Published on February 22nd, 2012 | by Harmonist staff45
Sanga: “O My Friend!” Revisited
Q & A with Swami B. V. Tripurari
Q. I recently read your publication, O My Friend! O My Friend!, which implies that Srila Prabhupada’s rasa, or eternal spiritual identity, is that of a cowherd boy in Krishna lila (sakhya rasa). To my knowledge Srila Prabhupada did not specify which rasa he was in, so isn’t it speculative and therefore mundane to say he is in sakhya rasa?
A. There is a difference between mental speculation and sastra-yukti. My conviction as to Srila Prabhupada’s spiritual affinity is not simply speculation as I have supported it with Srila Prabhupada’s own words, the realization of sadhus, and Krishna conscious philosophy. This support constitutes sastra-yukti. Indeed, my position seeks to end speculation by directing attention to Srila Prabhupada’s own words on the matter, which incidentally refute the idea that he did not specify his rasa.
What is “mundane” about collecting everything that Srila Prabhupada said about his sentiment? As it turns out he said quite a lot, so is it not meaningful to make this evidence available to the community? We should be interested in all that Srila Prabhupada said about his sentiment and in thinking about the implications of his statements in light of sastra. This is exactly how the sentiments of other Gaudiya acaryas were determined. They said things and their followers have scripturally reasoned about them to reach a conclusion. This is exactly how Gaura-ganodesa-dipika was written. Kavi-karnapura collected the available evidence and testimony and reached his conclusions. This process is not speculative and mundane but rather the bona fide process of sastra-yukti.
Furthermore, I don’t think talking about what Srila Prabhupada has said about himself or the idea that he is in sakhya rasa or any other rasa is any more inappropriate than talking about Rupa Goswami’s spiritual affinity or Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura’s affinity. My siksa guru, Pujyapada B. R. Sridhara Maharaja, talked about it, and Srila Prabhupada considered him his own siksa guru.
So let us judge by the fruits. Srila Prabhupada said on a number of occasions that he identified with sakhya rasa. He also wrote a poem to Krishna in his intimate moments expressing the desire for sakhya rasa. We find no equivalent stated aspiration on his part for any other rasa. So, to keep it simple, if some devotees feel enthused to see Srila Prabhupada in sakhya rasa and pursue that ideal in relation to him, and we find that in doing so they remain enthusiastic about their spiritual practice, do we really need to condemn them for mental speculation?
Q. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura said that one’s rasa could never be grasped by a person who is not completely purified of material contamination. Therefore it should not be divulged to the general public in any medium. Could you explain your justification for making knowledge of Srila Prabhupada’s rasa available on the Internet by publishing O My Friend?
A. Actually Bhaktivinoda Thakura published a book called Navadiwip-bhava-taranga in which he speaks openly about his rasa, spiritual form, eternal seva, and so on. It is widely available in English, even on the Internet. So you misrepresent Bhaktivinoda here and misunderstand what he writes concerning confidentiality in bhajana.
In contrast, O My Friend! contains general information that speaks only about Srila Prabhupada’s affinity for sakhya rasa. It does not discuss details of his particular svarupa (form, dress, seva, and so on) but rather encourages devotees so interested to pursue intense spiritual practice by which such details can be known in the privacy of one’s own heart. Furthermore, far more intimate truths are available in Sri Caitanya-caritamrita and other standard Gaudiya scriptures.
Q. Nonetheless, in Sri Caitanya-siksamrita, Bhaktivinoda Thakura states, “Rasa is not a part of sadhana. Therefore if somebody says, ‘Come, I will teach you rasa.’ Then it will be his wickedness or foolishness.” Doesn’t this quote give sufficient reason to avoid publishing O My Friend! or similar books?
A. O My Friend! does not “teach rasa,” it is citing and reasoning about what Srila Prabhupada said concerning his spiritual affinity. The book does not encourage anyone to do anything other than engage in hearing and chanting the name of Krishna. Yes, rasa is not part of sadhana. It is the perfection of bhava bhakti—prema. Ultimately, one cannot teach love, as it is experiential; nonetheless, we do teach the theory of bhakti rasa in books like Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu.
Q. In my view, whatever we say on behalf of Srila Prabhupada must be something we could say in front of him. I find it hard to believe he would be happy with our raising this subject matter for general discussion–confidential means confidential. Without a definitive comment from Srila Prabhupada or a mutually accepted arbiter there can be no conclusion to this discussion.
A. While telling me that I should not entertain the subject, you summarily dismiss the fact that Srila Prabhupada himself entertained the subject and then say that what Srila Prabhupada did say about himself in this regard was not definitive. It would seem safer to just go with Srila Prabhupada on this one. O My Friend! sets the record straight as to what Srila Prabhupada actually said on the matter.
Furthermore, there will be issues that arise that were not dealt with when Srila Prabhupada was here. Some of them could very well be spiritually progressive insights into the spiritual reality of our divine master. I certainly hope so, and it is reasonable that they would eventually be made public, as have such insights concerning our previous acaryas.
As for a final arbiter on this issue, I for one accept Pujyapada Sridhara Maharaja’s words on the matter. Others may disagree, but let them present convincing insight and evidence to the contrary. In any case, I have no problem if devotees want to think of Srila Prabhupada as being in madhurya rasa as long as they don’t try to suppress evidence to the contrary. In regard to coming to a conclusion to this discussion, realization resulting from spiritual practice is the means of definitive knowing and O My Friend! encourages its readers to take up such practice.
See Also Sanga: The Dearmost Friend of Krishna
Download O My Friend! O My Friend!
Recently a Godbrother of mine saw fit to end a class on Srimad-Bhagavatam at an ISKCON center by asserting that my argument that the preponderance of the external evidence points to Srila Prabhupada’s affinity for sakhhya rasa is “total speculation.” I’m sorry to say this, but it is he who is simply speculating here. He says that Srila Prabhupada never said what his bhava is. (Please note that I use the present tense, whereas this speaker uses the past tense, even with regard to Lord Nityananda’s love for Krishna. I find this odd because what’s being discussed is the sthayi bhava, something which is the foundation for all the other elements of rasa in the devotee’s life. Sthayi means lasting or permanent. Of the five bhavas that interact to create rasa, this is the one that does not change.) In fact, I have pointed out several instances where Srila Prabhupada did so indicate, including at least one where he said it as explicitly as possible: “My spiritual master is in the mood of a gopi, manjari, but I am a cowherd boy.” How does he explain that away? What about the seventh verse of Srila Prabhupada’s “Prayer to the Lotus Feet of Krishna”? There he says, “O my dear friend! In your company I will experience great joy again. Wandering about the pastures and fields, I will pass the entire day with you, tending the grazing cows. Joking with you boisterously and frolicking throughout Vraja’s many forests, I will roll on the ground in ecstasy. When, oh when, will that day be mine?” Srila Prabhupada wrote in his journal, “Today I have disclosed my mind to my companion Lord Sri Krishna. There is a Bengali poem made by me today in this connection.” This is, then, Srila Prabhupada intimately revealing his heart to his friend, whom he addresses at the very outset: krsna taba punya habe bhai: My dear brother, you may become fortunate in this way.”
This speaker says that my work is “total speculation.” In fact, other devotees and I have shown that my work is not “total speculation”; rather, it is analysis by shastra yukti.
He cites another Godbrother as saying that a tree bears only one kind of fruit. However, as someone with some experience growing things, I’d like to suggest that one may graft different varieties of one species of fruit onto a tree, so we may have a tree with several varieties of mango. Moreover, Sri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, says, through the pen of Srila Krishna das kaviraja, yuga-dharma pravartaimu nama-sankirtana/ cari bhava-bhakti diya nacamu bhuvana: “I shall personally inaugurate the religion of the age — nama-sankirtana, the congregational chanting of the holy name. I shall make the world dance in ecstasy, realizing the four mellows of loving devotional service” (Cc. 1.3.19). As I point out in my booklet, the Lord comes to taste the bhava of Radha, and he comes to give the four bhavas of Vraja. Moreover, I have shown that it is not a fact that, as this speaker cites his friend as saying, that all the previous acaryas were (again, his word) all gopis. All these points are covered in my booklet, and our speaker and I have discussed them a number of times, yet he still acts as though he has never heard it. He is certainly free to follow his friend’s assertion; I’ll follow Krishna’s.
Our speaker admonishes, “We don’t know what Prabhupada was [sic], so don’t speculate.” Still, on the basis of some general statements of siddhanta, he proceeds to speculate that it is offensive to assume that Srila Prabhupada could be in any bhava other than madhurya. How are we to take him seriously?
He dismissively talks of our choosing to be cows, trees, cowherd boys, or whatever. He admits at the end of his talk that our goal is Krishna prema, whatever our sthayi bhava. In that he is correct; however, just how we serve Krishna is ultimately determined by Krishna’s desire. He knows quite well what sort of service he wants from each of us.
The context for his remarks is the assertion by our acaryas that worship of Krsna’s most confidential devotees, the gopis of Vraja, is the most elevated spiritual activity. There has never been any controversy about whether madhurya-rati is objectively more elevated, more intense than the others. He raises that if it were an issue of contention, but it has never been. Still, subjectively, each devotee’s own bhava is the best for him or her, according to Ramananda Samvada. And the idea that it somehow denigrates one of Krishna’s associates to see him or her as something less than the “highest” is simply an imposition of material consideration on a completely transcendental situation. It is, in our speaker’s words, total speculation. And that is also something he and I have discussed more than a few times.
This speaker closes his class with a selection from a Caitanya-caritamrita purport in which Srila Prabhupada quotes Srila Sarasvati Thakura’s Anubhasya is concerned, which he seemed to feel was his trump card, claiming that it says that even those in other bhavas may become gopis. Here is what he read:
Then he says that Srila Prabhupada then quotes Narottama das Thakuura’s song, “Gauranga Bolite Habe.”
However Srila Prabhupada explains all this in comments after his translation of Narottoma’s song, which our speaker neglected to include in his presentation of the quotation. We can get a better understanding of what Srila Prabhupada intends if we read those comments, which clarify this speaker’s perhaps understandable misconception.
Here’s what Srila Prabhupada says after his translation of the song:
Our speaker exclaims, “So clear!” But this is not as clear as he seemed to think. There is no mention in Srila Prabhupada’s explanation of moving through the rasas, of being promoted from friendly or parental love to conjugal love. Rather, he explains Narottama’s song as saying that without first having become purified of material misconceptions, then receiving the mercy of Lord Nityananda, no one can enter Vrindavana under the guidance of Rupa and Raghunatha das Goswami, and only then, by their mercy, can one enter, as SBSST puts it, “the intimate circle of devotees in conjugal love” in Mahaprabhu’s company. He’s not describing “promotion” through the ranks, as it were, of the different ratis; rather, he is describing the process of entering madhurya rasa by those devotees who aspire for it. This is in perfect accord with everything else Srila Prabhupada has taught us, following Srila Rupa Goswami, regarding the sthayi bhava: it does not change but serves as the foundation for all the other bhavas. The confusion is not completely unwarranted. It takes a little work to discern the referent for the phrase “such devotees” in the last sentence of the Anubhasya quotation. That antecedent is not in the immediately previous sentence, which mentions devotees of Lord Nityananda and Advaita Acarya. Rather, “such devotees” refers to those most confidential devotees of Lord Caitanya engaged in conjugal service.
Once again, I have to point out that the misunderstandings are due to not reading carefully, either my booklet, or in this case, Srila Prabhupada’s purport. For the record, I never created a pretext for discussing this subject matter in a class at an ISKCON center. I actually avoided doing out of courtesy, aware of the sensibilities of ISKCON members. However, this devotee felt it necessary to go out of his way to dismiss my work as “total speculation” before an audience unable or unwilling to call him on his own speculation. So much for courtesy.
Dandavat pranams to all devotee writers and readers here. I want to share with you what I have heard from some present Gaudiya Acharyas on this topic to remember them to clear my heart and to increase my devotion and as gratitude to all devotees here that have written on this topic so far.
Q : How is Krishna Das Babaji Maharaj a Rupanuga (being associated and initiated by Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur) and expressing his desire to serve in sahkya ras?
A : There is a connection between sahkya and madhur ras, but not with vatsalya. For example, in Varshan Dham the sakhas quarrel with gopis to extract taxes and also in morning nitya lila in Nandagram, in cowshed, both gopis and sakhas are present, but not Yashoda. For that Krishna Das Babaji Maharaj is required.
Q : Does every jiva from tatashta sakti have potential to get gopi-prem?
A : If she gets such association.
Q : Srila Swami Maharaj is in sakhya ras?
A : Yes, he expressed this in his song on Jaladuta.
Q : Some disciples of Srila Swami Maharaj are saying he is in sakhya ras, but Srila Narayan Maharaj said he is in madhur ras, since he took sannyas mantra from Srila Keshav Maharaj?
A : Disciples of Srila Swami Maharaj are not so qualified, so he (Srila Swami Maharaj) expressed himself as being in sakhya ras, like actor, but his aim is gopi-bhav.
Q : And Krishna Das Babaji Maharaj?
A : Also, his aim is gopi-bhav.
Q: Is Srila Swami Maharaj in sakhya ras
A : No, his favourite song was Jay Radha Madhava kunja bihari
Q : Srila Swami Maharaj is in sakhya ras?
A : Yes. If he is satisfied there he will never change, but if he wants he may change (progress).
In Prema pradip in last chapter Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur explains gradual progressive steps through different rasas to reach one’s own siddha ruci.
In Navadwip Bhava Taranga Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur at one point expresses his desire to serve in sakhya ras (in description of Godrum), but at the end he is established in madhur ras.
On this link, even Srila Swami Maharaj says one may change his service mood : http://www.harekrsna.de/siddha-pranali.htm
I hope to get some comments on above topics, especially from Srila Tripurari Maharaj.
Thank you all.
1. The answer to question one is correct. Akincana dasa babaji realized his ideal in sakhya rasa as a priyanarma sakha. But also the term “Rupanuga” has a twofold meaning: to follow Rupa Goswami internally and externally–in one’s siddha and sadhaka rupa or to follow him only externally in one’s sadhaka rupa while pursuing a different siddha rupa–a different bhava–than the one Sri Rupa personally relishes. By this I mean that one can be a Rupanuga by following Rupa Goswami’s teachings on suddha bhakti detailed in Bhkatirasamrita-sindhu without following the particular bhava or internal reality of Rupa Goswami. Or one can be a Rupanuga by way of following him externally as well as internally. To follow him internally is to pursue manjari gopi bhava.
2. Association is crucial to the development of one’s svarupa. At the same time such association is arranged by Krsna, who sends us our guru–guru krsna prasade pay bhakti lata bija. In other words, Krsna arranges the association we get. From this it would appear that he has some say in the matter, and this in turn leads to a sense that one’s svarupa is eternally existing in the mind of God, if you will, as a potentiality to be realized in conjunction with sadhu sanga through which bhakti enters one’s life. The svarupa of the jiva is constituted of the essence of Krsna’s svarupa sakti–bhakti.
3. This answer is correct. My Guru Maharaja expressed his aspiration for sakhya rasa on the Jaladuta but elsewhere as well on numerous occasions. There is no need to speculate on the matter.
4, This is a silly answer. What would be the purpose of Prabhupada acting as if he were a gopa when in actuality he is a gopi? And is that what he was doing when he wrote his Prayer to Lord Krsna on the Jaladuta before he had any disciples in the West? No, in this prayer that was not written for public consumption he is expressing his heart, his bhajana rahasya. Furthermore Prabhupada readily taught his disciples about gopi bhava in his books anyway. What would be the advantage of teaching that gopi bhava is the highest reach of Gaudiya Vaisnavism and then pretending not to be in gopi bhava by acting and speaking as if one was in sakhya rasa. And if Prabhupada’s disciples are so neophyte that he had to do that (which makes no sense), why did Narayana Maharaja emphasize the ideal of gopi bhava to such neophytes?
5. Akincana dasa babaji wrote to Pujyapada Sridhara Maharaja in detail about his attainment of sakhya rasa and Sridhara Maharaja shared that with us. But Babaji Maharaja’s sakhya rasa is, again, that of a priyanarma sakha, and this is also sometimes referred to as sakhi-bhava because of the madhurya component in this form of sakhya rasa.
6. Thakura Bhaktivinoda’s song “Jaya Radha Madhava” mentions all the rasas of Vraja–yasodanandana vraja jana ranjana . . . And in Prabhupada’s own comments on this song he emphasizes this fact and concludes his comments on it with a reference to sakhya rasa.
7. Yes, he is in sakhya rasa. But there is no change because the stahyi bhava does not change. Are we to think that one attains sakhya rasa in the Vraja lila wherein he is a member of a particular Vraja lila family and that one day he turns into a gopi? No.
The gradual “progress” you mention is only a description of the fact that there is a progression of intimacy from one rasa to the next. Each successive rasa contains within it that which is found in the previous rasa and more. This is the idea. And Prabhupada has expressed the ruci he has attained for that matter.
The aspiration expressed by BVT for sakhya rasa in NBT is a fleeting one owing to circumstance that can easily be identified as interest in the sakhya that is present in madhurya. The same is not true of Prabhupada’s stated, detailed aspiration for sakhya rasa in his prayer and his other repeated statements in this regard. And his repeated stated aspiration for sakhya rasa is not accompanied by any such stated aspiration for gopi bhava. In the case of BVT we find repeated and detailed aspirations of gopi bhava and one fleeting mention of interest in sakhya rasa that is circumstantial.
In my reading the link you provided does not say what you state it does. And if it did, we would have to harmonize that with Rupa Goswami’s siddhanta on rasa tattva that makes no room for attaining one rasa and then pursuing another. Rasa is the prayojana tattva, not abhideya tattva. And for that matter the two correspond: what one practices/aspires for one attains. In Prabhuapda we find clear aspiration for sakhya rasa that can only lead to its attainment. We find no other aspiration and thus there is no cause to speak of any other attainment. Such ideas are forced and unsupportable. They indicate an agenda, not siddhanta.
But to be generous, the idea that Prabhupada is in madhurya rasa may also indicate one’s lack of information as to what Prabhupada himself repeatedly said about his ideal. If we combine this lack of information with our sampradaya’s emphasis on gopi bhava, it is understandable that one might think that Prabhupad is in madhurya rasa. That is why we published O My Friend!
Another link to support the view that Srila AC Bhakti Vedanta Swami Maharaj is serving in sakhya ras
Thank you Maharaj for this nice, quick, reasonable, clear and generous answer.
You wrote :
For my own learning, could you kindly give reference to this Rupa Goswami’s siddhanta? So Prayojana/Rasa tattva is not dynamic?
In this connection, I also remembered, that one of those Vaishnavas giving above answers, also told me, he once heard from Srila Bhakti Promod Puri Goswami Maharaj that Dhananjay Pandit changed his nitya-siddha (or attained) rasa from sakhya to madhurya. I heard such information also from a disciple of Srila Ananta Das Babaji of Radhakund.
How to harmonise Srila Rupa Goswami’s siddhanta you refer to above, your Guru Maharaj’s statement in that link (that one may change) and information of Srila BP Puri Maharaj and Srila Ananta Das Babaji?
Thank you in advance.
I looked again at the link you provided and now I see what you were referring to. Therein Prabhupada says in a conversation that the spiritual world is dynamic and change is possible but not common. He also uses the word “Vaikuntha.” In Vaikuntha devotees do change forms (not rasas) to serve Bhagavan. So perhaps he was referring to this fact. But the idea that a sadhaka who has attained his or her ideal in the Vraja lila may at some point change rasas is not explained in Bhaktirasamrita-sindhu or any where else. The very idea is questionable at best because each devotee is fully satisfied with the prema he or she attains. Their sthayi bhava is the basis of their experience of rasa and the stahyi bhava is not transient like sancari bhavas are. So how will one change one’s sthayi bhava, the dominant emotion that is the very basis of one’s spiritual existence? And why would one want to to? The clear teaching is that no such desire for change has scope for arising. Indeed from the perspective of one’s developed sthayi bhava in rasa one does not see that other rasas are better or more desirable, but rather that one has attained the best possible ideal. This is so even when aspects of one rasa or another stand out and are glorified by those in other rasas, as in the instance where Radha glorifies Subala and envies his ability to walk arm in arm with Krsna in public. Even Uddhava did not want to change his rasa upon understanding the transcendental superiority of the Vraja rasa of the gopis, etc. It is not that the spiritual world is not dynamic because of this, but rather that such are the dynamics of rasananda. Prema is characterized as being full yet ever increasing. To be more clear, one who attains the svarupa of a gopa in sakhya rasa does not think that gopi bhava is more desirable, but rather such a devotee thinks that his or her position is better than that of those in gopi bhava. Even advanced devotees who have not yet attained prema will think like this about their own cherished bhava and accordingly they will read and understand texts describing Krsna lila with such a spiritual bias.
That said some eternal associates of Krsna, nitya siddhas constituted of svarupa sakti, do change forms and accompany him in other lilas, etc. tasting rasa in Dvaraka, Vaikuntha, etc. But we do not find them changing rasas in the same lila. The idea that Dhanajaya Pandita, one of the dvadasa gopalas in sakhya rasa, changed into a manjari is not an idea I accept. I would be surprised in B.P. Puri Goswami said that he did. But it does not surprise me that the lineage of Ananta dasa babaji makes this claim. The fact that the fountain of their lineage is in sakhya rasa is problematic for them, given their teaching. And we find elsewhere that the lineages of the dvadasa gopalas have somehow turned into manjari bhava lineages. I attribute such changes to an unfortunate development in the Gaudiya community, an inordinate emphasis on manjari bhava for the sake of collecting disciples. After all, if manjari bhava is the highest and your lineage does not have it, you are at a disadvantage in terms of collecting followers, or so it may seem to those who make a business out of initiating disciples. I am not accusing Ananta dasa babaji of this, but long ago I believe such mundane adjustments were made on the part of less than fully qualified devotees. And this relates to the problems Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura faced in his preaching.
That said, little of this if anything really has any bearing on Prabhupada’s ideal. Again, he has clearly stated his position privately and publicly. What is the need to try to make more out of it than what he himself has revealed?
Thank you for reply Maharaj.
I can belive your Gurudev is serving in sakhya ras. But in that link he is not using the word Vaikuntha, but spiritual kingdom and discussion is about relationships with Krishna in Goloka (cows, cowherd boys) which he says can be changed. But yes, that is another topic and as per your Gurudev for liberated souls which I am not.
Do you think one may also be aware that your Gurudev is serving in sakhya ras, but for the time being presents him as being in madhur ras, for the sake of encouragment for devotional practice of his followers who have “liking for your Gurudev” and “highest ras”, like clever doctor who will give rasagula to induce the child to take medicine?
Or one may have slightly awakened transcendental interest in madhur ras and still have some material conceptions of your Gurudev and of madhur ras and presenting him in madhur ras (for the time being) would encourage such person to practice sadhan to fully attain madhur ras?
I would be glad to read your comments on this.
Srila Rupa Goswami did say that he was only sharing just a drop from the great ocean of devotion. We cannot taste one drop and say we have drunk the whole ocean.
In which verse did Rupa Goswami say that? There is no such verse in Bhaktirasamrita-sindhu that I am aware of. But nonetheless what you imply is troubling: If a tenet of rasa tattva is not found in Rupa Goswami’s definitive text on bhakti-rasa and even if such a proposed tenet contradicts what Sri Rupa has written therein, one is free to say that such a tenet constitutes more of the ocean of bhakti-rasa that what Rupa Goswami has explained. This is not theology nor how a scripturally based lineage functions in terms of explaining itself.
thanks for your reply Maharaja. Actually, the reference I should have cited was Mahaprabhu’s teaching to Srila Rupa Goswami where he told Rupa that:
““The ocean of the transcendental mellows of devotional service is so big that no one can estimate its length and breadth. However, just to help you taste it, I am describing but one drop.”
Mahaprabhu said that he was describing to Rupa but one drop as the ocean of mellows is inestimable. Sri Rupa in turn shared that one drop in his own teachings.
Thank you Maharaj. Dandavat pranam.
This was spoken in response to those in Iskcon who opposed Pujyapada Sridhara Maharaja’s own personal opinion—generously. It was also spoken without knowledge of all that has been presented in O My Friend!, evidence that includes Prabhupada’s own words on the subject stating his identification with sakhya rasa. And if we read Srila Prabhupada’s books we see that he did not hesitate to speak about madhurya rasa. He wrote about it as much or more than any rasa. How could he not when he presented Caitanya Caritamrta? But most conclusively, before he began his preaching campaign in the West he prayed in private to attain sakhya rasa. In other words before being empowered by Nityananda Rama he aspired for sakhya rasa. Thus his deference for Krsna Balarama was not a result of being empowered by Baladeva, but rather his affinity for sakhya rasa—to realize it in the context of gauravani pracarine and guru seva—resulted in his empowerment by Nityananda Rama.
But I agree with Pujyapada Sridhara Maharaja: If some wants to think otherwise, I have no objection.
I guess we can’t argue with the conclusions of Sridhar Maharaja, but he did say that “at least temporarily he has showed like that”. To me that leaves open the possibilities and is not an absolute affirmation.
To say “temporarily” is not at all a final adjudication on the rasa of Srila Prabhupada. It seems that all of Sridhar Maharaja’s views on the rasa of Prabhupada were prefaced with this caution.
But you ignore my testimony as to the context of this statement, as well as the clear logic regarding Prabhupada’s aspiration for sakhya rasa prior to being empowered. And if you think you can’t argue with the conclusions of SM, it is important to understand them in context. Furthermore how can you argue with my guru’s own conclusions when he himself he speaks about his inner life? I guess you feel free to argue with my conclusions concerning the object of my devotion, but in my opinion you are not making a convincing case. That said I will admit that no one will convince me to change my opinion. I leave it to you to decide for yourself whether that is because I am closed minded or spiritually advanced.
Maharaja, thank-you for your thought-provoking response. My reply would be that Srila Prabhupada expressed sakhya-rasa bhava at times because in fact he was at least “temporarily” in sakhya-rasa. Of course we know that madhurya-rasa contains all the other rasas. That is the teachings of the Goswamis. So, theoretically a devotee in madhurya-rasa could easily enter into another rasa on a temporary basis if there were certain stimulating factors in place. I can’t remember where I read it but somewhere I read once that the gopis were not only lovers of Krishna but friends as well. So, being a lover includes being a friend. That seems to be what the science of rasa mandates.
Despite what my personal feelings are on the matter, it is quite obvious that Sridhar Maharaja several times stated that this sakhya-rasa bhava of Srila Prabhupada could be a “temporary” condition due to certain stimulating factors affecting the mood of Srila Prabhupada. I am not saying that I agree or disagree with his assessment. I am just admitting the facts of what the record states regarding his opinions as he voiced them.
Again, you ignore the context go SM’s statement as explained by myself. And the kind of aspiration we seen in Prabhupada’s prayer can not be explained in the manner you try to explain it. Manjari upasakas don’t pray to herd cows with Krsna throughout the day in the name of gopis sometimes desiring sakhya rasa. No, manjaris desire only to serve Radha, who herself expands as Subala sakha to experience sakhya rasa.
Pilgrim Journey said: “So, theoretically a devotee in madhurya-rasa could easily enter into another rasa on a temporary basis if there were certain stimulating factors in place.”
A devotee may experience transitory feelings associated with another rasa, but it does not change or overwhelm the stayi-bhava, in this case sakhya rasa. As you said, being a lover includes being a friend. This is true, but being in a gopi deha does not allow for experiencing full fledged sakhya rasa in the way that requires a gopa deha like Prabhupada is praying for, described here by Srila Sridhar Maharaj:
Please note as Swami is pointing out, Prabhupada is praying this way, for a gopa-deha in gopa-lila BEFORE his empowerment. This prayer is the clearest evidence of Prabhupada’s directly stated affinity for sakhya rasa, and is not a result of his empowerment, but rather a catalyst – such deep, focused bhava Prabhupada is expressing privately to his friend Krsna. The fact that Prabhupada continued to express this same affinity throughout the rest of his time here, AFTER being empowered by his friend only confirms his unwavering stayi bhava. Further, it should be considered that if Prabhupada’s sakhya sentiment was temporary but his stayi is really in madhura-rasa, there should be several comparable references wherein he demonstrates his affinity for that rasa, where the temporariness of sakhya bhava shows and some madhura shines through. This is not the case. There is not one comparable reference.
I wish there were a Like button for Madan Gopal’s comment. It’s pretty much just what I was about to write. Of course, it’s a point Swami, Madan, and I have made any number of times. It points out the importance of actually understanding the science of bhakti as outlined by Srila Rupa Goswami in a little book called Bhaktirasamrita-sindhu, presented in an easily digestable way by Srila Prabhupada in The Nectar of Devotion. We should read these books carefully and discuss them in the association of experienced devotees.
Tripurari Svami, could you please shed some light on your statement, “No, manjaris desire only to serve Radha, who herself expands as Subala sakha to experience sakhya rasa.” I have never heard that Srimati Radharani expands herself as Subala Sakha. Is there any source for this statement?
In his 1,000 names of Radha, Raghunatha dasa Goswami includes “subala nyasta sarupya,” which means, “Who has bestowed a form equal to hers to Subala.” And the two, Subal and Radha, are lookalikes.
Dear Swami, If, as you assert, it is so clear what the relationship of Srila Prabhupada is, then why is their so much controversy?
It is simply self-serving to respond that the devotees “do not know” or “they are ignorant”. Actually this topic is well-known and well-researched for many a year by many a learned devotee – many of which disagree with you.
The fact remains that your interpretation relies on an interpretation of the words Srila Prabhupada in the absence of any definite declaration by Srila Prabhupada such as “my relationship with Krsna is….”.
In the absence of such a clear declaration by Srila Prabhupada we run the risk of offensively misrepresenting Srila Prabhupada.
“Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”
With such a great personality involved, we would be better advised to be cautious and maintain a sense of awe and reverence, rather than a judgmental attitude on a subject upon which we may not be really qualified to postulate.
The reasons for controversy have been explained in the publication O My Friend! Therein also Prabhupada’s own statements concerning his affinity for sakhya rasa have been cited. If your guru said to you “I am a cowherd boy” and in his intimate moments of bhajana he prayed to enter Krsna’s cowherd lilas in sakhya rasa, as revealed in his own private diary, and if this stated ideal of his was confirmed by his closest God brother, in whom he expressed confidence concerning his realisations, would you still think the subject remained open to debate? Such is the case for Srila Prabhupada’s affinity for sakhya rasa. What more do you need him to say? I see no absence of a clear definitive declaration by Srila Prabhupada.
You advise me to be cautious. I am sure you mean well. As far as who is who is qualified to postulate on this subject, I think that you can speak definitively for yourself.
As an aside, do you also take the position you have in this post in relation to those who think otherwise about Prabhupada’s spiritual affinity? And, are you one of his initiated disciples?
I thank you for your response and recognition that my mention of ‘caution’ in this matter is well-meaning.
I appreciate you ability to accept opinions that may not be in exact line with your own without rancor.
I also recognize that there are indications that could indicate Srila Prabhupada had, as you say, “an affinity for sakhya rasa”.
However, the reason I express caution is the case of none other that Arjuna, to whom Sri Krsna spoke Bhagavad-gita.
From Gaura-gannodesa Dipika, we discover that Ramananda Roi, the associate of Sri Mahaprabhu, was a combined incarnation of Lalita, Arjuna, and Arjunia Gopi.
Many do not understand that Arjuna, in sakhya-rasa, also simultaneously has a form as a gopi, Arjunia Gopi in madhurya-rasa as evidenced in the above Dipika.
One should understand that the higher rasa contains/integrates the ‘lower rasa’. This is may be understood quite simply. ‘Friendship affection’ is not absent in ‘conjugal affection’ – obviously. This is evident even in material rasa. The wife is also the friend of the husband.
However, in the inconceivable transcendental plane that integrated sakhya-rasa can take ‘tangible separate form’, so to speak, meaning a devotee as per the requirements of a particular lila may manifest another suitable form. Again the proof of this is that Arjuna is the sakhya-rasa form of Arjunia gopi, as evidenced in the Dipika mentioned above.
In further substantiation, as you may know, those that worship Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai as well as Sri Sri Radha Krsna in the period of sadhana will by the grace of Sri Krsna attain two forms upon liberation: one form for Caitanya-lila and one form for Sri Krsna-lila.
Put simply, this means that a liberated devotee may manifest multiple forms in accordance with the multiple lilas that he/she in involved in.
The important point, however, is that in accordance with the stahyi-bhava of that particular form he will express concordant spiritual sentiments, i.e., in his sakhya-rasa form he will express sakhya-rasa sentiments and not conjugal sentiments, which would be a form of discordant, inappropriate rasa for the sakhya-rasa lila in which he/she is involved.
Now if we apply the above understandings to our most respected Srila Prabhupada, then the possibility of a deeper understanding arises.
It is generally recognized that Srila Prabhupada was sakhyavesa-avatara. Particularly, we can understand that Srila Prabhupada carried the sakti of Adi-Guru Sri Nityananda Prabhu, the savior and guru of the most fallen residents of Kali-Yuga. Srila Prabhupada in his preaching-lila is the most intimate empowered associate of Sri Nityananda Prabhu.
Now, from sastra we see that Sri Nityananda was the shelter of many devotees in sakhya-rasa. We must therefore consider that the great soul who manifest as the Great Guru and Preacher, Srila Prabhupada, specifically empowered by Sri Nityananda was a great soul of many lilas and many bhavas and many appropriate forms. Srila Prabhupada was definitely a most intimate associate of Sri Krsna.
Therefore, in his preaching lila as Srila Prabhupada empowered by Sri Nityananda, he ‘may be’ adsorbed in sakhya-rasa and thus express related sentiments, however it would be a great mistake then to propose that such a great soul is restricted to those sentiments – in exclusion of a ‘higher rasa form’ of madhurya rasa.
If we read Srila Prabhupada’s commentaries we see that he had the unlimited insight into all mellows of devotion.
Therefore your restrictive definition of Srila Prabhupada as being ‘only’ in sakhya rasa is on the basis of an immature understanding of the transcendental plane and the materially inconceivable residents thereof.
I hope you will accept these words with the kind humility that is evident in your earlier response. As said before, we, myself included, must approach such great personalities with great caution in awe and reference. We must understand that these personalities are certainly beyond our full comprehension and so not take the role of judge and jury with regard to their position and consciousness. Especially if we end up misleading others on the spiritual path as a result.
As a final note, I would like to quote Srila Prabhupada, himself. Once, Srila Prabhupada was directly asked what his relationship was with Sri Krsna.
His answer, “If I told you, you would faint.”
Your reply is troublesome in a number of ways. And you have ignored two of my questions. From your response I am left to conclude that you are not an initiated disciple of my Guru Maharaja, and that while you find it wrong to conclude that Prabhupada’s ideal is sakhya rasa and caution against reaching such a conclusion, at the same time you have no problem speculating that his ideal is madhurya rasa.
Furthermore you characterise sakhya rasa uncharitably with phrases like “restricted to those sentiments (of sakhya rasa)” and describing madhurya rasa as a “higher rasa form.” In one sense madhurya is higher, but your objection reminds me of those who complained when Pujyapada Sridhara Deva Goswami concluded that Prabhupada ideal was sakhya rasa. They felt that Sridhara Maharaja was criticising Prabhupada. To this he replied in shock, “Do they think it is a bad thing?” So I caution you not to meddle in topics that are beyond your adhikara and risk thinking of them in ways that are mundane.
But back to your less than cautious speculations. The letter of your argument is wrong and so too is its spirit. Let us look at its spirit first. It leaves us with the conclusion that despite what one’s guru personally says about his cherished ideal, aspires for in his private bhajana, and is confirmed by his closest associate whose realisations he had the highest respect for, we are free to speculate otherwise as to what our guru’s ideal is. With this logic everything is up for grabs. Maybe Bhaktisiddhanta and Bhaktivinode also have sakhya rasa svarupas, or perhaps they also have svarupas in vatsalya rasa, etc. etc. And you support this with a misunderstanding of the implications of Gaura-gonnodesa-dipika and the notion of multiple svarupas for liberated souls, the letter of your argument, if you will. To that you add your reasoning that despite the extent to which Prabhupada showed affinity for sakhya rasa and spoke about it, we need not conclude that this alone (if at all) is his ideal. And you do this to reason (without the caution your advise others to embrace) that his ideal is madhurya rasa. Here you invoke the idea that Prabhupada is a saktyavesa-avatara. Yours is a very poor argument to say the least. I will explain what is wrong with the letter of your argument from GGD and also how your logic fails in my next post. I will also address your “Prabhupada said” quotation.
Kavi Karnapura’s GGD concerns the eternal associates of Mahaprabhu, who are not jiva tattva. They are constituted of Krsna’s svarupa sakti. As such, they are different from liberated jivas, sadhana siddhas, and this difference is apparent in the lila, as confirmed in the core Guadiya texts. Furthermore you take a literal reading of Kavi Krnapura’s description of Ramananda and conclude that he is literally Arjuna, Arjunia,and Lalita, which is not necessarily the intention of the author, who simply acknowledges that different devotees saw him (at different times) in different ways and that it is their insights that he is presenting. Add to this that the tradition at large has reached the conclusion that Ramanada is an incarnation of Viskaha gopi and not Lalita gopi, while Krsnadasa Kaviraja identifies him with Subala-sakha. But let me get back to my main point concerning the difference between those constituted of svarupa-sakti and those blessed by her (sadhana-siddhas).
While those constituted of svarupa sakti have numereous possible svarupas extending over various lilas including those of Krsna’s expansions and avatars, Gauidya sadhana siddhas are restricted to two possibilities, two svarupas: One svarupa in Gaura lila and one svarupa in Krsna lila.* They are attained through sadhu sanga of a particular bhava and subsequent supporting sadhana. And Prabhupada repeatedly described himself as a sadhana siddha in his conversations, correspondence, and purports. He also expressed a longing for each of these two svarupas, and with regard to a Krsna lila svarupa, he longed for a sakhya rasa svarupa—”kata bane chutachuti bane khai lutaputi sei din kabe habe mor.”
You refer to my Guru Maharaja as as saktyavesa avatar. This idea comes from Pujyapada Sridhara Deva Goswami, my siksa guru. Note that your accusations and cautions about “misleading others on the spiritual path” would apply to him as well. He repeatedly told us that his personal conclusion was that Prabhupada’s ideal was that of sakhya rasa. He considered the avesa of Prabhuapda to be Nityanandavesa, some type of empowerment from Nityananda. However, he also concluded that this empowerment began during Prabhupada’s journey across the Atlantic. It is during that journey that Prabhupada fervently prayed for Krsna to empower him for preaching in the West. In that prayer and after asking for such empowerment, Prabhupad expressed his desire to attain sakhya rasa. Thus before being empowered by Nitaicanda Prabhupada desired to attain sakhya rasa. Thus to conclude, as you have, that it is only because of the empowerment that Prabhupada showed affinity for sakhya rasa (the sentiment of Nitayanada Prabhu) is misleading. In other words the prayer/bhajana reveals that he was longing for sakhya rasa before being empowered. And this longing corresponds with the earlier spiritual history of Srila Prabhupada explained in O My Friend!
And of course Prabhupada has insight into all of the mellows of bhakti rasa. That is, with regard to rasa tattva. An acarya should be familiar with the siddhanta. The acarya will have one rasa as his or her ideal, while being conversant in the tattva concerning all the rasas explained in detail in Bhaktirasamrta-sindhu.
Finally your “Prabhupada said” quotation is a questionable one. But he did say that about Pujyapada Sirdhara Maharaja’s realisations. I advise you to be cautious in your dismissal of them, and to be frank, in your effort to school me.
I should also note that the term saktyavesa applies not only to Visnu tattva but also to jiva tattva. In other words, a jiva tattva sadhana siddha could also be empowered for a specific purpose for some period of time. And it is in this sense that Pujyapada Sridhara Maharaja commented on Prabhupada’s empowered preaching.
In my last post I wrote in the subjunctive case with regard to the matters under consideration. Kindly note this in your interpretation.
Be that as it may . . .
Marcia, before you contribute any further, please analyze your own words: “As said before, we, myself included, must approach such great personalities with great caution in awe and reference. We must understand that these personalities are certainly beyond our full comprehension and so not take the role of judge and jury with regard to their position and consciousness.”
I am glad you included yourself in your words of caution, but written as they are after you condescendingly praised Swami Tripurari for being humble, and before going ahead and implying he is misleading people, it’s hard to believe you: you certainly didn’t show any caution, awe or reverence. Swami Tripurari is an acarya, with almost 40 years of his practice in the sannyasa order, and a world-renowned command of our scriptures and philosophy. These are interesting times indeed, where anybody can discuss the highest topics of our siddhanta with a sadhu, while disregarding the basic etiquette among Vaishnavas, and skipping the basic teachings of the Bhagavad Gita (we see your pariprashna, but where is the pratipat?).
Sorry, I meant pranipat.
And I’ll add that, for all intents and purposes, you could very well be on an equal level with Swami Tripurari, just hiding behind a pseudonym, but if that was the case, it would be one more reason to behave in a gentlemanly, Vaishnava way while discussing these topics.
Furthermore, the fact that controversy surrounds an issue does not necessarily indicate that the truth of the matter is not clear. O My Friend! provides information that persons who concluded otherwise about Prabhupada’s spiritual affinity did not have in hand to inform their earlier conclusions. The fact that some of their followers cling to their leader’s less informed positions is nothing more than a clear case of bias.
“The fact that some of their followers cling to their leader’s less informed positions is nothing more than a clear case of bias.”
It is only natural that devotees will cling to their guru’s point of view because they have faith in the guru. Shouldn’t there be some deference for that faith? Can’t we just accept that they are following their guru and that is perfectly OK? Why should we demand that everyone submit to our point of view, even if it is based on facts, clear evidence, etc? Why should we expect devotees to oppose their guru? I don’t see bias as a fault in this regard.
They should have faith that their guru is reasonable and that in light of new and objective evidence he would change his opinion. Without that the faith you advocate leads only to discord and inconclusiveness. My guru is right.” “No, my guru is right.” Or “It’s inconceivable!”
Reason has a role in the embrace of faith. If not, there is only fanaticism and foolishness in the name of faith, and reasonable people will have nothing to do with such blind faith.
It is possible to follow the guru on this topic and also allow for other devotees to follow their guru, even if their opinions differ. It is not a given that such a person is a fanatic.
A person may just not be convinced by the evidence. That is reasonable. It would be blind following if they were to accept a point of view that they were not convinced of themselves.
So if a person is just not convinced by the evidence that is presented in “Oh My Friend”, but is still respectful of your point of view then where, in your opinion, do they stand?
There are two reasons why one would not be convinced. The first reason is that they are irrational and their bias and emotions get in the way. The second reason is that they have good resoning as to why the evidence is not conclusive. Although I have always been open to such reasoning, no one has provided it.
Somehow the spirit with which “Oh My Friend” has been offered to the Gaudiya community seems off to me. It is not really a free offering which one can accept or just respectfully decline. It is being offered with a condition tied to it that accepting the idea means rejecting all who have a different ideas as unreasonable and irrational. No room is allowed for any other opinion to be tolerated, no matter how exalted and revered the guru who holds such an opinion.
Actually it was offered to the community with the spirt of providing it with what Prabhupada himself said about his ideal with further supporting evidence. But while a great majority has appreciated it and concurs with it’s obvious conclusion, others have unfortunately militated against it. And in doing so they have not provided any insightful, cohesive argument against it. This present discussion is a good example. It has been suggested by Marcia that the book may be spiritually misleading others, it lacks spiritual caution, it’s obvious conclusion limits Prabhupada, and so on. Her logic and scriptural support was not defensible. That is not my fault. I am merely reacting to her criticisms couched as cautions. And you criticise me for having good arguments to support my realisation. In your opinion I should just reply, “Well you are certainly entitled to your opinion and I respect it.” Meanwhile it is my opinion that is not being respected, but rather attacked. And one can get tired of that and thus refer to such nonsense in ways that I have, ways that she initially criticised.
That said, Dhanurdhara Maharaja wrote an article seeking to relativize O My Friend. We published it. A devotee replied to it. He replied to that and she silenced him with her final reply. So if someone has a well reasoned, cohesive argument to make, we at the Harmonist are open to hear it and publish it, but it is likely that we will have a response to it. You can then choose whose opinion is better supported. There is no condition tied to O My Friend, but it is my experience that no one has offered a reasonable, spiritually sound argument against its clear conclusion. Can you point me to one? Am I allowed to say I don’t think someone’s argument is reasonable or spiritually sound, or is that not spiritually correct in your book?
Finally there are those who feel that Prabhupada can be seen in madhurya or sakhya rasa in the way that two disciples depicted in Jaiva Dharma see their guru in two different ways. That argument has been shown (on the Harmonist) to be lacking a clear understanding of what the book is saying, but nonetheless I am not out to convince devotees of that persuasion to change their opinion. I respect them but I do not agree with them. I agree that a disciples can see their guru differently but not that this means that the guru has two svarupas. But that is a deeper subject, the essence of which has already been published on the Harmonist.
I also find this “no matter how exalted and revered the guru who holds such an opinion” line objectionable. Let’s take B.V. Narayana Maharaja as an example. He is exalted and he forcefully voiced a different opinion from that of O My Friend before it was published and he never read it after it was published. O My Friend informs us what Prabhupada himself said about his ideal. And I am Prabhupada’s disciple, not Narayana Maharaja’s. I think Prabhupada’s own statements and the abundance of supporting evidence that correspond with my inner experience derived from his direct service is more credible than the position Narayana Mahaharaja took. But in thinking so and defending my position I am accused of not honouring the opinion of exalted Vaisnavas. I am sorry but it is Prabhupada’s opinion I am honouring and my own that corresponds with it. Why does Narayana Maharaja’s opinion trump Prabhupada’s stated position or why should it be given equal standing? Can Narayana Maharaja be wrong on the subject without being relativized or offended? There are a number of positions on subjects that Narayana Maharaja took that were more correct in terms of Gaudiya siddhanta than the position Prabhupada took on the same issues. Does that diminish the contribution of Prabhupada? I am his disciple and I don’t think so. I look forward to the day when the majority of Gaudiyas are spiritually mature enough to understand what it means to associate with and honour exalted Vainavas. It is not the religious fundamentalism and komala sraddha I often experience in the name of doing so.
My dandavat pranam to both Swami B.V. Tripurari and Swami B. A. Ashrama. I apologize if I have offended either of you in any way. I honestly voiced my concerns and you have both honestly replied.
I just want to point out that Atmananda’s last comment (Oct. 8, 3:22 p.m.), if you’ll pardon my bluntness, seems to indicate that he hasn’t actually read “O My Friend!” very carefully. I actually find it a little shocking, considering the opportunities he has had to ask me about anything in the piece over the last few years. In fact I explicitly, repeatedly invite open-minded, open-hearted discussion based on the kind of specific, verifiable evidence I present in the booklet. And that evidence has been augmented by further evidence, which I will present in a revised, expanded edition. Atmananda presents his opinion of how closed minded the booklet is without offering any evidence in support. That kind of closed-minded “argument” adds absolutely nothing to the discussion and in no way advances anyone’s understanding of the subject. It is, perhaps, the least generous comment I have encountered so far.
Once, Srila Prabhupada was directly asked what his relationship was with Sri Krsna.
His answer, “If I told you, you would faint.”
Clear understandings to be drawn,(not directionally interpretive or conjectural as is much of the above):
1. I have not told you my svarupa.
2. I do not want to reveal my svarupa.
3. The glory of my svarupa is beyond your limited mental faculties (would cause fainting).
[A simple declaration of ‘I am in sakhya-rasa’ would that cause fainting?]
4. Therefore, considering 1,2,3, this subject matter is not a suitable
topic for your inquiry being beyond your comprehension.
Who asked him that? When did he say it? These questions would shed light on his answer. Furthermore, the answer is not recorded anywhere and no one has stated that he or she asked this of Prabhupada and got this reply.Thus it is merely hear-say. On the other hand devotees have testified that Prabhuapda told them he was a cowherd boy. Add to this an abundance of related evidence and your one questionable quote with your poorly reasoned analysis of it hardy outweighs the evidence in Om My Friend! If you can’t understand that, there is not much point in discussing the issue further. Believe whatever you want. But you are clearly not qualified to enter into the subject at this time. Thus I caution you not to. And don’t waste you time cautioning me. That is not your position. But I invite you to visit with me and learn more of what has not been said in O My Friend on the subject of my Guru Maharaja’s inner life. I believe that such personal meeting would help to qualify you to enter into the subject.
Marcia is basing her argument on a quote that she is using entirely out of context.
Satsvarupa Maharaja writes in the Srila Prabhupada-lilamrta:
During the Vyasa-puja celebration, Acyutananda Swami saw Prabhupada and Sridhara Maharaja fully absorbed in a deep discussion in Bengali. Upon inquiry about the nature of their talk, Prabhupada replied, “If I were to tell you, you would faint. Sridhara Maharaja has very high realizations.” (Lilamrta, Vol. 3, p. 205)