In2-DeepFreeze

Wroclaw, Poland
19 August 2004

Many devotees try to argue with the sastras. Like we can accept 50% of Prabhupada's words. This text [7 July] I found very instructive as well as all texts on this page. It helps me a lot in my KC.

I wanted to ask Your Holiness if by chance you could kindly visit Slovenia. We would be very happy if this could happen by Lord Krishna's grace. As a member of Slovene National Council I just present the invitation in the name of all slovene devotees also. Thank you for all your inspiration.

Thank you for your kind observations. You are free to reproduce anything in In2-MeC that is helpful for your preaching. The warning at the bottom of each page that In2-MeC material may be reproduced only with permission is merely a formality.

Regarding my visiting Slovenia, I shall keep it in mind, though with my present schedule there is no time space open for many months to come.

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HH Bhakti-tirtha Maharaja with Nelson Mandela

A letter from HH Bhakti Caru Maharaja about HH Bhakti-tirtha Maharaja

I did not phone Bhakti Tirtha Maharaj yesterday, thinking that I would rather wait until he gets the pathologist's report. However, in the evening, I received a phone call from one of Maharaj's disciples, Citi-sakti devi dasi, who is a doctor herself. In a voice choked with emotion, she informed me that she just learned from one of her Godsisters in Washington that Maharaj's report says that his cancer is on level four plus. I did not know what that count meant, but I could understand that it must be quite ominous.

I immediately phoned Washington. Once again, I admired how wonderfully Maharaj has trained up his disciples. I know how a disciple generally feels at a time like this, naturally wanting his spiritual master to take rest without disturbance, but as soon the Mataji who answered the phone realized that I was on the line, she immediately informed Maharaj.

Maharaj was as jovial as ever. From his voice, one could never imagine that he is in such a critical health condition. He informed me that the report from the hospital was bad. He decided to take a second opinion and had a CAT scan. That report was even worse. However, he is taking everything in stride. He feels a profound serenity deep within himself.

That morning, he gave class to about one hundred devotees. He mentioned that he read out my posting to the GBC conference, and they appreciated it very much.

He started to tell me how fast everything is moving for him at this stage. He prayed for purification, but never did he imagine that it would happen in such a way. Some devotees told him to take back his prayer. However, he replied, "No, let it come the way Krsna wants."

He started to describe the critical condition of our movement. He told me about the book that Madhusudani Radha and her husband printed, consisting of writings by about fifteen scholarly persons with knowledge of Sanskrit (who at some point in time were involved with ISKCON). Although most were favorable to ISKCON, some of them proposed that Srila Prabhupada deviated from our previous acaryas and pursued his own ideas to serve his purpose, diminished the position of a woman, displayed a racist attitude, and in order to establish himself, over-emphasized the status of a guru.

Maharaj continued, "So many people are becoming attracted to Narayana Maharaj. That shows that they are getting something from him that they are not getting in ISKCON. Why don't we create a loving and caring atmosphere? Then no one will want to go away. We are leading the movement rather mechanically, somehow managing to just maintain. We are not really putting our hearts into it.

"I used to organize myself on a half-hour basis. But now, I am practically immobile. Even to go to the bathroom, I have to limp with my crutches. In this situation, I could become angry with Srila Prabhupada that 'Why did you put me in a situation like this? All my programs were set: so many lecture tours, seminars, workshops. The plane tickets were already purchased. Then all of a sudden!' But I am prepared to accept whatever Krsna wants. If he wants me to serve elsewhere, I am ready to go there."

Maharaj emphasized that the sufferings of so many devotees had become too much for him to bear. He was praying very intensely to Srila Prabhupada that he wants to become purified, become a better disciple, and help those who are struggling, at any cost.

We spoke for more than half an hour. I just wanted to share some of the wonderfully enlightening points that Maharaj shared with me. I found them to be extremely revealing. I am sure you will also feel the same. Moreover, it shows what a wonderful devotee Bhakti Tirtha Maharaj is. We can learn so much from his extremely advanced example.

He ended the conversation by saying, "I love you very much." I know that he will express the same love and care to all of you, also.

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Book Review: Brothers in Divinity
Sakhya Rasa in Bengali Vaisnavism

by Priya Menarth
(Carlson-Aloha Sonicbooks 2004)
 

This review is impelled by the labyrinthian spirit of Jorge Luis Borges

No doubt this essay will, on one or another "Gaudiya" website, touch off what the flinty seamen of the Spanish Armada called a cacafuego. But I am a citizen of truth. I am not a thrall of some buzzing Internet hive mind. Fortified by a melancholy firmness of will I must brave this execrative coeliac-flux. There is no one else I can see than myself who will take up the cudgel on behalf of probably the greatest, yet surely most unsung, genius of contemporary Vaisnava writing in the English language. I mean Priya Menarth, the Diotima of the philosophy of rasa. I ought not compare myself to Socrates, but who else in today's Symposium of cyberspace will step forward to draw attention to and defend her luminous insights? My authority is slight and easily challenged. Still, in Menarth's words are blazing fire and steadfast conviction. I draw my strength from her, not from mere impudence.

"Dr. Miss", as Menarth is known by her small circle of associates, received her Ph.D. in Sanskrit a decade ago from the University of Kuruksetra under the able guidance of Dr. D.B. Sen Sharma. Since then she has lived as a sadhvi in a single bare room within sight of the Mahavidya Devi Mandira in Mathura. It was here she finished her first book, 850 pages long, printed in a run of only 500 copies, entitled Prema, Pema, Agape and Mercurius: Transcendental Emotionalism in Medieval Vaisnava, Buddhist, Christian and Alchemical Writings. The title leads one to believe it is a dry exercise in comparative mysticism. In fact it is golden necklace that links together the pearls of esoteric wisdom of four traditions of spiritual ecstasy. I have not found another book like it anywhere. "Astounding", "Mind-boggling", "Incredible" are not words enough for the range of scriptural evidence and linguistic analysis that Menarth marshalls. Her stunning revelation of the indisputable link between the traditional hermeneutics of Vaisnavism's four yuga-avataras and the traditional inner teaching of the "Fourfold Work" of alchemy (Albedo, Rubedo, Nigredo and Gold) is just one of the many heroic forays into sibylline realms of scholarship that this book demonstrates.

At the Delhi Book Fair last year I met a professor from Pennsylvania, Curtis Bagnoreggio, one of the fortunate few Western scholars to acquire a precious copy of Prema, Pema, Agape, and Mercurius when it briefly appeared for sale on the shelves of better Indian bookstores in 1997. "My head is still reeling," he told me. "I swore to myself that I am going to write a summary introductory study of Priyaji's book. But it will take a half a decade and thousands of miles of travel to verify her sources. Her command of Sanskrit and Pali texts I can understand, but where in India of all places was she able to peruse such a wide range of Vulgate and other medieval European-language manuscripts?"

The hive mind of the "Gaudiya" Internet intelligensia greeted Prema, Pema, Agape and Mercurius with the worst sort of insult: complete and utter omission. Type in the name "Menarth" into the Turbo-powered search engines of pompous pretension, and you're sure to be informed there is no match in the archive! Until I sat at my computer to key in these words, no brief of rectification had anywhere been composed.

Yet Prema, Pema, Agape and Mercurius, unparalleled as it most assuredly is, is not the reason why my fingers fly across the keyboard today.

"Dr. Miss" has just released a new book, Brothers in Divinity: Sakhya Rasa in Bengali Vaisnavism. It transcends even her previous transcendental book because Brothers is published as per the method of sages who lived prior to the Kali Yuga. In other words the book exists only as sound vibration! It is not a gross publication of paper and ink!

Brothers is available to the public via the Internet as a sound file. Unfortunately (in my opinion) it is not spoken by Priyaji herself, but by one of her few disciples, Mr. Larry Carlson (Lalgopal das). He has posted it at one of his websites. You can hear it directly online for free but only in "Aloha" code, which is unintelligible to those who have not purchased a proprietory decoder from Mr. Carlson. Still, even in coded form the listening experience of Brothers floods and sanctifies the heart with its auric purity.

This book, like Prema, Pema, Agape and Mercurius before it, is doubtless fated to be dismissed by the pseudo-intellectuals for nothing other than Pratyaksavada reasons. Mark this well: I predict here today that they will declare Brothers in Divinity a word-for-word re-reading of Sri-Sri Preyo Bhakti Rasarnava, "The Nectar Ocean of Fraternal Devotion" composed by Sri Nayananda Thakura in 1731 AD, as it was translated into English in 1994 by HG Dasaratha Suta Prabhu (Nectar Books, PO Box 574, Union City Ga 30251).

Those who would insinuate that Priya Menarth dedicated seven years of her life (1997-2004) to copying the work of another translator calumniate her illustrious figure. Don't believe such tripe for a minute. These fellows are chained tightly by their false egos to crude monoliths carved by the neurons of their brains as imperfect representations of the already imperfect, hulking gross idols of data that clog the gates of their senses. Lacking the spiritual strength to break free of what their fallible eyes and ears misinform them of, the pseudo-intellectuals are forever stayed from spreading the divine wings of svatah-siddha jnana dormant in the spirit soul. They can never soar free into the eternal sunlight of absolute knowledge. Thus they are in no position to make any valid judgement of Brothers in Divinity.

As to the apparent identical content of Brothers in Divinity and "The Nectar Ocean of Fraternal Devotion", ah! The mystery! Omnis mundi creatura quasi liber et pictura nobis est in speculum!

In that philological fragment by Novalis--the one numbered 2005 in the Dresden edition--we find an outline of the theme of a total identification with a given author. Hence a writer of our time may, by a mystical method of mind (which, interestingly, Larry Carlson/Lalgpal das has christened "to medijate"), can become an author of another time. Priya Menarth "medijated" Sri Nayananda Thakura. Thus his book is her book. Dararatha Suta Prabhu is her translator. "But," the rationalist will protest, "her book appeared in 2004 whereas Dasaratha Suta's translation appeared ten years before!" This is unworthy of consideration. In spiritual time there is no linear ordering of before and after. Spirital time enriches. That which happens in spiritual time happens always, but as it continues to happen, it becomes better and better in its perfection. Brothers in Divinity is "The Nectar Ocean of Fraternal Devotion" in enriched perfection!

Priya Menarth did not want to compose a book LIKE Preyo Bhakti Rasarnava--which is easy--but the Preyo Bhakti Rasarnava itself. As I have already hinted, she never contemplated a mechanical transcription of the original; she did not propose to copy it. Her admirable intention was to produce an eternal vibration (sabda) that would coincide--word for word and line for line--with those of Nayananda Thakura. But in English translation.

"My intent is no more than astonishing," she wrote me from Mathura on the 30th of September, 1997, at the start of her labors. "The final term in a theological or metaphysical demonstration--God, the objective world, causality, the form of the universe--is no less the timeless truth than this book I am composing. The only difference is that the philosophers publish the intermediary stages of their labor in pleasant volumes and I have resolved to do away with those stages." In truth, not one worksheet remains to bear witness to her years of effort.

Suspecting that the pseudo-intellectuals will misinterpret her explanation, I shall unpack it. The philosophy of transcendence--which is called theology when God is firmly at the center, or metaphysics when eternal principles like Truth and Beauty are at the center--strives to demonstrate ultimate reality. There are final terms that signify that reality, terms like "God", "the objective world", "causality", "the form of the universe." As long as we are in bodily consciousness, we do not know what these terms actually signify. Those realities always exist closer to us than our jugular vein, but our ignorance blocks our comprehension of them. All we have by which to get a grip on these realities are words, "final terms" Priya Menarth calls them, words that mean something to us, but what, we are not sure. Philosophers attempt to push, to expand, the envelope of the subjective meanings that we have for final terms. The expansion of meaning happens in stages over the centuries. These stages are marked by the volumes that these philosophers leave us. The ultimate, objective realization of the full meaning of a final term--"God", for example--reveals a reality that was already there. It is not "new." Seizing upon this truth, Priya Menarth asked, "Why, then, should I write a 'new' book? Let me write a book that is already there!"

Yet precisely because of the enriching nature of spiritual time, Menarth's Brothers in Divinity is more subtle than Nayananda's/Dasaratha Suta's Preyo Bhakti Rasarnava/Nectar Ocean of Fraternal Devotion. The latter, in a clumsy fashion, opposes the pseudo-intellectual fictions of status in transcendental rasa. Menarth eludes this controvery with complete naturalness, taking the whole issue to a higher level.

Dasaratha Suta writes in his Preface:

...this book fills an important gap in the presently available Gaudiya Vaisnava siddhanta. Most of the Six Gosvamis and their successors have written exclusively on the madhura-rasa; a few modern devotees give certain interpretations to this fact. However, those devotees who are actually inclined to the devotional feelings of other rasas have not found much for their bhajan.

The mood of the early 1990's is palpable here. There was a triumphalist but puerile drum-beating for the madhurya-rasa even from some seniormost disciples of Srila Prabhupada. They urged ISKCON to bring the conjugal mood of Radha-Krsna lila to the forefront of everything. This, they argued, was what is missing. This is why some devotees leave ISKCON for other institutions.

But our experience from 1994 to 2004 does not bear this out. Though for a while the flag of the conjugal mood was hoisted high, fragmentation seemed not only to spread in ISKCON but even in other organizations where this mood is given priority. Today the realization is that it takes a strong sense of brotherhood to hold an institution together. And in a spiritual institution, that brotherly flavor must likewise be spiritual. Hence Priya Menarth, speaking through Larry Carlson/Lalgopal, advises us:

...this book fills an important gap in the presently available Gaudiya Vaisnava siddhanta. Most of the Six Gosvamis and their successors have written exclusively on the madhura-rasa; a few modern devotees give certain interpretations to this fact. However, those devotees who are actually inclined to the devotional feelings of other rasas have not found much for their bhajan.

Just see: the uneasy defensiveness is gone, replaced by a sublime confidence. A new light is shed on the phrase, "a few modern devotees". They are seen not to be bold trailblazers, but mere "up to date" elitists whose haughtiness leaves them isolated. And now the phrase "those devotees who are actually inclined to the devotion feelings" leaps off the page with ecstatic dynamism. The force of a unified majority is the key to the bliss of the sankirtana movement! That key is, in short, brotherhood in divinity.

It is no less astounding to consider passages in the chapters of the text. For example, let us examine the passage in Chapter Three ("Ingredients for Transcendental Mellow") subheaded Kaishora is Krsna's Eternal Age. Therein Dasaratha Suta writes:

Krsna in His figure of kaishora is perpetually worshiped in Vraja, for all the devotees beginning with those in the mood of dasya favor meditating upon Him in that age. Therefore, dear readers--please worship Kishor Mohan in Vraja, taking shelter of either the mellow of dasya, sakhya, vatsalya or madhura.

In 1994, many dismissed this as nebulous sophistry. "Of course Kishor Mohan is the most perfect of Krsna's perfect appearances", they would say with impatience, "but to really access the nectar of this appearance, devotees must enter the gopi-bhava, for who love Kishor Mohan more than the damsels of Vraja? This allowance for the entrance of other rasas into the worship of Kishor Mohan simply waters the whole context down!"

But this argument falls flat before the version of Priya Menarth/Lalgopal:

Krsna in His figure of kaishora is perpetually worshiped in Vraja, for all the devotees beginning with those in the mood of dasya favor meditating upon Him in that age. Therefore, dear readers--please worship Kishor Mohan in Vraja, taking shelter of either the mellow of dasya, sakhya, vatsalya or madhura.

Here the phrase "all the devotees" rings with the conviction of an insight that pervades all the Vraja rasas. The pseudo-intellectual divisiveness that entertains in the warped imagination a pitting of one rasa against another is totally shut out. The phrase "taking shelter" looms overall. Rasa-quibbling means the absence of real shelter at the lotus feet of Sri Kishor Mohan!

I have reflected that it is permissible to see in this "final" Preyo Bhakti Rasarnava a kind of palimpsest, through which the traces--tenuous but not indecipherable--of the "previous" version should be translucently visible. Only a second Priya Menarth, inverting the other's work, would be able to exhume and revive all the imbedded connections.

Menarth (perhaps without wanting to) has, by means of a new technique, "medijation", enriched the halting and rudimentary art of reading aloud: this new technique is that of the deliberate anachronism and the erroneous attribution. This technique, whose applications are infinite, prompts us to go through the BBT edition of Srimad-Bhagavatam as if it were posterior to the palm-leaf version of Srila Vyasadeva. This technique fills all that we placidly think we know from what we have read with new adventure.

To listen online for free to Larry Carlson/Lalgopal reading the coded version of Brothers in Divinity, click on this web address

http://www.larrycarlson.com/medijate/index2.htm

and after the startpage has loaded, click on the Aloha tab.

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Do you know what a Japanese Mooncookie is? Click on this web address:

http://shop2.youmall.jp/~eggless/~dbop/ec/index.htm

Produced by Mahanandini dd. The baked items shown are all prasada!

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