Samālocana (A Critique)

Radha-Kunda-&-Syama-kundaRādhā-kuṇḍa and Śyāma-kuṇḍa
Vaisnava-Granthavali‘Vaiṣṇava Granthāvalī’

Samālocana (A Critique) was first published in Sajjana Toṣaṇī, Vol.5 issue 1 in 1893. In this article, Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura reviews eight new publications including Caitanya-candrāmṛta, Gaura-gaṇoddeśa Dīpikā and Vāṁśī Śikṣā.

Samālocana
(A Critique)

by Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura
(translated by Swami B.V. Giri)

Śrī Stava-rāja – This was written by Śrīla Advaita Ācārya Prabhu and translated into Bengali by Śrīyuta Rāmadayāla Ghoṣa in various verses. The price is 80 Annas. In this text there is the worship of Śrī Gaurāṅga by His associate Śrī Narahari. This Narahari seems to be the author of Bhakti Ratnākara, Śrī Ghanaśyāma Dāsa. In this book Stava-rāja, there is a total of 42 anuṣṭupa ślokas. Looking at the composition of the ślokas, it seems that they were composed much later by a servant of Śrī Advaita Prabhu. This is because from the mood of verse 36, it seems that a great paṇḍita of a later period has written these ślokas in the name of Śrī Advaita Prabhupāda to express his poetic prowess. However, the stava is not bad.

Caitanyāṣṭaka – This book is a stava of one-hundred verses to Śrī Gauraṅga. However, it is not possible to find even two ślokas from Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta in it. Yet there are reasons to appreciate this book. Many ślokas show special erudition and pure bhakti. The verses translated by Rāmadayāla Bābu are beautiful.

Śrī Śrī Caitanya-candrāmṛta – The great devotee Śrīyuta Rāmadayāla Ghoṣa Mahāśaya has published this wonderful book with his own translation of the verses. It is the duty of all pure devotees to read this book every day. Those who do not understand Sanskrit will find special pleasure by reading the verse translations. It would be good to make a few changes in some places. The translation of the first verse reads, śrī kṛṣṇa-caitanya nāma karilā svikāra (‘He has accepted the Name Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya’). The name Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya is the eternal name of the Lord. There is nothing wrong in saying karila pracāra (). The basis is the word caitanyākṛtiṁ, and even though this word manifested at the end of His pastimes in Navadvīpa, we should accept that the name Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya, His dhāma and His form are all of an eternal nature. In śloka 131, the eternality of His form is especially described. Śrī Candrāmṛta is the necklace of the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas. The translation of this book should be cherished.

Śrī Śrī Gaura-gaṇoddeśa Dīpikā – This was written by Śrīla Śrī Kavi Karṇapura Gosvāmī.  Śrīyuta Rāmadayāla Bābu has published a translation of this text which is sacred throughout the Vaiṣṇava world. This book is an exalted work amongst the Vaiṣṇavas. The appendix is most excellent.

Saṅgīta Ratnāvalī This has been compiled by Śrīyuta Goṣṭha-bihārī Kundu. There are some songs in this book.

Śiṣu Mahābhārata u Śiṣu Rāmāyaṇa – These two books are for school boys and girls to read. There is some hari-kathā in them also.

Śrī Amiya Nimāi Carita – This has been written by the exclusive servant of Śrī Śrī Gaurāṅgadeva and great devotee Śiśira Kumāra Ghoṣa. We were hoping that a biography of Śrī Śrī Mahāprabhu would be published in sweet prose. Śiśira Bābu has fulfilled our desires. I hope that the other parts of the book will be published shortly. Reading the book, Śiśira Bābu’s literary creativity, simple bhakti and affinity for research are evident in a most beautiful way. It is our prayer that the author may continue to live for some time and especially serve and preach about the Lord of our life, Śrī Śrī Gaurangadeva. By reading this book, pure Vaiṣṇavas will perceive prema.

Śrī Vaṁṣī Śikṣā – This was written by the noble Prema Dāsa Miśra. This was printed by Śrī Hare Kṛṣṇa Vairāgī Mahāśaya. This book has four ‘ullāsas’ (chapters). The first ullāsa describes Śrī Vaṁśivadana Prabhu’s birth and his instructions from Śrī Śrī Mahāprabhu. The second ullāsa deals with the glories of Śrī Guru and a discussion on śakti-tattva. The third ullāsa describes bhakti-tattva, rasa-tattva, gokula-tattva and the worship of Rasarāja, and the fourth ullāsa discusses the prohibitions and method of bhajana for those who are rasikas as well as other topics. There are many beautiful subjects in many places in this book, but there are also things in some places that support the sahajiyā doctrine. Considering the entire work, it does not seem to be a book about the sahajiyā philosophy.

There is not much difference in words between the sahajiyā doctrine and pure rasa-tattva. As regards bhāva, rasa-tattva is the most superior and the sahajiyā doctrine is the most vile. Rasa-tattva is completely aprākṛta. There is nothing there in relation to the material bodies of men and women – it is fully spiritual. The sahajiyā doctrine is the exact opposite. Their only bhajana is the connection between mundane men and women. There is not a trace of spiritual dharma there – it is all material. Readers should be attentive and search carefully for spiritual significance. The author, Prema Dāsa was a scholar of aprākṛta-rasa. In his book there cannot be any type of bhajana where the association of women who are comprised of material elements is taken. Prema Dāsa was also a follower of the method of bhajana found in Śrīpāṭa Bāghnāpāḍā.

Translators Note: It should be understood that some of these works may not have been completely siddhāntika. In the foreword of The Harmonist (Vol.25, issue 1 June 1927), it was written:

In the days of Thakur Bhaktivinode the number of devotees professing ‘Suddha bhakti’ in Bengal were very few. His appeals had to be made to the class of ‘Misra bhaktas’ and ‘Biddha bhaktas’ among whom he found supporters and sympathisers. The ‘Sajjana-toshani’ of that period did not altogether escape the influence of the views of these supporters. Thakur Bhaktivinode, himself the Pioneer ‘Suddha bhakta’ found it absolutely necessary to tolerate more or less this influence of ‘Misra bhaktas’ and ‘Biddha bhaktas’ within the movement.

(‘Samālocana’ – A Critique – was first published in Sajjana Toṣaṇī, Vol.5 issue 1 in 1893, and translated into English by Swami B.V. Giri)
Radha-Kunda-&-Syama-kundaRādhā-kuṇḍa and Śyāma-kuṇḍa
Vaisnava-Granthavali‘Vaiṣṇava Granthāvalī’

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