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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

Kirtan Podcast 4 – Karnamrita “The Story of Pingala”


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Among all the kirtan singers out there, it would be hard to find one with a voice more pure or beautiful than Karnamrita. She’s been singing kirtan since her early childhood and was trained in Indian classical vocals in Vrindavan. This track, “The Story of Pingala”, is from the CD Dasi–Prayers by Women, a compilation of songs and prayers by or about great women in the Krishna Bhakti Traditions. This brilliant and exciting recording is composed of verses taken directly from a section of the Srimad-bhagavatam’s 11th Canto known as the Uddhava-gita.

The Uddhava-gita is a rich resource of teachings on bhakti. Responding to Uddhava’s request for instructions on renunciation, Krishna relates an avadhutas account of his twenty-four gurus. These twenty-four gurus are an eclectic group of people, animals and other natural phenomena – for instance, the earth, the wind, the sky, the moon, the python, the moth, etc. The avadhuta‘s account shows how one can develop wisdom and conviction in bhakti through observing one’s surroundings.

One of the guru’s, the prostitute Pingala, is the subject of this song. These verses are an expression of her frustration with sensual pursuits and her joyous awakening of detachment and devotion.

I’ve included the Srimad-bhagavatam verses below, both in the original Sanskrit and the English translation. I highly recommend the CD which has a variety of beautiful songs.

Kaustubha das

To Purchase the CD Dasi – Prayers by Women Click Here

The Story of Pingala From the CD Dasi – Prayers by Women

Vocals: Karnamrita
Melody composed by: Yuddhistira and Karnamrita
Tablas: Yuddhistira
Kartals: Chaitanya Nitai
Hand Claps: Ron Marinelli
Produced by Karnamrita and Ron Marinelli
Mixed and mastered by Ron Marinelli

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From Srimad-Bhagavatam 11th Canto, Chapter 8

11.8.30
pingalovaca
aho me moha-vitatim
pasyatavijitatmanah
ya kantad asatah kamam
kamaye yena balisa

The prostitute Pingala said: Just see how greatly illusioned I am! Because I cannot control my mind, just like a fool I desire lusty pleasure from an insignificant man.

11.8.31
santam samipe ramanam rati-pradam
vitta-pradam nityam imam vihaya
akama-dam duhkha-bhayadhi-soka-
moha-pradam tuccham aham bhaje ‘jna

I am such a fool that I have given up the service of that person who, being eternally situated within my heart, is actually most dear to me. That most dear one is the Lord of the universe, who is the bestower of real love and happiness and the source of all prosperity. Although He is in my own heart, I have completely neglected Him. Instead I have ignorantly served insignificant men who can never satisfy my real desires and who have simply brought me unhappiness, fear, anxiety, lamentation and illusion.

11.8.37
nunam me bhagavan prito
vishnuh kenapi karmana
nirvedo ‘yam durasaya
yan me jatah sukhavahah

Although I most stubbornly hoped to enjoy the material world, somehow or other detachment has arisen in my heart, and it is making me very happy. Therefore the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vishnu, must be pleased with me. Without even knowing it, I must have performed some activity satisfying to Him.

11.8.38
maivam syur manda-bhagyayah
klesa nirveda-hetavah
yenanubandham nirhritya
purushah samam ricchati

A person who has developed detachment can give up the bondage of material society, friendship and love, and a person who undergoes great suffering gradually becomes, out of hopelessness, detached and indifferent to the material world. Thus, due to my great suffering, such detachment awoke in my heart; yet how could I have undergone such merciful suffering if I were actually unfortunate? Therefore, I am in fact fortunate and have received the mercy of the Lord. He must somehow or other be pleased with me.

11.8.39
tenopakritam adaya
sirasa gramya-sangatah
tyaktva durasah saranam
vrajami tam adhisvaram

With devotion I accept the great benefit that the Lord has bestowed upon me. Having given up my sinful desires for ordinary sense gratification, I now take shelter of Him, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

11.8.40
santushta sraddadhaty etad
yatha-labhena jivati
viharamy amunaivaham
atmana ramanena vai

I am now completely satisfied, and I have full faith in the Lord’s mercy. Therefore I will maintain myself with whatever comes of its own accord. I shall enjoy life with only the Lord, because He is the real source of love and happiness.

[Translation from Srimad-bhagavatam, courtesy of The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc. Used with permission.]

Sacinandana Swami

Leaving the Noise of the Ten Thousand Little Things

The Art of “Retreating”

In this retreat I would like to go deep into myself, leaving all the different layers behind. I know that deep down in the very bottom of my heart a treasure is waiting for me. I can find it by the process of “spiritual archaeology.” I feel that this treasure will give me the strength required to deal with the compromises I make in my life that keep me in the so-called comfort zone. It is a dangerous zone that gets darker each time I act in a way contrary to what I know to be true. CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE »

Kaustubha das

On Santosha and Satisfying Uncontrolled Senses

vamana detail

“The entirety of whatever there may be within the three worlds to satisfy one’s senses cannot satisfy a person whose senses are uncontrolled.” (Srimad Bhagavatam 8.19.21 )

The above words of wisdom were spoken by Vamanadeva, the fifth of the Dasavatara (Vishnu’s ten incarnations), to Maharaja Bali. It’s one of my favorite verses regarding santosha (contentment), one of the niyamas in ashtanga-yoga as well as an essential quaility in bhakti-yoga. Thursday, September 11, marks the observance of Vamanadeva’s appearance. I’ve included a few verses from from Vamanadeva’s discussions with Bali. One can read a more complete telling of lila here. The painting is by B.G. Sharma.

Kaustubha das

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

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

Sri Krsna-Lila-Stava

Lila stava

The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust has recently published Sanantana Goswami’s Sri Krishna-Lila-Stava: Adoration of Krishna’s Pastimes . Sanantana Goswami (1488-1558) was the senior most of Vrindavan’s “Six Goswamis”, all influential teachers of the bhakti path. The description below is adapted from the book’s dust jacket. 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 »

Kaustubha das

A Madman’s Discourse on the Workings of the Mind

bharat-deerSometimes the most insightful counsel comes from the least expected source. The Sanskrit epic Srimad-Bhagavatam (also refered to as the Bhagavat Purana or simply, the Bhagavatam), depicts the life, or more accurately lives, of Maharaja Bharata. CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE »

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