Archive for April, 2009

Book Review: O My Friend! O My Friend!

April 28th, 2009

When I first saw Babhru Dasa's O My Friend! O My Friend!, I was impressed with his overall scholarship and accommodating mood. Considering the sensitive nature of this matter, I appreciated the effort he made to respectfully acknowledge those points of view different from his own.

Yet after a more careful reading, I found myself having a more mixed reaction to his presentation. Although he did make a sincere attempt to be inclusive, I found arguments that I felt should have been tempered. For example, how could Babhru Prabhu – or anyone – argue that interest in the core sentiment of Gaudiya Vaisnavism – following in the footsteps of the gopis in madhurya-rasa – comes from outside Srila Prabhupada's line, and then strongly imply, in contrast, that only those who aspire for sakhya-bhava have gleaned their mood directly from Srila Prabhupada? I know of substantial, dedicated Vaisnavas who sincerely aspire to follow the internal mood of Sri Rupa solely as a result of their service to Srila Prabhupada. How can any of us speak for everyone?

Still, upon reading Babhru Prabhu's paper thoroughly, I realized that he has a strong case. At the very least, the ideological basis of his paper seems indisputable: he has successfully refuted the contention that the only internal mood Srila Prabhupada could have been in is madhurya-rasa.

However, I found myself not quite convinced of the conclusion he draws. I would like to discuss some of my concerns here and question the standards one should use to judge arguments on such topics. Especially, I would like to ask what the benefits of these discussions are and where they should be held.

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