Monday, October 08, 2007

"Normal" Sex; Enough theory! Parakiya bhava; Sex Isn't Everything!

(1) Normal Sexual Relations

Someone wrote in the previous comments section that "normal sexual relations" were permitted for devotee householders. Some of the other posters there also expressed similar ideas.

I just want to say that I am not in favor of "normal" sexual relations. The general attitude in Vaishnava circles is to quote the Bhagavatam, in which it is made very clear that for men (and the instructions are given for men), association with women is the door to hell (5.5.2).

mahat-sevāṁ dvāram āhur vimuktes
tamo-dvāraṁ yoṣitāṁ saṅgi-saṅgam

All bad qualities come out of association with women (3.31.33).

satyaṁ śaucaṁ dayā maunaṁ buddhiḥ śrīr hrīr yaśaḥ kṣamā
śamo damo bhagaś ceti yat-saṅgād yāti saṁkṣayam

Women are temptresses. Chota Haridas was expelled and, more or less, obliged to commit suicide because of a rather doubtful case of association with women, just so that he could be an example to all of us.

So can anything good be said for women or association with women? Though there are some saintly women (like Kunti, Devahuti, Devaki, etc.) in the Bhagavatam, including the gopis, whenever women as a class are discussed, it is generally as a danger to spiritual life. The only place that householder life is given much merit is that it is better than being a tyagi suffering the attacks of sexual desire.

There is fear, even in the forest for the foolish, for the six enemies will accompany him there. On the other hand, what danger is there for an awakened and self-controlled person who takes pleasure in the Self to remain in the home? One who wishes to conquer the six enemies should enter the married state, which is like a fortress from which he can defend himself against these powerful enemies. When they have become weak, then by all means he should take sannyasa. (5.1.17-18)

To quote St. Paul, "It is better to marry than to burn." As soon as one makes this kind of statement, it reduces woman to a second-class human being, and marriage to nothing more than a somewhat more complex form of masturbation, fraught with all kinds of entanglements and dangers.

I don't think I need to say that we have had a sustained and steady critique of these ideas from the feminists and also from enlightened psychologists in Western society that show such a position to be untenable. I don't think that I can, at this particular moment, attempt an exhaustive classification of male and female psychological types. The assessments of male and female character in the scriptures are not altogether wrong. Nevertheless, we need to reassess these scriptural statements in view of others that identify bhakti as an essentially feminine approach to spirituality, and the the idealization of the feminine in Radha and in sakhi/manjari bhava.

The negative statements about woman do not give sufficient scope to the possibility that a woman can be a devotee, even a Mahat. So this is the first essential point to retain here. Sexual relations are not normal where the power relations are distorted.

What can be normal about sexual relations if the man and woman are conditioned to think that they are engaged in something sinful, harmful or damaging for their spiritual life? If "normal" sexual relations is nothing more than a kind of scratch-your-itch so you can get on to more important things, it is self-defeating.

Ultimately, it will come back to bite you, because the desire for sex is not really a desire for sex as much as it is one for intimacy, companionship and love. For a devotee, that can only come in the association of another devotee. And when that particular condition is met, then it is possible to engage in sexual relations as a sacramental act.

Making sexual union a sacramental act is not "normal" sexual relations. What are people thinking is normal anyway--sattva, rajas, tamas? In the sense that devotees want everything to have a relationship to Krishna, it is only sexual relations that are saturated with Radha-Krishna smaranam that are normal, and nothing else.

--o)0(o--


(2) Enough theory, what's the practise?

I have given a great deal of thought about whether I should go into these matters further here. I certainly don't want to enter into the realm of titillation. If that is what people are looking for, there is plenty of it available on the internet. No point in me adding more dung to the heap.

But if you understand the theory, the practise is not that hard to follow. The practice begins in the head and the heart, so take care of those first. Just like in bhakti in general--theory is important, the practice follows on fairly naturally. Nevertheless, I would like to make the following points:

(a) Mental and spiritual preparation.

You need to be fixed up in Krishna consciousness in the traditional, customary sense. This is the question of adhikara. If sex is more important for you than Krishna consciousness, then you have missed the point. That is why you should understand the pravartaka-sadhaka distinction.

(b) The Partner.

You need a partner who is not selected on the basis of rational criteria alone. If you have followed (a), then it will be impossible for you to fall in love with a non-devotee. But if you select a devotee partner on such a basis, the relationship will have svakiya elements that might ultimately prove unstable. So there is a combination of rational and irrational elements involved in the selection of a partner, so clearly this is something that cannot be explained like an instruction manual. It is like selecting a guru: You can say that a guru's qualities are such and such, but there is an element in the guru-disciple relationship that we can call epiphany or charisma, which are outside the realm of reason. See The Sadhika as Guru Tattva.

(c) Physical preparation.

One needs to follow a certain physical culture of yoga. Since one is engaging the physical body and part of the practice includes restraint of the tendency to orgasm, one must be familiar with asana, pranayama, mudras and bandhas. This does not mean, as some may think, that one becomes a yogi; we are simply adding the yoga part to bhakti. Yoga means discipline, and part of that discipline involves the proper maintenance of physical health. Proper sexual control is part of that discipline. The goal is not, however, to raise the kundalini; one makes no primary conscious effort in that regard; that is a secondary result or side effect. Without steps (a) and (b), and if one's fundamental motivation is to indulge in sexual pleasures in a hedonistic way, then you may as well take Viagra and indulge. Such things have nothing to do with the spiritual practice I am talking about.

It should be said that both partners must cooperate. If one is overly attached to orgasm, that becomes the goal of the act. That is not the goal: the goal is to enter a realm of samadhi awareness of Radha and Krishna in their Divine Union, strengthened by the power of intimacy, love, and united consciousness.

(d) The performance of ritual.

This is perhaps the most important part of the process. And when you talk about the how, this is perhaps what you mean. This ritual is something that you will get from your guru. I will not publish it here.

The purpose of the ritual is to focus your mind on the sacredness of the sexual act. It is not, as I have just said, normal. Though first sexual relationships with a love partner may not necessarily follow the ideal model, and not even all such relationships need to follow a full ritual, the couple must occasionally or regularly follow all the elements of ritual, beginning with ritual purification through bathing, nyasa and bhuta-shuddhi, and other elements usually associated with puja.

Tantric practices have been applied to all kinds of religious systems and theologies. Therefore, one should understand that the prayers and mantras chanted in this ritual should be related to Radha-Krishna and manjari bhava. Manjari bhava is the key to the proper understanding of the practice.

(e) Mantra.

Though this might have been included in (d) above, there are three mantras that play an important role in the act of sacramental love. These are the 18-syllable mantra, the Kama-gayatri, and the Hamsa mantra. Each of these plays a role and both partners should preferably have done a purascharan in one or the other of these mantras before going further with the practice.

--o)0(o--


(3) Parakiya Rasa

Several people seem to think that I am advocating pārakīya-rasa, or that what I am advocating will lead to some kind of sexual anarchy, the opening of Krishna conscious swingers clubs, the return of droit de seigneur programs where gurus make their disciples' wives prasadi, and all kinds of other practices of the sort.

I realize I am opening a Pandorra's Box by advocating this kind of sādhana, at the risk of bringing a great deal of opprobrium on my head. But let us deal with the problem of parakiya rasa.

Some of these things I have said before (See also Sexuality and spirituality: Dangers), but repetition is not necessarily a bad thing. As I have taken pains to state above, there is a great deal of importance placed on the choice of partner for this kind of practice. I am not sure that advertising in the marital columns of an Indian newspaper or on the internet is the most fruitful method to follow, though ultimately all means are good. The channels whereby love comes are outside our direct control, and as the Upanishads say, eko bahunam yo vidadhati kaman: Man proposes and God disposes. Knock and it shall be answered.

Nevertheless, there may well be challenges and obstacles in this matter. In fact, the obstacles make one aware of the power of desire, which is very enlightening. The discussion that was begun about desire and its integral nature to the soul was interesting for this reason: Both kama and prema do, in their purest form, act as powerful and uncontrollable forces, seemingly external to the self. The stronger the forces of attachment to dharma create a resistance to desire, the greater the conflict and inner pressure. There are many instructions that tell us not to resist the urge for bhakti if it conflicts with ordinary dharmic injunctions. What is surprisingly difficult is for a religious man or a woman to break with their dharmic marriage commitments. To give spiritual value to potential disruptive parakiya relationship seems socially dangerous, but this is as true of sannyasa as it is of parakiya rasa. And the defense of the two is the same: If a higher purpose is served, then rejection of dharmas can be pardonable.

Shastras warn against disruptive sexual relationships just as they warn against premature sannyasa. The only safeguard we have is our own sincerity. However, I should make it clear that the base position is svakiya-rasa, not parakiya.

I have been trying to communicate a dual understanding of Radha-Krishna lila: (1) as metaphor for jiva-Ishwara and (2) as archetype of human love relationships. In the former, the gopis' and Krishna's parakiya relationship is false. What this means is that our dharmas in this world are related to the bodily concept and are therefore superseded by the true dharma of the soul, love for Krishna. The jiva's real home is in her relation with God.

yat paty-apatya-suhṛdām anuvṛttir aṅga
strīṇāṁ sva-dharma iti dharma-vidā tvayoktam
astv evam etad upadeśa-pade tvayīśe
preṣṭho bhavāṁs tanu-bhṛtāṁ kila bandhur ātmā

Oh Krishna! You are the knower of religion, and so when you instruct us in the duties of a woman to follow and serve husband, children and relatives, then that must be right. But we see that all these instructions culminate in you and are applicable to you, for you are the true beloved of all living beings. You are their friend and you are their very soul. (10.29.32)
In the latter understanding, there is a romantic conception that one is destined to have a spiritual companion sent by God. In India, parents try to ascertain this companion through a complex set of procedures, which are often corrupted by mundane motives. But such a rational approach, however sincere, may result in one's falling into a type of external svakiya relationship that for whatever reason is inimical to one's heartfelt spiritual purpose and destiny. Then, in accordance with the principal of śaraṇāgati (accepting what is anukūla, rejecting what is pratikūla), one may go against conventional social and religious expectations. Svakiya really means what is true to oneself.

I say this with a great deal of care and trepidation. I am not in favor of the kind of social disruption that comes from interfering with the family unit. Taking care of children is a responsibility that should not be entered into lightly. Divorce has a decidedly negative influence on children, and certainly part of that responsibility is to raise children according to principles of religion. Children who are wanted, who are raised in an atmosphere of love and religious practice, will be forever favorable to the culture of spiritual life. Though there are no guarantees anywhere, it is certain that if any of these elements are missing, a child is more likely to experience spiritual problems later on in life.

It should therefore be understood that pārakīyā-rasa (which I should call true svakiya) means a certain concept of love and marriage (gāndharva) that is truer to Western tradition rather than the Eastern (prājāpatya). The best solution is thus for such a "true svakīyā" relationship to be established before events bring the destined partners into other entangling relationships.

At the same time, the kind of sexual practices we are talking about have a birth-control method built into them, making wanted children the norm.

This is all pretty pie-in-the-sky scenario, as wherever something can go wrong, it surely will. And that is nowhere more true than in the untidy world of love and sexual relationships. But as I was trying to say in the "We need a new sexual revolution" post, things are pretty bad as it is. I was just listening to a university colloquium on hypersexualization in today's society and, believe me, teenagers are under a great deal of unpleasant pressure due to the contemporary hypersexualization of media and mores. When I say that we need a new sexual revolution I mean that we need to revive the natural intuitive awareness of the sacred nature of human love and sexuality. This includes the option of abstention.

--o)0(o--


(4) A last word: Sex is NOT everything

It is important to state that sex is not everything, even though it may sometimes appear that way on this blog. There is something fundamentally questionable to the ordinary Westerner about the idea of a celibate male spending his time meditating on the sexual pastimes of an imagined Deity. Seen from a purely psychological point of view, it seems fairly clear that people who do so may well have a problem with what is, after all, a normal human activity.

There seems to be a healthy approach to sexuality that places it appropriately in the context of life as a whole, with all that implies. Those of us who are conscious of the problems in the third world, for instance (India itself is a good example), where ecological, economical, educational, and health problems are all-pervading, will recognize that no human being can remain indifferent or inactive.

Love of God, and love of a devotee, love of the community of devotees, and finally love for the wider human community: This is the expansion of the loving propensity. The loving propensity requires action, in accordance with our personal adhikāra. Love of God and love of a devotee, or even love of the community of devotees, can become excessively exclusionary; after strengthening to center of love, one has to expand further and further outward.

So when I say prema prayojana, I am not saying, "Sex is the goal of life."

15 comments:

Jagat said...

In reading the above text over, I see that there are two points of confusion.

I use the word svakiya in two different ways. When I say that the svakiya position is the base position, I mean that fidelity to one's "true" partner is the base position. If one is engaged in a conventional committed relationship (for which I also used the word svakiya) that requires being false to oneself, that is untenable.

In that case, just as in Krishna lila, what appears to be parakiya may in fact be svakiya, since it implies being true to oneself. In my opinion, one should try to avoid being in a position where one is not true to oneself.

Devi said...

In the hasty race to establish sex as a sin, people are missing important points.
Remember the four human pursuits, dharma artha, kama, moksha. Maybe that’s why the so many Vedic temple walls are full of erotic sculptures. The kama sutras themselves were written by one sage who lived in a temple complex. I believe there was a harem of prostitute girls living in the compound. Now lets say still it’s a sin, regardless.
But how is it that such a sinful activity has produced so many wonderful devotees all over the world ? Some of those who parents were not godly at all. I believe a pious human body cannot be the result of a deadly sin. .
You see anything that is overdone is harmful. That's why transcendentalists try to curb sensual desires and the yogic standard for marital sex is during a certain period of the month. It is mother nature’s way that the population should continue, and also its important that the parent have off-springs who will do their shraddha. That’s the importance of having children in the Vedic culture.
No one is saying that sex is better than bhakti or equal. But it’s a legal- genuine- bonafide human pursuit. All souls in this world who are eternally conditioned are born with this ‘enemy called lust’ imbedded in their loins, as the transcendentalists describe it. But the enemy cannot be ignored. It’s better to enter the grhastha ashram and satisfy the ‘ enemy of lust’ in an honest moderate fashion, and at the same time seek Krishna’s mercy by pursuing bhakti, than by claiming to be celibate while meditating on the said ‘enemy of lust.’
Humility is an important point. One should always see that salvation comes only by the grace of guru and Krishna . They are the only ones capable of freeing one from this ‘sin.’ So that at one point the devotee will spit at the thought. Guru and Krishna are our real saviors. Not we ourselves and our external endeavors.
And lastly, I know I going to get hammered on the head for this (smile)If multiple wives were allowed in this society, there would be no need for parakiya relations, for a man would be able to have as many women legally as he wants. Therefore what would have been a normal multiple wife arrangement ends up being an illicit parakiya relationship, or that the man seeks out prostitues. Now, I heard that they want to legalize prostitution in Los Angeles since it is out of control there. well prostitution has been acceptable in India since the times of Kubja and Krishna. Very very sinful??
Now I wait to be pelted with stones.(smile)Thanks Jagat. Good work.Enlightening.

Anonymous said...

So the long awaited revelation here is that the so called unorthodox Sahajiya Vaisnavas have shown us a better, more contemporary approach to entering the lila. However, as far as I know Sahajiyas do not consider the lila to be eternal. So I guess this is your revelation to bring the two paths together.

I do not think this idea will be attractive to very many people. Tantric sex without orgasm will not usher in the new sexual revolution. First of all it's been around for a while in the West, and secondly your Radah Krishna version will not be attractive to very many devotees of Radha Krishna. So you have the twofold task of attracting people to Radha and Krishna and thier lila and then convincing them that instead of marriage they need to practice tantric adultorous tantirc sex.

Most people ust want to have sex with a partner they are attracted to. The majority also want to raise children. They can do this in orthodox Gaudiya Vaisnavism, and at least according to the Gaudiya acaryas, attain parakiya bhava. In my opinion if you just let them have sex without having to procreate each time, you will get a much bigger following than you will by preching what you are proposing.

Anonymous said...

I've not yet read the whole post but just wanted to say that I know some Vaishnavas who incorporate "tantrik sex" techniques into their lovemaking but they do not visualize Jugal Kishore or anything in the act. They are basically having making love as a means to deepen their intimacy with each other.

Jagat said...

Well, that is what I call sex in the mode of goodness. And that is, of course, better than sex in passion and ignorance. But why not take it a step further?

Jagat said...

With regard to the previous Anonymous posting:

What long-awaited revelation? What did you think I was going to say, that we should only do sex while standing on our heads and touching our toes?

But you evidently did not read what I wrote, for I neither said that one should have adulterous tantric sex (Was the repetition and the misspelling a sign of trembling as you typed?), nor that no one should ever procreate.

I do say that human relations are more complicated than the laws of the religious have ever allowed, and the letter of the law in these matters is not always efficacious.

As far as what Sahajiyas believe or do not believe, I would like to know who speaks for the Sahajiyas. As I was just saying in my response to Sridhar Maharaj's criticism of Sahajiyas, it seems anyone you want to call a Sahajiya is one. Has any Sahajiya formally responded to any such criticism publicly so that we know where they officially stand? Is there an official Sahajiyaism?

So I just figured I may as well speak for them, as one who believes that true Sahajiyaism came out of Gaudiya Vaishnava, and not out of Buddhist or Shaiva Tantricism. Tantra, like yoga and other pan-Indian meditation and worshiping techniques (even kirtan), is used by people adhering to a wide variety of metaphysical and theological beliefs. In this particular case, certain techniques are applied, but the theology remains fundamentally the same.

Nevertheless, I do say that one should have a culture in madhura-rasa and manjari-bhava. That is unfortunately absent in most IGM circles.

Jay Sri Radhe Shyam!

Jagat said...

One more thing. I don't think that I will usher in a new sexual revolution. Nor am I betting all my marbles on seminal retention as the solution.

Nevertheless, talking to you personally (let's leave this corrupt and suffering world of desperate sensation seekers out of it), if you are going to have sex, why not make it a part of your spiritual program by turning it into a sacramental act?

anuradha said...

This is more or less the article I have been waiting for.
It is clear and covers some of those grey areas, especially surrounding the practice.

From the point of view you are representing it makes sense.

I conclude
-it is exclusive since it requires a specific initiation.
-it is difficult since it requires selfcontrol and an acceptance of a very specific form of God explained in a very specific way.
-it is liable to be misunderstood or misused.

So I will not necessarilly reject your propositions, but I do not think it solves the many problems surrounding sexuality this day and age considering my points above. I do think though people, and especially devotees, should learn to discuss these things and be educated in the mechanisms of how the sexual energy can work, destructive, constructive and that it ultimately in its deepest sense originates from the spiritual world.

To make it more clear and personal. Philosophically I can follow you, but in the practice I would probably be one of those orgasm directed hedonists making the deeper meaning look like a fairytale.

So I go for the 'safety first'-approach which my guru recommended me.

Aspiring Kishori said...

""To quote St. Paul, it is better to marry than to burn. As soon as one makes this kind of statement, it reduces woman to a second-class human being, AND MARRIAGE TO NOTHING MORE THAN A SOMEWHAT MORE COMPLEX FORM OF MASTERBATION.""

Ha ha ha. That line was classic!

I think that the really negative injunctions against women exclusively in shastra were written by men who had no luck in the arena of relationships and expressed their bitter hearts through sanskrit slokas. That's the only explananation that makes sense to me.

"" I am not sure that advertising in the marital columns of an Indian newspaper or on the internet is the most fruitful method ""

My experience with Indian culture and Indian relationships tell me that ads in the marital columns of an Indian newspaper would NOT be fruitful for this type of sambandha.

Indians in general tend to be very conservative and un-adventurous when it comes to love and sex. Of course in a country of 1 billion, you will get plenty of exceptions, but still, I would say your average small town Indian is pretty conservative, even by international Vaishnava standards.

Anyway, I don't see how this ties into manjari bhav sadhana. If both the male and female partners identify as a manjari, then how can they engage in sexual relations with each other while maintaining that inner identity?

Two little girls on the brink of Kishorihood who just want to assist their Swamini in meeting with her Priyatam are now having sex with each other? What is up with that?

That's why I say that yes, Vaishnava couples can and do have creative intimate lives, but while doing so they can't and do not identify themselves in the same way they identify themselves during their sadhana time.

When I say "can't" above it is not meant as "it's impossible", but it means I can't see how it would work.

So could you address this issue please Jagat?

Aspiring Poly-androus Wife said...

""And lastly, I know I going to get hammered on the head for this (smile)If multiple wives were allowed in this society, there would be no need for parakiya relations, for a man would be able to have as many women legally as he wants. ""

Devi, I am not against polygamy per se (polygamy means multiple spouses, NOT just exclusively wives), but countries that do allow for polygyny (poly-gyny denotes denotes multiple wives), still have a problem with husbands cheating. But instead of cheating on ONE wife, they are cheating on 2 or 3 or 4.

Also, you do not take into account the needs of a woman. Do not limit your idea of polygamy to poly-gyny only, but take into account poly-andry. There are still some isolated cultures where women take more than one husband. There is a region in South India that has such communities, as well as North India. Africa is another place where a few isolated communities are practicing poly-andry. By isolated I mean it is a minority compared to the monagamous and even polygynous majority, but it is still present and still thriving. You can do your own research on the Internet to find out where more such communities are and the logistics of how they function, if you are interested.

I saw a documentary on TV with regards to the South Indian community of poly-androus wives and it is a tradition that community has carried on for many centuries. The wives and their five husbands live in their own little huts which are arranged in a circle. The wife gives one month to each husband on a rotation basis, after her period she will move on to the next hut. That way paternity is always known.

What's good for the goose is good for the gander, baby!

Jagat said...

Indeed, Aspiring Kishori, I have been explaining this quite often, but perhaps it has been somewhat technical. But I will always start with the technical and simplify afterwards.

The discussion earlier on the blog about Aropa and Sadharanikarana is the key to understanding the mechanism here. The link is now given in this posting.

I think I am going to have to do this on a separate blog posting.

Anonymous said...

"So I go for the 'safety first'-approach which my gururecommended me."

(Is that the condom approach? Just joking).

Regarding "safety" though, what does that mean? I am not sure what specifically the guru in question has recommended , and how is it “safer”, but if he recomends abstinence, personally I don’t believe abstinence is safer than the practice suggested by Jagadananda. In fact, if perfected, Jagat’s proposition may prove safer than abstinence. And clearly, even as a theory, its safer than promiscuous, negative sex. We cannot deny that the secular world has failed in keeping humanity safe from negative sex. Science and Morality, both have not solved the problem of human sexuality. And the devotional world has failed us as well – we must admit that fact. Devotees do fall in love. And when thus feeling deeply for family relations, are expected to wholesale reject such feelings in the name of spiritual progress. We have seen that the result of such contradiction has been a culture of institutionalized confusion, injustice, abuse, misogyny, and neglect of children. There is nothing safe about such scenario. The victims of such half-though “solution” have never and will never be safe. And perpetrators aren’t safe either. Everyone is affected by such bad policy. If I understand correctly, Jagat proposes dovetailing sexuality to spiritual development. This means ceasing to see human affection as problematic, but in fact recognize how love between people is actually a manifestation of God.

anuradha said...

Anon,

With 'safe' I meant, that I was taught a step by step approach which finally will and must also lead to raganuga bhakti. This is the approach which is the standard in IGM (supposed to be at least).
Now ofcourse I for one am aware that there is problems and if not adressed, you are right, I can hardly call my approach safe. Abstinence without guidance can be just as harmfull and can indeed lead to all kinds of hypocritical outbursts.
Fortunately I have seen some good examples too and in their footsteps I feel safe.

But as you I am aware that there is more to it. And that is why I take Jagat's propositions seriously and contemplate on what he says.

Most of us from IGM are not familiar with smaranam, which is required for the sadhana Jagat introduces.
We are not against it (smaranam) though and also not against raganuga bhakti. It is there in the scriptures we share. With all that is said about IGM being different from the traditional school, I think it is fair to say the basic difference is that we, starting with SBSST, doubt the adhikara, the general adhikara. We think the standard is high and the average adhikara is low. All other differences are relative and have its root in this basic idea/assumption.

And in a way this is also a requirement for Jagat's sadhana. The appropriate adhikara as he says must be there if you want to be a performer of dovetailed sex. That means you cannot have one doubt in your mind about the superiority of Radha-Krishna and you must basically also have an advanced level of sense control. Otherwise the whole thing will not really help you, but work against you.

Am I right, Jagat and Anon ?

Jagat said...

Partly right. Like the IGM, I believe that it is necessary to have some idea of sambandha-jnana.

I am not sure what the threshold of either knowledge or sense-control is. I certainly don't place the bar as high as the Gaudiya Math or Iskcon, i.e. that you have to be practically brahma-bhuta in order to even contemplate reading Govinda-lilamrita.

This is a sort of radical dualism that I feel is problematic in the IGM approach. Read today's blog and see what you think. I am still being perhaps too intricate, I can surely simplify more. The goal is to simplify in such a way that one remains true to the essential ideas, no matter how intricate their argumentation seems.

That is why I select Prema Prayojan as my motto. It is very simple, but everything is in there, including achintya-bhedabheda.

Anonymous said...

"""With 'safe' I meant, that I was taught a step by step approach which finally will and must also lead to raganuga bhakti. This is the approach which is the standard in IGM (supposed to be at least).
Now ofcourse I for one am aware that there is problems and if not adressed, you are right, I can hardly call my approach safe. Abstinence without guidance can be just as harmfull and can indeed lead to all kinds of hypocritical outbursts.
Fortunately I have seen some good examples too and in their footsteps I feel safe. """

I would be careful when lumping ISKCON in with Gaudiya Math. I find the two practically at opposite ends of the pole on many things, at least the Gaudiya Maths I've had exposure to.

And Anuradha, I don't know what you mean by "step by step" but if you mean that by the practice of vaidhi bhakti you can eventually progress to raganuga, that is not true neccessarily. Although there may have been vaidhi bhaktas who crossed over to raganuga upon the good fortune of meeting raganuga vaishnavas, there is no guarantee that practicing vaidhi bhakti for thousands of lifetimes will get you raganuga bhakti. Why? Because the two paths are separate right from beginning to end. In raganuga sadhana you start off with some taste for Braj lila by the mercy of an adept raganuga vaishnava who gives you that taste. Then with that taste in the foreground of your heart, you proceed to commence your sadhana at it's early stages. Just because it is an early stage of raganuga sadhana does not mean it is vaidhi bhakti. That being said, all of the limbs of bhakti that are covered in vaidhi are also covered in raganuga, but the aim and object is different.

I have heard from some ISKCON members that when one perfects one's vaidhi-sadhana they will then progress to the higher stage of raganuga sadhana. NOT!

Vaidhi is vaidhi, raganuga is raganuga. The aim and object is different from the get-go.