Tag Archives: Babaji

Babaji Awarded the Position of Mahanta in Vrindavan

On January 25th 2015, thousands of renounced Vaishnavas and other guests gathered at Jiva Institute to commence the official installment of Babaji Sri Satyanarayana Dasa as a Mahanta. This position is awarded by an organization called Catuh Sampradaya Virakta Vaishnava Parisad (“Association of the Renounced Vaishnavas of the Four Sampradayas,” CSVVP) presided over by Prahlad Das of Gore Dauji temple in Vrindavan. The CSVVP has a voice to convey certain issues to the government or to people in general. It also has the authority to rebuke someone for not following the principles of dharma.

Welcome festoon for Babaji
Welcome festoon for Babaji

The grand function was attended by the prominent Vaishnavas and dignitaries of Vrindavan. Hridyananda Dasa Baba, the oldest Gaudiya Vaishnava, came to bless Babaji, as well as Sri Vasudeva and Sri Caitanya Gosvamis of Radha-raman Temple. Sri Ananata Dasa Babaji Maharaja, Mahanta of Radha Kunda, was unable to come but send his prime disciple Sri Keshava Dasa Babaji with a garland and a shawl from the Samadhi Mandir of Sri Raghunatha Dasa Gosvami.

The purohit peforms puja to begin the ceremony

Mahantas are only appointed on the request of the CSVVP, either because they are the head of a particular place or ashram (i.e., the Jiva Institute) or to choose their successor. A prerequisite for the appointment is good conduct. This tradition is more than one hundred years old. There are several hurdles to cross before a person is officially installed as Mahanta. Prior to it, Babaji was invited to a meeting of all the members of the executive committee of approximately 300 Mahantas to present his acceptance of this position. After being approved, he attended several functions, the last of which was completed at the old Kathia Baba Ashram on Mahatma Gandhi Road last week. Babaji has been requested for many years to accept this position and he finally agreed. All the Mahantas are greatly pleased to have him as part of their group.

Armies of the Past

Babaji with the president of CSVVP (left) and the president of Balabhadri Akhada (in saffron)
Babaji with the president of CSVVP (left) and the president of Balabhadri Akhada (in saffron)

The CSVVP was originally founded to combat Advaitavada sannyasis and Shaiva sadhus, who used to threaten and harass Vaishnavas, especially at Kumbha Mela, which is the biggest religious gathering.  Kumbha Mela is celebrated four times every twelve years at places of pilgrimage on four sacred Indian rivers. Previousy, these sannyasis, who were very prominent at Kumbha Mela, would bar Vaishnavas from taking a dip in the holy water at the auspicious time. They would even fight and beat them. To counteract these threats, a great Vaishnava by the name Balmukanda gathered Vaishnavas to form an army around the 16th or 17th century. Over time, several more of such armies came into existence. They are called Akhadas (lit., wrestling organizations) and still exist today. Vaishnavas have three of them—the Sri Panch Balabhadri Nirvani Ani Akhada, the Nirmohi Ani Akhada, and the Sri Panca Digambara Ani Akhada. Shaivites have eleven Akhadas.

The Akhadas, lead by Mahantas in smaller formations, used to act like armies and their soldiers are stilled called Nagas. Unlike the followers of Lord Shiva, Vaisnava Nagas do not go naked. The Nagas were trained in sword fighting, stick wielding, and other such martial arts. One can still witness this during the Shai Snaan festival (“Royal Dip”) with its royal procession of Akhada chiefs and their Nagas, who demonstrate their fighting skills. They resemble the army of a king on the move to attack. However, the old animosity between the Vaishnava and Shaiva Akhadas does not exist anymore.

In the past, Vaishnavas from all over India used to convene at Vrindavan before Kumbha Mela. From there, they would move to the Kumbha Mela location like a big army. This custom is still followed when there is Kumbha at Haridwara. At that time, one can observe a small Kumbha of Vaishnavas in Vrindavan.

We Gaudiyas belong to the first Akhada, in short called Balabhadri Akhada (Akhada of Balarama, Krishna’s brother). The head of this Akhada is Sri Dharma Dasa Maharaja from Ayodhya. Maharaja came all the way from Ayodhya to Vrindavan, travelling for 12 hours, just to bless Babaji on this occasion. This was a very special visit, because usually he does not attend such functions.

Babaji’s New Responsibilities

Sumptous feast for the sadhus

As Mahanta of Jiva Institute, Babaji is expected to not only look after the ashrama, but also to maintain good character and spread dharma. As the tradition prescribes it, he is expected to participate in Kumbha Mela. He will also have to attend regular meetings on current issues and problems of Vrindavan, e.g. the current UP government’s intention to abolish Vrindavan’s Municipality and merge it with Mathura. The Mahantas are opposing this move, since as a consequence wine and meat could be sold in Vrindavan, as is the case now in Mathura. This would destroy Vrindavan’s identity.

As a Mahanta, Babaji would like to focus on issues related to Vrindavan, such as maintaining its sanctity. He is especially concerned to maintain the character and structure of the old town. He is also pleading for better arrangements as regards cleanliness, better roads, no loud loudspeakers and a solution to the monkey problem. With all these new duties, Babaji’s main focus is still the activities of Jiva Institute, especially teaching, translating, commenting on, and publishing the works of Jiva Gosvami and other acharyas of the Gaudiya school.

Practices of Rāgānugā Bhakti

Question: Eight years ago, by his mercy my guru informed me about my siddha-deha (ekādaś bhāva). Gradually I came to understand that rāgānugā bhakti is not possible to practice unless and until one receives siddha praṇāli. Many devotees take initiation but they don’t know about this fact and they mistakenly think that the path of rāgānugā can only be practiced when one is on a very higher platform and that receiving siddha praṇāli is only possible for those who reach prema or at least bhāva. So, they sometimes say that this process of receiving siddha praṇāli is sahajiyaism. Anyway, do you agree that unless and until a devotee has received ekādaś bhāva he cannot follow the process of rāgānugā bhakti?

devotee meditatingAnswer: Please read the definition of rāgānugā in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu of Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī, in Bhakti Sandarbha of Jīva Gosvāmī and in Mādhurya Kādambini of Śrila Viśvanātha Cakravarti. The major distinction between rāgānugā and vaidhi lies in the inspiration to begin devotion. When pravṛitti or engagement in bhakti is only because of scriptural injunction then it is called vaidhi (BRS 1.2.6), but when one is eager to get the bhāva of the vrajavāsis and engages in bhakti, that is called rāgānugā. For this, smaraa is the main process.

Getting Ekādaś bhāva is one process of rāgānugā bhakti, but it is not the only way. The bhāva can also be revealed later on. It is not compulsory that the guru has to give it at the time of dikṡā, although that is the trend at present. But it is wrong to say that rāgānugā can be practiced only at the level of bhāva or prema. Those who say this have not even understood the definition of rāgānugā bhakti. Also, it is ridiculous to say that receiving siddha praṇāli is sahajism. These people do not understand the meaning of sahajiyasm. They think that to follow anything other than chanting mahāmantra is sahajiyasm. This is pure ignorance.
However even if one has received ekādaś bhāva but does not have the lobha or intense yearning, then it does not fall into rāgānugā bhakti, as per the definition. So, what will it be or how can one begin rāgānugā without the lobha? Śrī Jīva gives the solution in Bhakti Sandarbha (Anuccheda 312).

Vrindavan Research InstituteQuestion: Of course, in agreement with you, there is a misunderstanding that rāgānugā bhakti can only be practised when ones reaches bhāva or prema. In Rāga-vartma Candrikā, Ṡrila Viśvanāth Cakravarti established that the devotee on the path of rāgānugā advances from the platform of anartha nivṛitti. So, that means that even on this level one can practise it. You said:”Getting Ekādaś bhāva is one process of rāgānugā bhakti, but it is not the only way.” Please could you tell which other way/s you are referring to?

Answer: The other way is that it can also be revealed to the sādhaka by the grace of the Holy Name. In Bhakti Sandarbha, Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī stresses the importance of nāma-smaraṇa. Then, when the heart is purified by the grace of nāma, one is revealed guṇa, rūpa and līlā and one can do guṇa-smaraṇa, rūpa smaraṇa and līlā smaraṇa.
The point being made is that if the heart is not in sattva, līlā-smaraṇa is not possible and one may even get an adverse effect. This has been seen in many cases. Paṇḍit Ananta Dāsa Bābāji Maharaja also writes this in his commentary on Rāga-vartma-candrikā.

Question: From the verse sevā sādhaka rupeṇa siddha rupeṇa cātra hi of Bhakti-rasāmita sindhu (1.2.295) or from the verse ‘mane’ nija-siddha-deha kariyā bhāvanarātri-dine kare vraje kṛṣṇera sevana from CC (2.22.156) it is very clear that the process of rāgānugā implies to not only engage the mind in lilā smaraṇam but also to conceive in the mind one’s own spiritual form, otherwise is not possible to do mānasī sevā.
Answer: Yes, I am not denying that. I am only saying that there are other possibilities of getting ekādaś bhāva. Moreover, it is not necessary that ekādaś bhāva must be given at the time of dikśā only. They can also be given later when a sādhaka is qualified. Without the mind being in sattva predominantly, līlā smaraṇa is not possible. So nāma-smaraṇa and other physical service is recommended to clean the heart. Even Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu starts his Śikśāṣṭaka with ceto-darpaṇa-mārjanam – cleaning the mirror of the heart by kīrtaṇa.

It may be noted that the BRS verse cited by you has two parts, sevā sādhaka-rupeṇa (service by the sādhaka or physical body) and sevā siddha-rupeṇa (service by the imagined perfected body). The second is preceded by the first. Without first, the second will be almost impossible in most cases, especially at present when people in general are very much under the influences of rajas and tamas.

I would ask you the following question. If one has a qualified guru and is busy serving him in his sādhaka-rupa and thus has no time for the siddha-rupeṇa sevā, will that be rāgānugā or vaidhi or something else?

Do you think that Jīva Gosvāmi who wrote so many books, maintained a library, built a temple, did deity worship, taught to students śāstra and took care of guests from Bengal was following CC 2.22.156 cited above? In fact, do you know any practical example of a devotee at present who is doing what is said in this verse? Remember that this part of CC is talking only of sevā siddha-rupeṇa, and not of sadhaka-rupena.

I am sorry to say that most of the old Gauḍīya temples, libraries and temple properties got lost because too much stress was given to līlā smaraṇa (sevā siddha-rupeṇa), while sevā sādhaka-rupeṇa was neglected because it was considered as a disturbance. But this is not what the Gosvāmis did. Otherwise, how could they build temples and maintain them in Vrindavan, when there were no roads, no means available. They quote from hundreds of books in their writings. In those days there were no printing presses. They had to copy these books or depute people to do that. They quote from Rāmānujācarya and Madhvācarya. How did they get their books? Please think of all this. Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartī comments on this famous verse from BRS referred by you, that sevā sādhaka-rupeṇa means following in the footsteps of Rūpa and Sanātana. Please read that part also. Yes, manasi seva has to be done but the other one should not be neglected, which is the case at present.

 

Pearl Story / Vrindavan Art
Pearl Story / Vrindavan Art

Question: My point was that to receive ekādaś bhāva is compulsory for the following rāgānugā bhakti. Siddha Jay Kṛṣṇadās Bābāji said that the rāgānugā guru always gives the information about the ekādaś bhāva to his disciples and also the siddha deha of all the guru varga. So, if one never receives the information about his siddha deha, will he/she will ever have the possibility of doing mānasī sevā as Rupa Gosvāmi and Kṛṣṇadās Kavirāja Gosvāmi said for the practice of the rāgānugā bhakti? If the main limb of rāgānugā bhakti is neglected how can we practice it?

Śrīla Narottama Dāsa said in his Prema Bhakti Candrika: “I will always think of the devotional service to the Divine Couple (mānasī sevā which requires siddha deha) and remain attached to that. The Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava sādhaka should think of himself as an adolescent cowherd girl, a female associate of Rādharaṇi, the very life of the mind is smaraṇam of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa, this is the practice and this is the goal.” And, “Never neglect the līlā smaraṇam (in the context of mānasī sevā), make it the soul and life of your spiritual life.”

Answer: In my first reply I had asked you to read the definition of rāgānugā bhakti. But you only refer to the siddha deha and mānasī sevā. I am not denying that but please do not overlook the other part. You are citing statements from Śrī Jīva Narottama about mānasī sevā but that is not the only thing he says. I am just trying to bring your attention to two points:

  1. Mānasī sevā needs some qualification which everyone may not have. To come to the level of mānasī sevā one must do sevā sādhaka-rupeṇa.
  2. Even while doing mānasī sevā, the sevā sādhaka-rupeṇa should not be neglected. Please read Śrī Jīva Gosvāmi on this in Bhakti Sandarbha. He says even if one has bhāva, one should do sevā sādhaka-rupeṇa for setting an example for others, and he himself is the best example of this.

The problem with Gauḍīya Math and its branches in general is that they think mānasī sevā is sahjiyaism, and on the other hand bābājis in general think that without mānasī sevā there is no rāgānugā bhakti. I am sorry, but I do not subscribe to any of these views. Gaudīya Vaiṣṇavism is a mess because hardly anyone studies the siddhānta. All these people whom you quote have studied the siddhānta and then they speak of mānasī sevā.

I am sorry to say that at present most people are not qualified for mānasī sevā. I speak from practical experience. So much degradation has come into our sampradāya because of this.
Mānasī sevā needs a sāttvic mind, especially freedom from desire to enjoy the association of the opposite gender. This is very much missing, and repression does not work at all.

People read all these songs of Śrī Narottama Dāsa Thākur and go gaga about it. These songs have to be studied from a bona fide teacher. I use the word “study” and not “read”. These are not “do it yourself” books.

Who gave ekādaś bhāva to Jīva Gosvāmi and the other Gosvāmis for that matter? Nobody.
Even your Guru Maharaja does not give ekādaś bhāva to everybody. You may know it or may not. Rāgānugā bhakti must be understood in principle before getting into its practice, such as mānasī sevā. It is not enough to quote from śāstra, but there has to be some understanding and realization. I may sound harsh and critical, but I do not mean to criticize anyone. I am pointing to the actual state of affairs.

 

 

Jiva Gosvami's bhajan kutir at Radhakunda
Jiva Gosvami’s bhajan kutir at Radhakunda

 

All this said, where is there any reference of ekādaś bhāva in the Gosvāmi literature or the writings of Śrila Viśvanāth Cakravarti Thākur (I do not mean siddha-deha, antah-cinti-deha or mānasī sevā)?

Again, I would like to repeat that I am not against ekādaś bhāva or mānasī sevā. I just stress that it needs some qualification. If you study the commentary by Vyāsa on Yoga Sūtra, he very clearly says that only a sāttvic mind can meditate, and līlā-smaraṇa is not different from that.

Conversation with an Avowed Atheist

Atheist: I believe what I see. If you can show me something higher, maybe I’ll believe it. I enjoy my life, have a nice car, a family, and a good bank balance. I sleep late every morning, no worries. I’m always trying to enjoy and always succeed. I’m a very happy person—quite satisfied. So why do you do all of this dry reading? You don’t go out to the movies or seem to enjoy at all. You only have this one life to enjoy, so you should do it while you can!

Babaji Satyanarayana Dasa: Do you sleep at night?

Atheist: Yes, I love my sleep.

Babaji: Do you enjoy sleeping?

Atheist: Very much.

Babaji: When you wake do you feel happy?

Atheist: Yes, I feel refreshed and satisfied.

Babaji: So the happiness you get from sleep, does it come because you have a motor car and a good bank balance?

Atheist: Well, if I didn’t have my motor car, I wouldn’t be happy or sleep so well.

Babaji: If your car is awarding happiness, and I give you many cars and a bigger bank balance, then you will not need to sleep because you will feel so happy?

Atheist: But I also enjoy sleeping.

Babaji: Sleeping means forgetting what you have. You cannot sleep nicely if your mind is full of worries and not peaceful. The more you forget, the deeper you sleep. If you derive happiness by forgetting what you have, it proves there must be happiness without the car or bank balance. Do you believe that is possible?

Atheist: Yes, that’s possible and I actually experience it.

Babaji: So when you say you are not enjoying, something about your concept of happiness must be wrong, because you also enjoy without the motor car, bank balance etc., while sleeping. The enjoyment which you derive through sleep, I experience that enjoyment all the time.

Atheist: How’s that?

Babaji: Because when you are awake you are thinking that your happiness is coming from your car, etc. When you sleep you forget everything and you enjoy that, but without all the objects. In fact, if you remember those objects you will not be able to sleep properly. You’ll worry about them, and will feel very miserable if you’re not able to sleep well for even one night, right?

Atheist: Yes.

Babaji: If you don’t sleep well, the next day all these objects will not be able to give you happiness, since you’ll be too tired to enjoy them. This demonstrates that the happiness you derive from sleeping is more essential than the happiness derived from all of your paraphernalia. But if I can derive that same happiness when I’m awake without car or bank balance, then my happiness is superior, because it’s not dependent on any objects.

This happiness from material objects and relationships must be inferior because a person can exist without them and still be satisfied. But no one can exist without sleep, which means that sleep is more important than these objects. There are many people who don’t have a wife or car, etc., but just as you sleep, so do they, and even someone who has more than you also sleeps. Sleeping is essential, and it means forgetting what you have. If you can’t forget you will not be able to sleep; instead, you’ll have insomnia, which is what many people suffer from and why they take so many drugs and sleeping pills. They want to forget and just sleep, and the deeper they sleep the happier they feel.

Therefore, you can see that the happiness you experience during sleep is superior to the happiness you feel when you are awake and attracted to all of these things. But if you can derive the same happiness of sleep when you are awake, without all these objects, isn’t that superior? If you can derive a particular kind of enjoyment from an object, and you find you can derive the same enjoyment without that object, isn’t that a superior happiness?

Atheist: Yes.

Babaji: So I’m saying that if you are receiving your happiness with the help of all these objects, and I am getting the same happiness without them, my happiness is superior to yours, my dear Sir. The first point is that happiness is not dependent on any object. Do you accept this?

Atheist: Yes.

Babaji: The second point, happiness without the object is superior, right?

Atheist: Yes.

Babaji: As far as being able to derive happiness goes, that is my own personal experience. Secondly, everyone wants to be happy. With this logic you should see that I am studying, etc., and you are doing something else, which I also am capable of doing. But if I’m not doing that, it means I must derive happiness from what I am doing, otherwise I wouldn’t be doing it. I’m not forced to do it. I can drop this at any time and do the same things you are doing, but I’m not doing that because I enjoy what I am doing. My enjoyment is superior to yours because I am not dependent on the paraphernalia that you need to enjoy yourself.

Your happiness is dependent on these objects, which will be lost one day. One day your wife or children will die. You yourself in time will lose the very basis of your enjoyment, this body. So if I can derive happiness without this, it must be superior happiness. This is logical.

Atheist: But right now I’m happy and I don’t have to worry about the future.

Babaji: My friend, I can understand you are an intelligent fellow, so with your intelligence you must use your power to discriminate, and figure out how to derive more happiness, and not to act in a way that will cause you suffering.

I’m therefore suggesting that you use your intelligence because, as I’ve explained, happiness that comes without depending on an object is superior, and external objects can be lost at any time. They are only temporary. If your happiness depends on an object, you become the slave of that object and lose your freedom. Loss of freedom means suffering. When you lose the objects you possess, you will feel unhappy. You are bound to your source of pleasure. So please try to understand what I’m suggesting and take heed. I’m sitting here in this heat without a fan or cooler and still I’m happy, but you cannot be happy like this.

Atheist: But if I have my generator and my air cooler, I’m even happier.

Babaji: No, you are not happier. That you cannot claim, but certainly your happiness is dependent on them. That you cannot deny. Try to imagine being without all of that and still being happy. Isn’t that superior?

Atheist: But where is your happiness coming from?

Babaji: My happiness is coming from where it actually exists. Do you know what happiness is?

Atheist: Happiness in this world takes place when things are favorable to the senses.

Babaji: Right. You may have your air-conditioned car and feel happy about it, but if someone comes and tells you that your son is dead, you will feel very unhappy.  Or you may get a stomachache or a bad headache and your air cooler and car will no longer make you happy. So your happiness comes when things are favorable to your senses, and distress comes when things are not favorable.

Now whether things are favorable or unfavorable is not under your control. You may go out and get into an accident, not through your own doing, no matter how well you drive. Some crazy man may smash into you, or a dog may suddenly run out in front of you, etc. It is not under your control. Even when you are sitting in the comfort of your home, there may be a sudden earthquake or a power failure, etc. Similarly, problems with your own body are not under your control, right?

Atheist: Right.

Babaji: You say this body can give you happiness, but just try to imagine how much misery it also can give you. Consider how much happiness you can get from your thumb, your hand or your chest. Now consider how much pain these can cause you. It appears that the amount of misery this body can give you is much greater than the amount of happiness.

Also, we can see that happiness and unhappiness are not under your control. If they were, you would never be in distress, right? No one wants distress, or works for it, but still it comes. So you are not the lord and master. There is something beyond you that you are not aware of. Intelligence will tell us, why don’t you try and find out who is that beyond us?

Atheist: Why must it be “who?” Nature controls these things.

Babaji: OK, call it as you like, but the point is that there is something beyond you, which you have no control over. You want happiness, but distress comes. Why?

Atheist: Because it’s been going on like this eternally.

Babaji: So eternally there has been some order. The seasons are coming, the sun rises at a particular time, etc. You accept that nature has an order, and that nature has control over you. It can send rain and cause trouble, or no rain at all and cause even more trouble. It is an energy that can wreak havoc on you. You acknowledge there is something beyond you that is quite orderly. If it were disordered, this world would not function. Now what does your intelligence say: when you recognize some order, is there some greater intelligence behind that, or is it just random?

Atheist: It is Intelligence.

Babaji: Good. I don’t like to speak only of things from the scriptures, as that sounds very orthodox and to just speak of faith doesn’t sound so logical. I’m a rational person and I can see that you also are like that.

So if you can maintain your house or your company nicely for 50 years, then we would say that they are very nicely managed, and there must be intelligent people behind it. Without someone taking personal care of matters, people would go elsewhere.

We also observe perfect order in nature. And science has proven that if we were one percent closer to the sun we would all burn up, and one percent further away, we would freeze. The combination of nitrogen and oxygen in the atmosphere is perfect for life to survive. If it was just a little bit different there would be no life. This and many other factors which are crucial for our survival did not happen by coincidence.

Since that has been going on for so long, it must mean that there is some very intelligent person behind it. Intelligence exists only in a person.  Intelligence means personality. So this proves there is an intelligent person, and since this has all been going on eternally, He also must be eternal, right?

So you should find out about that eternal intelligence and read this book, Bhagavad-gita, which explains all about Him. Then you also can become intelligent.

This supremely intelligent person once came here to this planet and spoke about how we could contact Him. He gave a formula to contact Him, which I know and can give to you.

If I say there was a fire on the street yesterday, I can prove it by witnesses who were present. But if the fire happened 50 years ago, all the witnesses would be gone, so you have to believe the history book. Here, I have a history book about God.

Atheist: Hmm …. (scratching his head).