Issuu on Google+

Gaudiya

touchstone

The Magazine of Sri Narasingha Chaitanya Ashram Issue No.6


Who am I? Why do we suffer? Where do we come from? What is the purpose of life? What happens after death?

The Bhagavad-gita with the commentary of Swami B. G. Narasingha provides simple, yet profound knowledge to elevate us to a higher state of consciousness whereby we can realize our true self and progress towards attaining a life of spiritual fulfillment. Bhagavad-gita unravels the mysteries of life, providing not only knowledgeable answers, but also a progressive process to uplift us to pure consciousness, through the system of Bhakti-yoga.

TO ORDER KANNADA VERSION CONTACT gosai.secretary@gmail.com


Senior Editor

Swami B.G. Narasingha

Assistant Editors

Swami B.B. Vishnu Swami B.V Giri Swami Srirupa Madhava

Copy Editor

Priyanana

Science Editor

Swami Vishnu

Health Editor

Priyanana

Translators

Swami Giri Sanatana

Layout and Design

Rasikananda Gaura-Gopala

Art Department

Dominique Amendola

Photography

Rammohan Nila Newsom Swami Giri Satyaraja

Webmaster

Advaita Acharya


Dr`

Contents

01

Editorial

03

A Particle of Dust Swami B.G. Narasingha

11

Maha-mantra Swami B.G. Narasingha

33

Dhyana Yoga - The Yoga of Meditation Swami B.G Narasingha

43

The Highest Attainment & Present Adjustment Swami B.R. Sridhara Deva Goswami

47

Sri Srila Prabhupada in Radha Kunda Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura

59

Topics in Praise of Sri Ganga - Devi Bhaktivinoda Thakura

65

Himalayan Pilgrimage Part-1 Swami B.V. Giri & Gaura Gopala

95

Garhwal - The Indian Himalayas Swami B.V. Giri & Gaura Gopala

107

History of Radha-Damodara Mandira

133

Temples of Karnataka

Swami B.G. Narasingha Rasikananda

141

Hoysala Architecture - Part 2

149

St. Thomas in India - Myth or Truth?

155

Does Death Exist?

159

Words of Wisdom

163

Culinary Magic

Dominique Amendola Dr. N.S. Rajaram

Dr. Robert Lanza

Lakhman


Editorial Gaudiya Touchstone is now on a new release schedule — Nov. 1st (Karttika issue), March 1st (Gaura Purnima issue) and July 1st (Janmastami issue). We think that this schedule will work well for timely articles corresponding to that general time of year. For this Karttika issue we have an informative article called ‘History of the Radha-Damodara Mandira’ suggesting the proper mental state necessary to enter Vrindavana in the foot steps of the Six Goswamis. Our cover story is part one of the Himalayan Pilgrimage by H.H. Giri Maharaja and Gaura Gopala Dasa Brahmachari. Setting out from Haridwar and Rishikesh to visit the Char-dham (the source of the Yamuna River at Yamunotri, the source of the Ganges at the Gaumukh Glacier, then Kedarnath and then Badarinath], our intrepid pilgrims take us on an arduous journey to the most sacred holy places in the Himalayas. Enduring difficult travel, encountering the masses of humanity along the mountain trails and in the end, narrowly escaping the worst natural disaster to hit the Himalayan area around Kedarnath in modern history. The photos to accompany this article and the ‘Garhwal - The Indian Himalayas’ are absolutely amazing. In ancient times, India was a thriving spiritual culture during which many beautiful temples were constructed around the country and especially in South India. In two articles ‘Temples of Karnataka’ by Rasikananda and ‘Hoysala Architecture’ by Dominique Amendola, we take a look at just how wonderful that period was in South India. Dr. N.S. Rajaram dispels the myth of ‘St. Thomas in India’ via his well researched and scholarly article. From the archives Bhaktivinoda Thakura glorifies the sacred Ganges in ‘Topics in Praise of Sri Ganga’. From the 1935 Gaudiya magazine, we step back in time to observe ‘Sri Srila Prabhupada in Radha-kunda’. There are numerous other articles in this issue for those with a philosophical bent of mind, last of which is an article by world renowned scientist Robert Lanza M.D. questioning if death actually exists. This, and other writings of Lanza, turns modern scientific understanding of life and the universe upside down and backwards. A must read. Lots of good material ahead so start reading. When you get to the end of the magazine follow the recipe for the Veggie Burger by Lakshman – its a delicious mouthful.

OM TAT SAT Swami Narasingha


Prakrta-rasa Aranya Chedini - Cutting the Jungle of Misconception A thought provoking book which promises to be of interest to the devotional community. A compilation of twenty-one articles written over a period of three years. Each of the articles disputes a particular misconception prevalent in the Gaudiya Vaisnava world, and establishes the proper understanding of various controversial issues. ORDER YOUR COPY HERE


Swami B.G. Narasingha


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

Question: What should be the highest aspiration of a Gaudiya Vaishnava? Should one aspire after the position of a manjari who can enter the groves of Vrindavana to serve Radha and Krishna? What should be our aspiration? Answer: We are to conceive of the plane of divine lila or pastimes of the Supreme Lord as infinitely greater than we are. In that subjective plane of reality all things animate and inanimate are superior to us. We are units of finite consciousness, yet we falsely think that we can demand a position in the highest plane of divinity. It is ludicrous. It is heresy to think such. We want so many things of the higher plane, but we are not fit for that service. We are not ready to pay the price of the highest service, but we think that we are somehow or other qualified for that. We have heard that some position is there in the manjari section which is most desirable, but we think that leaving all else aside we can simply jump to that position or march through that world as a soldier and conquer our objective. But it is not like that. First we must qualify: “first deserve, then desire.� We want not the position of the master but of the most negligible. First we must aspire for the most negligible position in the subjective plane of divinity, not for the highest position. What is that most negligible position? It is this: ayi nanda-tanuja kinkaram patitam mam vishame bhavam budhau kripaya tava pada-pankaja sthita-dhuli-sadrisham vichintaya O son of Nanda Maharaja, I am your eternal servant, yet because of my own karma, I have fallen into this terrible ocean of birth and death. Please accept this fallen soul and consider me a particle of dust at your holy lotus feet. (Siksastakam 5) The most negligible position one can hold in the relativity of the Absolute Truth is that of a particle of dust in the infinite world of lila. Such is to be the highest aspiration of any Gaudiya Vaishnava in this world. We are not to aspire in the beginning for the service of others, we must first aspire to be accepted into that domain by the Lord and His personal associates.

5


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

Krishna may embrace me in love or trample me under His feet. He may break my heart by hiding Himself from me. Let that debauchee do whatever he likes, but He will always be the only Lord of my life. (Siksastakam 8)

If we say that we want the highest, it is paramount to sense gratification. “We want” means sense gratification. “I want this, I want that”, it is sense gratification. It is not for His pleasure, this “I want, I want” mentality. It is better, for His (Krishna’s) pleasure, to prepare oneself in this life to become a particle of dust or a blade of grass in that higher plane of infinite lila. That is more desirable and such a noble desire will not go unnoticed by the residents of that plane. asam aho charana-renu-jusham aham syam vrindavane kim ape gulma-lataushadhinam ya dushtyajam svajanam arya-patham cha hitva bhejur mukunda-padavim shrutibhir vimrigyam The gopis of Vrindavana gave up their husbands, children, and families who are very difficult to renounce, and sacrificed even their religious principles

6


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

to take shelter of the lotus feet of Krishna, which are sought after even by the Vedas themselves. O! Grant me the fortune to take birth as a blade of grass in Vrindavana, so that I may take the dust of the lotus feet of those great souls upon my head. (Bhag. 10.47.61) To become a blade of grass in the plane of the infinite is no small achievement, what to speak of seeing or associating with Krishna directly. It is no small thing. Such is shown to us by Uddhava, the intimate friend of Krishna. And taking it one step further, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has shown us that the position held by a particle of dust at the lotus feet of Krishna is the most desirable. To achieve the most negligible position in the infinite will require the highest qualifications possible in this present plane. The highest qualifications attainable here for the sadhaka (devotee) may earn him the most negligible position in the higher subjective world of lila. It is not a cheap thing. We must become a slave to His (Krishna’s) will. Then it may be possible that we are taken there by the higher agents of that plane. Otherwise, it is heresy to think that I will get that higher position by my own endeavor. Our siksaguru, Srila B.R. Sridhara Deva Goswami Maharaja used to call such a mentality, ‘wild goose chasing.’ In reality any aspiration that has no basis in the concept of divine slavery has no practical application in the pastimes of the Supreme Lord. Smarana, meditation on lila, and so many other things of the Sahajiya school are not the qualifications to be admitted there. Only surrender is necessary, the surrender of a slave. When the necessity arises in the divine lilas, then the qualified slave of divinity is admitted to that arena and no others. Without surrender, without the slave’s mentality, we are not qualified for the higher service. So that should be the aspiration of one who understands the nature of the transcendental world: let me become the slave of the Lord. aslishya va pada-ratam pinastu mam adarshanam marma-hatam karotu va yatha tatha va vidadhatu lampato mat-prana-nathas tu sa eva naparah

7


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

Krishna may embrace me in love or trample me under His feet. He may break my heart by hiding Himself from me. Let that debauchee do whatever he likes, but He will always be the only Lord of my life. (Siksastakam 8) This is the slave mentality “I am His slave – His slave in divine love. He is free to do anything and everything as He wishes, I am His slave.” But we are not ready to accept that position and that is why we are not qualified for participation in the highest lilas of the Lord. There are many devotees and even sannyasis and babajis who go on with manjariseva meditations and other things of that section, when not even the slightest trace of the real qualifications are found in them. Such persons become mundane women in their next life. They are never promoted to the plane of divinity through the process of imitation. Srila Gaura Kishora Dasa Babaji, the guru of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura, used to say, “Simply by entering the maternity room and imitating the sounds of labor one will not give birth to a child. Many events are necessary before that.” The plane of infinite lila is so charming that even the particle of dust there is worshipable for us. How then shall we approach that plane? Pujala raga-patha gaurava-bhange – the plane of the highest raga (lila) must always be kept above our heads. With the plane of higher lila above our heads we shall march on – tad dasa-dasa-dasanam dasatvam dehi me prabhu. I am the servant of the servant, of the servant of the Lord’s servant. I want such a position and nothing else. That should be our approach. This shloka, pujala raga-patha gaurava-bhange was composed by Srila Saraswati Thakura, the guru of our Guru Maharaja Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, and it was his desire that this position be preached, not temporarily, but for all time, in all places, in all circumstances, and in every nook and corner of the universe. That was the mission of Srila Saraswati Thakura. He came to fight with all misconceptions about the Absolute Truth – he came to establish the path of divine love, divine slavery.

8


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura could not tolerate it when the higher subject matter was dealt with inappropriately. And what did he consider ‘inappropriate’? That the topic of lila was taken to the public eye – this should not be done. Why? Saraswati Thakura considered such as aparadha, an offense against the Lord of love. Invasion of privacy; to take the higher topic of lila to the public is an offense. In the time of Saraswati Thakura such was never the indulgence of any member of the Gaudiya Matha, nor did any of his bona fide disciples venture in that way after his disappearance. We have heard many narrations from our Guardians (gurus) that exemplify how much regard Saraswati Thakura had for the higher plane of divinity and how ever so carefully he dealt with that plane. From Srila Sridhara Maharaja we once heard that Saraswati Thakura did not allow his disciples to read (study and discuss) such higher books as Govinda-lilamrtam, Stava-kusumanjali, Ujjvala-nilamani, and even certain portions of Chaitanya-charitamrita wherein the lila of Radha Krishna is discussed. Whenever Saraswati Thakura heard that someone was reading those books, he took it that an offense was being committed by interfering in the higher lilas. So if such a measure of caution is given by one who on one hand was the most dynamic and progressive preacher of Krishna consciousness in the 20th century, and on the other hand so cautious in dealing with the higher lilas, then how much caution should we, the fallen souls, exercise when approaching such matters? It is only logical that we should follow his example and exercise extreme caution. The most profound example of the mood in which Saraswati Thakura approached divinity was related to us by Srila B.P. Puri Goswami Maharaja as follows – At the close, before his entrance into his eternal pastimes, in the morning he requested Srimad Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Maharaja to sing Sri Rupa Manjari-pada of Sri Narottama dasa Thakura, and NavinaKrishna Prabhu to sing Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura’s Tuha daya sagara tarayite prani. This was the commentary on Siksastaka. After giving this instruction to sing, Sri Srila Prabhupada began to repeat his famous counsel: Implicit obedience to the precepts laid down by Srila Rupa Goswami through the medium of the spiritual master is the wealth

9


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

of our devotions. In this instruction, he outlined the true method of our devotional practices as well as the real disciplic succession. Furthermore, in hearing the song of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura (tuya daya echana parama adara), Sri Srila Prabhupada clasped his hands to his forehead and profuse tears of humility rolled down his cheeks. These personal gestures reminded us of our lamentable plight in not having any attraction for the holy name. If you want the highest position, then take this example. Keep the lotus feet of Sri Rupa Goswami (Sri Rupa Manjari) on your head as your supreme wealth and cultivate with every atom of your existence great humility and attachment for the holy name of Krishna. This is the highest aspiration of a Gaudiya Vaishnava.

10


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

Question: Is there a difference between the Gaudiya Vaishnava conception of the maha-mantra and the conception of the maha-mantra found in other sampradayas, such as the Ramanujas, Madhvas, Nimbarkas and Vallabhas? Swami Narasingha: Yes. In fact the Gaudiya conception of the maha-mantra is exclusive and stands distinct from all other sampradayas. The Gaudiya conception is exclusive in that it surpasses even the greatest expectations of the Vedas (liberation) and affords one the highest fulfillment of the ultimate goal of life. This is not simply party spirit propaganda or sampradaya jingoism, but an ontological fact. The conception of the maha-mantra as a whole, as well as each of its constituent parts (Hare, Krishna and Rama), are uniquely different in Gaudiya Vaishnavism than in any other spiritual tradition of India. The maha-mantra appears in the Kali-santarana Upanishad of the Krishna Yajur Veda wherein Lord Brahma is answering a question by Narada Muni: (1)

harih om dvaparante narado brahmanam jagam katham bhagavan gam paryatan-kalim santare-yamiti sa hovaca brahma – sadhu prishto’smi sarva shruti-rahasyam gopayam tacchrnu yena kali-samsaram tarishyasi bhagavata adi-purushasya narayanasya namoccharana-matrena nirdhuta-kalir bhavati At the end of Dvapara-Yuga, Narada, who had traversed the whole world, went to Brahma and addressed him thus, ‘O Lord, how shall I be able to ward off the effects of Kali?’ Brahma thus replied, ‘You have asked an excellent question. Listen to that secret which all the Vedas keep hidden, through which one may cross over material existence during the age of Kali. One becomes free from the influence of Kali by merely uttering the Names of Lord Narayana, who is the original Supreme Person.

13


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

(2)

naradah punah papraccha tananam kimiti sa hovacha hiranyagarbah – hare krishna hare krishna krishna krishna hare hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare iti sodashakam namnam kali-kalmasha-nashanam natah parataropayah sarva-vedeshu drishyate Thus again Narada asked Brahma, ‘What are those Names?’ Lord Brahma replied, ‘Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. These sixteen Holy Names will destroy the sinful influences of the age of Kali. I do not see any other method The Kali-santarana Upanishad is one of the 108 Upanishads listed in the Muktika Upanishad, yet in some academic circles, scholars are of the opinion that the Kalisantarana Upanishad was written either by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu or one of His followers. Such scholars have no evidence for their claim other than their own opinion and that is generally not accepted amongst learned circles in India. One enigma surrounding the maha-mantra is whether it begins with ‘Hare Krishna’ or ‘Hare Rama’. In the oldest surviving copy of the Kali-santarana Upanishad, dated circa 1740 CE with the commentary by the Advaitin scholar Brahmayogin Ramachandrendra Sarasvati of Kanchipuram, the maha-mantra is written as: hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare hare krishna hare krishna krishna krishna hare hare However, in numerous other editions of the Kali-santarana Upanishad the mahamantra is written:

14


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

hare krishna hare krishna krishna krishna hare hare hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare Presented below is a statement by Srila Sridhara Deva Gosvami Maharaja from which we might conclude that the 1740 edition of the Kali-santarana Upanishad quoted above was interpolated by Mayavadis. Since the Name of Krishna is superior to the Name of Rama, as stated by Srila Sridhara Maharaja, it stands to reason that the Vedas would present the sequence of the mantra ontologically, thus the Advaitin edition is suspect. Commenting on this enigma, Srila Sridhara Deva Gosvami Maharaja has stated as follows: The real importance of the Name is not to be found merely in the arrangement of its syllables, but in the deep meaning within that divine sound. Some scholars argue that in the Kali-santarana Upanishad, Lord Brahma says that the Hare Krishna mahamantra is properly pronounced only when the Name of Rama precedes the Name of Krishna: hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare hare krishna hare krishna krishna krishna hare hare

In the Kali-santarana Upanishad, the Hare Krishna maha-mantra is given in that way. But to say that the Name of Rama must precede the Name of Krishna in the mantra is a superficial understanding.

15


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

It is said that because it comes from the Upanishads, the Hare Krishna mantra is a Vedic mantra, and therefore, because the ordinary people may not have any entrance into Vedic mantras, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu readjusted this mantra by reversing the order of the words. In that way, it is said, the concern that it is a Vedic mantra is thereby canceled, and so Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu gave it to all without breaching the injunctions of the Vedas. Some devotees in Uttar Pradesh who have great affection for Sri Chaitanyadeva like to give this opinion. But our faith is that the mentioning of ‘Hare Rama’ first is only superficial. It concerns the idea that since the Rama avatara appeared first and the Krishna avatara afterwards, the Name of Rama, ‘Hare Rama,’ should come first in the maha-mantra. A deeper reading will consider that when two similar things are connected together, the priority will be ordered not on the basis of historical precedent, but in consideration of the most highly developed conception. The Holy Name of Krishna is higher than the Holy Name of Rama. This is mentioned in the Puranas: three Names of Rama equal one Name of Krishna. The Name of Krishna is superior to the Name of Rama. Where the two are connected together, the first position should be given to the one that is superior. Therefore, the Name of Krishna must come first in the mahamantra. This is one point. Another point is that within the eternal plane, everything is moving in a cyclic order. In an eternal cycle, which is first and which is next cannot be ascertained, and so, in the eternal plane of lila, it cannot be determined whether Krishna is before Rama or Rama is before Krishna. So from that consideration also, since the Names of Krishna and Rama are eternal and unrelated to any historical event, we may begin the mantra from any place. But above these considerations, our sampradaya has given another, higher consideration. A deeper understanding will reveal that the Hare Krishna mantra is not at all concerned with rama-lila.

16


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

In the Name of Rama within the Hare Krishna mantra, the Gaudiya Vaishnavas will find Radha-ramana Rama. That means, ‘Krishna, who gives pleasure (raman) to Srimati Radharani.’ In our conception, the Hare Krishna mantra is wholesale Krishna consciousness, not Rama consciousness. Sri Chaitanya’s highest conception of things is always svayam bhagavan, krsnalila, radha-govinda-lila. That is the real purpose of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s advent and teachings. In that consideration, the Hare Krishna mantra does not mention the rama-lila of Ayodhya at all. There is no connection with that in the highest conception of the Hare Krishna mantra. And the inner conception of the mantra is responsible for our spiritual attainment. When one pronounces the Name of Rama, if he means Dasarathi Rama, his attraction will take him there, to Ayodhya; if he means Parasurama, he will be attracted to another place. And if Rama means Radha-ramana Rama, he will go to Goloka. The inner conception of the devotee will guide him to his destination. (Loving Search For The Lost Servant) The Names in the maha-mantra are Hare, Krishna and Rama. The followers of the Shankaracharya school, as well as those of the Ramanuja and Madhva schools, conceive the Name of Hare to be the vocative case of Hari. Thus for them ‘Hare’ means Narayana, ‘Rama’ means Ramachandra and ‘Krishna’ means the avatar of Narayana (not Krishna the avatari, or source of Narayana). The followers of Shankaracharya have adopted this version of the maha-mantra and the Vaishnava sampradayas of South India have also adopted the same. ‘Hare’ in all these sampradayas means Hari, or Narayana. In all circumstances their way of thinking is about liberation (mukti) and not actually about bhakti (devotion). Moreover, the followers of Shankaracharya are sometimes found to chant the maha-mantra and give more attention to the maha-mantra than the Ramanuja sampradaya or the Madhva sampradaya. The Kali-santarana Upanishad and the maha-mantra are accepted by all these sampradayas, yet the maha-mantra is of little importance to them. Only the Gaudiya Vaishnavas stake everything on the maha-mantra.

17


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

Actually, according to one Madhva website, it appears that at least a certain section of their sampradaya has ‘lost the plot’ so to speak. The following is a contemporary Madhva quote: And it is known that the Hare Krishna mantra is recited without proper procedure, without dhyana, sankalpa, etc., in the approved Vedic fashion. It has been arbitrarily picked out of a book and practiced in mutilated form, and is thus a false initiation (as the originators of the tradition were themselves unqualified to recite the mantra). Worst of all, it is recited ‘as’ Krishna Himself, and not as a symbol or tool for his worship...as such, it stands to reason that the ‘Hare Krishna maha-mantra’ is best avoided by everybody. The most obvious mistake in the above quote is that the Kali-santarana Upanishad clearly states ‘nashya vidhiriti’ – ‘there are no rules (vidhi) involved in chanting the maha-mantra.’ In fact the Upanishad guarantees liberation to anyone who chants the maha-mantra. Thus, one begins to wonder what’s been happening in the Madhva sampradaya over the past seven hundred years? punah-naradah papriccha bhagavan ko’sya vidhiriti tam hovacha – nasya vidhiriti sarvada suchirasuchirva pathan-brahmanah salokatam samipatam sarupatam sayujyatameti Again Narada enquired: ‘O Lord, what are the rules to be observed with reference to it (chanting the maha-mantra)?” Brahma replied, “There are no rules. Whoever, in a pure or an impure state, utters these always, attains the same world of the Lord (salokya), proximity with the Lord (samipya), the same form as the Lord (sarupya), or absorption into Brahman (sayujya). (Kali-santarana Upanishad 3) For the followers of Shankaracharya, the Name ‘Hare’ means Hari – He who takes away one’s karma, material desire and illusion (maya). For Ramanujas and most Madhvas, Hari is He who takes away all inauspiciousness and bestows all good fortune. But for Gaudiya Vaishnavas the conception of Hare is altogether different.

18


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

For the Gaudiyas, Hare is the vocative case of Hara, the internal pleasure potency of Krishna. Thus Hare means Srimati Radharani. It should not be misunderstood that we are arguing or fighting over the proper meaning of the names in the maha-mantra. There is certainly room for different bona fide conceptions within the maha-mantra. Each with his conception may attain that particular destination. yei yei rupe jane, sei taha kahe sakala sambhave krishne, kichu mithya nahe In whatever form one knows the Lord, one speaks of Him in that way. In this there is no falsity, since everything is possible in Krishna. (Cc. Adi 5.132) In this regard Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada writes in his purport to this verse: If someone calls Lord Ramachandra by the vibration Hare Rama, understanding it to mean “O Lord Ramachandra!” he is quite right. Similarly, if one says that Hare Rama means “O Sri Balarama!” he is also right. Those who are aware of the vishnu-tattva do not fight over all these details. However, one must also remember that all realities are not the same, nor do all conceptions lead to the same destination. It is often said as a reference that the maha-mantra first appears or manifests in the Kali-santarana Upanishad portion of the Vedas, but such a statement is not actually correct according to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura, who has stated: Lord Hari’s Name is Lord Hari Himself. The maha-mantra was present before the scriptures manifested. The catuh-shloki of the Bhagavatam beginning with ‘aham evasam evagre’ is proof of this. The supremely independent Holy Name is not under the jurisdiction of scriptural control. Actually, the scriptures have appeared by the supreme will of the Holy Name. It is not a fact that the scriptures manifested first and then the Holy Name appeared after. The

19


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

Brahma-samhita says that the Holy Name appeared first in Brahma’s heart. (Sri Srila Prabhupader Upadeshamrita) The maha-mantra chanted by Gaudiyas is always chanted as: hare krishna hare krishna krishna krishna hare hare hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare Whereas other sampradayas might chant the maha-mantra for liberation, the Gaudiyas chant the maha-mantra out of devotion to please Krishna. Hari takes away material desires, maya, etc, but Hare, the internal potency (hladini-shakti/Radharani) captures or takes away the mind and heart of Krishna. Hara is the energy by which one can serve Krishna, and the only energy that can please Krishna. Krishna Himself is the reservoir of pleasure and Rama, or Radha-ramana, is the one who gives pleasure to Srimati Radharani. The Gaudiya conception of Rama in the maha-mantra meaning Krishna, the giver of pleasure to Sri Radha, is also collaborated by Sri Bhaktisiddhanta as follows: According to the mood of aishvarya, ‘Rama’ refers to Ramachandra, the son of Dasharatha. According to the mood of madhurya, ‘Rama’ refers to Krishna, the relisher of Sri Radha’s association. Whenever the Name ‘Rama’ indicates service to Radha-ramana Krishna, then the word ‘Hare’ which is the vocative form of Hara, refers to Sri Radharani, who is the origin of all spiritual potencies. Sri Radha is known as Hara because She attracts the mind of Krishna. Hari means ‘attracter’. Hare is the vocative form of the word ‘Hara’. There are three Ramas – Rama, the husband of Sita-devi, Rama the husband of Revati and Rama, the lover of Radha. (Sri Srila Prabhupader Upadeshamrita) The Gaudiya conception of the maha-mantra is not something whimsical. It is authorized by bona fide acharyas and supported by guru, sadhu and shastra. It was also the preferred conception of chanting by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Furthermore,

20


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

the Gaudiya conception of hearing and chanting of the maha-mantra transcends all types of liberation and ultimately reaches the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord. mali hana kare sei bija aropana shravana-kirtana-jale karaye sechana When one receives the seed of devotion, he should take care of it by becoming a gardener and sowing the seed in his heart. By watering the seed gradually by the process of sravana and kirtana (hearing and chanting), the seed will start to sprout. upajiya bade lata ‘brahmanda’ bhedi’ yaya ‘viraja’, ‘brahma-loka’ bhedi’ ‘para-vyoma’ paya The creeper of devotion is manifest and grows to pierce through the wall of the material universe. It crosses over the Viraja river and the plane of Brahman and then reaches to Vaikuntha. tabe yaya tad-upari ‘goloka vrindavana’ ‘krishna-charana’-kalpa-vrikshe kare arohana It continues to grow further up to Goloka Vrndavana, where it finally embraces the wish-fulfilling tree of Sri Krishna’s lotus feet. tahan vistarita hana phale prema-phala ihan mali seche nitya shravanadi jala There in Goloka, the creeper expands and produces the fruit of love for Krishna. Although remaining in the material plane, the gardener continuously sprinkles the creeper with the water of hearing and chanting. (Cc. Madhya 19.152-155)

21


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

Commenting on the maha-mantra in his Maha-mantrartha Dipika, Sri Jiva Goswami reveals the meaning of each of the sixteen Names in the maha-mantra in consecutive order as follows: hare krishna hare krishna krishna krishna hare hare hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare (1-Hare) sarva-cheta-harah krishnas tasya chittam haratyasau vaidagdhi-sara-vistarair ato radha hara mata Krishna steals the minds of everyone, yet Radha steals even His mind by Her divine expertise. Thus She is known as Hara.

22


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

23


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

(2-Krishna) karsati sviyalavanya-murali-kala-nihsvanaih sri radham mohana-gunalankritah krishna iryate He forcibly attracts Sri Radha with the sweet sound of His flute, therefore that Lord of all enchanting qualities is known as Krishna. (3-Hare) shruyate niyate rase harina harinekshana ekakini rahah-kunje hareyam tena kathyate It has been heard that during the rasa-lila, doe-eyed Radha was stolen away by Krishna to be alone with Him in a secret forest bower. She is therefore known as Hara. (4-Krishna) anga-shyamalima-stomaih shyamalikirta-kanchanah ramate radhaya sardham krishno nigadyate When Krishna sports with Radha, Her golden hue takes on the dark complexion of Krishna’s skin. He is thus known as Krishna. (5-Krishna) kritvaranye sarah-srestham kantayanumatas-taya akrishya sarva-tirthani taj-jnanat krishna iryate In order to please Sri Radha, Krishna manifested the most wonderful lake (Shyama-kunda) in Vrindavana. He then called all the holy rivers to fill it. He is thus known as Krishna. (6-Krishna) krishyate radhaya premna yamuna-tata-kananam lilaya lalitas-chapi dhiraih krishna udahritah

24


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

25


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

By Her unsurpassed love, Radha charms He who performs wonderful lilas on the banks of the Yamuna. Therefore, those who are sober know Him as Krishna. (7-Hare) hritavan gokule tisthann-arishtam pushta-pungavam sri haris tam rasad ucchai rayatiti hara mata While in Gokula, Sri Hari (Krishna) killed the demon known as Arishtasura. During that time, Radha cried out to Him with great feeling and by doing so, She stole His mind. She is thus known as Hara. (8-Hare) hyasphutam rayati priti-bharena hari-chestam gayatiti mata dhirair hara rasa-vichakshanaih Filled with ecstatic love, Radha sometimes sings the glories of Hari’s exploits quietly, and sometimes She sings them aloud. Those who are expert in the secrets of divine sentiments call Her Hara. (9-Hare) rasavesha-parishrastam jahara muralim hareh hareti kirtita devi vipine keli-lampata Due to the intense love of Sri Radha, Sri Hari becomes so captivated that His flute falls from His hand. With the desire to enjoy in the forest bowers with Krishna, Radha steals His flute. That goddess is thus famous as Hara. (10-Rama) govardhana-dari-kunje parirambha-vichakshanah sri radham ramayamasa ramastena mato harih

26


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

27


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

Krishna, who is expert at embracing, sports with Radha in the forest groves or in the caves of Govardhana. Thus He is known as Rama. (11-Hare) hanti duhkhani bhaktanam rati saukhyani chanvaham hara devi nigadita maha-karunya-shalini That most merciful Radha destroys the miseries of Her devotees and gives them great happiness every day. Therefore that goddess is known as Hara. (12-Rama) ramate bhajato chetah paramananda-varidhau atreti kathito ramah shyamasundara-vigrahah The minds of the devotees are continuously drowned in an ocean of supreme joy by seeing the beautiful dark form of Krishna. Therefore He is known by the Name Rama. (13-Rama) ramayaty-achyutam premna nikunja-vana-mandire rama nigadita radha ramo yutas taya punah Radharani is known as Rama because She enjoys loving pastimes with Acyuta (Krishna) in a secret forest pavilion. Since He is always by Her side, He is known as Rama. (14-Rama) rodanair gokule davanalam asayati hyasau vishosayati tenokto ramo bhakta-sukhavahah When the residents of Gokula were crying due to fear of the forest fire, Krishna immediately swallowed it and gave His devotees great joy. In this way, He is known as Rama.

28


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

29


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

(15-Hare) nihantum asuran yato mathura-puram ity-asau tadagamad-rahah-kamo yasyah sa’sau hareti ca Sri Krishna went to Mathurapuri in order to destroy the demons. However, due to being captivated by the love of Radha, He later returned. Therefore She is known as Hara. (16-Hare) agatya duhkha-harta yo sarvesham vraja-vasinam sri radha-hari-charito harih sri nandanandanah When the son of Maharaja Nanda returned to Vraja, He took away the suffering of all the Vrajavasis. By His wonderful exploits, He steals the heart of Sri Radha. Thus He is known as Hari. Throughout his Maha-mantrartha Dipika, Sri Jiva Goswami reveals the meaning of ‘Hare’ as Hara until the final verse wherein he says that ‘Hare’ means Hari – He who has stolen the heart of Srimati Radharani. In the first verse Radha steals the mind of Krishna, and in the last verse Krishna steals the heart of Radha. Indeed, Radha wears a locket with a picture of Krishna around Her neck, and Krishna wears a locket with a picture of Radha around His neck. These Two have stolen each other’s hearts and minds, thus one might suspect that Sri Jiva is alluding to the appearance of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in his Maha-mantrartha Dipika as the combined form of both Radha and Krishna. In any case, according to Jiva Goswami, the divine pastimes of Radha and Krishna are written throughout the maha-mantra. As for the other Vaishnava sampradayas, namely the Nimbarka sampradaya and the Vallabha sampradya, they too – like the Ramanujas and the Madhvas – do not follow the line of thinking of the Gaudiyas. Actually the Nimbarka sampradaya does not chant the maha-mantra of the Kali-santarana Upanishad at all. The Nimbarkas chant what they call the yugala-mantra:

30


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

radhe krishna radhe krishna krishna krishna radhe radhe radhe shyama radhe shyama shyama shyama radhe radhe In some learned circles it is thought that the Nimbarkas plagiarized Sri Chaitanya and the Gaudiyas. Indeed, some scholars are even of the opinion that Keshava Kashmiri, who had been defeated by Sri Chaitanya, fabricated the Nimbarka parampara and placed himself at its head. According to verifiable sources, it appears that the yugala-mantra of the Nimbarkas was actually only introduced into their sampradaya in the 14th century by Harivyasa Devacharya (the third aharya in the Nimbarka line after Keshava Kashmiri) as it does not appear in any of their literature prior to that period. The idea that the Nimbarka sampradaya is authorized to neglect the chanting of the maha-mantra in preference to the yugala-mantra is further suspect by the fact that Sanat-kumara, one of the original founders of that sampradaya, has said the following: hare-krishnau dvir avrittau krishna tadrik tatha hare hare rama tatha rama tatha tadrig ghare manuh hare krishna hare krsna krishna krishna hare hare hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare The words ‘Hare Krishna’ are to be repeated twice, then ‘Krishna’ and ‘Hare’ are to be repeated separately twice. Similarly, ‘Hare Rama’, ‘Rama’ and ‘Hare’ are also repeated twice. The mantra will thus be – Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. (Sanat-kumara Samhita, as quoted by Dhyanachandra Goswami in his Gaura Govindarchana Smarana Paddhati, verses, 132-133)

31


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

As for the Vallabha-sampradaya, they too do not chant the maha-mantra as part of their tradition, which seems rather ironic, knowing that Vallabhacharya took dikshamantras from Sri Gadadhara Pandita and that he was also associated for sometime with Sri Chaitanya directly. One cannot help but think that something very serious has gone amiss in that sampradaya. Currently the Vallabha sampradaya neglects the maha-mantra in preference of the ashtakshara-mantra, namely ‘sri krishna sharanam mama.’ This mantra, not being found in the Vedas or in any authorized shastra, was purportedly invented by Vallabhacharya. Our conclusion is that there are indeed differences between the Gaudiya Vaishnava conception of the maha-mantra and the conception of the maha-mantra found in other sampradayas. With the exception of those sampradayas that have deviated from the path of previous acharyas, (Madhvas, Nimbarkas and Vallabhas), these differences are primarily based on higher and lower conceptions in rasa (referring to the Ramanuja sampradaya) and not simply on who is right and who is wrong. Nonetheless, it should go without saying that any intelligent and pious person regardless of their professed sampradaya affiliation should accept the direction of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to chant the maha-mantra, if they want to make substantial spiritual advancement toward the ultimate goal of life.

32


Dhyana Yoga

The Yoga of Meditation

Excerpted from Chapter Six of Bhagavad gita, with the Anuvrtti Commentary of Swami Narasingha

VERSE 1 sri bhagavan uvaca – anashritah karma-phalam karyan karma karoti yah sa sannyasi ca yogi ca na niragnir na cakriyah Bhagavan Sri Krishna said: One who performs his prescribed duties and renounces the results of those actions is a yogi and a sannyasi. One does not become a sannyasi simply by rejecting the performance of sacrifice and performing no activities.


VERSE 2 yam sannyasam iti prahur yogam tam viddhi pandava na hy-asannyasta-sankalpo yogi bhavati kashcana O son of Pandu, that which is known as sannyasa is the same as yoga. One can never become a yogi without renouncing the desire to satisfy the senses.

VERSE 3 arurukshor muner yogam karma karanam ucyate yogarudhasya tasyaiva shamah karanam ucyate For one who is a beginner on the path of yoga, action is the means. For one who is already practiced in yoga, the renunciation of action is the means.

VERSE 4 yada hi nendriyartheshu na karmasv-anushajjate sarva-sankalpa-sannyasi yogarudhas tadocyate When one is neither attached to the sense-objects nor to the activities that lead to their enjoyment, at that time one is said to have attained yoga. VERSE 5 uddhared atmanatmanam natmanam avasadayet atmaiva hy-atmano bandhur atmaiva ripur atmanah Living beings must elevate themselves by the mind – they must not humiliate themselves. Certainly, the mind is the friend of the living being as well as their worst enemy.

34


VERSE 6 bandhur atmatmanas tasya yenatmaivatmana jitah anatmanastu shatrutve vartetatmaiva shatruvat For one who has subdued the mind, the mind is a friend. However, for one who has not controlled the mind, the mind is the greatest enemy.

VERSE 7 jitatmanah prashantasya paramatma samahitah shitoshna-sukha-duhkheshu tatha manapamanayoh Those who have subdued the mind and are calm, attain realization of the Paramatma (Super Consciousness). For such persons heat and cold, happiness and distress and honor and dishonor are all the same. VERSE 8 jnana-vijnana-triptatma kutastho vijitendriyah yukta ityucyate yogi sama-loshtashma-kancanah The yogi who is self-satisfied due to his knowledge and realization, fixed in his spiritual nature and in control of his senses, sees dirt, stones and gold equally. VERSE 9 suhrin-mitrary-udasina-madhyastha-dveshya-bandhushu sadhush-vapi ca papeshu sama-buddhir vishishyate Such a yogi of impartial intelligence sees an honest well-wisher, an affectionate benefactor, an enemy, neutral persons, a mediator, the envious, a relative, the pious and the impious with equal vision.

35


VERSE 10 yogi yunjjita satatam atmanam rahasi sthitah ekaki yata-cittatma nirashir aparigrahah A yogi should live in a solitary place with his mind and body fully controlled. He should be without desire, without a sense of possessiveness and must constantly fix his mind on the atma, the self within.

VERSE 11-12 shucau deshe pratishthapya sthiram asanam atmanah naty-ucchritam natinican cailajina-kushottaram tatraikagram manah kritva yata-cittendriya-kriyah upavishyasane yunjyad yogam atma-vishuddhaye Establishing a seat in a clean environment that is not too high or too low, a yogi should cover his sitting place with kusha grass, a deerskin and a cloth. Sitting on that seat, fixing his mind on one point and controlling all the activities of the mind and senses, he should practice yoga to purify himself. VERSE 13-14 samam kaya-shiro-grivam dharayann acalam sthirah samprekshya nasikagram svam dishash canavalokayan prashantatma vigata-bhir brahmacari-vrate sthitah manah samyamya mac-citto yukta asita mat-parah Holding the body, head and neck straight, he should remain still and steady, gazing at the tip of the nose without casting his glance in other directions. Undisturbed, fearless and observing a vow of celibacy, he should sit and control his mind by thinking of Me as his highest goal.

36


VERSE 15 yunjann evam sadatmanam yogi niyata-manasah shantim nirvana-paramam matsamstham adhigacchati In this way, the yogi controls his mind, withdrawing it from material desires. He then achieves supreme peace and liberation from material existence and attains My abode. VERSE 16 natyashnata stu yogo’sti na catikantam anashnatah na cati svapna-shilasya jagrato naiva carjuna One cannot practice yoga by eating too much or eating to little, nor sleeping too much or sleeping too little, O Arjuna. VERSE 17 yuktahara-viharasya yukta-ceshtasya karmasu yukta-svapnavabodhasya yogo bhavati duhkha-ha Yoga destroys the suffering of one who is moderate in eating and relaxation, who performs all activities in a regulated manner and is well balanced in sleeping and waking.

37


Anuvritti Many commentators on Bhagavad-gita have mentioned that the style of meditation spoken of in the Sixth Chapter is derived from the system of yoga known as ashtangayoga, or the eightfold process of meditation. The famous compiler of the Yoga-sutras, Patanjali has explained the sequential order of the ashtanga-yoga process as follows: First, one should practice yama that consists of observances such as rising from bed before sunrise, taking bath, study of the Vedas and performing puja (rituals). Niyama consists of controlling the senses by following the regulative principles of no intoxication, no illicit sex, no gambling and no eating of meat, fish or eggs. Next one begins the practice of asana by physically conditioning the body through systematic bodily exercises and postures aimed at toning and bringing into balance one’s entire physical organism.

38


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

Then one advances to the performance of pranayama, controlling the inward and outward breath by systematic breathing exercises performed in conjunction with various asanas. When asanas and pranayama are performed or taught just for the sake of health, this is sometimes called hatha-yoga. After pranayama follows pratyahara, or withdrawing the senses from the sense objects and training the mind to become introspective and intuitively orientated. Then one is able to concentrate the mind on a single point without being disturbed. This is called dharana or attaining concentration. Once having acquired the ability to concentrate the mind without distractions from external sources, one can begin actual meditation, or dhyana. There are many forms of meditation in the yoga system, however none of them recommend concentrating on nothingness. The three principle objects in yoga meditations are Brahman (transcendental light), Paramatma (localized Super Consciousness) and Bhagavan (Sri Krishna). Samadhi is the final stage of ashtanga-yoga practice wherein the yogi, at the time of quitting the material body, attains the object of his desired perfection. The yogis who desire Brahman or Paramatma realization enter the brahma-jyoti after giving up their body and the yogi who desires Bhagavan realization enters into the Supreme Abode of Krishna known as Vaikuntha or Goloka Vrindavana to associate with and participate in transcendental pastimes with Krishna. According to many masters of yoga, only Bhagavan realization is eternal. Even after attaining Brahman or Paramatma realizations and merging into the supreme Brahman, a yogi will once again have to come back to the material world and begin again the cycle of birth and death. This is said to be due to the intrinsic nature of all living beings to perform activities. Although in the brahma-jyoti there is a sense of bliss that is many thousands of times greater than material happiness, still the desire to act remains. But because the Brahman realized yogi and the Paramatma realized yogi are not qualified to perform devotional activities in the association of Krishna, they cannot enter the spiritual planets and must therefore come down to take birth again in the material world.

39


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

Sri Krishna again informs Arjuna in verse fifteen that the final goal of yoga is to attain His Supreme Abode (Vaikuntha or Goloka Vrindavana). This is indeed the ultimate goal of the yoga system. One cannot be a yogi if one eats too much or not enough. Eating too much also means eating things like non-vegetarian foodstuff to maintain the body. This is not actually required. Nor can one be a yogi if one does not eat enough. This also means that one should not abstain from eating milk products by considering it as non-vegetarian. Milk is the most complete food possible. Milk products help to develop a strong bodily constitution and nourish our brain cells and thus our thinking capacity. Yoga is something that has been practiced in India for thousands of years and all the while the yogis have recommended taking milk and milk products like yogurt and cheese etc. Only in recent times have some people thought it bad to take milk products, but the masters of yoga have never recommended such. Proper sitting posture, control of the senses and observing celibacy are also recommended in the above verses because without such practices no one can actually be a yogi. Gazing at the tip of the nose without casting one’s glance in other directions means being perfectly concentrated, as in dharana, and performing dhyana, or meditation on Krishna as the highest goal. As far as possible a yogi should try to live in a holy place to practice yoga. In India yogis are fond of residing on the banks of the Ganges at Haridwar, Rishikesh, Benares, or Mayapura, or on the banks of another sacred river like the Yamuna, Kaveri or Godavari. Some yogis prefer the sanctuary of the Himalayas, others prefer residence in the char-dhama (Dvaraka, Badarinatha, Jagannatha Puri and Rameshvaram). But in any case, the yogi must choose the proper place to practice yoga. If one is unable to live in a holy place or on the banks of a sacred river, then one should try to live in an ashrama or yoga community. If one is unable to live in a yoga community then one should sanctify one’s home by creating a place where Krishna can be worshipped and mantra meditation can be performed. The home should have an atmosphere conducive for contemplation, study and controlling the senses. Such a home should be peaceful and free from acts of violence, animal killing, intoxication etc.

40


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

In this modern age (Kali-yuga) animal killing, intoxication and so many other unfavorable activities for the cultivation of yoga are everywhere. Subsequently, it is very difficult to find the appropriate place for yoga practice, especially for the practice of ashtanga-yoga, raja-yoga, hatha-yoga and so on. Therefore, in Kali-yuga the recommended process of bhakti-yoga and meditation is through the chanting of the maha-mantra. hare krishna hare krishna krishna krishna hare hare hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare The chanting of the maha-mantra is so powerful and purifying that, wherever it is chanted, it makes that place purified. Thus the bhakti-yoga process can be practiced everywhere and anywhere. Bhakti-yoga is actually the only recommended process of yoga in Kali-yuga. The yogi must always strive for self-satisfaction, knowledge and realization. Such a yogi will always see everything in this world with equal vision and therefore will not become attached to anything of a temporary nature. Krishna has given the example of gold saying that the yogi sees gold and mere stones as the same. This is not to say that the yogi cannot distinguish the brilliance of gold from that of ordinary objects; rather this means that the yogi is not attracted to finding satisfaction in the accumulation of wealth. It has been said that the desire for wealth is what makes the world go round. This may be true in the sense that the desire for wealth is what drives most people to act, but sadly we also see clearly where greed for wealth is taking the world today – political unrest culminating in war, death and destruction; economic instability and collapse as well as extreme instability in the environment, resulting in natural disasters and the extinction of many species of life.

41


43


44


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

T

he Vedic culture is considered to be the most ancient and mysterious in the scholarly circle. The great spiritual dictator Sri Krsna Dvaipayana Vyasadeva is known to be the deliverer of the Vedic message in its present form as such the great Vyasa is held in uncommon reverence in all authentic various schools of Vedic interpreters. The last and the greatest gift of the Supreme Personality to the theistic scholars, is the great Bhagavata Purana. In this holy book the essence of theism, contained in the Vedas has been revealed in such a living and magnificent manner that it dazzles even the intellect of many Vedic thinkers. The bona-fide followers of the dictator however feel simply charmed to see the beauty of spiritual wisdom unveiled in this great treatise. The Absolute Truth - the Beautiful has been discovered here in His lovely autocratic character, and an automatic affectionate service of the same Supreme Being, has been declared to be the summum-bonum of living beings. Maximum happiness is of course the goal of life. But people are seen to strive after different objects for the same. Their objects of interest while scientifically arranged may be considered under four heads namely, dharma - the consideration of duty, artha - accumulation of worldly energy, kama - actual consumption of the necessities of material life and moksa perfect liberation from the forces of nature. Great thinkers of Vedic philosophy however easily agree to dismiss the consideration of trivarga, or the first three forms of objects but there is much controversy over the conception of the fourth goal, ie. liberation.

45


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

A section of erudite scholars forcibly assert that complete withdrawal from the material world means a certain (sure) dissolution of individual existence. On the other hand powerful theistic thinkers with transcendental understanding backed up by the faith in revelation upholds strongly that individual existence can be retained in absolutely spiritual relativity -  perfectly independent of material existence. Vedic interpreters also class themselves in these two groups: 1) 2)

Supporting impersonal salvation. Salvation of person from material relativity.

Both the above schools however admit the authenticity of the sayings and decisions of the great Vyasadeva though interpreting him in their own respective lines. But Sri Bhagavata Purana - the last and the greatest work of the greatest apostle, bewilders the impersonal school to a great extent and clearly condemns mere independence from matter eulogizing a life of positive attainment of spiritual confidential partnership in the Absolute Personal Being - the Supreme Beautiful. In other words, a really liberated soul must have a definite eternal function it is said, as if in the Absolute commonwealth and in discharging the duty wherein the unfettered soul enjoys maximum happiness. The Absolute Autocrat is also the Absolute Good. So autocracy here is always meaning to compensate the limitations of the little partners in their voluntary co-operation and thus promoting dynamic, harmonious, common pastimes. While perfectly unveiled Godhead shines as Sri Krishna to give us all sorts of engagements in Him. He is the emporium of all sorts of rasas (transcendental mellows) or ecstatic energy. Principle rasas are five in number, such as santa - a mode of mere allegiance, dasya - that of actual service, sakhya - that of friendly co-operation, vatsalya - that of filial affection and madhurya - the mode of consort-partnership. All the modes of rasas, we are told, have been harmonized to form the Spiritual Person of Sri Krishna, the Godhead. The material world being merely a shadow in character, the very essence of life is to be traced in the causal spiritual realm in its pure positive glory. So according to the Bhagavata school our life has got its fulfillment in the most optimistic form in the company of Sri Krsna. Such attainment of final adjustment will place our life in perfect harmony and consequently in all round and unique happiness. While not imaginary but real of all reals, such life is certainly the highest attainment. (First published in Back To Godhead magazine in 1944)

46


In order to constantly chant hari-

One who is humbler than a it for himself is qualified to Srila Rupa Goswami has said:

O hari-nama, the tips of the jeweled necklace known as t (Namashtakam 1)


-nama, Sri Krishna Chaitanya-deva gave the following instruction: trinad api sunichena taror api sahishnuna amanina manadena kirtaniyah sada harih

a blade of grass, more forbearing than a tree who gives due honor to others without desiring always chant the Holy Name of Krishna. (Cc. Adi. 17.31)

nikhila-shruti-mauli-ratna-mala dyuti-nirajita-pada-pankajanta ayi mukta-kulair upasyamanam paritas tvam harinama samshrayami

e toes of Your lotus feet are constantly being worshiped by the radiance emanating from the the shruti. You are eternally adored by liberated souls. O hari-nama, I take full shelter of You.

48


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

To practice the instructions of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and the followers of Sri Rupa Goswami to chant hari-nama twenty-four hours a day is the reason why we are presently here. The imitation of chanting hari-nama while maintaining the deceptive desire for dharma, artha, kama or moksha is not pure hari-nama kirtana. Lila-kirtana is only possible along with nama-kirtana. Sri Rupa has composed eleven verses and he has also written Sri Krishna-Namashtaka. The first shloka of that Namashtaka is nikhila-shruti-mauli etc. prathamam namnah shravanam-antah-karana-shuddhy-artham apekshyam. shuddhe chantah-karane rupa-shravanena tad-udaya-yogyata bhavati. samyag udite ca rupe gunanam sphuranam sampadyeta, sampanne ca gunanam sphurane parikara-vaisisthyena tad-vaisisthyam sampadyate tatas teshu nama-rupa-gunaparikareshu samyak sphuriteshu lilanam sphuranam susthu bhavati. First it is necessary to hear the Holy Name in order purify the heart. When the heart is purified, after hearing about the Lord’s form, the proper qualification manifests. When the form is manifested, then all of the Lord’s qualities manifest. When the qualities appear, then the speciality of His associates becomes revealed. Then manifests Krishna’s particular behaviour with His various associates. And when their names, forms, qualities and associates manifest properly, then lila clearly manifests. (Krama-sandarbha 7.5.18)

49


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

We should not disregard this point. If we begin in error, then nothing will come of it. If the rupanuga system of accepting the Holy Name is rejected, then the result of nama, which is krishna-prema, will never be attained. We start to perform kirtana according to the rupanuga-dhara (the path of the followers of Sri Rupa). In regards to those who perform lila-kirtana in other ways, we remain at difference with them. The secondary desires (anyabhilasha) for sense-gratification (bhoga) and renunciation (tyaga) that are on the mirror of our consciousness, as well as acceptance of karma and jnana are like particles of dust that accumulate lifetime after lifetime. By hearing vaikuntha-nama, all that dust can be removed. The performance of karma, jnana, yoga, vratas, etc. cannot sweep away the dust. vaikuntha-nama-grahanam asheshagha-haram viduh One who takes up the Name of the Lord becomes freed from unlimited sins. (Bhag. 6.2.14) The Lord, who is Adhokshaja (beyond the limits of mundane perception), cannot be perceived by our material senses. It is only possible to become separated from the materialistic tendency of sensual perception (akshaja) by hearing instructions at the lotus feet of Sri Guru. By neglecting the lotus feet of Sri Guru and the shrauta-pantha (the process of pure hearing) and listening to worldly topics, one will never perform hari-nama-kirtana. Bound jivas cannot perform kirtana of the Holy Name. If a desire to engage in service arises within them by hearing instructions from those who are liberated, then harinama may manifest upon their tongues. I will take shelter of the Holy Name in the correct manner. Following non-Vedic Vaishnava dharma is to take shelter of the deceptive and verbose path of the Buddhist disposition. I do not wish to become bewildered by the brilliant and scholarly Vedanta commentary of Acharya Shankara, who descended to bewilder those who were against the Lord. I will take shelter of Sri Svarupa-Damodara, the greatest scholar of Vedanta and learn the true meaning of the shruti-shastras. The Vedantic discussions of Gopala Bhattacharya, the younger brother of Bhagavan Acharya, were not pleasing to Mahaprabhu – thus, Sri Svarupa-Damodara had no desire to hear them.

50


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

Mahaprabhu exclaimed that the acceptance of kevaladvaita philosophy by the Vedantist Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya was opposed to the deliberation of the scriptures (shrutivichara). The meaning of the shruti or the Upanishads according to Prakashananda was opposed to real theism – later, Prakashananda himself and the sannyasis of Kashi understood this. The explanation of the Shrutis is not Mayavada – they are not inimical towards service to the Supreme Lord. Sriman Mahaprabhu exclaimed – veda na maniya bauddha haya ta’ nastika vedashraya nastikya-vada bauddhake adhika Buddhists are considered to be atheists because they do not accept the Vedas. However, those atheists that claim to accept the Vedas are even worse than the Buddhists. (Cc. Madhya 6.168) Accepting the shruti, but destroying the purpose of the shruti, which is the process of service to the Lord (bhagavata-seva), is a worse kind of atheism than direct Buddhism. In the name of discussing the shruti-shastra, many deceptive philosophies have entered the world. Deliberations on the shrutis or Vedanta by various groups of Mayavadis such as the recent explanation of the Vedas by the Arya-samaj, and the discussions on the Vedic scriptures by Raja Rama-mohana etc. are conceptions covered over by maya which are opposed to the lotus-feet of Krishna and Sri Hari-nama that are beyond our sensual perception (adhoksaja). All the shrutis offer homage to the lotus-feet of Sri Hari-nama Prabhu. By giving distorted interpretations of the shruti, such groups become deprived of the mercy of the Holy Name and simply produce materialism. It is our duty to discuss the Vedanta-shastra. However, it is necessary to do so simultaneously with kirtana of Sri Hari-nama Prabhu. kaler dosha-nidhe rajan asti hy eko mahan gunah kirtanad eva krishnasya mukta-sangah param vrajet O King, Kali-yuga is an ocean of faults, yet it has one good quality : if one simply chants the Holy Name of Krishna, one can achieve liberation from the fetters of this material world and attain the supreme abode. (Bhag.12.3.51) May these instructions of the Srimad Bhagavata be our eternal topics of discussion.

51


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

O King, Kali-yuga is an ocean of faults, yet it has one good quality. if one simply chants the Holy Name of Krishna, one can achieve liberation from the fetters of this material world and attain the supreme abode. (Bhag.12.3.51) ashvamedham gavalambham sannyasam pala-paitrikam devarena sutotpattim kalau pancha vivarjayet In Kali-yuga these five activities are forbidden  – the ashvamedha sacrifice, offering a cow in sacrifice, the acceptance of sannyasa, offering flesh to the ancestors, and siring children with the younger brother of one’s husband. (Cc. Adi 17.164) This verse explains that certain fire sacrifices are not possible now. In the age if Kali, sannyasa according to the path of karma is completely rejected. Those on the path of jnana accept sannyasa with the understanding of aham brahmasmi (“I am Brahman”) – but it is actually rejecting service to the Supreme. By accepting sannyasa they renounce bhagavat-bhajana (service to the Supreme Lord). Actual sannyasa is established in bhagavata-bhajana. The Mayavadi sannyasis renounce all of Krishna’s eternal name, form, qualities, associates and pastimes. But the sannyasa of a devotee of Krishna means

52


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

giving up both bhukti (material enjoyment) and mukti (liberation). In renouncing bhukti, the Mayavadis also renounce bhakti. The devotees of the Lord renounce the desires for bhukti and mukti and take shelter at the feet of Sri Bhakti-devi. Shruti-devi worships the toenails of the Divine Name, and the devotees of the Lord never renounce the cultivation of the Name, because they never consider the Holy Name to be temporary. The Vedas and Vedanta-shastra performs arati to the lotus-feet of Sri Nama-Prabhu. This process of exclusive service to the Holy Name is not Buddhism. The discussions on the prakrita-sahajiya Vaishnava dharma of Bengal by Maha-mahopadhyaya Shastri Mahashaya(1) do not apply to genuine Vaishnava dharma. Topics on Hari-nama Prabhu are discussed within the Vedanta-shastra. artho ’yam brahma-sutranam bharatartha-vinirnayah gayatri-bhashya-rupo ’sau vedartha-paribrimhitah The Bhagavatam is the commentary to the Vedanta and the Mahabharata. It is the meaning of the gayatri-mantra and gives the correct understanding of the Vedas. (Garuda Purana) The meaning of the Mahabharata is specifically ascertained in Srimad Bhagavata. The Isha, Kena, Katha, Shvetashvatara, etc. are the eleven main Upanishads. Superior to these are the Nrsimha-tapani, Rama-tapani, etc. and the greatest of all that has manifest is the Gopala-tapani Upanishad. The Gopala-tapani Shruti performed many austerities and ultimately attained service to Madana-Gopala and Gandharva. The Shrutis perform austerities to obtain the shelter of the gopis. Some consider shanta-rasa to be the highest rasa and madhura-rasa to be the lowest rasa – but such a perception is born from their mundane understanding. Driven by this mundane perception and considering the ten Upanishads such as the Isha, Kena etc. to be of an impersonal character or a symbol of shanta-rasa, they propagated them as the main Upanishads. In fact, within the aprakrita realm, madhura-rasa is the greatest rasa and shanta-rasa is the lowest of rasas. Accordingly, the devotees of the Lord accept the Gopala-tapani to be principal amongst the Upanishads. By following the purports of the Bhagavata, the devotees of the Lord can find sufficient evidence of service to the Lord and His pastimes also within the ten Upanishads.

53


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

Sri Gaurasundara has exclaimed: ya ya shrutir jalpati nirvishesham sa sabhidhatte savisheshameva vicharayoge sati hanta tasam prayo valiyah savisheshameva The Shruti describes the Absolute as impersonal and also describes Him as having attributes. Considering both these opinions, the conception of Him having personality is stronger. (Hayashirsha Pancharatra) Service at Sri Radha-kunda during midday has some special significance. The servant of Sri Rupa and Raghunatha, Kaviraja Goswami Prabhu, has discussed this process of service (bhajana-pranali) in the book Govinda-lilamrita. If one confidentially discusses with Sri Guru the Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, written in Bengali, then one can get a hint of such topics of bhajana. All these topics have been especially explained by Srila Thakura Mahashaya in his Prarthana and Prema-bhakti-chandrika, as well as Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura in his Bhajana-rahasya and Rupanuga-bhajana-darpana. Only by chanting the Holy Name purely will we achieve auspiciousness by deliberating upon all these topics. naitat samacharej jatu manasapi hy anishvarah vinashyaty acharan maudhyad yatharudro’bdhi-jam visham Those who are not great controllers should never imitate the behaviour of ruling personalities even in their minds. If one does so out of foolishness, one will certainly be destroyed, just as a person who is not Rudra kills himself by trying to drink an ocean of poison. (Bhag. 10.33.30) anarthopashamam sakshad bhakti-yogam adhokshaje lokasyajanato vidvamsh chakre satvata-samhitam yasyam vai shruyamanayam krishne parama-purushe bhaktir utpadyate pumsah shoka-moha-bhayapaha The anarthas (unnecessary miseries) that the living being experiences can be directly mitigated by engaging in bhakti-yoga to the transcendental Lord (Adhokshaja). Yes most people do not know this, thus the learned Sri Vyasa compiled this divine literature (the Bhagavatam), which is in relation to

54


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

the Absolute. If one just listens to this literature, devotion to the Supreme Personality Sri Krishna manifests in the heart of the living being, and all lamentation, illusion and fear are removed. (Bhag. 1.7.6-7) namnah shravanam antahkarana-shuddhy-artham One should hear the Lord’s Names to become purified within. (Bhaktisandarbha) Without understanding the meaning of these shlokas, without following the process step by step, by imitation one will never make advancement in bhajana – instead one’s bhajana will be obstructed. karunyamrita-vichibhis tarunyamrita-dharaya lavanyamrita-vanyabhih snapitam glapitendiram In the morning, Srimati Radharani is bathed in the ambrosial waves of compassion; at midday She bathes in the nectarean stream of youthfulness; in the evening She bathes in the waters of beauty – thus She eclipses even Goddess Lakshmi. (Premambhoja-marandakhya-stavaraja) Whatever conceptions Srila Raghunatha Prabhu expressed in all these shlokas, and all the conceptions that Sri Raya Ramananda Prabhu discussed within the eighth chapter of Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, may they be the object of our discussions. There is no harm in reflecting upon the intentions of liberated persons with the intention of following in their footsteps. But in the name of following in their footsteps, if we only imitate them, considering that which is to be followed to be the object of our enjoyment, then we will certainly fall from bhagavata-bhajana forever. It is not possible to take hari-nama in the association of those that are bound in this world. The Prakrta-sahajiyas can never take darshan of the effulgent toenails of Radhika. If one wishes to serve Radhika’s toenails then one should proceed with great caution. Those within the Prakrta-sahajiya sampradaya never take darshan of the effulgence of the toenails of the lotus-feet of a genuine spiritual master; therefore they cannot take darshan of the effulgent toenails of Sri Radhika.

55


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

Everything that exists within this universe belongs to the Lord. One should only accept one’s allotted quota and never endeavour to usurp the property of others. (Ishopanishad 1) Please listen – your barren field will become fertile and very quickly you can attain the goal. I have been instructed to give an explanation on the ten Upanishads. I have a little knowledge of languages. It is not possible for a jiva who has forgotten Krishna to have knowledge of languages. I have no understanding of Hari-namamrita-vyakarana. Whatever Sri Guru reveals within my heart manifests upon my tongue. Become a little acquainted with the words of liberated persons. Gradually the seed in your field will sprout and bear fruit. Beginning from the lotus-feet of Sri Krishna in the shrauta-parampara and culminating at the lotus-feet of my guru, there is complete clarity. But you kindly rectify whatever contamination occurs in the mirror of my heart. ishavasyam idam sarvam yat kincha jagatyam jagat tena tyaktena bhunjitha ma gridhah kasya sviddhanam Everything that exists within this universe belongs to the Lord. One should accept only one’s allotted quota and never endeavour to usurp the property of others. (Ishopanishad 1)

56


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

O sense-enjoyers – why do you regard this world as enjoyable? If you remain within the realm of sense gratification then hari-bhajana will not be possible. There is also no hari-bhajana simply in renunciation. The entire world is an instrument for the service of Bhagavan. It is a place meant for His enjoyment, for Bhagavan is the exclusive enjoyer of everything (advitiya-bhokta). Radha-kunda descended to this world, and Giri-Govardhana also descended. It is not a place for sense-enjoyment or renunciation. It is not a place of non-differentiation (nirvishesha) like Brahmaloka. Vaikuntha’s mood of aishvarya is not predominant here. It is the zenith of madhurya-dhama. It is the land where the topmost service is rendered unto Sri Krishna’s lotus-feet. It is here that Arishtasura, the representation of four-legged dharma, was killed. eta saba chadi’ ara varnashrama-dharma akinchana hana laya krishnaika-sharana Giving up all material attachment and varnashrama-dharma, one should become akinchana (devoid of any material attachment) and take exclusive shelter of Krishna. (Cc.Madhya 22.93) You must discuss the Brahma-sutras and all the Shrutis. If you try to understand all the shrauta-shastras by means of the path of asrauta (hearing from the wrong sources), you will not be able to grasp the real meaning of the Shruti and you will be in trouble. You should discuss the shruti following the direction shown in the Srimad Bhagavata. Srimad Bhagavata is the essence of the whole Vedanta – in that shastra the significance of all the Shrutis has been ascertained. The ultimate object ascertained in the Srimad Bhagavata its goal cannot be different from that of Shrutis. dharmah projjhita-kaitavo ‘tra paramo nirmatsaranam satam vedyam vastavam atra vastu shivadam tapa-trayonmulanam srimad-bhagavate maha-muni-krite kim va parair ishvarah sadyo hridy avarudhyate ‘tra kritibhih shushrusubhis tat-kshanat Rejecting all kinds of fruitive religious activities, this Bhagavata Purana explains the highest truth, which is understood by those devotees who are pure and non-envious. The highest truth is that reality which is distinguished from illusion, benefits all and uproots the threefold material miseries. What is the need of any other scripture besides this beautiful Bhagavatam, compiled

57


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

by that great sage (Vyasa)? The Supreme Lord is swiftly established within the hearts of those who hear it attentively. (Bhag. 1.1.2) I have just alluded to some primary topics in order to explain the Shrutis –  topics concerning sambandha-jnana. I will discuss abhidheya at midday, according to my capability. The conception of abhidheya is especially discussed in the Srimad Bhagavata. In the evening, we will listen to the Sri Charitamrita and the Padavali kirtanas of Thakura Mahashaya. All these topics were also clearly revealed by Thakura Bhaktivinoda, and I had the opportunity to hear them from him. If by seeing you remembrance of all those words is aroused, then they will all become manifest. I shall discuss with you some of the things that were instructed to me by Srimad Bhaktivinoda Thakura at the time of writing his commentary on the Charitamrita. Rejecting the path of argumentative speculation, one should accept the path of srauta. One should listen – first one should not see with his eyes, otherwise one will become impertinent. If one tries to understand the behaviour of mahajanas through the medium of the eyes, one will become a fraud and get into trouble. Such endeavors are like the drama of that person who was showing some perverted imitation of detachment by drinking water from a human skull to express his pride that he was superior to Gaurakishora Dasa Babaji Mahashaya. In the morning we shall discuss Shruti. At midday we will discuss the rasa-shastras from the works of Sri Rupa-Raghunatha; in the afternoon Srimad Bhagavata and in the evening Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita. The ultimate result of studying the Shruti is the exclusive taste to chant the Holy Name. You should not cease hearing and chanting hari-nama. Our purpose is not to explain the Shrutis the same way that the Mayavadis do. We are not going to discuss the Shrutis in order to become covered atheists. The assembly of the Shrutis showed the example by attaining the dust of the feet of the gopis and performing arati to the lotus-feet of Sri Nama Prabhu – that example will be the specific topic of our discussion. (From the weekly Gaudiya 14th Volume, 22nd Issue, 1935) FOOTNOTES (1) The famous Bengali academic, Sri Hara-prasada Shastri (1853-1931) opined that Bengali Vaishnavism originated from the earlier Buddhist sahajiya cults of Bengal.

58


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

y bringing Ganga down to the earth, Bhagiratha delivered his ancestors and since then, various shastras have proclaimed the glories of Ganga. Those who do not honour Ganga ridicule such words of praise. Not so long ago, a very famous and learned American chemist gave some words of praise to our Bhagirathi (Ganga). Previously, he had been in Bharata-varsa for a few days. After testing it for microscopic bacteria, he reported that the Ganges water was completely free of contamination and that there was absolutely no trace of impurities nor any malignant microscopic bacteria, whereas all other rivers and tributaries throughout the world are presently contaminated by huge amounts of impure substances, the Ganga of Bharata, in all respects, is completely devoid of impurities and is pure in every sense. After microscopic analysis of a container of Ganges water, he came to understand that the glories of Ganga, as stated in the Hindu shastras, are completely true. After returning to his country, he published the results of this great discovery in all the newspapers. He also declared that it was not only Ganga that was pure, but the water from all the rivers and streams that are connected to the Ganga. He ascertained through specific experimentation.

B

60


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

61


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

If the glories of the Ganga had not been included in the shastras, but instead had been written according to the opinions of scientists, then ordinary people would not respect Ganga so much. Having the highest regard for dharma, the esteemed authors of our shastras, have presented the spirit of pure dharma in all respects, and there has been a great amount of benefit due to this. If they had instead based universal laws and regulations upon dry evidence provided by mundane science, then perhaps the mood of dharma found in Bharata could never have spread throughout the world as much as it has today. It would be insufficient to consider the glories of Ganga simply from a mundane perspective. There are twenty-four tattvas (elements) within this material world. The jiva is the twenty-fifth element. The jiva’s gross body is comprised of the twentyfour material elements. The jiva’s atma, which is the twenty-fifth element, transcends these. He is beyond prakrti (material nature) and is thus known by the word ‘aprakrta’ (transcendental). Parabrahma is also a completely transcendental element. Another name for Parabrahma is Vishnu. Tad vishnoh paramam padam – these words are found again and again throughout the Vedas. Ganga-devi has manifest from the feet of Vishnu. Therefore, when some mundane praise is found concerning the waters of the Ganga, all the shastras accept it. The esteemed American scholar and the respected authors of various periodicals have simply been bewildered by Ganga’s mundane glories.

62


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

However, there are unlimited glories present within Ganga-devi that exceed such mundane glories. The assembly of pure devotees has revealed that if one resides near the Ganga and drinks her waters, then devotion to Hari will manifest. Such water emanates from the divine lotus feet of the supremely merciful Paramesvara, and that water has the potency to awaken devotion to the lotus feet of Hari – Vyasa and other maharishis have declared this everywhere. Within this material world, the jivatmas are covered by impurities and are absorbed in the misery of forgetfulness of Hari. When they bathe in the waters of the Ganga and sing about the qualities of Hari, then devotion arises within their consciousness. Only those who are most fortunate can realize the supreme qualities of Ganga. Those who are deprived of good fortune remain confined only to Ganga’s material qualities. If it is said that many people take bath in the Ganga and drink her waters but never worship Hari, then it may be answered that the qualities of an object can only be extended to another object when there is no obstruction. Electricity can only be transmitted to an object that is a good conductor. It cannot transmit its qualities to an object that is a bad conductor. Similarly, amongst the jivas, those that commit certain aparadhas become bad conductors of bhakti, just as with electricity. Those that chant the Holy Name and perform sinful activities are namaaparadhis (offenders to the Holy Name). Those that perform sinful activities, expecting that Ganga-devi’s glories will relieve them of reactions are severe offenders to Gangadevi. All kinds of sins are sent far away by bathing in Ganga, but the aforementioned offense is not sent far away by bathing in the Ganga. Those who commit this offense become bad conductors and are incapable of realising the unlimited glories of Ganga. Due to this, nowadays people cannot perceive Ganga’s spiritual potency –  their intelligence only allows them to perceive the material nature of her waters.

(Translated from Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakurer Prabandhavali, Chapter 1)

63


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

64


C

E V O

T S R

Y R O


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

The majestic Himalayas have invoked a sense of awe in mankind for centuries. This legendary range is home to some of the tallest mountains on earth that are revered by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains alike. Since ancient times, pilgrims and yogis have made long and arduous treks to some of the holy places associated with the Himalayas. The Himalayas stretch across five countries – India, China, Nepal, Pakistan and Bhutan. However, it is the Garhwal Himalayas found in the Indian state of Uttarkhand that is arguably the most important. Uttarkhand is known as ‘The Land of the Gods’ because it’s Himalayan region is where some of the most significant holy places of India are situated – in particular the temples of Badarinath, Kedarnath, Yamunotri and Gangotri. These four sacred places are known collectively as the ‘Chota Char-dham.’ The term ‘char-dham’ (which literally means ‘the four holy abodes’) refers to the four holy cities of Dvaraka in Gujarat, Ramesvaram in Tamil Nadu, Jagannatha Puri in Orissa and Badarinath in Uttarkhand, all of which are located in the four cardinal directions of the Indian subcontinent. The origin of the grouping of these four sites is unknown, but it is generally credited to the famous 8th Century Indian philosopher, Adi Shankara who established four monasteries in these holy towns. Similarly, the importance of the Chota Char-dham (‘the four smaller holy abodes’) has also been ascribed to Shankara, who built two of the main temples, namely Badarinath and Kedarnath. However, in North India, the term ‘char-dham’ generally refers to the Himalayan pilgrimage circuit. Until the 1950’s, this pilgrimage was only accessible for wandering sadhus and those who could afford a travelling retinue. After the 1962 border dispute between India and China, the Indian government invested greater energy into infrastructure in the Garhwal region and built better roads throughout the state. This enabled more people to travel to the Char-dhams. Most pilgrims go on Char-dhama pilgrimage during the months of May-June or from September to late October or early November. During the winter season, all the temples and roads are closed due to heavy snows and the intense cold weather.

67


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

It was during the month of May this year that we embarked on our own pilgrimage to the Char-dhams. Armed with our collective 50kg of gear which consisted of our camera equipment, tent, sleeping bags, various clothes and electronic equipment as well as couple of guidebooks, we started our Himalayan journey from the town of Haridwar.

HARIDWAR

– The Gateway to Vishnu Haridwar is one of the seven holy cities (sapta-puri) mentioned in the Puranas. Vaishnavas (followers of Vishnu, or Krishna) call this place Hari-dwar (‘the gateway to Hari, or Vishnu’), while the followers of Shiva refer to it as Hara-dwar (the gateway to Hara, or Shiva). This is because Haridwar is the starting point for all pilgrims to visit the temple of Badarinath (Vishnu) and Kedaranath (Shiva). Situated on the banks of the Ganga, Haridwar is said to have been where the Sage Kapila had his hermitage, hence the town’s ancient name of Kapilasthan. Agastya Muni also performed penances here and Goddess Sati left her body in Haridwar when her father, Prajapati Daksha, insulted her husband, Lord Shiva. Haridwar is also one of the four holy cities that hosts the Kumbha-Mela. As the only main attraction in Haridwar is the bathing ghats along the Ganga, we

68


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

stayed here for just two days. We walked along the ghats and took pictures of pilgrims taking holy bath and offering various pujas to Mother Ganga. The most famous ghat in Haridwar is Brahma-kunda at Hari Ki Pauri. Here, there is a large footprint of Lord Vishnu set in stone (Hari ki Pauri literally means, ‘the footprint of Vishnu’). This ghat was built by the famous Indian king, Vikramaditya, in memory of his brother Bhatrihari. Every evening, pilgrims gather on the banks of Brahma-kunda as priests offer lamps in worship of Mother Ganga. The sounds of Vedic hymns, temple bells and the pilgrims calling out, “Ganga-mayi ki jaya!” (All glories to Mother Ganga) creates a wonderful divine atmosphere.

69


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

70


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

RISHIKESH 

– A Macrocosm of Hinduism Our next stop was the scenic town of Rishikesh, about 20km north of Haridwar. We immediately noticed the change in landscape as our bus climbed into the valley with the foothills of the Himalayas rising up on both sides. The town derives its name from Lord Vishnu, who is also known as Hrishikesh, the Master of the senses. The Skanda Purana narrates how Vishnu appeared here under a mango tree to bless His devotee, Raibya Rishi. Rishikesh has some spectacular views, surrounded on three sides by hills with the Ganga flowing through the middle – it’s also a good place to relax before undertaking the rigorous Char-dham pilgrimage. It was pleasant to discover when we reached Rishikesh that due the town’s religious significance, no meat or alcohol is allowed. This ban is also enforced in Haridwar. The state government is also trying to implement the banning of plastic bags by shopkeepers as they have already done in several Himalayan regions. Currently accommodation isn’t a problem in Rishikesh. Prior to the 1950’s the Rishikesh valley was barely inhabited with only a few sadhus and ashrams situated on the banks of the Ganga. But after the Beatles visited the town in 1968, the

71


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

fame of Rishikesh suddenly grew and more and more ashrams and yoga centres sprang up. Since the time of the Beatles, foreign yoga-students and pilgrims are a frequent sight in Rishikesh and can be seen rubbing shoulders with the many sadhus, yogis and swamis that frequent the town. Rishikesh has sometimes been described as a macrocosm of Hinduism due to the religious and cultural atmosphere that it imbibes. Simultaneously however, one can observe that there is an international vibe here when one sees the many restaurants that offer Italian, Israeli and Japanese cuisine as well as German bakeries and spas offering Swedish foot massage. When we arrived, we checked into a hotel called the Hotel Swiss Hilltop. It was a hotel, and it was on a hilltop, but there was actually nothing Swiss about it whatsoever. However, as far as accommodation goes, this was one of the cheapest, cleanest and friendliest hotels that we stayed in during our whole journey. After freshening up, we went out to explore the town a little. The best way to get around the valley is on a two-wheeler. We found a local mechanic renting out motorcycles for 500 rupees a day and went for a ride. The most famous landmark here is a bridge known as

72


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

the Lakshman-jhula. There is a story that Lo the bridge continued to be made of jute up un steel suspension bridge that we see today.

Just as in Haridwar, there is an arati to the Ga a prestigious ashram and gurukula school. Stu dusk, and then offer large lamps in honour of

The afternoon before we left Rishikesh, we de a raft came by full of Indian tourists dressed in the scene – there we were, two white sadhus b

73


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

ord Rama and His brother Lakshman came here and crossed the Ganga using jute-rope. In fact, ntil 1924 when it was destroyed by floods. In 1939 it was finally replaced by the much stronger

anga in Rishikesh every evening. The most popular arati ceremony is held at Parmarth Niketan, udents chant devotional songs to the accompaniment of harmonium, tabla and hand-cymbals till f Mother Ganga.

ecided to take a bath in the Ganga. As we swam in the cool, refreshing waters for a few minutes, n helmets and life jackets. “Hi!” they screamed shrilly, “Which country?” I smiled at the irony of bathing in the sacred Ganga while eight Hindus floated past on a rafting run…

74


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

YAMUNOTRI

The Temple of Goddess Yamuna (10,804ft/3,293m)

75


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

Yamunotri is the first place that pilgrims begin their Char-dham pilgrimage. Like most of the holy places in Garhwal, getting there is not easy. Unless you have your own vehicle, or you have money to burn and you can afford to travel everywhere by taxi, public transport is your only option. However, buses in Garhwal are slow, poorly maintained, always overcrowded and never reach their destination on time (as a rule of thumb, always add an extra hour or three to the official time of arrival). The distance between the benches on these buses seem to have been measured for small children as there is no room to actually sit straight with your legs facing forwards. The same goes for the width of the seat where two people are expected to sit side by side it’s really only enough space for one. We found these vehicles to be great tolerancebuilders. Direct buses to the major holy places are very few or non-existent. Thus, we were sometimes forced to travel town to town catching one bus after the next. The bus from Rishikesh took six grueling hours to travel 120km to Dharasu. That’s an average of 20km an hour to reach this mere stopover on the way to Yamunotri. Our time inside buses however wasn’t finished for the day and we immediately jumped on another bus heading to Barkot (the halfway point) which took another seven hours. By the time we finally reached Barkot in the early evening, the weather had taken a turn for the worse and it began to rain heavily. This only accentuated the gloom of this podunk town. However, from here we got our first glimpse of the Himalayas, whose white peaks stood out in the dark gloom. Hotels and guesthouses are few and far between in Barkot and, like most things in Garhwal during peak pilgrimage season, hoteliers charge much more than usual.

76


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

Early the next morning we procured a shared jeep, which is probably the best way for budget pilgrims to travel in Garhwal. It basically entails the driver cramming as many travellers as possible into his jeep (I counted fourteen of us altogether). In fact, you are squeezed in so tightly, that inevitably the occupants end up sitting on each others laps and clashing heads whenever the jeep goes over a speed bump. It certainly isn’t comfortable, but it’s much faster than a bus. In fact, it’s the only way to travel, as there are no buses from Barkot to Yamunotri. From Barkot we drove four hours to Janakichatti. This is the point where wheeled transport stops and the steep, long climb to Yamunotri begins. At this time of year, Janakichatti is a busy, bustling village with a multitude of mules, a plethora of porters and scores of stall-vendors selling their wares. Initially we had decided to carry our own backpacks and camera gear to Yamunotri, but when we realised how steep the climb would be, we quickly came to our senses and hired a porter. The climb to Yamunotri is supposedly 7km. However, signs up to Yamunotri can be misleading and we figured that in reality, the distance was probably about 10 kilometres. The ascent to Yamunotri is like an obstacle course – we were forever maneuvering our way around fellow trekkers as well as dodging people on ponies, porters hauling insane

77


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

amounts of luggage and palanquins carrying the elderly, the infirm and the morbidly obese. Twenty years ago, one would only pass about 5 or 10 people on the way up to Yamunotri – now you pass between 5 and 1000. The problem is that there are just as many people leaving Yamunotri as there are arriving. To make matters worse, the width of the path leading up is only 3-4 metres wide, with a sheer rock-face on one side and a rickety metal railing over which there is a drop into a deep ravine on the other. With so many people and ponies heading from both directions, jams are inevitable. We were forced to wait for almost an hour before the train of descending pilgrims had cleared and we were able to continue our journey. Yamunotri has hardly any amenities. It is a small temple near the end of a steep mountain valley with the Yamuna river flowing past it. Most pilgrims take darshan at the temple and descend again to Janakichatti the very same day. Aside from the temple there are a few dhabas (roadside eateries),

78


a couple of guesthouses and a police station. Ironically even though this small hamlet is on the banks of one of the major rivers of India, there is no running water and electricity is scarce. We stayed in Yamunotri for two nights in a small guesthouse which was made of rammed earth and stone. We ate in the guesthouse kitchen where all the food was prepared on a wood-fired mud stove. Although this type of rustic living was very charming, there was one major disappointment in Yamunotri. The small shrine of Yamunotri at the end of this majestic Himalayan valley was never meant to accommodate so many people. The huge influx of pilgrims has made its black mark here in the form of the huge piles of litter that cascade into the holy river on all sides. It seems that unlike Haridwar and Rishikesh, there is no law banning plastic bags at Yamunotri – or if there is, it is not enforced. It was sad to see pilgrims coming up from Janakichatti shouting, “Yamuna-mayi ki jaya!� as they casually threw cheap plastic rain-coats that they had bought on the way up, into the waters of Yamuna-devi. Thousands of old plastic bottles, chip packets, plastic tarpaulins, cheap nylon saris and plastic bags are strewn along the banks and are eventually taken downstream by the current of the river. Protection of the environment is an unknown concept at Yamunotri. After a bite to eat, we headed over to the temple of Goddess Yamuna which is situated on the right bank of the river and was constructed by Maharana Pratap Shah in the

79


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

80


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

19th Century. Before that, the temple was destroyed twice – once by an avalanche and once by a flood. Every year the temple opens on the auspicious day of Akshaya-tritiya in May, and closes for winter two days after Divali in October/November. The main deity in the temple is Yamuna, the river-goddess herself, and throughout the day there is a constant stream of pilgrims entering the shrine and offering prayers to her. Just below the temple are some hot springs, where weary pilgrims bathe before entering the temple to offer puja. There is also a smaller, and much hotter spring known as Surya-kunda, where devotees take uncooked rice and potatoes, tie them in a thin cloth and submerge them in the boiling water. When the rice and potatoes are cooked, they take it back home as prasadam from Yamuna-devi. It is said that the sage Asita had his ashram here and throughout his life, he only bathed in the water of the Ganga and the Yamuna. When he was too old to travel to Gangotri to bathe in the Ganga, the river Ganga appeared here alongside the Yamuna in order to facilitate the sage. Although Yamunotri is said to be the source of the Yamuna, the actual source of the river is far above Yamunotri at the Champasar Glacier (also known as Sapta-Rishi Kunda) near to the Kalinda Mountain. At 4,421 metres above sea level, the glacier is almost inaccessible, thus the temple of Yamuna-devi has been constructed at the top of the valley just under the precipitous mountain slopes. Although Sapta-Rishi Kunda is considered to be one of the more difficult treks in the Indian Himalayas, we had actually planned to go there. With a spirit of mad adventure, we set off to the local police station to find out more information about the journey, only to be informed that it was strictly off-limits to those without a hiking permit from the Forestry Department and District Magistrate in Uttarkashi (274km away), and at this time of year it was far too dangerous for anyone to attempt. Later on, we heard stories directly from some travellers who had made the journey to SaptaRishi Kunda. There is no proper trail up the mountain and the weather is mercurial and at any time a rainstorm, a blizzard or thick fog can appear. To climb some of the steeper sections of the mountain, travellers have to grab handfuls of thick grass and pull themselves up. One traveller told us that two of his party fell sick while ascending – one of them became so incapacitated that they had to leave him in a small cave

81


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

overnight, while the rest of the party continued up the mountain. Another member of their group broke his leg and had to be carried back down to Yamunotri. Such tales made us glad that we hadn’t attempted the trek to Sapta-Rishi Kunda… UTTARKASHI (1,352m) The ‘Kashi of the North’ The next place we planned to visit was Gangotri, one of the four major Char-dhams. It is also the last town before the trek to Gaumukh (the glacier source of the Ganga). After another cramped 6 hour jeep ride back to Barkot, we immediately found a bus going directly to the town of Uttarkashi. Uttarkashi means ‘Kashi of the North’ due to its similarity to the holy city of Kashi (Benares). Compared to Barkot, Uttarkashi is quite modern and is one of the few places in this part of Uttarkhand that actually has internet facilities, but they are few and far between. There are quite a few guesthouses and hotels here, but one has to be very choosey - there are many places that offer rooms at dirt-cheap rates (emphasis on dirt) and you really get what you pay for. The first hotel we stayed in seemed decent, but the management was unhelpful and it was a chore just to get running water. During the peak pilgrimage season, without pre-booking, one should be prepared to hike around the entire town to look for accommodation. We found, on our way back from Gangotri, that almost everything was booked up and (as usual), the decent hotels were charging exorbitant prices. During our stay in Uttarkashi, we had to get permission from the Forestry Department for our planned trek to Gaumukh. In a positive move to keep the environment near the Ganges Glacier clean, the Forestry Department has enforced some restrictions on the number of people who can go there. Once we had gone through the paperwork and paid for our hiking permits, we left for Gangotri the next morning. Buses from Uttarkashi to Gangotri are infrequent and only about two leave every day. We took the early bus at around 7:30am and arrived in Gangotri at midday. 82


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

Gangotri (3,415m)

The Temple of Ganga Devi

83


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

Gangotri is one of the nicer temple towns in Uttarkhand. It is clean, well kept and quite spacious. Situated on the banks of the Ganga, there are many guesthouses and hotels to choose from. There are also many ashrams here and wherever you look, sadhus and swamis in their saffron robes can be seen. As one looks upriver, one sees the beautiful peak of Mount Sudarshan shining in the distance. Ganga has many names during her course. When she first leaves the celestial planets she is known as Sursari. When she becomes entangled in the matted locks of Lord Shiva, she is called Jata-Shankari. Here at Gangotri, the Ganga is known as Bhagirathi and she only acquires the name Ganga from Devprayag onwards when she meets the Alakananda River. The original temple at Gangotri, made of white granite, was built by the Nepalese General Amar Singh Thapa in the early 19th Century. Later, in the 1920’s, after suffering damage from an avalanche, the Maharaja of Jaipur renovated it. Naturally, the main deity within the temple’s sanctum-sanctorum is Ganga-devi, and when we arrived there for darshan, there was a long queue of pilgrims waiting to obtain the blessings of the goddess.

84


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

Next to the temple is a small shrine where one can see a deity of Maharaja Bhagiratha, who originally called down Goddess Ganga from her celestial abode in order to liberate his ancestors. Next to the deity of Bhagiratha is a stone known as the Bhagiratha-shila, which is said to be the actual stone where Bhagiratha sat and meditated when he invoked Ganga. All day long pilgrims come and offer prayers and puja with the help of the local priests. Unlike many holy places in India, the priests here seem to be quite friendly and do not harass the pilgrims to come and offer worship.

About half a kilometre away from the Ganga, the river falls into a small canyon forming a pool known as Gauri-kunda before continuing it’s course. It is said that here, Shiva tamed the tumultuous Ganga by trapping her in his matted locks. After a short exploratory walk around Gangotri town, we found a decent guesthouse, dropped off our backpacks and began planning our trek to Gaumukh. Since our backpacks weighed in at 20 kgs a piece, not including our camera gear (another 10kg), we crossed the bridge, went to the Forestry Department and in no time at all we had hired two porters to carry our bags which would leave us free to take pictures on the way.

85


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

86


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

Gaumukh (3,892m)

The Source of the Ganga

87


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

After two days in Gangotri, we started our trek to Gaumukh accompanied by our porters. Half an hour into our journey we had to stop off at the forest check-post at Kankshu, show them our permits and pay a tax for the use of our own tent (?). We were asked if we would be using a video camera, to which we replied in the negative. When we exited the small check-post, we saw a signboard that gave a price list for video cameras, tents, documentary filming, feature filming and more. By far, the strangest thing was the price difference for foreign trekkers and Indian trekkers. The prices for foreigners were rather steep in comparison – usually 4-5 times greater than for Indians. This system may have had its merit 20 years ago, but considering the economic boom in India today and the fact that many of the Indians who travel these routes are wealthier than their foreign counterparts, this policy seems unbalanced and outdated. The forestry department strictly enforces the rule that only 150 trekkers are allowed daily to Gaumukh – this restriction seems to help keep the route free of litter and is mainly in place to preserve the natural environment of the Gaumukh valley. Gaumukh is 19 kilometres from Gangotri and the landscapes on the way are breathtaking. Although our porters were carrying our backpacks and tent, we were still carrying somewhere in the range of 10 kgs of camera gear between us. On a high altitude trek, one is supposed to allow the body to acclimatise for 3-5 days before hiking any long distance – unfortunately our time was too short to wait longer than 1 day in Gangotri before starting out. This led to slight altitude sickness in both of us in the form of nausea, dizziness and breathlessness. As we climbed the steadily ascending path, with the river below on our right-hand side, we were able to get a closer look at Mount Sudarshan and the surrounding range. At midday we had covered 9 kilometres when we arrived at Chirbasa. Chirbasa is a small rest stop amongst pine trees where weary travellers can rest and recuperate. There was a small shack with a local man cooking untraditional instant noodles that have now become a staple diet for trekkers and porters in many himalayan towns. We found a small shaded area away from the clatter of the dhaba and the braying ponies and we lay under the trees for an hour before starting off again.

88


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

Our destination for that day was Bhojbasa, where most trekkers stop overnight before continuing to Gaumukh the next morning. On the way there we saw on our right side the three majestic Bhagirathi peaks as we walked along paths next to overhanging moraine. We reached an area of the path which looked like it had seen many mudslides and avalanches during different seasons. At this point our porters told us to stay close together as there was a danger of landslides. Here, the narrow path was almost like silt and every footstep caused the loose earth to slide away down the steep slope into the ravine below us. One missed step could result in an unstoppable downhill tumble until hitting the piles of river rocks below. At around 4:00pm we stood atop a hill looking down at Bhojbasa and saw in the distance the great Ganges Glacier. Bhojbasa literally means ‘the abode of Birch trees’ which is ironic because there was not one tree in sight. We were later told that at some point in recent history, a mad sadhu had cut down all the trees in the vicinity. Now the encampment is so desolate that it almost looks like a moonscape. Facilities are nonexistent here. There is nowhere to buy provisions, no bathrooms and no drinking water. There is one guesthouse (using the term loosely) which has missing walls and looks like it

89


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

has suffered a bombardment by enemy mortar shells. There is also the Lal Baba Ashram, which is the main hangout for most of the porters that arrive there with trekkers. However, the accommodation there is somewhat crude. As soon as a suitable area had been found, we quickly pitched our tent. It had been an arduous day and we had walked 14kms along very rough terrain at an altitude of 3,700m and above. We drank some hot tea, ate some noodles and lay down on the hard ground to try and get some sleep before the next day’s hike. Sleep was elusive however. Strong howling winds blew down the Gaumukh Valley towards our tent, and throughout the night we were anticipating that the tent would be lifted off the ground along with its occupants. Despite an almost sleepless night, we were surprisingly energetic the next morning. Perhaps it was due to the anticipation of taking darshan of the source of the Ganga. After a late start we were able to traverse the remaining 5km to Gaumukh without much difficulty, and by the time we arrived at the glacier it was midday. We put down our bags about 500m from the Ganges Glacier. Immediately opposite us, was the towering white pinnacle of Mount Shivling –  the whole scene seemed unreal and otherworldly. There were already a few pilgrims on the banks of the Ganga, taking bath with small brass pots, offering prayers, or taking photos. We had promised ourselves that we had to take a bath in the icy waters of the river, otherwise our pilgrimage here would feel incomplete. Prior to our pilgrimage, we had been taking baths with ice water to prepare ourselves for this occasion. Compared to the waters of the Ganges Glacier however, our ice baths seemed tepid. As soon as we stepped into the river, our legs felt stabbing pains from the intense cold. We immersed ourselves under the water three times and the feeling was unlike anything we had ever experienced before. It was akin to being attacked by a hundred angry acupuncturists simultaneously. It was

90


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

91


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

probably the fastest bath we have ever taken. We jumped out as fast as we could and stood shivering on the bank, staring at each other wide-eyed in a state of mild shock as we tried to take in the warmth of the midday sun. If you’ve never bathed in water emerging directly from the mouth of a glacier, the feeling is hard to imagine. As the blood began to flow in our bodies again and the numbness wore off, we decided to take a closer look at the glacier itself. One of our porters helped us over the rocks and after 10 minutes, there we were –  right next to the glacier itself. As we stood marvelling at this sheer wall of ice with the Bhagirathi Peaks in the background, huge shards would sometimes break off and with a loud splash, they would be carried downriver by the strong current. The Sanskrit word Gaumukh means ‘cow’s face’–  perhaps at some point in hoary antiquity this mighty ice monolith did indeed resemble the face of a cow, but at present one’s imagination is stretched to its limits to see anything remotely ‘bovine’ about the shape of this glacier. In fact, the glacier has been steadily receding for hundreds of years. In recent times, the rate of recession has increased drastically causing some concern over the fate of India’s most renowned river. Whatever the case, the Ganges Glacier is still very impressive. As we stood looking at this marvel of nature, we remembered 92


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

something our Guru Maharaja had said in regards to the Ganga when he was at Kumbha-Mela in January: You look at the water and it’s silty and has a muddy colour. Normally, when you take bath in muddy water you do not feel fresh, you do not feel clean – you feel that you have to go and take a bath again in clean water. But when you take a bath in the Ganga, you feel light and fresh. This is because when you take bath in the Ganga, you become purified. Our consciousness is released. The tendency of consciousness is to rise up. We had now completed half of our Char-dham pilgrimage. Our next journey was to the abode of Lord Shiva at Kedarnath, and the Vishnu Temple of Badarinath.

93


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

94


Garhwal, in the Indian state of Uttarkand, has some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. It is a land of snowcapped Himalayan mountains, pristine forests, scenic valleys and famous temples. Due to the religious and cultural importance of Garhwal, thousands of pilgrims throng to this region each year - some come seeking divine blessings and others to imbibe the salubrious atmosphere of this unique place. During their visit, Swami Giri and Gaura-Gopala took the opportunity to visually record some of the sights that they encountered there.


Garhwal

The Indian Himalayas

Š Gaura

Gopala


© Swami

B . V. G i r i

© Swami

B . V. G i r i

© Swami

B . V. G i r i

© Swami

B . V. G i r i


© Swami

B . V. G i r i

© Gaura

Gopala


Š Swami

B . V. G i r i


© Gaura

Gopala

© Gaura

Gopala


Š Gaura

Gopala


Š Gaura

Gopala


Š Swami

B . V. G i r i

Š Swami

B . V. G i r i


Š Swami

B . V. G i r i


Š Gaura

Gopala


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

he history of the Radha-Damodara Mandira begins when Sri Rupa Goswami (born 1493) and Sri Sanatana Goswami (born 1488), the gurus of Sri Jiva Goswami (born 1523), came to Vrindavana in 1516 (1439 Shakabda) under the order of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to uncover the pastime places (lila-sthanas) of Sri Sri Radha and Krishna. Jiva Goswami who was the younger nephew of Rupa and Sanatana arrived in Vrindavana a few years later after completing his studies at Varanasi.

T

Jiva Comes To Vrindavana Once while Jiva Goswami was still staying at his family residence in Bakla Candradvipa, East Bengal he had a dream in which he saw Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu dancing in the midst of sankirtana and loudly chanting the name of Krishna. This so much impressed Jiva that he soon set off from home towards Navadvipa. In Navadvipa, Jiva met Sri Nityananda Prabhu who showed him great mercy. This event is narrated by Narahari Chakravarti Thakura in Bhakti-ratnakara. With fatherly affection, Nityananda touched Jiva’s head with his feet. He showed incomparable mercy toward Jiva, lifting him from the ground and embracing him tightly. Transported by divine ecstasy, Nityananda Prabhu said, “I rushed here from Khardaha for your sake alone.” He said other things like this to pacify Jiva and then made Srivasa Pandita and the other devotees give their blessings to Jiva. After keeping Jiva there for some time with him, Nityananda Prabhu sent him off to the West. He said, “Hurry off now to Vraja. That is the place the Lord has given over to your family. (Bhakti-ratnakara 1.765-9, 772)

By the grace of Nityananda Prabhu, Jiva first completed navadvipa-dhama-parikrama before setting out for Vrindavana. In route to Vrindavana, Jiva stayed for sometime in Varanasi where he studied all the Vedic scriptures under the renowned scholar Madhusudana Vachaspati, eventually reaching Vrindavana in 1535 (1457 Shakabda).

109


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

The Ontological Position To properly understand Vrindavana and the importance of the Radha-Damodara Mandira one should clearly understand the ontological position of Sri Rupa, Sri Sanatana and Sri Jiva. In the nitya-lila of Sri Sri Radha and Krishna the madhuryarasa is considered the topmost. In the madhurya-rasa, Sri Radha is the supreme reservoir of prema for Sri Krishna. The whole plane of the madhurya-rasa is the majesty of her sentiments of devotion and love for Sri Krishna. This highest expression of prema for Sri Krishna is called maha-bhava and it is exclusively the domain of Sri Radha. Sri Radha has a multitude of confidential associate servitors imbued with aspects of her loving sentiments for Sri Krishna, chief of which are the ashta-sakhis; Lalitadevi, Vishakha-devi, Chitra-devi, Indulekha-devi, Ranga-devi, Tungavidya-devi, Champakalata-devi and Sudevi. Of these eight gopis, Lalita-devi and Vishakha-devi are the principle two and of these Lalita-devi is the constant advisor to Sri Radha. Under the shelter and care of Lalita-devi are younger gopis known as manjaris. These manjaris are of a very tender age and are the choicest servants of Sri Sri Radha and Krishna during their various intimate loving pastimes in the forest of Vrindavana. Like Sri Sri Radha and Krishna the gopis and the manjaris all have especially pleasing spiritual bodies made of the supremely transcendental substance known as cinmayarasa. As such there is no material desire that can contaminate the prema-lila of Sri Sri Radha Krishna and their intimate associates. One should never think that the love of Sri Sri Radha and Krishna is on the same platform as the so-called love that exists in the material world. Sri Radha-Krishna prema is transcendental and above the contamination of the modes of material nature characterized by lust, anger and greed.

110


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

Chief among the manjaris who perform the most intimates service to Sri Sri RadhaKrishna are Rupa-manjari, Lavanga-manjari and Vilasa-manjari. These three manjaris have incarnated on earth as Rupa Goswami, Sanatana Goswami and Jiva Goswami respectively to reveal the lila-sthanas of Sri Sri Radha and Krishna, and to establish the truth of Sri Sri Radha and Krishna for the benefit of all human beings. Rupa Goswami is known as the abhidheya-acharya, Sanatana Goswami is the sambandha- acharya and Jiva Goswami is known as the tattva-acharya. Abhidheya is the principle status in which one is able to serve Radha and Krishna. Sambandha is the knowledge of Radha-Krishna, the living entities and their intrinsic relationship of service. Tattva means the ultimate truth about Sri Sri Radha-Krishna and their energies, associates, supreme abode and pastimes.

The Meaning of Damodara Of all the places of lila in Vrindavana the area where the rasa-lila of Radha and Krishna was performed is most glorious. During those divine pastimes of rasa-lila Sri Krishna suddenly took Sri Radha to a secret place in Vrindavana and there in that magnificent grove Sri Krishna became bound by the ropes of Sri Radha’s affection. Thus Krishna became known as Damodara, bound by the love of Sri Radha. This place of magnificent beauty and charm in the rasa-lila of Sri Sri Radha and Krishna is none other than the site where the mandira of Sri Sri RadhaDamodara is located. Similarly, Sri Krishna was bound by the ropes of mother Yashoda’s love (vatsalya-

111


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

bhava) and for this he is also universally glorified as Damodara. One who desires the supreme perfection of life should know that one who achieves prema for Sri Krishna achieves all perfection. Krishna is easily bound by the ropes of his devotee’s love. This is the supreme secret of all secrets.

Manifestation of Damodara In 1542, seven years after his arrival in Vrindavana, Jiva Goswami received the murti of Damodara directly manifest from the hands of Rupa Goswami. The Sri Murti was installed in the presence of Rupa and Sanatana on shukladashami, in the month of Magha. This incident is mentioned in the book Sadhana-dipika, by Radha-Krishna Goswami as follows:

Out of compassion, Sri Rupa Goswami carved with his own hands the Deity of Damodara and gave Him to Jiva Goswami. (Sadhana-dipika, 8th Chapter)

112


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

radha-damodaro devah sri-rupa-kara-nirmitah jiva-gosvamine dattam sri-rupena kripabdhina Out of compassion, Sri Rupa Goswami carved with his own hands the Deity of Damodara and gave Him to Jiva Goswami. (Sadhana-dipika, 8th Chapter) During this time Jiva Goswami stayed under the shelter of his gurus and worshipped Damodara under the trees of Vrindavana. In 1558 Jiva purchased the site that was to become the Radha-Damodara Mandira for a sum of 30 rupees. The area purchased included Seva-kunja, Dana-gali, Imli-tala, Sringara-sthali and Rasa-sthali. The boundary of the land was marked by four trees; a kadamba, a pippal, a tamarind and a banyan. The plot ran from the Yamuna to Kunja-gali. This was in a time long before the streets and market places in Vrindavana were constructed. During that period the devotees in Vrindavana lived under trees or sometimes in thatched huts.

Radha & Lalita It was not until some time later that the Deity of Sri Radha and the Deity of Sri Lalitadevi came to be with Damodara in Vrindavana. No exact date for this event is known although the Sthala-purana of the Radha-Damodara Mandira says that this happened during the lifetime of Jiva. The short of the story surrounding the event is as follows: In Bengal a certain fisherman is said to have caught something very heavy in his net and when he managed to draw it out he found two Deities. He brought the Deities to the king who put them in his palace overnight. That night the king had a dream and was told to send the two Deities to Jiva Goswami in Vrindavana. The next day the king left for Vrindavana and personally delivered the Deities to Jiva Goswami. Jiva was overjoyed to see the Deities but was confused as to who was who. That night Sri Radha came to Jiva in a dream and told him which Deity was Herself (Radha) and which was Lalita. The next day Jiva installed the Deities in their appropriate places on either side of Damodara.

113


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

Govardhana-Shila Sanatana Goswami departed from this world in 1558 and attained the eternal realm of GolokaVrindavana, at which time Rupa Goswami instructed Jiva to bring the stone of Govardhana worshipped by Sanatana at Chakra-tirtha (Govardhana Hill) to Vrindavana and to continue the pujas. The Govardhana-shila of Sanatana Goswami has a very interesting story recorded in Bhakti-ratnakara (5.728-741) by Sri Narahari Chakravarti Thakura as follows: 114


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

ahe srinivasa, gosvami sanatane chakra-tirtha ajna kaila rahita ekhane O Srinivasa, by the order of Chakra-tirtha, Sanatana Goswami stayed here. etha vasa kaila ati-ullasa-antare ei dekha ta’ra kuti vanera bhitare Residing at this place, he felt great joy within. Just see his kutira within the forest. prati-dina govardhana parikrama ta’ra bhramaye dvadasha krosha – aiche shakti ka’ra Every day he performed the circumambulation of Govardhana Hill. Who has the power to travel 12 kroshas? vriddha-kale maha-shrama dekhi’ gopinatha gopa-balakera chale haila sakshata Seeing that in his old age this was becoming very difficult. Lord Gopinatha came in the form of a young cowherd boy. sanatana-tanu-gharma nibari’ yatane ashruyukta haiya kahe madhura vachane As Sanatana perspired and held back his tears, He spoke the following sweet words. “vriddha-kale eta shrama karite nariba ahe svami, ye kahi ta’ avashya maniva” “In your old age you cannot take such difficulties. O Swami, please listen to what I have to say.” sanatana kahe – “kaha, maniva janiya” shuni’ gopa govardhane chadilena giya

115


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

Sanatana said, “Please tell me, whatever You say I shall follow.” Hearing this, the cowherd boy climbed the top of Govardhana Hill. nija-pada-chihna govardhana-shila ani’ sanatane kahe punah sumadhura vani He brought back a Govardhana-shila with the mark of a footprint. He then spoke to Sanatana in a sweet voice. ‘ahe swami, laha ei krishna-pada-china aji haite karibe ihara pradakshina “Oh Swami, please take this footprint of Krishna. From today you can circumambulate this. saba parikrama siddha haibe ihate eta kahi’ shila ani’ dilena kutite By circumambulating it all perfection will be achieved.” Saying this, he brought the shila to Sanatana’s kutira. shila samarpiya krishna haila adarshane balake na dekhi’ vyagra haila sanatana After giving the shila to Sanatana, Krishna disappeared, and not being able to see that boy Sanatana became disturbed. sanatane vyakula dekhiya adrishyete nija parichaya dila vihula snehete Seeing that Sanatana was aggrieved, out of His compassion the Lord revealed Himself. sanatana nija-netrajala sikta haila kari’ kata kheda chitte dhairya-valambila Sanatana became drenched in his own tears feeling guilty that he could not recognize the Lord.

116


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

sanatana premadhina vrajendra-kumara ei pushpa-vane kare vividha vihara Thus, Sanatana was fully captivated by love for the son of Nanda Maharaja who performs various pastimes in this forest that is decorated with flowers. This Govardhana-shila bearing the footprint of Sri Krishna, the mark of Krishna’s flute and his stick for tending cows as well as the hoof print of the Surabhi Cow received by Sanatana Goswami and handed over to Jiva Goswami remains to this day at the Radha-Damodara Mandira. One who circumambulates the Radha-Damodara Mandira (the Govardhana-shila within) achieves all perfection, saba parikrama siddha haibe ihate!

117


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

Sri Murtis Worshipped at Radha-Damodara Mandira Sri Sri Radha-Damodara worshipped by Sri Jiva Goswami. Sri Sri Radha-Vrindavana-chandra worshipped by Sri Krishna Dasa Kaviraja Goswami Sri Sri Radha-Madhava worshipped by Sri Jayadeva Goswami. Sri Sri Radha-Chailachikana worshipped by Sri Bhugarbha Goswami. Sri Govardhana-shila worshipped by Sri Sanatana Goswami.

The Inheritance of Sri Jiva Having secured the land in Vrindavana, Jiva Goswami is known to have requested Raja Man Singh of Ajmer to construct the temple building and facilities for a library. However, no date for the laying of the cornerstone has been discovered. Another important document of this period is a proclamation signed by Emperor Akbar in 1590 acknowledging Jiva Goswami as the custodian of the Madana-mohana Mandira and the Govindaji Mandira, both bequeathed to Jiva after the passing of Sanatana Goswami in 1558 and Rupa Goswami in 1564. Similarly, Raghunatha Dasa Goswami bequeathed his land at Radha-kunda to Jiva in 1571. The last will of Raghunatha Dasa Goswami reads as follows: Dictating this document to Kaviraja on my deathbed, I, the humble blind Raghunatha Dasa, zealous for the service of Sri Radha-kunda, hereby place my whole property at the lotus feet of the Deity worshipped by Jiva (Sri Sri RadhaDamodara). From these bits of historical information one can see that Jiva Goswami received the legacy of the Sri Rupanuga sampradaya, the sampradaya of the followers of Sri Rupa Goswami who worship Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the combined from of Sri Sri Radha and Krishna.

118


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

Mahaprabhu Sri Chaitanya is non-different from Sri Sri Radha-Krishna and is the very life of those Vaishnavas who follow Sri Rupa Goswami.

119


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

mahaprabhu sri chaitanya, radha-krishna nahe anya rupanuga janera jivana Mahaprabhu Sri Chaitanya is non-different from Sri Sri Radha-Krishna and is the very life of those Vaishnavas who follow Sri Rupa Goswami.

Vishva Vaishnava Raja Sabha Following the disappearance of his gurus (Rupa and Sanatana), Jiva Goswami was intent to establish among the Vaishnavas an accurate understanding of Sri Chaitanya’s teachings. For this purpose he founded the Vishva Vaishnava Raja Sabha. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada has described this event as follows: At the end of each of Srila Jiva Goswami Prabhupada’s Sat-sandarbhas the name of the Sri Vishva Vaishnava Raja Sabha is inscribed. Jiva Goswami wrote that the Vishva Vaishnava Raja Sabha refers to the society that is composed of those Vaishnavas who are the kings (the foremost) of all the Vaishnavas present in this world. These foremost Vaishnavas are the followers of the feet of Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Who is the savior of Kaliyuga (the bestower of knowledge about spiritual relationships), the bestower of His own method of worship (the bestower of the means) and Who is the incarnation of krishna-prema, even though he is Sri Krishna Himself, the Embodiment of krishna-prema. The objects of respect for this Sri Vishva Vaishnava Raja Sabha are Srila Rupa Goswami and Srila Sanatana Goswami, who are the associates of Mahaprabhu. Their teachings are the bhagavata-dharma. These teachings constitute the Bhagavata-sandarbhas or the Sat-sandarbhas. Therefore, the members of the Sri Vishva Vaishnava Raja Sabha are those people whose hearts have been illuminated by the light of the Sat-sandarbhas. On the recent birthday of Sri Vishnupriya many pure devotees joined together at the Calcutta Sri Bhaktivinoda Asana and re-established the Sri

120


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

Vishva Vaishnava Raja Sabha. Even though this sabha (society) is eternally established, it has descended into the world three times. Eleven years after the disappearance of Sriman Mahaprabhu, when the world was beginning to darken, six wonderfully bright stars (Rupa, Sanatana, Jiva, Gopala Bhatta, Raghunatha Bhatta and Raghunatha Dasa) arose in Sri Vraja-mandala and were engaged in the service of Gaurachandra. Apart from these six brilliant stars, there were several other great souls who beautified Sri Gaurachandra’s Vishva Vaishnava Raja Sabha. They were headed by Srila Lokanatha Goswami, Srila Bhugarbha Goswami, and Srila Kashishvara Goswami. Sixty-four dear associates of Sri Gaurasundara increased the beauty of this Vishva Vaishnava Raja Sabha. The twelve friends of Srila Nityananda Prabhu’s Nama-Hatta was a main branch of this Sri Vishva Vaishnava Raja Sabha. “Sri Sri Bhagavata Krishna Chaitanyadeva is the savior-incarnation for the age of Kali. He is the Instructor of his own bhajana and of the knowledge of relationship (sambandha-jnana). He is the delineator of devotion which is the means (abhidheya) and He is the Embodiment of krishna-prema which

121


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

is the final goal (prayojana). Another name for the devotees of Sri Gaura is ‘Chaitanyadeva-charana-anuchara’. Sri Chaitanyadeva is Krishnachandra Himself – the King of all the Vaishnavas in the world (Vishva Vaishnava Raja). The gathering of his devotees is the Sri Vishva Vaishnava Raja Sabha, the foremost ministers amongst the members of the society are Sri Rupa Goswami and his honored Sri Sanatana Goswami. Those who consider themselves to be the followers of Sri Rupa are the members of this Sri Vishva Vaishnava Raja Sabha. The leaders amongst them are Sri Sri Prabhupada Srimad Raghunatha Dasa Goswami and Sri Sri Prabhupada Srimad Jiva Goswami. During the period of misfortune for the world’s inhabitants, after Sri Gauracandra displayed the play of His disappearance, Srimad Jiva Prabhu preached the Sri Bhagavata-dharma by the command of Sri Sri RupaSanatana. The people who were accepted as disciples by Sri Rupa-Sanatana, the leaders of the sabha, later became the directors of the sabha. Sri Jiva Prabhupada, upon becoming the director of the sabha, termed the teachings which Sri Rupa had propagated in the sabha as the ‘Bhagavata-sandarbhas’ or ‘Sat-sandarbhas’. The members of the Sri Vishva Vaishnava Raja Sabha know these Satsandarbhas to be the teachings of Sri Rupa-Sanatana and thus engage themselves in hari-bhajana. The pure and transcendental method of worship that has been given by Srimad Raghunatha Dasa Goswami (one of the leaders of the Sri Vishva Vaishnava Raja Sabha) by bearing the commands of Sri Rupa on his head, is the only thing adorable by the devotees of Sri Gaura. By taking shelter at the pure feet of Sri Rupa and Sri Raghunatha, Sripada Krishna Dasa Kaviraja Goswami Prabhu, the king of the family of rasika devotees (those devotees who are able to comprehend the inner significance), became one of the directors of the Sri Vishva Vaishnava Raja Sabha. Again, Sri Narottama Thakura Mahodaya, the crest jewel of transcendental devotees, decorated the crown of this Vaishnava Raja Sabha in the post of its director. Later, such kings of devotees as Sri Sripada Vishvanatha Chakravarti Thakura spread their moon-like rays upon the sabha. The darkness of night cannot

122


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

always predominate over the three worlds which are covered by ignorance, therefore we sometimes behold shining stars in the spiritual firmament which is bathed in the moon like rays of Sri Gauracandra. In 399 Gaura Era (1885 A.D.), a brilliant star of the universal Vaishnava firmament (Srimad Bhaktivinoda Thakura) re-illuminated the Sri Vishva Vaishnava Raja Sabha. During that period many people in the great city of Calcutta received light from this sabha. As a result of that light, the sight of the cooling rays of Sri Gauracandra reflected in loving eyes is nowadays visible in this world. Just as autumnal clouds suddenly spread in the sky and cover the moon’s rays, so materialistic, non-Vaishnavas in the dress of Vaishnavas cause hindrances to that transcendental light in society. Today, it is four years since the servant of the King of universal Vaishnavas and the leader of the followers of Sri Rupa departed from this world, and sometimes his light is becoming covered by mist; seeing this, the group of people sheltered at the feet of the followers of Sri Rupa have become firmly resolved to protect the light of discourses on Hari from the strong gale. The transcendental flower of krishna-prema that was budded forth by the acharyas headed by Sri Rupa, Raghunatha and Jiva was shown to the world as a blossom by Srimad Bhaktivinoda Thakura and after his disappearance it has begun to fully bloom. The followers of Sri Rupa have protected that beautiful and fragrant flower from the attack of depraved people and have thus given aid to the olfactory function of the bees swarming at Sri Gaura’s feet. In this connection we request everybody to read the Adi-lila, ninth chapter of the Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita composed by the king of rasika devotees about the divine loving activities of the Gardener Sri Chaitanya.” (Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada, 1919) To further our understanding that Jiva Goswami was the shelter for many great Vaishnavas who would later come to Vrindavana, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura comments in his Anubhashya to the Chaitanya-charitamrita as follows: After the disappearance of Rupa and Sanatana, Jiva was established as the topmost teacher of doctrine in the sampradaya. He engaged everyone in the

123


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

worship of Krishna through teaching the truths given by Mahaprabhu Himself. On occasion, he would sometimes do the Vraja-dhama parikrama with the other devotees and sometimes would go to visit Vitthaladeva in Mathura. Krishna Dasa Kaviraja Goswami wrote the Chaitanya-charitamrita while Jiva was still alive. Not long thereafter, when Srinivasa, Narottama and Dukhi Krishna Dasa came from Bengal, he taught them and gave them the titles Acharya, Thakura and Shyamananda. He then sent them back to Bengal with all the scriptures that had been written by the Goswamis, with instructions to preach the religion of the Holy Names and love of Krishna. He received the news of the loss of the scriptures and later of their retrieval. He gave the title Kaviraja to both Ramachandra Sena and his brother Govinda. During his lifetime, Jahnava-devi and other devotees came to Vrindavana. When Bengali devotees came to Vraja, he arranged for their food and lodgings during their stay. (Anubhashya 1.10.85) From its very inception the Sri Vishva Vaishnava Raja Sabha with its headquarters at the Radha-Damodara temple was an institution dedicated fully to distribute and preserve the teachings of Sri Chaitanya.

Writings of Sri Jiva

124


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

There are twenty-five scholarly books delineating the science of Krishna consciousness attributed to Jiva Goswami as follows: 1-Hari-namamrita-vyakarana is a work on Sanskrit grammar wherein each and every word, syllable and grammatical rule is explained in relation to Krishna and his pastimes. 2-Sutra-malika is a grammatical work dealing with the derivation of Sanskrit words. 3-Dhatu-sangraha is a work on the verb roots of Sanskrit words 4-Radha-Krishna Arcana Chandrika is a work on the process of Deity worship. 5-Rasamrita-shesa deals with Sanskrit composition. Jiva has based this work on the Sahitya Darpana of Vishvanatha Kaviraja, but has used many examples of his own as well as examples from other Goswamis. 6-Madhava-mahotsava describes the coronation ceremony of Radha when she is given the position of Queen of Vrindavana. 7-Sankalpa-kalpadruma explains the eightfold daily pastimes of Radha and Krishna (ashta-kaliya-lila) in the form of a prayer. 8-Gopala-virudavali is a short poem extolling the glories of Gopala (Krishna) in 38 verses. 9-Bhavartha-suchaka-champu 10-Gopala-tapani Upanishad with the Sukha-bodhini commentary. 11- Brahma-samhita with Dig-darshani commentary. 12- Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu with Durgama-sangamani commentary. 13- Ujjvala-nilamani with Lochana-rochani commentary. 14- Yogasara-stavaka with commentary. 15-Agni Puranastha gayatri-bhashya is a commentary of gayatri-mantra.

125


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

16-Padma Puranokta Krishna-pada-padma-chihna describes the insignia found on the feet of Krishna according to the text of the Padma Purana. 17-Sri Radhika-kara-pada-sthita-chihna describes the insignia found on the hands and feet of Radha. 18-Laghu Vaishnava Toshani is a commentary to the Srimad Bhagavatam. 19- Krama-sandarbha is a commentary on the 10th Canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam. 20-Gopala-champu is a poetic work divided into two parts. The first part is the Purvachampu, which has 33 chapters and describes Krishna’s life in Vrindavana. The second section, the Uttara-champu has 37 chapters and describes the pastimes of Krishna after he leaves Vrindavana and the separation the residents of Vrindavana feel in his absence. (21 thru 26 – Sat Sandarbhas) According to Jiva Goswami himself, Gopala Bhatta Goswami had already done the preliminary work on these books (Sat Sandarbhas) but could not complete them. Jiva took the work of Gopala Bhatta and expanded it into six books wherein he systematically presents the philosophy of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu with scriptural evidences. Jiva also wrote an extensive auto-commentary to the Sandarbhas called Sarva-samvadini. The Sat Sandarbhas are as follows: 21- Tattva-sandarbha is a treatise on the various types of evidences (pramanas) used in Vedic philosophy. Jiva’s conclusion is that shabda (divine sound in the form of the Vedic scriptures) is the highest, and of all the scriptures, the Bhagavata Purana is the highest. 22- Bhagavata-sandarbha makes the distinction between the impersonal aspect of Godhead (Brahman), the localized form of God within the heart of each living being (Paramatma) and the highest personal aspect of Godhead (Krishna or Bhagavan). He also describes the spiritual realm of Krishna, the modes of material nature, the mode of pure goodness (vishuddha-sattva), the importance of worshipping the deity of Krishna and the nature and qualities of the Deity.

126


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

23- Paramatma-sandarbha describes the Supersoul (Paramatma) and how the Supersoul resides in the hearts of all beings. The differences amongst incarnations is also discussed as well as the nature of the conditioned living entity, the illusory potency (Maya), the temporal world, the theory of transformation, the various avataras of Krishna and how they respond to the desires of the Vaishnava, and how God is characterized by six particular opulences. 24- Krishna-sandarbha gives a number of quotes from various scriptures to prove that Krishna is the supreme god. He also discusses the pastimes and qualities of Krishna as well as his avataras and functionary expansions. There is a description of Goloka, the planet of Krishna in relation to Vrindavana in the material sphere, the associates of Krishna and their expansions and there is also a description of the gopis and the topmost position of Radha amongst them. 25- Bhakti-sandarbha explains how devotion to Krishna is executed. It also discusses varnashrama-dharma (the socio-religious system established in scriptures), the superexcellent position of devotion to Krishna as compared to other conceptions such as yoga, and the worship of minor deities as being futile in comparison to the worship of Krishna’s devotees. The text also explains liberation of the soul, the position of Shiva as a devotee of Krishna, how unmotivated devotion to Krishna promotes a devotee to the highest spiritual position and numerous other points concerning the performance of Vaishnava devotion. 26- Priti-sandarbha is a treatise on divine love, the supreme object being Krishna. Love for God (prema) is considered by Jiva to be the highest form of liberation. Jiva goes on to make a comparative study of other types of liberation but finally concludes that prema-bhakti is topmost. There is also a discussion on how to attain prema, how to awaken it, and the symptoms of one who has attained it. Priti-sandarbha also discusses the distinctions between mundane lust and divine love, the various mellows found amongst the associates of Krishna, the super-excellence of madhurya-rasa (divine conjugal love), the overlapping of different rasas, and the glories of Radha.

127


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

Duty of a Disciple Many fantastical narratives have been passed down thru the centuries about Jiva Goswami and other famous devotees of Vrindavana, but these narratives although illuminating the greatness of the saint by the miracles they performed, often negate the dutiful position of a bona fide disciple. One such narration however that truly demonstrates the position of a disciple is as follows: Once upon a time a certain dig-vijayi scholar, eager to amass mundane prestige, came to Rupa and Sanatana to get their signature as an admission of defeat in debate. Jiva’s gurus conceded defeat without any argument and the arrogant scholar proclaimed them to be nothing but ignorant fools. He then asked Jiva to also sign such an admission of defeat. Jiva, however, decided to take on the puffed-up scholar in debate in order to silence his slanderous tongue. Jiva boldly debated the so-called scholar and soundly defeated him and sent him on his way. In this way, he preserved the integrity of his spiritual master’s reputation and demonstrated the ideal behavior of a disciple who is guru-devatatma, i.e., one who recognizes his spiritual master to be his worshipable deity and source of life. One who understands the true duty and relationship between the guru and disciple as shown by Jiva Goswami becomes eligible to purely chant the holy name of Krishna.

Jiva’s Last will & Testament Before leaving this world in 1608 (Shakabda 1530), Sri Jiva made a will, bequeathing his Deities, library and properties to the head pujari of Radha-Damodara, Sri Vilasa Dasa. After Jiva’s disappearance Sri Vilasa remained as the custodian for a short time before passing on the responsibility to Sri Krishna Dasa as was indicated in Jiva’s will. Since Krishna Dasa was a brahmachari and had no issue he eventually requested two of his nephews to come from Bengal to take charge of the temple and perform the worship of Sri Sri Radha-Damodara. For the interest of the devotees we have herein included a translation of Jiva Goswami’s last will and testament.

128


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

“Jayate Sri Sri Radha-Krishna, Who Yearn to Confer Happiness Upon One Another� On the second day of the dark half of the month of Margashirsa in the Samvat year 1663 (1607 CE) this is the Will and Testament of Jiva, a resident of Sri Sri Vrindavana and a follower of the lotus feet of Sri Rupa and Sri Sanatana. This entire undertaking is mine and is all for the sake of facilitating the service to Sri Krishna and Sri Radha who have manifested in Their wonderful Deity forms which I worship. And that service is conveyed in the first instance to Sri Vilasa Dasa, a sadhu who has totally dedicated his life to the Supreme Truth. Thus, all materials that have been gathered as a means of serving Them are to be bequeathed to belong to Sri Vilasa Dasa in direct succession to me. However, if after my physical death, he should desire to give up these rights either as a result of renunciation or due to disability and if the most virtuous brahmana Sri Krishna Dasa, son of Sri Bharatacharya, at that time still also continues in the service of Sri Krishna and Sri Radha Who have presently been revealed, then the said Sri Vilasa Dasa shall freely convey to him by Will the service and materials instrumental in the service together with Sri Krishna and Sri Radha Who are the objects of that service, the premises including books, all my possessions. No other person has any right in this matter. O surely no other could have any rights, given that I have conveyed my own property. Whosever might dispute it would indeed contravene the service of Sri Krishna and Sri Radha and would be liable for punishment by the Vaishnava community and temporal rulers.

129


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

If however, the brahmana Sri Krishna Dasa’s circumstances should alter, Sri Vilasa Dasa shall convey the property of his own accord to any other fit person. And if Sri Vilasa Dasa’s circumstances should alter during my lifetime, I shall after due consideration dispose of the property myself. Furthermore, this is a document in my own hand, there are 1000 witnesses. For, as many as will see the said handwriting, each one may bear witness. If this matter has not now been made clear to all persons, then indeed there is a danger that some person in authority will infringe it selfishly. But if there should be concern about my death then I shall communicate this matter clearly to all persons. That this may be authoritative. And further it is requested that all Whosoever are my most chosen colleagues will collaborate therein. Kalyanam astu, kalyanam astu (may there be auspiciousness, may there be auspiciousness).

Travelling to Jaipur In 1670, when the Moghul Emperor Aurangzeb invaded Sri Vrindavana with his armies, he planned to destroy many temples and deface the Deities. At this instant Sri Sri Radha-Damodara manifest their pastime of traveling to the city of Jaipur in Rajasthan at the auspicious invitation of the Rajput kings. Other Deities of Vrindavana such as Radha- Govinda, Radha-Gopinatha and Radha-Madana-mohana also manifest their pastimes of traveling to Rajasthan where they took up permanent residence. However, in 1739 Sri Sri Radha-Damodara manifested their lila of returning to Vrindavana and again taking up residence in their original temple, the Radha-Damodara Mandira.

Temple samadhis & Bhajana-Kutiras There are four main samadhis in the Radha-Damodara Mandira and numerous puspa-samadhis of Vaishnavas of note. The four main samadhis are those of Sri Rupa Goswami, Sri Jiva Goswami, Sri Krishna Dasa Kaviraja Goswami and Sri Bhugarbha Goswami. Other samadhis include those of Sri Krishna Dasa and the forefathers of

130


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

Nirmal Candra Goswami. Puspa-samadhis include those of Maharaja Vira Hamvira and Queen Sulakshana, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, Sri Sakhi-charana Bhakti-vijaya, Sri Bhakti Pramoda Puri Maharaja, Sri Bhakti Kusuma Shramana Maharaja, Sri Bhakti Vedanta Muni Maharaja, Sri Bhakti Kamala Madhusudana Maharaja and Sri Bhakti Shoudha Ashrama Maharaja. There are also numerous other puspa-samadhis of nirupadhi-vaishnavas at RadhaDamodara that are not mentioned here. The two principle bhajana-kutiras that are being maintained by the sevaite-acharyas of the Radha-Damodara Mandira are those of Sri Rupa Goswami and Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

Sevaite-acharya Parampara From the period when Jiva Goswami entered the eternal realm of Goloka Vrindavana in 1608 and Krishna Dasa became heir to the service of Sri Sri Radha-Damodara and subsequently passed that service on to his nephews, the service at the temple has continued for the past four hundred years (1608 to 2013). The parampara of thirteen generations of the sevaite-acharyas of Sri Sri Radha-Damodara since the time of Jiva Goswami is listed as follows: • Sri Jiva Goswami • Sri Krishna Das Goswami • Sri Nanda-kumara Goswami • Sri Vraja Kumara Goswami • Sri Vrindavana Deva Goswami • Sri Gopi-ramana Goswami • Sri Vraja-lal Goswami

131


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

• Sri Naval Lal Goswami • Sri Govinda Lal Goswami • Sri Keshavananda Goswami • Sri Vraja-mohana Deva Goswami • Sri Govinda Vallabhi Devya Goswami • Sri Gaurachanda Goswami • Sri Nirmal Chandra Goswami (present acharya)

Sri Nirmal Chandra Goswami (present acharya)

Please Visit www. radhadamodarmandir.com

132


Temples of

Manikarnika Kshetra Gunja


Karnataka

a Laskhmi Narasimha Temple

- Rasikananda

The Indian state of Karnataka is home to many famous temples, built during the Hoysala period, the Vijayanagara period, the Chalukya period etc. However, there are also other ancient deities and temples, some of which date back even to Puranic times. In this new section of Gaudiya Touchstone, we will look at some of these lesser known temples and discover the history behind them.


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

If one were to follow the path of the sacred river Kaveri, from her origin at Talakaveri, before she reaches the state of Tamil Nadu, one would find many ghats and temples along her banks. One such holy place is the temple of Sri Manikarnika Gunja LakshmiNarasimha which is located towards the south of Baburayanna Koppal town, near the confluence of the Kaveri and the Lokapavani rivers. Manikarnika-kshetra It is said that at the yajna of Prajapati Daksha, Sati sacrificed herself due to the insults hurled by her father at her husband, Shiva. When Shiva heard that his wife had left her body, he became so enraged that he performed the tandava-nritya (dance of annihilation). While dancing, his necklace of rudraksha beads broke and some of the

135


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

beads fell on the earth. Those places where the beads fell are known as ‘manikarnikakshetras’. The Manikarnika-kshetras are Srirangapatna, Nanjanagud and T.Narasipura (situated in South India), as well as Varanasi, Haridwar and Badarinath (situated in North India).

What is Gunja? Gunja is a round, hard red-black berry which is indigenous to India, as well as to South America, Australasia and other areas throughout the Pacific. The bead is about 6-7mm long. It’s Latin name is Abrus precatorius, and in English it is known by various names such as ‘Crab’s eye,’ ‘Rosary pea,’ ‘John Crow Bead’ and ‘Indian licorice’. The plant is considered to be in the legume family with long pinnate-leafleted leaves. According to Vaishnava shastra, Sri Krishna often wears decorations made from gunja berries, and when Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu gave Srila Raghunatha Dasa Goswami His Govardhana-shila, he also presented him a small garland made from gunja berries that represented Srimati Radharani. Thus, Gaudiya Vaishnavas always decorate their Govardhana-shilas with gunja necklaces. However, the berries contain a toxin known as abrin which is extremely poisonous. There are cases of people pricking themselves with needles while piercing gunja berries and dying. Poisoning from abrin is fatal as there is no known antidote. Even inhaling the dust of gunja berries can be terminal. Therefore, one should never eat ‘maha-prasada’ gunja beads.

It is also said that when Goddess Parvati and Shiva were searching for a place on earth to descend, Maha-Vishnu, with His Sudarshanachakra, made two divisions in the Ganga and those tributaries were known as the Varuna and the Asi – that place then became known as Varanasi. On the banks of those two rivers Lord Vishnu made a deep well. Astonished by this, Shiva looked down at the well with admiration and while bending down to take a closer look inside, the jewelled earring that he wore fell into the well. This place then became known as Manikarnika Ghat (manikarnika – ‘jewelled earring’) and is one of the most famous ghats in Varanasi. However, even though Manikarnika Ghat in Varanasi has such importance, it is said that one attains even more punya (pious merit) at Manikarnika-kshetra, which is situated on the banks of the Kaveri, by the measure of one gunja bead. Thus, the Deity of Narasimha found at this temple holds a gunja bead in His right hand to signify the sanctity of this place.

136


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

There is also a temple to Lord Shiva here where a shiva-lingam is worshipped. The lingam is known as ‘Kashi Vishvanath’ due to the connection of this place with Kashi (Varanasi). The Origin of the Deity Long ago, all the great sages gathered together in order to perform a great fire sacrifice. As they prepared themselves to perform this ceremony, Narada appeared and asked them, “To whom is this sacrifice being offered to?” The sages became confused and requested Narada to provide an answer. Narada then requested that Bhrigu Muni should test the gunavataras – Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu and then worship one of them. Bhrigu Muni started his journey and first visited Satyaloka, the abode of Brahma. Brahma was busy chanting the Vedas with his wife Sarasvati and failed to notice Bhrigu Muni. Offended by the negligence of Brahma, Bhrigu cursed Brahma that he would never be worshiped by anyone from then on. Bhrigu then visited Kailasa, the abode of Shiva. There he found Shiva and Parvati dancing and thus Shiva failed to notice the presence of Bhrigu Muni. Feeling offended again, Bhrigu cursed Shiva that he would never be worshiped in the form of a deity, but only as a stone linga.

137


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

Bhrigu Muni then proceeded to Vaikuntha, the abode the Lord Vishnu. Vishnu was immersed in yoga-nidra (divine sleep). Angered that Vishnu was simply ‘sleeping’ and not tending to His guest, Bhrigu Muni kicked Vishnu on the chest. Maha-Vishnu woke up and asked the sage for forgiveness for neglecting him. Bhrigu Muni then understood the supreme position of Vishnu and begged His forgiveness. Vishnu then told Bhrigu Muni that he had become too proud and instructed him to go to Manikarnika-kshetra, situated at the banks of Kaveri, to perform penance. Bhrigu Muni accepted this instruction. After thousands of years, Lord Vishnu was pleased with Bhrigu’s austerities and manifested Himself to Bhrigu Muni at Manikarnika-kshetra along with Lakshmi-devi as the Deity of Sri Sri Lakshmi-Narasimha.

Sri Ramanujacarya

It is believed that about 900 years ago, when Sri Ramanuja came to reside at Melkote, he came to Manikarnikakshetra and at his behest, the present temple was built. Many years ago, Manikarnika-kshetra was very famous and many festivals and ceremonies took place here. However, after a great flood,

138


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

most of the temple was destroyed. Later the temple was renovated by the Manikarnika Sri Lakshmi-Narasimha Seva Trust who organise the Souramana Narasimha Jayanti festival every year.

If you wish to visit this temple, below is the map and contact details:

Names of the Pujaris: • Sri Ranganatha Srivatsa • Sri Prashanth Srivatsa Phone: 9945996347 9972662808 Vedic astrology is also provided in this temple.

139


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

The two brothers Narasimha III and Ramanatha inherited kingdoms from their father Somesvara who divided his large kingdom between the two. Unfortunately the two rulers hardly saw eye to eye and fought each other bitterly for a long period of time. Narasimha III ruled for 37 years in the thirteenth century (1254-1291) over Darasamundra. Ramanatha ruled for 41 years (1254-1295) over Kannanur. Their feud only strengthened the Yadavas who moved further into the Hosalya land. The Hosalyas put up a fight against them in the end, but the retreat of the Yadavas laid waste to the Hoysala country. However the brothers clashed repeatedly and Ramanath even joined the Gajapatis of Orissa at Seileur to fight against Narasimha. Of about 40 Sri Vaishnavas centres which received patronage under Narasimha III, Somnathpur possesses one of the most beautiful temples of the Hoysala period: the temple of Keshava was built in 1268 by Somnath, the minister of Narasimha III. The difference between this compound and the Belur complex and the Halebid temple is that the Keshava temple conserves its superstructures and seem to be much more harmonious.

The Keshava temple: A: Gopura entrance gate B: Enclosure with gantry and cells C: Courtyard D: The Pradarkshina platform E: The Mukhamandapa gantry G: The Antarala hall H: The Garbhagriha cell

143


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

The star shape base on top of this temple allows more possibilities for the sculptures to be inserted between each panel. Placed under arches or under flagstones, the statues are remarkable decorative works of great beauty. This statue, which beautifies the temple of Somnathpura, represents Lord Vishnu with his conch and Sudarshana Chakra.

144


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

The Somnathpura temple conserves its cover roof and is one of the most beautiful Hoysala temples. From the top of the temple enclosure, you can admire the panoramic view of the star shape of the temple compound, as well as the vertical lines of the constructions. They seem to be turning around themselves like a spirally movement. The three cells which constitute the complex dedicated to lord Visnu radiate from the rectangular mandapa following a blueprint in the form of a Latin cross as seen above.

145


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

146


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

Preceded by a gantry, the mandapa is itself divided into two rooms, one with twelve columns, and the other with four columns. The second room opens on new cells preceded by a vestibule. The sanctuaries are built on an unusual diagram: The central sanctuary shelters the deity of Keshava, an expansion of Lord Vishnu, while the lateral sanctuaries are reserved to Venu-Gopal, representing Krishna playing the flute and to Janardana (He to whom all devotees pray for worldly success and liberation), another aspect of Vishnu. The base of the temple is decorated with superimposed friezes representing elephants, horses, vegetal volutes, and scenes from the Vedic literatures, and surmounted by niches containing different Gods and a series of miniature edifices. A large eave bordered with festoons forms the base of the superstructure, which prolongs the star shape movement of the lower walls. The detailed carvings of the roof’s cover are staged on four levels and end in a double lotus with curved petals. The mere profusion of statues, the meticulous details, as well as the continuous play of projections and depressions contributes to the wealth of this decor.

147


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

The Hoysala architecture style is unique and is described as Karnataka Dravida as distinguished from the traditional Dravida, and is considered an independent architectural tradition. Dravidian architecture is a style of architecture that emerged thousands of years ago in the Indian continent. They consist primarily of pyramid shaped temples, dependent on intricate carved stone in order to create a step design consisting of numerous statues of deities, warriors, kings, and dancers. Surveys in modern times have indicated that 1000–1500 structures were built by the Hoysalas, of which about a hundred temples have survived to date. The Hoysala art is a translation of the artist’s ebullient expression , enhanced by the ingenuity of the Hoysala Chalukyan artists. It is said that even the great Cholas could not get their artists to produce works with the same effervescence. Sources: The Hoysala temples by S. Settar ”L’inde ancienne” published by Gründ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoysala_architecture

148


A

ccording to Christian leaders Church, and was killed by the his martyrdom. Historians however say India was founded by a Syrian (or Arm persecution in Persia and were given as

This story was too commonplace to att and created the dramatic story of the A became current in the 16th century whe to follow the Catholic faith. The Portug by the San Thome Cathedral on the be

The creation of this myth and the his his famous book The Myth of St. Thom Christianity depends heavily on the app liked to pose as victims to generate sym to supply the Portuguese with martyrs Apostle Thomas killed by the Hindus.

In his foreword to Ishwar Sharan’s boo of the apostle Thomas going to India ‘secularists’ who attack the Hindus for The important point is that Thomas ca

Targeting Brahmins to undermine Hin missionaries were very disgruntled that the faith’), so they had to invent one. M of Hindu fanaticism, is in fact a monum of two important Hindu temples (Jain

149


in India, the Apostle Thomas came to India in 52 A.D., founded the Syrian Christian fanatical Brahmins in 72 A.D. His followers built the St. Thomas Church near the site of y this apostle, even if he existed, never came to India. The Christian community in South menian) merchant Thomas Cananeus in 345 A.D. He led four hundred refugees who fled sylum by the Hindu authorities.

tract converts. So Christian leaders identified the merchant Thomas with Apostle Thomas Apostle’s persecution and death at the hands of the ‘wicked’ Brahmins of South India. This en the Portuguese gained control of the west coast of India and forced the Syrian Christians guese also destroyed the Kapaleeswara Temple that originally stood on the site now occupied each.

story is told in detail by the Canadian scholar Ishwar Sharan (not his original name) in mas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple. The purpose of the myth was to create a local martyr. peal of martyrs who are projected as victims like Jesus Christ. Then as now, Church leaders mpathy and propaganda. But no matter how much they tried, the Hindus of India refused s. So they were forced to create their own. So they turned the merchant Thomas into the

ok the Belgian scholar Koenraad Elst wrote: “In Catholic universities in Europe, the myth is no longer taught as history, but in India it is still considered useful. Even many vocal relying on myth in the Ayodhya affair, off-hand profess their belief in the Thomas myth. an be upheld as a martyr and the Brahmins decried as fanatics.”

nduism was a favorite tactic among missionaries. Elst gives the true picture: “In reality, the the damned Hindus refused to give them martyrs (whose blood is welcomed as ‘the seed of Moreover, the church which they claim commemorates St. Thomas’ martyrdom at the hands ment of Hindu martyrdom at the hands of Christian fanaticism. It is a forcible replacement and Shaiva) whose existence was insupportable to the Christian missionaries.”

150


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

Another motivation for the myth was to erase the unsavory record Goa Inquisition inspired by St Xavier. But serious scholars includin

Who was this Apostle Thomas and why was his name invoked? Th The Acts of Thomas and the Gospel of Thomas. According to them Th the Vatican because of a doctrinal problem: Jesus as the Only Son o twin brother.)

Christians in South India who identify themselves as St. Thomas preached from the Bible. This has no historical basis as we shall see. as will become apparent.

As just observed the Portuguese missionaries who came to India i Myth of St. Thomas claiming that he was martyred in India. They is supposed to have mentioned it but there is no authentic manuscr than a thousand years later.

151


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

of the Catholic Church’s close association with the Portuguese pirates and even worse, the ng Christians have rejected this myth as we shall soon see.

The main sources relating to Apostle Thomas are two Gnostic (non-Biblical) texts known as Thomas was the twin brother of Jesus. For this reason the Thomas myth is not accepted by of God cannot possibly have a twin brother. (Greek for Thomas is Didymus, which means

s Christians claim that their ancestors were blessed by Apostle Thomas in 52 A.D. who In fact, there is no evidence that Thomas even existed. His ‘history’ is full of contradictions

in the 16th century found that they could not do without a local martyr and created the y gave no explanation as to how they discovered it more than 1500 years later. Marco Polo ript that can be attributed to him. Then there is the question of how he discovered it more There is even a Mount of St. Thomas in Mylapore in Chennai with a tomb that is supposed to contain his martyred remains. But the problem is there are several such memorials spread across Persia, Acre (Turkey) and a few other places dating to different times, all laying claim to be the place where Apostle Thomas was martyred and buried! After examining all the evidence, the late Father Heras, former Director of the Historical Research Institute, St. Xavier’s College, Bombay, said in 1953 that he was convinced that the tomb of St. Thomas was not in Mylapore. He had earlier said, quite emphatically in The Aravidu Dynasty of Vijayanagar, that the Portuguese account of their discovery of some relics was “a most barefaced imposture (with) all elements of a forgery.” Heras was himself a Jesuit father but also an eminent historian. This is not the end of the story, for while denying the myth because it challenges Jesus as the ‘Only Son of God’ the Vatican wants to have it both ways. On September 27, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI gave a speech at St. Peter’s in Rome in which he recalled an ancient tradition claiming that Thomas first evangelized Syria and Persia, then went on to Western India, from where Christianity also reached Southern India. Syrian Christians derive status within the caste system from the tradition that they are converted Namboothiris (Brahmins), who were allegedly evangelized by St. Thomas after he allegedly landed in Kerala in AD 52.

152


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

There are serious problems with this theory: the Namboothiris star at the time the alleged St. Thomas allegedly came to Kerala. So w Testament, dating to the 4th century, to a people, the Nambootha Peter’s, reflected the geography of the Acts of Thomas, i.e. Syria, Par Kerala in the southernmost tip of India.

This is not the end to the contradictions. If Thomas landed in Ke its four gospels which came into existence only in the fourth centu In addition, the famous St Thomas Cross supposedly brought by Namboothiri Brahmins. So it is quite possible that the highly orna Thomas or even Christians. The Church borrowed its cross from t As if this were not confusing enough, Father Francis Clooney, a t Brazil, no matter that Brazil as we understand today was unknow seventeenth century, thought that since God would not have ove Thomas was known for his mission to the “most abject people in preached throughout the Americas:

“He began in Brazil – either reaching it by natural means on Rom Africa, or else, as may be thought closer to the truth, being transpo So here is the substance of the St Thomas story. First, if he existed God (born to a virgin). Next, he could not have preached Christi the 4th century, after the Council of Nicea called by Roman Empe Thomas in 345 AD escaping persecution in Persia. This was prob settled in Kerala only in the 6th to 7th century AD, so could not hav Finally, the myth was created by Portuguese missionaries in the 1 Jain temple, building the church known as San Thome in 1504. patronage in 1893. It was also the Portuguese who converted the S So, all these contradictions have to be reconciled before the myth

153


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

rted settling in Kerala only from the sixth century onwards, which means they did not exist we have a possibly non-existent apostle preaching in the first century from a text, the New aries who settled in the sixth century or later. In reality the Pope’s original statement at St. rthia (Persia/Iran) and Gandhara (Afghanistan/northwest Pakistan)— all far removed from

erala in 52 AD, he could not have taught from the Christian Bible (New Testament) with ury. In fact Christianity did not exist at the time because there was no Christian scripture! him made its appearance in Kerala only in the sixth century, about the same time as the ate St Thomas Cross was borrowed from the Namboothiris, having nothing to do with St the Egyptians and the oldest so-called St Thomas Cross is a pagan Persian symbol. theologian with the Harvard Divinity School has stated that St Thomas had preached in wn in his time. According to Clooney, one Ruiz de Montoya, writing in Peru in the miderlooked the Americas for fifteen hundred years, and since among the twelve apostles St. n the world, blacks and Indians,” it was only reasonable to conclude that St. Thomas had

man ships, which some maintain were in communication with America from the coast of orted there by God miraculously. He passed to Paraguay and from there to the Peruvians.” d he was a twin brother of Jesus which is unacceptable because Jesus was the Only Son of ianity in 52 AD because Christianity and the New Testament came into existence only in eror Constantine in 325 AD. The first Christians came to India with the Syrian merchant bably because Roman and Persian empires were great rivals. The Namboothari Brahmins ve been converted by Apostle Thomas in 52 AD using the Bible from three centuries later. 16th century with the help of pirates. They also destroyed the Kapaleeswara Temple and a It acquired its present status and recognition as a cathedral (grand church) under British Syrian Christians to the Catholic faith. of St Thomas can be taken seriously.

154


155


156


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

Many of us fear death. We believe in death because we have been told we will die. We associate ourselves with the body, and we know that bodies die. But a new scientific theory suggests that death is not the terminal event we think. One well-known aspect of quantum physics is that certain observations cannot be predicted absolutely. Instead, there is a range of possible observations each with a different probability. One mainstream explanation, the “many-worlds” interpretation, states that each of these possible observations corresponds to a different universe (the ‘multiverse’). A new scientific theory – called biocentrism – refines these ideas. There are an infinite number of universes, and everything that could possibly happen occurs in some universe. Death does not exist in any real sense in these scenarios. All possible universes exist simultaneously, regardless of what happens in any of them. Although individual bodies are destined to self-destruct, the alive feeling – the ‘Who am I?’- is just a 20-watt fountain of energy operating in the brain. But this energy doesn’t go away at death. One of the surest axioms of science is that energy never dies; it can neither be created nor destroyed. But does this energy transcend from one world to the other? Consider an experiment that was recently published in the journal Science showing that scientists could retroactively change something that had happened in the past. Particles had to decide how to behave when they hit a beam splitter. Later on, the experimenter could turn a second switch on or off. It turns out that what the observer decided at that point, determined what the particle did in the past. Regardless of the choice you, the observer, make, it is you who will experience the outcomes that will result. The linkages between these various histories and universes transcend our ordinary classical ideas of space and time. Think of the 20-watts of energy as simply holo-projecting either this or that result onto a screen. Whether you turn the second beam splitter on or off, it’s still the same battery or agent responsible for the projection. According to Biocentrism, space and time are not the hard objects we think. Wave your hand through the air – if you take everything away, what’s left? Nothing. The same thing applies for time. You can’t see anything through the bone that surrounds your brain. Everything you see and experience right now is a whirl of information occurring in your mind. Space and time are simply the tools for putting everything together. Death does not exist in a timeless, spaceless world. In the end, even Einstein admitted, “Now Besso” (an old friend) “has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us…know that the distinction between past, present,

157


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.” Immortality doesn’t mean a perpetual existence in time without end, but rather resides outside of time altogether. This was clear with the death of my sister Christine. After viewing her body at the hospital, I went out to speak with family members. Christine’s husband – Ed – started to sob uncontrollably. For a few moments I felt like I was transcending the provincialism of time. I thought about the 20-watts of energy, and about experiments that show a single particle can pass through two holes at the same time. I could not dismiss the conclusion: Christine was both alive and dead, outside of time. Christine had had a hard life. She had finally found a man that she loved very much. My younger sister couldn’t make it to her wedding because she had a card game that had been scheduled for several weeks. My mother also couldn’t make the wedding due to an important engagement she had at the Elks Club. The wedding was one of the most important days in Christine’s life. Since no one else from our side of the family showed, Christine asked me to walk her down the aisle to give her away. Soon after the wedding, Christine and Ed were driving to the dream house they had just bought when their car hit a patch of black ice. She was thrown from the car and landed in a banking of snow. “Ed,” she said “I can’t feel my leg.” She never knew that her liver had been ripped in half and blood was rushing into her peritoneum. After the death of his son, Emerson wrote “Our life is not so much threatened as our perception. I grieve that grief can teach me nothing, nor carry me one step into real nature.” Whether it’s flipping the switch for the Science experiment, or turning the driving wheel ever so slightly this way or that way on black-ice, it’s the 20-watts of energy that will experience the result. In some cases the car will swerve off the road, but in other cases the car will continue on its way to my sister’s dream house. Christine had recently lost 100 pounds, and Ed had bought her a surprise pair of diamond earrings. It’s going to be hard to wait, but I know Christine is going to look fabulous in them the next time I see her.

158


of

159


The Story Of The Old Monkey

Art work by Dominique Amendola 160


Words of Wisdom

There once was a city where a king named Indra used to reside. The king owned a group of monkeys that provided entertainment for his sons, and the monkeys were well fed with large amounts of various foodstuffs everyday. The leader amongst all the monkeys was learned in the niti-shastras (codes of conduct) of Shukracharya, Brihaspati and Chanakya, and he used to teach the other monkeys from these books. There was also a flock of sheep in the palace which the young princes used to ride. Amongst the sheep, there was one who was very greedy who would always fearlessly enter the kitchen, and whenever he would see anything, he would immediately devour it. Whatever the cooks in the kitchen could lay their hands on, they would beat the sheep with it. Observing this behaviour, the leader of the monkeys thought, “Oh, this fight between the sheep and the cooks will eventually be the cause of destruction for us monkeys. This sheep is extremely greedy, and the cooks will beat the sheep with whatever is close at hand, then in no time at all, the fire will contact the abundantly wooly body of the sheep and it will start burning. In such a situation, when the sheep is close to the stables, he will run inside, the hay will catch on fire, the entire stable will burn down and then the horses will be burned. In the shastra dealing with animal husbandry, Shalihotra has said, ‘Burns on horse flesh can be cured by using the skin of monkeys.’ For the sake of the horses, the king will certainly have the monkeys killed.” Apprehending such a future, the old leader of the monkeys called all the other monkeys together and told them, “In this place where the sheep and the cooks are always fighting, we monkeys will certainly be killed. Therefore let us go to the forest before we are all destroyed.” However, the proud and arrogant monkeys had no faith in the words of the old monkey. They ridiculed the old monkey, saying, “You must have gone senile due to your old age, that’s why you are talking like this! We are not going to give up the many nectarean delicacies that are fed to us by the very hands of the princes themselves, in order to live in the forest and chew on bitter, harsh, acrid hard fruits.” Upon hearing the proud monkeys speak like this, the old monkey told them with his eyes brimming with tears, “O fools, you don’t know what will be the result of such happiness. Don’t you know that the result of the happiness you derive from relishing the taste of these eatables will ultimately become like poison to you? Anyhow, I don’t want to witness the destruction of our family and loved ones. I will leave for the forest immediately.”

161


Gaudiya Touchstone

After the old monkey had gone to the forest, one day that greedy sheep entered the kitchen again. Then, not seeing any other object, the cook grabbed a piece of half burning wood and proceeded to beat the sheep with it. Immediately the sheep screamed, ran straight into the nearby stable and as it rolled on the hay lying on the ground, the entire stable caught fire. Some of the horses tore away their binding ropes and, making a great noise, they started running. This led to an alarming situation for all others. Seeing all this, the king immediately called for the veterinary doctors and asked them how to treat the horses. They looked at the scriptures and said, “Maharaja! In this case, Maharshi Shalihotra has said – kapinam medasa dosho vahrdaha-samudbhava ashvanam nashamabhyeti tamah suryodaye yatha “Just as the rays of the sun remove all darkness, similarly burns on a horse are removed by applying the fat of monkeys.” The king ordered those doctors, “Treat these horses quickly so that they don’t become further affected due to their burns”. Upon hearing the advice of the doctors, the king immediately ordered the death of the monkeys. With various weapons, clubs and rocks, those monkeys were killed. When he learned that his sons, grandsons and brothers had been killed, the leader of the monkeys became very depressed. PURPORT Through this story about the old monkey, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, taught that those that follow the essential instructions of a genuine spiritual master and give up mundane association and material desires and completely engage themselves in hari-bhajana, will attain auspiciousness. And those that think, “I am much more intelligent. What more does this senile old teacher (Sri Gurudeva) understand in comparison to me?” and do not reject the desire to associate with wicked people, will certainly meet with disaster in the future. It will be too painful to see the annihilation of one’s near and dear ones, hence Sri Gurudeva leaves that place and goes to another place, thus manifesting the pastime of disappearance. Therefore it is supremely auspicious to follow Gurudeva’s advise and perform hari-bhajana, rejecting any bad association, when there is still enough time at our disposal. (Translated from Upakhyane Upadesha)

162


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

Veggie

Burger Here’s a great recipe for veggie burgers by Lakshman, our senior chef at Centro Bharati, Guanajuato, Mexico. 163


Culinary Magic VEGGIE BURGER RECIPE

EXTRA TOPPINGS

INGREDIENTS:

lettuce avocado bell pepper tomato ketchup mustard rajas (jalepeño peppers)

3 zucchinis (medium) 1 potato 2 cups of textured soy 1/2 cauliflower (medium) 3 carrots (medium) 1/2 beet  1 piece of ginger 3/4 cups of cilantro 3/4 cups of parsley 1/2 cup mint 1 cup of ground oats 1 cup of sesame seeds 1 1/2 cups of chickpea flour 2 1/2 cups of white flour 2 1/2 Tbs of salt

G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

INSTRUCTIONS • Grate/shred all the vegetables. • Steam the soy for 10 min. • Drain the hot water from the soy and rinse with filtered room temperature water.  • Mix ALL ingredients well by hand. • Form the patties by hand to the appropriate size for the bread.

MASALA (dry ingredients)

• Deep fry the patties OR oven bake them at a temp of 250º C.

2 Tbs of cilantro seeds 2 Tbs of black pepper 1/2 tsp of fenugreek 1 Tbs of laurel 1/2 Tbs of cloves

164



Gaudiya Touchstone | Issue 6