Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Reality-based religion

Over the past couple of days I have written a couple of articles debating with myself the value of living in Rishikesh. The upshot, basically, was that life here was generally conducive to the culture of bhakti.

As you can see from recent posts, also, I am becoming quite carried away by Radha-rasa-sudha-nidhi. My two regular shrotas, both wearing Ramanuja tilak and from Chitrakut in Madhya Pradesh--Ram bhaktas in other words--have also become carried away. Today Ananda Kumar said that listening to RRSN, he had come to realize that this was the highest state. He said he had been searching everywhere, but hearing Radha's glories described in such rich language had convinced him that there was no higher accomplishment than Radha-dasya.

One of the things I thought about today was the language itself. I wish I could channel this language. This is literature, and it is as if these Indian languages were created to describe these lilas, these bhavas. It is very difficult to translate because there is such a gulf to cross between that and this. It is futile, I know, to think that I could reproduce this--272 different hour-long studies in Radha-dasya.

When I first came back from India in 1985 and went to university, I went to an introductory course on, I think "Hinduism and Islam" or some other strange bedfellow course like that. But the professor, Braj Mohan Sinha, presented a four-dimensional model that stuck with me: "this worldly" and "other worldly" crossed with "immanent" and "transcendent" concepts of the Deity. He was, of course, looking for ways to contrast Hindu and Islamic concepts of God and religion.

Later on, those ideas get fudged around a lot. But Weber's idea of "this-worldly" and "other-worldly asceticism" and so on also came into the picture. Another thing that happened to me in those days when I was first going through reentry to the West culture shock was shaking me like a scarecrow in a thunderstorm. Alienation, identity crisis... my Lord, I was practically a teenager again with my Angst. The basic question was, "What have I been doing with my life for the past fifteen years?"

My mother thought: What people in your situation usually do is become doctors or something so that they can go back and help the starving and helpless hordes in lands like India. I toyed with the idea of joining CIDA, Canada's international development agency. It never happened, shukrallah. And the university campus ministry, with its United Church chaplain, fighting condescension as he cast silent judgement on years of mysticism when there is so much humanitarian work to be done. A book: The Self-Awareness Trap. The theme, self-realization is a mithya; political action is satyam.

And then, of course, The Future of an Illusion and all its spawn. The laughing atheists and their disdain for the sky-fairies of the credulous. The inheritors of the magic --> religion --> science vision of progress. This is all there is. And that, over there, repressed sexuality and other fantasies from the chthonic part of ourselves, looking for relief in dancing sky fairies and other flora and fauna of the imagination. Flowers in the sky, horned rabbits.

Well, I had to take a stab at it. Yes, there is a relation between what we experience as so-called reality, this lumpy dream that everyone calls reality. This reality that we struggle to come to some common experience of, in whatever way we can. And yet, which only comes to reality when we find the Self. Not the little self, the self that always seems to go askew into this or that mistaken channel of triviality, but the grand Self that, for all the thousands of years the world has had the time to struggle with the idea, is the Archetype.

Not real? And even with your Deconstructionists and all the rest, you still claim that your perception of reality is not the only thing you have, and reality is like Maricha's golden deer, ever on the horizon to be followed in futility.

Even if everything that exists in mentis first existed in sensu, it does not matter. Did Radha and Krishna come first? Or was it the first poet who saw something divine in the groping, grappling and grunting of horny adolescents, even when he knew as well as any modern scientist that they were just following an imperative of nature? The truth of the diamond exceeds any falseness of the gutter in which it lies.

The pearl of great price is worth more than any riches of this world. Seek out the company of those who possess it.

At any rate, the important thing for us all is to follow the path that has been given to us. And find the company of like-minded people and try to create a community of love. Melt yourself in the fire of rasa and throw yourself into the mold of love, come out a human being. And then, do as you will. You will transform the "real" world.

tasmAd amUs tanubhritAm aham AshiSo jna
AyuH shriyaM vibhavam aindriyam AvirincyAt
necchAmi te vilulitAn uruvikrameNa
kAlAtmanopanaya mAM nijabhrityapArshvam

Therefore, now that I am in knowledge, I do not yearn for the boons desired by conditioned souls such as long life, opulence, worldy glory, or sense pleasures, up to and including those enjoyed by Brahmä. All these are destroyed by You in the form of powerful time. So please give me the association of Your servant. (SB 7.9.24)

na pArameSThyaM na mAhendradhiSNyaM
na sArvabhaumaM na rasAdhipatyam
na yogasiddhIr apunarbhavaM vA
mayy arpitAtmecchati mad vinAnyat

One who has surrendered himself to Me desires nothing—not the position of Lord Brahmä or the kingdom of Indra, mastery over the Earth, or sovereignty over the netherworlds. He seeks not the mystic perfections of yoga, nor liberation from birth and death. He does not desire anything other than Me. (SB 11.14.14)


Anonymous said...




dr.jaya said...

na pArameSThyaM na mAhendradhiSNyaM
na sArvabhaumaM na rasAdhipatyam
na yogasiddhIr apunarbhavaM vA
mayy arpitAtmecchati mad vinAnyat
This beautiful verse is often melodiously recited in Bhakti Satsang. Srila Vyasa Bhagavan had given the same verse three times in Bhagavatam with slight modification.

na nāka-pṛṣṭhaḿ na ca sārva-bhaumaḿ
na pārameṣṭhyaḿ na rasādhipatyam
na yoga-siddhīr apunar-bhavaḿ vā
vāñchanti yat-pāda-rajaḥ-prapannāḥ
na nāka-pṛṣṭhaḿ na ca pārameṣṭhyaḿ
na sārva-bhaumaḿ na rasādhipatyam
na yoga-siddhīr apunar-bhavaḿ vā
samañjasa tvā virahayya kāńkṣe
Jaya Sri Radhe!

visnudas said...

Wow- I want to post anonymously because i will tell you that this post made me cry. It made me also think about Binode Baba whom I will hopefully see this kartik. As I told a dear friend yesterday," if this Rasa-Tattva and Raganuga Marg is a lie and a dream, don't ever wake me up. It is the truest thing I have ever known".
Radhe Radhe!!!
Joy Sri Radhe!