Destination Varanasi
28th of February, 2008 - 13:22
Leaving within the hour. It just dawned to me that Siva-ratri is right behind the corner, and Varanasi is approximately on the way...
Bengali lessons concluded
26th of February, 2008 - 15:53
Two months of Bengali lessons with Sakhicharan and Bisakha came to a conclusion today with the last chapter of the textbook discussions finished.
New section: Downloads
26th of February, 2008 - 7:55
A new section has been opened, hosting a number of media for download.
Raganuga for grabs
25th of February, 2008 - 21:26
Raganuga.Com and Raganuga.Org are available if someone wants to take the domains over and begin something anew.
Vraja Journal Digest - Newsletter discontinued
25th of February, 2008 - 7:52
The newsletter is discontinued in favor of a RSS newsfeed. I'm also heading towards Orissa in a few days, will be away for the better part of two months.
25th of February, 2008 - 3:44
I received a letter asking about the specifics of the design Visakha-sakhi draws on Radha's forehead after her morning bath, otherwise described as kama-yantra in Govinda-lilamrita. This is the reply.
Project Index - Concluding words
23rd of February, 2008 - 19:16
The project index at Madhavananda.com is indefinitely frozen. These are the concluding words posted today in the news section in announcing the same.
Soundscapes Reloaded
22nd of February, 2008 - 14:16
This is a continuation of the earlier blog entry featuring random sounds from Radhakund.
The Eve-teasing Problem
21st of February, 2008 - 15:24
In light of the recent rape and murder of Ananda-lila, an Australian girl who was staying in Vrindavan, people have asked for my comments on the culture of sexual harassment regrettably prevalent in India, sometimes labeled "eve-teasing", a rather archaic and tidy expression for an ugly social wrong.
Project ongoings
19th of February, 2008 - 11:09
Notes on diverse projects as the show is winding up. The ongoing-section of Vraja Journal retires.
Levels of Mantra and Meditation
17th of February, 2008 - 5:22
There are different levels on which a mantra functions or may be employed. Awareness of them, along with honest assessments of one's internal mental growth and present state, can prove to be helpful. I am also contrasting them with the theology of the four common aspects we know as nama, rupa, guna and lila.
And if you want to discuss...
16th of February, 2008 - 8:49
A few days back, my friend Jijaji told me he'd like to see a feature for leaving online comments on blog entries.
Gaudiya Discussions - Archives Reloaded
16th of February, 2008 - 8:26
These are the archives of Gaudiya Discussions, the once mighty giant of online Gaudiya Vaishnava discussions, debates, history, theology, controversy and creativity...
To Russian disciples of BVNM
15th of February, 2008 - 8:57
I keep hearing from several sources that some Russian disciples of BVNM have, as I had much predicted, employed my recent writings as ammunition in their hate campaign against the babaji tradition. Since none have contacted me in person, this is my open letter to them all.
Random soundscapes from Radhakund
12th of February, 2008 - 16:23
A while back a friend asked me to record some random bits of sound at Radhakund to get a better feel of the atmosphere. Here goes.
What I really want to say
11th of February, 2008 - 16:46
I just received a comment asking: "Do you want to stop posting clarifications and disclaimers and get down to the nitty-gritty of what you want to say?" Now, what do I really want to say? <pin drop silence follows>
My insight ventures
11th of February, 2008 - 7:15
With the occasional reference to yogic or Advaitin scriptures, or Buddhist suttas for that matter, some have been wondering about my explorations of knowledge outside the classical Vaisnava canon. Let's have a brief gloss on the why and the what to give everyone a better picture of what things are all about.
For all of you who want to spread the word
5th of February, 2008 - 19:39
Today I'm writing a note to all of you there, whether you're disciples of Narayana Maharaja, gurubhais of mine, or just random folks who want to interpret what I've written and tell all about it to your pals and all. And here's what I wish to say.
When the weather report is on
4th of February, 2008 - 19:30
I'd like to put in a note to all those who would judge me for what I am as I dive into the dark depths of my heart and pull out these horrendous blog entries. And yes, also for those well-wishers who have already concluded that I am a person with zilch spiritual authority or insight and informed me of the same. As well as for anyone else who might alter their perceptions of me because of what I have written, what I am writing and what I will come to write.
TBI - Part 3 - The factors that made me credulous
4th of February, 2008 - 19:16
From my last blog in this series, you'll remember the picture of someone rather stressed out by noise and corruption, pondering his future direction. What were my inner workings in the period that immediately preceded meeting this babaji? What made me so vulnerable to being duped? That's in turn for today's blog.
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
1st of February, 2008 - 18:13
A word of clarification is in place, as my blogs as of late seem to have created some buzz in the blogosphere. Was Bhaktisiddhanta right about those bad babajis after all? My recent blogs were briefly mentioned in Jagadananda's recent blog, and a comment popped in: "Perhaps now its understood what Bhaktisidhanta was talking about...?" This needs some attention.

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Levels of Mantra and Meditation
Posted: 17th of February, 2008 - 5:22
There are different levels on which a mantra functions or may be employed. Awareness of them, along with honest assessments of one's internal mental growth and present state, can prove to be helpful. I am also contrasting them with the theology of the four common aspects we know as nama, rupa, guna and lila.

Concentration. Objective: Training the mind. Mechanical chanting operates on the mind in a technical capacity. The idea of just blocking away all thoughts while focusing on the sound of the mantra was once much scorned upon; yet this approach does serve as excellent concentration practice. The mind needs to be trained for further levels of employment, where an unflickering, one-pointed nature is imperative and vital. Focus on a supramundane object, even if the mantra is taken in a capacity falling short of its fullness, also contributes to the purification of the engaged faculties. Focus on the sound, as skillful concentration practice in general, also lets the mind rest in solace at times of strain. This level corresponds to "Nama".

Prayer. Objective: Healing the heart. Chanting in a contemplative, prayerful mood is vital for developing an ability to introspect, for cultivating virtue in one's nature. It is only through honest prayer that one comes to terms with one's innermost core, pulls out the muck and resigns in humility. As much as prayerful mantra is a call for the deity of the mantra, it is a method for spiritual self-healing. In this, the external formulae of the mantra tend to at times subside as the mind plunges into the heart and arises with emotional responses to the contemplative discoveries of one's being. This level corresponds to "Guna".

Static visualization. Objective: Internalization. Coined mantramayi-upasana, the practice of visualizing a static object or scenario serves both as concentration-practice as well as in internalization of the meditation-object; one gradually imports the contemplated scenario, often an other-worldly reality, into a part of one's current internal reality. The various mula-mantras and gayatris are particularly suitable for this practice. In contrast to the first two approaches to chanting, chanting employing the visualization faculty is substantially more difficult. On this level, the mantra may be experienced as one with the object of vision. This level corresponds to "Rupa".

Dynamic visualization. Objective: Residing in the flow. Coined svarasiki-upasana, this level combines the essence of prayer in the way of a developed emotional attitude and identity with the internalized other-worldly static vision-reality into a dynamic, flowing interplay. While the other three levels are easier to practice, dynamic visualization requires substantial accomplishment from the participant; in absence of that, not much beyond hazy and flickering projections are to be unveiled. True to its name, this level is one of a natural flow, no longer depending on the force of effort for its sustenance. On this level, the mantra may be seen to dissolve or rather form into the flowing fabric of the vision. This level corresponds to "Lila".

One should not think that the above levels are mutually exclusive; they may be employed at appropriate times to address the current need. In fact, it would be less than wholesome practice to omit some of the above on a stage prior to seamless residing in the meditative flow, where the core of the other three levels combines, and as such no substantial omission happens despite the technical absence of isolated level practices.

It may be of interest to readers to note that the fourfold correspondence to nama-rupa-guna-lila was the last factor I added to the above; after outlining the four levels, I realized the obvious parallel of the four basic levels I am, at least conceptually, familiar with through contemplation. A bridge from doctrines to experiences should be built for a thorough understanding of the realities at play.

Formulating concepts without reliance on a technical theological framework can make a substantial contribution for understanding. The framework serves better as a means of refining the experience-rooted understanding than it does as the primary foundation and fabric; for the latter can often be hollow and insubstantial in all of its sophistry, owing to a lack of internal connection.
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