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Discussions on the doctrines of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. Please place practical questions under the Miscellaneous forum and set this aside for the more theoretical side of it.

What is a kanistha-adhikari? - Studying the symptoms

Madhava - Tue, 22 Jun 2004 03:51:36 +0530
A kaniSTha is basically known as the one whose faith is tender. He is one among the three adhikArins for bhakti-sAdhana. The commentators speak as follows:

|| BRS 1.2.19 ||

tatra kaniSThaH—
yo bhavet komala-zraddhaH sa kaniSTho nigadyate ||

"He whose faith is fragile is known as one with inferior eligibility (kaniSTha-adhikArin)."

zrI-jIvaH: yo bhaved ity atrApi zAstrAdiSv anipuNa ity anuvartanIyaM zraddhA-mAtrasya zAstrArtha-vizvAsa-rUpatvAt | tataz cAtrAnipuNa iti yat kiJcin nipuNa ity arthaH | komala-zraddhaH zAstra-yukty-antareNa bhettuM zakyaH ||19||

mukundaH: komala-zraddho bhakti-mArga-vizvAsAn mArgAntara-vizvAse praveSTuM zakyaH | anirvacanIyasya bhAgyasya tAratamyAc chraddhAvatAM tAratamyam iti bhAvaH ||19||

vizvanAthaH: komala-zraddhaH zAstra-yukty-antareNa bhettuM zakyo, na tu sarvathA bhinnaH | tathAtve bhaktatvAnupapatteH | bahirmukha-kRta-balavad-bAdhe sati kSaNa-mAtraM cittasya dolAyamAnatvam eva komalatvam | pazcAt svakRta-vivekena gurUpadiSTArtham eva nizcinoti ||19||

Though not exactly a term used in the same context*, the concept of prAkRta-bhakta is often treated somewhat synonymously with a kaniSTha-adhikArin. The Bhagavata defines him as follows:

arcAyAm eva haraye pUjAM yaH zraddhayehate |
na tad bhakteSu cAnyeSu sa bhaktaH prAkRtaH smRtaH || Bhag 11.2.47 ||

"He who worships Hari alone, engaging in puja with faith, but does not worship His devotees or others, is a prakrita-bhakta."

This person is obviously not directly synonymous with a kaniSTha-adhikArin as presented in the context of BRS, since the prAkRta-bhakta worships with faith, while the kaniSTha of BRS has a tender faith. I have never had the chance to review the TIkAs on this verse. Would someone mind enlightening us in this regard?

Any further thoughts on what it means to be a kaniSTha-adhikArin, and moreover, how do we learn to live both with the kaniSTha within and the kaniSTha out there?

= = =

*) Read here and here.
Madhava - Tue, 22 Jun 2004 03:53:20 +0530
In this context, we could also have a look at the descriptions of bhakti-worshipers in the various modes of nature, as narrated by Kapiladeva in the Bhagavata (3.29).

abhisandhAya yo hiMsAM dambhaM mAtsaryam eva vA |
saMrambhI bhinna-dRg bhAvaM mayi kuryAt sa tAmasaH || 8 ||

"That person with a divided view, in whom abusive behavior, pride and envy prevail, or who is angry, contemplates on me in the mode of tamas."

viSayAn abhisandhAya yaza aizvaryam eva vA |
arcAdAv arcayed yo mAM pRthag-bhAvaH sa rAjasaH || 9 ||

"That person with a divided view, who strives for sensual pleasures, fame and prowess while worshiping me in the temple, is in the mode of rajas."

karma-nirhAram uddizya parasmin vA tad-arpaNam |
yajed yaSTavyam iti vA pRthag-bhAvaH sa sAttvikaH || 10 ||

"That person with a divided view, who offers something to the Supreme with the aim of gaining relief from karma, worships me in sattva."

I would also be very curious to review the TIkAs for the verses above. We are basically acquainted with the theory of the three modes of nature, the way they behave and the ways they lead us. Identifying such symptoms in ourselves will certainly prove to be useful in learning more of ourselves, and as we identify our own shortcomings, we are better equipped in our exchanges with others as the worst of us is identified and quarantined when necessary. Let us not be slaves of our problems, let us identify the real culprit within and do away with it, bit by bit.
RasaMrita - Tue, 22 Jun 2004 05:46:46 +0530
Bhaktivinode Thakur describe the kanistha bhkata very 'nicely' in the Holy Name

"Vaishnava praya (almost a vaishnava) is he who has mediocre faith in Krishna but has no service attitude to sadhus. Actually, such a person is not a Vaishnava but the dim image of a Vaishnava, vaishnava abhasa. However, if he is not a Vaishnava, how will he be permitted to associate with Vaishnavas, who do not associate with non-Vaisnava? Therefore, this person is considered to be at the beginning stage of a Vaishnava, kanishta Vaishnava, upon whom the actual fixed-up Vaishnavas will betow mercy so that he vecomes purified.

So here, the definition of kanistha is given by the weakness of his faith and by the lock of service to sadhus. Also serving independently can be added to 'lock of service". A nice example, is given by Sridhar Maharaj, the guru ask for water and I bring milk thinking that milk is better for him.

In referencte to the holy name bhaktivinode explains, " The kanishta bhakta perfoms his devotional service at the stage of namabhasa."

This namabhasa of the kanishta is praiseworthy if does not commit nama apradha.
Madanmohan das - Tue, 22 Jun 2004 12:07:28 +0530
If I'm not mistaken the terms Kanistha, madhyam and uttam are quite distinct when refered to as adhikari or bhagavat. Sri Rupa, when deciding about adhikari or eligability for vaidhi bhakti used the terms kanistha adhikari, madhyam adhikari and uttam adhikari, and those definitions you have quoted. But I think when we refer to kanistha bahagavat or madhyam bhagavat etc., then it is not in referance to adhikar, but in actual development as beginner, intermediate and graduate. So there seems to be a fine destinction, because even the uttama adhikari might be a beginner in that respect. What do you think, I know most people take kanistha adhikari and kanistha bhagavat as synonymus.
Openmind - Tue, 22 Jun 2004 12:30:04 +0530
I do not know many scriptures, so all I can say is from my personal experience in everyday life: the most typical quality I saw in neophyte or kanishta bhaktas was the complete lack of wisdom and compassion. They parroted what they heard or read (usually from AC Bhaktivedanta Swami) without the slightest sign of any realization, and they conceived the world as rigid scene of white and black: "we devotees - the elite" and "them non-devotees - the inferior, impure ones". And as fas as faith is concerned, they had strong faith enriched by immense pride in that they are the holders of the one and only Absolute Truth...
Advaitadas - Tue, 22 Jun 2004 16:38:36 +0530
A few years ago I asked Pandit Ananta Dasji about these two trios of adhikaris and he told me that the Bhagavat trio (11.2.45-47) are ranged according to Krishna Consciousness and the BRS trio (1.2.17-20) according to faith. This is also stated in Caitanya Caritamrita (Madhya 22.63) sraddhavan jan hoy bhakir adhikari - "The faithful person is qualified for bhakti."

This person is obviously not directly synonymous with a kaniSTha-adhikArin as presented in the context of BRS, since the prAkRta-bhakta worships with faith, while the kaniSTha of BRS has a tender faith. I have never had the chance to review the TIkAs on this verse. Would someone mind enlightening us in this regard?

I have only Visvanatha's tika here - arcAyAm pratimAyAm haraye harim prInayitum na tad bhaktesvapi anyesu ca sutarAm na karoti. prAkrtah prakrti prArambhah adhunaiva prArabdha bhaktih shanair uttamA bhavisyatItyartha iti srI svAmi caranAh. tad evam tribhir yad dharmo yAdrsha iti prashnayor uttaram uktam

Not much more in the tika than in the verse itself. The tikas to the others, 45 and 46 are longer, especially 45 is huge. Too lazy for that....
Jagat - Tue, 22 Jun 2004 20:10:15 +0530
The following text is by Danijel Turina, a Croatian yogi who has had dealings with Iskcon in the past and has come to the following conclusions:

There is only one criterion that is proper for the evaluation of one's progress on the spiritual path, and that is the amount of God's presence that is felt in one's inner and outer functioning. The tree is known by its fruits: one who is close to God is filled with inner bliss and love; (s)he is filled with deeper realization, and those inner states are reflected in his or her deeds. The people who value God over everything else will constantly ask themselves questions about whether they're in touch with God, or are they just deluding themselves; and what is real and true will survive those merciless tests.

It saddens me greatly to find people who claim to be spiritual, and yet apparently lack that necessary aspect of self-analysis. It is very noticeable in the life of the great saints that they were very skeptical about their own value; they criticized themselves constantly and mercilessly and repeatedly stated that if something about them was good, it must be the mercy of God and not their own deed. For them, God is the source that gives all beauty and goodness, and everything that comes from themselves, and not from God, is corrupt and wrong.

Such an attitude makes one cling to God more firmly and renounce the self, and thus one becomes completely rooted in God. Instead of that, I find the opposite mentality in the "Hare Krishna circles": self-justification. This makes me wonder if they are really serious about finding God, or is everything just an ego-trip, all about making themselves look good and finding excuses to attack and undervalue others.

I think this is a good, third-person analysis of the kanishtha mentality. What Danijel said here is a universal principle of the spiritual path. No sastra gives us the excuse to abandon basic principles.
Rasaraja dasa - Tue, 22 Jun 2004 20:42:15 +0530
Dandavats. All glories to the Vaisnavas.

One thing that I would like to point out is that there is a difference between faith, blind faith and one that simply repeats what they have read with no grasp, understanding or context to what they are repeating.

This is something I have personally thought about a lot over my 16 years in the association of devotees. In the past I had been accused over and over again as one with no faith in scripture because I asked questions and mostly because I asked questions of the answers I was given. This was by no means an intellectual excercise for me but that I simply needed to understand what I was being told.

In essence I never found myself satisfied in hearing someone parrot 101 slokas from the Bhagavata. At the same time I felt that I had a tremendous amount of faith but needed to hear the answers from the right source. The right source wasn’t equated to one I would agree with but one that would respond to me with obvious personal faith as opposed to hearing from someone that really was a zealous individual as opposed to one full of faith.

I know I feel akin to Malatilata in regards to how I tend to operate in my spiritual life. Before the peanut gallery chimes in: No, I am not claiming to be a simple housewife that worships his deities’ everyday and makes deity outfits, although I do clean the house everyday as I am much more empowered to do so than my wife! tongue.gif

At work I am expected to analyze problems, create solutions and train my Teams to execute upon these solutions. Give me 14 500 page P&L’s (Profit and Loss statements) a month and I can analyze them to the dollar and come up with ways to run more efficiently as well as come up with a strategy that can be expalined to my 14 - 29 different Teams on how to bring these efficiencies within their specific environment. However in regards to scripture and spiritual life… I have a hard time analyzing a damn leaflet. This is a byproduct of realizing the how one analyzes something in the mundane world will not help us understand the spiritual world.

I almost had to recondition myself in how I approach Sadhu, Sastra and Guru. How to question without belittling or needlessly finding points of contention was my mindset. Although my analytical skills have developed 100 fold since I was a 15 year old kid with Chant and Be Happy in my hands I know that when it comes to studying and analyzing scripture I have hit the off switch in many regards. I understand that the point is not that one doesn’t question Sadhu, Sastra or Guru but they do so with the utmost respect and with the understanding that the answer given today may very well be one that I won’t understand for years to come. Something like my first grade son asking me a complex mathematical question. I can give the answer but he doesn’t have the intellectual power or experience to understand how I came to that conclusion.

In our regard we are those child when in front of Sadhu, Sastra and Guru. Just as some children are more advanced in their power to reason or understand quickly we also have those tendencies. There are advantages and disadvantages to both sides in my humble opinion. If one is very advanced in their power to reason than that my take away from their ability to not overanalyze every word they read/encounter and may disempower them from the sweet and simple service that we aspire for. For the “simple minded” although one may enjoy not having to rack their brain in understanding something as complicated as Is there really a mountain as tall as the width of the Earth and 26.000 km wide at its base in Ilavrita-varsha somewhere on Earth? (BhP 5.16.7)? Yet we also run the risk of being taken advantage of if we confuse faith in scripture to be without the ability to reason and sense disconnect.

All in all both of these types will develop and exhibit faith in seemingly different ways. Both will be afforded the opportunity to take advantage of what their type affords them while having to guard against where it can hurt them. However don’t confuse faith with blind following or one that simply repeats what they have heard without having a grasp on the context and how exactly the point comes into play. If this isn’t clear just think back, for those that were at one point in ISKCON, how easy it would be to take a statement of ACBSP’s and put it in front of 5 of his followers. How easily and frequently would all five have a completely different take one what that same exact sentence meant and how to practically apply it. It is the same in examining and practicing what we find in the Goswami’s tikas. Dependent on ones depth of faith, understanding of the context and, most importantly, their desire to see the instructions as they are as opposed to how they would like them will be the deciding factor on how has faith and who does not.

Aspiring to serve the Vaisnavas,
Rasaraja dasa
dirty hari - Tue, 22 Jun 2004 23:12:52 +0530
Interesting topic, from my own experience I can tell you that the descriptions of kanistha or prakrta only give a general outline and not everyone falls directly into those categories.

For instance when I first became a devotee I went from non believer to 100% absolute unbreakable faith practically overnight.

I had been studying yoga when by chance [?] I moved near an Iskcon temple and started to read the books and attend the programs. At first I accepted Iskcon as bona fide practitioners of bhakti yoga, why ? I had read of bhakti yoga as being a necessary component of the yoga system and Iskcon's books appeared authentic to me, not that I was very educated about these things at the time.

There came a point a few months down the road when I had moved away to a nearby new age healing center "commune", It was bought by a wealthy hippie and he wanted to turn this fabulous facility into a healing center, so he asked a bunch of people to come and move there and be a part of it.

We were not interested in labor that needed to be done so he hired a bunch of mexican migrants to do the work while the rest of us just goofed off and hung out.

I spent a lot of time studying the Bhagavatam and the Gita, although my knowledge was very limited I had an experience which would give me faith beyond the mental level, I had the truth of what I was reading revealed to me, directly.

So here I was with little knowledge and unshakable faith, I moved into the ashrama as this was what I believed was my duty.

I perceived all of the devotees as far beyond my position and practically worshipped them, I engaged in worshipping Bhaktivedanta Swami with full submissiveness.

So I had very little knowledge, full unbreakable faith, and I was worshipping and totally servile to the vaisnavas.

What would this be called ?
Madhava - Wed, 23 Jun 2004 01:58:49 +0530
Question on "why no translation" moved to this thread.
Malatilata - Wed, 23 Jun 2004 01:59:25 +0530
QUOTE(Rasaraja dasa @ Jun 22 2004, 03:12 PM)
No, I am not claiming to be a simple housewife that worships his deities’ everyday and makes deity outfits, although I do clean the house everyday as I am much more empowered to do so than my wife!

I wish to see my husband some day with a vacuum-cleaner in his hands. Then I could sit down and have the time to study Bengali. whistling.gif
jiva - Sat, 26 Jun 2004 13:44:40 +0530
According to Bhaktivinoda Thakura , komala-sraddhas are those persons in the first stages of spiritual growth . They have simple faith. The expression komala-sraddhas literally means persons of 'tender faith' (Krsna-samhita, Upakramanika,3)

yAhAdera svAdhIna vicAra-saktir udaya haya nAi , tAnhArA komala-sraddha nAme prathama-bhAge avasthAna karena / vizvAsa vyatIta tAnhAdera nAi /

Their most common characteristic is their inability to see beyond their own subjective and parochial religious perspective .

According to Bhaktivinoda , the popular approach of orthodox Hindusim (whatever this means) , was the approach of Vedic culture presented for the benefit of komala-sraddhas . It is a kind of religious literalism that involved only the most basic narative level of sastric interpretation . In most cases literal interpretations of this type do not appeal to the logical and rational minds of madhyamadhikaris.In fact , they are intellectualy and spiritually alienated by such an approach .

with respect,
betal_nut - Sun, 27 Jun 2004 01:05:21 +0530
So here I was with little knowledge and unshakable faith, I moved into the ashrama as this was what I believed was my duty.

I perceived all of the devotees as far beyond my position and practically worshipped them, I engaged in worshipping Bhaktivedanta Swami with full submissiveness.

So I had very little knowledge, full unbreakable faith, and I was worshipping and totally servile to the vaisnavas.

What would this be called ?

Any answers?
Jagat - Mon, 19 Jul 2004 22:56:07 +0530

2.8 utsAha-mayI

prathamam eva zAstram adhyetum ArabhamANasya sarva-loka-zlokyamAna-pANDityam upapannam iva svasmin manyamAnasya baTor iva utsAha-svAdhikaraNasya pracurayatIty utsAhamayI ||

TRANSLATION: Now the stage of initial enthusiasm is described: A new devotee feels like a young student who on beginning his education thinks, “I have taken up a study by which I will become a scholar worthy of everyone’s praise.” This gives him a surge of enthusiasm for his studies. A similar kind of enthusiasm can be seen in a devotee just beginning bhajana. This stage of bhajana-kriyA is thus known as utsAha-mayI.

Piyusha-kana explanation: Vishwanath now explains the temporary psychological state of the aspirant who, immediately after taking initiation, shows great interest in his devotional practices. This is compared to the mentality of a student who thinks, “I will soon become a praiseworthy scholar,” and thrusts himself into his studies with novel enthusiasm; or to a new music student who similarly think “I will soon become a great player or singer.” Similarly, the practitioner who just starts his bhajana thinks to himself: “I have become or will soon become a worshipable bhajananandi.” Since this initial enthusiasm is only temporary, it is considered a part of unsteady devotional practice. (Madhurya-kadambini 2.8)


I made a little adjustment in the translation here. Usually people have been translating as "I have already become a great scholar," which only makes little sense. If one thought one had already achieved great scholarship, then he would not be quite so enthusiastic. The Sanskrit here permits one to translate "upapannam" as "come upon," so it is not that one has already achieved this great scholarship, but is on the way to achieving it. I think that this is justified.

Dinabandhu translates "false confidence," which also seems good.