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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.

Narottama's Views on God-given Faculties - Proper use and improper abuse

Gaurasundara - Tue, 22 Feb 2005 23:22:16 +0530
Some issues briefly discussed in some other topics have arisen, which I think is sufficient to merit a deeper discussion. It is well known that some traditions teach that a spiritual seeker should not entertain the dictates of the five senses while travelling on the spiritual path, and this is common sense. Yet other traditions suggest that an attempt be made to extinguish the impulses arising from such senses, and possibly the senses themselves.
There is seemingly some justification for this, as follows:

tri-vidhaM narakasyedaM
dvAraM nAzanam AtmanaH |
kAmaH krodhas tathA lobhas
tasmAd etat trayaM tyajet ||

"There are three doors leading to hell,
that cause the destruction of the soul:
Lust, anger, and greed.
Therefore these three must be given up."

- Bhagavad-gItA 16.21

However, it is undeniable that such impulses are present in human beings and are used (and abused) on a frequent basis more or less. A Freudian definition of repression: "The ego's mechanism for suppressing and forgetting its instinctual impulses." In psychological terms, intentional squashing of a thought is known as supression (the conscious exclusion of unacceptable thoughts or desires). With reconciliation in mind, the GauDIya VaiSNava view of neglecting and otherwise ignoring the dictates of the senses is harmoniously explained. Let us listen to the voice of ZrIla Narottama dAs ThAkur MahAzaya as he sings in his Prema-bhakti-candrikA:

kAma krodha lobha moha, mada mAtsarjya dambha saha,
sthAne sthAne niyukta koribo.
Ananda kori hRdoy, ripu kori parAjoy,
anAyAse govinda bhajibo. (21)

"I will engage lust, anger, greed, illusion, envy and pride all in their proper places. Thus I can defeat these enemies with a blissful heart and easily worship Govinda."

ThAkura MahAzaya further explains how such things may be used fruitfully in the pursuit of devotion:

kRSNa sevA kAmArpaNa, krodha bhakta-dveSI jane,
lobha sAdhu-saGge hari-kathA.
moha iSTa lAbha vine, mada kRSNa guNa gAne,
niyukta koribo yathA tathA. (22)

"I offer my lust to the service of KRSNa, my anger towards the enemies of His devotees and my greed towards association with saints and topics of Lord Hari. I am deluded without my beloved Lord, and I am proud when I sing KRSNa's glories.
Thus I engage all them in KRSNa's service!"
Gaurasundara - Tue, 22 Feb 2005 23:23:06 +0530
This is how ThAkur MahAzaya reconciles the differing views. It now becomes clear that the impulses arising from the senses should not be used for selfish ends as that will be abusive. Rather, when used in the service of KRSNa, they become tools that ultimately help us to progress along the spiritual path.

anyathA svatantra kAma, anarthAdi yAra dhAma,
bhakti pathe sadA deya bhaGga.
kibA se korite pAre, kAma krodha sAdhakere,
yadi hoy sAdhu janAra saGga? (23)

"Otherwise, if these desires are used for selfish purposes, they become the abodes of evil, that constantly sabotage the path of devotion. What can lust and anger do to a practising devotee when he is in the company of saints?"

krodha vA nA kore kibA, krodha tyAga sadA dibA
lobha moha ei to kathana.
chaya ripu sadA hIna, koribo manera bhina,
kRSNacandra koriyA smaraNa. (24)

"What can anger not do? Always give up anger, and that also goes for greed and delusion. These six enemies are always mean and I will cast them out of the mind by remembering KRSNacandra."

As tomorrow (23rd Feb) is the birthday of ThAkur MahAzaya, we can glorify him and discuss his teachings as well. Any thoughts?
Satyabhama - Tue, 22 Feb 2005 23:34:27 +0530
Excellent post Gaurasundara! Do we still have nominations open for "post of the month?"
Madanmohan das - Wed, 23 Feb 2005 04:37:33 +0530
The character of Maharaja AmbarISa is also remarkable in that regard. Three very famous slokas from the Bhagavat illustrate a similar idea to your theme.

sa vai manah kRSNapadAravindayor
vacAMsi vaikinthaguNanuvarnaNe/
karau harermandiramArjanAdiSu
zrutiM cakArAcyutasatkathodaye//
mukundaliNgAlayadarsane dRsau
ghrAnaM ca tadpAdasarojasaurabhe
zrImattulasyA rasanAM tadarpite//
pAdau hareh kSetrapadAnusarpane
ziro hRSikezapadAbhivandane/
kAmaM ca dAsye na tu kAmakAmyayA
yathottamazlokajanAzrayA ratih//

Bhag 9,4,16-18
Madanmohan das - Wed, 23 Feb 2005 04:57:29 +0530
He fixed his mind exclusively on the lotus-feet of Krsna;
he employed his speach in recounting the excellences of Vaikuntha(Natha);
his hands in sweeping the temple of Hari, and other such services;
his ears in listening to the good tidings of Acyuta's divine exploits.

He emlployed his eyes in visualising the image of Mukunda in the temple;
his tactile sense by touching the feet and embracing the servants of the lord;
his sense of smell in enjoying the fragrance of the Tulsi on the lord's lotus-feet;
his sense of taste by tasting the sumptuous foods offered the the lord.

He used his legs for the pilgramage to Hari's sacred shrines;
he used his head for bowing down at the feet of Hrsikesa;
and all his desires were for the service of the lord, not the usual
selfish desires; yathottamazlokajanAzrayA ratih*

*all with a desire to gain the affection of the voteries of lord Uttamasloka, the renowned lord praised in choisest verses.( at least in the original unsure.gif )
Gaurasundara - Wed, 23 Feb 2005 05:57:59 +0530
Yes, great example from the BhAgavata. Another thing that ThAkur MahAzaya has to say on the topic in completion is a solution to the problem that, typically of this sublime philosophy, goes way beyond any material or psychological solution:

Apani pAlAbe saba, zuniyA govinda raba,
siMha rabe yeno karigaNa
sakala vipatti yAbe, mahAnanda sukha pAbe
yAra hoy ekAnta bhajana. (25)

"They [these vices] will flee automatically when they hear the sound of Govinda's name, just as elephants flee when they hear the lion's roar. All calamities will go from one who surrenders to one-pointed bhajana and he will attain topmost bliss."

From what other angles can we discuss this topic?
VrajaGopi - Wed, 23 Feb 2005 23:03:23 +0530
QUOTE(Gaurasundara @ Feb 23 2005, 12:27 AM)

"They [these vices] will flee automatically when they hear the sound of Govinda's name,

Any chanting of Govinda's name, or only pure chanting of His name? I chant Govinda's name every day, but my vices aren't fleeing sad.gif
Madanmohan das - Thu, 24 Feb 2005 04:18:57 +0530
biggrin.gif I was going to say, "well why did you have to go and say something like that?
ihAra kariyA jaya chArAnA nA jAy/
sAdhu kRpA binA Ara nAhika upAya// (Thakura Mahasoy)

After many failed attempts to conquer my evils, I give up;
without some sadhu's grace, there's no other way.

Madanmohan das - Thu, 24 Feb 2005 04:36:36 +0530
And, another very profound utterance,

antarAy nAhi jAy e to parama bhay,
nivedana karo anukhane//

There's no end to the impediments, which is a terifying thought indeed,therefore at every momment I make submission.


Anyway if we keep striving Sri Krsna says; ksipraM bhavati dharmAtmA
which if nothing else at least casts a ray of hope.
Madanmohan das - Thu, 24 Feb 2005 04:56:30 +0530
Just to digress a little further smile.gif I found a really nice Vaisnava vandana which I'd never come accross before.

haribhaktirasAsvAdamuditA ye narottamAh/
namaskArakaromyahaM teSAM tatsangI muktibhAgyatah//
haribhaktiparA ye ca harinAmaparAyanAh/
durvRttA vA suvRttA vA teSAM nityaM namo namah//

If someone would like the pleasure of translating that, feel free smile.gif
Madanmohan das - Thu, 24 Feb 2005 06:27:09 +0530
pibanti ye bhagavata Atmana satAM
kathAmRtaM zravaNapuTeSu saMbhRtam/
punanti te viSaya vidUSitAsayaM
vrajanti taccharaNasaroruhAntikam//

Those whoe drink with the vessels of their ears,
filled to the brim,the ambrosial tidings of the lord,
who is affectioanately cherished by his voteries;
curtail the evil inclination to be drawn
by the external objects of sense perception,
and betake themselves to the proximity
of his lotus-like beautiful feet.

Bhagavat 3rd Skandha
Madanmohan das - Thu, 24 Feb 2005 06:44:33 +0530
This is a gem

ye tu tvadIya caraNAmbujakoSagandhaM
jighranti karNavivaraih zrutivAtanItam//*
bhaktyA gRhItacaraNah parayA ca teSAM
nApaiSi nAtha hRdayAmburuhAtsvapuMsAm//

Those who inhale the fragrance of the pollen of thy lotus feet
with their ears, wafted by the breeze of the discipline of hearing,
cleave to thy feet by the ardour of intense devotion; and thus, O lord,
thou art incapable of vacating the lotus-heart of thy such voteries.

Bhag 3,9,5

*zrutijAta elsewhere-ie, arroused by hearing, the intense ardour of devotion
whereby they cleave to thy feet
and therefore due to the innate bhaktavasyata or bhaktavatsalya thou art incapable having no independance in the matter of vacating coming out or abandoning the lotus-heart of thy such voteries.

Sri Brahma dava to lord Narayana.
Madanmohan das - Thu, 24 Feb 2005 07:11:17 +0530
This reminds me of a line from the English Bard;

I wonder that you will still be talking, Signior Benedick - nobody marks you. biggrin.gif
Satyabhama - Thu, 24 Feb 2005 09:50:44 +0530
From what other angles can we discuss this topic?

I read F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby recently for the second or third time, this time for my "modern american novel" class. I found a passage that beautifully illustrates this concept. If you are not familiar with the story, Jay Gatsby is a man who spends the bulk of his adult life accumulating money and creating a superficial identity for himself to try to win over a woman, Daisy, with whom he had an affair once and who had married someone else while he was fighting in WWI.

I see Gatsby as a mystic. He is full of wonder and hope... yet he places on this woman Daisy the expectation of the fulfillment of his sublime urge, and thus he begins a series of very destructive and unsavory actions in his mad quest to attain the object of his desire.

Here is the passage- I hope you can see how (in my opinion) that if Gatsby had only directed all his desire, his longing, his obsessive urge toward the appropriate Goal (the Divine Beloved), he would have been more than "alright in the end..."

The scene is a flashback to Gatsby and Daisy's love affair before the war.

His heart beat faster and faster as Daisy's white face came up to his own.  He knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God.  So he waited, listening for a moment longer to the tuning fork that had been struck upon a star.  Then he kissed her.  At his lips' touch she blossomed for him like a flower and the incarnation was complete.

I like that- "the incarnation was complete." Gatsby has effectively made Daisy into an incarnation of the "dream" towards which his soul's deepest longings are pulling him. Of course, Daisy can never fulfill this role for him...

What do you think? Do you agree with my interpretation here?

Also, doesn't this remind you of Layla Majnun where Majnun is so mad by the end that even Layla is not enough Layla for him? smile.gif
Madanmohan das - Thu, 24 Feb 2005 15:38:23 +0530
That's a nice phrase "listening for a moment longer to the tuning fork that had been struck upon a star"
I've not read any American writers except Longfellow. If he ( Gatsby) had been able to have such passion for Hari katha I guess he would have been a good devotee. The character of Lilasuka Bilvamangal Thakura illustrates how such passion was succesfully directed to Krsna when his mistress advised him to do so.
Talasiga - Fri, 25 Feb 2005 18:47:57 +0530
QUOTE(VrajaGopi @ Feb 23 2005, 05:33 PM)
Any chanting of Govinda's name, or only pure chanting of His name? I chant Govinda's name every day, but my vices aren't fleeing  sad.gif

Do not be so attached to your vices that when they flee you follow them.
Practise vipassana and chant the holy names!
Gaurasundara - Sat, 26 Feb 2005 07:57:00 +0530
QUOTE(Satyabhama @ Feb 24 2005, 05:20 AM)
I like that- "the incarnation was complete."  Gatsby has effectively made Daisy into an incarnation of the "dream" towards which his soul's deepest longings are pulling him.  Of course, Daisy can never fulfill this role for him...

What do you think?  Do you agree with my interpretation here?

Also, doesn't this remind you of Layla Majnun where Majnun is so mad by the end that even Layla is not enough Layla for him? smile.gif

I completely agree and I thought that was a nice concept brought about by Fitzgerald. I suppose that if one just sits and thinks about how much energy they are devoting to mundane trivialities and the like, how much benefit it would be to follow Sri Narottama's teachings. After all, Sri Narottama's views representing the GauDIya tradition allows for individuals to make use of their faculties within a proper framework that utimately brings about great benefits. Unlike the practices of other traditions, the non-supression or repression of natural urges will work quite well for the psychological welfare of the individual too.
I admit that I haven't read the Great Gatsby though what you spoke above has interested me to get a copy perhaps, but I am assuming that Gatsby came to some sort of sticky end due to his elevation of Daisy and subsequent expectations?

I'm afraid that I had the chance to purchase Laila-Majnu recently and declined, and now I wish I had! Argh! smile.gif But from what you say of Majnu, that sounds like an interesting concept; having Laila but that is somehow not enough. That reminds me of Radha meeting Krishna at Kurukshetra and that wasn't "enough" for Her; She wanted Him back in the natural Vraja environment without all the kingly trappings. I know its not the same but it just reminded me of that.. smile.gif
Satyabhama - Sat, 26 Feb 2005 21:29:33 +0530
I know what you mean about the Radha thing, but yeah I think Majnun's probelm was that he was seeing God through Laila. I think Krishna peeks out of others' eyes to lead us along the right direction, and when He sees fit, He moves along His merry way and we realize it was not Laila but Allah all the time...

Actually, a similar interp. works well with most famous love stories! wink.gif

And yes, Gatsby's end is quite sticky...