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March 15, 1999   VNN3329  

Notes From The Dhama


EDITORIAL, Mar 15 (VNN) — (from Sanga wfd@efn.org) Vrindavan, 3/7/99

We have been passing the days happily as spring is now in full bloom here in Vrindavana - much warmer than a San Francisco summer. Soon we will require fans even at night, but for the moment I find the weather comfortable. Birds are everywhere of all imaginable colors, with the Peacock and green parrot competing for attention. The famous Vraja raj (dust of Vraja) is in no shortage. Vrindaranya's father is visiting us. He wanted to take some dust and stones from this sacred land and its sacred places for a friend who collect stones from holy lands. She told him she though he should not do it because the stones, etc. would be taken out of Vrindavan to their dismay. However, I think the Vraja raja is not in danger of losing its caste/rasa in a foriegn land, and surely it is compassionate.

It was the opinion of Mahaprabhu that the dust of Vrindavan is worshipable as Krishna, 'aradhya bhagavan vrajesa tanaya tad dhama vrndavanam'.

As for finding a residence here, I am still looking/negotiating land for an ashram. It will take some time, therefore I am busy forming a religious trust, checking about building on green land (agricultural, or the combination of dark blue and yellow), raising funds, etc.

I alloted a fair amount of time for patience regarding efforts to keep in communicatinon with everyone on the internet. My calculations were about one week short, as the dhama continues to teach me. Things move slowly here, and it is fashionable to be late. I think this reflects the original spiritual culture, in which detatchment is desirebale. If you don't show, or are at least late, it appears that you are not that concerned with various mundane details. Unfortunately, although people are late with regualrity here, they do not appear to be preoccupied with spiritual culture. Then again, looks are deceiving, and we are taught to respect the residents of the Dhama throughout the scripture.

Gopal tapani Upanisad says "The name Mathura has been given to this land because the manifest essence of the knowledge of Brahman, by which the entire universe has been churned, appears here." Visvesvara Tirtha comments, "That by which the entire universe is churned is called matha, or knowledge of Brahman. That knowledge is the person Gopal." This Gopal conquers manmatha (cupid who bewilders the mind). He is manmatha manmatha, Madangopal, the transcendental cupid conquering cupid. If cupid churns the world, as he no doubt does, he who captivates cupid, the Lord, who appears in Mathura Mandala, churns out of its butter the butter-essence (ghee) free from impurities in the form of the king of knowledge that is bhakti (raja vidya). It is by this knowledge that the world is perfectly understood and comes to an end with regard to cupid's influence. Mathura is nondifferent from Krishna.

I am working simultaneously on the Gopal tapani commentary and my Gita commentary. I expect to finish the 9th chapter of the Gita today. It is all about pure devotion,which Krishna has eulogized at the begining of the chapter calling it the king of knowledge (raja vidya). Here is an unedited sampling:

"This is the king of knowledge, the king of secrets, the ultimate purifier, it is directly percievable, religious, easy to practice, and imperishable."

The knowledge of pure devotion is both the king of knowledge and the knowledge of kings. The kings of this world are the senses, and one who conqueres them is a true king. This knowledge is for such persons, and it will also make persons such. What is the knowledge of kings? It is their council. The knowledge by which they are kings in reality. It is that which they keep hidden, revealing it only to their successor. Thus, it is secrect knowledge as well. It is the king of secrets because it is hidden in the scriputre, and thus it is found here, hidden in the middle of the Gita's eighteen chapters.

It has been said that Vedanta deals with secret knowledge, not the common knowledge in which differences of good, bad, happy, and sad are apparent.

It deals with the knowledge of the underlying unity of all things, knowledge of oneness, as opposed to the knowledge of difference. However, Baladeva Vidyabhusana in his Vedanta commentary, Govinda Bhasya, points out that uncommon, or secrect knowledge is not the mere opposite of common knowledge. Secret knowledge does not concern merely the underlying unity of all things, but within the realization of the unity that is Brahman, that transcends material differences, there is simulataneously a variagatedness to be experienced that does not compromise this unity. Indeed, such knowledge makes the knowledge of the underlying unity of Brahman common knowledge in comparison.

This knowledge is also directly percievable. It is 'rasananda', the taste and feeling of devotional life. That it is religious indicates that this knowledge is transcendental devotion itself. This is so because Krsna has already declared it to be knowledge, and here, religion (dharma) as well.

Generally, spiritual knowledge retires religious practice, as one's heart is purified through such practice. This has already been taught in the first six chapters of the Gita. However, the knowledge to be discussed in this chapter has been described here as religious. It is religious life in transcendence, knowledge that delivers one from material duality in the form of its eternal religious expression - devotional life.

Jiva Goswami has coined the term 'acintya bhedabheda' (inconcievable simultaneous identity and difference) to describe the metaphysic of Gaudiya Vaisnavism, a religio-philosopical doctrine. The 'abheda' (identity) is the philosophical reality of the nondifference between God an all things. The 'bheda' (difference) is it's religious expression in transcendence that makes for an undivided, yet variagated Absolute, as potency and potent aspects of the one reality interact. This doctrine is an apt description of the knowledge of this chapter, love (prema), that is by nature a oneness expressing itself variously.

The knowledge that is pure devotion is supremely purifying. Purification involves the clearing of karma. Our karma exixts not only in terms of that which we are presently experiencing, it is also stored in seed in the form of desire and acquired tendencies. Whereas knowledge of the self has the power to destroy karma before it bears fruit, it cannot change one's manifest karma. Pure devotion, on the other hand, can clear even one's 'prarabdha karma', that which is already bearing fruit in this life.

Krsna says that this knowledge is easily or happily preformed, as was pointed out in the previous chapter. At the same time, it is imperishable.

While most things easily attained are not enduring in nature, this is not the case with suddha bhakti. It is easily performed, yet the result is permanent.

With affection,
Swami B.V. Tripurari

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