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Dhanurdhara Swami

Seven Ways In Which Hearing Sacred Texts Purifies the Mind

Hearing (sravanam) is the conduit of knowledge. It is thus the first principle in the practice of spiritual life. Without gaining faith in a spiritual goal by first hearing about it from an authoritative source, why would anyone be inspired to take up an arduous path of spiritual practice? And even if one did, without sravanam how would one understand the intricacies of that practice? CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE »

Kaustubha das

Nine Symptoms of Advanced Bhakti

Rupa Goswami Logo 1

suddha-sattva-viseshatma
prema-suryamsu-samya-bhak
rucibhis citta-masrinya-
krid asau bhava ucyate

“‘When bhakti is executed on the transcendental platform of pure goodness (suddha-sattva), it is like a sun-ray of love for Krishna. At such a time, bhakti causes the heart to be softened by various tastes, and one is then situated in bhava (ecstatic emotion).” Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu (1.3.1) CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE »

Kaustubha das

An Expression of Conviction in Bhakti

BVT

From the Vaishnava Saint Bhaktivinoda Thakura:

Give up the shackles of matter slowly. Cultivate your spirit inwardly. Give up prejudices which you have acquired from the so-called rational thinkers who deny the existence of spirit.

Be humble in yourself and learn to respect those who work towards spiritual attainments. Do these with your heart, mind and strength in the company of spiritual people alone and you will see Krishna in no time. CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE »

Kaustubha das

On Perceiving the Subtle in Bhakti-yoga

Verses of sb

In the Srimad Bhagavatam’s third canto, chapter twenty-nine, Kapila (an avatar of Krishna) instructs his mother Devahuti regarding how a bhakti-yogi pleases the Lord, not through empty ritual, but through recognition of the Lord everywhere, and through behavior illumined by such vision. In this translation Sri Bhaktivedanta Swami uses the term “Supersoul” (usually used as a literal translation for Paramatma) for the Sanskrit bhuta-atma and atmanam, referring to the four-armed form of Lord Vishnu residing in the hearts of all beings, who acts as the overseer and the enabler of their actions as well as the friend who reminds them of how to act towards their own advancement. CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE »

Kaustubha das

Yoga Journal’s Abstract Impressions of Bhakti

Yoga Journal’s June, 2008 issue features an article by Nora Issacs entitled “Everyday Ecstasy – See the Divine in everything, when you practice bhakti, the yoga of devotion”. In the magazine’s Editor’s Letter it is mentioned, “we welcome the criticism and praise we receive from readers – it helps us to ‘refine our alignment’ and explore beyond our normal boundaries”. In this spirit, I’d like to offer some constructive criticism. CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE »

Sacinandana Swami

Five Lessons from a Pencil


When I was walking today, on the Island Mali Losinj, I felt my mind reach out over the blue sea to an island shimmering in the distance. When my mind returned, it brought a story with it, a story of spiritual instruction. Strange are the ways of inspiration.

Here is the story:

When Mohan returned from his journey to Jagannatha Puri, he was a changed man. Those who had never met him were impressed with his character, but those who had known him before were suspicious. Why was Mohan so clear-minded and suddenly so happy? There seemed to be no good reason, because while Mohan was on his way to Puri, his spiritual master, Gurudeva, had left his body. CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE »

Dhanurdhara Swami

Kirtan and Humility or: Scrambled Thoughts on Grass

GFV Logo


“One should chant the holy name of the Lord in a humble state of mind, thinking oneself lower than a blade of grass, more tolerant than a tree, devoid of all sense of false prestige and ready to offer all respects to others. In such a state of mind one can chant constantly.”
(Shri Shikshastakam verse 3)

Pradyumna, a friend and noted scholar, recently shared with me, in his own words, Bhaktivinoda Thakur’s interesting commentary on the phrase trnad api, “lower than a blade of grass” from Shri Shikshastakam (Shri Caitanyas eight core instructions), where the anonymity of the kirtaniya (kirtan leader) is described: CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE »

Kaustubha das

The Lila of the Bewilderment of Brahma

Brahma-vimohan front

Those who, even while remaining situated in their established social positions, throw away the process of speculative knowledge and with their body, words and mind offer all respects to descriptions of your personality and activities, dedicating their lives to these narrations, which are sung by you personally and by your pure devotees, certainly conquer your Lordship, although you are otherwise unconquerable by anyone within the three worlds. (Lord Brahma’s Prayers to Lord Krishna, Srimad-bhagavatam 10.14.3)

Today I’ve posted a painting Brahma Honors Krishna and an excerpt from its commentary from the book Intimate Worlds: Indian Paintings from the Alvin O. Bellak Collection. The commentary, by art historian John Seyller, briefly tells the Brahma-vimohan lila (the pastime of the bewilderment of Brahma). Some nice details about the painting’s design are included. CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE »

Kaustubha das

The Ornaments of a Sadhu

titikshavah karunikah
suhridah sarva-dehinam
ajata-satravah santah
sadhavah sadhu-bhushanah

The symptoms of a sadhu are that he is tolerant, merciful and friendly to all living entities. He has no enemies, he is peaceful, he abides by the scriptures, and all his characteristics are sublime. (The Vishnu avatar Kapiladeva to his mother Devahuti, Srimad-bhagavatam 3.25.21)

There is an apparent irony in the term sadhu-bhushana, (sadhu-ornaments). The stereotypical image of a sadhu is that of an ochre-clad, long bearded, Hindu ascetic who sheds all ornaments save for a string of beads and a mark of sacred clay. CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE »

Michael Bühler-Rose

Morning Rituals: Waking

A Brief Description of a Ritual of Waking
Within the Bhakti Tradition

Bhumi 5

In order to understand ritual, one must understand context. Within the Vedantic tradition of presentation there are three underlying principles: sambandha, the subject’s relationship to the object, abhidheya, the activity, and prayojana, or goal. A achieves C through B. CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE »

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