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Discussions specifically related with the various aspects of practice of bhakti-sadhana in Gaudiya Vaishnavism.

Internal and External paths of rasamayi-upasana. - Can anyone explain the difference?



akincanakrishnadas - Wed, 09 Feb 2005 22:22:41 +0530
I have recently stumbled across a passage in Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura's Jaiva Dharma which I would like clarified.

From Chapter 39 (I hope no one minds - I am using the GVP translation):

"Goswami: Sriman Mahaprabhu entrusted Sri Svarupa Damodara with the responsibility of teaching the process of seva endowed with transcendental rasa (rasamayi upasana). To fulfill Sriman Mahaprabhu's order, Sri Svarupa Damodar presented his treatise in two parts. One part is called the internal path (antah-pantha) of rasamayi upasana, while the second part is called the external path (bahih-pantha) of rasamayi upasana. Sri Svarupa Damodar offered this antah-pantha around the neck of Srila Dasa Goswami, and it is illustrated and well-preserved in Dasa Goswami's writings. He taught the bahih-pantha to Sri Vakresvara Goswami, and this is the distinguished treasure of our line right up to the present day. I gave this treasured process to Sriman Dhyanacandra, and he has written a paddhati (a systematic, step-by-step method of practice) based upon it, which you have already obtained."

***(I beg the liberal minded Vaisnavas to forgive me for not using diacritics in quoting this passage... I just am not enough of a computer person to know how to do stuff like that. unsure.gif )

So these are my questions:

1) Is it a widely understood and accepted understanding that Swarupa Damodar has given an "internal" and an "external" process of rasamayi upasana?

2) Can anyone explain (in a brief and simple way) what distiguishes these two paths?

I am asking these questions because my Vaisnava superiors have pointed out this distinction to me in relation to the issue of siddha-pranali. I think I have a simple understanding of the distinction I am asking about, but I am very curious to hear the understandings of those who have a different angle of vision.
braja - Wed, 09 Feb 2005 22:50:45 +0530
[Thanks for presenting this, AKD. I know you haven't presented the quote here in a confrontational manner, but we may as well deal with this issue openly. It certainly is something that comes up frequently for IGM followers looking for grounding in raganuga bhakti.]

The first thing to note about this is that Bhaktivinode Thakura certainly doesn't knock anyone following the "external" path. In the hands of some, this small paragraph is used as a means of denigration, when clearly it was never meant to be that. Still, I guess being considered followers of an external path is better than being seen as just plain bogus. Guess it's a compliment of sorts. laugh.gif

Personally I don't read much into the delineation at all. It is like the difference between Radha's mahabhava vs the bhava attainable by a jiva, or ragatmika vs raganuga. One is the model, the emblem, the goal, and the other is what is generally attainable or doable. Gopal Guru (GGG) and Dhyanacandra Gosvamis (DGG) are key characters in Jaiva Dharma and I doubt that BT would have made them so if he felt there was a more powerful presentation to be made by introducing someone to represent what he calls the internal path. He also has numerous quotes of Dasa Gosvami spoken by DGG and GGG, including several pages worth just prior to the delineation of the two paths. Clearly, the external and internal are not far removed from each other in the eyes of BT: they are the same path.

I know this internal/external idea is used by some to suggest that the path traditionally practiced by raganugiyas is external and that IGM has a special connection with the internal path, "the hankering mood" of Raghunatha Dasa Gosvami as some have put it. A couple of pages prior to his mention of internal and external, BT has GGG reciting a verse that reads in part, "Ha Varoru Radhe, I am spending my days in great distress, maintaining the highest expectation of attaining the ocean of nectar. Now please bestow your kindness upon me...."

i.e. the maintainers of the external path seem pretty well steeped in the hankering mood of Dasa Gosvami.

And sorry to turn this a bit but it raises several points regarding those who take shelter of this statement as the basis for their practice: where exactly is this antah-panthi described by the IGM acaryas? How is it practiced? Which aspects of Dasa Gosvami's writings correspond to which practices of sadhana? How, or more importantly, why would someone develop a hankering mood like that of Dasa Gosvami? Who is encouraged to read the works of Dasa Gosvami, and indeed, who has even published them? One of the criticisms sometimes heard from IGM leaders is against those who imitate the Six Gosvamis: how does IGM avoid that pitfall? (Is it done by not telling sadhakas that their sadhana is even related to the hankering mood of Dasa Gosvami?)

Raghunatha Dasa Gosvami hankers for very specific services to Sri Radha--using his/her hair to clean Sri Radha's drain. How could one develop a similar mood without knowing the divine personality, traits, and activities of Sri Radha?

It certainly is an intriguing statement by Bhaktivinode Thakura. I'm not aware of anyone apart from him making the distinction--and I certainly don't knock anyone who has an entrance to the mood of Dasa Goswami! Wherever and whoever you are, please stand up and share your secrets!
Rasaraja dasa - Wed, 09 Feb 2005 23:39:42 +0530
Dandavats. All glories to the Vaisnavas.

Radhe Radhe!

I agree with Braja here. I don't disagree with the idea that aspects of our path are "internal and external" but I cannot understand why we think they are divisions or separate from one another? Furthermore if we were to even accept such a position why would we be expected to conclude that one would contradict the other?

In just examining this in regards to BVT why would a follower of BVT isolate one aspect of BVT's presentation to invalidate both BVT's other presentations as well as the specific aspects of sadhana that he himself practiced? If you keep this aspect of BVT's presentation in the context of his life, his works and his personal practices then I can't see how one could come to the conclusion that this "inner" mood is to be understood to be devoid of or contrary to the "external" mood.

If we are to take the leap and state that they are indeed understood to be two seperate divisions, which I still think is a bit of a stretch, what would lead one to think that they donít intertwine? I like how Braja likens the two divisions (i.e. Comparable to the difference between Radha's mahabhava vs the bhava attainable by a jiva, or ragatmika vs raganuga. One is the model, the emblem, the goal, and the other is what is generally attainable or doable). My challenge is that I just don't think that if we keep the presentation in context with the body of BVT's work and his personal practices as well as those before him that it is logical to say that one excludes the other.

Now if IGM believes that there is a particular way to embody the "internal" while ignoring the rest then... okay! However to say that everything other then this vision is indeed inferior or a mental concoction isn't acceptable. There needs to be a bit more than just an announcement that the game has indeed changed and all those before were afforded something no longer available to us today.

I think this conversation is better developed if you state why you think the "internal" is devoid of the "external". Why do you feel they are separate and work against one another?

Aspiring to serve the Vaisnavas,
Rasaraja dasa
akincanakrishnadas - Wed, 09 Feb 2005 23:44:35 +0530
oh heavens, braja. Why such an emotional reaction? I did NOT want to post a political thread. Why did you have to go ahead and make it one?

Can everyone do me a favor and not answering this thread by bringing up boring political issues and trying to defend their own personal only-way-truth-and-light?

I'd really appreciate if we could stick to the issue of explaining the distinction being made without resorting to completely uncalled for criticism.
akincanakrishnadas - Wed, 09 Feb 2005 23:53:07 +0530
Ok, Braja and Rasaraja Prabhus: You guys are like my Gaudiya Discussions gurus, but I am losing all faith in you.

Why are either of you bringing up IGM and their merciless persecution of your faith when that has nothing to do with Bhaktivinod's quote or the questions I asked about it? No one said anything against your "external" practice! I'm not even sure I know what the difference between an "internal" and "external" practice is, not to speak of criticizing any type of practice.

Why are you both so defensive?

And no one has answered the questions...
Rasaraja dasa - Thu, 10 Feb 2005 00:08:38 +0530
QUOTE(akincanakrishnadas @ Feb 9 2005, 10:14 AM)
oh heavens, braja.† Why such an emotional reaction?† I did NOT want to post a political thread.† Why did you have to go ahead and make it one?†

Can everyone do me a favor and not answering this thread by bringing up boring political issues and trying to defend their own personal only-way-truth-and-light?

I'd really appreciate if we could stick to the issue of explaining the distinction being made without resorting to completely uncalled for criticism.



Dandavats. All glories to the Vaisnavas.

I don't know why you take exception to Braja's ponts or feel them to be overtly political in nature. There are two areas we need to confront of you want to discuss such a point. The first is the theological and the second is the practical. I think that is all Braja is attempting to do.

The blunt reality is that in presenting such a question, in relation to how IGM views it, you are in some way saying that one is right and the other wrong. It is a sort of unavoidable result. Personally I am of the mindset that we need to approach such subjects as balanced as possible and within the best of our ability to keep all of the material we throw out there in their context they were written or stated. We need to avoid piecing together material to make a viewpoint stick or to discredit another viewpoint.

Ultimately this is all going to come down to a matter of faith. Of course one will naturally follow the path outlined by one's Guru. There is an air of 'inconceivable' when discussing such points. Again we donít have a scientific experiment which will prove one over the other. rather we have two very distinct avenues to help us make our decision. The first, and most important, is consultation of Sadhu, Sastra and Guru. The second is examining the practical result. If putting water over a flame results in the water evaporating then we indeed have a rather indisputable answer to the concept of evaporation. However we don't have such a clear cut case study that we can all stare at and agree upon.

What I believe Braja is asking is if you are saying that we should accept point B over point A then please help us/him understand if one were to accept your premise as the correct answer then where exactly is this antah-panthi described by the IGM Acaryas? How is it practiced, by whom and what does it look like? Which aspects of Dasa Gosvami's writings correspond to which practices of sadhana?

Again I think we would all be a bit naive to think that such a question wouldn't position everyone as Team A vs. Team B. It is an unavoidable result of such a conversation. The key is to offer respect for the sincerity of one another and always keep the motivation (i.e. service to Sri Radhika and Krsna) of the person standing across from us in the forefront of our minds when discussing such points.

Aspiringto serve the Vaisnavas,
Rasaraja dasa
braja - Thu, 10 Feb 2005 00:13:47 +0530
1) Is it a widely understood and accepted understanding that Swarupa Damodar has given an "internal" and an "external" process of rasamayi upasana?

I wrote:

"I'm not aware of anyone apart from him [Bhaktivinode Thakura] making the distinction."

Perhaps Advaita, Madhava, Jagat or others who have read more widely can offer more feedback on that.

2) Can anyone explain (in a brief and simple way) what distiguishes these two paths?

"Personally I don't read much into the delineation at all. It is like the difference between Radha's mahabhava..."

I don't see that there is a distinction.

As I also mentioned, I think it is worthwhile both examining siddhanta and providing the background on how these words of Bhaktivinode Thakura have gained so much capital. I'm sorry if that seems political but to me it is simply reality and as this is a public forum, there is much benefit to people knowing the background. As with many topics here, people are operating under different assumptions and with differing levels of data. Providing them with a broad range of facts and opinions, allows them to draw their own conclusions.

Rasaraja dasa - Thu, 10 Feb 2005 00:15:12 +0530
QUOTE(akincanakrishnadas @ Feb 9 2005, 10:23 AM)
Ok, Braja and Rasaraja Prabhus: You guys are like my Gaudiya Discussions gurus, but I am losing all faith in you.

Why are either of you bringing up IGM and their merciless persecution of your faith when that has nothing to do with Bhaktivinod's quote or the questions I asked about it?† No one said anything against your "external" practice!† I'm not even sure I know what the difference between an "internal" and "external" practice is, not to speak of criticizing any type of practice.

Why are you both so defensive?

And no one has answered the questions...



Dandavats. All glories to the Vaisnavas.

I think where we got off on the wrong foot is to reference such a discussion in how IGM views or preaches the point which I believe we would all agree is from a rather aggressive position. I apologize for allowing the reference of IGM and how they address the issue to almost outshine the actual question put forth flowers.gif. So without even assimilating IGM into the question I will try to answer your two questions in a concise manner:

1) Is it a widely understood and accepted understanding that Swarupa Damodar has given an "internal" and an "external" process of rasamayi upasana?

Process no. Aspects yes.

2) Can anyone explain (in a brief and simple way) what distinguishes these two paths?

They aren't paths but aspects of the same path.

Aspiring to serve the Vaisnavas,
Rasaraja dasa

Madhava - Tue, 15 Feb 2005 22:13:16 +0530
Dear Akinchana Krishnadasji,

Thank you for bringing up this important topic. And thanks also to Braja and Rasaraja for bringing up several valuable insights. I'll try to add a few more thoughts on this.

Regarding two separate paths - The acharyas prior to Bhaktivinoda have not described any such distinctions. The methods of Dhyanachandra and the deep bhava of Raghunath Das have always gone hand in hand. There is no one without the other.

I do not have the Bengali text for Jaiva Dharma at hand, but the impression I get from the text that Bhaktivinoda isn't making a division into two separate paths at all, but he rather describes two aspects of the same path. Some facts worth noting are the following:

- Aside Jaiva Dharma, in Harinama-cintamani and Caitanya-sikshamrita, Bhaktivinoda also described items such as the bestowal of ekAdaza-bhAva and so forth. He was consistently teaching the "external path".

- Bhaktivinoda himself taught methods akin to those of Dhyanachandra to his initiated disciples, of whom lineages descending exist even in the present day. These methods of manjari-bhava worship are similar to those found among the Baghna Pada Goswamis, a group among which Bhaktivinoda found his diksha-guru.

- Bhaktivinoda chose Dhyanachandra, a representative of the "external path" as one of the lead characters in his major work on Gaudiya theology.

To gain a better insight into why I consider the division superficial and factually meaningless, let us think of the famous phrase of "form and substance". The methods are the form and the moods are the substance. If you do not have the methods, your moods will not become focused in the course of the daily lila, and they may not in fact become focused even on your own svarupa and siddha-bhava to any lucid degree. If you have no moods, your methods are a meaningless exercise.


Regarding how people believing in this theory see the two - A representative of Gaudiya Matha recently related to me that the two paths, external and internal, are characterized as arcana-pradhAna (predominated by archana) and stava-stuti-pradhAna (predominated by varieties of prayers) respectively. However, I personally find that this division betrays a comprehensive lack of understanding in the matter of the kind of bhajana employed among the wide community of Gaudiyas out there.

In this vein, I should note that it is peculiar how in the current day, the division into "internal path" and "external path" is practically a division into Gaudiya Matha and the rest. Perhaps I am wrong, but I have never heard anyone given as an example of the former aside the Gaudiya Matha. What makes it additionally peculiar is that in many branches of the followers of the "internal path", contemplation and discussion of many topics and texts concerning the "internal moods" to be cultivated has been banned wholesale, give or take a few senior members in the "inner circle" of the guru. Overall, I find that the "internal path" is often so internal and so ambiguous that hardly anyone can explain what it means at all. That in turn raises a number of questions on the validity of the theory in me.

And I should add that the above is not an attempt to make this "political". It is an attempt to make it practical, which is also what I believe Brajajana was heading at. However, if we are to examine issues surrounding various Gaudiya practices, we should not only look at the shastra, but also of the traditions coming forth from shastra or interpretations thereof. The sadhus and mahajanas of past and present are the tradition, and a wealth of tradition it is indeed. guru-sAdhu-zAstra-vAkya hRdoye koriya aikya.

I also find it worth mentioning that we often find that in fact it is the adherents of the "external path" who are deeply steeped in manjari-bhava and the moods of Raghunath Das Goswami. So much so that the followers of the "internal path" find themselves drawn to the books and narrations of the advocates of the "external path". Is there not something upside down there? smile.gif
akincanakrishnadas - Sun, 27 Feb 2005 01:16:31 +0530
Respected Vaisnavas,

Thank you for your responses. Sorry I haven't responded to this discussion for so long, but my internet access has been very limited recently.

You've all said that no acarya has previously recognized the distinctions between the writings of Dhyanchandra and Das Goswami, but implicit in all of your responses is that you all clearly recognize a distinction. Das Goswami and Dhyanchandra have both given instructions to help us pursue rasamayi-upasana, but the instructions are different. Still, I think that the points that have been made here highlighting the close relationship is fair and helpful: our acaryas have given instructions which complement each other, not compete with each other.

I think it's fair to say, for example, that there is a distinction between the writings of Rupa Goswami and Sanatana Goswami. Rupa Goswami wrote about some aspects of the teachings of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Sanatana Goswami wrote about others. There are distinctions between their writings, but their writings complement each other. Lets look at the instructions of Raghunatha das Goswami and Dhyanchandra like that: we want to appreciate the distinctions in the teachings of these acaryas, recognizing that they are both helping us towards the same goal.

I especially like Madhavas distinction: the teachings of Das Goswami and Dhyanchandra compliment one another as "substance and form." Can we fill out that idea a little with more explaination?

Please notice that I've never proposed any "theories" one way or the other, and I think this thread jumped the gun a little on my questions by arguing theories before even defining basic terms. My intention in starting this thread was just to understand things about the teachings of our acaryas that we all agree on - which is the reason I got so upset when everyone started immediately arguing theories and interpretations of these basic terms.

So lets talk about basic distinctions first, please. Can someone (maybe Madhava, since you've brought up this distinction) briefly describe the "substance" given by Das Goswami and the "form" given by Dhyanchandra Goswami? Perhaps "substance and form" is terminology which is less emotionally charged than "internal" and "external."

Braja has asked: "where exactly is this antah-panthi described by the IGM acaryas? How is it practiced? Which aspects of Dasa Gosvami's writings correspond to which practices of sadhana? How, or more importantly, why would someone develop a hankering mood like that of Dasa Gosvami?" But questions about the contents of Das Goswami's writings and their relevance to the cultivation of raga-marg are everyone's burden that wants to follow in the footsteps of Raghunatha das Goswami, not just "IGM acaryas." If Braja is confident of his own standing as a follower of Raghunatha das Goswami (to the point of challenging others who hope to follow him) can he answer his own questions about Das Goswami's work based on his own privilaged perspective (now that he's liberated himself from the outrageous oppression of IGM acaryas... biggrin.gif)?

I just want to know what is relevant in Das Goswami's work to the cultivation of rasamayi-upasana. I'm not looking to argue opinions that we disagree on.

Similarly, I think we want to ask basic questions like this of Dhyanchandra's work. What in his work is relevant for the cultivation of raga-marg?

We've all agreed that there are distinctions between the writings of Raghunatha das Goswami and Dhyanchandra Goswami on the point of rasamayi-upasana (just as Bhaktivinoda has indicated) - Now what are they? Basically I want to figure out what it is we all agree on before getting into a discussion about the things we disagree on (if there are, in fact, substancial points of disagreement).

I hope this post clarifies my original questions a little better and redirects this thread to where I was hoping it would go.

Thank you all. Hare Krishna.

Yours,
akd
Kamala - Sun, 27 Feb 2005 02:09:16 +0530
QUOTE(Madhava @ Feb 15 2005, 04:43 PM)
To gain a better insight into why I consider the division superficial and factually meaningless, let us think of the famous phrase of "form and substance". The methods are the form and the moods are the substance. If you do not have the methods, your moods will not become focused in the course of the daily lila, and they may not in fact become focused even on your own svarupa and siddha-bhava to any lucid degree. If you have no moods, your methods are a meaningless exercise.

QUOTE(akincanakrishnadas @ Feb 26 2005, 07:46 PM)
I especially like Madhavas distinction: the teachings of Das Goswami and Dhyanchandra compliment one another as "substance and form."† Can we fill out that idea a little with more explanation?

I just wanted to make one small point here regarding the "form" vs "substance" bipolarity: for those who studied under B. R. Sridhar Goswami, that particular bipolarity will not indicate that substance and form complement each other, rather a hierarchy is implied. This is because in his teachings, "form" was used to characterise less important, contingent, temporary considerations (such as institutional affiliation) whereas "substance" connoted the eternal, real, essential elements of the path which a true bhakta should seek out (along the lines of saragrahi essence-seeking).

So I just thought I'd flag that up in case anyone comes into the middle of this thread thinking the terms are being used in that sense, where simply put, "form" = bad, and "substance" = good. (Of course I am not saying you need to use the terms in that way, this is just a signpost to others who may make assumptions. Gosh - definitions can be tricky, it's a miracle we ever manage to communicate anything effectively! smile.gif )
braja - Mon, 28 Feb 2005 08:31:17 +0530
While reading Raga-vartma-candrika a couple of days back I couldn't help but wonder if Bhaktivinoda Thakur's 'internal' and 'external' refer to service in siddha-deha and sadhaka-deha, which is how the words terms are used in RVC.
Rasaraja dasa - Mon, 28 Feb 2005 09:48:11 +0530
Dandavats. All glories to the Vaisnavas.

I am sorry that I missed the updated posts on this thread until just a minute ago. Since GD is going offline in just a few hours and I have to do my evening seva and then put Giridhari to rest I doubt I will get a chance to reply. This is a thread that we can get back to once we are back on-line in a week.

I wish everyone a good week!

Radhe Radhe!

Aspiring to serve the Vaisnavas,
Rasaraja dasa