Sunday, July 23, 2006

More on Brahmacharya

So we have seen the idea that one who has come into identity with Brahman can no longer be considered the bhokta. How can anyone who is identical with the Other be its enjoyer? This is called being ātmārāma, or enjoying in the self, a consistent theme throughout Hindu scriptures, applying equally to God and to the jiva. God's talking pleasure in the jiva or his other energies is not something that goes against the principal of ātmārāma. Nor does the idea of the jiva, enjoying with God, "the soul of his soul," contradict the ātmārāma principle.

From the devotional point of view, Krishna states to the gopis--

na mayy āveśita-dhiyāṁ kāmaḥ kāmāya kalpate
bharjitāḥ kvathitā dhānā prāyo bījāya neśate

The desires of those absorbed in thought of me
are not to be considered material desire;
just as rice once fried and boiled
cannot later be used as seed. (10.22.26)
BBT translation: "The desire of those who fix their minds on Me does not lead to material desire for sense gratification, just as barleycorns burned by the sun and then cooked can no longer grow into new sprouts."

This appears to be the essential moral that is being given for the vastra-harana lila. There are similar verses to be found in chapters 7.1, 10.29, 10.47, 11.12, amongst others, all repeating this teaching in connection with the gopis. E.g.

kvemāḥ striyo vana-carīr vyabhicāra-duṣṭāḥ
kṛṣṇe kva caiṣa paramātmani rūḍha-bhāvaḥ
nanv īśvaro'nubhajato'viduṣo'pi sākṣāc
chreyas tanoty agada-rāja ivopayuktaḥ

Just look at these lowly forest women, who have been polluted by adultery, and then look at their most elevated feeling for Krishna, the Supreme Soul. Does this not show us that the Lord, if worshiped, even by one who has no knowledge of what he is, still attains the supreme good, just like a powerful medicine has an effect even on one who does not know what it is.(10.47.59)

Desire in connection with Krishna ceases to function in the same way as ordinary kama, which according to the Gita is the great enemy that leads us to hell. The first verse quoted (10.22.26), however, does not specifically place the concept in the context of lust directed toward Krishna, but "the lust of those who are absorbed in Krishna." There are a number of different interpretations possible here, particularly of the words kāmaḥ kāmāya kalpate, which I have translated "desires are not to be considered material desire." The language here and that of the Gopala Tapani segment I posted earlier is comparable. yo ha vai kāmena kāmān kāmayate sa kāmī bhavati| yo ha vai tv akāmena kāmān kāmayate so'kāmī bhavati.

There is a possibility of several areas for debate here: Are the gopis jivas or are they svarūpa-śaktis, radically different in nature from the jiva? And, the gopis are feeling lust directly for Krishna, but what I am talking about seems to be something different, i.e., the "lust" of one conditioned soul for another, which is only dressed up in some kind of devotional pretense. Let's leave these questions for now.

What is important to retain here is this: The devotee, even if he is making a mistake in thinking that erotic activities in Krishna consciousness are of spiritual benefit, he is still protected from the worst danger of all, which is separation from Krishna. If Krishna can say in the Gita that one can even kill without suffering sinful reaction if he acts without ahankara, then surely an act of physical love performed in consciousness of him should not be the ultimate spiritual disaster. And, after all, no one has ever said that one can attain Krishna through brahmacharya. It is devotion alone that will give you the result of prema.

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