Thursday, October 04, 2007

Heart and Halo (Part Two)

Now Sridhar Maharaj evidently reserves a special place in hell for those who imitate Radha and Krishna's pastimes physically.

The most heinous thing is that one will play the part of Krishna and a lady will play the part of a gopi and they will unite, and in that way they will enjoy. To think this to be that, it is impossible. Any ordinary moral man will hate this. What to speak of the higher devotees, even an ordinary moral man will hate it.

The problem with such statements is that they are so lacking in subtlety or in comprehension, not only of the wide variety of sahajīyā doctrines, or even the distinction between traditional orthodoxy and Sahajiyaism, but of human sexuality itself. We have already been saying repeatedly that sexuality can analyśed according to the model of the three gunas just like any other material phenomenon. The Gita tells us that goodness, passion or ignorance, all are entangling in the material nature, but that sattva is still better than the other two. When we talk of kāma and prema we are not talking about two discrete entities, but a spectrum of attitudes or stances towards desire and love. The failure to recognize this and to simply condemn all forms of sexuality as kāma is something that stems from fear, from dvitīyābhiniveza, to cite one of Sridhar Maharaj's own favorite verses.

Like so many identity issues, it is in part the result of criticism from outside. This is why I took the trouble of quoting all those 19th century works of European scholars and their statements about gopī-bhāva in an earlier post. Notice that the Indian Bhandarkar was the most supercilious of them all. Some quotes about sakhi bhava (1) and (2). Evidently, the Anglicized Indians were very sensitive about these things.

The GM made such a big deal out of being able to use cars and other modern inventions in the service of Krishna through yukta-vairāgya, but how is it that they failed to notice that the most essential force of life itself can also be transformed and engaged in the service of Krishna? Not only that it can be done, but that is a necessity? Either it is transformed by abstinence, which is the inferior method, or it is transformed by active engagement, which is a more complex and difficult approach, but ultimately more satisfying to the individual and to human society collectively.

So what is going on here with this straw man sahajīyā who "plays the part of Krishna and enjoys"? We hear this often, the teaching that in actual fact, the jiva is trying to usurp the part of Krishna as the enjoyer, and that sexual desire is the epitome of that imitation. Krishna's madhura-līlā is the zenith of the spiritual realm, and our lusty degradations are the nadir of our conditioned state. But has anyone stopped to listen to the sahajīyā and ask exactly what is the relationship between orthodox Vaishnava philosophy and this heinous imitation?

The true sahajīyā considers himself a prema-sādhaka, someone who is seeking the highest gift given humanity, that of divine love. If their method is erroneous, then surely, if they have any sincerity, they would like to hear about it. If not, then like any cheater, they will be punished by the material energy. By their fruits you shall know them. Phalena phala-kāraṇam anumīyate.

Well, perhaps there are some people out there who really do think "I am Krishna and I am making love to Radha." Even there, in this activity which might be called ahaìgrahopāsanā, there is remembrance of Krishna and it is not, according to many, without its positive value. As a matter of fact, this kind of purely symbolic understanding of Radha and Krishna, as universal feminine and masculine principles, is one of the doors by which we enter into understanding this wonderful and complex tattva.

But as I have tried to show previously, there is a difference between this ahaìgrahopāsanā (अहंग्रहोपासना) and the psychological methods called āropa (आरोप) and sādhāraṇīkaraṇa (साधारणीकरण). That was a somewhat long and complex discussion (Part I), so let me give a rīsumī of its essence:

The process of experiencing rasa depends on sādhāraṇīkaraṇa, which means subconscious identification, as in when I watch a movie, I spontaneously identify with the hero and vicariously experience his anger, his pain, his heroism and his desires.

According to Rupa Goswami, the goal of a devotee is to identify with Radha and Krishna in the way that a servant identifies with his master, a friend with a friend, a parent with a child and a lover with a lover. Love actually includes a sense of identification with the beloved. A servant who does not identify with his master's pleasures and pains will serve him poorly. The process of līlā-smaraṇam requires this kind of identification procedure to take place (rāi kāndile āmarā kāndi, hāsile āmarā hāsi).

Now whenever such an identification process is transposed into this world, there is a kind of āropa or attribution taking place. When one puts on a play, for instance, one attributes the role to the actor: Christopher Reeve "is" Superman. This is clearly imitation, but only a demented actor would actually believe that he has become Superman, no matter how Stanislavskian he happens to be. In the Gaudiya Vaishnava model, the most radical example of this kind of role playing is in the mysterious phenomenon called guru-tattva.

Now right away, I want you all to allow all the condemnations and criticisms of guru-tattva that you have heard, from the critiques of charismatic cult leaders to the falldowns of the Iskcon zonal acharyas, to flow through you. Remember everything that is wrong with the guru system. What is the problem here? Someone is sitting on a big throne, with a crown on his head like Kirtanananda, and proclaiming not just to be a stand-in for God, but to actually be as good as God.

Even the Gaudiya Math makes this claim. They may hoo and haw about ashraya vigraha and vishaya vigraha, but they say that one should serve the guru as if were God Himself. ācāryaṁ māṁ vijānīyāt . And yet, if the guru himself starts believing it, if even for a minute he forgets to say, dāso'smi, he becomes compromised and he compromises his disciple. This is because he has forgotten that what is going on here is āropa.

I am sure that Sridhar Maharaj will not condemn the entire institution of guru-bhakti simply because a few (!) unscrupulous people have misused it for their own personal gain--profit, adoration and prestige. For the disciple, the recognition and service of the divinity of the guru is a necessity, just as the worship of the archa-vigraha is necessary. And, if I may, this is also a question of āropa. In fact, to one degree or another, the entire edifice of bhakti is based on āropa. For instance, we say the Holy Name is--


nāma cintāmaṇiḥ kṛṣṇa-caitanya-rasa-vigraha
pūrṇaḥ śuddho nitya-mukto'bhinnatvān nāma-nāminoḥ

Now of course, from a faith standpoint, this is true. But from a practical psychological standpoint, it is āropa. We have to apply or attribute these qualities to the Holy Name when in a conditioned state in order to maintain faith in the practise of chanting. I hope you can follow what I am saying.

Now to come to one of those grey areas that Anuradha was talking about: āropa is a necessary element in process of sacramentalizing sexuality. It is, as I have said before, akin to guru-tattva. Indeed, part of the problem with the guru-tattva itself is that gurus have this nasty habit of sleeping with their disciples. It is one of those uncomfortable grey areas of charisma and abuse of power that seem endemic to the institution. In the Gaudiya Math and most other Hindu and Buddhist denominations, the guru is supposedly above sexuality, therefore there can be no compromise with the principle of abstinence in the guru-disciple relationship, even though theoretically sex is a kind of service. But we won't get into the complications of sexuality and the guru-disciple relationship here. Suffice it to say that in most cases, this will be an abuse of power that is highly damaging to both parties.

But that does not mean that all sexual relationships, which may or should have many of the same kind of numinous elements that are present in the charismatic guru-disciple relationship, are devoid of spiritual potential. "Charisma" (I put in the quote marks to indicate that special care needs to be taken with the term.) itself can be seen as a kind of theophany, whether it manifests in the guru or in the beloved.

The point here, though, is that once we accept that there is a possibility of sacralizing sexuality and adopting it as an integral part of spiritual practice, we immediately enter into a realm of subtle shadings of color. Anuradha called it a grey area. And, indeed, for those accustomed to seeing only two alternatives--kāma or prema, there is no subtlety.

But as I will never tire of saying, we are talking about a sādhanā, and that means there is an element of seriousness about it. If it is all taken too lightly, in the moral sense, then it will lose its sacred character. In this respect, the criticisms and warnings are not unfounded. But we are saying that if you take it seriously as a sadhana, as a sacred act, you will be fully aware when elements of the modes of ignorance and passion enter and sully the picture; you will even be unhappy when the mode of goodness dominates. And you will know clearly when the glimpses of the divine lila are bestowed upon you and you will feel your entire being become transformed by it. As with all things, certain conditions apply.

There is one more thing I should briefly state while I have it in my mind. This has also been mentioned in this blog previously. I will put in the link when I find it. That is this: Pleasure is not wrong per se. Even the ascetic is seeking pleasure. The Gita tells us that pleasure in the mode of goodness is that which is like poison in the beginning and is ultimately transformed in the final result. This is a bit simplistic, but the basic concept of delayed gratification is well known to all psychologists and is an integral part of this entire discussion. Attachment to immediate gratification is the problem.

Nevertheless, the spiritual quest is a quest for pleasure. The Upanishads say bhūmaiva sukham. Look for the highest pleasure and you must look for it in God, the greatest thing, the very fountainhead of joy. God is even defined as pleasure, raso vai saḥ. Find him and you will be joyful. yaṁ labdhvānandī bhavati. The entire spiritual search is a refinement of the concept of happiness. If there is talk of sacrifice or separation or suffering in the spiritual path, it is only to remind you of the very basic truth that there is a great reward at the end. But God is not so wicked that he does not give rewards from time to time to assure his devotee. yoga-kṣemaṁ vahāmy aham. The suffering is not the goal, needless to say.

At the same time, as I tried to point out in my Jugupsa and Madhura-rati article (inadequately, I know), there is no specific reason that suffering has to be the most important element of the spiritual path. It is a simple psychological principle that the mind tends to be shaped or moulded principally by its joyful experiences, by positive associations, the greatest of which is love. Separation, as I never tire of saying, is not something that the sadhaka or the devotee willingly seeks out. It is imposed by Krishna or by the working of Yogamaya. This is perhaps the number 1 teaching of the Rāsa-līlā (See BhP 10.32.19-22)

There are many reasons that hearing and understanding the Rāsa-līlā results in the transformation of lust, but one of the most important ones is that it reveals a sādhanā whereby the subconscious and symbolic associations of human love can be channeled into Divine Love. If the only legitimized attitude for our sexual desires is disgust, then Radha and Krishna's lila will remain out of bounds forever. nivṛttānupayogitvāt.

Radhe Radhe !

57 comments:

krishnadasa said...

Jagat, you wrote:

"When we talk of kama and prema we are not talking about two discrete entities, but a spectrum of attitudes or stances towards desire and love. The failure to recognize this and to simply condemn all forms of sexuality as kama is something that stems from fear, from dvitiyabhinivesha,[...]"

As far as I know, our acharyas did explain that kama and prema are two discrete entities, kama is material, and prema is spiritual, kama is a vritti of bahiranga-sakti and prema is a vritti of antaranga-sakti; kama never transforms into prema. Can you elaborate on how you see this point? Do you disagree with the acharyas on this? Or did I miss something in your explanation? I am sorry but I didn't follow your blog regularly before, so I don't know whether you already answered this question or not.

Jagat said...

In the sense that they are at the two extremes of the spectrum, yes, they are two discreet entities. But when seen in terms of the spectrum itself, they are the same. The light spectrum stretches from infrared to ultraviolet, but all are manifestations of light.

My point is that they are both manifestations of the loving propensity, which is integral to the jiva. In the conditioned state, the movement is distorted by a corrupted sense of self. In the pure state, that desire arises from the true self and is directed toward Krishna.

If you look earlier in this blog, you will find a discussion about kama, based on verses from the Mahabharata, where Krishna identifies himself with all desire. Never seen them quoted by our acharyas, but that is also mentioned there. It all comes out of a discussion of dharmAviruddho bhUteSu kAmo'smi.

But it is a good question. I will have to think about it.

krishnadasa said...

I think that it is impossible to prove by sastra that kama, which is material, and prema, which is spirtual, are at the two extremes of the spectrum, as you write. You also postulate a loving propensity in the jiva which should manifest as kama in the conditioned state and as prema in the liberated state. These ideas seem to me alien to our Gaidiya Darshan. They contradict the concept of bhakti as a vritti of svarupa-sakti.

Jiva Goswami's definition of prema in Priti Sandarbha is important in this context. He says that the svarupa-laksana of priti is in this verse from Vishnu Purana:

yA prItir avivekAnAM viSayeSv anapAyinI
tvAM anusmarataH sA me hRdayAn nApasarpatu


Jiva Goswami then comments: yA yal-lakSaNA sA tal-lakSaNA ity arthaH | na tu yA saiveti vakSyamANa-lakSaNaikyAt | tathApi – pUrvasyA mAyA-zakti-vRttimayatvena uttarasyAH svarUpa-zakti-mayatvena bhedAt |

In the course of the explanation he repeats the same again: tatra pUrvasyA mAyA-zakti-vRttimayatvam icchA dveSaH sukhaM duHkham [GItA 13.6] ity AdinA zrI-gItopaniSad-Adau vyaktam asti | uttarasyAs tu svarUpa-zakti-vRttimayatvam antike darzayiSyAmaH |

Devi said...

It might be helpful to ponder on this : Adwaita -acharya gave diksha to his two wives. The husband becomes the diksha guru of the wife. Hence a sexual relationship becomes a spiritual one. You really can't measure spiritual intentions and endeavours and try to diminish its merits simply becuase it might be tied up to some sexual relationship. Spiritual endeavours and desires are the real key to spiritual advancement. Laying down this and that law is not the trick.

advaitadas said...

That is not correct, Devi. Advaita Acarya's sexual and spiritual relationship must be seen as two separate things. His sexual relationship was first of all wedded, and secondly it was not the part of a sadhana.

Jagat said...

That's a good pick, Krishnadasji. With intelligent young men and women like yourself in the world of Krishna consciousness, we have much to hope for when us tired pioneers finally flicker and go out.

So this paragraph from Priti-sandarbha (61) is a very important one, and you have been somewhat selective in your quotation. I haven't had time to go through the entire section thoroughly, but a quick glance seems to confirm my initial instinctive response to your suggestion.

Every metaphor, every simile has its limitations. If I say, "I was drowning in an ocean of love," then the limitations of the metaphor are shown when someone asks the question, "Then why aren't you dead?"

(And Sanatan quotes that old Prakrit verse in his commentary, which Krishnadas quotes, "There is no love in this material world. Because if there were such a thing as true love, no one would be able to bear the absence of their lover for a minute and they would all die!")

So Jiva Prabhu is taking this simile, in which he wishes to show the svarupa-lakshana or fundamental and inalienable characteristics of priti, and is going to have to explain what its limits are. This is why he says, "This priti is certainly not the same as the other one, for the reasons I will give in the subsequent explanation."

He then goes on to explain priti in ways that are distinct from kama, so I will not go into depth into his argument. (Interestingly, he explains it in terms of sukha, which is related to my last paragraphs above.) Nevertheless, at the end of the first paragraph you cited (in the GGM edition it says page 35 from the Yadavpur edition) he does state that the distinction he is talking about is in the vishaya and not in the ashraya. (I haven't read this carefully yet, so I may be making a mistake.)

So the question of distinction between the material and spiritual nature of desire resides not in the ashraya, i.e., the desirer, but in the objects of desire. This seems perfectly in keeping with what we have always known.

If it were not so, then desire itself would be alien to the jiva and there would be no possibility of transformation. Here I would suggest the analogy of consciousness: the jiva is conscious, consciousness being integral to the very being of the jiva. In the conditioned state, that consciousness is covered in the lower species of life, in the modes of passion and ignorance, etc. The full flowering of human consciousness is attained in love of God.

Similarly, desire is natural to the jiva. When we speak of sac-cid-ananda, this is the third element. (Here the relationship between desire and happiness is also being made.) Desire indicates a relationship between self and other. The jiva on her own is always inadequate and therefore desires, not knowing that the true fulfilment of her desires resides in God. Therefore, in her ignorance, she tries to fulfill her desires in matter.

Vaishnavas understand the reality of desire and how it is integral to the very being of the soul. Therefore we do not deny it by saying that ananda is already present in the jiva. (It is, but in miniscule proportion.) We say that you need to find God in order to be truly happy. In the terms used here, you must become harmonized with the svarupa-shakti instead of alienated by Maya.

Jagat said...

You are right, Devi. My point is rather more complex. I guess I am a bit Freudian in my view of relationships. There is something sexual in all of them, even when physical sexuality is seriously proscribed, as in the parent-child relation.

I was much influenced by something I once read in a book by Kshitimohan Sen, Banglar Baul, in which he tells a story that the Sultans of Delhi, if they ever fell in love with a servant or slave girl and wanted to marry her, they first set her free. In other words, for love to function, the power relations must change. This also applies to the relationship of God to the jiva.

Even though in real terms the power relationship never really changes, God (or the Sultan) recognizes that his object of love (the jiva) must be granted freedom, and so he withholds his power. This means that he has to remove his aisvarya in order to experience madhurya.

So the problem with human relationships based on unequal power (to some extent that is always there) is that they tend to become exploitative. And that is why certain rules are put in place.

I remember reading once in the Yoga Journal, I believe, an article about Gurus who have sexual relationships with their disciples. The article was interesting in that it interviewed the women who slept with these gurus. Some of them seemed pretty voracious--"guru groupies," if you like. So the exploitation is not necessarily all one way. One woman said, "Well, it was a fair exchange. He taught me about yoga and spirituality, and I taught him something about love."

Malati dasi said...

Radhe Radhe

I’m not a scholar so I cant quote the shastra, but I will pick-up from the light spectrum analogy.

Though kama and prema can be considered in the same spectrum , I think they can’t serve the same purpose of spiritual liberation.

Though infrared light, UV, X-ray and visible light flow continuously in the light spectrum, only the visible light, even in its natural state, serves a practical, positive purpose for all of us, eg. it lights the world, we get vitamin D when sunshine strikes our skin, etc. Too much exposure to UV causes skin cancer and exposure to a certain amount of infrared or X-ray causes damaging effects on our health. UV, Infrared and X-ray have to be harnessed, converted, produced, maybe manipulated to get benefits from them ( a great use of resources, labour and mind).

Why labour hard in relation to the practical sexual sadhana, break the convention of a time tested stable social order, expose ourselves to EXTREME RISK of falling back into materialistic quagmire, open ourselves to the complications that may arise legally, ethics wise and economics wise as a result of a bungled sadhana? (I include in that stable order the practice of having multiple wives as there is full blown commitment there too(including psychological commitment), (so that's my reaction to Devi’s post) though the practice of “multiple wives” is getting unpopular in the modern world).

However we philosophize, rationalize this innovation, this is simply a deviation from the practices laid down by the foundational acharyas. Why deviate from the recommended practices laid down by the GV achayas, if we hope to be still called to belong to Mahaprabu’s family?

We should NOT fix something which is NOT broken.

Mine is just another opinion, I guess.

Jagat said...

Kama is the instinct of the jiva to find God. But, in her ignorance, she looks in all the wrong places.

krishnadasa said...

Jagat, can you, please, show where it is stated in Sruti, Smriti or in the writings of our acharyas that kama is the instinct of the jiva to find God?

You are right, I was somewhat selective in my qoutations from Priti Sandarbha. Let me tell you why I qouted those parts.

As far as material desires are concerned, Jiva Goswami cites the Gita in the text:

tatra pUrvasyA mAyA-zakti-vRttimayatvam icchA dveSaH sukhaM duHkham [GItA 13.6] ity AdinA zrI-gItopaniSad-Adau vyaktam asti | uttarasyAs tu svarUpa-zakti-vRttimayatvam antike darzayiSyAmaH

"The former [i.e. priti for the objects of enjoyment] is a function of maya-sakti, as it is said in the Gitopanishad 13.6: 'Desire, hatred, happiness, distress [... are called kshetra and its modifications]. The latter [i.e. love of God] is, however, the function of svarupa-sakti, as we shall show later."

Therefore, material desires are simply something external to the jiva. Were they internal, they would be impossible to give up, liberation would be impossible, the jiva would be doomed to stay in the material world forever.

As far as the spiritual desires are concerned, they are also external to the jiva. Our acharyas teach us that bhakti, from the very first moment we begin to have faith (sraddha; and of course, I shall stress, that it means sastriya-sraddha), is svarupa-sakti of the Lord. Actually, we are given the desire to serve Krishna by His mercy alone. It is not inherent in the jiva.

Nevertheless, as Jiva Goswami says while explaining the svarupa-laksana of priti as given in Vishnu Purana:

yA prItir avivekAnAM viSayeSv anapAyinI
tvAM anusmarataH sA me hRdayAn nApasarpatu


"Let love similar to the unflinching love for the objects of enjoyment of those who do not discriminate never go away from my heart which thinks of you."

Jiva Goswami says: yA yal-lakSaNA sA tal-lakSaNA ity arthaH | na tu yA saiveti vakSyamANa-lakSaNaikyAt.

"The meaning is that as is the defintion of that one [i.e. priti for objects of enjoyment], so is the defintition of the other [i.e. priti for the Lord]. However, the one is not the other, because they are only identical in their definition which will be explained."

Jiva Goswami stresses, and actually also repeats himself later in the text, that the two are identical only in their laksana, i.e. they have some similar feature. That is the limit of the simile according to Jiva Goswami.

By the way, I cannot accept your asraya/vishaya point, because Jiva Goswami brings it up in the context of distinction between sukha and priyata, and not of distinction between kama and priti. Sukha has only asraya and no vishaya, wheras priyata has both.

Anonymous said...

"We should NOT fix something which is NOT broken."

Oh but it is broken. Renunciation in this tradition has been accomplished at the expense of women. Women are demonized so men can have their liberation. How much longer you think a cracked dam like this will hold?

"That is not correct, Devi. Advaita Acarya's sexual and spiritual relationship must be seen as two separate things. His sexual relationship was first of all wedded, and secondly it was not the part of a sadhana."

And isn't wedded sexual life also considered the 'dark well'? And are we to believe that Advaita Acarya, the Lord incarnate, took his plunges in the dark well like everyone else? Are you saying that Advaita Acarya's sexual relationship with his wife was material? What about Mahaprabhu and Visnupriya who didn't have off spring, was their sexual relationship material?

Jagat said...

For starters, I would look here: Kamo'smi.

You are, it seems, equating kama with material desires. I am equating it with desire, period. That is why Krishna says you cannot get rid of it. And that is why you can make a comparison between material desire and spiritual desire while still saying that they are fundamentally different. What makes them different is that it becomes corrupted on every level of material conditioning--indriyANi mano buddhir asyAdhiSThAnam ucyate. The root of the corruption is in the false sense of self.

This is why I make the point, not that sexual desire for someone whose sense of self has become conditioned to bhakti and motivated towards sadhana, but that sexual desire here is incorporated into the sadhana Gestalt, if you will.

Material desire is a corruption of pure desire, which is the desire to please Krishna's senses. Desire itself is not false. In the tatastha state, desire is dominated by varying degrees of ignorance. The fundamental desire to serve Krishna is inchoate. Through contact with the internal energy, i.e., through the association of devotees, one/s desire to serve Krishna is awakened. What is the problem?

Jagat said...

That sentence should read: "This is why I make the point, not that sexual desire for someone whose sense of self has become conditioned to bhakti and motivated towards sadhana is an end in itself, but that it is incorporated into their sadhana Gestalt, if you will."

I have to say that I cannot see how you can eliminate desire from the svarupa of the jiva. It has absolutely no rational basis. If there is no desire, there is no free will. Otherwise, how could Krishna end the Gita by saying, yathecchasi, tathA kuru?

Jagat said...

As far as Devi's point about guru and disciple and Anonymous's post about the position of women. I made the point early in this blog, in the series of articles on The Sadhika as Guru Tattva, Part I and Part II, I tried to emphasize the nature of the kind of sexual relationship that I am talking about, where there is mutual guru-hood. This is very important and has a significant relation to the points being made here.

Madhura rasa contains all the other rasas. We accept the idea of servitude to a Vaishnava guru as a dasa. We recognize the importance of sakhya with other devotees. Those who have taken the role of guru, siksha or diksha, know what vatsalya means in relation to their disciples. We have not, unfortunately, found a place where madhura rasa is made a meaningful and powerful element of devotee relationships.

But madhura rasa without these other relationships within them is not really worthy of the name, because vatsalya, sakhya and dasya (and shanta too) must be included in them.

The negative critique of sexuality (as presented by Malati) sees only the dangers and not the benefits. We must be clear about both, because without a knowledge of the dangers, we cannot take advantage of the benefits. It is therefore good that the negatives have been so elaborately pointed out in the shastras. But we should not let that blind us to the positive potential.

A woman devotee was saying to me recently that when she was living in the wider society of her country, she was always put off by the immature macho culture that saw women as nothing more than sexual objects. She thus welcomed the critique of sexuality in the temple, which she felt was a positive step towards maturity. However, she soon became conscious that the temple culture had not moved beyond the bodily platform, but had simply moved from bhoga to tyaga. Now that women were no longer good for sex (sex being bad), they were worse than useless. She said that now she can't walk into a temple without immediately being made conscious of the fact that she is in a woman's body and therefore somehow not just inferior but a positively dangerous element to the spiritual endeavors of those who really count, the men. In other words, spirituality is reserved a priori for men. Women are an afterthought.

I may add that this goes even further. Women, especially Western women, in India are routinely groped and otherwise objectified in public places in ways that stagger the imagination of someone brought up in Europe or America.

Though it is not directly connected, the following article Muslims should embrace free speech makes a point about maturity and free speech that seems relevant. "While Jews and Christians have become more politically astute in realising that creating a stink only backfires in their faces, most Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims are woefully immature in this regard."

Remember all those regular protests about Ganesh's image being blasphemed. This is another case where South Asian culture is in fact backward.

advaitadas said...

Anon, I never claimed that Advaita Acarya is a material person, I'd be the last person to do so. He is Shiva and his wives are Maya, his shashuri is Menaka, Nrsimha Bhaduri is Himalaya. But neither for him, nor for any other pure devotee is household life a dark well. It's usually not the most pleasant environment for bhajan, though. And if wedded love is a dark well, what do you think of the hellhole you end up in due to
unwedded love? In any case
Advaita Prabhu's sexual relationship or madhurya rati with His Shaktis, can never serve as a role model for sahajiyaism. That is all I wanted to say.

Anonymous said...

"Remember all those regular protests about Ganesh's image being blasphemed. This is another case where South Asian culture is in fact backward."

Regarding the position of women, its clear that western cultures have gained some ground compared to its eastern counterparts. Christian holy texts speak clearly of a subaltern position for women, but to today's Christian world this is nothing more than an incident in historic. Islam and Hinduism on the other hand, to this day carry on an anachronism that has proven to be nothing but an encumbrance to the development of those two otherwise very contributing cultures. For the western world to embrace the richness of Vaisnava culture, some upgrading regarding the position of women must be made.

Anonymous said...

"Advaita Prabhu's sexual relationship or madhurya rati with His Shaktis, can never serve as a role model for sahajiyaism. That is all I wanted to say."

But that is not all that you said. You said:

"Advaita Acarya's sexual and spiritual relationship must be seen as two separate things. "

Why don't you address this and which was my question. This is what my question was about, not whether Adavaita Acarya's life was a model for sahajiyaism. This is information you volunteer wich of course is appreciated, but you avoid the actual question.

advaitadas said...

No Anon, it is already answered. If Advaita Prabhu's sexual relationship with His wives had to do with His Guruship over them there could be some insinuation about a link between the spirituality and the sexuality and whatever tantrik or sahajiya conclusions could have been drawn from that. However, spiritual though they may be, as Shiva and Parvati (who also had two sons, Skanda and Ganesh), their sexual relationship was all about regular Grihastha dharma of begetting and raising children (be it for the sake of creating the Advaita Vamsh for the benefit of the world) and their Guru-sisya sambandha was another factor in their relationship.

krishnadasa said...

Jagat, my question stands: Can you show from sastra that desire is in the svarupa of the jiva, that kama is the instinct of the jiva to find God? As far as I know, all Vedanta schools would rather claim that there is no iccha or kama or whatever you call in the jiva, in the descriptions of the jiva desire is never mentioned.

If there is a desire (or desiresness?) in the jiva, what is then the relation of kama as a vritti of maya-sakti and prema as vritti of svarupa-sakti to this desire?

In my opinion, Krishna's statement yathecchasi tatha kuru is not a proof of the existence of a desire in the jiva, the statement does not occur in the context of a description of the svarupa of the jiva.

Nor do I consider the kama verses from Mahabharata as proof. They just show how kama is difficult to overcome.

By the way, there is a similar idea in Manu Smriti (2.2-4):

kAmAtmatA na prazastA na caivehAsty akAmatA
kAmyo hi vedAdhigamaH karma-yogaz ca vaidikaH

saMkalpa-mUlaH kAmo vai yajJAH saMkalpasaMbhavAH
vratAni yamadharmAz ca sarve saMkalpajAH smRtAH

akAmasya kriyA kAcid dRzyate neha karhicit
yad yad hi kurute kiMcit tat tat kAmasya ceSTitam


"To act solely from a desire for rewards is not laudable, yet an exemption from that desire is not (to be found) in this (world): for on (that) desire is grounded the study of the Veda and the performance of the actions, prescribed by the Veda. The desire (for rewards), indeed, has its root in the conception that an act can yield them, and in consequence of (that) conception sacrifices are performed; vows and the laws prescribing restraints are all stated to be kept through the idea that they will bear fruit. Not a single act here (below) appears ever to be done by a man free from desire; for whatever (man) does, it is (the result of) the impulse of desire." (Bühler's translation)

Anonymous said...

"However, spiritual though they may be, as Shiva and Parvati (who also had two sons, Skanda and Ganesh), their sexual relationship was all about regular Grihastha dharma of begetting and raising children (be it for the sake of creating the Advaita Vamsh for the benefit of the world) and their Guru-sisya sambandha was another factor in their relationship."

As best said by you, Advaita Prabhu's sexual relationship with His Shaktis is his enjoying madhurya rati. How then can his be "regular" grihastha dharma?

Jagat said...

No I cannot think of a quote offhand. But I am finding it very difficult to accept a completely passive, floating monad concept of the jiva. So I will keep my eyes open.

As I said, logically, free will without desire seems a pretty empty concept. A personal conception of God and spirituality demands an idea of freedom. How can one make choices without desire?

I will have to think about where I got the idea. I would say this is a rather important problem.

advaitadas said...

Anon: "As best said by you, Advaita Prabhu's sexual relationship with His Shaktis is his enjoying madhurya rati. How then can his be "regular" grihastha dharma?"

As Maryada purushottam Ram was also performing the duty of giving the proper moral example. Transcendental need not always be above the law of morality (as in Krishna's case) - that is not the theme of Gaura lila.

Devi said...

Whenever a god concious child is to be born, Krishna himself is the kama, as he explains in Gita.
I knew people were going to jump up and down defending the position of Adwaita acharya, that he wasn't a sahajiya, or that multiple wives are bad, or that sex in the material world is bad.
So you are saying, Malati, that Adwaita- acharya did something wrong by having 2 wives. ? You see that is where the holier than thou attitude makes one commit offence to the person responsible for the advent of Chaitanya, and thus prem bhakti in this fallen age. Its a very proud position to be in I must say, just becasue you dont understand Asian culture, Malati.
The five bodily needs - eating, mating, sleeping and defending, are needs. They are not sins. they are bodily demands - equally. Endeavours to make one appear more sinful than the rest does not have any base in sastra, which does recommend that one must wed, not sleep around.
One of the amusing things I have noticed is that while some people pretend to put on an ultra- celibate show, you might find them addicted to tasty foods and in no time, there is a pot belly and disease. Or they might be addicted to sleeping or defending their position. The thing is all bodily urges should be moderated, if one wants spiritual perfection. Not that we separate one demand, like sex, and we preach like its the most sinful unnatural thing on this earth.There should be a balanced view. Bhakti is also yoga. It means control of the senses IN GENERAL.
No one is encouraging sahajiyasm or illicit sex, but the witch hunt must stop, fault- finding, misinterpreting, and blaming other people when you really dont know their private emotions is what I am talking about. If one looks at himself as a humble sinner, then the tendency to see the negatives in others will go away and leave the heart pure so that Krishna will be attracted to stay there.
Lets hear some more comments. Thanks Jagat, if you post this one.

Malati dasi said...

Devi: I knew people were going to jump up and down defending the position of Adwaita acharya, that he wasn't a sahajiya, or that multiple wives are bad, or that sex in the material world is bad.
So you are saying, Malati, that Adwaita- acharya did something wrong by having 2 wives. ? You see that is where the holier than thou attitude makes one commit offence to the person responsible for the advent of Chaitanya, and thus prem bhakti in this fallen age. Its a very proud position to be in I must say, just becasue you dont understand Asian culture, Malati.


Firtsly, I have not in any of my posts anywhere ever made a negative judgement on multiple wives arrangement. I pasted below what I have said in my previous post:

(I include in that stable order the practice of having multiple wives as there is full blown commitment there too(including psychological commitment, (so that's my reaction to Devi’s post) though the practice of “multiple wives” is getting unpopular in the modern world).

Well, I said multiple wives arrangement (wife, not mistress, meaning partner/partners in a family unit ) is part of the stable social order. I grew up in Asia, so I definitely know that this arrangement in a family unit is cultural as well as religious.

Let me make this clear, my critique is on this sexual sadhana with a paramour, mistress, whatever you call it, purporting to attain Krishna consciousness.

I believe it is NOT sustainable by 1.shastra 2. practices recommended by foundational acharyas and
3. practical applications
.

What Jagat has presented so far is mostly his own understanding, realization , if you prefer.


Next, I am NOT putting on a holier than thou attitude. If you read my posts in the past in Jagat’s other blogs , I have said that MAYBE sex with you committed partner (in a sort of a social unit)/wife/husband (but take note : NOT WITH A MISTRESS/PARAMOUR) can be spiritualized.

Devi: The five bodily needs - eating, mating, sleeping and defending, are needs. They are not sins. they are bodily demands - equally. Endeavours to make one appear more sinful than the rest does not have any base in sastra, which does recommend that one must wed, not sleep around.
One of the amusing things I have noticed is that while some people pretend to put on an ultra- celibate show, you might find them addicted to tasty foods and in no time, there is a pot belly and disease. Or they might be addicted to sleeping or defending their position. The thing is all bodily urges should be moderated, if one wants spiritual perfection. Not that we separate one demand, like sex, and we preach like its the most sinful unnatural thing on this earth.There should be a balanced view. Bhakti is also yoga. It means control of the senses IN GENERAL.
No one is encouraging sahajiyasm or illicit sex, but the witch hunt must stop, fault- finding, misinterpreting, and blaming other people when you really dont know their private emotions is what I am talking about. If one looks at himself as a humble sinner, then the tendency to see the negatives in others will go away and leave the heart pure so that Krishna will be attracted to stay there.


To be honest, I think , I have one of the coolest attitude toward sex. Though I have had my first sex, at age 30, with my husband, I will NOT LOSE SLEEP thinking if my 15 year old daughter is having sex. (though I’m sure 101% she is not). In the western society she will surely do it at an earlier age than when I did it.

What I DEFINITELY HATE is HYPOCRISY. Wasn’t that in ISKCON it was considered cool for husband and wife to have separate bedrooms. Even now I see it with devotee couples. But such premature show of renunciation just blew up. Geez, I even had bad experience with this married husbands having separate bedrooms annoying me !!!

My silly independent mind thinks that we should teach about the Radha-Krishna philosophy first AS presented by the founders of GV and then let devotees make up their minds what to do in their bedrooms!

HARE KRISHNA

Jagat said...

Your mistake, here, Krishnadas, is to identify kama with material desire only. If material desire were integral to the soul, indeed it would be impossible to give up (kama-mayo'yam purushah BAU 4.4.5). And I am saying that desire is indeed impossible to give up, and if one does not dovetail desire with the svarupa shakti, then one will go on wandering in the material world, looking for God in all the wrong places.

In Brihad-aranyaka (4.5.6) also, when Yajnavalkya says that it is not for the sake of the husband that one loves the husband, but for the sake of the self, in all the various ways this can be interpreted, it comes back to the fact that desire is innate in the atma.

I rather doubt that Shankara would look at it that way. I will look at his commentaries here and see how he deals with the question, but I think that I am definitely in line with Gaudiya siddhanta here.

But the search for more and better pramans continues.

Jai Radhe!!

krishnadasa said...

Jagat, desires are there only because of vasanas or samskaras. Vasanas can be material (in that case they belong to maya-sakti) or spiritual (then they belong to svarupa-sakti). The Indian thought does not know any other desire.

I disagree with you that you are in line with Gaudiya siddhanta here. Please go again through Jiva Goswami's definition of priti in Priti Sandarbha and through his description of the svarupa of the jiva in Paramatma Sandarbha.

The BAU text 4.5.6 is open to various interpretations. For example, Purushottama, an important acharya in Vallabha Sampradaya, says in his Bhaktyutkarsavada that it shows that nirupAdhi-priyatva is brahma-dharmatA. He bases his own explanation of the superiority of bhakti on the discussion of kama (!) but he does not say anywhere that desire is innate to the jiva. In Bhaktirasatvavada, he even explains that sneha (our prema) cannot be identified with desire. However, rati is a valid kind of love and involves desire. Rati can also be an emotion in bhakti-rasa. But Madhurya-bhakti-rasa is different from ordinary kama. Such a desire is actually non-desire or the atma-kama of the Upanisads. Vallabha clearly said that ordinary kama which is but lust cannot be part of a path of bhakti (see, for example, Subodhini 10.29.9-11, or 10.29.42). Vallabhas have a little bit different philosophy, and I don't want to go into details about it here, but what is important is that it never occured to them to locate desire in the atma, as it never occured to our acharyas, otherwise we could find it somewhere in their writings, as it is no unimportant point.

If you say, that desire is innate in the atma, it represents a problem for those who merge into Brahman. How can they exist there with desire?

Jagat said...

Well, precisely. That is why the Gaudiya acharyas say that brahmaikya is an artificial state. aruhya kricchrena param padam tatah patanty adho'nadrita-yushmad-anghrayah. vimukti-maninah.

krishnadasa said...

Are you joking? The Bhagavata verse does not speak about those who free from all upadhis attained sayujya-mukti after dehatyaga. Our acharyas do not deny the existence of sayujya-mukti. Nobody falls down from that position.

Devi said...

About multiple wives, I am going to use the example of Bin Laden, so that people will get the chance to jump up and down and pull their hair out. Some people say polygamy is not applicable to these times.. No, not legally in Western countries. But. Bin Laden’s father had 52 wives and he was known to be a very religious man. I don’t know how many wives Bin has, but he too is a religious leader. Islam is not a bad way to reach God for those people who practice it. Its just the extremism and terrorism and violent parts of it that make people despise the religion.
Polygamism is practically possible in these times. Eg. In the Mormom church in Canada, it is widespread. The polygamous relationships are not legal, but they are consensual, so no authority can stop it. Even in the area where I live, I know people who live in this kind of relationship. You cannot censor the instinct of nature. Same sex people are not allowed to be married, but they still live together. People are born a certain way and making it illegal does not help the case.
It helps if we step back from all the discriminative tendencies inbred in us and observe how nature works before the judgments start coming in.. Now I know people will jump up and down saying that I am encouraging gay marriages and sexual deviances. ( smile)
Some people used to accuse Jagat of promoting sahajiyism. All because he speaks the truth about sexuality. You see one of the stupid notions that devotees preach is that kama is a great sin averse to spiritual advancement. Yes it is, but for the renunciant, not the householder.
So when Lord Shiva and the other gods engage in sexual relation with their mates, its nothing but pure sensual pleasure, just like people enjoy down here. Its so foolish to think that the gods do samskara or chant Om Krishna Krishna Krishna when they are having sexual relationships. Its pure foolishness to promote this kind of thinking. The reason that Shiva/Parvati has a child like Ganesh is because they are his parents. The offspring depends on the status of the parents, nothing more. According to destiny, sometimes a demon is born to a god, depends on the Lila, and time of day or night the act is performed. Some of the gods might take precaution and some may not. Sometimes they just get caught up in sexual pleasures for days, nights, months or years.I've never heard that this was sinful for them.

Jagat said...

Even if all that is in the jiva's power is the ability to say yes or no, then that is a manifestation of desire. Like the paraplegic who can only blink yes or no. You ask him, "Do you want a glass of water?" And he blinks.

I don't think you have adequately addressed any of my logical points.

I am looking at the Paramatma-sandarbha, etc., but one thing I see there is that Jiva says that through knowing the Paramatma we can know the jiva. There is qualitative oneness of the jiva and paramatma, and of course desire or will is one of the qualities of the Paramatma. sa aicchata.

As with all the negated attributes of jiva and Paramatma, the negation serves to establish the divine. The jiva has no material senses, no material mind, no material desires.

I can appreciate that the acharyas have taken great pains to separate material from spiritual, and I admit that I am taking a bit of a different position, i.e. the spectrum idea. But the spectrum concept is necessary to harmonize the idea of a single energy divided into several categories. This is also the meaning of yathAbhAso yathA tamaH in the chatuh-sloki.

It is taking a little longer because, as is my habit, anything I read that is not already typed up has to get typed up for the GGM.

Jagat said...

Because that is their desire. The point of the verse is that sayujya mukti is still an artificial state, in the minds of our acharyas. They do not deny its existence, of course they don't. But they do say that the ananda of devotion is millions of times greater. Why is that? Because it is truer to the free, active and willful nature of the jiva.

anuradha said...

I think in the commentary on The Gita by Valladeva Vidyabusana the topics kama, free will and vasanas are shortly being commented upon in relation to karma.
To my understanding they interact and the soul is not completely aloof. It interacts through desire. That makes desire a function of the soul.
I guess

Jagat said...

(From Tripurari Maharaj):

Your arguments are very Bhaktivinoesque, as they should be. I think he is more of an explainer of the implications of much of what the Goswamis wrote than he is someone who differs from them, as some take it. The Goswamis' works can be very terse an often require explanation or the playing out of their implications. This, I believe, is what BVT set out to do.

Following him I would say that there is no substance to the argument that the jiva is devoid of ananda. The argument of Jiva in Priti-sandarbha as to its meagerness and constituting merely the absence of suffering has its origins in Brihad-bhagavatamrita. There Sanatana says the same, arguing in favor of bhakti and Bhagavan, in comparison to which Brahman and the jiva have practically no ananda. You cannot make more of this to reason that the jiva has no ananda. Rupa says the same thing in Brs: the bliss of Brahman multiplied a trillion fold cannot compare to the bliss of an atomic particle of prema. This does not mean that Brahman has no ananda. Again, nor is the jiva devoid of it. Sanatana has made this clear in his lengthy explanation, one that Jiva represents only very briefly in Ps and thus leaves room for confusion, or the conclusion that the jiva has absolutely no ananda inherent in it.

Sanatana says (Bbh 2.2.176):

jIva-svarUpa-bhUtasya sac-cid-Ananda-vastunah
sAkSAd-anubhavenApi syAt tAdRk sukham alpakam

Even the direct perception of the true nature of the jiva, consituted of sac-cid-ananda – such happiness is meager.

sac-cid-Ananda-rUpANAM jIvAnAM kRSNa-mAyayA
anAdy-avidyayA tattva-vismRtyA saMsRtir bhramaH

When the jivas, with forms of sac-cid-ananda, forget their truth because of the beginningless ignorance of Krsna's maya, there is the illusion of transmigration. (2.2.187)

So there is ananda in the jiva and in Brahman. The difference between these manifestations of ananda and that found in the svarupa-sakti, however, is that the former is static and the latter is dynamic. See Bb 2.2.194 text and commentary.

Bhaktivinoda understands kriya of "jnana bala kriya ca" to refer to ananda. This ananda is activity. It is the purpose of the jiva, who exists and is conscious of its existence (to an extent), and exists for the purpose of ananda (that is unclear to it in illusioned life). When we say the jiva is sat cit ananda we mean that it is made up of a will-to-be, will-to-know and will-to-enjoy. It is not devoid of volition. To say that kama (material desire) is a vritti may be correct, but this does not mean that the jiva is passive in the sense of being devoid of volition.

Paramatma is sat cit ananda, and the jiva is Paramatmaika-seshatva, according to Jiva. He writes in Paramatma-sandabha, "The jiva is self illuminating, always identical, intelligent pervading conscious-bliss in essence, ego (true "I am"), distinct in different individuals, atomic, eternally pure, and faintly conscious of its own inner essence. It is an agent, knower, and enjoyer. In all these respects it is an epitome of the Paramatma."

Does Paramatma have volition? If so, so too does the jiva.

The soul is irrefutably an agent, a doer and not passive. See Govnda-bhasya 2.3.31-40. Texts that seem to say otherwise like the Gita in "only the gunas act," are merely figurative—like saying "The Appolo space craft went to the moon." [Without other agency.] The jiva is implored in sastra to exert itself with regard to attaining mukti.

Furthermore love requires volition and choice. Baladeva is adamant that the jiva is an active free agent. He writes at the very end of his long commentary on 2.3.38, "The jiva is self luminous and hence intelligence as well as agency must be understood to be essential qualities of the jiva. The agency of the jiva is not perpetual, but depends upon its volition. It may or may not be active as it so pleases."

That's it for now. Wish I could be more helpful.

Swami

Jagat said...

With regards Devi's comments, there are some things that I would like to take up, but this comments section is already getting very full, so I will probably do so in a separate post as soon as I get the chance.

Radhe Radhe!

advaitadas said...

Devi: "Some people used to accuse Jagat of promoting sahajiyism."

Keep that in present tense, Devi.

"All because he speaks the truth about sexuality."

This is not a truth in the sense of shastra, rather the opposite as my next quotes will show.

"You see one of the stupid notions that devotees preach is that kama is a great sin averse to spiritual advancement."

In Bhagavad Gita 3.36, Arjuna asks what is the cause of sin.
Krishna replies: "It is lust, it is anger, coming from rajoguna. It is the great sin and the great voracious eater. (verse 37) It covers the knowledge of the wise and is the eternal enemy of the wise, insatiable as it is. (39)" One need not be a rocket scientist or a PhD to know these simple Gita verses. In the same mode there are hundreds of verses in basic books like Gita and Bhagavata. Havent you read them?

"Yes it is, but for the renunciant, not the householder."

For the householder it is only sinless if done for procreation, as all the acaryas' tikas to B. Gita 7.11 say.

"So when Lord Shiva and the other gods engage in sexual relation with their mates, its nothing but pure sensual pleasure, just like people enjoy down here. Its so foolish to think that the gods do samskara or chant Om Krishna Krishna Krishna when they are having sexual relationships."

That is also absurd. naitat samacarejjatu manasapi hyanisvara - yatha rudro'bdhijam visam(SB 10.33.30) "One should never imitate the Gods if one is not a God. One can also not imitate Shiva in drinking poison from the Milk Ocean."
These are just some reminders from basic shastra.

krishnadasa said...

You wrote that I hadn't adequately addressed any of your logical points. You are right, I haven't because unless you are able to prove your point from sastra, your logic is not acceptable, and you admittedly haven't produced any conclusive sastric praman. Moreover, as I said earlier, your spectrum idea contradicts sastra. Therefore, I don't see the need to address it.

The discussion would get too complicated if I should react to everything you and Tripurari Swami (by the way, his translation from VS commentary is inaccurate) wrote in the previous posts. It also seems to me that further arguments for both sides would lead nowhere at this stage of the discussion. And since you say this comments section is already getting very full, I will finish here.

Jagat said...

Thank you very much Krishnadas for airing these questions. We shall no doubt come back to them again at some time, when I am a little better prepared.

I have been typing up the Sarva-samvadini to Paramatma-sandarbha, which may or may not shed light on the question. Last night I went through the Priti-sandarbha section you cited a little more carefully and find nothing in it that would make me change my opinion. Indeed, I feel confirmed. But there are admittedly points that need clarification.

So, let's leave it there for now, shall we? Jaya Radhe!

Jagat

Jagat said...

AFTERWORD: I asked Nitai to weigh in on the subject and here is what he said, unedited. I am posting it, for the record--

Hi Jan,

Good to hear from you. It looks like you have a fanatic know-it-all on your tail. These fellows are good for one thing; getting us to learn the siddhanta finally or at least study it more carefully. I love the way he/she/it seems convinced he/she/it knows what the acaryas think. I sometimes wish I had that confidence. But I don't and in fact down deep really I hope I never get it. These issues are too complex for pat answers.

Anyway, offhand I am not aware of any place that explicitly says that the jIva inherently has desire. I think it is implied, however. You have already hit on several of the places where that implication arises. There is also that delightful passage from the Brhad-aranyaka U. where Purusa, as big as a man and woman joined together, realizes that though without an other there is no fear there is also no pleasure. Thus he becomes many. (BU, 1.4)

Desire comes with being separate from the other. Since the jIva is in its most fundamental trait different from the Lord (as JIva says most clearly at TS 32, then the desire for pleasure must be inherent in it.

This also draws into question the reality of something like sAyujya-mukti. If the jIva is by it very essence different from the Lord, is sAyujya mukti even possible without destroying the jIva? If the jIva in sAyujya mukti is no longer a jIva as defined by the CV tradition, then there is no further question about what is inherent in it. I think that if we are to take difference seriously then our conceptions of sAyujya mukti have to be altered. Perhaps it should be seen as an illusory sAyujya in which the jIva feels conjoined, but has not really lost its distinctness. After all, Sri JIva talks at various places of the jIva being "merged" (lIna) in ParamAtmA without thereby losing its individual existence (ParamAtma-sandarbh, para 47, Yadavpur edn.).

One of the best brief characterizations of the various dharmas of the jIva is found at PS, para 45 where Sri JIva unpacks a couple of verses from the third book of the Bhagavata (3.25.16-17), the teachings of Kapila. He says on the basis of those verses:

1.) that it is ever pure self (AtmA nitya-nirmalaH)

2) that it maintains a sense of ego (aham-artha) (otherwise it would not be able to perceive itself as an Atman)

3) it is singular or uniform (ekarUpa-svarUpa-bhAk)

4) it is free of transformation (vikAra-rahita)

5) it a part (eka-zeSa) of the ParamAtman

6) it is self-luminous and not simply consciousness (but also conscious)

7) it is very small and different in each "field"

8) it has its own traits of knowership, doership and enjoyership

Especially this last characteristic, its being an enjoyer, suggests it has desire (though kAma along with krodha is rejected in no. 1), but also the egoic aham-artha, its being both consciousness and conscious and its being distinct from other jIvas and the Lord, as mentioned before.

Also if your opponent is taking this sAyujya-mukti to be the very same as the Advaitin idea of liberation, you might remind him that Sri Jiva has rejected that position, which defines the jIva as merely the result of consciousness delimited by the upAdhi of the antahkarana at TS para 32 saying:

tad evaM upAdher eva jIvatvaM, tan-nAzasyaiva mokSatvam iti matAntaraM parihRtavAn

Anyway, hope this helps some. My experience with such exchanges is such that I would not expect your opponent to recognize any validity to your arguments no matter how good they are. Consider it a great opportunity to delve into some textual contemplation.

Best wishes, Neal.

==========

And indeed, that is what I am doing.

Jagat said...

It looks like Krishnadas has created a monster! Not really, but Tripurari Maharaj appears to be continuing to think and research the question. He just sent the following addendum:

Here is a statement of Visvanatha Cakravati on prema (your translation of Madhurya Kadambini p. 292) that may be useful to your overall argument. He speaks of transforming kama into prema. ". . . prema now easily severs these bonds, and through its own power, takes the same emotions, though illusory, and dips them into a well of rasa, whose mere touch completely transforms them into radiant transcendental feelings. Then it firmly ties these spiritualized emotions to the sweetness of the Lord's form, name and attributes. . . ."

I'll have to go back and check that translation and see whether it has merit. And should it have merit, it should never be forgotten that Advaita Dasji was the first hand to touch that text, even though he required us to exclude any mention of his involvement. (You know, Advaitaji, that I will never stop loving you!)

Jagat said...

By the way, if Nitai, Tripurari and I can all agree on something, it means that there is probably an avatara about to appear or a yuga about to end.

krishnadasa said...

I have to admit that I was not sure whether I should reply or not. But I think that some things need clarification, and therefore, I decided to write. However, I will not reply to the philosophical points made by Nitai and Tripurari Maharaj.

Frankly speaking, I am not used to personal attacks in debates and I myself avoid any kind of negative personal remarks at all cost in order not to create ill-feelings which spoil the whole discussion. I was surprised by Nitai's remark and the ease with which he labelled me "a fanatic know-it-all ". Firstly, he does not know anything about me and my background, and secondly, he totally missed the spirit in which I was trying to conduct the discussion.

Nitai writes that I am convinced that I know what the acaryas think. Nitai, you cannot be further from the truth. I am no mind reader. Nor do I claim that I know everything, but I know what I know and if I don't know I don't open my mouth or I admit that I don't know, and when I happen to open it, I have no problem to say that I made a mistake. You obviously missed that I was trying to compare Jagat's statements with what we can find in the writings of the Goswamis. I am wandering what is fanatical about that, or what is fanatical about arguing by sastra and logic for one's point of view.

I am aware that my words may sometimes sound harsh. You may have noticed that English is not my native language. It is just a language I use occationally for reading and writing. Therefore, it is not always as easy for me as for you to find the most appropriate words or phrases. However, I always tried to maintain what I think is polite English. This makes me the more wander what made Nitai label me a fanatic. Jagat, if you think that I am a fanatic, any further discussion between us is pointless.

I am glad to hear that Tripurari Maharaja continues to think and research the question.

Jagat said...

Dear Krishnadas,

I am sorry I did not edit those portions of his letter out. I myself feel uncomfortable with Nitai's aggressive style.

If you grant me the permission, I will go back and clean up those portions of his letter. Then I will erase your response and this posting.

Of course, if you prefer, I will leave things as they are and only erase this message.

My heartfelt apologies, it was quite unnecessary.

Ramananda Das said...

Jaya Radhe!

Ok. Too much discussion about the sex-theory but what about the pratice? How can a sadhaka pratice this sahaja-sadhana?

Love,
Ramananda Das

Jagat said...

I have been thinking of giving more detail of actual practice, and will do so in due course. I still haven't decided whether this blog is the place for it.

krishnadasa said...

Jagat, I don't care whether you erase them or not. Do as you like.

Many further arguments have been collected for your side since I stopped discussing. I don't think that they can be adequately answered in a couple of comments on this blog. If you, Tripurari Swami or anybody is interested in continuing the discussion, please, write to krishnadasa at lycos com

Malati dasi - Australia said...

Radhe Radhe

Jagat

Although I don't agree with you regarding this type of sadhana, I admire you for conducting yourself in a civil manner. You have etiquette!

I ask that you forgive me if I came across as smug.

But this is what I tell you about Nitai das. Please dont delete this.

I have observed that Nitai das has a condescending attitude to devotees who don't agree with him.

Is it because he has a PHD?

Jagat said...

Well, I am rather sorry, for Nitai's sake, that I left those things in. I know that he has no compunction about speaking publicly in that way, but as the moderator of my own blog, I should not have posted them, both for his sake and reputation--because I respect his knowledge of Vaishnava literature and tradition (I would not have asked his opinion otherwise)--and for Krishnadas's sake.

I believe that K was acting in good faith and there is no reason to think otherwise.

Tripurari Maharaj sent me a copy of a lecture given by Satyanarayan Dasji on this subject, which seems to share some of the ideas expressed by Krishnadas here. I am going through it carefully, but am already doubtful of his interpretations of a few of Jiva's sentences. But this may have to wait.

As I said, I am pretty slow...

Jagat said...

There are now two different Malatis? I have also been confused about Krishnadasas that I am corresponding with, which has not helped.

It is too bad I cannot edit the comments, i.e., move them around or separate them. There are really two separate conversations going on here.

Anonymous said...

Jagat

You seem to be pre-occupied at the minimum or obsessed at the maximum with the topic of sexuality.

For god's sake make some love and get over it! LOL!

I don't see why it is such an issue. Mutual lovemaking in a healthy and respectful manner between two consenting adults, and for that matter, two committed adults, is just a normal part of life in this world, Vaishnava or not.

A man can make lots of love and retain semen if he knows the right techniques. That way he can still conform to the yogic standard of not spilling seed, if that is his goal, and save his seed for when the couple decides to actually have kids. Or he can never spill his seed, while still making lots of love and still be considered a type of "brahmachari".

When reading Srila Shridhar Maharaj's words on the matter it not only brings up the image of someone who might literally be thinking, "i am Krishna" while having sex, but also what is known in today's world as the "player" - the man who "plays" lots of women just to inflate his ego as a "stud". That is not only detrimental for spiritual growth, but detrimental for growth as a functional adult as well.

Choose a partner, have a committed relationship, and within the confines of that relationship experience the beauty of romance and sensuality all you want. Otherwise you are left with a dry relationship with no chemistry and guaranteed you will break up or, in the case of marriage - divorce and then the Vaishnava community will be criticising you for that. Physical attraction and chemistry is neccessary for a strong marriage. Without that you might as well not even marry.

IF YOU ARE NOT LOOKING FOR A TREE THEN WHY ENTER THE FOREST???

Who expects a married couple to go through their entire life together not having sex? It is practically impossible, what to speak of unhealthy both psychologically and physically. General speaking, if one is not satisfied with one's spouse, they will seek that satisfaction outside of the marriage. That is why in Islam it is considered a sacred duty to satisfy one's spouse, to protect the chastity of her/him and prevent adultery.

A loving and respectful mutual relationship between a man and a woman is dharmic. A dry, loveless arranged marriage between a couple where the woman is not at all wooed or turned on my her groom but raped on her suhag raat, wedding night, as takes place often in India IS NOT DHARMIC no matter how many pundits chanted vedic mantras at the wedding!!!

That couple may have had sex only for children but it is still not dharmic because sex is like rape for the woman (or even in some instances for the man), and there is no love there, what to speak of love, there is often no "like" or attraction there either, sometimes there is even a pure hatred and harsh abuse, but because they are "married" according to the customs of their culture, it is deemed "dharmic" in the Hindu sense, which can be a pretty screwed up sense sometimes. Yet that same society will criticise couples in love??? Give me a break!

It would be a blessing if such people could experience what "falling in love" is all about and soften their otherwise hard and bitter hearts.

I'm just not down for following some uptight, repressed idea of "dharmic", which takes no account of human nature. For something to work for humans it has to take into account human nature. Otherwise it is not practical but just some old, ancient, high-sounding verbage.

Make love, not war.

Anonymous said...

In addition to all of the above, is going poo poo on the toilet classified as "prem" or "bhakti" or "seva" when a high level Vaishnava does it? No.

It is a bodily activity that must take place in order for the body to be fit for sadhana.

Similarly, love-making between couples, in this case Vaishnava couples, is also not "bhakti" or "seva" or anything esoteric, but it is a function of the body, the mind and the emotions, which may be seen as neccessary to maintain a healthy mind and body to engage in bhajan.

Besides the fact that if one is "in love" with one's spouse, the physical act of love-making becomes an external expression of the emotions one feels for one's beloved partner. Naturally, as bhajan thickens and one progresses within the kingdom of raganuga bhakti, a desire to utilize all of one's time in bhajan sprouts in the heart and one does not spend as much time on things that he/she previously spent on, including making love to one's spouse. This is a natural side effect of bhakti which occurs at different stages for different individuals.

I do not equate love-making with bhakti-sadhana, but at the same time it is an activity which is not to be condemned. It is a normal, natural, healthy part of human life.

Raganuga adepts are apt to disregard even normal, natural, healthy parts of life at some point, as we read in Madhurya Kadambini, and that's when they are regarding as "pagal" by the society at large. But I don't think any of us on the internet are at that stage, now are we?

Jagat said...

See today's blog. If having sex were comparable to going poo, then we would have a lot of going poo in Krishna lila. I haven't seen any, but maybe you could write a Poo Purana. Or a Goo Samhita.

Anonymous said...

Did not mean to equate making love with one's beloved partner with going poo. Just saying that as going poo cannot be said to be directly Jugal Kishore seva, yet it is a normal activity that has to be done in order to insure the normal functioning of the human body, the mechanics of sex is also like that.

Making love may not be a part of raganuga bhajan, yet at the same time, it may be neccessary in the marriage of some raganuga sadhaks. And neccessity does not neccessitate drudgery.

Intimacy between spouses is a beautiful neccessity to ensure a happy and healthy marriage.

But maybe we are going in two different directions with this topic? Let me read your next post and find out!

Jagat said...

I was just taking the mickey.

shiva said...

Hi Jagat, I've just got my internet account opened here on Maui (it takes a month!), that's why I haven't been posting here for a while.

I've read through this thread and as usual I have something to say. The most salient point was touched upon a bit by a few of you, this is that bit from Jagat:

"I am looking at the Paramatma-sandarbha, etc., but one thing I see there is that Jiva says that through knowing the Paramatma we can know the jiva. There is qualitative oneness of the jiva and paramatma, and of course desire or will is one of the qualities of the Paramatma. sa aicchata."

Also Nitai and others touched upon this idea of oneness between Paramatma and the jiva.

From my perspective everyone here is half right and half wrong when they have commented upon the question of whether or not kama (or ananda etc) is inherent in the jiva, whether they take one side or the other. The nature of the jiva is that it is part of a dual entity, it is not a single conscious entity i.e. it is one with Paramatma (even in the spiritual realm that oneness remains, although it is described that Paramatma only exists in the material realm, what that means is that the function of Paramatma is called something else in the spiritual realm i.e. yogamaya)

All mental functions of the jiva are supplied by God, therefore it can be said from one angle of vision that the jiva has no desire, ananda, volition, etc, as it's essential characteristic. It can be said that desire, ananda, volition, etc, are functions of a mind, whereas a jiva essentially is just pure cognition (cit) (mind supplied by God e.g. the mind is dependent on memory which the jiva has no control over, also the jiva has no idea of how the mind functions, still both the mind and memory function even though the jiva is ignorant of just how they function, this is because the mind is not a function of nor controlled by the jiva, but rather only the function of and controlled by God). Therefore from this angle of vision the jiva is only inherently cit. Knowledge, desire, volition, bliss, can be experienced by the jiva, but it is the nature of desire, knowledge, volition and bliss to be experiential or experienced by the cognition (jiva) as expressions of a mind (which is different from the jiva itself). Can the jiva exist without desire, volition, bliss or knowledge? Can the jiva exist without cognition? The answer to the former is yes and to the latter is no. The jiva can existence in complete ignorance and without any bliss if God doesn't choose to utilize the functions of his/her mind on the jiva, but without cognition there is no jiva whatsoever. Regardless of whether or not that cognition is conscious or unconscious, without cognition the jiva does not exist. So it can be said that the essential nature of the jiva is without desire, volition, bliss, etc.

On the other had..we can look at the question from another angle of vision. Since the jiva is not an independent consciousness, because it is an expression of the consciousness of God, because the jiva's consciousness is shared or one with the consciousness of God, because desire, volition, bliss, etc, are the functions and reaction to thought, which is the function of mind, which is completely controlled by God, therefore desire, volition, bliss, etc, are present within the jiva because the jiva is by nature always with and a part of a conscious entity who is supplying mind and thought. The jiva can exist without mind and thought, but it would be without knowledge, volition, bliss etc. In order for a jiva to function as an intelligent entity it needs mind and thought provided to it by God. Mind and thought are different from cognition (cit) and are not inherent in the jiva nor controlled by the jiva (although the illusion of control is given to the jiva in either the bound condition by mahamaya or liberated condition by yogamaya, even though the jivan mukta sees through the illusion, in order to function smoothly he is brought under the illusion from time to time by yogamaya).

But because the jiva always exists as a part of the consciousness of God and under the direction and control of the mind and thoughts of God, therefore it can be said that desire, volition, bliss, etc, exist within the jiva. Although desire etc, are functions of a mind and thought, which is only possessed and controlled by God, and the jiva can be said not to inherently possess characteristics which depend on mind and thought process, still because the jiva never exists without the accompaniment of an entity who is supplying mind and thought, therefore desire, volition, bliss, et, can be said to be inherently part of the jiva due to the jiva inherently being a part of and under the control of God.

What matters is the end result, the end result of the jiva whatever is it's inherent nature is that it is under the influence of the mind and thoughts of God. Therefore there will always be desire and volition and bliss if God wills for the jiva, and vice versa.

As to the discussion of kama and prema, you have to understand that these are just words and concepts within a theology and philosophy which serve a particular purpose i.e. to elevate conditioned souls to the liberated stage where they can enter into the higher reality of direct rasa with God. So even though you may think you know it all because you have read or heard so much, until you reach the plane where the purpose of those teachings has been fulfilled, you should stay humble in the knowledge that there is most likely is a higher understanding then what you have. Lust to enjoy is present in Sri Sri Radha Krsna, it is also present in liberated souls. Although it is taught that liberated souls are free from kama, that only refers to materialistic desire e.g. desire to exploit and self delude. Spiritual kama, as in prema, is of a different nature, it is desire in the service of love. This idea is expressed in stories of the gopis desire to enjoy with Krsna. The basic idea is that it isn't kama in and of itself that is bad, exploitative self deluding kama is bad, but pure kama, to desire to enjoy with God, that is seen as good and desirable, that kama finds it's highest expression in the prema of madhurya rati. Some may think that the highest most intimate expression of bhakti for the jiva is as some type of neutered child like being who only seeks happiness in witnessing the love play of others. Therefore they see any kama as antagonistic to that supposed final pure state of being. Those types of ideas are what people hold when they misunderstand esoteric writings due to their own lack of qualification to understand the esoteric intent. They take what has pure esoteric intent and process it literally in constructing their gaudiya influenced mistaken soteriology. They end up believing the highest goal is to end up a neutered child watching other people enjoy love life. They don't stop for a second to consider that this supposed end game for them seems to make no real sense when examined closely. Why would they want a life like that? Because they think it is the highest thing and therefore think that it is what they are supposed to desire. In reality what they really want and what God can really offer is something else, but because they are fixated upon "attaining" the supposed highest place for themselves (mundane kama) rather then desiring to love God as close as possible, they end up being unqualified to enter into the higher esoteric understanding. They are kept as neutered child like beings watching the love play of God from a distance until they realize what is motivating them in their desire.

Jagat said...

I agree with much of what you say, Shivaji, but I have to hold to my essential point, which is that desire must be a part of the essence of the jiva, along with being and consciousness. The jiva desires happiness, to put it bluntly, and that happiness is NOT within himself, at least not in its fullest manifestation. God is the absolute independent being,, consciousness and bliss, the jiva is contingent being, consciousness and bliss.

This means that for the jiva, happiness is in the OTHER. She therefore, by nature, is always engaged in seeking outside herself, materially or spiritually. This is most fundamentally expressed in the search for love.

Even when we are told to seek happiness within, or when we are told that happiness is not outside ourselves, etc., this is because by searching within we find our identity with the Other, who can be perceived as Brahman, Paramatman or Bhagavan. This identity is not absolute, of course, but is rather an identity of completion, participation and realization. But as we know from the Rasa-lila, Krishna's business is to increase the flames of desire because he knows that there is a correlation between desire and fulfilment.

The happiness known as jivananda is miniscule and is not the bhumananda that is spoken of in the Upanishads. Seeking this bhumananda is an inherent quality of the jiva. In frustration or ignorance, we may mistake the jivananda for bhumananda, but this is an artificial state. Indeed, anything but the full flowering of the jiva's personality in prema falls short of her constitutional position and is therefore inherently unstable. As such, my quotation of the aruhya kricchrena verse was not misplaced, but entirely appropriate. If a jiva is capable of self-obliteration in Brahma-sayujya, it cannot be considered a permanent or a natural state.

As to your opinion of manjari bhava, you know that we each have our explanation and that we do not agree. Though I agree with you that confusion about the kama issue creates an artificial desire on the part of some to appear desireless, and that manjari bhava may be seen as a consequence of such self-denial, I think there is a better explanation, both on the level of sadhana and on the level of siddhi.

Since there is no duality in Krishna's world and since the manjaris are entirely part of that world, they are not engaged in some lesser experience. Your characterisation of manjari bhava, though understandable and therefore forgivable, is troubling, as it shows a certain contempt both for the Gaudiya acharyas and their insights. Indeed, I accept Rupa Goswami, Krishnadas Kaviraj and Vishwanath Chakravarti when they say that identification with Radha as her dasi allows for added realms of joy that are not available to those who think in terms of a single God rather than a dual one.

But Shiva, you know I can't keep up with you when you send these lengthy missals! I would have to consecrate my life to responding to you. I am of course flattered that you should deem me worthy of your time, but please forgive me when I do not enter into detailed discussions.

I find interesting your (self-discovered?) doctrine of occasionalism. It's a hard doctrine to refute. See Bishop Berkeley.

Radhe Shyam!

shiva said...

Hi Jagat, I am not being "in contempt" of the goswamis, rather my point is that they are presenting extremely esoteric teachings whose true inner purport when they write about vraja rasa is not to be found when taking those writings in a literal (face value) sense. Undersanding the true nature or reality of the ontology of Radha Krsna (one person in two forms) is of course a prerequisite to understanding the esoteric intent of the goswamis. Without that prerequisite understanding then any furthur attempt at understanding Radha Krsna tatva will end in frustration, that is simply a truth that I know you will all experience (or have experienced)

As to your mentioning of occasionalism, that is the actual teaching of the vedic sastra. It was first philosophically understood by me, then later experienced as truth. Although there may be some slight difference with the other theistic conceptions (of other religions) of occasionalism.

Btw, I wish you well in your new job in India, sound like a very fun and cool thing to do. It reminds me of when I was offered a job to be in charge of the kitchen for Yogi Amrit Desai's main ashrama in India in Rishikesh (to the middle to bottom of this link) almost 20 years ago (after he ate my cooking where I cooked prasad for the event at a function for him on Kauai put on by his followers).

Jagat said...

Yes, I know your position. And I agree that there are statements that make things look that way. But, whether it is illusion or a lower level of understanding, or just plain stupidity, I hold that you take the oneness too far and the difference not far enough.

Thank you for your good wishes. It is time that I made a change, for the sake of my eternal soul, as it were. Man proposes and God disposes, if we let Her.