapradipa).

 

So priya narma sakhas go to madhurya rasa side, and
suhrt sakhas go to vatsalya rasa side.


The next barrier I will have to try to break is in regards to mixed moods which continues this discussion and PPs use of anumodanam which he rests much of his case upon. All I can say is that I’m trying, but I don’t think I have even scratched the surface of understanding.

 

Going deeper: Rasa of Srila Prabhupada

I’ve been so busy for the last couple of weeks, that it wasn’t until now I realized that part two of Nemi Maharajas posts on Priya narma sakhas had already been published. I had seen the post, but mistakenly thought it was the first post. So joy! There was something new for me to relish.

I found part 1 to be a bit of a rehash of old argument,where Nemi Maharana continues with that priya narma sakhas is in sakhya rasa. Nobody disagrees with this, so I don’t understand the need to argue this point. But still – it’s siddhanta and all good. As mentioned previously, the first posting have a very interesting development. It was the first time we see that the madhurya-rati side aknowledges that Gurudeva have never specifically stated SP is a manjari, but instead uses describing words like gopi-bhava etc. This is a progression of understanding as the madhurya-rati side now moves away from the idea that Gurudeva lied to us and that he was duplicitous. Instead, there’s an understanding that there is room for interpretation of Gurudevas words. Of course, the madhurya-rati side claims there is nothing there to interpret.

The second part of Nemi Maharajas postings is where it gets interesting for me. Previously in this debate, I found the madhurya-rati sides arguments to be weak and not really understanding or even approaching the claims made by the sakhya-rati side. At times I even wondered whether they had even read any of KBMs statements, the public statement suggest they didn’t.

This changes with the current postings by Nemi Maharaja where in the second posting he goes into the following question: Can priya-narma-sakhas enter into madhurya-rasa so deeply that terms such as “madhurya-rasa”, “gopi-bhava” and “maidservant” can legitimately be applied to them?

This goes into the heart of the matter and requires a deep understanding of the function and moods of Priya narma sakhas.

Nemi Maharaja begins by entering this statement by KBM and Damodar Maharaja:

Srila Swami Maharaja is in the mood of a sakhi, he feels internally that he is a sakhi, but for the sake of lila he has the body of a male. For example, sometimes Subala dresses as a sakhi and behaves like a sakhi. This is’ sakhi rupena’, and in this way he likes to give happiness to Radha Rani. BV Damdar Maharaja: SAKHI RUPENA BUT NOT SAKHI

 

When priya-narma-sakhas become absorbed in tadatmika-bhava with Srimati Radhika, they enter in madhurya-rasa because She is madhurya-rasa-siromani. They taste something of Her mahabhava. At that time, they have gopi-bhava. They completely lose their sakha mood and male identity, and experience tadatmya with Radhika like manjaris. This is tat-tad-bhava-icchamayi, nothing like a sambhogamayi relation with Sri Krsna

 Nemi Maharaja references verses in Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu (does anybody have this book with better view of verses and formatting?) to show how pns never looses their primary rasa:

http://archive.org/stream/SriBhakti-rasamrta-sindhu/RBhakti-rasmta-sindhuPart2_djvu.txt:
bhaty eva na tu Uriah syad esa sancari-gaunavat ||4.8.48|| “However, the primary rasa for a particular devotee, which manifests in his heart by the power of innumerable previous experiences, does not disappear, as the vyahhicdrT-hhdvas or secondary rasas do.”

ahgi mukhyah svam atrahgair bhavais fair abhivardhayan sajatiyair vijatiyaih svatantrah san virdjate ||4.8.49|| “In a combination of rasas, the primary rasa that is the main ahgi-rasa remains independent by nourishing itself through supportive bhdvas, which may be of the same variety or different, but not enemies.”

yasya mukhyasya yo bhakto bhaven nitya-nijdsrayah ahgisa eva tatra sydn mukhyo ‘py anyo ‘hgatdm vrajet ||4.8.50|| “The primary rasa that is revealed as one’s own, for which a particular devotee is the constant dsraya, remains predominant in that particular devotee (ahgt), and other primary rasas become ahgas”

kirn ca — dsvddodreka-hetutvam ahgasydhgatvam ahgini tadvind tasya sampdto vaiphalydyaiva kalpate ||4.8.51|| “However, the other rasas assume the role ofahga only to increase the taste. Their appearance except for this purpose would be useless.”

So, the interesting part here is that there seem to be an inconsistency between the statement by KBM and Bhakti Rasamrita sindhu. The statement by KBM is found in one of these books:

“Radha -krsna-ganoddesa-dipika, Ujjvala-nilamani, Jaiva-dharma and Prema-pradipa all give this indication”.
I would love to get the exact reference, because in BRS it says that the primary rasa cannot disappear, while KBMs statement indicates this. So there we have an inconsistency that needs to be addressed.
Next:

Furthermore, priya-narma-sakhas **cannot** have madhurya-rasa **as part of their permanent relationship** (sthayi-bhava), because the sakhya-rasa of the priya-narma-sakhas is not mixed with any other rasa (BRS 3.3.36-37). Srila Gurudeva relates to our Nemi Maharaja: Srila Prabhupada as a manjari in madhurya-rasa

Again, I need a better source to reference of Bhakti Rasamrita sindhu, but still this does address an interesting question. How much a part is the madhurya rasa in pns? My understanding is that it’s not part of their permanent relationship.

The priya-narma-sakhassthayi-bhava is angi-rasa. And madhurya-rasa is anga. When anga-rasa is mixed with angi, that anga-rasa should increase the taste of rasa. Otherwise, that anga-rasa (madhurya-rasa) becomes useless.

KBM: Be honest, see deeply

So, how to understand this (because I don’t)? Again, this is a point that need to be further clarified by the sakhya-rati side.

Next Nemi Maharaja goes into the claim that pns assist in the intimate amorous pastimes (what is Rkgd?) The lovely thing is that now we really have to reference the verses that are being used.  This goes into the the claims that pns are not manjaris. The sakhya-rati side does not claim that pns are manjaris, but there is still a piece missing from the puzzle: what is the difference in service between pns and manjaris when pns can get a shadow of mahabhava? KBM have statement that only touches upon the subject, but doesn’t really dive into it.

What I’m also wondering about is if there are divisions within the priya-narma sakhas, because KBM specifically states that SP is a follower of senior pns. What of pns who follow not senior pns?

Our Srila Swami Prabhupada is a follower of the senior priya-narma-sakhas like Subala and Madhumangala.  Because of this he has gopi mood like them, and because he is of her level, he also has Rupa-manjari’s mood. KBM: Open the door for dhira-samira

Syamananda prabhu in the comment makes also some interesting references:
2015-09-19_16272015-09-19_1627_2
So, I think Nemi Maharaja has pointed out an inconsistency in the understanding of siddhanta that needs to be addressed. Furthermore, there is a piece of the puzzle missing in the sakhya-rati side which is to explain in further detail the difference between manjaris and PNS like Srila Prabhupada.

Update

Syamananda prabhu points out that KBM have answered these points in their statement PRIYA NARMA SAKHA SUBALA IS NOT SAMBHOGA-ICCHA-MAYI (IN SAMBHOGА-RASA)


Syamananda prabhu pointed out to me that Nemi Maharaja argues against Damodar Maharaja in this post and not KBM. This is a very good way of circumventing any vaishnava aparadha one might make when one has a differing opinion from high class devotees like Krishna priya didi and Madhusudhana Maharaja. Nemi Maharaja argues siddhanta with an equal instead. If I ever go into a disagreement with my seniors, I hope I will use his example.