Friday, April 17, 2009

O Mind! Meditate on Radha's Breasts

As I go through the dāna-līlā episode of Chandi Das's Śrī Kṛṣṇa Kīrtana, there are many songs in which Krishna describes Radha's beauty, and a regular feature of that includes descriptions of her breasts. In fact, breasts are a subject that is prominent in all Sanskrit poetry, and is even standard in prayers to goddesses. There does not seem to have been any inhibition in talking about breasts in the ancient Indian culture, even though I dare say, there is more of one in the modern society, in spite of Bollywood.

There is, however, an apparent restriction in talking about genitals, male or female, in the so-called erotic poetry of India--Sanskrit or vernacular--even when lovemaking etc., is described. Such descriptions would automatically fall into some other genre.

In Radha and Krishna descriptions, I cannot recall ever seeing or hearing a passage that mentioned genitals or overt sexual activity. It is nearly always spoken of somewhat euphemistically. I remember Chandi Das being a little more direct, but so far, I haven't seen anything that crosses that line. For instance, in the first lovemaking scene where Radha and Krishna come together, at the end of the dāna līlā, we have the following song, which I have numbered 102:

Kahnai embraced her in many ways. He undid the necklace that covered her breast. He rubbed her breasts and thighs intensely, and in many ways made her afraid by scratching her. When Radha spoke, he became more excited and on a bed of leaves and twigs, he made love to her. He kissed her on the cheeks and lips and eyes, he pressed his mouth against hers and drank the honey. When Radha began to becoming more absorbed in lovemaking and made started to make some noise, he stopped her by biting her lip. He touched her buttocks and placed his hands on her thighs. Jagannath became extremely excited. All the desires he had felt for so long were fulfilled in their lovemaking. Kahnai let out a long sigh of satisfaction and then, in order to assure that he would be able to make love to her again, he took her jewelry. After the lovemaking, Radha became afraid. Chandi Das sings, lowering his head to Basali Devi.

Perhaps it is because breasts are one of the things that attracts him to Radha. And why not? It is a feminine feature that all men are helplessly attracted to as much as moths to light.

Today's Rādhā-rasa-sudhā-nidhi verse does not beat around the bush. For the rāgānugā sādhaka, meditation on Radha's breasts is given importance. I think it is a bush that should not be beaten about. Let's follow Ananta Dasji's commentary and then discuss a little.

Here is the verse:

vṛndāṭavī-prakaṭa-manmatha-koṭi-mūrteḥ
kasyāpi gokula-kiśora-niśākarasya |
sarvasva-sampuṭam iva stana-śātakumbha-
kumbha-dvayaṁ smara mano vṛṣabhānu-putryāḥ ||
O my heart, please meditate on the two golden waterpot breasts of King Vrishabhanu's daughter, breasts that are a jewelry chest holding a treasure that is everything to that youth who is like a splendid moon shining in Gokula, a youth whose form, more handsome than millions of Kamadevas, is now manifested in the Vrindavan forest.

When Krishna goes for his nature walks, oranges, pomegranates, bel fruits, chakravak birds--all remind him of Radha's breasts. But here kumbhas--that means "jugs"--are being spoken of. That almost seems too much.

Ananta Dasji's commentary here begins with a lengthy discussion about Krishna as Kāmadeva, in particular refering to Kṛṣṇa-karṇāmṛta 3, where the word kāmāvatārāṅkuram “the root of all descents of desire” (the translation below has “in whom culminate the principal stimuli for amorous love,” and it is often treated as “the seed of all incarnations of Kamadeva”) and the commentary of Kaviraj Goswami:

cāturyaika-nidhāna-sīma-capalāpānga-cchaṭa-mantharaṁ
lāvaṇyāmṛta-vīci-lolita-dṛśaṁ lakṣmī-kaṭākṣādṛtam
kalindī-pulināṅgana-praṇayinaṁ kāmāvatārāṅkuraṁ
bālaṁ nīlam amī vayaṁ madhurima-svārājyam ārādhnumaḥ
We worship that dark bluish young boy, in whom culminate the principal stimuli for amorous love, who causes Radha to become languid with the beauty of His dancing sidelong glances, and who in turn becomes languid with love when Sri Radha and Her friends cast their sidelong glances at Him. That boy's beauty, like waves of nectar, engenders an extreme thirst in the eyes of Radha and Her companions, and, conversely, their nectarous beauty makes Him thirsty to see them. He is affectionately worshiped by Radha's wistful glances, and He enjoys loving pastimes with Radha and Her friends on the bank of the Yamuna. We worship that young bluish boy, the source of the god of love, who has attained unchallenged dominion over love's sweetness. (Translator unknown. Source)
Kaviraj Goswami:

prākṛtāprākṛta-kandarpa-nidāna-vṛndāvanābhinava-kandarpam ity-ādi | āgamādau kāma-gāyatryā kāma-bījena ca tasya tad-rūpeṇopāsyatvāt | koṭi-madana-vimohanāśeṣa-cittākarṣaka-sahaja-madhura-tamalāvaṇyāmṛta-pārārṇavena mahānubhāva-cayānubhūyamāna-tat-tan-mahā-prabhāva-nivahena śrī-madana-gopāla-rūpeṇādhunāpi vṛndāvane virājamānatvāc ca |
Kāmāvatārāṅkuraṁ means the new Cupid who resides in Vrindavan, who is the source of all the material and spiritual gods of desire (kandarpa). This is shown by the injunction in the Tantras, etc., to worship him with the Kāma-bīja and Kāma-gāyatrī. It is also demonstrated by his presence in Vrindavan, even today, in the form of Madan Mohan, which is the infinite ocean of nectar of most sweet natural beauty with its power to attract all the minds and hearts without end and to bewilder uncounted millions of Cupids, and whose such great powers have been directly experienced by great numbers of great souls.
Clearly, this reference to Krishna’s worship with mantras (also mentioned in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta) that are directly related to Kamadeva is a most significant element on this entire devotional path. It is necessary to reflect on the relationship of desire in general to sexual desire and to love, the purity of love in relation to persons of the opposite sex in this world and in relation to God. The whole purpose of this blog is really an exploration of this subject in the context of the mysticism of Rupa Goswami and his friends.

Ananta Dasji then turns to Radha’s breasts. Rupa Goswami’s example of dhīra-lalita Krishna in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu seems an appropriate reference:

vācā sūcita-śarvarī-rati-kalā-prāgalbhyayā rādhikāṁ
vrīḍ-kujcita-locanāṁ viracayann agre sakhīnām asau
tad-vakṣo-ruha-citra-keli-makarī-pāṇḍitya-pāraṁ- gataḥ
kaiśoram saphalī-karoti kalayan kuṣje vihāraṁ hariḥ
With his words, Krishna made Srimati Radharani close her eyes bashfully before her friends by hinting at their amorous activities from the previous night, all the while demonstrating the greatest expertise by painting pictures of playful dolphins on her breasts. In this way, Hari made the most of his youth by enjoying these pastimes in the forest bowers.

So Krishna is painting away on Radha’s breasts, those treasure-laden golden jugs (śātakumbha-kumbha). Ananta Dasji does not shy away from the issue: Prabodhananda is telling us to meditate on Radharani’s breasts and we must take his advice seriously. The Goswamis have presented this highly sexual Krishna as the ultimate form of the Deity. So quite naturally Ananta Dasji reminds us of Jiva Goswami’s famous statement on the matter:

atra sāmānyato'pi paramatva-siddhes tatrāpi parama-śreṣṭha-śrī-rādhā-saṁvalita-līlāmaya-tad-bhajanaṁ tu paramatamam eveti svataḥ sidhyati | kintu rahasya-līlā tu pauruṣa-vikāravad indriyaiḥ pitṛ-putra-dāsa-bhāvaiś ca nopāsyā svīya-bhāva-virodhāt | rahasyatvaṁ ca tasyāḥ kvacid alpāṁśena kvacit tu sarvāṁśeneti jṣeyam |
So in conclusion it is evident that though it has generally been presented that Krishna is the supreme form of Godhead, worship of Him in the association of Radha and engaged in amorous pastimes with her that is the highest of all. Nevertheless, the most private pastimes should not be worshiped by those whose senses undergo transformation in the enjoying spirit nor by those who are in the moods of parenthood, filial devotion or servitude. In such cases, such worship goes against their dominant mood. In this context, such a limitation in the meditation on these intimate pastimes may be partial or total.

Where are we going with this? Is there not something rather strange about a supposed sannyasi telling us to meditate and remember the female breast, that all powerful mind-magnet. It is almost laughably direct. But Ananta Dasji says, "Yes, go ahead. If you can, why not?"

This is so paradoxical, it almost staggers the mind to try to explain it. And those who are fixated on the puruṣendriya-vikāra are the most troubled of all.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is said that human minds create Gods. So, it is the perverted minds which create material gods! Ultimately Krishna was an Avatar of highest values and he could not have engaged in casual material love! After Mahabharat war, Krishna gave life to Parikshit using 'punya' earned through a virtuous life, including 'Brahmacharya' practiced all life and 'Nishkama karma yog' which he professed in Gita. But some of these poets, having great capabilities with language but seemingly perverted minds have taken the pure soulful love in Krishna's Vrindavan life to material heights.