My insignificant person got some association of dancers and teachers of the classical Indian dance art, which originated in the temples of Tanjore, South-India 1,000 BC. I took classes from Srimati Rajamani from Bangalore and traveled to Bombay, Madras, and Delhi to find the teachers willing to give me krsna-padams (love songs) and the music. During that time, I had an optional relationship with the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), in Europe and India. I dissociated from ISKCON in 1991 and performed Arangetram in 1995 [Footnote 1].
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja (Srila Prabhupada), the founder of ISKCON, had to cut the jungles of atheism and impersonalism in the West first. When Svami Maharaja set foot in the US, he stepped right into the hippie culture of New York, where George Harrison came to attend his sankirtan party, in the sixties. Svami Maharaja had left this world in 1977.
In 1996, I accepted diksa initiation from his successor, nitya-lila-pravista om visnupada astottara-sata Tridandi Svami Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja. My first meeting with a pure soul (suddha-bhakta) took place in the association of a couple of new devotees, some refugees from ISKCON and a handful of brahmacaris and sannyasis in a private home of one of the devotees. The company had come from the Sri Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti located in Vrndavana and Mathura, District Mathura, Uttar Pradesh.
Both ISKCON and Sri Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti were founded by disciples of Sri Srimad Bhakti-siddhanta Sarasvati Thakura (1920), a very powerful acarya (world teacher), who standardised the processes of suddha-bhakti (pure devotion), brahmacarya (celibacy), and sannyasa (renounciation) establishing sixtyfour mathas (monasteries) in India himself.
Between 1996 and 2010, Srila Gurudeva Narayana Maharaja traveled thirtyfive times around the world and attracted many devotees to the lotusfeet of Bhagavan. He engaged thousands of them in their eternal services to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Sri Sri Radha-Krsna Yugala. So he did with me.
Srila Gurudeva offered me the service (seva) of performing dance recitals on the occasion of his festivals and sadhu-sangas. His presence elevated the quality of my service to the platform of vraja-bhakti. My life became successful!
Srila Gurudeva was moved to tears, they told me later, by unexpectedly observing fragments of the South Indian dance art in devotion to Bhagavan performed in "Holy Land", the first place he visted on his first journey outside of India.
Dasi-attam is Hari-katha
The wife of Sri Jayadeva Gosvami (13th century), who composed Sri Gita-govinda, which is Sanskrit poetry on the amourous relationship (srngara-rasa) of Radha-Govinda, was a performer (deva-dasi) of dasi-attam (dasi means servant; attam means high). Sri Ramananda Raya (who is Visakha-devi in the spiritual world) was training two deva-dasis, when he met with Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu on His journey in South-India. The Deity of Sri Jagannatha, Lord of the Universe, broke the lock of His temple and ran into the forest at night, where he heard a deva-dasi singing the asta-padi (dance item) of Gita-govinda, and while on the run, the needles of the bushes tore His garment to pieces, which was noticed by the pujaris, in the morning. And Sri Caitanya, in Orissa, ran to a deva-dasi singing a krsna-padam (love song), when a brahmacari (celibate monk) stopped Him just in time before embracing the girl - forgetting, for a moment, that He wasn't Krsna but Caitanya.
Rasa in Poetry
"Kavi Karnapura, who was blessed by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu when just a small child, wrote the Alankara-kaustubha in order to give a bhakti orientation to the millennial rasa and alankara (literary ornamentation or rhetoric) writings on Sanskrit poetics. In this book, Kavi Karnapura teaches that there are two main meanings of the term Rasa, each corresponding to one goal of poetics. The first goal is to experience aesthetic delight. The second goal, achieved when aesthetic delight is enhanced by an outstanding implied sense, is to realize that the nature of the soul is Rasa. The soul inherently consists of bliss, which involves a certain degree of astonishment, but when the astonishment transcends its usual limits by the force of an especially potent implied sense, the combination of bliss and astonishment is called Rasa” (Vrindavan Today)
Rasa in Dance
"To create the most perfect realization of rasa (aesthetic taste) in a performance, all elements must be in balance. Although tala (rhythm) provides a wonderfully strong backbone, it is undoubtedly raga-bhava (spiritual emotion) which evokes this rasa in all its varying shades and infinite variety. The rhythmic forms and its mould should be such as to augment the raga-bhava. The more the raga-bhava, the more does the abhinaya (facial expression of consciousness) shine. We should never forget that in deriving bhava-raga-tala from the syllables of the word Bha-ra-ta, there is an underlying concept of the equality of these three elements" (Smt. Balasarasvati devadasi, the last authentic devadasi and one of the greatest dancers of India).
One of the devotees of the sadhu-sanga of Srila Gurudeva offered me the service of translating one of his books, Jaiva-dharma, composed by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. With the blessing of Srila Gurudeva himself I continued with Sri Gita-govinda by Sri Jayadeva Gosvami. These literatures are translated from Bengali and Sanskrit and explained by Sri Narayana Maharaja in English. At present, Sri Gita-govinda is under reconstruction and will be published in due time.
Bhakti is Scientific
As a Cultural and Social Anthropologist, I have always been nervous about the state of affairs in this world and they do not know of any solution to the misery, except some crooked political ideologies. Because of the quasi-scientific character of modern sciences, I turned to the philosophies of the ancient East and landed in the ISKCON branch of the Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti and ten years later I met Srila Gurudeva Narayana Maharaja.
He took my sorrow away by teaching, "We are not the body. We are eternal spirit souls in service to the Highest Truth." In other words, the world is what it is, until they accept transcendental knowledge. Then they may be liberated from reincarnation and all kinds of material misery, but in either case, every living entity serves anyhow - one of which is conscious and the other one is not.
In the association of a pure devotee, I realised the high spiritual standard of transcendental Vaisnavism exemplified by Srila Gurudeva. He once said, in a class, "Bhakti is scientific." This statement inspired me to write an essay, which unsuspectedly became an illustrated book, Vedic Science Of Transcendence [Footnote 2].
Sriman Mahaprabhu says,
harer nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha
"In this age of quarrel and hypocrisy, Kali-yuga, there is no other means, no other means, no other means for self-realization than chanting the holy name, chanting the holy name, chanting the holy name of Lord Hari."
Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Adi-lila 17.22)
hare krsna hare krsna krsna krsna hare hare,
hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare
The ancient Vedic sciences given to mankind by the self-realised souls in love of God are millions of times more true and consistent than the present methods of speculative non-sciences! So I try to practise transcendental bhakti-yoga and to follow in the footsteps of our rupanuga teachers, but I have no qualification to follow that path.
Gaudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya
There are four bonafide Vaisnava Sampradayas, one of which is the oldest, the Brahma Sampradaya, streaming transcendental knowledge into the material world through his son Narada Muni, who tells Vyasadeva (3,000 BC), who initiated Madhvacarya (1238-1317) directly by diksa.
In this Brahma Madhva Sampradaya, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the hidden incarnation of Bhagavan Sri Krsna, appeared in the village of Gaudiya, West-Bengal. Since the time of Mahaprabhu's pastimes on earth (1486-1534) and His teaching of pure love of God - in a world full of atheism, meat eating, quarrel and hypocrisy - Mahaprabhu's Bhakti Renaissance has reinvigorated the spirit of mankind to restore their long-lost relationship with Bhagavan once again. The highest knowledge is found in the Gaudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya, called after the village of Gaudiya, where He appeared in Navadvipa, Mayapura, under a neem tree.
The speciality of our guru-parampara is, that all spiritual masters are situated in the relationship of madhurya-rasa in the conjugal pastimes of Sri Sri Radha-Krsna in the spiritual world, Goloka Vrndavana. No other Sampradaya has the mood (bhava) or relationship (rasa) of intimate sweetness and amourous love (srngara-rasa) in the unwedded (parakiya) state of Sri Sri Radha-Krsna Yugala.
What the other sampradayas do have, are the moods of servitorship, parental love, and fraternal love, or friendship. However, madhurya-rasa, or srngara-rasa is all-inclusive of the four main relationships in Vrndavana. Therefore, the sweetest relationships with Bhagavan are in madhurya-rasa, or parakiya-bhava, the sweet loving moods of the gopis in Vraja.
Srila BV Narayana Gosvami Maharaja,
"You should actually know, that anyone who is in contact with Caitanya Mahaprabhu
mood, in this Sampradaya, they are actually all madhurya-rasa. Krishna
has made such arrangement, that if you are reading Sri Caitanya-caritamrta,
if you are reading Srimad Bhagavatam, the explanations of Srila Jiva Gosvami,
Srila Sanatana Gosvami, Srila Cakravarti Thakura, if you are reading the books
of Srila Rupa Gosvami, automatically, a greed will arise to serve Krsna like gopis.
"So, those who have other moods, like dasya-bhava, they will be attracted to Ramanuja and they will go to Ramanuja Sampradaya.
"Those who are attracted to, and those who have really the mood of serving Krsna like Rukmini and Sadyabhama [wedded love], they will go to Nimbarka Sampradaya of Nimbaditya.
"Those who want to serve Krsna like father and mother, Nanda and Yasoda, they will be attracted to Vallabhacarya, because they have that mood there.
"They will come according to svarupa. But we don't know it, because it is covered by two layers: material body and subtle body (mind, intelligence, false ego)."
(Svami BV Narayana Maharaja, August 4 1998, The Netherlands)
Exclusive Seva to Srimati Radhika
The identity of the Gaudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya is rupanuga, being a maidservant of Srimati Radhika, exclusively. The mood of radha-dasi or palya-dasi is unique of the self-realised Gaudiya Vaisnavas, who follow in the footsteps of Srila Rupa Gosvamipada and his rupanuga-bhakti instructions.
Some of them are eternal associates (nitya-siddhas) of Radha-Krsna in Vraja, who came to the earth for a mission. They are for instance Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura (Sri Gadadhara), Svarupa Damodara (Lalita-devi), Raya Ramananda (Visakha-devi), and Rupa Gosvami (Rupa Manjari). Picture left: Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura.
To the living entities (jivatmas), who are migrating from the material world to the spiritual world, for the first time, the portal of entrance into the groups of intimate servants and friends of Sri Radha are Srila Rupa Gosvami, an eternal associate of Her called Srimati Rupa Manjari, and Lalita-devi, who will engage any new greedy girl in the seva of Srimati Radhika. And Sri Narayana Maharaja is known to be radhikayai priyatmane, "very dear to Srimati Radhika". So through the agency of Srila Gurudeva, we are very near the lotusfeet of Srimati Radhika, our Matriarch! But I am not at all qualified to follow his path.
The rupanuga-bhaktas of the Gaudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya are actually Saktas worshipping the internal feminine energy (hladini-sakti) of Bhagavan Sri Krsna. Although Sarasvati, Laksmi and Durga are partial expansions of Srimati Radhika mixed with some degree of material qualities, the rupanuga Gaudiya Vaisnavas are the Purest Saktas, because Radha is part of the internal potency (svarupa- or cit-sakti) of Bhagavan, which is transcendental, unconditional, perfect, and complete. Sri Krsna is submissive to radha-prema (the inconceivable love of Radha for Krsna). Although He is omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent, Radha's love makes Him mad. This is the mystery of Sri Radha, His own internal potency.
Non-dual Original Truth in Person
Desiring to taste the mood of that supreme radha-prema, Krsna had to descend to the earth as the sannyasi, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. In the mood and golden complexion of Srimati Radhika, He demonstrated the way in which to love and taste the Highest Truth in Person, Himself, The Transcendental Lover, through the agency of Srimati Radhika. This is the mystery of Sri Caitanya having borrowed the mood and golden complexion of Srimati Radhika.
jayatam suratau pangor mama manda-mater gati
mat-sarvasva padambhojau radha-madana-mohanau
All glories to the all-merciful Sri Radha-Madana-mohana! Although I am lame, foolish and devoid of intelligence, Your lotus feet are my refuge and my everything!
Sri Sambandhadhideva pranama
I would be very happy, if Srila Gurudeva would accept my humble contribution to his transcendental preaching work and hari-katha - this time not in body language, but local language. I beg for a drop of his mercy and sprinkling his blessings on my present seva in the spirit of transcendental book distribution.
Translator & Publisher Jaya Radhe,
June 7, 2017
[Footnote 1] - Arangetram is the
first public performance of a dance recital by a student of bharata-natyam.
Indira was initiated in the pandanallur-vani of Tanjore in the line of
Kitappa Pillai, a descendent of the famous Tanjore Quartette (1850). In the
puja, the new dancer is given her ankle bells (gungurus) and is
ritually married to Sri Nataraja, the cosmic dancer. The traditional deva-dasis belonged to the property of the temple, about 1,000 BC. In modern times, the Tanjore Quartette equipped the dasi-attam with the choreography of a front view to accommodate the spectators assembled in one side of the temple room and called it bharata-natyam.
Natya-sastra and Nandikesvara's Abhinaya-darpanam are the manuals of the performing arts specifying dance movements (natyam) and classifying bodily postures, hand gestures, and nine facial features (abhinaya) expressing different moods (rasa).
[Footnote 2] - Transcendence is somewhat explained in my fairly recent issue, Vedic Science Of Transcendence - Exiting The Universe, 2017. Here are discussed the three stages of transcendental consciousness in the Absolute Truth: the realisation of impersonal brahman by the jnanis; Paramatman (Supersoul) by the yogis; and Parabrahman (Bhagavan) by the bhaktas.
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