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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My insight ventures
Posted: 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.

As the very opening words, I'd like to be clear in emphasizing that people with individual mentalities will have individual applications and requirements, and as such one shouldn't construe this post as my advocating the study of any particular discipline or genre of literature. One ought to have the good sense to be able to evaluate one's own necessities and study accordingly, just as different kinds of individuals will at different times prefer different kinds of diets to suit their particular conditions.

In particular, some have wondered why I have not extensively brought forth or emphasized the highest teachings of manjari-bhava, as presented for example by the tradition here at Radhakund. Does it mean I feel they are no longer relevant? Does it mean anything? What does it mean? What is the meaning of meaning? Let's see what means what and how things are tied together.

There are, essentially, two approaches to the lila in practice. One is the method more inclined towards meditative visualization, the other more of an "automatic" way depending on the descent of the lila through grace. In the first, the vision of the lila is gradually refined until the full manifestation is entered into, and in the second the full manifestation descends of its own accord owing to grace and citta-suddhi acquired over time. People with different temperaments are inclined for different approaches; both are valid.

Contrasting the two, it may be argued that the latter is "easier" owing to the more resigned, dependent and devotional approach — even though none should think the first would ever come to fruition without sufficient devotional assets either. In Sri Vaishnavism, I recall having heard, they recognize two distinct devotional paths, the first of which is the path of surrender, and the second the path of bhakti-yoga; a model more literally yogic in nature in its meditative practice. You can read of such approaches for example in the very interesting 14th chapter of the 11th canto of the Bhagavata where, towards the end of the chapter, Krishna advices Uddhava on the method of contemplation on his divine form.

My interests in the former, and experiments over the years with the same, have led me to a fair understanding of the degree to which my mind is still untrained in terms of concentration, and of course to a subsequent realization of the need for remedying the same by appropriate methods. Since our "own" textual tradition doesn't deal with such themes very elaborately at all, but rather give hints and passing references to themes more elaborately dealt with in external sources, one taking interest in the such will be naturally inclined to study the sources. And I would be inclined to assume that a part of the reason why such themes aren't elaborately explored is that it has been assumed the audience is already familiar with the same.

Let's take a glance at, as an example, Baladeva's notes in his Vedanta-bhashya (4.1. - sixth adhikarana):

AsInaH sambhavAt - "Sitting, for then it is possible." BV: One should adopt an asana (yoga sitting-posture), and then meditate on the Lord. Why is that? The sutra explains, “sambhavat" (for then it is possible). When one is reclining, standing up, or walking, the mind is liable to be distracted and then meditation is not possible. In Svetasvatara Upanisad (1.3) it is said: te dhyAna-yogAnugatA apazyan - "Sitting in a yoga posture, and rapt in meditation, the sages gazed at the Supreme Personality of Godhead." In this way they who desire to meditate on the Lord are described. Therefore one should adopt the asana posture. Otherwise meditation is not possible.

dhyAnAc ca - "Also because of meditation." BV: Meditation is defined as thinking of one thing only and not thinking of anything else. This kind of thinking is not possible when one is reclining or in any posture but the yoga-asana. Therefore one should sit in the yoga-asana.

Baladeva repeats the same in his comments to sutras 9 and 10 for the emphasis. Proper posture and breath control are also recurring themes in the Bhagavata, featured as methods for controlling the mind, prerequisites for meditation. Having taken interest in the such, one then rather naturally becomes inclined to study the said methods in further detail.

This is the scenario giving rise to my interests in studying works such as Yoga-sutra and Hatha-yoga-pradipika. The late Swami Sivananda mentioned earlier was a prolific author who produced helpful and rather pragmatic glosses on many themes of yoga, meditation and sadhana. (There are shared methods across the vast landscape of Indic tradition. Hardly anything is unique on its own — there are only unique combinations.) Hence my initial interest in his works. Now, if he happens to make a remark I consider particularly wise and insightful, I see no reason why I should abstain from repeating the same.

We have developed, especially I believe among the Western Gaudiya Vaisnava audience, a strange sort of an allergy and a fair sense of aversion towards traditions separate from our own. Perhaps this owes a great deal to the attitudes implanted by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, with whose group many of us were once affiliated with. In his works, everybody got their fair share of blast and blame. There were the sahajiyas, there were the mayavadi rascals, the impostors and the show-bottle yogis. There were the rascal scientists, and a whole horde of diverse demons out there, just waiting to have an opportunity to denigrate the sankirtan movement of salvation we were out to propagate.

To contrast this with different attitudes, I visited the ashram of Murari Baba (a prominent disciple of Tinkadi Goswami) at Kesighat a while back, and noticed a sizable portrait of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa right above the temple door. I made a passing remark of its presence to a babaji in whose company I was — without really commenting one way or another — and he noted, "He's a sadhaka-purusha. There's no problem in having his picture there."

Similarly, especially among the Bengalis, one will note how people have a great sense of respect towards their "national heros" such as Vivekananda, Lokanath Brahmacari and Aurobindo. Now, no Gaudiya Vaisnava would agree with any one of them in full detail on matters of sadhana and sadhya, but the absence of disparaging attitude is noteworthy. There really is no need to smash and trash everybody with the minutest difference. This is the kanistha-attitude where in essence one seeks to solidify his own faith, or the faith of a group, through denigrating the perceived opponents. A more evolved individual will be able to partake of and rejoice in everyone's wisdom.

And what's with those Buddhist suttas? Well, the Buddhist tradition has developed very refined and extensively documented methods of meditation. There are many parallels there with Patanjali's concepts in the Yoga-sutra, and there are also many unique insights and elaborations. Having discovered the same, I see no pressing reason to blind myself from its existence and potential benefits. And again, if the Buddha — who seems by all accounts to have been a very wise and perceptive individual — has made notes that are beneficial across the board, regardless of one's particular tradition, it does not make sense to abstain from repeating the same just because they don't have the company label on them.

That, then, is a brief gloss into my explorations that hopefully demystifies the matter a bit. I really am not inclined to start tagging my blogs with "warning - content from external sources". If people want to read just the plain doctrine, they are better off just reading the source texts. I am more concerned with the application, the practicalities, the possibilities and the realities of what everything translates into in real life. It's about walking a path and getting somewhere after all, not just about deciphering theorems.
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