Questions on Bhakti

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Upanishads and Kamasutra

Question: The Upanishads state that everything is a sacrifice – including the sex act in which woman’s sexual organs are seen as the sacrificial altar and the man’s seed is thrown into it as an oblation. Moreover, sex was mainly propagated for having children. Is this in some ways contradictory to the teachings of Kamasutra which does not put such limitations on sexual enjoyment? Does it mean that Upanishads were meant for Brahmanas only?

Answer: There are four purusarthas. Kamasutra deals with kama and Upanisads with moksha, hence they have a different outlook.

 

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Samadhi of the Gopis

Question: I began reading Krishna: The Beautiful Legend of God Srimad Bhagavata Purana, Book X translated by Prof. Bryant.  Could you please illuminate Part One, Chapter 30.16 where the gopis imitated the lila of Bhagavan. “After changing herself into a demon, one gopi kidnapped another who imagined herself to be the child Krsna.”

The gopis were devoted to the Lord. How can she turn herself into a demon to mimic his lila?

Answer: The gopi’s imitation of Krishna’s lila is a manifestation of a very high state of love, usually manifest in the state of separation. When a beloved intensely feels separated from the lover, as was the case with the gopis, the beloved becomes so intensely absorbed in the thoughts of the lover that she identifies with him. This imitation is not a conscious act, i.e. with the awareness of the distinction between imitator and the imitated. It is a very high state of samadhi. If you recollect in the first pada of the Yoga Sutra there is a description of such a samprajnata samadhi state. The imitating gopis were in a similar state.

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Krishna’s Age at the Time of the Battle

Question: I understand that Lord Krishna was 89 years old at the time of the Mahabharata war and that this is mentioned in the Matsya Purana. I wish to have the reference such as the Chapter number and the verse number as to where in the Matsya Purana this fact is mentioned. I shall be grateful if you kindly send me this information in case you have seen that.

Answer: The Bhagavata Purana verse 11.6.25 says that Krishna lived for 125 years on earth. The first verse of Mausal Parva, Mahabharata says that Yudhisthira saw bad omens (because of Krishna’s departure from the earth) after 36 years of ruling after they won the Kurukshetra war. So that meansKrishna was about 89 years old at the time of war.

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 Six Obstacles in Bhakti

Question: Can you please explain the meaning of the six obstacles in bhakti: kama, krodha, lobha, moha, mada, matsarya.

Answer: Kama literally means desire but more commonly is translated as lust, which is one of the most preoccupying desires of the human mind.

Krodha (anger): When kama is obstructed anger arises. Lobha (greed): If kama is fulfilled, one becomes greedy to have more of it.

Moha (delusion): When there is anger or greed one becomes deluded. One does not see the things as they are.

Mada (pride or intoxication):

If one is successful in greed, one becomes proud and intoxicated. Anger leads to another type of intoxication. Anger brings pride. Angry persons will disrespect others as an outcome of mada.

Matsarya (envy): The last outcome of the series is envy. Such a person does not want anyone to surpass him. This is the outcome of pride.

 

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