Bhakti Tirtha Audio Course

“All knowledge is available in our books, but not many people are interested in studying them from a teacher. And those who are interested may not find a qualified teacher. This is why I want to teach this Bhakti Tirtha course. We have to preserve this knowledge and apply it in our own lives. If we experience it, then we can truly share it with others.”

Babaji Satyanarayana Dasa

What is the course about?

Millions of people pursue the path of bhakti and yet, even after decades of practice, only a few of them are observed to have arrived at or near the goal. If an astute business person is not gaining success or a dedicated athlete is failing to achieve his desired goal, then that person will analyze the cause and look to correct himself. He will consult an expert or a coach in his field. Similarly, it behooves a sincere seeker of Reality to do the same thing and investigate the cause behind one’s lack of progress. The most likely reason is either deficiency in or incompleteness of, one’s root understanding and outlook, which inform and pattern every detail regarding self-concept, God-concept, life-view, and the practice of devotion. Authenticity of practice can arise only from a genuine understanding of Reality, process, and goal.

The goal of this Bhakti Tirtha course is to make both the process and the goal clear by offering what is missing for most practitioners of bhakti: a systematic study of śāstraThis 5-semester course gives an introduction into the Six Indian schools of thoughts, Śaḍ Darśanas. These are necessary to understand Gauḍīya philosophy properly, which is the specific focus of this study. Therefore this Bhakti-tirtha course is a unique opportunity to study Gauḍīya Vaiṣnava scriptures, particularly Śrī Jīva’s Ṣaṭ Sandarbhas, under a person who has studied them for many years in great depth from his own teacher.

The Sandarbhas have served pactitioners for centuries and represent a thoroughly tested and validated body of evidence. Previously this knowledge was locked in Sanskrit and not many had access to it. Babaji Satyanarayana Dasa is unlocking this spiritual treasure in the English language with his lucid translations and explanations of the original texts

The classes are conducted at Jīva Institute Vrindavan since 2016 yearly from mid-October until end of March. More infos for studying on-site in Vrindavan. Since not everyone serious about studying can come to Vṛndāvan for the time necessary, we offer also remote studies online. The individual subjects can be purchased from our store.

Course Outline

Semester Iclassroom bhakti tirtha 2016

Semester II

Semester I

Tattva Sandarbha

Teacher: Babaji Satyanarayana Dasa

Jīva Gosvāmī’s philosophical magnum opus, the Ṣaṭ Sandarbha  (“six treatises) can be considered as the most conclusive and important work on Indian theology and philosophy (darśana) that answers all questions about Absolute Reality in a very systematical way. 

Tattva Sandarbha is the first book of the Ṣaṭ Sandarbhas. It discusses the Reality (tattva) that is the ultimate subject to be understood and realized. It also offers a brief overview of Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava ontology, on which its theology is based. Tattva also means “essence,” and thus Tattva Sandarbha provides the essence of what is to be elaborated upon in the rest of the Sandarbhas and serves as an introduction to them. This book can be divided into two parts, pramāṇa and prameya. The first deals with epistemology (pramāṇa), or the means of valid knowing. In it, Jīva Gosvāmī establishes the Bhāgavata Purāṇa as the foremost source of knowledge and vision of Reality.  Tattva Sandarbha provides the epistemological viewing frame through which Śrīmad Bhāgavata is established as the means of valid knowing of Ultimate Reality and Bhagavān as the supreme object of divine love.

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Yoga Sūtras

Teacher: Prof. Edwin Bryant and Rama Krsna Dasa

Patañjali’s Yoga Sūtras are the classical work of the Yoga School of thought, one of the Six Darśanas studied in the Bhakti Tirtha course. They focus on how to attain direct experience and realization of the puruṣa, or the individual self. As the classical treatise on the Vedic understanding of the mind and consciousness and on techniques of meditation and self-realization, it has exerted immense influence over the religious practices of Hinduism in India and, more recently, in the West. For Vaiṣṇavas, the Yoga Sūtras are especially helpful in understanding the first two chapters of Bhakti-rasāmṛita-sindhu.

This course completes the first two chapters – Samādhi Pada (Meditative Absorption) and Sādhana Pada (Practice). 

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Classical Nyāya

Teacher: Prof. Matthew R. Dasti

Nyāya is a leading school of classical Indian philosophy. It is pioneering in epistemology, metaphysics, and logic in particular for all the philosophies and world views of India. The word nyāya means “method of reasoning” and is often translated with the shorthand “logic.” Nyāya’s development as a school of philosophy includes dimensions of metaphysics, ethics, and philosophy of language.

The Nyāya Sūtras by Gautama Ṛṣi present the essence of classical Indian Nyāya. This course presents some of the most important debates and discussions among logicians and samples of the major views and arguments of the early school of Nyāya. These include a defense of the existence of the self, an argument that God must exist as creator, and a vindication of the reality of the world against Buddhist skeptics and idealists.

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Teacher: Babaji Satyanarayana Dasa

Navya-nyāya is the name given to the new school of Nyāya that developed in Navadvipa, which preserved the traditions of both Nyāya and Vaiśeṣika. Its main focus is to define terms in a precise manner and then to formulate or evolve a language as a precise medium of communication. It is keen on rationally explaining human behavior based on cognition, which necessarily refers to relation – an essential concept in this school of thought.

This course introduces the basic concepts of the Navya-nyāya literature and many technical terms which are systematically explained in Navya-Nyāya-Bhāṣā-Pradīpa, a primer of Navya-Nyāya language and methodology. This is followed by a study of Tarka Saṅgraha, which is an entry-level book that is a systematic overview of Nyaya/Vaisheshika in its newer (navya) period.

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Gopāla Campū

Teacher: Jagadananda Das

The Gopāla Campū is a poetic work of Jīva Gosvāmī which depicts the activities of Kṛṣṇa in Vṛṇdāvana.  This course focuses on the introduction and Chapter One of the book, the description of Goloka within the Goloka-vilāsa section. The text is studied in the original Sanskrit with many linguistic explanations and references, rich in information about the historical, cultural and philosophical background.

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Semester II

Bhagavat Sandarbha

Teacher: Babaji Satyanarayana Dasa

In the next three Sandarbhas (beginning with Bhagavat Sandarbha), Jīva Gosvāmī elaborates on the topic of ontology (sambandha-jñāna). He begins this book by establishing Bhagavān, or God, the Supreme Person as the most complete manifestation of nondual Reality. This Reality is realized in three aspects: as Brahman (God without any qualities, the Unqualified Absolute), as Paramātmā (the Immanent Self, residing in each of us), and as Bhagavān (the all-powerful, all-blissful, infinitely charming playful Person).

This course is a systematic study of the book which analyzes each of these aspects and demonstrates with conclusive evidence that Bhagavān is the complete and indivisible Absolute Reality. All other manifestations are dependent on, and thus subordinate to, Him. Bhagavān’s diverse energies, qualities, name, form, associates, and abode are intrinsic aspects of His essential being. 

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Bhakti-Rasāmṛta-Sindhu

Teacher: Babaji Satyanarayana Dasa

This work is one of the most essential books of the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava sampradāya. Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī establishes in it the theoretical and esoteric foundation of sādhana-bhakti by utilizing the theory of aesthetics (rasa) developed in ancient poetic Sanskrit literature. 

In this course, we study the Eastern Division that gives the definition of pure bhakti and expounds its progressive stages from beginning (śraddha, or faith) to perfection of pure love (prema). It is also an erudite exposition of the various rasas. Most important, it also teaches the correct practice of bhakti so that one can get the expected result.

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Alaṅkāra Kaustubha

Teacher: Babaji Satyanarayana Dasa

This work of Kavi Karṇapūra is a treatise on poetical theory that encompasses the theory in Rūpa Gosvāmi’s  Bhakti-rasamṛta-sindhu. The author follows the literary tradition, drawing from classical works like Kāvya-prakaśa, Sahitya-darpaṇa, Dhvanyaloka and Nāṭya-śāstra and using them in the context of bhakti, with Kṛṣṇa and the gopīs as protagonists.

Students can enter into the relish of Sanskrit poetics through the examples of various forms of poetry that Babaji further commentates and analyzes according to the author’s intention. The study of this subject enables one to properly interpret śāstra such as the Śrīmad Bhāgavata, which uses a broad variety of stylistic means and poetic figures.

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Sanskrit

Teacher: Jagadananda Das

This introduction into the Sanskrit language offers an overview of the cases (vibhaktis) and their usage, as well as sandhi- and the most basic grammar rules. Jagadananda Das developed his own methodology by which he avoids teaching of complex rules up front, and instead keeping mostly to the singular. The course is thus designed to minimize the amount of memorization that needs to be done in the beginning and to be more reflective of what will be encountered in the texts of the Vrindavan Goswamis. Thus, the textbook used in this course includes many verses from the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava literature, especially Bhāgavad Gītā and the Bhāgavata. A pdf-file of the textbook is included in this purchase.

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