Ahangrahopasana and Aropa, Part IV

These essays have become a bit scrambled and perhaps lost their direction somewhat. They should be seen as notes for something that will come out of it all at some time in the future. I would, however, like to make a couple of points here, by way of a résumé:

  1. In my understanding of this process there is no fundamental difference in the sambandha or prayojana for the Orthodox and Sahajiya schools, though there are some differences in the abhidheya.

  2. Ahaṅgrahopāsanā is, as we have shown, acceptable when interpreted according to the correct sambandha and prayojana, and only rejected when it disagrees with the metaphysics and ultimate goal of Vaishnava practice. When it agrees, it is called āropa. This āropa is similar to, but not exactly the same as the āropa in āropa-siddhā bhakti that has been discussed in a previous post.

  3. The goal of bhakti is bhāva and prema. The word bhakti does not make a clear and specific difference between external activities and internal moods; bhāva and prema are clearly and specifically internal. The spiritual world is sometimes called "bhāva-rājya" because it is, essentially, formed out of bhāva (hlādinīra sāra bhāva). This is very important to understand and I have been returning to it again and again: the spiritual world is within and it is created out of bhāva or feeling. This is the Vaishnava position, as opposed to the jñānī or karmī.

  4. Three terms that are in need of analysis: ahaṅgrahopāsanā, sādhāraṇīkaraṇa and āropa. They all have some relation to the concept of identification with someone or something other than oneself, however defined. What exactly is the relationship between the three terms? Ahaṅgrahopāsanā refers to identification with God; it was stated that such identification is not altogether excluded if it is understood as identification with the Godhead, i.e., God and his energies.

  5. Sādhāraṇīkaraṇa is described as the natural mechanism of identification taking place on hearing a story. This is a somewhat mysterious process, but Sri Rupa Prabhu has identified it as an essential ingredient in the experience of rasa. Rupa warns against identifying with Krishna, but rather with his devotees, i.e. Radha. But when Radha and Krishna are One, how does one distinguish the Two ?

  6. We have looked at one definition of āropa, as in the idea of āropa-siddhā bhakti in order to help understand its meaning. Āropa is about an apparently artificial process of attribution. It is much what is attempted when one identifies as a manjari. In the case of a devotional lovemaking, it is but one part of a somewhat complex combination of psychological procedures that are put into play. I'd like to leave that for now.

Now I would like to explain a few points from the table I posted earlier:

  1. The first thing you might notice is that I have placed svarūpa-siddhā bhakti in with sadhana-bhakti. Svarūpa-siddhā bhakti is not in itself bhāva. It is powerful for its ability to produce bhāva. Saṅga-siddhā and āropa-siddhā bhakti do not have that power; indeed they are dependent on a degree of bhāva to give them their devotional value. Saṅga-siddhā bhakti means activities that are sacralized through the accompaniment of svarūpa-siddhā devotional activities, including mental ones. Though āropa-siddhā bhakti is the least powerful kind of bhakti, being without any real devotional essence, for a person in the most advanced stage of devotion, since he is filled with bhāva and prema, he sees all things in a devotional way. Therefore, there is an aropa or attribution of sacredness to things that ordinarily would not be seen in that way.

  2. Another thing that will be noticed is that in the Sahajiya system, Rāgānugā bhakti is defined differently and in some respects closer to Gaudiya Math thinking on the matter. The Sahajiyas consider the orthodox practices of rāgānugā bhakti to fall within the vaidhī category beause they are not performed spontaneously, but according to injunction, out of intellectual conviction and performed out of will. For them, rāgānugā bhakti starts on the sādhaka platform when one takes shelter of bhāva (bhāvāśraya).

  3. As stated above, the spiritual world is "bhāva-maya." The goal of sādhana bhakti (in general terms, not as in the Sahajiya terminology) is to achieve inner states known as bhāva. The Sahajiya understanding of rāgānugā bhakti is that it focuses on the inner states or moods, which being associated and identified with those of the spiritual world are transcendent and give direction to the bhāva-rājya. In other words, the focus of the Sahajiya is on the bhāva, rather than the technical details of aṣṭa-kālīya līlā-smaraṇa, though these should have been internalized in the pravartaka stage. (Nāmāśraya refers to Orthodoxy's vaidhī bhakti, mantrāśraya to its rāgānugā bhakti.)

  4. Evidently, in the sādhaka stage, yogic practices are added to the equation as a certain physical culture is required to aid and enhance concentration. Nevertheless, one does not altogether stop the sādhana practices of the pravartaka stage, even though these may be loosened. This is because one's āśraya is different.

  5. Since the Sahajiya follows the bhāva rather than the scriptural details prescribed in the various smaraṇa-paddhatis, which as I mentioned in a prior post in this series, provide primarily intellectual interest which is lost when the novelty wears off, it opens the doors to the kind of sacralizing perception that Eliade talks about and which is announced in the Bhāgavatam as the goal of bhakti practice. (See BhP 11.2.55ff) But it also enriches his experience of the svarūpa-siddhā devotional activities in the madhura mood.


Jagadananda Das said…
Anybody know how to redefine the bullets in this program? They look fine as I type (either ordered or unordered lists), but turn into these ridiculous daisy shapes when I post.

I went into the model and redefined the predefined bullet icon, but just erasing it did not work. I put in an another icon I found on the web, but it does not look right either. And it overrules the numbered list.
Anonymous said…
When you speak for the sahajiya point of view, from who's authority do you speak? Is there a particular community which you are a part of or at least in regular contact with?

Is it male dominated?

Are the roles the women take therein similar to the roles expected of the majority of Indian women in Hindu culture?

When you visit their homes who is serving the chai?
Jagadananda Das said…
If you read some of my biographical notes, you will have noticed that my association with the living Sahajiya tradition was rather brief. Nevertheless, one thing that struck me was the respect with which he treated his wife in public situations, doing things like making sure she was comfortably seated and given water, etc. These were not things that you saw in India, ever.

When I was initiated, there were two senior women and two men on the "panel."

As to traditional roles, I would say that on the whole they were traditional. I don't think it is really appropriate to expect much different.

But as far as authority is concerned, I have only my own. I speak for no one but myself.
Anonymous said…
"Nevertheless, one thing that struck me was the respect with which he treated his wife in public situations, doing things like making sure she was comfortably seated and given water, etc. These were not things that you saw in India, ever"

It is not uncommon for Indian husbands to see to the comforts of their wives in public. I've seen it a number of times.

Anyway, I guess my experience with India is that no matter how "progressive" or "radical" or "esoteric" a person or group deems themselves, I've seen the same old, same old stereotyped gender roles and that is a big turn off for me.

Nevertheless, can you provide the links to your biographical notes?
Jagadananda Das said…
The question here is not Indian or European. I am not advocating the wholesale adoption of Indian mores. My feeling is that Radha and Krishna speak to us archetypally, to a purely unconscious and emotional aspect of our being, of our being before God, and not of social relationships as such, except that they do prioritize the idealized feminine, which means service and love.

This means that any Sahajiya doctrine must, by definition, advocate moral, legal and social equality for women. If there is a society that does not accept that, then they are not Sahajiya.

One of the things I am trying to get across is the dynamic nature of ideas. Vaishnavism in the West will not necessarily be the same as Vaishnavism in the East. For one thing, modernity has changed us so much that we live in different worlds from those who have traditional world views. This does not mean that some of the insights of the past cannot be adapted to our present needs. Some things ARE eternal. The social position of women has changed fairly recently and is still far from ideal. The Radha-Krishna idea takes us out of the masculine world of deeds and into the feminine world of play. The sexes each have the upper hand in their respective domains; I think this is inevitable. It is perhaps best that way, as cooperation means the best of both worlds.

That is why I think that you should not be to hasty to judge societies where traditional gender roles are still in vogue. But we cannot and should not try to return to those pre-modern roles.

Moral equality means that everyone has the freedom to be an individual and to resist socially imposed stereotypes if they go contrary to his or her nature, and to expect respect as an individual, irrespective of their adherence to socially imposed stereotypes.

All these Anonymous people. It's hard to tell the players without a scorecard. Please people, use some kind of alias, at least, especially if you post more than once.
anadi said…
Since the Sahajiya follows the bhāva rather than the scriptural details prescribed in the various smaraṇa-paddhatis,

राधे शयाम प्रभु जी,

whose bhāva do the sahajiyas follow, since the orthodox gaudiya vaishnavas follow the vrajavasis bhavas?

This is a very importand isue to be discussed.
anadi said…
राधे शयाम प्रभु जी,

You wrote:
"Since the Sahajiya follows the bhāva rather than the scriptural details prescribed in the various smaraṇa-paddhatis"

An important issue in your statemant is to say whose bahāva do the sahajias folow instead of the vrajavasis bhavas, as in smaraṇa-paddhatis described to do?

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