Thursday, July 20, 2006

Jagadananda the Sahajiya, immortalized

My old friend Madhavanandaji has posted an article on Sahajiyaism on his Wiki site. In this article, he has done me the honor of posting my picture and saying a few words about me. Certainly I am unworthy of any notice or mention whatsoever. Nevertheless, the fact that my very existence has been noticed is, I admit, invigorating and timely, as it coincides with the launching of this humble effort.

As I am in a position where time is chronically short, I would just like to comment briefly on my statement, "Sahajiyaism and orthodoxy are like two wings on the Gaudiya Vaishnavism bird." Advaita Dasji, an old friend wrote in response (after asking for scriptural references):

Jagat: I still cannot see how my or anyone else's bird of bhakti cannot fly without the one wing of sahajiyaism. I dont need them to act as foil at all because I and most other Vaishnavas had for most time no clear idea even what sahajiya means. You mean to say that all suddha vaishnavas (sorry I like that adjective more than that mundane word 'orthodox') thrive on a "holier-than-thou" attitude towards sahajiyas, and without that they cannot fly? Arrogance and condescension nourishes prema or so? Millions of "bhakta-birds" have flown high on two wings of 'orthodoxy' (see my weblog today about the term orthodoxy!).

And finally I repeat, you cannot prove your theory, as usual I must say, with shastra at all. The song-verses you quoted from the Caitanya Caritamrita do not suggest that Mahaprabhu accepts sahajiya practise after one's conversion to GV, it means that he accepts anyone from no matter how low a background, and naturally they have to clean up their act after conversion. Otherwise the Chota Haridas story would be pointless and the namaparadha 'to sin on strenght of the holy name' would be committed. Jiva Gosvami's comment on the api cet suduracara verse in his Bhakti Sandarbha 173 also makes it clear that one cannot just continue sinning as a devotee of Krishna.
Of course, I do not have a shastric reference for this. It is an observation. Advaita Dasji himself gives a clue: He was happily engaged in bhakti even without knowing what a Sahajiya was. Nevertheless, as Madhava's article points out, Gaudiya Math and Iskcon devotees are routinely fed anti-Sahajiya propaganda well before getting any clear idea of what it is as a kind of vaccine to save them from the fate-worse-than-death that comes of "imitating" Radha and Krishna. The Gaudiya Math conflates orthodox raganuga bhakti practices with Sahajiyaism in a deliberate effort to muddy the waters about the vivid erotic imagery in the traditions of Radha-Krishna worship. These things indicate, to me, that if Sahajiyaism did not exist, someone would have to hurry up and invent it. Enough with the straw men, let's have some real flesh and blood to joust with!

Of course, my intention is not to say that every individual practitioner of bhakti yoga needs to be engaged in some kind of internal debate about the truth of Sahajiya ideas. Each person has a particular faith and follows it through. My point is that as a movement, devotion to Radha and Krishna, because of its vividly erotic symbolism, is sure to produce Sahajiya-type offshoots, as our dear Pitambaraji has proved. Of course, he is not the only one: there are now a number of Iskcon dropouts who have, in one way or another, attempted to accommodate Tantric or customary sexual practices into the devotional life.

The creation of opposition to a conventional position tends to create energy on both sides of a divide. It requires the sharpening of wits and the clarification of ideas and concepts. In objective seekers, it requires finding synthesis (which, in a sense, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu himself symbolizes). The Vaishnava orthodoxy's paranoia about human sexuality and its spiritual potential is an indication to me that no synthesis has been reached. We are nevertheless, here in the West, in the earliest stages of that energetic no-compromise state. It is my feeling that the entire movement would be benefited by an intellectually coherent defense of Sahajiyaism that would lead to a functioning society of devotees outside the stifling orthodoxies of modern-day Vaishnavism.

I am, however, a synthesizer by nature. I do not really consider myself a rebel against orthodoxy. Indeed, I feel that the accommodation of human eros is the only way to make sense of Gaudiya Vaishnava philosophy and symbolism. It is going to take time for me to be able to fully develop these ideas, and I beg the indulgence of anyone reading these meanderings.

Jai Radhe!!

2 comments:

falco348 said...

Keep up the good work. thnx!
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Jagat said...

Posted by Advaita, for the record, on Jan. 12, 2006: Egghead Civil War?

www.gaudiyadiscussions.com went down in turmoil today and is unavailable after its moderator Jagat (J.K. Brzezinski/Jagadananda das Babaji/Hiranyagarbha Maharaja) came out of the closet as a sahajiya. Since June 2004 www.madangopal.com held a relentless but fruitless campaign against him, revealing him as an infidel, opportunist, offender, powermongerer, mundane scholar, vowbreaker, diplomat, arrogant intellectual, defiant renegade and whatnot, but he turns out to be even more than that - a selfconfessed sahajiya. That turned out too much even for his staunchest ally Madhavananda, who defended all his aparadhas until now through thick and thin, even to his Guru, who then had 2,000 copies of his book Madhurya Kadambini, retranslated by Jagat, printed in English. A hard rain is falling now on all those who supported Jagat all these years, ignoring all our warnings.....