Saturday, November 17, 2007

Shukas and Saris Discuss Mana

This verse from the Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi keeps coming to me—

aher iva gatiḥ premṇaḥ svabhāva-kuṭilā bhavet
tasmād dhetor ahetoś ca yūnor mānam udañcati
The path of love is as naturally crooked at that of a snake. Therefore lovers quarrel, sometimes with good reason, and sometimes for no reason at all. (UN 15.102)
This is the difference between Gaudiyas and Nityaviharis. The latter see no usefulness in māna from the point of view of rasa, whereas the Gaudiyas (a pox on them!!) do. Why? Because that is somehow at once an integral part of the essence of loving relationships, which have a permanent, innate dialectic in them.

The word māna ("measure, weight" -- "self worth" -- "pride") has two different uses. One is the kind of frustrated anger and displeasure that is half explicable, half not, and seemingly causes a distance to grow between lovers. That is the meaning in Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi chapter 15.74-146. The other meaning, from chapter 14, is a sthayi-bhava, which in effect tries to explain the underlying reasons, based in love, that such manifestations take place.

In other words, māna is not just a līlā, where Radha or Krishna stop talking to one another until one or the other one gives in and begs, “Please make it stop! Don’t push me to the breaking point! I can’t live without you.” When that happens, Krishna prays, “Put your merciful feet on my head. I can’t take it any longer.” Rather, it is a particular state of love, which lies between sneha and praṇaya.

Māna means pride, because love does not just mean losing your identity in the loved one. It also means finding value in yourself.

Rudra Bhatta says (and Rupa Goswami quotes):

snehaṁ vinā bhayaṁ na syān nerṣyā ca praṇayaṁ vinā
tasmān māna-prakāro’yaṁ dvayoḥ prema-prakāśakaḥ
Without sneha, there would be no fear. Without praṇaya, there would be no jealousy. Therefore māna reveals these two other states of love also (or, māna reveals the love of both nāyaka and nāyikā). (UN 15.78)
Radha’s māna is durjaya-māna. She does not give in so easily, but eventually she has to. Because she is also needy. She needs Krishna, but she has to prove something. Before she can trust him, she needs to push the screws in deeper. It is a kind of torture, really. So how can anyone accept that Radha should be cruel to Krishna in that way? Only the Gaudiyas really seem to have a feeling for it.

But Rupa Goswami has an answer for those who don't, these Chandravali followers. Perhaps all men are conflicted a little between Chandravali and Radharani, though of course no one in the Gaudiya sampradaya will admit it. We accept without question Rupa Goswami’s edict: tayor apy ubhayor madhye rādhikā sarvathādhikā “Of Radha and Chandravali, Radha is superior in every respect.” (UN 4.2)

But men in this world are generally conflicted. Intellectually they want a Chandravali who will be submissive and who will be warm, wet and welcoming. At their worst, they are those Japanese sex-doll fetishists who keep lifesize, big-lipped, simulated flesh women piled up in a cupboard for immediate, unprotesting, sexual availability. The Nitya Vihāra!!

These are the men who infantilize women in their fantasies, who in the extreme become pedophiles. This is what I mean when I condemn masculinity, when I say that raw and savage masculinity is by nature "I-It" consciousness and exceedingly troubled by the Other in any form.

When we condemn masculine religion, it means that religion which is in competition with other religions, which effortlessly and repeatedly turns God into an idol, an impersonal object, a purveyor of desire, subject to a subjective vision and not the object of objective vision and love.

But I digress: Radha is Krishna’s Other. And he must surrender. That is her power. And from her point of view that is not so much a conscious thing as the result of her loving attitude known as māna. Māna arises in Radha whenever she thinks she is being treated like a Chandravali.

If Krishna has been with Chandravali and comes to Radha, she naturally says, “Well if you think I am just another Chandravali, then what is the point? There already IS a Chandravali out there. As a matter of fact, not one, but countless Chandravalis. For a handsome and heroic chap like yourself, Chandravalis are a dime a dozen. So what do you want with me?”

But Chandravali is also a part of Radha. This is not some kind of sado-masochistic dominatrix līlā with whips and black leather. The way the līlā has been described, Krishna is one, but he is also two: there is the bahu-vallabha Krishna of the Bhagavatam, in whom the element of aiśvarya remains. And the Radha-vigata-prāna Krishna of the Gita Govinda, who gives up this indifferent supremacy and all-attractiveness to become the attracted one.

The point is that for Krishna to be fulfilled, he must transcend being the one who has sādhāraṇa-praṇaya (GG 2.1), whose love is generalized, even the who is samo'ham sarva-bhūteṣu (Gita 9.29). The dialectic of love, the process of maturation, comes through commitment and surrender--even for Krishna. Otherwise love has no real meaning for Him.

māno dadhāno viśrambhaṁ praṇayaḥ procyate budhaiḥ
When the different feelings of māna take on the qualities of trust, then that is called pranaya. (UN 14.108)
The synthesis of the līlā comes about through the earning of trust (viśrambha), which deepens the sense of intimacy that was originally established in sneha.

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Forgive me, I prattle like a fool. The impersonalists say we cannot understand God by analogy, and yet that is the only way we can understand. We are told not to go too far with analogical thinking, and yet our acharyas have already gone too, too far.

Everything that glorifies Krishna's aiśvarya--his omnipotence, his omniscience, his absolute transcendence--is true. And yet, the greatest mystery about Krishna is his madhurya, which is far more ineffable than his aiśvarya, indeed you could say a far greater miracle of omnipotence--to be omnipotent, and yet somehow not.

And all that carries over into God's relationship with the jiva and creation. He controls everything, and yet somehow or other, the jiva is free to choose, to make decisions that determine his own fate.

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Some relevant material from Govinda-līlāmṛta, chapter 13, shuka and shari quarrel.

antaḥ-kauṭilya-mālinyā bahir-vīkṣaṇa-rañjanāḥ
gopālā bhānty amī pakva-mahākāla-phalopamāḥ
The Sharis say, ""Hey Shukas! All the cowherd boys outwardly look very nice like ripe makhala fruit, but inside, they’re just as bitter! That is because they are full of deception and trickery.”
vāmya-valkala-sanchannā dṛḍha-mānāsthi-saṁvṛtā
nārikela-phalānāṁ vā gopikānāṁ rasa-sthiti
bahir-antaś caika-rūpā doṣa-heyāṁśa-varjitā
drākṣā-phalotkarasyeva svāmino me rasa-sthitiḥ
The Shukas retort: “O Sharis! Although the gopis are sweet on the inside, they’re covered by an outer layer of orneriness, and then by tough shell of māna—just like the hard layers covering the sweet coconut meat. That is the the shape of rasa where they are concerned. But where Krishna is concerned, he is the same inside and out, without any flaw or wasted elements. He’s sweet inside and out, like a bunch of grapes.” (13.20-21)
antaḥ sadā rasa-mayo’pi bahiḥ samudyat-
kauṭilya-dhārṣṭya-vara-valkala-parva-rukṣaḥ
mānākhya-yantraṇam ṛte na rasa-prado’sāv
ikṣu-prakāṇḍa iva vaḥ prabhur acyutākhyaḥ
The Sharikas answer with a grin: “Oh Shukas! Your master may be rasamaya within, but his dishonest, pert behavior is coarse and knobbly like sugarcane bark. So, just as sugarcane juice isn’t available until the cane has been run through the juicing press, your rasika Krishna doesn’t supply any rasa until he's been run through the mill of the gopis’ māna! No wonder he is called acyuta!”
Acyuta meaning, not a drop of juice falls.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Jagat you wrote: Radha’s mana is durjaya-mana. She does not give in so easily, but eventually she has to. Because she is also needy. She needs Krishna, but she has to prove something."

This statement does not make it clear all through as to the cause of Radha's obligation to give in. Perhaps you can complete that thought? As is, I believe it is actually a mistatement. Radha is never under obligations of any sort - she is absolutely free. She does not have to do absolutely anything, and only gives in to Krsna because of his need for such. She's got him in her hand at all times. All times.

Jagat said...

kRSNere nAcAya prema, bhaktere nAcAya
Apane nAcaya tine nAce eka ThAi

Prema makes Sri Krishna dance
and the bhakta dance apace.
Then prema itself joins in the dance,
The three dance in one place.

(Antya 18.18)

Who's whose servant? Who's the boss?
Who's below, who above?
Golok's gods are Yoga Maya,
Madan and Prema, love.