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Where's The Nectar? - by Kundali Das

Jagat - Thu, 29 Apr 2004 01:50:27 +0530

Yes, we need controversy on this site, too! You see, nectar is supposed to distract you from the controversies, but being flies rather than honeybees, we like to get entangled in the spiderwebs of other subject matters. So, here's Kundali, stirring things up. From his website, Aspects of Vaishnava Theory and Practice. So what do you think? Is there any merit to his argument? Or is it just rehashing the same old Gaudiya Math dogma, without anything substantially new? Discuss HERE. And if you think this is old hat, or you're too softheaded, then just let it go and check out one of our "Nectar" threads. Jagat.

Where's the Nectar?

by Kundali dasa

A phenomenon that has become more commonplace since Srila Prabhupada departure for the nitya-lila of Krsna is that of his followers wanting to bypass discussions of the practical application of the philosophy in pursuit of "nectar." The nectar being topics about Krsnaís pastimes as opposed to topics about His teachings and their practical application.

Subsequently, some devotees are known as "nectar hounds" or "really into the nectar" and other descriptions along these lines. One godbrother told me that he used to be into "all this philosophy, but now Iím just into the heart." This is another way of saying "Iím into nectar." We are supposed to recognize the more elevated among us by such language.

And those of us who are not "into the nectar" are supposed to feel deprived, bereft, deficient and so on. We who want to develop our powers of reason by absorbing it in the philosophy primarily, instead of in diving into Krsnaís lila prematurely, are supposed to feel like we are missing out, like we missed a turn in the philosophy.

This is not to say that anyone is prohibited from discussing what we collectively regard as nectar topics. What is being questioned in this discussion is the degree or proportion of involvement with nectar over deep understanding of the analytical aspect of our philosophy.

Let us look analytically at this situation and see if the nectar hounds have a point or not. In the Bhagavad Gita, in the mac-cittah mad-gata-prana verse, the Lord tells Arjuna that the point of devotee association is katha about Him. This could be interpreted to mean immediate immersion in discussing His divya-lila in Vrindavana. And we can certainly find verses that support this view. For example this Bhagavatam verse (10.33.39):
"Anyone who faithfully hears or describes the Lordís playful affairs with the young gopis of Vrindavana will attain the Lordís pure devotional service. Thus he will quickly become sober and conquer lust, the disease of the heart."
At first glance this verse encourages us to dive right into the nectar. However, the proper way to work with the philosophy is to make sure everything is kept in balance with everything else. Thus the need arises to reconcile this verse with Prabhupadaís advice that if one does not understand the lilas of the Lord properly, by hearing them from self-realized souls, one is sure to confuse them with mundane boy-girl affairs and that will be oneís doom. Clearly we cannot dive right in.

We need to be sufficiently in control of our minds, and even before that, sufficiently fixed in the philosophy, then we can properly process the Lordís playful affairs with the young gopis. Thus we see that the structure of the Bhagavatam itself, the sole purpose of which, according to the authoritative verdict of Srila Jiva Gosvami, is to focus us on the gopis pastimes with the Lord, is that we first digest nine cantos before coming to the tenth canto. In this connection, Srila Prabhupada writes in the Preface to the Bhagavatam:
"The Tenth Canto is distinct from the first nine cantos because it deals directly with the transcendental activities of the Personality of Godhead Sri Krsna. One will be unable to capture the effects of the Tenth Canto without going through the first nine cantos. The book is complete in twelve cantos, each independent, but it is good for all to read them in small installments one after another."
Here "going though" does no mean reading-as-a-mere-formality. It means reading and understanding the subject matter. Again, in the purport to the first verse, while discussing Naradaís impetus for having Vyasa write the Bhagavatam, we find:
"Unscrupulous persons go immediately to the Tenth Canto and especially to the five chapters which describe the Lordís rasa dance. This portion of the Srimad-Bhagavatam is the most confidential part of this great literature. Unless one is thoroughly accomplished in the transcendental knowledge of the Lord, one is sure to misunderstand the Lordís worshipable transcendental pastimes called rasa dance and His love affairs with the gopis. . .. Srila Vyasadeva therefore gives the reader the chance to gradually develop spiritual realization before actually relishing the essence of the pastimes of the Lord."
There we have it. The purport is that we must have a sound basis in understanding philosophy then proceed to the lila aspect of the teachings. Philosophy purifies the intelligence so we can approach the lila without going off the rails. Philosophy also means systematic or scientific understanding as well. Analytical.

Surprisingly, a good number of devotees object to the analytical approach to the philosophy. They think, mistakenly, that it is not spontaneous. They think, mistakenly, that the analytical approach works against spontaneous devotional service. It doesnít. Just like in learning a martial art there are set disciplined exercises or drills that one must do over and over, until it becomes part of oneís nature, so the practice of analytical thinking must become part of oneís nature. All our acaryas preached Krsna consciousness with logic and reason. Lord Caitanya defined the uttama devotee as one who preaches with logic and reason. So we have not sound basis to reject the analytical approach.

It is the analytical approach that captivates our capacity to reason, and thus we are fortified with knowledge and the ability to dispel our doubts and the doubts of others. Progress in this way eventually leads to clear consciousness, whereupon we can practice spontaneous devotional service.

In Our Mission, part one, the point was made that to realize our fullest potentialóthe capacity to distinguish reality from illusionówe need to achieve the full flowering of our powers of reason. This is done by the practice recommended in the mac citta mat gatah prana verse. When we discuss or argue the different points of the philosophy, we have to exercise our reasoning capacity. This leads to satisfaction and bliss, because it leads to realization of the subject matter, i.e. the Absolute Truth, Lord Sri Krsna.

Another notable point, is that we sometimes label people as controversial, because they may hold unpopular views or threaten our ideas about certain things, but in the Caitanya-caritamrta, Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami says that we should not avoid controversy, because it strengthens the mind in Krsna consciousness. Why does he say that? Because when we apply our intelligence to sorting out controversy, we exercise our powers of reason. We grow in realization of Krsna; and that is nectar. It is interesting to note, therefore, that in the word-for-word to the verse, Srila Prabhupada translates bodhayantah parasparam as "preaching among themselves". His intention in saying this is that we develop our powers of reason by such exchanges. In the attempt to understand and present things with logic and reason we churn the philosophy, then the nectar rises to the top. Tusyanti ca ramanti ca. It is nectar. The Lord says, soóit gives great satisfaction and bliss. Controversy is just an excuse to churn the philosophy; it is not an excuse to defame others and make politics, or close our eyes and blindly follow the loudest voice.

There is no impediment to spontaneous devotional service by this approach. Krsna consciousness is buddhi-yoga, buddhi implies reason, discrimination, analytical thinking. And Krsna promises us that He will give us more intelligence, as soon as we use what we already have to the maximum.

This means applying the philosophy in the Gita in practical life. And discussing it with each other, so we can approach tusyanti (satisfaction) and ramanti (bliss), just by discussing Krsnaís instructions to Arjuna. The practical example is Srila Prabhupada. Also, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta. There is a story that when he went to Radha Kunda he gave a lecture, so many people came to hear him, but when the he began lecturing on the Upanisads, so many went away because they thought he should speak on elevated topics about Radha-Krsna. They wanted only to hear "the nectar". Actually, sentimental people do not know what nectar is. They are clueless.

For our own spiritual health we have to learn to recognize the sentimentalists on this path. They manifests in two ways, as the blind fanatic and the soft-headed searcher for nectar.