Tag Archives: Hinduism

New Book: To Dance in the Downpour of Devotion

My newest book is now available in print and Kindle editions!

To Dance in the Downpour of Devotion

To Dance in the Downpour of Devotion

A Summary Study of Mādhurya Kādambinī

Exactly following Srila Vishvanatha Cakravarti Thakur’sMadhurya Kadambini, this book provides an inspirational and practical guide to each step along the road from ignorance to bliss. It vividly and enticingly describes each of the 9 progressive stages of developing divine love, prema-bhakti.

It is written in clear, simple, no-nonsense English.

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History of the Vedas

History of the Vedas

The Rig Veda is one of the oldest religious te...

The Rig Veda is one of the oldest religious texts. This Rig Veda manuscript is in Devanagari (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Bhāgavatam clearly states (1.4.14) that the Vedas as we know them are not ahistorical. It says that Vyāsa’s efforts to organize the Veda into its current form began “when Age Two was in its third phase.”

Translating this into years is complicated because there are many types of “ages.” Ṛg Veda’s Vedāṁga Jyotiṣa, for example, defines a five-year age. Manu Smṛti and some sections of the Purāṇas define four ages as multiples of 1,000 years. While other places in the Purāṇas, and the Surya Siddhānta, define four ages as multiples of 360,000 years. It seems that the duration of an “age” is relative to the context. The five-year age is used in calendric contexts. 1,000 year ages are used in historical context. 360,000 year ages are used in astronomical context. It appears that the correct definition to use in this case is the historical age.

Ages are numbered in reference to their multiple, which is the reverse of their numeric order, and can therefore be confusing: “Age One” is the “Fourth Age” in successive order.

Each age has three parts. The main part of an age lasts for its ordinal (1-4) multiplied by 1,000 years, or 360,000 if the context is astronomical. The two other parts are the “dawn” and “dusk” transitions, each of which lasts 10% as long as the main part.

Scholars and scientists know with significant confidence that Age One began very near 3,100 BCE (and it seems that the historical and astrological ages were synchronous at this point). The age before it, “Age Two,” lasts for 2,000 years, with an additional dawn of 200 years and a dusk of the same duration. Vyāsa’s efforts began in the third part of Age Two, its dusk: roughly 3,300 BCE. This means that the history of the Vedas as we know them begins about 5,300 years ago.

From that date, over a period spanning many generations (ŚB 1.4.23), Vyāsa oversaw the evolution of the vast Vedic library. Towards the end of this process he decided to write Mahābhārata. After this, still unsatisfied after about 200 years of work, Vyāsa conceived of the seed of inspiration to write the Beautiful Tales of the All-Attractive (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam). This was during the very early dawn of Age One.

The modern rational mind raises several questions, among which are, “How can Vyāsa have lived for more than 200 years?” and “How could there have been well developed human culture 5,300 years ago.” The second question is easy considering that the currently accepted archeological model has observed human culture existing about 10,000 years ago, and in India from about 8,000 years ago. As for the first question, I can reply in two ways: (1), the “religious” way: Vyāsa was an incarnation of God, and had an unusual lifespan. (2), the “scholastic” way: Vyāsa was the founder of a school, and successors and students took his name as a title and attributed their works to him.

Our current copy of the oldest Veda, Ṛg, contains astronomical information that dates it in the vicinity of 5,000 years ago, consistent with the statement of Bhāgavatam itself.  The astronomical information found in our current version of Bhāgavatam dates it in the vicinity of 300 AD, this is about three thousand years short of when Bhāgavatam says it was conceived by Vyāsa and first given form by Śuka. In this regard one can conclude: (a) there can be a great deal of time between the original concept and the final version; (b) the scribes of Bhāgavatam may have set the story into a distant past via present tense; and (c) the scribes may add or revise information in their copies, over time.


Canto 1 Second Draft Complete!!!

Today the blessings and shakti of Sri Guru Parampara enabled an unqualified soul to complete the second draft of Srimad Bhagavatam Canto One in a novel-like format. I will now make a third draft, but I am hopeful that it will not take long. I think the book may be in print before the end of 2012, if that is what Mahaprabhu’s followers desire. Here are the closing notes:

Our efforts to describe and comprehend Krishna are like the effort of a bird to fly in the sky. It is natural for the bird, and delightful – but still it is impossible for a bird to reach the limit of the sky.

The Beautiful Tales of the All-Attractive are sublime. They are the intimate realized visions of the most highly elevated souls. Although it is impossible to fully define the Unlimited, these tales will point our attention directly towards Krishna. With our hearts thus turned, we will absorb an eternal downpour of blissful, enlightened energy radiating from Śrī Krishna and thus become empowered to directly and impossibly comprehend the tangible divine reality.

As a lightning rod attracts lightning without creating or containing it, these tales attract our consciousness to the All-Attractive. May we dive into them with unabashed joy and abandon.


The Very Worst News Possible

While the king inquired fearfully, Arjuna became more and more morose over the loss of Krishna – a friend dearer to him than his very self. Sadness dried his mouth, and the lotus of his heart was robbed of luster. Enrapt in memory of his great friend, he could not answer for a long time. He made great efforts to stop his uncontrollable sobbing, smearing tears around his eyes with his hands. Pain grew deeper and deeper with him, from his powerful affection for one who was now out of sight.

Remembering his friend and companion – the well-wisher who had been his chariot driver and so much else – he turned to his eldest brother, the King, and spoke in stuttering and exploding words:

O Emperor, I am bereft of Hari… who had become our intimate relative. Without him all my astounding strength, which amazed even the gods, is gone.

Without him, even for a moment, the whole world becomes ugly, like our bodies look when bereft of life.

With Krishna I strode into the palace where Draupadī was choosing her husband from all the princes smitten with her, and erased their hopes by shooting an arrow straight into the fish.

With Krishna I defeated all the immortals, and handed the Khāṇḍava forest over to Agni, after arresting Indra who was hiding there. Maya then built our wondrous assembly hall, in which princes from every direction brought taxes and gifts to you.

With Krishna, your great younger brother who is as powerful as an army of elephants freed all the kings from the madman who sacrificed to the Lord of Madness and collected royal skulls at his feet. All of them gave you gifts in thanks.

Remember when your wife, gloriously dressed and bathed with a beautiful hair knot, was caught in a terrible assembly of cheaters who tried to untie that knot while tears fell down her face? With Krishna we turned their wives into widows with unkempt hair.

Remember when our enemy sent dangerous Durvāsa with countless disciples to eat at our modest hut in the forest? Krishna protected us: He ate a morsel of left over spinach and rice, and suddenly no one in the three worlds felt hungry. The sage and his disciples were satisfied before they even finished their baths.

Because of Krishna, I once even fought Śiva, the blessed trident wielder.  My skill astonished him and his wife so much that he gave me the secret of his own weapon, and other gods followed suit.  As a result, I could enter the house of Indra, king of paradise even with my mortal body, and share his throne!

While I was there, Indra and the gods took refuge of my strong arms, which hold the Gāṇḍiva Bow. I protected them from their enemy, because I was empowered by Krishna. But now I am robbed of him!

With Krishna, I was invincible and single-handedly traversed the unsurpassable ocean of the Kuru’s strength, to retrieve the treasures they stole and claim the dazzling jeweled crowns from their heads.

An enormous phalanx of great warriors and fine chariots encircled Bhīṣma, Karṇa, my Guru, and Śalya.  I went straight into it with Krishna at my side – and his glance deflated all their strength, enthusiasm, and longevity.

Because of his protection, their terrible weapons had no effect on me; just like the demons could not even scratch the boy Narasiṁha protected.

In our unusual relationship, he became my chariot driver; although he is the Supreme Master, the soul’s savior, and even his feet are worshipped by the wise who seek liberation. By his blessing, I had no fears when my horses became thirsty and I had to stand on the ground during the war.

We joked and jested so delightfully, beautified by his smile: “Hey Cousin! Hey my friend Arjuna! Hey Kuru’s-son!” …Oh, these conversations touched my very heart …my soul floods with memories of sweet Krishna.

We were always inseparable; sleeping, sitting, walking, eating, and boasting together. When one of us misbehaved, the other would sarcastically say, “Oh my, what an ideal person you are!”  Krishna, the greatest of the great, tolerated my awfully familiar attitude; just as a father tolerates his child, or friends tolerate one another.

Oh! Without him… without that supreme person: my friend, my beloved, my well-wisher… my very soul becomes vacant and void.

Recently, I was guarding the bodies of the Krishna’s queens when I was attacked… by farmers …who defeated me as easily as if I was a girl. I have the same bow, the same arrows, the same chariot, and the same horses. I am the same man whom great warriors praised …but without Krishna everything has lost its power. I have become like play money; like a sacrifice offered to ashes; like a seed in the desert.

Arjuna now became very stoic and spoke very plainly:

King, you asked about our well-wishers in their great city.  Here is the news: They got so drunk from liquor and wine that they couldn’t even recognize each other.  An argument broke out and they wound up killing each other.  Only four or five survived.

Perhaps it was a curse?  It seems more like the will of the All-Powerful Master, by which living beings sometimes want to kill each other but at other times want to protect each other.  The big fish eats the small fish.  The strong eat the weak.  Such are the ways of providence; and such was the manner in which the stronger Yadus killed the weaker ones; erasing themselves from the face of the earth.

There is nothing left for me but to remember the great wisdom Govinda spoke to me on the verge of battle, for that wisdom always extinguishes the flames of pain.


Divine Gossip

Those women, completely smitten with Krishna, chattered excitedly amongst themselves, while sharing glances with Krishna from the rooftop. One said:

That man is definitely the Complete Original Male.
He alone existed in the beginning
as the self without differentiation.
All differentiations spring from him,
the husband and heart-throb of the universe.
All energies return into him in slumber.

They point to Krishna with graceful hands and love-laden glances, saying, “That man is unlike all other men! He is the Complete Original Male!”

“What do you mean by that?” One lady asks excitedly.

“It means,” another answers, without removing her eyes from Krishna’s, “that he and he alone existed in the very beginning of things – a complete but unexpanded absolute quantum of consciousness.”

With breathy tones and a long sigh, one lady protests: “How could a ‘quantum of consciousness’ be as handsome and attractive as Krishna???”

Inspired by love, the lady who started the conversation explains: “This singular, absolute self,” she says, gesturing as if in a dance towards Krishna, “expands into all the differentiations, individualities and relativities that we see all around us, and more.”

“But why?” asks a lady barely able to think in her swoon as Krishna’s driver takes up the reigns.

“I will explain it in words, but everyone already knows it well from practical experience: To exist is to experience; The best experience is pleasure; The best pleasure is love; Love is realized in relationships; Relationships require individuality. That’s why he became everyone and everything!”

Satisfied, all the ladies fall silent for some moments, gazing upon the beauty and charms of the All-Attractive. All their energy flowed like rivers from their hearts, through their eyes, down to merge lovingly into the ocean of sweetness, Śrī Krishna.

The lady who started the conversation now brought it full circle: “Since all things come from him, all things yearn to return to him. All energy must complete its circuit. So, my friends, all us of only exist for him. When we give all our energy and being to him, the circuit is complete and we feel peace and satisfaction, similar to the deepest sleep.”

“Do you mean,” asks another lady, “that we must merge back into the source from which we have come? Is that why we are so hopelessly and completely attracted to Krishna?”

“Yes,” the main woman answers with a very suggestive flicker of her eyebrows, “we must merge ourselves into him, my dear!”

Another woman now speaks up, “Just look at those bald-headed priests! They are sitting so calmly chanting mantras and hymns. What is that all about!? To them, the idea of ‘merging back into the original self’ means complete annihilation of their miserable existence! In so doing they do not please the Original Husband at all. They merely erase themselves from displeasing him – which I suppose is better than… nothing… If you get my pun.”

Laughing, the women continue, “Yes, The Original One made us individuals because he wanted individuals – so he could share the bliss of love. How odd that those called doctors and scholars can’t understand such simple things! Fools who know nothing of the ways of love seek to lose their differentiation by ending their individuality. Ha! We ladies are no such fools, are we!? I think we alone have the right idea about how to ‘merge’ with that man in ‘sleep’! We will lose our differentiation from him in the heights of that love. There is no higher perfection!”