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"Master Glossary" Blunder: The Term Gopa

From: "Dinesh Deva"
Subject: "Master Glossary" Blunder: The Term Gopa
Date: Sat, 26 Feb 2011 18:27:53 +0000



A "Master Glossary" has been included with the latest release of the "The Electronic Edition (English) of the Works of P.R. Sarkar" (version 7.5).

Many of our AM books printed in English also have a glossary in the back of the book. This glossary provides definitions of common Sanskrit terms so those not aware of Sanskrit can understand the discourse. That is the aim. The definitions in the printed English AM books are the same as those in the electronic Master Glossary.

Since many readers will undoubtedly refer to these Master Glossary definitions to learn the meaning of various terms, it is important that the definitions reflect our AM ideals. Otherwise people, margiis and non-margiis alike, will get the wrong idea about AM philosophy.

In this particular letter we will take a look at the term gopa. In future letters, other terms can be brought for review.

                                DEFINITION OF GOPA IN AM DISCOURSES

Gopa is common term in AM discourses and Baba has clearly told its meaning.

Baba says, "Actually, Gopáyate yah sa gopah – in Sanskrit, the word gopáyate means to give pleasure – “A gopa is one who gives pleasure to Parama Puruśa, one whose very nature is to give pleasure to Parama Puruśa.”" (Discourses on Tantra -2: "Yoga, Tantra, and Kevalá Bhakti")

By His above teaching we can clearly understand that a gopa is one who gives pleasure to Parama Purusa. Thus a gopa is a bhakta of the highest order.

According to our AM perspective then, the term gopa has nothing to do with cows or those herding them; nor is the term related with any so-called caste or community.

Baba says, "There are people who have a mistaken idea that gopa means “cowherd”."(Discourses on Tantra -2: "Yoga, Tantra, and Kevalá Bhakti")

Hence it is all quite clear. In our Ananda Marga discourses, gopa refers to those top devotees whose sole intention in life is to please and serve Parama Purusa. It has nothing to do with being a cowherd etc.

                                           DOGMATIC HINDU MEANING

Before examining the definition of gopa in the Master Glossary, we should consider the common (dogmatic) meaning of the term gopa.

Across northern India, the entire cowherd community is called gopa. That is what the common people in north India primarily mean when they say gopa. In addition, gopa is used as the family name of people of a particular caste and community.

Hence the common populace of India does not understand Baba's definition. They use the term "gopa" in one way and in AM the term is used in a completely different manner. We do not subscribe to their faulty notion that gopa means cowherd etc.

According to the teachings of AM philosophy, gopas are great devotees. That is Baba's explicit teaching.

Baba says, "Actually, Gopáyate yah sa gopah – in Sanskrit, the word gopáyate means to give pleasure – “A gopa is one who gives pleasure to Parama Puruśa, one whose very nature is to give pleasure to Parama Puruśa.”" (Discourses on Tantra -2: "Yoga, Tantra, and Kevalá Bhakti")

                           HOW THE "MASTER GLOSSARY" DEFINES GOPA

Keeping all of the above in mind, now please see what has been published in the "Master Glossary". Here is how the new "Master Glossary" defines the term "gopa":

"gopa m. or gopii f. village cowherd boy or girl; devotees of the Lord." (7.5 version, Master Glossary)

Thus in their above definition, the editors of the Master Glossary defined a gopa as a "village cowherd boy or girl". That is their #1 definition.

In consequence, many will be led to believe that in AM we think that a gopa is a cowherd. People will think we also adhere to the prevailing dogmatic use of this term. Because that is the "official" definition from the Master Glossary of the electronic editions of AM books.

Indeed, by reading this one person sitting in China or El Salvador will think that gopa means cowherd. They will be misguided about our AM philosophy.

Many will automatically conclude that we in AM are just one radical Hindu organisation that fully supports the caste system and all kinds of Hindu dogmas. They will form a totally wrong opinion of our Marga.

So it is a big problem that "cowherd" has been given as the #1 definition of gopa in the Master Glossary. And the main problem is that it misrepresents Baba, Ananda Marga, and our AM philosophy. People will get the wrong teaching and the wrong idea.

                                  BABA REJECTS THE COWHERD DEFINITION

In very pointed speech, Baba Himself rejects the notion that gopa means cowherd.

Baba says, "There are people who have a mistaken idea that gopa means “cowherd”."(Discourses on Tantra -2: "Yoga, Tantra, and Kevalá Bhakti")

Hence, it is quite clear that Baba says that those who think that gopa means cowherd are "mistaken". That is Baba's exact language.

So it is most surprising - nay shocking - that the creators and editors of the Master Glossary have used this cowherd definition. The only reason imaginable for doing this is that they are just not familiar with Baba's teachings. So they just inserted dogmatic definitions into our Master Glossary. 

Regardless of the reason, when certain editors have defined a gopa as a "cowherd" then it is quite evident that the Master Glossary strays far from Baba's teachings.

                                           ABOUT OUR DEFINITIONS

For the Master Glossary to be effective, it must achieve a few things.

Firstly, the Master Glossary must accurately convey Baba's dharmic definition of a given term. The best way to do this is to review our AM literature and cite Baba's actual words and explanations of the term. If Baba has explained a word using a shloka, then that should also be included in the definition as well as His explanation of the shloka.

Secondly, the Master Glossary should also state the definition of the term according to the general societal meaning, i.e. what is the "normal", "common", or "dogmatic" use of the term. This aspect must also be included, and it has to be clearly indicated as such.

For instance, with the term "gopa", after citing Baba's dharmic definition along with the shloka - i.e. that gopas are those who give pleasure to Parama Purusa - then it should be added that in the general society, gopa means cowherd. Then we have to clearly explain that this is their dogmatic understanding, but that is not our definition in AM. In AM books only the first meaning is used, not cowherd. By this way, readers will understand our dharmic definition, the common / dogmatic usage, as well as the difference between the two.

Here the bigger issue at hand is that the same term has a vastly different meaning in AM from the general society.

It is just like how in AM the term "tiirtha" refers to a high state of mind whereas in the general society tiirtha means Varanasi and other so-called religious holy places.

Here is another example.

In AM pa'pa means harming others whereas the Hindus have their own dogmatic meaning. If any "high-born" Hindu is not giving proper human value to the so-called harijans (i.e. untouchables) then that is not papa according to Hindu thinking. But in AM that is papa.
Likewise idol worship is pa'pa in AM, but in Hindu religion it is not papa.

Here the whole point is that in Ananda Marga we have our own unique understanding that is different from the general society. Hence certain words in AM have a vastly different meaning from the same word amongst the general populace. And the whole point of our Master Glossary should be to put forth Baba's dharmic definition. Any and all reference to the non-AM definition should be clearly labeled as such. By this way we can clearly present Baba's teachings to the world.

That seems to be the best way to present the definitions in the Master Glossary. Others in our Marga, especially scholars, linguists and authors, should also share their views on this important topic.

                                       BABA'S STATED EXPLANATION

At this point, we should pass the below citations to those in charge of the Master Glossary. Then the glossary can be corrected so it properly reflects the spirit and content of Baba's divine discourses.

Baba says, "Gopa here does not mean the cowherd or the caretaker of cows. Gopáyate means to give pleasure – “Gopáyate yah sah gopah.” One whose nature is to give pleasure to Parama Puruśa or Paramátmá is Gopa." (Subháśita Saḿgraha Part 19)

Baba says, 'There are people who have a mistaken idea that gopa means “cowherd”. Actually, Gopáyate yah sa gopah – in Sanskrit, the word gopáyate means to give pleasure – “A gopa is one who gives pleasure to Parama Puruśa, one whose very nature is to give pleasure to Parama Puruśa.” (Discourses on Tantra -2: "Yoga, Tantra, and Kevalá Bhakti")


                                  PRABHAT SAMGIITA

PS Intro: Here the devotee is immersed in His divine love and he is thinking to
himself in the following way.

"A'ma'y d'a'k diye ja'y kon aja'na'y, kii snigdhata'r bha's'a'..."  (PS 2343)


  Which unknown Divine Entity is calling me in my heart. What a sweetness is saturating His voice which intoxicates my heart with divine love. That Divine Entity is coming with His sweet and attractive form & with His infinite rhythm and melody.
  I was hoping that I will get Him and also that I will go on doing His task. With His inspiration and grace, I will go on moving forward forgetting the pain and pleasure of this material world.  
  In the deep corner of my mind & in the sacred place of my heart which holds all my inner desires and ideation, I only long for You. O' Lord, please come in my mental lotus and fill it with Your color. Baba, please come...

                                             Historical Fact

Baba says, "In the Pharsi language the sweet fruit known as mango is called ta'mar. But in the early days the people in Iran did not know what a mango looked like, nor did they know how it tasted. Because they had only heard about it from travellers passing through. So the first time a sour type of fruit from India reached Iran the local Pharsi speaking people mistakenly thought it was a mango. Consequently they started calling it 'ta'mar-e-hind', meaning 'Mango from India. In Pharsi, "Ta'mar" means 'mango'; "e" means 'of'; "Hind" means 'India'. Thus, Ta'mar-e-hind. And later when the Britishers saw those Iranians calling those sour fruits 'ta'mar-e-hind', then the Britishers adopted their own English pronunciation and started calling it "tamarind". So this is how the sour fruit tamarind came to be called in the English Language." (MGD & Field Walk, Raipur 18 Oct '79)

Note: For those who may not be aware, the name for tamarind in Hindi is "imalii".                                ***************************************

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