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

Practicing the austerities of self-control - Vaco vegam manasah krodha-vegam...

Madhava - Wed, 08 Jun 2005 02:19:34 +0530
The very first words of Srila Rupa Goswamipad in his Upadeshamrita are, vaco vegam - "the urges of speech, they should be controlled", followed by a host of other self-disciplinary tasks one ought to undertake for the welfare of his sAdhana. The themes of the text, verse by verse, are as follows:
  1. The importance of controlling of the urges of speech, mind, anger, senses and so forth.
  2. The six items that are detrimental to bhakti.
  3. The six items that are favorable for bhakti.
  4. The six kinds of exchanges with devotees.
  5. The conventions for respecting different grades of devotees.
  6. The exercise of caution in evaluating senior mahatmas.
  7. The wonders of the Name.
  8. Constant absorption in raga-bhajana.
  9. The gradation of holy places.
  10. The gradation of bhaktas, the ideal bhakta.
  11. The glory of Sri Radha and her lake.
A logic in the sequence of education is that instructions required for the comprehension and assimilation of later stages are given in gradation, beginning from the initial necessities. Though one may certainly try to skip over some of the steps on the ladder, the later items will only be truly fruitful after the former have been properly adopted.

With this in mind, I would like to first turn to vAco vegam, or the urges of speech. Sri Gita offers us sound advice with regards to the austerities of speech:

anudvega-karaM vAkyaM satyaM priya-hitaM ca yat |
svAdhyAyAbhyasanaM caiva vAG-mayaM tapa ucyate || 17.15

Words that do not agitate,
and that are truthful, pleasing and beneficial,
and the practice of studying the scriptures -
such is said to be the austerity of speech.

Commenting on the verse, Baladeva glosses anudvega-kara as udvegaM bhayaM kasyApi yan na karoti, words that do not cause agitation, fear or other such phenomena. If they were to do so, the recipient would be distracted from the import of the advice, rendering the words void of the potential benefit of the message. satyaM pramANikam - Truthful are words that have a foundation in evidence. A mere belief in truth does not suffice, one's words need to be pramANika, rooted in evidence. zrotuH priyam - They should be pleasing to hear - again, to aid in the proper conveyance of the intended message. pariNAme hitaM ca - And finally, the said words are beneficial as they bring about a transformation in the recipient.

In Madhusudana's gloss, the anudvega-kara are seen as words that are na kasyacid duHkha-karaM not the causes of any kind of sadness or affliction. Beyond being pramANika, he says, truthful words are abAdhitArtha, they do not withhold information through partial presentation or obfuscation of facts. Words that are pleasing to hear are zrotus tat-kAla-zruti-sukhaM, they result in joy at the time of hearing. Even if the statement is disagreeable for a reason, when properly presented it is appreciated by the wise and a source of joy as it increases their insight on the roots of the contending point of view.

Such control of speech is an integral practice in the life of an aspiring sAdhaka who seeks to stretch beyond the mundane plane into the world of loving devotion.
TarunGovindadas - Wed, 08 Jun 2005 11:56:14 +0530
I got it.

Nice food for my inner idiot.

Madanmohan das - Wed, 08 Jun 2005 16:14:40 +0530
As the topic has arisen there's been a question on my mind for long about the vAcovegaM...sloka, that is the last line pRthivIM sa ziSyAt What kind of incentive is it? A wise and sober person who can tolerate these urges becomes worthy to rule the world. I thought ( do correct me) perhaps Sri Rupa is implying that it is virtually impossible to tolerate these urges, and if anyone could they would be worthy of universal sovereignty. But one should try ones best so atyAhAra...etc. Follow the prescriptions and interdictions of slokas 2-9 ?
Some translators have taken pRthivIm sa ziSyAt to mean make disciples all over the world, but the question remains as to what kind of insentive it is? Or are the tolerance of those six urges the qualifications of the guru?
braja - Wed, 08 Jun 2005 18:10:55 +0530
There was an earlier thread on this where different ideas were thrown around, e.g. "to instruct" rather than to rule, a glorification rather than an incentive or qualification.

For me an image comes to mind from one of the children's books that I read my son--that of Hiranyakasipu emaciated, standing on his tip toes in pursuit if world domination.

Madhava - Wed, 08 Jun 2005 19:30:01 +0530
Though sometimes this is presented as "the qualifications of a guru", it strikes me as a rather odd list of qualities for that, since sense-control is not among the defining positive characteristic of a guru - and not a word is said about the guru's capacity for devotion and so forth.

It certainly is not a commandment or encouragement to accept disciples or to rule the world, either - neither of the two are integral aspects of bhakti-sAdhana or sAdhyas to be sought for, which are the sole subject matters of the text. Why would a text of this genre start with such a seemingly odd advice?
Madanmohan das - Wed, 08 Jun 2005 20:03:32 +0530
That's my question. Interestingly enough Thakura Bhaktivinode observes that some of the precsriptions and interdictions are soley meant for hous-holders as many of them (rules)should have alredy been put in practice by those who have renounced the world, such as atyAhAra literally over-eating, but implying indulgence of any of the ten indriays. A sannyasi should have got that down already. There's also the statement regarding jnana and vairagya as not parts of bhakti sadhana proper, to consider. Anyway for those with aspirations for world domination the qualifications have been stated.
Perhaps, and do forgive so many perhapses, pRthivIMsa ziSyAt is figurative implying the rareity of such urge-tolerance and yet the scriptures do state that such virtues naturally develope in the true sadhaka by means of tattakarma pravartan or the beginning of bhakti sadhana.