Friday, February 09, 2007

They call that Krishna

They call that Krishna Kamadev
because he makes you crave, he makes you crave.

They call that Krishna Navina Madan:
he drives you mad and then he’s gone.

They call him Manasija, "in the mind born,"
He's all in the mind, but the senses are torn.

They call him Atanu, a real “no body.”
You don’t see him hit, but he leaves you all bloody.

They call him Govind, the cowherd king :
He finds the cows and herds them in.
He found my senses and then went in.
I’d drive him out, but where would I begin?

Without Govind, my world would all be void,
heart devastated, life and hope destroyed.

They also call Sri Krishna "Klim,"
to this my guru-given spell I cling.
I'm drowning, Lord, I don't know how to swim--
so to this mystic, magic spell I cling.


JD said...

They call him Manasija, "in the mind born,"
He's all in the mind, but the senses are torn.

They call him Atanu, he's a “no body.”
You don’t see him hit, but he leaves you all bloody.

I like this.

I've been reading your blog recently; I was drawn by 'Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Androgyny'.

May I ask, do you feel faith in the historical (Avataric) Krishna is a prerequisite to initiation, into GV? Or is it possible, in your opinion, that one may believe in the reality of Krishna is transcendental to such considerations, and still gain intitiatory entrance upon the path?

Jagat said...

I don't know. This is a question I have been asking myself, because I have followed a particular path to get here, is it necessary for others to follow the same steps that I did?

I started out believing in the simple way that Iskcon devotees do in the historicity of Krishna. Now I don't think it is necessary. As a matter of fact, I think that Krishna's "historicity" is a stumbling block--a missing of the point if you would.

If you read the "Life of Pi" article, you will see that Martel is saying something that I am leaning toward. I was writing a poem that I still haven't finished, but it was based on the idea of "The story to end all stories." In some ways, everyone is looking for that one, killer story--even Martel. But when the One says, "I would be many", he is saying, "Let there be an infinity of stories." That was supposed to be my killer story.

But, of course, I am a Rupanuga all the way, and I believe that there is a hierarchy of stories, and that the Rasa--the love story between the soul and the Soul of the soul is the greatest love story of all.

As to your question, I would say that you have to have faith, which in this case is love for what Radha and Krishna are--you have to love their names, their forms, what they are culturally as well as what they represent. You have to want to internalize them and to see how they are present in all things. You have to want their sakshatkar. That is the prerequisite to initiation.

But you also have to have faith in a guru. Both Radha-Krishna/Mahaprabhu and the guru have to reveal themselves to you in some kind of epiphany. This does not necessarily have to be entirely magical or numinous, but it would certainly be better if it were.

I hope that helps.


Jagat said...

By the way, excuse me for delaying on allowing your comment to post. I am forced to moderate the messages because I am getting a great number of spam messages on the blog. I only checked the comments for the first time.

JD said...

Thank you Jagat. Your answer is much appreciated.

I used to give this topic rather a lot of thought myself (I was initiated into GV some 24 tears ago by B.R. Sridhar Maharaj), and would even raise the question of Visnu/Krsna's historicity with other devotees, who, almost always,seemed to want to get away from me fast!

You are one of the few people, actively engaged with the tradition, who dare to consider such important points publicly.

I will take a few days to think on your reply, and if anything further occurs to me, I will get back to you.

Thanks again.

Jagat said...

The main thing to understand is that history is always a story. I believe in the idea of avatar, but in a sense it can be seen as a question of degree. When I talk about "epiphanies of the numinous" or "the Divine penetrating into objective experience," this is what basically happens to every religious person. Such experiences are mediated not only through symbols (which function on the purely psychological level), but through real people who embody those symbols in some way. Thus, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's physical presence in this world made Radha and Krishna real to those who knew him. Since he was a locus or channel for such experience, he is guru. But since he came to embody a new or revised symbolic constellation, he is considered to be an avatar.

That is why Krishnadas Kaviraj's life of Chaitanya is more important than Vrindavan Das's. It is not that one is a more realistic history, or contains more information, or whatever. By turning Mahaprabhu into a divine symbol in his own right, he set him apart from other gurus, ecstatics, and saints. Indeed, his explanation of Chaitanya has served as the model for subsequent putative avatars like Ramakrishna, Jagadbandhu, Vijaya Krishna Goswami, and even Keshub Chandra Sen, who were all styled as syntheses of previous mythical or historical religious figures. But no such synthesis is as fundamental nor as universal as that of the male and female principles.

Jagat said...

Just to add a footnote to that: In the same way, a real person named Krishna who may have resembled in some manner one or another of the many accounts of his life, may have existed at some time and place. But whether he did or not is not the important thing. Krishna's real locus of existence is within the hearts and minds of his devotees. His objective existence is irrelevant; his subjective existence is not only more important, but is REAL, for Krishna himself states that he takes on the forms that his devotees love, especially those that have some traditional power. That is the force of the words zrutekSita-patho in BhP 3.9.11.

(tvaM bhakti-yoga-paribhAvita-hRt-sarojam
Asse zrutekSita-patho nanu nAtha puMsAm /
yad-yad-dhiyA tvam urugAya vibhAvayanti,
tat-tad-vapuH praNayase sad-anugrahAya //)

JD said...

"Just to add a footnote to that: In the same way, a real person named Krishna who may have resembled in some manner one or another of the many accounts of his life, may have existed at some time and place. But whether he did or not is not the important thing. Krishna's real locus of existence is within the hearts and minds of his devotees."

Could I just add: How does, or would, this relate to the Dham?
In other words, what is the Dham's significance in relation to the way you have described Krishna here?

Also, has your understanding (as above) been in any way influenced
(informed/inspired) by Martin Buber?

I should say here, that I am not asking these things for argument's sake; I am by no means a champion of literalism in GV, or any other religion, for that matter.

Jagat said...

I would not say that Buber has influenced me at all here. No, I came to this conclusion on studying the different versions of Krishna's life in the different Puranas, and especially the Bhagavata commentaries and Laghu-bhagavatamrita. Modern scholars say that Vishnu-Narayana-Vasudeva is a hybrid deity and that the Krishna legend is a further hybridization to the Vasudeva deity. We see the Gaudiya acharyas making the same argument, in effect, when they separate Vrindavan Krishna from Mathura and Dvaraka Krishna. They are saying, in effect, that these are not the same person and we prefer the Vrindavan Krishna to the others.

Studying Indian religious history in general is another thing that leads you to this kind of conclusion. I was thinking of saying something on this in a blog soon, as we can witness something of the sort going on with Srila Prabhupada right now. Just see Rocana's critique of Satsvarupa's life of Prabhupada. Of course, it is alright to deconstruct his biography, but what Rocana wants to put in its place is pure myth.

My feeling is that the "real story" (by which I mean the human story) makes a better myth than "parachuted in from the spiritual world" traditional hagiography that Rocana wants everyone to bow down to.

As far as Vrindavan is concerned, you are not really challenging me, are you? It is clear that we have been told not to see the Vrindavan that is before our eyes, but to see the transcendental Vrindavan that is in our hearts. But what is rather interesting here is the argument that can be made from Radha's statement in Chaitanya-charitamrita--"For others, the heart is the mind, but for me Vrindavan is my mind." And she asks Krishna to appear in the real Vrindavan of this world, i.e., her world. This is the same prayer that the devotees make: it is the desire to make the "kingdom of God" real in the here and now.

This is not a utopian proposal--we should be extremely wary of such things--but an article of faith that through inner transformation and worldly action, we can and do make a difference, in accordance with Krishna's mercy.

So, Vrindavan is the sum total of past and present devotees's faith in a vision of God as the sweet and intimate Deity. We as present-day devotees or aspiring devotees serve Vrindavan by serving that vision.

JD said...

Dear Jagat,
you have touched on many fascinating points; I actually used to say to people I preached to(in the privacy of my home) that Chaitanya was realised as the verification of Radha~Krishna Lila, and that his Avatarhood was a 'reading' of his life along these lines. This was after the passing of Sridhar Maharaj (I'm not quite sure what he would have thought of THAT!)

In closing, it is perhaps disingenuous of me to come on to your blog posing as a practising Vaishnava. Though JD are the initials of the name Maharaja gave me, my invovement with GV these days is mostly limited to a more conceptual engagement than one that manifests itself visibly - nonetheless, I have found in your writings many things consonant with both my past and present philosophical reflections, which, I believe, offer some hope for GV's future, and felt prompted to be part of the debate.
Thank you,

jd said...

you may care to treat my last post as private communication.

I will more than likely find reason to comment in the future.