Sakhyam’s Razor Revisited

vrinda2by Vrindaranya dasi

In this article I will address the contentions of Dhanurdhara Maharaja that I missed the main point of his article, that I put forth a straw-man argument, and that I failed to apply Ockham’s Razor to my own arguments. For those who do not wish to read this whole article, I would humbly suggest scrolling to the end and reading the section entitled, “Applying Ockham’s Razor to the Evidence.” This section synthesizes much of the evidence so far about Srila Prabhupada’s spiritual sentiment.

Let me begin by expressing my regret that Dhanurdhara Maharaja thought that I did not see merit in anything he wrote. Although I did say that his review exemplified all-too-rare brahminical discussion and prayed to live up to the standards he set and ended my article by appreciating Maharaja’s courteous and thoughtful review, it is true that the body of my article consisted of refutations of arguments he made in his review of Babhru’s booklet.

In Maharaja’s response, he mentions the spirit of vada in which he responded to Babhru’s article, acknowledging the strengths and weaknesses of Babhru’s arguments. This is certainly true and laudable.

I would point out that I was also trying to write in the spirit of vada, yet my task was categorically different. I wasn’t writing a book review, which by definition examines the strengths and weaknesses of an author’s argument. I was asked to address Maharaja’s objections, so naturally it was difficult if not impossible to do this without being somewhat controversial. Nonetheless, as I tried to establish by quoting Krsnadasa Kaviraja’s verse about not avoiding controversial conclusions because discussing them strengthens the mind and helps attach it to Krishna, I attempted to navigate this inherent controversy in a spirit of vada, searching for the truth.

I’m also sorry that Maharaja feels I ignored his point about having sensitivity for the various Vaisnavas who have been inspired by Srila Prabhupada. However, I addressed this point in the section, “The Opinion of an Advanced Vaisnava.” Before responding to the charge that I made a straw-man argument and misapplied Ockham’s razor, I would like to respond to the idea that I missed the main point of Maharaja’s paper, namely when and where it is proper for dialogues like this to take place.

Maharaja may want to consider that many might argue that the main point of his paper was to address what he saw as weaknesses in Babhru’s argument, as over 80% of the arguments he made address this, not when or where the topic should be discussed. So the reason that I didn’t spend more time on this issue is that I didn’t take it as the main point, not only because of the limited amount of time he spent discussing it, but because the very fact that Maharaja wrote a long paper discussing the issue suggested that despite reservations, he was able to resolve them to his own satisfaction. After all, it certainly wouldn’t be fair to give lengthy public arguments and then expect that others shouldn’t discuss them because these topics shouldn’t be discussed publicly.

Furthermore, I think the verse of Krsnadasa Kaviraja, as well as the context of the verse, is strong evidence in this matter. Rupa Goswami’s putting a verse about Mahaprabhu’s bhava on a palm leaf and posting it on his hut for anyone to see (because no one else but Rupa Goswami and Svarupa Damodara could understand Mahaprabhu’s bhava and Rupa Goswami wanted them to) is another example. These two examples are in relation to Mahaprabhu, and there are examples of recent acaryas in Babhru’s booklet. The examples I give are instrumental in making the bhava of Mahaprabhu known and discussed the world over, the Internet included. Thus Maharaja’s question about the appropriateness of the Caitanya-caritamrta verse on the grounds that Krsnadasa Kaviraja wasn’t thinking of the Internet does not seem well-founded. Did Krsnadasa Kaviraja want this information widely disseminated? Yes, I’m sure he wanted it to flood the entire world.

Straw-man Arguments?

Maharaja says that I made the following straw-man argument: “Vrndaranya argues that by using Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s quote I am actually supporting Srila Prabhupada in sakhya-rasa. But her reasoning misses my point. I was making the point that Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s statement supports the possibility that one can see the issue in other ways. Directly, clearly, and irrefutably the quote does that.”

So the context is this: Babhru quoted different statements of Srila Prabhupada, for example, “One must realize his relationship for himself. One cannot just jump ahead. When one is ripe and ready, it will be revealed from within…I am a cowherd boy” and “My Guru Maharaja’s rasa is that of gopi, manjari, but I am in relationship with Krsna as cowherd boy.” Babhru then said, “It is virtually impossible to construe Prabhupada’s responses and statements above in any other way than as an affirmation of his affinity for sakhya-rasa.”

Dhanurdhara Maharaja gave this as an example of “excessive and assailable claims” in Babhru’s booklet. He then said, “Even Srila Sridhara Maharaja graciously offers a possible way to read these statements otherwise: “That Srila Prabhupada may have held an affinity within [for madhurya-rasa], and owing to his empowerment by Lord Nityananda Prabhu, he showed an affinity for sakhya-rasa.”

In establishing that I was making a straw-man argument, Maharaja says, “I was making the point that Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s statement supports the possibility that one can see the issue in other ways.” I realize that this is how Maharaja was using the quote. Yes, it can be taken to show that indications of affinity for sakhya-rasa do not prove conclusively that Srila Prabhupada is situated in sakhya-rasa; however, this does not invalidate Babhru’s point that statements like “I am in relationship with Krsna as cowherd boy” are affirmations of affinity for sakhya-rasa. If Maharaja can’t prove that “I am in relationship with Krsna as a cowherd boy” is an affirmation of affinity for madhurya-rasa, then he has no point in calling Babhru’s statement excessive and assailable because this is all that Babhru was saying. He did not claim that the fact that the statements show an affinity for sakhya-rasa is absolute proof that Srila Prabhupada is in sakhya-rasa.

So my point was that the quote of Srila Sridhara Maharaja does not prove that the statement “I am in relationship with Krsna as a cowherd boy” is actually an affirmation of affinity for madhurya-rasa. In fact, when the quote is applied to the statements, it confirms that the statement of Srila Prabhupada indicates affinity for sakhya-rasa. How so? Because Srila Sridhara Maharaja said he may have held an affinity for madhurya-rasa within, but that “he showed an affinity for sakhya-rasa.” One may interpret that even though the statements directly indicate sakhya-rasa they don’t mean that Srila Prabhupada was in sakhya-rasa because he held an affinity for madhurya-rasa within, but nonetheless the fact remains that Srila Prabhupada’s statements showed an affinity for sakhya-rasa. Again, this doesn’t prove that Srila Prabhupada was in sakhyarasa beyond a shadow of a doubt, but it does confirm exactly what Babhru said, that the statements affirm his affinity for sakhyarasa. Therefore, it is incorrect to call this statement of Babhru “excessive and assailable.” That was the point I was making.

It is important to underscore that Srila Sridhara Maharaja did not make the above statement in relation to the direct statements of Srila Prabhupada that affirm sakhya-rasa. As I said previously, “When Srila Sridhara Maharaja gave the explanation of suppressing madhurya-rasa due to the empowerment by Nityananda Prabhu, he had much less evidence to consider than that which has been collected in O My Friend! In particular, he wasn’t aware of the direct statements by Srila Prabhupada that he was in sakhya-rasa or Srila Prabhupada’s unique interpretations of pertinent verses in Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura’s Gurvastakam. Thus it is unclear whether Srila Sridhara Maharaja would extend the possibility if he had been aware of this additional evidence. After all, with comparatively scanty evidence he said that the possible veiling of madhurya-rasa by Srila Prabhupada “cannot be denied, maybe.” Nor was it Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s personal opinion. He made his own opinion clear as cited by Babhru: “He [Prabhupada] is in sakhya-rasa, and he has entered into those pastimes. This is my understanding about his present position.”

Ockham’s Razor

In conclusion I will respond to Maharaja’s objection that I didn’t apply Ockham’s razor to my own arguments. Maharaja says, “Of course, Vrndaranya may argue that she is applying the principle to the totality of evidence. If that’s the case, then she should have the confidence to take contrary evidence seriously and not explain it away.”  I said in my conclusion “an understanding that harmonizes the evidence for both sakhya and madhurya-rasa.” So, yes, I was referring to the simplest explanation of the totality of the evidence. Obviously the most simple explanation of madhurya evidence is madhurya-rasa and the most simple explanation of sakhya evidence is sakhya-rasa. That really goes without saying.

As for having the confidence to take contrary evidence seriously without explaining it away, to say this seems rather unfair, as I have taken contrary evidence head-on in numerous places in my article, for example, the “Priya-Narma-Sakhas” section and the “Evidence for Manjari-Bhava” section. Maharaja says, “her explanations of how Srila Prabhupada’s expressions of madhurya-rasa point to priyanarma are tedious and unnecessarily complicated.” I really don’t see what is so tedious and complicated about my explanation that some priya-narmas have Radharani as their gopi group leader. The Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu quote is straightforward. Perhaps Maharaja was referring to some other explanation, although I don’t find any of the evidence complicated. By and large, the evidence is verses or purports to verses like Rupa Goswami’s reference to the priya-narma-sakha‘s  bhava being referred to as sakhi-bhava.

Maharaja says, “A similar problem is found in her attempt to discount as evidence his clear cut and simple statement ‘that somehow or other he was now engaged in that [Radha’s] service.’ by giving undue importance to the phrase ‘somehow or other.’ ” Maharaja implies that my explanation of this statement of Srila Prabhupada, which is one of the main pieces of evidence for manjari-bhava, hinges on my comments about the significance of Srila Prabhupada’s addition of “somehow or other.” That is very misleading, as I gave a comprehensive explanation of how a priya-narma is engaged in Radharani’s service. My “somehow or other” comments are a small side point, in which I say that it is not impossible that Srila Prabhupada’s saying that “somehow or other” he is now engaged in Radharani’s service could be taken with a special meaning. My statement “it is not impossible” indicates that I’m not claiming a high probability. The explanation is charming to one with affinity for sakhya-bhava and possibly has some relevance, but it certainly is not my main explanation of this piece of evidence.

And finally, Maharaja says, “Her hermeneutical strategy is reminiscent of Sankaracarya, who only graced with the status of highest truth Upanashadic statements with which he agreed and who relegated those with which he disagreed to a lower status. The principle of Ockham’s razor is to posit the explanation for the data in the simplest way, and not to disavow data that is contrary.” I left it to the reader to apply Ockham’s razor based on the conclusions reached in the article, but I see that I should have explicitly made my case. I will attempt to do so now. I believe this will show that as opposed to disavowing data that is contrary, the priya-narma sakha understanding is the only understanding that is able to harmonize the totality of the evidence, although I remain open to evidence to the contrary.

Applying Ockham’s Razor to the Evidence

Ockham’s razor states that the simplest explanation for a phenomenon is most likely the correct explanation. Einstein explained it brilliantly as everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler. In examining the evidence in Srila Prabhupada’s life, we find indications of sakhya and madhurya to be prominent. Although there is an extremely high likelihood that a disciple of Srila Bhaktisiddanta Saraswati Thakura would be in madhurya-rasa, this is not always the case. Krsnadasa Babaji is a widely accepted exception. Furthermore, this general tendency must bow to more specific evidence. More specific evidence in Srila Prabhupada’s life is found in the Jaladuta poem in which Srila Prabhupada clearly expresses the sentiment of a cowherd boy and several accounts that he directly said he was a cowherd boy. There is also evidence in the form of numerous poems and Vyasa-puja offerings in the early years of his mission in which he is described as a cowherd boy, one of which was published in the BTG at Srila Prabhupada’s request, the mood that Srila Prabhupada manifested in his final days before leaving the world, in which he expressed a great desire to go to Govardhana and repeatedly gazed at a picture of Krishna and Balarama, Srila Prabhupada’s family lineage, the relevance of his establishing the Krishna-Balarama mandira, and the insights of Srila Sridhara Maharaja and Srila Puri Maharaja.

As for evidence that opposes sakhya-rasa, Dhanurdhara Maharaja has mentioned Srila Prabhupada’s father’s prayer for his son to become a servant of Radharani and Prabhupada’s statement that he was somehow or other engaged in Radharani’s service, Srila Prabhupada’s worship of Radha-Krsna in his childhood, and the opinions of Srila Narayana Maharaja and Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja.

So the test of Ockham’s razor is to discern which is the most simple (often termed elegant) explanation of the entirety of the evidence. Let us first look at the implications of the understanding that Srila Prabhupada is in madhurya-rasa. Naturally all the madhurya evidence will be taken as is. To harmonize the sakhya evidence, one approach is to discredit the direct statements of Srila Prabhupada that he is in sakhya-rasa. However, this leaves the problem of his Jaladuta poem, which clearly expresses sakhya-rasa. Trying to explain the poem in terms of madhurya-rasa being inside of sakhya-rasa has clearly been shown to be faulty in my previous article. Therefore, we need another explanation. Dhanurdhara Maharaja has pointed to Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s statement that Srila Prabhupada may have outwardly expressed a sakhya sentiment, but held an affinity for madhurya within due to empowerment by Nityananda. However, Tripurari Maharaja’s point that Srila Prabhupada expressed a sakhya sentiment before his empowerment, which I quoted in my last article and which stands uncontested, is a serious problem with this argument, and it has yet to be resolved by anyone. The madhurya understanding also has to harmonize the insights of Srila Sridhara Maharaja and Srila Bhakti Promode Puri Maharaja. One might try to harmonize this according to the concept from the Jaiva Dharma that different devotees can have subjective vision of the Guru. However, as I pointed out in my last article, this subjective vision would not apply to Godbrothers, and there is also no evidence from Jaiva Dharma that it applies to external evidence, such as the poem. Thus we find serious problems trying to harmonize the evidence that points to sakhya-rasa with madhurya-rasa. We leave the matter open to anyone to find a resolution.

Let us now look at the implications of understanding that Srila Prabhupada is in sakhya-rasa. Again, the sakhya evidence will obviously stand as is. To harmonize the madhurya evidence, Tripurari Maharaja and Babhru dasa have pointed to the mood of the priya-narma sakha. This is the kind of sakha that Bhaktivinode Thakura introduces in one of his main characters in Jaiva Dharma, as well as the mood of the well-known Gaudiya acarya Gauridasa Pandit and that of Sanatana Goswami’s Gopa Kumara (Sarupa) in his Brhat-bhagavatamrita. As for the evidence that Srila Prabhupada’s guru is in madhurya-rasa, it is already well-established that it is possible for a disciple to have a different rasa than the guru. In regard to the evidence that Srila Prabhupada’s father prayed for his son to be a servant of Radharani, Dhanurdhara Maharaja quotes this as a “maidservant Sri Radha.” I’m not sure of the accuracy of this, as I didn’t find it in the Vedabase. There, Srila Prabhupada is quoted as saying the following variations: “He prayed for me that Radharani may be pleased upon me,” “He prayed to Srimati Radharani that in the future we would become a servant of the eternal consort of Sri Krsna,” and “Please bless my son that he can become a servant of Radharani.” I have already supplied several quotes in my last article that establish that it is not incongruent for a priya-narma sakha to be a servant of Radharani. As they are yet uncontested, I will not belabor the point. As for the opinions of Srila Narayana Maharaja and Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja, we can accept the Jaiva Dharma explanation of subjective vision here without the difficulties encountered above because Srila Narayana Maharaja is a siksa disciple of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja is a diksa disciple. As for Srila Prabhupada worshipping Radha-Krsna in his childhood, the priya-narma understanding finds no obstacle here.

As we see, applying Ockham’s razor comes out clearly in favor of Srila Prabhupada being a priya-narma sakha. Thus far, it is the only understanding that is able to harmonize the totality of the evidence. Perhaps someone else can show otherwise. Of course, the only final and absolute proof of whether Srila Prabhupada is in sakhya or madhurya bhava is to surrender fully to Srila Prabhupada and Krishna and by their grace gain entrance to our eternal home, Sri Vrindavana Dhama.


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74 Responses to Sakhyam’s Razor Revisited

  1. Narayana Maharaja claims to be more of a bosom friend of SP.

    • This is not true nor is it in accord with Vaisnava behavior. Narayana Maharaja openly proclaims that Prabhupada is his siksa guru and because Narayana Maharaja is a disciple of Prabhupada’s Godbrother, Prabhupada is in his guru varga. Narayana Maharaja also feels that he had a close friendly relationship with Prabhupada, as is more common to have with one’s spiritual uncle. But he is clearly not Prabhupada’s Godbrother and is in a guru disciple relationship with him.

  2. Excellent article! I think it would be very hard indeed to find an explanation for the totality of the evidence that makes more sense than this. Well done, once again.

  3. my humble pranams
    all glories to Srila Prabhupada
    I have no doubts in my mind Srila Prabhupada is in sakya rasa and I also firmly believe he is a priya narma sakha .Srila Sridhara Swami gave such hint that Srila Prabhupada was in the line of Subal sakha.
    In the Vraja Vilasa Stava by Srila Raghunath das Goswami hei s glorified in this way”: TEXT 22
    Filled with deep love for him, and anxious that they may be separated, Subala never, even in dream, lets go of the hand of Sri Krsna, the moon of Gokula. Subala’s heart is sprinkled with the waters of the swiftly moving mountain stream of devotion to Srimati Radhika. I offer my respectful obeisances to Subala whose body trembles with love for Sri Sri Radha-Krsna.”
    Where was Srila Prabhupadas main temple in Vrindavan, Krna Balarama? You can read the 10 Canto and see how Srila Prabhupada was fully absorbed in those lilas, killing of Aghasura and Brahma Vimohana Lila.Nothing is an accident. or takes place by change.
    Would Radha and Krsna not have Srila Prabhupada finished the translation of the Rasa lila , and such lilas of Krsna and the Gopis if that was his Sthaiya Bhava?When Srila Prabhupada was on Jaladuta and he had heart attacks how did he meditate on Vrindavan:

    O dear friend, in Your company I will experience great joy once again. In the early morning I will wander about the cowherd pastures and fields. Running and frolicking in the many forests of Vraja, I will roll on the ground in spiritual ecstacy. O when will that day be mine?

    Today that remembrance of You came to me in a very nice way. Because I have a great longing I called to You. I am Your eternal servant and therefore I desire Your association so much. O Lord Krsna, except for You there is no other means of success.

    yes given Srila Prabhupada also wrote:
    I emphatically say to you, O brothers, you will obtain your good fortune from the Supreme Lord Krsna only when Srimati Radharani becomes pleased with you.
    He is adressing Krsna as Sakha-dear Cowherd boy and Bhai :brother
    the whole mood is sakha and priya narma Sakha.
    The argument that Srila Prabhuapadas Guru is Nayana Manjari, so as such he should also be a manjari is false.Gauri das Pandit had a disciple Hridaya Caitanya whowas both in Sakhya bhava (Gauri das Pandit being Subal himself), but Hrday Caitanya disciple was Dukhi Krsna das that later became Shyamananda Pandit, and on who Radharani Herself placed Her Tilaka mark .The question of ones sthiya bhava is revealed by bhakti and confirmed by the advanced sadhus or Guru .We should not rupper stamp that everyone is a manjari and beyond manjari bhava there is no other Rasa, Goloka is not only full of manjaris.Yes some many become Manjaris , but it is not for all.Some devotees will never desire it, but will desire very much to follow the sakhas, as ordinary sakhas or priyanarma sakhas.All the main associates of Lord Nityananda Prabhu was priya narmas sakhas, that a sena pati devotee predicted by Lord Nitayanada Prabhu was a follower of the mood given by Lord Nityananda prabhu ,Sakhya Bhava is not strange at all but makes perfect sense.That those aspiring for manjari bhava may want to see Srila Prabhupada in manjari bhava is another story, this can happen as mentioned in Jaiva dharma,where the 2 disciples sees their Guru according to their specific rasa…but it does not change the fact that Srila Prabhupada is a priya narma sakha.I have no doubt about it for a second.
    your servant
    Payonidhi das

  4. Indentifying svarupa’s in Goura-lila is such a complex and controversial issue. How can one be so confident? There is often an interlacement of original identities and different moods and it’s not always possible (even for acaryas) to give the unequivocal explanation. Caitanya, Nityananda, Advaita, Gadadhara pandit, Haridas Thakur, Svarupa Damodara… – so many examples. And of course one can deliberate on such topic when he has really profound realization of rasa, but it seems somewhat strange when one roughly operates sastras and makes the decision relying on blind logic.

    There are few quotes correlating with Srila Prabhupada’s mood below and I am anticipating some interesting comments on them.

    Änandamayo ‘bhyäsät (Vedänta-sütra 1.1.12). The Vedänta says that a living entity, or Kåñëa… Any living entity… Kåñëa is also the supreme living entity, and we are small living entities. So every one of us are seeking after änanda, transcendental bliss. So when we join together, the living entities and the Supreme Lord, that becomes änanda, räsa-lélä. That is wanted. That we are seeking. >>> Ref. VedaBase => Bhagavad-gétä 7.1-2 — Bombay, March 28, 1971

    God is also blissful, and we part and parcel of God, we are also blissful. We want simply änanda, pleasure. That is our nature. But that änanda, pleasure, you cannot enjoy independently. That is not possible. You must enjoy with Kåñëa. That is called räsa-lélä. Kåñëa and the gopés, they assemble together. Similarly, we are part and parcel … Just like part and parcel of big machine. They are assembled, then it works. If the part and parcel are scattered, oh, then it has no meaning. It is simply scrap of iron, that’s all. But when they are assembled together, that is meaning. Similarly, we are all part and parcel of Kåñëa. So we must assemble together. Central Kåñëa. Central Kåñëa. So this Kåñëa consciousness movement is… >>> Ref. VedaBase => Çrémad-Bhägavatam 2.3.14-15 — Los Angeles, May 31, 1972

    Therefore the intelligence is that we should again go back to home, go back to Kåñëa, and dance with Him in His räsa dance. That will be our pleasure. >>> Ref. VedaBase => Çrémad-Bhägavatam 3.26.19 — Bombay, December 28, 1974

    The real center of enjoyment is the Supreme Lord, who is the center of the sublime and spiritual räsa dance. We are all meant to join Him and enjoy life with one transcendental interest and without any clash. >>> Ref. VedaBase => Iso mantra 7

    We are trying to change the consciousness of the people so that this preparation will help him to get exactly a body like Kåñëa in next life, and he may dance with Kåñëa in rasa dance. That is our propaganda. >>> Ref. VedaBase => Çrémad-Bhägavatam 6.1.15 — London, August 3, 1971

    So if we want happiness, then we have to dance with Kåñëa. But you cannot dance Kåñëa if I am not pure. Kåñëa is pavitraà paramaà bhavän. Pavitra means the supreme pure. If you want to take pleasure in the company of Kåñëa and dance rasa dance, then you have to become pure, purified. That is sarvopädhi vinirmuktam [Cc. Madhya 19.170], to free from all designation. Näräyaëa paräyaëa. Näräyaëa society or Kåñëa society, the same thing. >>> Ref. VedaBase => Çrémad-Bhägavatam 6.1.17 — Honolulu, May 17, 1976

    So this discussion of rasa-lélä is the summit of Kåñëa consciousness. …But that is the ultimate goal, to understand Kåñëa’s rasa-lélä. … So if you go to Våndävana and if you like to dance with Kåñëa, the facility is for you. That is the ultimate goal of our life. If you want to love Kåñëa similarly as the gopés loved, you can have the chance. …So if you want to enter into the rasa-lélä, if you desire like that, so you love Kåñëa in that way, as the gopés. Then you’ll have the same perfection. There is no difficulty. It is not at all difficult. Simply you practice. >>> Ref. VedaBase => Class in Los Angeles — Los Angeles, November 15, 1968

    Similarly, next life for the devotees is sac-cid-änanda-vigrahaù, eternal body, blissful life, dancing with Kåñëa in rasa dance. You have seen the picture. …These four items and chant Hare Kåñëa, sixteen rounds. Is it very difficult? And here is Kåñëa’s certificate. So do it, rigidly, and be happy. >>> Ref. VedaBase => Çré Brahma-saàhitä, Verse 35 — New York, July 31, 1971

    Prabhupäda: …So this is the greatest benediction to the human society, to train them to go back to Kåñëa and dance there with Kåñëa in rasa-lélä. You have seen Kåñëa’s rasa-lélä dancing? You have not seen?
    John Lennon: Which? This picture?
    Gurudäsa: Rasa-lélä dancing with the gopés. That’s the…, with Rädhä. Dancing with Rädhä. Pictures like that.
    John Lennon: Walls of the temple room?
    Gurudäsa: Yes.
    Prabhupäda: So we can go there. Join with Kåñëa and dance happily without any botheration.

    Prabhupäda: … This is Kåñëa consciousness. Änandamayo ‘bhyäsät (Vedänta-sütra 1.1.12). Simply änanda. Dancing with Kåñëa, räsa dance. Supposing if there is such life—dancing and eating and chanting, no suffering. So would anybody deny that? Is there any such fool?

    Devotee (2): Anyone would like to accept that.
    Prabhupäda: You see? That we are giving. >>> Ref. VedaBase => Morning Walk — January 5, 1974, Los Angeles

    So ramante yoginaù anante satyänande. Satyänanda means real happiness. Satyänande. And what is that satyänande? Cid-ätmani. Cit. Cit means knowledge. And ätmä. When the ätmä is developed in full knowledge of Kåñëa consciousness, that sort of happiness is real happiness. Now, bähya-sparçeñu asakta, asaktätmä vindaty ätmani. Ätmani means with the soul, with the Supersoul, the relation between the soul and the Supersoul. That is called ätmä. That is called räsa dance. You have heard about Kåñëa’s räsa dance. That is happiness. In the field of spiritual platform that happiness is realized. >>> Ref. VedaBase => Bhagavad-gétä 5.14-22 — New York, August 28, 1966

    Since the Lord is sac-cid-änanda-vigraha [Bs. 5.1], He likes every part and parcel of His different potencies to take part in the blissful rasa because participation with the Lord in His eternal räsa-lélä is the highest living condition, perfect in spiritual bliss and eternal knowledge. >>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 3.5.24

    One who is actually intelligent will refrain from the flickering sensual enjoyment of this material body and fix his enjoyment in spiritual life. His participation in spiritual life with the Supreme Lord is called räsa-lélä. >>> Ref. VedaBase => OWK 1: Throughway to Happiness

    All these goddesses of fortune are manifestations of His transcendental pleasure potency (hlädiné-çakti) in His internal energy, and when the Lord manifested Himself on this earth He partially displayed the activities of His pleasure potency in His räsa-lélä just to attract the conditioned souls… Lord Caitanya was a strict sannyäsé, so much so that He did not allow any woman to come near Him, not even to bow down and offer respects. He never even heard the prayers of the deva-däsés offered in the temple of Jagannätha because a sannyäsé is forbidden to hear songs sung by the fair sex. Yet even in the rigid position of a sannyäsé He recommended the mode of worship preferred by the gopés of Våndävana as the topmost loving service possible to be rendered to the Lord. >>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 2.4.20

    Prabhupäda: Other äcäryas, they elevated people up to säkhya-rasa.
    Ambassador: Säkhya-rasa.
    Prabhupäda: It is Caitanya Mahäprabhu, He gave us mädhurya-rasa.
    Ambassador: Mädhurya-rasa.
    Prabhupäda: Therefore about Caitanya Mahäprabhu, it is said, anarpita-caréà cirät. Anarpita-caréà cirät karuëayävatérëaù kalau samarpayitum unnatojjvala-rasäà…
    anarpita-caréà cirät
    karuëayävatérëaù kalau
    samarpayitum unnatojjvala-
    rasäà sva-bhakti-çriyam
    hariù puraöa-sundara-dyuti-
    kadamba-sandépitaù
    sadä hådaya-kandare
    sphuratu vaù çacé-nandanaù
    It is the gift of Çacénandana, Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu, that Kåñëa can be served in mädhurya-rasa, in conjugal love. That is Çré Caitanya. And amongst the gopés, Rädhäräëé was the best gopé, foremost. Anayärädhitaù. This, this is mentioned in Çrémad-Bhägavatam. >>> Ref. VedaBase => Room Conversation with Indian Ambassador — September 5, 1973, Stockholm

    Some ask that if Kåñëa is self-sufficient, why did He at all manifest the pastimes with the gopés, which are disturbing to the so-called moralists of the world? The answer is that such activities show special mercy to the fallen, conditioned souls. … In order to show them special favor, Kåñëa exhibited this räsa-lélä dance. It is just to captivate the conditioned soul. Since they are very much attracted by sex, they can enjoy the same life with Kåñëa and thus become liberated from the material condition. … When a person hears the räsa-lélä in this way, the effect will be sure: he will be elevated to the highest position of spiritual life. >>> Ref. VedaBase => KB 33: Description of the Räsa Dance

    Çréla Jéva Gosvämé has agreed to this, but Çréla Viçvanätha Cakravarté Öhäkura has made a further advance, namely that the nectar from the mouth of Lord Kåñëa is transferred to His different consorts, and thus they learn the finer arts of music, dance, dressing, decorations and all such things which are relished by the Lord. … By gradual development of transcendental knowledge, one can rise to the stage of the transcendental arts of music and dance displayed by the Lord in His räsa-lélä. >>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 2.4.24

    The gopés are predominated expansions of the internal potency, and therefore the Lord’s participation in the räsa-lélä dance is never to be considered like the mundane relationship of man and woman. It is, rather, the highest perfectional stage of the exchange of feelings between the Lord and the living entities. The Lord gives the fallen souls the chance for this highest perfection of life. Lord Brahmä is entrusted with the management of the complete cosmic show, and therefore he prays that the Lord bestow His blessings upon him so that he may execute its purpose. >>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 3.9.25

    The reason the Lord displays the räsa-lélä is essentially to induce all the fallen souls to give up their diseased morality and religiosity, and to attract them to the kingdom of God to enjoy the reality. >>> Ref. VedaBase => Ädi 4.30

    The personal associates of Rädhäräëé, the damsels of Vraja, are direct expansions of Her body. …Their transcendental exchanges of love are the superexcellent affairs of the pastimes in Våndävana. By these expansions of Çrématé Rädhäräëé’s personal body, She helps Lord Kåñëa taste the räsa dance and other, similar activities. >>> Ref. VedaBase => Ädi 4.81 (and the whole Adi 4)

    One cannot enter into fire and not perish unless he himself becomes fire, and similarly one cannot enter into the spiritual realm in a body that is not spiritual. In a spiritual body one can dance with Kåñëa in the räsa dance like the gopés and the cowherd boys. >>> Ref. VedaBase => MG 7:The Matchless Gift: Liberation in Kåñëa Consciousness

    Therefore those who are actually yogis, bhakti-yogés… There are different types of yoga. So they ramante, they enjoy, ramante yoginaù anante, along with the ananta, unlimited. Kåñëa is unlimited. When you join with Kåñëa in His räsa dance as gopés, or as cowherds boy, play with Him, or become His father and mother, Yaçodä, Nanda Mahäräja, Yaçodä-räëé, or become servant, or even become like water Yamunä, or land in Våndävana and trees or fruits or flowers, any way, or cows and calves… Join with Kåñëa. Then you get änanda, real änanda. Änandamayo ‘bhyäsät (Vedänta-sütra 1.1.12). Sac-cid-änanda-vigraha [Bs. 5.1]. >>> Ref. VedaBase => Bhagavad-gétä 1.23 — London, July 19, 1973

    Just join with Kåñëa, His rasa dance, His play with cowherd boys, His dealing with His father and mother in Våndävana.
    So our, this movement is to join Kåñëa’s pastimes. >>> Ref. VedaBase => Arrival Lecture — Los Angeles, April 13, 1973

    But this thing can be purely enjoyed not alone in this material world, but you have to go back to home, go back to Kåñëa, and there is your real life. Kåñëa comes therefore. He displays His räsa dance in Våndävana to attract these fallen souls, that “If you want enjoyment, why not come back to Me? Here is the enjoyment. Here is the enjoyment, eternal enjoyment. Why you are rotting in this material world and becoming implicated, sometimes as Brahmä and sometime as the worm in the stool? Enjoyment, varieties of enjoyment. Why? Why you are so become fool?” >>> Ref. VedaBase => Çrémad-Bhägavatam 1.2.9 — Hyderabad, April 23, 1974

    It is very scientific and very practical. So by going to Kåñëa, you can talk with Kåñëa personally. You can play with Kåñëa personally. You can dance with Kåñëa. That is Kåñëa-loka. Just like we have got a picture, räsa dancing. Here is picture, Kåñëa’s. Everyone can get this opportunity. >>> Ref. VedaBase => Çrémad-Bhägavatam 1.15.32 — Los Angeles, December 10, 1973

    Similarly, brähmaëa, kñatriya, vaiçya, çüdra, brahmacäré—varieties. And when the varieties center around Kåñëa, it becomes beautiful. Kåñëa center, and the circle, rasa dance, it becomes very beautiful. >>> Ref. VedaBase => Çrémad-Bhägavatam 6.1.46 — Detroit, June 12, 1976

    Rämeçvara: Each one of us has an original relationship with Kåñëa, some as plant, some as tree, some as cow, some as cowherd boy. So if that is re-established, why should the devotee desire to change it?
    Prabhupäda: Well, that is spiritual kingdom. You can change if you like.
    Tamäla Kåñëa: It is not static, Prabhupäda once explained. Love is not static.
    Prabhupäda: Generally, it is not changed. Just like mother Yaçodä, she’s mother all the time, eternally. >>> Ref. VedaBase => Morning Walk — June 7, 1976, Los Angeles

    The temple of Çré Rädhä Dämodara is situated near the location of the rasa dance, and Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé and the other Gosvämés used to gather there and discuss the topics of their literatures, which scientifically explained the super-excellent pastimes of Çré Çré Rädhä-Kåñëa. >>> Ref. VedaBase => Purport by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupäda

    • And of course one can deliberate on such topic when he has really profound realization of rasa, but it seems somewhat strange when one roughly operates sastras and makes the decision relying on blind logic.

      I beg your pardon, but what does this statement of yours mean?

      You go on to say,

      There are few quotes correlating with Srila Prabhupada’s moodbelow and I am anticipating some interesting comments on them.

      Are you saying that what you have cited establishes what Prabhupada’s spiritual sentiment is?

      Have you read the article “O My Friend” that this discussion centers around?

  5. Yes, I have read the article. And, excuse me, but it couldn’t completely convince me. There are so many evidences supporting another opinion. And, as I see, such spiritual topic is not the subject for speculation, because it may be described this way or that depending on one’s logic and intelligence. Because there are different evidences. That’s all.

    And it’s actually the complex issue. If we just try to apply the Okham’s razor to other personalities in Gauranga pastimes then what we get?

    And the main reason of my comment was to listen explanation of this particular quotes from the point of view of Srila Prabhupada’s priya-narma-sakha-bhava.

    • Yes, I have read the article. And, excuse me, but it couldn’t completely convince me. There are so many evidences supporting another opinion.

      The “evidence” you have cited in your comment is not really evidence at all as to what Prabhupada’s particular sentiment is. It is merely general preaching about the highest ideal of Gaudiya Vaisnavism. Despite the fact that a devotee may prefer a particular sentiment such as sakhya rasa, this does not change the objective fact that the highest reach of Mahaprabhu’s teaching is gopi-bhava. Thus when preaching such a devotee will at times state this fact. This is what Prabhupada has done in the quotes you have cited, and even within some of them that you have failed to highlight he has also stressed sakhya rasa at times. For example,

      When you join with Krsna in His rasa dance as gopis, or as cowherds boy, play with Him . . .

      How can you possibly compare the quotes you have cited to direct statements of Srila Prabhupada concerning his spiritual affinity? Statements like this one directly expressing his inner aspiration in private?

      “O my dear brother! Meeting you again I will experience great joy. Wandering about the pastures and fields, I will pass the entire day with you tending the cows. Joking with you and frolicking throughout so many forests of Vraja, I will roll upon the ground in spiritual ecstasy. When, oh when, will that day be mine?”

      This statement is enough in and of it self to arrive at a conclusive answer to the question, giving its quality, the circumstances surrounding its expression, and the fact that a great sadhu who knew SP intimately has pointed to it as conclusive evidence.

      “O My friend” is an exercise similar to that undertaken by Kavi Karnapur in his Guara-gonoddesa dipika. It is based on numerous personal statements of Srila Prabhupada himself, confirmation from sadhus, and scriptural support. It is not “blind logic,” whatever that is or idle speculation. In the very least it is an exercise in sastra-yukti. If you study Kavi Karnapur’s book you will see that he has arrived at his conclusions in exactly the same manner as the author of “O My friend.”

      • Sakhya-rasa is contained within the total and complete madhurya-rasa. The madhurya-rasa parshada of Krishna is capable of expressing the included sakhya-rasa at any time the situation is appropriate.

        One thing we tend to forget is that Radharani is also the friend of Krishna and sometimes expresses that friendship as well. Can lovers be lovers without being friends?

        That Srila Prabhupada ever expressed some sakhya-rasa sentiments at any time or in any writing does not preclude that such an expression could have just been a partial expression of the complete rasa with Krishna – the madhurya-rasa.

        His mission of preaching was of course in the mood of being Krishna’s well-wishing friend. But, beyond that we can only speculate.

        Srila Prabhupada intended to put a final stop to all these lingering siddha-pranali infestations, so he held his spiritual identity a secret as an example for all those followers to come in the future.

        • That Srila Prabhupada ever expressed some sakhya-rasa sentiments at any time or in any writing does not preclude that such an expression could have just been a partial expression of the complete rasa with Krishna – the madhurya-rasa.

          This is not a very good argument given the nature of his statements about sakhya rasa. They are very specific and to try to draw madhurya rasa out of them is very awkward to say the least. Thus Occom’s razor.

          To date two books have been written on the subject of Prabhupada’s bhava. The first was written by Sri B.V. Narayana Maharaja the second by Babhru under my direction. If one objectively compares both books, O My Friend is far more objective and evidence based because rather than merely stating that GV in its highest reach leads to gopi-bhava and therefore SP is in gopi-bhava, as NM’s books does, O My friend seeks to end speculation on the matter by demonstrating from guru (Prabhupada himself), sadhu (Sridhara Maharaja and others), and sastra what Prabhupada’s bhava consists of.

          Otherwise comments here and there do not address the argument comprehensively. To credibly challenge the natural conclusion O My Friend the task at hand is to write a comprehensive rebuttal of it. Dhanurdhara Maharaja tried to cast doubt on the book in his thoughtful response without offering any alternative conclusion. This article, Sakhyam’s Razor, all but put his argument to rest. He then responded to Sakhyam’s Razor and his response and Vrindaranya’s reply to it have been published here on the Harmonist for everyone to read. Suffice to say that O My Friend has been thoroughly defended and then some by Vrindaranya’s response. So this is what we have to date from the learned devotees who have taken the trouble to address the issue comprehensively. Again, to credibly challenge O My Friend requires more than a comment here and there, and from what I have seen most if not all of such comments have already been addressed in O My Friend.

          Of course anyone can hold fast to their opinion that Prabhupada is in gopi-bhava. But to date no one has presented equally objective and weighty evidence to support this conclusion such that the natural conclusion of O My Friend has been seriously challenged. For the most part we hear arguments like those of Atul Krsna and KB dasa here and there with greater emphasis on notions like “No one can know,” Only a rasika can know,” “One should not speculate,” “Prabhupada did not want us to discus it,” and so on, all of which have been dealt with in O My Friend.

          • I don’t hold any particular view of Srila Prabhupada’s rasa. I don’t feel any great need to know or discover that. I am not aware of instructions Srila Prabhupada or any acharya have given that directs devotees to try and uncover the secret of Srila Prabhupada’s rasa.

            I am not even very convinced that Srila Prabhupada was jiva-tattva. As shaktyavesha, he had ascended to a level of empowerment that was not intrinsic to his svarupa, rather a feature he manifested here for his preaching mission.

            Sridhar Maharaja taught that shaktyavesha means that the Lord comes down and works through an empowered soul.
            If, in fact, Srila Prabhupada was shaktyavesha and it seems obvious he was, then all bets are off when it comes to try and identify any expressed emotions as being his own above the presence of Lord Nityananda in his heart.

          • I don’t hold any particular view of Srila Prabhupada’s rasa. I don’t feel any great need to know or discover that. I am not aware of instructions Srila Prabhupada or any acharya have given that directs devotees to try and uncover the secret of Srila Prabhupada’s rasa.

            This statement is helpful in gauging the value of any other statements you make on the issue.

        • That Srila Prabhupada ever expressed some sakhya-rasa sentiments at any time or in any writing does not preclude that such an expression could have just been a partial expression of the complete rasa with Krishna – the madhurya-rasa.

          Let me add this. In this poem Srila Prabhupada prays for the sakti/empowerment/avesa to fulfill the desire of his Gurudeva for worldwide preaching, and then upon completing this seva to enter Sri Krsna’s cowherding-lila. Some time ago Syamarani suggested what KB das has suggested—that this poem can be understood in light of the gopis such as Radharani having sakhya-bhava within their madhurya-bhava. Although it could be said that Sri Radha may at times desire fraternal love with Sri Krsna and that her manjaris may also taste this through their complete identification with her bhava, no manjari or devotee engaged in bhajana to attain manjari-bhava would pray fervently, as my Gurudeva has, for the day when she could spend the entire day wandering with Krsna, herding the cows, and frolicking with him in the forest. The mood expressed in this poem is simply inconsistent with the nature of a manjari, despite the fact that sakhya-bhava is contained within madhurya. Any sakhya-bhava arising in a manjari’s heart would not manifest in a desire to play directly with Krsna, rather it would manifest in a desire to facilitate Radha playing in fraternal love with Krsna because the visayalambana of the manjari is Radha and Krsna. Radha’s hand maidens characteristically eschew the idea of directly engaging in loving sentiments with Krsna and characteristically desire only to facilitate Radha’s direct relationship with him, not to herd cows with him themselves. There is absolutely no instance of such an aspiration on the part of a manjari anywhere in all of the sacred texts. And the reason is because it is incompatible with Radha dasyam.

          • Your evidence in this case seems to hinge on your explanation that Srila Prabhupada was praying to fulfill his mission and enter lila in sakhya-rasa. That conclusion can easily arrived at in logic, yet one could also say that he was simply expressing sakhya-rasa sentiments because he was trying to evoke a friendly feeling with Krishna in the mood of Balaram.
            Srila Prabhupada has taught that preaching and canvassing for Krishna is done with the feeling of being a well-wisher of Krishna. Most all preaching and missionary work of that sort is done in this friendly attitude of being the well-wisher of Krishna.

            Still, how is it that so many devotees and followers of Srila Prabhupada have embraced the madhurya-rasa conception as their highest aspiration and ideal after reading his books and hearing his preaching?

            It just seems a little odd to think that a sakhya-rasa devotee has created so many aspiring souls seeking perfection in madhurya-rasa with Krishna.

            Of course you understand that the majority of Prabhupada followers consider him to be teaching and preaching gopi-bhava as the highest ideal and a member of that class.

            Your views are not the majority view and in fact somewhat controversial.
            But, then again should we be surprised that Swami is found in the middle of a controversy?

            You must enjoy the role of being the spoiler and odd man out.

          • You state something that has not been established as if it were factual. My sense is just the opposite: that the majority of Prabhupada’s disciples see him in sakhya rasa. But without a survey we will never know what the majority of them think. But why have many identified with sakya rasa? Mostly due to the influence of others, as pointed out clearly in O My Friend!

            Srila Prabhupada has taught that preaching and canvassing for Krishna is done with the feeling of being a well-wisher of Krishna. Most all preaching and missionary work of that sort is done in this friendly attitude of being the well-wisher of Krishna.

            How so? Because he signed his lettesr “Your ever well wisher?” Come now. The majority of Mahaprabhu’s followers were in madhurya rasa and they preached just fine. You are saying that Prabhupada’s numerable expressed aspirations for sakhya rasa are nothing more than a preaching mood. This makes no sense because his expressions were not about preaching but about serving Krsna in his nitya lila.

            One could also say that he was simply expressing sakhya-rasa sentiments because he was trying to evoke a friendly feeling with Krishna in the mood of Balaram.

            No, not when he says to his disciples “I am a cowherd boy.” Nor in his prayer where he aspires to join Krsna in his cowherd lila. Now please take note of this carefully: Prabhupada’s avesa is not speaking because in the prayer he is praying for that avesa. He does not have it yet! He gets it after the prayer in the opinion of SM, who has identified SP’s avesa as Nityanandavesa! The whole prayer is a prayer for empowerment after which he desires to enter the lila without the empowerment where it has no value. Its value is for preaching. That is why he asked for the empowerment, to preach effectively.

          • “You must enjoy the role of being the spoiler and odd man out.”

            I find this kind of pseudo-psychologizing offensive. It misattributes a good quality that is easy to espouse but difficult to live by (caring more for the truth than the party line) to be a bad quality (perversely enjoying being a spoiler). That said, I also disagree that the majority of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples hold that he is a manjari.

    • Atul Krsna: Yes, I have read the article. And, excuse me, but it couldn’t completely convince me. There are so many evidences supporting another opinion.

      So far, no one has produced such evidence. And I’ll tell you frankly that I would not expect to convince you, given your prejudged position. I simply organized and analyzed the evidence that presented itself, as I say in the essay itself, in the course of conversation. This seemed to happen almost providentially. As Swami says, the quotations you assembled in your comment do not constitute evidence of Srila Prabhupada’s internal sentiments. They’re general statements about the nature of Krishna consciousness. However, what I found in the course of developing this essay does something quite different; using external evidence provided by Srila Prabhupada, sadhus who knew him, and the shastra, it appears to indicate Srila Prabhupada’s personal sentiment for Krishna, who he addresses as his friend in more than one place. If you were to consider the evidence with an open mind and heart, you may be able to appreciate that. However, if you approach the essay with some predetermined idea, you will be likely to miss what seems clear to so many of Srila Prabhupada’s own disciples.

      I’ll also tell you this, just between us: I have been immersed in very intense service to Srila Prabhupada and Mahaprabhu over the last 42 years. But I have never felt his presence stronger than when I was immersed in this project. (Please don’t share this with anyone else.)

  6. Dear Atul Krsna dasa,

    Although there are a few devotees in Gaura-lila whose identities are equivocal, generally we find overwhelming agreement. This holds true with the devotees you have named. So what can we draw from this? We should be careful not to take the exception to be the norm.

    Nonetheless, O My Friend does not claim to identify Srila Prabhupada’s svarupa. It addresses the more general topic of bhava. Why might someone be confident about identifying someone’s bhava? An obvious case is when the devotee himself or herself has already revealed it. Srila Prabhupada has done this in his Jaladutta prayer, as well as in direct statements. O My Friend is merely highlighting that which Srila Prabhupada has himself revealed.

    You imply that my article or O My Friend “roughly operates sastras” and relies on “blind logic.” Could you please substantiate that statement?

    As for the statements of Srila Prabhupada you quoted, it is clear that he is using the rasa dance in a general sense of experiencing rasa with Krsna from his statement that “In a spiritual body one can dance with Krsna in the rasa dance like the gopis and the cowherd boys” and “His participation in spiritual life with the Supreme Lord is called rasa-lila.”

  7. Swami says:

    How so? Because he signed his lettesr “Your ever well wisher?” Come now. The majority of Mahaprabhu’s followers were in madhurya rasa and they preached just fine.

    I base my statement on things I read in the books of Srila Prabhupada such as;

    Thinking oneself to be nitya-krsna-däsa, everlastingly a servant of Krsna, is called däsyam, and sakhyam means being a well-wisher of Krsna. Krsna wants everyone to surrender unto Him because everyone is constitutionally His servant. Therefore, as a sincere friend of Krsna, one should preach this philosophy, requesting everyone to surrender unto Krsna. Ätma-nivedanam means offering Krsna everything, including one’s body, mind, intelligence and whatever one may possess.

    SB 7.5.23-24 purport

    In this incident at least Srila Prabhupada identifies preaching as an act of friendship in sakhya-rasa. I think there might be a couple more cases I can find and cite, but for now this purport supports my last proposition that you are questioning.
    Don’t just fly through the purport. Think about it a little and see if you can’t see what I was trying to say.
    I’ll keep looking through the Vedabase search. I think I remember another reference that is similar or more explanatory and the source of my own idea.

    • What you have cited is a couple of sentences from Prabhupada paraphrasing BSST’s comments on nava laksana bhakti. Among them kirtana is traditionally identified with preaching, not sakhyam. Prabhupada is merely saying that preaching involves befriending people and sharing with them the good tidings of Gaura Nityananda. He is not teaching that preaching is about sakhya rasa. In this paragraph sakhya rasa is not even being discussed, but rather the limb of vaidhi bhakti known also as sakhyam.

      But over all you cannot say that whenever Prabhupada showed and expressed affinity for sakhya rasa this was only related to his preaching (which makes no sense to me at all), because we are discussing the instances in which Prabhupada spoke, etc. about sakhya rasa (not sakhya as a limb of vaidhi bhakti) in relation to his ideal—prayojana tattva. In contrast, preaching refers to abhideya tattva. So you have made kichari out several terms and concepts that is not suitable for offering to His Divine Grace, my friend. So enough on this point as well.

  8. KB: Of course you understand that the majority of Prabhupada followers consider him to be teaching and preaching gopi-bhava as the highest ideal and a member of that class.

    Your views are not the majority view and in fact somewhat controversial.
    But, then again should we be surprised that Swami is found in the middle of a controversy?

    You must enjoy the role of being the spoiler and odd man out

    You seem to have a propensity for saying whatever will stir things up, regardless of what you believe yourself. As Swami says, to assert that a majority of Srila Prabhupada’s followers believe his inner life is guided by some other sentiment than what we see in “O My Friend!” would require a well-designed poll. Neither you nor I is really going to take such a poll. But I can tell you this: I am probably in contact with more of his followers these days than you are. The response I have gotten is overwhelmingly favorable.

    Of course, many devotees have suggested that such discussion is not appropriate in public. Swami, his staff, and I decided to publish this only because someone else saw fit to conduct a campaign purporting to show that Srila Prabhupada is inclined toward a different bhava. The argument they make is based, like some of the quotations kindly provided by Atul Krsna above, on the fact that srngara rati is the highest of all the loving sentiments. But they provide no evidence that directly indicates Srila Prabhupada’s own bhava. In my essay I carefully avoid speculation. Rather, I critically analyze the evidence that presented itself to my correspondents and me. When Swami saw the direction in which that evidence points, he directed me to explore it in writing. As I say in the essay itself, I’m not particularly inclined toward discussing such things in public, but we decided to respond to the campaign I mentioned above. And as Swami points out, I never even hint that I know Srila Prabhupada’s svarupa. This is a very cautious exploration, and conducting it ranks among the most important things I’ve done. (One of those is cultivating the first Tulasi plants in ISKCON outside India, beginning in March 1970, a service which pleased Srila Prabhupada very much. Another is founding and managing a gurukula in Hawaii. This ranks with those, and above the many other services I’ve performed over the last 41 years.) I’m grateful beyond words to Swami Tripurari for giving me this service, and to Vrindaranya for her invaluable help editing the essay and for her analysis here.

  9. “You must enjoy the role of being the spoiler and odd man out.”

    I find this kind of pseudo-psychologizing offensive. It misattributes a good quality that is easy to espouse but difficult to live by (caring more for the truth than the party line) to be a bad quality (perversely enjoying being a spoiler). That said, I also disagree that the majority of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples hold that he is a manjari.

    But you don’t find it offensive to assume that you know better than a senior Vaishnava such as Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja?

    • Bhaktikanda, you are merely bringing up old points now. Earlier in this thread you already brought this up and it was already discussed. Besides, it is so obviously an awful argument because by the same criterion you propose Narayan Maharaja would be offensive for disagreeing with Sridhara Maharaja on this very issue. I think it behooves those who take issue with the conclusion of O My Friend to not simply reiterate points that were already addressed, or even better, admit when they are addressed rather than simply moving on (only to return the next year and start the whole thing over).

    • Is it offensive for Narayana Maharaja to have a different opinion than someone senior to him, i.e., Sridhara Maharaja? As was pointed out in O My Friend, Sridhara Maharaja’s opinion was clearly that SP was in sakhya rasa.

    • “But you don’t find it offensive to assume that you know better than a senior Vaishnava such as Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja?”

      No, I am surprised that you don’t see the distinction. Under the guise of being able to divine another person’s intentions, KB has taken the particularly distasteful step of twisting a good quality into something perverse.

      In my own case, I am faced with a difference of opinion between Srila Narayana Maharaja and that of my own Guru and param Gurus (Srila Prabhupada and Srila Sridhara Maharaja). Am I guilty of thinking I know better than Srila Narayana Maharaja if I hold the opinion of my Gurus? And where do I assign any ill motive? In my article, I gave one way harmonizing the differences in accordance with the relative vision of Sri Guru given in Jaiva Dharma according to bhava. To say that someone’s vision is tinged by bhava is hardly attributing a base intention, as KB has done. Of all the ways of harmonizing this apparent contradiction, this approach is the one I find the most congenial as well as the most sound philosophically.

      I imagine that you disagree. In my opinion, that is fine. You may want to note, however, that by the reasoning you put forth against me, you are disagreeing with a senior Vaisnava (my Guru Maharaja) and assuming you know better than someone who is senior to you by age, experience, and realization. As much as you feel that Srila Narayana Maharaja is fulfilling the desires of Srila Prabhupada, so too do I feel about my Guru. Such is the wonder of Guru-tattva. This wonderful quality is so only as long as we don’t taint it with the sectarian mentality of amar guru jagat guru (tomar guru choto guru). As I mentioned in my article, I think this is a prime reason why this issue should be discussed in the context of sastra-yukti rather than trying to pit the realization of one devotee against another. This is the tried and true method put forth by all of our acaryas.

      You might be interested to hear that Srila Narayana Maharaja also did not consider that it was offensive to have a different opinion on this issue. In a letter to my Guru Maharaja on this matter, while maintaining his own position, he three times expressed appreciation for my Guru Maharaja’s conviction that Srila Prabhupada was in sakhya-rasa.

      • Srila Narayana Maharaja is not at the same level as Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada’s disciples, in age and realization, you guru included. He is senior on both accounts. I am surprised you don’t see the difference between your guru and a senior to him – Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja.

        By saying that you are following the even more senior personalities of Srila Bahtkisidhanta Saraswati and Srila Sridhara Maharaja does not account still for the fact that you disregard the opinion of still your senior Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja.

        Sometimes our own guru is wrong. At that time the best service is to tell him/her so.

        • “Srila Narayana Maharaja is not at the same level as Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada’s disciples, in age and realization, you guru included. He is senior on both accounts. I am surprised you don’t see the difference between your guru and a senior to him – Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja.

          By saying that you are following the even more senior personalities of Srila Bahtkisidhanta Saraswati and Srila Sridhara Maharaja does not account still for the fact that you disregard the opinion of still your senior Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja.

          Sometimes our own guru is wrong. At that time the best service is to tell him/her so.”

          I find your viewpoint to be a real turn-off. Such fanaticism is a large part of what makes the Gaudiya community the unpleasant, fractious mess we see when visiting some of the popular Gaudiya news sites. For the sake of congenial dealings among different groups, attractive presentation to the world at large, and last but not least your own spiritual progress, I would strongly urge you to rout out this sectarian fanaticism by embracing the truth that faith is subjective. We will all naturally feel that our Guru is best because Krsna has come to us in that form. Nonetheless, we must squelch the desire to press this faith onto everyone else, honoring when the same principle of Guru Tattva has come to other people in a different form.

          Rather than trying to intimidate me into following your Guru, why don’t you follow him yourself? I already told you how he corresponded with my Guru about this issue–he didn’t find it offensive that someone held a different opinion than him–why should you?

          Look at other examples from Srila Narayana Maharaja’s life. When Srila Sridhara Maharaja disagreed with the philosophy supporting having Ratha-yatra in Navadvipa, did Srila Narayana Maharaja follow the opinion of the more senior Vaisnava? No, he did not. Did he follow Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s realization in regard to the bhava of Srila Prabhupada? Or that of Bhakti Pramode Puri Maharaja or Srila Prabhupada himself? No, he did not. Did he rush to serve Srila Prabhupada and his mission when his own Guru passed away? No, he did not. Why then do you expect that from others? My Guru isn’t even in a similar situation to Srila Narayana Maharaja and Srila Sridhara Maharaja, Bhakti Pramode Puri Maharaja, or Srila Prabhupada in that they are Godbrothers of Narayana Maharaja’s Guru. In contrast, although Srila Narayana Maharaja is obviously senior in age to my Guru Maharaja, they are God-cousins. Thus it is really over-the-top for you to try to force your faith on me as you have. It seems so weird to me that you expect me to disregard the realization of my Param Gurus in regard to Srila Prabhupada’s svarupa and instead go with the opinion of Srila Narayana Maharaja (since you see him as the current most senior Vaisnava). When my Guru is the “most senior Vaisnava,” am I allowed to believe that Srila Prabhupada is in sakhya-bhava again?

          • As the saying goes, you are barking up the wrong tree accusing me of fanaticism and of trying to convert you to follow “my” guru. I have many gurus, and am not particularly too concerned with Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja’s group in itself. Besides, most everyone acquainted with your spiritual life knows that I would be barking up the wrong tree if I attempted to inspire you to follow anyone but Tripurari Swami.

            This is why I say the best service you probably would be offering in the circumstances is to be realistic in this matter rather than encourage what clearly isn’t the best for everyone involved, albeit perhaps apparently convenient to a selected group under relative consideration.

            Its easy to accomodate the world out there, from Islam to the many material minorities in need of support. But the real test of Mahaprabhu is here in the core of our family: how are we accomodating the devotees; how are we going to give His gift to the world when we don’t even respect the process by which the gift is given? This still is and always will be a descending process. The gift is not so much God himself but the devotee, his sangha.

            More important than giving God is to give the devotee. And to give the devotee one must respect and honor the devotee in fact, in sacrifice, not only in lip service, and in diplomacy.

            It falls on you to respect the dealings among senior sadhus who came before you, not the other way around. But what we see instead is that there is a great deal of accusations made involving events and persoanlities who you obviously never met and cannot possibly expect to comprehend, what to speak of representing. Hearsay. The only living person in the matter who could shed some light in your otherwise uninformed perception of the matter you obviously accuse of lying. You call this your honoring of sadhus? You call this concern for the well being of Vaishnavas? Incredible!

            You say you have the support of guru, shastra and sadhu in your rejection of Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja’s own opinion. I am afraid you are mistaken, you have presented departed acaryas as guru and sadhus in the matter. The meaning of guru and sadhu is living guru and living sadhu. There is a reason sadhus depart and others come in their place. Its a living process. You have not consultad one single living sadhu other than your own peers before presenting your conclusion. And your guru also have not consulted with other sadhus outside his own range of influence. Rather heads were jumped over like no other but your own opinion matters. Even an Iskcon representative came here and made some mild objection. There was no question of considering that feeling.

            So I have to say you are not doing a very good job of convincing me that your primary concern is with he well being of the Gaudiya family at large.

            Dandavats.

          • A few points to consider:

            1. My guru Srila Prabhupada told me (his disciples) that he was in sakhya rasa and left considerable evidence in support of this conclusion.
            2. My guru Pujyapada Sridhara Maharaja told me Prabhupada was in sakhya rasa and explained his opinion.
            3. Pujyapada Pramode Puri Maharaja told me Prabhupada was in sakhya rasa.
            4. Srila Narayana Maharaja told me I should drive the idea that Prabhupada was in sakhya rasa out of my head and heart.
            5. Later when I spoke to him in greater depth Narayana Maharaja changed his position in relation to my conviction and did not take exception to it.
            6. Later still when he was presented O My Friend he wrote to me and asked me some questions. I answered all of his questions and he told me that he had no objection to my opinion, while maintaining his own.
            7. Bhaktikanda suggests that my disciple is offensive for following and voicing my position on the issue under my direction.

            As Vrindaranya has pointed out, maintaining a different opinion from that of a senior Vaisnava on an esoteric subject need not in and of itself be offensive. Her example is telling. Pujyapada Sridhara Maharaja was of the opinion that one should not perform ratha yatra in Navadipa for various philosophical reasons. Srila Narayana Maharaja contends to this day that it is not philsophically incorrect to do so, as did his guru. Srila Narayana Maharaja has also published his opinion on this subject. Is he offensive for holding this opinion? No. Please note that there are other issues surrounding this conroversy that need not be part of the discussion, and although Bhaktikanda alludes to them, Vrindaranya has not.

            My conclusion: Bhaktikanda is wrong.

            Addendum: It should also be noted that only Srila Narayana Maharaja’s own following feels that he is the most advanced Vaisnava on earth. And while respecting him for his contribution and in some cases considering him senior in some respects, no other Gaudiya sect, including the Gaudiya Vednata Samiti founded by his guru, sees him in this light. Not one. Unfortunately many of his followers feel the need to push their opinion on others to the point of being offensive. I have corresponded with Srila Narayana Maharaja on this issue and he agreed with me, and encouraged me to continue to serve independently of his sect in direct service to my gurus.

        • Seniority of age and realization are different measurements. One is objective, the other subjective. Only your faith allows you to say that one guru is senior in realization to another. In discussions like these, your faith should be checked by your intelligence and adherence to Vaisnava decorum. You are talking about something subjective (your faith in the realization of NM) as if it should be an objective truth that all would obviously embrace. As Vrindaranya has pointed out, this is distasteful, and particularly in relation to discussion of people’s faith in their guru it reeks of a neophyte need to belong to the “right” group, and the need to convert others by force (of emotional argument.) Maybe your generalization of Islam in the sectarianism thread does not allow you to see how you are expressing such rigidity in regard to faith in this discussion.
          It seems that what you have missed in this discussion (and the book it is based on) is that this is not an emotional analysis of Prabhupada’s bhava. It is very deeply rooted in objectivity. It is not promoting a conception of Prabhupada’s bhava because we like it, or even because a senior vaisnava said it, or we have some confusion about what might objectively be “the topmost rasa”. Rather this discussion has relied primarily on evidence; Prabhupada’s own words. When those very clear words are supported by senior vaisnava’s who mirror Prabhupada’s statements and then offer their own further clarification we become enlivened because it appears that the truth (not sentiment) is revealed that much more. Srila Sridhar Maharaj was also obviously being objective (detached) in his analysis of Prabhupada’s bhava, because he did not share Prabhupada’s apparent sentiment.
          We are clinging to these truths, and fostering our faith and personal sentiments based on these truths as they become revealed more and more. What are you clinging to? It seems you are clinging only to some kind of feelings of your guru being insulted rather than disagreed with. And then rather than agree to disagree based on subjective faith (like it seems NM has done and the book “Oh my Friend” has done), or continue in an emotionally detached analytical spirit of discussion, you pull the “seniority” card. How is that productive?

        • Sometimes our own guru is wrong. At that time the best service is to tell him/her so.

          Well… have you done it yet?

          Sarcasm aside, your replies here time after time are displaying a glaring inability to participate in the process of debate. All the arguments you have made recently can be so easily flipped back on you, and when that is pointed out, you ignore it and move onto to other arguments that can be just as easily flipped around.

          You are just making emotional appeals, and when that falls apart, you say that you have no emotional commitment to that (in this case, whom) which you were arguing for in the first place. Can you honestly not see any of this?

        • What’s your point? Tell your guru that he is wrong? Then we should accept you as guru?

        • Your guru is not as advanced as my guru. You should tell your guru that his realization is wrong because it differs from my guru who is older than him and more advanced than him. Your guru should submit to my guru because my guru is more advanced than he is.

          I grow so tired of these things. Its like a broken record that keeps playing over and over again.

        • Srila Narayana Maharaja is not at the same level as Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada’s disciples, in age and realization, you guru included. He is senior on both accounts. I am surprised you don’t see the difference between your guru and a senior to him – Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja.

          Now really Bhaktikanda… I am sure you are a reasonable person and clearly intelligent. Why then would you come onto this website and make such an uninformed and mean-spirited statement? What can you truly say, of authority, that can quantify the realization of Srila Narayana Maharaja? In order to further justify your unnecessary and ill-informed position you would have to have some manner of quantifying my gurudeva’s –Swami B.V. Tripurari– realization. Then you would have to compare these two sources of information in order to assess who’s realization is higher. Even then, you would be subject to critique for having biased the assessment with your personal emotions on the matter… a bias that –to me– doesn’t seem informed by direct contact with Swami Tripurari anyway. Correct? And finally, besides all this… the whole study would be distasteful and neither of these sadhus would ever have subjected themselves to such a exhibitionistic display of their spiritual lives.

          How then do you feel justified in making such a distasteful comment? It really is a poor reflection of your character. This kind of thing tends to reflect poorly on all Vaisnavas. You may ask yourself if this kind of statement helps or hurts both your argument and your own integrity as a Vaisnava.

  10. Sometimes our own guru is wrong. At that time the best service is to tell him/her so.

    You mean like when Ramachandra Puri told Madhavendra Puri that he was wrong?

  11. Bhaktikanda,

    You say that I am barking up the wrong tree in accusing you of fanaticism. Let me reiterate what I find fanatical. Atmananda has summarized your position well:

    “Your guru is not as advanced as my guru. You should tell your guru that his realization is wrong because it differs from my guru who is older than him and more advanced than him. Your guru should submit to my guru because my guru is more advanced than he is.”

    Can you not see that this the well-worn amar guru jagat guru mentality? Don’t you recognize how it disregards the divine descent of faith and stomps it under the dirty shoe of fanaticism?

    Srila Sridhara Maharaja said that when your Guru leaves you have three choices: become a Guru (for those with qualification), serve someone else, or at least get out of the way. You seem to be confusing the first two categories that Srila Sridhara Maharaja describes. If one has qualification to be a Guru, they are internally connected with the guru-parampara. As Srila Prabhupada put it, “I never feel the absence of my Guru Maharaja even for a moment.” So although it is wonderful to have a siksa guru, it is not something that is forced or legislated. Guru is independent, the descent of Krsna. It is not that the Guru must go from siksa-guru to siksa guru until finally he is the most senior devotee on the planet.

    You continue in your current post to say that I haven’t consulted a single living sadhu other than my peers before presenting my conclusion. You thus either don’t consider my Guru a sadhu or you consider him my peer. You then condemn my Guru for not consulting with other sadhus “outside his own range of influence,” a statement that reeks of fanaticism. What exactly is his range of influence and how did you determine it?

    Furthermore, you have no idea whom my Guru consulted on this topic. As it happens, he consulted many Vaisnavas, including some senior to Srila Narayana Maharaja. So you may want to be more careful before you point a finger.

    You have also incorrectly attacked me for spreading hearsay and accusing Narayana Maharaja of lying. I did nothing of the sort. What I did was show the fallacy of your idea that we should never have a difference of opinion from a senior Vaisnava by using examples from the life of the very person you were insisting we should listen to. I was thus pointing out that you could stand to listen a little more closely.

    You continue to misrepresent me by saying that I said I have the support of guru, sastra, and sadhu in my rejection of Srila Narayana Maharaja’s own opinion. I never said that I reject Narayana Maharaja’s opinion or that I have the support of guru, sastra, and sadhu for doing so. What I actually said was that the way I have harmonized the difference between the opinion of Srila Narayana Maharaja and that of my Guru and param Gurus is on the basis of Srila Narayana Maharaja’s bhava. To say that something is bhava is hardly a rejection, so please read more carefully before you make further accusations.

    You end by questioning my integrity in being concerned with the well-being of the Gaudiya family at large and by offering an unsolicited review of my performance in convincing you. Please know that I put little weight in the assessment of someone who shows such a profound proclivity for unsubstantiated accusations and I hold no hope of convincing you of anything.

  12. I received this from a senior Godbrother. It is a relevant question based upon his personal experience.

    Herein lies the problem “Who is a senior Vaishnava and which ‘senior’
    Vaishnava’s version of the story shall we accept?” The fact is that until recently there were three Vaishnavas on this planet, who according to their disciples and their own opinions of their humble selves were/are pure devotees, paramahamsas, rasikas, and rupanuga-acaryas.

    According to the camp of Srila Govinda Maharaja, he was the sole acarya of the rupanuga-sampradaya. According to the camp of Srila Bhakti Vaibhava Puri Maharaja, he was the only real pure devotee, paramahamsa, on the planet. And according to the camp of Srila Narayana Maharaja, he was/is the only rasika-guru.

    I have met and discussed with all three of these ‘senior’ Vaishnavas at different times over the years, and each of them had/have maths on the same block in Vrindavana. They were/are each of the opinion that the other two are completely bogus. So who shall we accept as senior?

  13. The “evidence” you have cited in your comment is not really evidence at all as to what Prabhupada’s particular sentiment is. It is merely general preaching about the highest ideal of Gaudiya Vaisnavism.

    As for the statements of Srila Prabhupada you quoted, it is clear that he is using the rasa dance in a general sense of experiencing rasa with Krsna from his statement that “In a spiritual body one can dance with Krsna in the rasa dance like the gopis and the cowherd boys” and “His participation in spiritual life with the Supreme Lord is called rasa-lila.”

    So, it’s simple explanation, thanks, but not all quoted Srila Prabhupada’s statements looks like such. Obviously, he place clear emphasis on it. May be somebody could kindly offer another one?

    And one more confusing point: so many SP disciples choose sentiments of gopis and they never resorts to any other senior siksa-guru. So, please, cite the evidences that guru in sakhya-rasa can lead disciples in madhurya-rasa to the very end, that priya-narma-sakha can be the guru of gopis or manjaris. Usually it’s considered impossible, inspite of the almightness of guru-tattva. The example in Jaiva-dharma shows only contrary thing, the order can be downgraded not upgraded.

    And it’s a common feature of Gaura-lila that some personality from vraja comes and accepts different bhava. It’s interesting that in crucial moment of life Madhavendra Puri express gopi-bhava, which is different from his sthai-bhava of kalpa-vrksa. It’s what I have found in Gaura-gannodesa-dipika. No doubt, Srila Prabhupada have a strong connection with the sakhya-rasa but is that all?

    • So, it’s simple explanation, thanks, but not all quoted Srila Prabhupada’s statements looks like such.

      Yes and simple is best. Ockham’s Razor again. I think all the statements you have cited can easily be explained like this. You also have to understand that if you nonetheless want to interpret them to be evidence of gopi-bhava, you are then saddled with the burden of explaining all of Prabhupada’s direct statements concerning his affinity for sakya rasa such that they conform with your interpretation, if that is, you expect your interpretation to be credible. This in one sense is the beauty of O MY Friend. It has explaind all of Prabhupada’s statements about gopi bhava such that they can be understood in light of and harmonized with his innumerable direct and indirect statements affirming his affiity for sakya rasa.

      And one more confusing point: so many SP disciples choose sentiments of gopis and they never resorts to any other senior siksa-guru. So, please, cite the evidences that guru in sakhya-rasa can lead disciples in madhurya-rasa to the very end, that priya-narma-sakha can be the guru of gopis or manjaris. Usually it’s considered impossible, inspite of the almightness of guru-tattva. The example in Jaiva-dharma shows only contrary thing, the order can be downgraded not upgraded.

      Prabhupada’s campaign was broad. He was recruiting for the sampradaya. Not all of his disciples will necessarily awaken to the same bhava as his. He can place them where they need to go to develop any particular bhava. As far as manjari-bhava is concerned, the term comes from outside of his own preaching. The buzz about manjari bhava had no presence in Iskcon before outside influence became involved. And that’s not a bad thing. Just a fact. Your idea that so many of his disciples chose gopi-bhava without outside influence is not correct. Some may have, and why not? Prabhupada did teach that such an opportunity was before them. But Iskcon today, for example, despite its effort to keep outside influences out, is permeated by such influences while often failing to acknowledge this fact. Even Gaura Govinda Maharaja had a siksa guru from outside of Iskcon, and this is where his insights about manajari bhava came from. But again, this has already been addressed in O My Friend!

      And it’s a common feature of Gaura-lila that some personality from vraja comes and accepts different bhava.

      I do not agree with this notion. The norm is that the nitya siddhas of Vraja dhama appear in Gaura lila and embrace dasya bhakti for Gaura while maintaining their Vraja identity/bhava internally.

      It’s interesting that in crucial moment of life Madhavendra Puri express gopi-bhava, which is different from his sthai-bhava of kalpa-vrksa

      Not there is no difference. The idea that MP is a kalpa-vrksa is merely a way of saying that he is the wish fulfilling tree that the vine of gopi-bhava taught in our sampradaya can attach itself to. Internally we find gopi bhava in MP. This is his Vraja identity/bhava. And many plants in Vraja-loka are in madhurya bhava anyway.

  14. You also have to understand that if you nonetheless want to interpret them to be evidence of gopi-bhava, you are then saddled with the burden of explaining all of Prabhupada’s direct statements concerning his affinity for sakya rasa such that they conform with your interpretation, if that is, you expect your interpretation to be credible.

    No, no, no. I don’t want to put forward any my ideas, however I’d like You to better support yours. If you think that such explanation is sufficient – all right. After all it was your initiative to clarify this subject.
    As I see the only direct evidence for Prabhupada’s sakhya-bhava (may be better to say ‘svarupa’) is his prayer, it’s the foundation for all other’s opinions and for all assumptions as well.

    Your idea that so many of his disciples chose gopi-bhava without outside influence is not correct. Some may have, and why not? … Even Gaura Govinda Maharaja had a siksa guru from outside of Iskcon, and this is where his insights about manajari bhava came from.

    Still I eager to see the sastric evidences, could You kindly provide them? And of course the conception of serving Srimati Radharani in madhurya rasa was in Prabhupada’s ISKCON, just look in Visnujana Swami’s lectures. And I wonder what’s the need of outside siksa had Gour Govinda Maharaj if he was totally convinced in gopi-svarupa of Srila Prabhupada. Besides of that can we actually in this context equaliate surrender to siksa-guru and just receiving instructions from somewhere? Will the second option works and gives the perfect results?

    I do not agree with this notion. The norm is that the nitya siddhas of Vraja dhama appear in Gaura lila and embrace dasya bhakti for Gaura while maintaining their Vraja identity/bhava internally.

    Let us see. The whole panca-tattva (except may be Srivasa Thakura), Svarupa Samodara Gosani, Ramananda Roy, Haridasa Thakur and many others not so prominent leaders of sankirtana movement has somewhat different bhava’s (quite ofteneven more than one). It is not inevitable but it is not a rare exception too.

    The idea that MP is a kalpa-vrksa is merely a way of saying that he is the wish fulfilling tree that the vine of gopi-bhava taught in our sampradaya can attach itself to. Internally we find gopi bhava in MP. This is his Vraja identity/bhava. And many plants in Vraja-loka are in madhurya bhava anyway.

    Jaya! Please, if it is not so difficult, cite the sources.

    One more thing 🙂 We often say that Srila Prabhupada was empowered by karuna-sakti of Lord Nityananda Prabhu (what does not suppose only sakhya mood too), however we also can think of the darsan of Gosvamis vrndavana (at least Rupa, Sanatana and Jiva) that Srila Prabhupada had and their’s empowerment. At least this Srila Prabhupada admitted himself.

    • As I see the only direct evidence for Prabhupada’s sakhya-bhava (may be better to say ‘svarupa’) is his prayer, it’s the foundation for all other’s opinions and for all assumptions as well.

      You do not consider the testament (cited in O My friend) of several of his disciples stating that he told them he was in sakhya rasa direct evidence? But nonetheless the prayer is the paribhasa sutra of the argument, that around which the argument orbits, the key to understanding the truth of the matter. The quality of this evidence is extremely weighty. Its support of SM makes it more so, as does the balance of the direct and indirect evidence. Sri Jiva makes the argument that one cannot say that his direct evidence for Krsna’s supremacy is not sufficient because it consists of only one pada, one line of one verse (krsnas tu bhagavan svayam). After all, many of the sutras of Vyasa are even shorter yet they carry considerable weight. And again, it is really impossible to twist another credible explanation out of his prayer, a prayer composed in his internal bhajana. So his sakhya bhava cannot be denied. That is not possible. Now if you want to say that somehow there is gopi bhava there as well, you must provide at least as much evidence if not more. No one has been able to do that because it is not there. Simply citing statements like “Yes our goal is to enter the rasa lila” when preaching to George Harrison, for example, is not evidence at all, what to speak of weighty evidence becasue it can easily be explained away as I have done above. Our sampradaya does after all open the door to Radha dasyam in the fullest sense of the term. So again, anyone representing the lineage in preaching will at times bring this up. It is the general preaching of the sampradaya (anarpita carim . . .).

    • Swami: Your idea that so many of his disciples chose gopi-bhava without outside influence is not correct. Some may have, and why not? … Even Gaura Govinda Maharaja had a siksa guru from outside of Iskcon, and this is where his insights about manajari bhava came from.

      Atul Krsna: Still I eager to see the sastric evidences, could You kindly provide them? And of course the conception of serving Srimati Radharani in madhurya rasa was in Prabhupada’s ISKCON, just look in Visnujana Swami’s lectures. And I wonder what’s the need of outside siksa had Gour Govinda Maharaj if he was totally convinced in gopi-svarupa of Srila Prabhupada. Besides of that can we actually in this context equaliate surrender to siksa-guru and just receiving instructions from somewhere? Will the second option works and gives the perfect results?

      I have no sastric reference for the fact that the notion of manjari bhava in particular came to Iskcon from outside sources. How can you ask for that? However in all of Prabhupada’s recorded speech there is no direct mention of manjari-bhava or Radha dasyam. But as I mentioned it is of course there in the sampradya Prabhupada represents and it is in the texts he translated, etc. So it is there for the taking. And he is the giver in his misssion. He is giving the option as a representative of the sampradaya and he has the power to place his disciples so interested in the hands of those who can assist them further if needed. Do they need assistance? Not in all cases, for Harinama is cintamani. Any spiritual desire can be fulfilled by kirtana of Harinama. Harinama requires no other method to assist it. Nama himself can foster smaranam, kirtana prabhave smarana svabhave. So I am not arguing that one must go elsewhere if one is Prabuupada’s disciple to attain gopi-bhava because he is in sakhya rasa. This is not the argument of O My Friend. It does however make the point (a minor point perhaps) that keen interest in the particulars of manjari bhava and information about it now available in Iskcon came from outside influences. You are a younger devotee and your experience of Iskcon is an Iskcon saturated with outside influences. So it may be harder for you to appreciate this point.

      • Swami says:

        However in all of Prabhupada’s recorded speech there is no direct mention of manjari-bhava or Radha dasyam.

        Maharaja, in fact Srila Prabhupada had a female disciple he initiated into manjari-bhava at the time of giving her initiated name as Rupa Manjari.

        Prabhupada told her “So your name is Rupa Manjari Dasi. There are different gopis. The assistant gopis is manjaris. So Rupa Manjari, you, this maidservant of Rupa Manjari”

        That was L.A. 1972, when Srila Prabhupada initiated this girl into manjari-bhava by instructing her to think of herself as a maidservant of Rupa Manjari.

        There are other places where Prabhupada recommends madhurya-rasa. It’s there for one who looks for it.
        If your trying hard not to find it, then I guess you can.

        • Thanks for that KB. So there is one direct reference to manjari bhava (kind of without mentioning manjari bhava) in Prabhupada’s recorded body of instruction. However, I do not think it significant or in any way indicative of his own bhava. Nor does it say that he initiated this young disciple at the time of her Nama diksa “into manjati-bhava.”

          Otherwise of course he recommends madhurya-rasa throughout his books in a general sense. What is of greater significance is that in spite of this he emphasizes sakhya rasa and this with reference to himself.

        • This is hardly an initiation into manjari-bhava; he’s simply explaining the meaning of her name. I’ve known Rupa-manjari since 1973 or ’74, and if you like, I can ask her the next time I see her. She comes here regularly to visit her daughter Vrindavanesvari, who works with my wife.

    • The gopi-bava of MP is demonstrated in two ways. At the end of his life and lila he directly expressed it. You can find this in Cc. (ayi dina dayadra natha he) It is also directly stated in Cc that the seed of what Mahaprabhu came to give (unnatojjvala rasa) was found in MP (jaya sri madhavapuri krsna-prema-pura bhakti-kalpatarura tenho prathama ankura). See Prabhupada’s purport.

      That the creepers in Vraja are in madhurya rasa is well known. You can find it in Govinda-lilamrta and also in SB 10.15 in Krsna’s eulogy of Balarama if you have access to the tikas of Sri Sanatana, Jiva, and probably Visvantha Cakravarti.

    • Atul Krsna: Let us see. The whole panca-tattva (except may be Srivasa Thakura), Svarupa Samodara Gosani, Ramananda Roy, Haridasa Thakur and many others not so prominent leaders of sankirtana movement has somewhat different bhava’s (quite often even more than one). It is not inevitable but it is not a rare exception too.

      I am not entirely sure what you are trying to say here but I will try to answer nonetheless. You seem to be saying that because we find that some eternal associates of Mahaprabhu exhibited different bhavas, therefore Prabhupada can be both in sakhya bhava and gopi bhava.

      To this, I must say that the burden of proof that Prabhupada is in two different bhavas and has two different svarupas in Goloka is on your shoulders. I find no evidence to support this idea. We have only strong evidence to support that he is in sakhya rasa and general preaching on his part about the ideal of gopi bhava in the Gaudiya sampradaya.

      The only reason for one to think that Prabhupada might be in gopi bhava is that our sampradaya emphasizes it and best facilitates it. This is the point of Sri B.V. Narayana Maharaja. It is of course a good point, but when it comes up against compelling evidence to the contrary, we cannot simply ignore that evidence.

      And we do find a number of prominent examples of sakhya rasa in our sampradaya. We do not try to turn Gauridasa Pandit into a gopi when he exhibits the fact that his Vraja bhava is that of a gopa. No, we honor and celebrate it. Why fight the facts? Why try to dismiss the personal testimonies of Prabhupada’s disciples to whom he said “I am a cowherd,” etc., especially when they conform with what Prabhupada himself has written about his ideal? Why argue with the personal opinion of his dearmost Godbrother, who lived in his house for six years, B. R. Sridhara Deva Goswami? And why avoid it when the fact of his sakhya rasa is not contradictory to the siddhanta? And why dismiss me? Believe it or not, I also have realization.

      Turning to examples like Ramananda, note that there are less than a handful of Mahaprabhu’s associates that are identified with different bhavas by Kavi Karnapura. Ramananda is the primary example. But he is identified with different bhavas for good reasons, and at the same time this identification does not mean that he was in two different bhavas and had two different corresponding svarupas in Goloka.

      Mahaprabhu considered him Arjuna. This cannot be ignored. However, for the most part the sampradaya has not taken this literally, but rather at best that Pandava Arjuna was partially present in Ramanada and not that Ramananda himself is both Pandava Arjuna and another personality. After all, the main role of Ramananda is found in his conversation with Mahaprabhu, in which he ultimately instructs Mahaprabhu about gopi bhava, something Pandava Arjuna is not privy to in any detail. His gopi bhava is also clear in his book Jagannatha-vallabha-nataka.

      Thus Ramananda is primarily identified with gopi bhava, although all devotees do not concur on which particular gopi he is in the Vraja lila, citing evidence in support of Visakha or Lalita, etc. Nonetheless, we can be sure that he isn’t both.

      Kavi Karnapura has also identified Ramananda with the the priyanarma cowherd Arjuna of Vraja, a different Arjuna from Pandava Arjuna. But the sampradaya has not taken this identification in a primary sense. Rather than understanding it to mean that Ramananda is both a gopi and a gopa in Vraja, the sampradaya understands this to mean that sometimes we see in Ramananda that he was able to pacify Mahaprabhu when Gaura was in the mood of Krsna feeling separation from Radha just like a priyanarma does in the Vraja lila, subala yaiche purve krsna-sukhera sahaya gaura-sukha-dana-hetu taiche rama-raya. Hence some indentification with the priyanarma bhava is there in him.

      So all that Kavi Karnapura has written is not to be taken literally. At the same time whatever he has written is evidence based. Again, where is the compelling evidence that Prabhupada is not in sakhya bhava? There is none. Where is the compelling evidence that he is in gopi bhava? There is none, none that is that compares even remotely with the evidence in support of his sakhya bhava. Where is the evidence that he is in both? There is none. You cannot just say that “Becasue we find different bhavas as in the case of Ramanada in one person, therefore I am justified in claiming that Prabhupada is in gopi bhava as well as sakhya bhava.” This makes no spiritual sense. Where is the evidence to support it and furthermore this runs into problems with Gaudiya siddhanta. Why? Because while it is true that one can have more than one svarupa, the general siddhanta of Gaudiya sampradaya is that for Gaudiyas this refers to the possibility of having one svarupa in Krsna lila and another in Gaura lila. Dasya bhava in Gaura lila and gopi or gopa bhava in Krsna lila. Worship in Nadiya; live in Vraja! Jaya Gaura Jaya Krsna!

      In conclusion I feel that those who maintain a different conclusion may not be aware of all of the evidence to the contrary. This is the case with B.V. Narayana Maharaja. He is aware of the natural conclusion of O My Friend but has not really gone through all the evidence in detail. And while some of his disciples have and still disagree because their guru says otherwise, they have failed to support their opposing opinion or present the strong evidence in detail to their guru as Bhaktikanada has suggested on this thread one should do.

      I hope to sit with Narayana Maharaja in the future and go through all the points raised in O My Friend in detail and give him the opportunity to have the information found therein. I have no doubt such evidence will cause him to rethink his position, which aside from taking this evidence into account, is well-reasoned and spiritually sound.

    • One more thing We often say that Srila Prabhupada was empowered by karuna-sakti of Lord Nityananda Prabhu (what does not suppose only sakhya mood too), however we also can think of the darsan of Gosvamis vrndavana (at least Rupa, Sanatana and Jiva) that Srila Prabhupada had and their’s empowerment. At least this Srila Prabhupada admitted himself.

      Atul, it was Sridhara Deva Goswami who introduced the idea that Prabhupada was empowered by Nityananda, and he cited evidence to support his contention. In doing so he argued that in his personal opinion this too was evidence of Prabhupada’s sakya bhava. Yes, of course Prabhupada was also inspired by Rupa Goswami while living at Radha Damodara. But what I see here is that you are taking SM’s argument about empowerment and then trying to apply that elsewhere while casting doubt on even the sakhya influence of Nitai’s avesa. You take all of this too lightly. It is not a game. SM made a serious and strong point about Prabhupada being empowered, something none of his disciples would have dared to do. He called him saktyavesa and then he explained the nature of that avesa with evidence of its characteristics being prominently manifest in Prabhupada’s person and preaching campaign. He then tied that avasea to his sakhya bhava as well. Again, this is not something to play with. it carries with it the weight of the world and more. You cannot just jump in and decide to override SM and say that the avesa is perhaps by Nitai but not necessarily indicative of sakhya and incidentally perhaps he is also empowered by Rupa Goswami and thus in gopi bhava. Know your place.

      So are we getting anywhere with all of this.

  15. I would like to suggest that anyone desiring to overturn the natural conclusion of OMF is burdened by the task of writing a comprehensive paper that deals with the points raised therein. Such a paper must find another way to harmonize Prabhupada’s direct statements about his sakhya rasa affinity and all the supporting evidence with the idea that his affinity is for manjari bhava, resolving the weakness that Vrindaranya pointed out in relation to Dhanurdhara Maharaja’s review. It must also provide considerable direct and supporting evidence for the idea that Srila Prabhupada idealized manjari bhava. This is not an easy task. Simply pulling a general statement or two or three or four out of the body of Prabupada’s recorded siksa that says something about the glory of madhurya rasa and his appreciation for it hardly merits consideration. Nor does the idea that “My guru is more advanced than yours and he says otherwise” hold any weight in and of itself without dealing with the actual points raised. Note that OMF when citing senior devotees cites not only their opinion but moreover the reasoning behind their opinion. This is the standard of the sampradaya.

    This issue warrants a sober philosophical discussion that takes into consideration the arguments that have already been made and defeated and those that stand as yet not refuted. It concerns an important subject that has bearing directly or indirectly on almost all of the international members of our samparaya, those, that is, who have been touched if not ignited by the preaching of the Bhaktivinoda parivara. Thus far papers have been written by Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayan Maharaja, Sriman Bhabru dasa, Sripad Dhanurdhara Swami, and Srimati Vrindaranya. As it stands, the natural conclusion of OMF still carries the day, and the idea that Srila Prabhupada is in manjari-bhava has several philosophical problems that no one has been able to resolve.

    Again, objections to this natural conclusion may persist, but off-the-cuff, general statements about madhurya-rasa do not prove that Srila Prabhupada embraced madhurya-bhava and neither does the idea that sakhya-rasa is included in madhurya-rasa (see Vrindaranya’s articles for a refutation of this idea). For that matter, OMF has already addressed the fact that Prabhupada sometimes glorified madhurya rasa and the book has harmonized this fact with his sakhya rasa in two ways. Until someone addresses the philosophical problems pointed out in Vrindaranya’s article—the latest philosophical paper on the issue—in a cohernet manner addressing the evidence and siddhanta, the natural conclusion of OMF remains the last word.

  16. As for the opinion of Senior Vaisnavas and the majority, the Sri Caitanya Saraswata Math, Narasingha Maharaja’s mission, Pramode Puri Maharaja’s mission lead now by Bhodayana Maharaja, and all the non Sarasawata Gaudiya lineages agree that Prabhupada in sakhya rasa.

  17. I offer my respectful obbeisances to the splendid and glorious Lalita-devi.

    Although the majority of the evidence, including several disciples’ accounts of direct statements by Srila Prabhupada himself, points in one direction, I remain open to compelling evidence to the contrary. Further, I anticipate that this booklet will stimulate further discussion of the topic, and I look forward to hearing more memories and insights on the unlimited nectar of Srila Prabhupada’s life.

    I’m sorry, Maharaj, for the anxieties that I cause you. As I already spoke I don’t want to start polemize and certainly I have no right to confronting you. All that I wanted is to get a few answers on the reasonable questions and several philosophical enlightments as well. I appeal you, Maharaj, to speak more friendly.

    I have no sastric reference for the fact that the notion of manjari bhava in particular came to Iskcon from outside sources. How can you ask for that?

    I’m asking just for sastric quotes or examples that proves that a sakha-guru can lead gopi-disciples, and not as an exception happened due to the harinam or some siksa from outside but as a general rule. And the second part of it – is it possible for the disciple see the sakha-guru always as a gopi.

    The gopi-bava of MP is demonstrated in two ways. At the end of his life and lila he directly expressed it. You can find this in Cc. (ayi dina dayadra natha he) It is also directly stated in Cc that the seed of what Mahaprabhu came to give (unnatojjvala rasa) was found in MP (jaya sri madhavapuri krsna-prema-pura bhakti-kalpatarura tenho prathama ankura). See Prabhupada’s purport.

    That the creepers in Vraja are in madhurya rasa is well known. You can find it in Govinda-lilamrta and also in SB 10.15 in Krsna’s eulogy of Balarama if you have access to the tikas of Sri Sanatana, Jiva, and probably Visvantha Cakravarti.

    You cannot just say that “Becasue we find different bhavas as in the case of Ramanada in one person, therefore I am justified in claiming that Prabhupada is in gopi bhava as well as sakhya bhava.” This makes no spiritual sense. Where is the evidence to support it and furthermore this runs into problems with Gaudiya siddhanta. Why? Because while it is true that one can have more than one svarupa, the general siddhanta of Gaudiya sampradaya is that for Gaudiyas this refers to the possibility of having one svarupa in Krsna lila and another in Gaura lila.

    As far as I know Jiva Goswami in Sandarbhas explains that there are two things: atma – source of consciousness, and bhava – form of consciousness. And citing Upanisads he declare that bhavas and corresponding svarupas of one particular atma may be manyfold (three, four etc.)
    It’s the easy and the only way to resolve such a questions like about Gadadhara Pandit and Ramananda Ray. One personality with certain corresponding svarupa in Vraja accept different moods.

    Ok, let us accept your explanation of Madhavendra Puri’s bhava. But as for creepers… – all creatures in Vrndavana has some connection with madhurya-rasa, and gopies can view them and adress them as such, because the projecting one’s own mood on something is a usual thing (Jiva Goswami explains that too). However we can hardly objectively say that they have more than santa with a tinge of madhurya. Because for madhurya-rasa you should have a body of a woman, Sarasvati Thakur translate madhurya-rasa as conjugal relationship which in his time means no other than a sex relationship. It’s just as we sometimes say that cows in vatsalya-rasa and sometimes in santa, the same principle.

    You cannot just jump in and decide to override SM and say that the avesa is perhaps by Nitai but not necessarily indicative of sakhya and incidentally perhaps he is also empowered by Rupa Goswami and thus in gopi bhava. Know your place.

    Sridhara Maharaja said that it’s his opinion that Srila Prabhupada is Nityananda-avesa, and I accepted it as such (as his opinion).

    However is it clear for all what he is trying to say there? –

    And the sakhya rasa is also not to be neglected. Dasa Goswami who is thought to hold the highest position of madhurya rasa prayojana acarya himself says, sakhayam me namasta nityam dasaya me varastu satyam what does it mean? Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. Is it an intellectual field that we can pass resolution, pass remark in any way we like in our fashion. Dasa Goswami who is posted in the highest position of the prayojana tattva, the acarya of prayojana in madhurya rasa Radha dasya, he says that vesa I’ll try to show my reverance to the sakhya and I want, I crave that my real earnestness may go for the dasya rasa. It is a thing to play. Radharani herself she wants that my attention is always to serve. But because Krsna wishes to enjoy me, He enjoys. But my mark, my ideal is always to serve Him. The santa rasa this prayena munayo rajan nivrtair etc. This is santa rasa in Bhagavatam. atmaramas ca munayo nirgrantha apy urukrame kurvanty ahaitukim bhaktim ittham bhuta guno harih. These are examples of santa rasa. This is very rarely to be found. We must go to that plane and then we should deal with things. Dasya, just the opposite. The madhurya rasa even Radharani Herself she says that My always tendency to serve Krsna, towards dasya rasa. Dasya rasa. Then what of dasya, then sakhya. Sakhya rasa is a very small thing? What is this? [verse] From a distance I want to show my respect, want to show my respect to sakhya rasa. And dasya rasa I really want. That should be tendency of a real devotee. And to disregard all these things, a thing to play like a ball, to play ball all these things.

    He cites a passage from Vilapa-kusumanjali which compares rasas of sakhis and of manjaris.
    Besides of that many vaisnavas think of Nityananda too as Ananga-manjari. We know His copper-red body color (not balarama’s white), we know that He is always happy because He constantly thinks about Radha-Krsna. And they say that situation with Jahnava-Nitay is like as with Gaday-Gaura. Sakti-saktimatayor-abheda – that’s why there is three identities of Gadadhara Pandita.

    • Atul Krsna prabhu:

      I’m asking just for sastric quotes or examples that proves that a sakha-guru can lead gopi-disciples

      This is a good question, but it has been dealt with in the book and Swami has already given a response here.
      Otherwise I think you are making this too complicated. If a devotee in a moment of ecstasy, all alone on a boat in the middle of the ocean, embarking on an unthinkable mission in service to his Gurudeva (a manjari) prays “I am longing to be united with You in the forests of Vraja, tending the cows, wrestling and rolling in the dust”, any confusion about his bhava is resolved completely. No other bhava accomodates such feelings.
      So much supplementary information has been given in “Oh My Friend” in order to answer questions like the ones you ask above. If you don’t accept the answers out of an attachment to seeing Prabhupada in a different bhava that is fine, but the solid evidence for what his bhava is can never be changed. Though I think they are more than spiritually sound, perhaps other arguments could be made harmonizing these points about “gopa guru for gopi sisya”, and other questions, but not by changing the basis for the question – Prabhupada’s bhava. It can’t be changed, he’s given up too much of the secret!!!

    • Sridhara Maharaja said that it’s his opinion that Srila Prabhupada is Nityananda-avesa, and I accepted it as such (as his opinion). However is it clear for all what he is trying to say there?

      If you look at Sridhara Maharaja’s explanation, it is very clear what he is saying. He said that Srila Prabhupada’s empowerment is tied to his affinity for sakhya rasa and his desire to preach the glory of Gaura widely, which also parallels the preaching of Nityananda.

      You cite Sridhara Maharaja’s comment on a Vilapakusamanjali verse as if it were relevant in this regard, but as far as I can see it has little if any relation to what we are talking about, so I find it difficult to follow what point you are making by quoting it.

      So let us be clear. Sridhara Maharaja saw Srila Prabhupada as being empowered by Nityananda, and he saw this empowerment as coinciding with and complimenting Prabhupada’s sakhya bhava. Sridhara Maharaja explained the internal reason for Prabhupada being empowered by Nityananda Rama by citing Srila Prabhupada’s prayer and commenting on it: “‘Today I expressed my inner feelings to my sahacar[friend] and wrote a poem about that.” And that sahacar [friend] came to his help. He was so earnest in his prayer to Krishna, so that he may discharge the duty that has been given by his Guru Maharaja to him, that Krishna had to come down to help him, His friend for this propaganda. So saktyavesa-avatara. I take him; I cannot but take him to be so.” Thus the internal reason for Srila Prabhupada being empowered by Nityananda Prabu is that Krsna sent the power of his best friend to help another friend in need, the need to spread the glory of Gaura widely.

      Externally Sridhara Maharaja saw this empowerment in relation to Nityananda being very mercifully inclined toward the suvarna vanik sector from which Prabhupada hailed. Beyond that he said, “Nityananda Prabhu was in charge of preaching about Mahaprabhu’s glory. So I took it that Nityananda Prabhu must have some special dedication in him in his last days which helped him to inundate in such a inconceivable magnitude, the whole of the world.”

      This does not mean that Nityananda can’t bless one to attain gopi bhava. Certainly he can. Indeed, there is no gopi bhava without his blessing! But if we accept Sridhara Maharaja’s opinion that Srila Prabhupada was empowered by Nitai, then we must accept his understanding of this empowerment as well. If we want to say that he was empowered by Nitai to attain gopi bhava, then we have to make a separate case for that and give evidence that Prabhupada cultivated gopi bhava internally. After all, if one is especially and dramatically empowered by Nityananda to attain gopi bhava, one would think that there would be considerable evidence illustrating it. But we have no such evidence. What we do have is evidence that he cultivated sakhya bhava. We also have evidence that his preaching campaign resembled that of Nityananda, and not that of Jhanava (Ananga-manjari). The campaign was directed to the impious and non Vedic people, distributed widely, and with emphasis on Harinama, etc. It was a dramatic outreach to establish the position of Sri Caitanyadeva throughout the world. Unlike the campaign of Jhanava (Ananga-manjari), mention of manjari-bhava was conscipcuous by is absence.

      Regarding Ananga-manjari as Nityananda Prabhu, Rama and his sakti Ananga-manjari are one but they are also different. We cannot equate Balarama entirely with Ananga manjari any more than we can equate Krsna with Radha. If the identification between Radha and Krsna were absolute, there would be no need for Gaura, no need for Krsna to take another form as Garua to taste Radha bhava. No, Radha and Krsna are one but they are also different. Similarly Rama and his sakti Ananga are one but they are also different. Nityananda is Balarama, and as such he presides over dasya, sakhya, and vatsalya, and each of these are found in him—his vatsalya and his dasya augment his sakhya bhava. Furthermore, the relationship between Nityananda and Ananga (Jahnava), unlike the relationship between Radha and Krsna, is not in parakiya. Nitai and Jahnava are examples of maryada (Rama and Revati), not parakiya. And there is no madhurya relationship between Balarama and Ananga manjari in Vraja. It is only Ananga manjari unto herself that tastes the Vraja madhurya rasa. Thus in our sampradaya, Nitai spawned a lineage of sakhas and only Jhanavi unto herself spawned one of manjaris.

      • Regarding Ananga-manjari as Nityananda Prabhu, Rama and his sakti Ananga-manjari are one but they are also different.

        Thank you for this entire paragraph. Very, very enlightening and a thorough explanation of a confusing tattva. You are kind,,, and oh so wise.
        Where might one read more about Rama/Nitai/Ananga Manjari?

      • This is a little off topic but I was wondering if you could explain a bit about how dasya and vatsalya augment Ram’s sakhya bhava?

        Also are these mixtures that we find in the different classes of friends (suhrt, priya narma etc) the sthayi bhava that is mixed? Does the dasya and vatsalya come and go or is it fixed?

        • Sri Rupa explains in Brs. 2.5.25.-26 that some associates of Krsna exhibit keval rati and others sankula rati. Keval rati is rati comprised of one sentiment and sankula rati occurs when the devotee’s rati is comprised of more than one sentiment. In the case of sankul rati, however, the devotee is to be identified by the sentiment that is most prominent in him.

          Balarama is an example of sankula rati. But his principle sentiment is sakhya. Sometimes he exhibits vatsalya and sometimes dasya but both of these within the context of his sakhya. Outside of Vraja his vatsalya is more prominent, but never such that it overrides his sakhya. Examples of his sakhya, vatsalya, and dasya are found in SB 10.12., 10.15., and 10.13 respectively.

          Yes his sankula rati is like that which we find in the suhrt sakhas (sakha/vatsalya) and the sakhas (sakhya/dasya).

    • Atul Krsna,

      You also want to know how a guru in sakhya rasa can guide a disciple interested in gopi bhava, but I do not see the relevance of this to the idea that Prabhupada is in sakhya rasa. If he is in sakhya rasa and because of this he cannot, so what? This is basically how Madan Gopala has answered your question. And it is a good answer to a point. The task is not to try to alter what Prabhupada said his bhava was in order to solve a perceived problem, but rather to adjust everything around the reality of Prabhupada’s bhava.

      But I do not agree with you in the first place that the problem you perceive really exists. To be clear, the problem, as you seem to perceive it, is that some of his disciples have developed interest in gopi bhava. And to you this means that if Prabhupada is in sakhya rasa he cannot teach them about the intricacies of gopi bhava or that he cannot give gopi bhava to them because he does not have it. Thus you seem to think that we cannot say he is in sakhya bhava because of this perceived problem. Although I have already solved the problem for you in a previous post, you refer to my solution as an exception. But it is not an exception. It is the rule. The rule/solution is that there is no problem: Chant Harinama.

      Thakura Bhaktivinoda has referred to Harinam as “svarupa cintamani.” In Jaiva Dharma he writes, “Sri-krsna-nama is cintamani-svarupa.” It reveals one’s desired svarupa. So my question to you is can you give me any sastric references supporting the idea that one who chants harinama with the blessing of a sad-guru who is in sakhya rasa cannot attain gopi bhava? Can you give me any reference that aside from the necessity of diksa one requires something more than chanting Harinam purely to realize gopi bhava, when it is understood that kirtana itself fosters smaranam and supports it? I have already cited kirtana prabhave smarana svabhave, “By the power of kritana remberance/meditation on one’s internal nature is awakened.” Are you aware of Visvanatha Cakravati’s statement in Ragavatma-candrika that one’s svarupa can awaken merely through one’s sadhana without the necessity of any detailed instructions about it from one’s diksa guru or a siksa guru? While it is true that a guru in sakhya rasa does not give siksa on the intricate details of gopi bhava, it is also true that siksa on such details is not a prerequisite for attaining gopi bhava. For that matter, Prabhupada has not given intricate details on how to attain any rasa! So please provide sastric references that establish that in order to attain a particular bhava one must be initiated by one who has that particular bhava. While it is more likely that one will attain the same bhava as one’s guru, this is not always the case as history has shown.

      This so-called problem of yours was brought up to me years ago, and although I never thought of it as a problem, I mentioned it to Srila Bhakti Pramode Puri Goswami after I read him Prabhupada’s poem and he exclaimed “Sakhya rasa.” In answering the question/problem he laughed and said, “Baba, if you have a sad-guru in sakhya rasa and you think you have a problem, then you really do have a problem!” In other words, the problem is thinking there is a problem in this scenario. A sad-guru in sakhya rasa can place his disciple desiring gopi bhava in good hands in due course. Although even this, as I have explained, is not absolutely necessary, at least not in terms of a siksa guru. And at the same time, there is absolutely nothing undesirable about being placed in the hands of such a siksa guru by the loving hands of one’s diksa guru.

      Let’s look at the famous case of Syamananda Pandita. The genesis of Dukhi Krsnadas becoming Syamananda (Kanaka-manjari) is in Goloka. There Subala, who is Gauridas in Gaura lila and the guru of Dukhi Krsnadasa/Syamanada’s sakhya rasa guru, desired that his grand-disciple develop gopi bhava. Thus he asked Radha to accept him and make him her maidservant. This is recorded in Syamanda Prakasa thus:

      Sri Radha called Subala and told him everything: “Krsnadas, the servant of your servant, has taken refuge under my feet. He always serves the kunja and has dedicated his life and soul to me. By your order I have accepted him.”

      “It is my great fortune that one of my servants has become your maidservant,” Subala said.
      Hearing this Sri Radha was very pleased and pushed Kanaka-manjari on the feet of Subala. Kanaka bowed to his feet and Subala took her in his lap. Blessing her Subala said, “You are extremely fortunate as you have received the love of Radha Krsna and become a favorite maidservant of Radha.”

      How beautiful! Jaya Subala! Jaya Radhe!

      How about this: If Prabhupada wants any of his disciples to attain gopi bhava, they will do so by his grace. It is best for his disciples to think of what he might want of them. And if one day they start to find that they have an affinity for gopi bhava without the influence of any other guru in their lives, they can rest assured that Prabhupada wants this for them, and their greed for it is his grace and by his divine power such a beautiful ideal will be accomplished. They should have such gurunistha, for that is the end of all problems.

  18. Swami: So let us be clear. Sridhara Maharaja saw Srila Prabhupada as being empowered by Nityananda, and he saw this empowerment as coinciding with and complimenting Prabhupada’s sakhya bhava. Sridhara Maharaja explained the internal reason for Prabhupada being empowered by Nityananda Rama by citing Srila Prabhupada’s prayer and commenting on it: “‘Today I expressed my inner feelings to my sahacar[friend] and wrote a poem about that.” And that sahacar [friend] came to his help. He was so earnest in his prayer to Krishna, so that he may discharge the duty that has been given by his Guru Maharaja to him, that Krishna had to come down to help him, His friend for this propaganda. So saktyavesa-avatara. I take him; I cannot but take him to be so.” Thus the internal reason for Srila Prabhupada being empowered by Nityananda Prabu is that Krsna sent the power of his best friend to help another friend in need, the need to spread the glory of Gaura widely.

    This is simply brilliant–both Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s assesment of Srila Prabhupada’s situation and your brief elucidation of that analysis. And when you examine this evidence with an open mind and heart, it’s hard to avoid being moved by this. If you approach it with another predetermined perspective, or agenda neither of which is necessarily bad), that may make make it a little harder to appreciate SSM’s elegant explanation. Sometimes we hear devotees speak of Srila Prabhupada’s big plan when he came to the west. But this is his plan: he was so dedicated to satisfying his spiritual master by floowing through on the suggestion (which he took on his head as an order) that he cut a deal with Krishna, enlisting the Lord’s help and thus making him a co-conspirator in carrying out this work.

  19. “As far as I know Jiva Goswami in Sandarbhas explains that there are two things: atma – source of consciousness, and bhava – form of consciousness. And citing Upanisads he declare that bhavas and corresponding svarupas of one particular atma may be manyfold (three, four etc.) It’s the easy and the only way to resolve such a questions like about Gadadhara Pandit and Ramananda Ray. One personality with certain corresponding svarupa in Vraja accept different moods.”

    Atul Krsna,

    The standard idea in our sampradaya is that one attains the svarupa one cultivates—one’s sadhana determines one’s sadhya. Even Laxmi could not attain a gopi svarupa because she did not do the sadhana necessary to attain it. In Prabhupada’s example his own ideal in bhajana has been revealed in his prayer. He has shown that his ideal in bhajana is sakhya rasa, and his most revered Godbrother who knew him intimately has confirmed that. When we see an example like this we arrive at a natural conclusion. There is no need to force another conclusion. Furthermore, where we do find acaryas in our sampradaya cultivating more than one svarupa? We find only that they pursue one in the Vraja lila and a corresponding one in Gaura lila. Thus the theory of many svarupas boils down in the practical reality in Gaudiya sampradaya to the pursuit of two, one in Krsna lila and one in Gaura lila. Finally, the context in which Sri Jiva speaks of many svarupas is also not one in which he is speaking about cultivating different bhavas. Nowhere does he recommend this. Indeed, Sri Jiva merely cites this obscure statement of the sruti to establish that the liberated jiva can have a form, period!

    You need to look at the various commentaries on this verse to get the proper understanding. You have taken only one instance in which Sri Jiva is using the verse to make a certain point. The verse itself says, “He becomes one. Then he becomes two. Then three. Then five. Then seven. Then nine. Then eleven. He becomes one hundred and ten. He becomes one thousand and twenty.” In the Paramatma-sandarbha, Jiva Goswami quotes this verse in reference to forms of the Lord and in the Priti-sandarbha he uses it in relation to liberated souls. In either case, he is using it to establish the eternality of spiritual form. Baladeva Vidyabhusana, in his commentary on the verse when it is quoted in Laghu-Bhagavatamrta, has said that the proper understanding of this verse is as follows:

    “The Chandogya Upanisad describes the devotees of the Lord as follows: sa ekadha bhavati tridha–‘He is one kind and three kinds.’ From this statement of the Chandogya Upanisad it is understood that each of Lord Visnu’s associates are also unlimited….From these statements that establish the unlimitedness of the Supreme Lord, His devotees, and His abode, it is understood that the pastimes of the Supreme Lord are not temporary. Despite the beginning and end of the various pastimes of the Lord’s various incarnations, all such pastimes are factually eternally enacted; they simply appear to begin in one place while ending in another. In this way, because there is no gap in the pastimes, they are called eternal.”

    Thus although it may appear that the Lord and his devotees all have many different forms (everyone having a new form in each incarnation), in fact each devotee has the same form as they move with the Lord from incarnation to incarnation. Baladeva Vidyabhusana elaborates:

    “If one accepts that the pastimes of the Lord are eternal, the doubt may still arise that since His pastimes have a beginning, they must certainly end. In reply, it is understood that although the pastimes of a particular form of the Lord take place at a particular time, they are, nevertheless, eternal. Sankaracarya has stated in his commentary on the Brahma-sutras (1.3.28): ‘If someone says, “He has cooked, he has cooked,” that does not mean he has cooked twice.’ In the Govinda-bhasya on the Brahma-sutras (3.3.11) it is stated: ‘If someone utters “Cow, cow,” that does not mean two cows.’ Therefore even though the Supreme Lord has multiple forms, they are all one. There is no doubt about it.”

    In Baladeva Vidyabhusana’s commentary to Vedanta-sutra, he also says the following about this verse, “In the same way the liberated soul may, by his own wish, either have a body or not have a body. That is the meaning. The truth is that they who by the power of transcendental knowledge have broken the bonds of material existence are in a situation where all their desires are at once fulfilled. Those amongst them who desire to have a body can at once have any body they wish. This is described in Chandogya Upanisad (7.26.2). They who do have no desire to have a body do not have a body. This is described in Chandogya Upanisad (8.12.1). They who desire always to employ a spiritual body in the service of the Supreme Lord eternally manifest such a body by their spiritual powers. That is how it should be understood.”

    So again, why try to establish a nonstandard understanding by using an obscure quote without the benefit of all the Gaudiya commentaries on it?

    Regarding Gaura’s eternal associates, we do find other possibilities than those for jiva souls. But these souls are universally acknowledged to be in a class of their own. They are either constituted of svarupa sakti or they are Visnu tattva. Prabhupada never taught us that he was either of these, nor is such an idea universally accepted. But even in the case of the svarupa sakti, for the most part we find noncontradictory svarupas. They have multiple svarupas in relation to the multiple appearances of Bhagavan whom they accompany throughout his lilas. Apparent exceptions to this like Ramananda are such that we are better off understanding them in relation to the norm, rather than attributing contradictory svarupas to him, such as accepting literally the idea that he is both a gopi and the Pandava Arjuna.
     
    Examples like Gadadahara Pandit merely speak of either differing opinions about his Vraja svarupa or the idea that he exhibits only partially the bhava of Radha (as Lalita or Rukmini) when Mahaprabhu assumes Radha’s bhava. Generally Gaudiyas accept Gadadhara Pandit to be Radharani. The two other svarupas that Kavi Karnapura mentions, Lalita and Hari, can be understood in this way: Lalita is the first expansion of Radharani; therefore, it is possible that sometimes the expansion within will come out. The standard example of this is when the Visnu within Krsna slays demons. As for Hari, Kavi Karnapura explains, “Since the Lord is in one sense not different from His potencies, it may be said that He is present wherever His potencies go. For this reason it may be said that Lord Hari is also present in the body of Gadadhara Pandita.” Thus the conclusion is that Radharani is one and different from Krsna and from her expansions.

    As for Ramananda Raya, Kavi Karnapura says, “Some say that Ramananda Raya is the incarnation of Lalita-gopi, and others say that because Lord Caitanya directly told Ramananda Raya’s father, Bhavananda Raya, that he was the incarnation of Maharaja Pandu, Arjuna’s father, therefore Ramananda Raya must be the incarnation of Pandava Arjuna. The most learned devotees say that Ramananda Raya is the incarnation of both the Pandava Arjuna, and a gopi named Arjuniya. This explanation is also supported by the statements of the Padma Purana, Uttara-khanda. From all this we may conclude that Ramananda Raya is the incarnation of Lalita-gopi, Arjuniya-gopi, and Pandava Arjuna.”

    Nonetheless, the more common understanding of the Bhaktivinode parivara is that Ramananda Raya is Visakha. Lalita and Visakha are the first and second expansion of Radharani, so it is not surprising that devotees might have varying visions on Ramananda Raya. But what about the Pandava Arjuna? Are we to understand that Visakha is the Pandava Arjuna? No, this is not the proper understanding, as Srila Sridhara Maharaja makes clear in the following excerpt from Follow the Angels:

    “Raya Ramananda is more known to us as Visakha Sakhi. But superficially he had some aspect of Arjuna, and Mahaprabhu could detect that. Bhavananda had five sons, Kalanidhi, Sudhanidhi, Vaninatha, Gopinatha, and Raya Ramananda. Mahaprabhu told him, “You are My eternal friend. Bhavananda is Pandu and his five sons are the Panca-Pandava.” Ramananda is a very close and intimate friend, like Arjuna. That external impression of Mahaprabhu was given, but Ramananda’s internal mood is really that of Visakha. To see Ramananda as Arjuna is temporary and external, a fleeting sentiment of Mahaprabhu. Arjuna is in sakhya-rasa. Outwardly Mahaprabhu dealt with Ramananda a little respectfully. Outwardly He used to see him with some respect, some deference. But internally He saw him as a sakhi. Svarupa Damodara and Raya Ramananda both would console Him when the great inevitable flow of love in separation arose in the heart of Mahaprabhu, ostentatiously disturbing Him. These two friends tried their best to console Mahaprabhu.”

    So, as Srila Sridhara Maharaja explains, it is possible that externally a devotee in the Gaura-lila may show the sentiments of a Vraja devotee in a temporary, external way that does not correspond with their internal identity. Consequently, the proper understanding is not that internally Visakha and Arjuna are one soul. Further, as I already mentioned, the vast majority of the Gaura-lila devotees that Kavi Karnapura lists correspond with one person in Krsna-lila. Thus I cannot agree that your explanation above is the correct way to understand what Kavi Karnapurna has written, what to speak of the only way to do so. Moreover, the overriding point that deflates your argument is the fact that we don’t see any evidence that Srila Prabhupada cultivated manjari-bhava. We only have evidence that he cultivated sakhya bhava. Thus you’re riding on two flat tires and getting nowhere.

  20. //Sorry, I was on festivals and couldn’t answer.
    And one more sad thing is that it takes sometimes a sensible amount of time with the dictionary to construct the sentences, because I read on english well but have almost no practice in speaking. Therefore even in such a case when I feel a strong conviction that I capable to defend with sastra-yukti all points that I made, I have to wait for some enthusiast who is interested in matter and will translate me, because I have a little free time. I’m eager to answer all your comments and I have much more to say but perhaps I will do it in the near future, excuse me.

    • Well I hope you realize that even if for the sake of argument your previous points were valid as presented, they do not lend any real support to your premise. And this has already been explained. Thus for the sake of argument, so what if liberated jivas can have 1,000,000 svarupas, and so what if a sat-guru situated in sakhya rasa cannot guide a disciple in gopi-bhava? This proves nothing about Prabhupada’s svarupa.

      Better to proceed along these lines: Prabhupada said “My guru is a manjari, but I am a cowherd boy.” Please tell us how we should “interpret” this statement and the many other direct evidences that support it, interpret it that is to mean that he is actually in gopi-bhava, or that he has two svarupas, one in gopi bhava and one in gopa bhava.

      Also pelase tell me who your guru is, what your first language is, and what conclusion you are trying to establish.

      • Please tell us how we should “interpret” this statement and the many other direct evidences that support it, interpret it that is to mean that he is actually in gopi-bhava, or that he has two svarupas, one in gopi bhava and one in gopa bhava

        I am confused by this sentence. Do you mean “interpret it that is not to mean that he is . . . ” because my understanding is that you do not agree with these two alternative interpretations.

  21. Maharaja can you please quote us the exact reference where Srila Prabhupada said he was a cowherd boy and his guru was a gopi?
    I would like to have it for future reference.
    thank-you
    dandavat

      • Darn. Those are just anecdotal folk tales coming from some disciples who might have misunderstood what Prabhupada was saying. These stories cannot he held up as evidence. Gaudiya Vaishnavism does accomodate such anecdotal stories as proper evidence. I don’t think I will have much luck using these references as evidence proper.
        Didn’t Srila Prabhupada practice Kama-gayatri mantra?
        What about sannyasa mantra? Isn’t that a madhurya-rasa mantra?
        Do devotees in sakhya-rasa practice mantra-bhajan of madhurya-rasa mantras?
        If so, why?

        • Well Narayana das, maybe you should read the book O My Friend and give us a comprehensive reply, given that all of your questions are all answered therein. By the way, have you read the anecdotal folk tales of the disciples of other of other acaryas in the Gaudiya Matha by which they determine the svarupa of their acarya?

          • What about the mantras? Why did Srila Prabhupada chant Kama-gayatri and sannyasa mantras that both nourish madhurya-rasa?
            I have always understood that chanting Kama-gayatri and the Gaudiya Math sannyasa mantra was done only by devotees following in madhurya-rasa?
            Sakhya-rasa devotees do not chant Kama-gayatri do they?

          • Akincana Krsnadasa Babaji Maharaja did. Kama gayatri may be chanted by those in sakhya rasa, especially those pursuing the love of Krsna’s priyanarma sakhas, Sannyasa mantra as well. This love an mixture of sakhya and madhuya rasa. But even keval sakhya rati can be nourished by Kama gayatri, It is the gayatri that corresponds with the 18 syllable Gopal mantra, and this mantra also gives sakhya rasa.

          • gaurasundara dasa

            How does the kama gayatri nourish keval sakhya rati?
            What does it mean that a gayatri corresponds to a mantra? What is the relationship between the two?
            The names in the kama gayatri overtly seem to be conjugal.

          • Regarding kevala sakhya rati, these friends of Krsna headed by Sridama are not unanware of his romantic life, and although they do not directly participate in it they are nonetheless, like the priyanarmas, pranaya-gamita or sympathetic to it. So contemplation on this aspect of Krsna, while not desiring direct participation in his romantic lilas can nourish one who aspires to follow in the wake of Sridama’s love. As Sridama is aware of Krsna’s love for Radha, so too are his followers. The priya-sakhas of kevala sakhya-rati also identify with giving pleasure to Krsna by helping his girl friends, but for the most part they do not directly participate in this seva. After all, Sridama is Radha’s older brother.

            Kama gayatri can also give kevala sakhya rati, if it is approached with this in mind. The key word in this connection is “kama.” It gives up to sringara rasa, in which all other Vraja sentiments are contained. It is given along with a Krsna mantra that fosters sumbmission, while kama gayatri itself fosters longing. If one longs for keval sakhya rati, the Lord of desire (kamadeva), will give it to you after complete submission/saranagati is in place. The transcendental cupid (ananga) is also known as Govinda, equipped with flower arrows (puspabanaya) by which he defeats the gopis and thus gives pleasure to his friends . . . In this way the mantra speaks differently relative to one’s approach. But at any rate, among Krsna’s friends the priyanarma sakhas are his most confidential companions.

        • I believe the question regarding the sannyasa mantra is answered in the booklet. I echo Swami’s suggestion that Narayana das actually read the booklet, then engage in some meaningful discussion.

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