Wednesday, September 02, 2009

SKK 8: Bana-khanda in Sri Krishna Kirtan




This post was cut out of the previous Gopāla-vijaya: Dāna-līlā Part III, since there is mention there of Krishna being hit by the arrows of Cupid. This is a big theme throughout the Gita Govinda and in all Indian love poetry. As much as it is in the West: "being pierced by the arrows of Cupid" is a trope that is easily understood both in East and West.

However, there is an entire chapter in SKK called Bāna-khaṇḍa , covering 26 songs, from 282 to 308. Since there are several immediate questions in my mind related to this chapter, I am going to give a summary of it here.

It is interesting for this reason that here Krishna shoots Radha with Cupid's arrow. But this is idiosyncratic for several reasons. After all, one ordinarily does not have the power to make someone fall in love with you, that is why the third party or external force named "Cupid" has been devised in the first place. At the same time, since Krishna in the Gaudiya tradition at lease is the navīna-madana who is worshiped with the Kāma-bīja and Kāma-gāyatrī, it would seem that there is a connection. Krishna fires the arrows of attraction and one falls transcendentally in love with him.

Even so, in ṣrī Kṛṣṇa-kīrtana, is Radha not already in love with Krishna? This is the eleventh of thirteen chapters in SKK and we are almost near the end. There has been an evolution in Radha's relationship with Krishna throughout the book, from her preliminary indifference to Krishna's passion to reluctant acquiescence and then to slow but ever increasing attachment. At the end, when Krishna finally leaves for Mathura, Radha will be totally desolate in separation.

Nevertheless, as is made clear in this chapter, Krishna is not satisfied with her level of commitment and when she went and spoke ill of him to Mother Yashoda (at the end of the previous chapter), he loses all patience and decides he must shoot Cupid's arrows and "take her life."

Through all this, Krishna himself seems strangely unchanged and heartless, or at the very least, childish and immature. And even here, the shooting of Cupid's arrows does not seem like an act of love, but of enmity and vengefulness. This is why, as Amitrasudana Bhattacharya quotes Shankariprasad Bosu from Madhya-yuger kavi o kāvya, "Whatever is good in the SKK is dominated by Radha. But he in whose name the song is sung, Krishna, is the reservoir of all faults. Whatever bad has been said about SKK is a result of the depiction of Krishna's personality." (Bhattacharya's edition of SKK, 9th edition, Kolkata: Dey's Publishing, 2002; p.95).

The Bana-khanda takes up from the previous chapter where Radha went and told Yashoda everything about Krishna's behavior with her. This makes Krishna very angry. Insulted and in a rage, he tells Barai that he has given up all hope for a relation with Radha.
"She has made a laughing stock of me throughout Gokula. I will pierce her essence with the arrows of Cupid... I even thought that I would take her life, but only hold back on your account."
Barai then tells him that he should not show Radha any kindness (nā koriho dayā) but go ahead and shoot her with these five fabulous flower arrows: stambhana, mohana, dahana, śoṣana, uccāṭana, which do indeed sound rather dangerous.

These flower arrows are always a mystery to me. Are they meant figuratively or literally? In this case, it is evident that something literal is meant. Krishna is an extraordinary divine child who possesses great powers.

Traditionally, the shooting of Cupid's arrows come at the beginning of a relationship. Here in this chapter, however, there are many allusions to the first chapters of SKK, where Radha refused Krishna's offering of tambul and incurred Barai's wrath. Krishna also mentions the dāna-līlā several times, thus hearkening back to the early part of the romance, and indicating that little progress has been made.

In this conversation with Krishna, Barai herself recalls the tambul that she had brought to Radha and which she had thrown away. Barai says, "Go ahead. Take her life. She is not afraid of you. Let her beg for mercy." This equation of shooting with Cupid's arrows and taking her life comes up again and again in this chapter.

The puzzling question here is why should Radha be afraid? What is the relationship of this to love? What does it say about Chandidas's understanding of love in general? Perhaps it is to foreshadow the separation that will follow soon afterwards when Krishna leaves for Mathura. Perhaps the idea is that love, like bhakti, is related to a feeling of powerlessness or helplessness. Metaphorically, Radha's resistance could perhaps be seen as a sign of material ego.

Krishna really gets dressed up in Song 284, the naṭa-vara, showing all the beauty of Cupid himself. Chandidas also describes the beautiful uddīpanas of spring in the Vrindavan forest. In view of the feelings of anger, etc., that have been expressed by both Krishna and Barai, it seems somewhat inconsistent to have a classical description of Krishna's beauty, but it certainly gives pause to consider the author's intention. After all, even in Gopāla-vijaya, we hear a lot about people getting angry -- Radha, Krishna, as well as Barai -- but the underlying sentiment is one of laughter. Somehow, though, SKK does not come across as so humorous. The recurring "taking of life" theme in this section seems to bely any such interpretation. And yet, the connection of Krishna's extreme beauty and the shooting of arrows is being made. I don't think there is another description of Krishna quite like this one anywhere in the book. [This will need to be confirmed.]

And then he stands in wait.

Meanwhile Barai once again brings Radha into the forest on the pretext of going to Mathura to sell milk products, setting up the same circumstance as several of the earlier līlās (285-286). She then tells Krishna, "I have brought Radha here with great effort. Don't delay but shoot her with Cupid's arrows. Take Radha's life today. (āji laha rādhāra parāṇa.) . When she is completely overcome with separation then she will beg for you, Vanamali. Only then will I be happy." (287)

But Krishna does not react immediately. Rather he sends Barai to exact an apology from Radha first (288-289). "What has Krishna not done for you? And still you remain indifferent... Go and hold Krishna's feet."

Though Radha hears the threats of being shot with Cupid's arrow, she is unafraid. She recounts that all the Puranic heroes are present in her body -- Lord Shiva, Nila, Madana, Garuda, Prithu, Yudhisthira, Sugriva, Bali, Simha, (e.g. "Shiva Mahadeva, Lord of the Gods, is directly present in my braids"), so bring it on. (Song 290)

Metaphorically, here, the moral could be that material heroics are no competition for Krishna. Or, "Comes love, nothing can be done."

Radha thus bravely challenges Krishna to come and refuses to apologize. She and Krishna have a little back and forth argument (291), however, when Krishna does show his flower bow and draws it before her ("I will take your life, don't let me down." 291.15-16), she starts to tremble and says, "I am only 14 years old. Out of ignorance I said some nasty things about you. I will do whatever you ask of me, but please don't shoot the arrow and take my life. This will be a great sin, etc." (292)

Krishna replies with the same old grudges, recalling the early chapters of the SKK. "I sent you tambul but you threw it away. Now you have been speaking ill of me, spreading lies to the whole community. You threaten to tell Kamsa, well let him save you. Neither the gods nor the demons can resist the power of Cupid's arrows, with which I will now take your life. You have shown such disrespect." And:

tohmāke māribo ṁ Ara āihana bīra /
āra ka ṁsa mārite ṁ mana koilo ṁ thīra //

I will kill you and the heroic Aihan. And I have decided to kill Kamsa also. (293.4)

Seeing Krishna's intransigeance, Radha turns to Barai and asks her to intercede (294), but here the old woman (viparīta-matira vṛddhā) again takes Krishna's side and repeatedly pressures him to shoot. (295) Finally, Krishna does so, after again saying, "Radha, you don't know who I am." (āhmā nā cihnasi). [This phrase, it should be remarked, also appears in GoVi (ref.)]

Song 295 ends with Krishna piercing Radha's heart with the flower arrow and her falling to the ground.

As an aside, it might be wondered the extent to which this "recognition" Krishna demands is literal. In the Goswamis, the gopis know well enough who Krishna is, but they don't take him seriously for all that. So any banter between them (or the sakhas) and Krishna with regards to his identity are purely on the level of tongue in cheek. Whereas here it seems as though Krishna is genuinely disappointed that Radha does not recognize him for who he is and give him his due -- unconditional love and obedience.

Song 296 is Radha's reaction in which she is completely transformed. "O Barai, I will stay here and set up house for Krishna. I will make love to him and fulfill my youth. (Chorus) O Barai ! How long can I bear this flower arrow wound? Here is the Yamuna, here Vrindavan. Please bring the son of Nanda to me here. In this very place, I will draw Kahnai to my bosom, holding his shawl. My youth has become an intoxicated elephant. I can no longer hold it back with the whip of modesty and shame. I cannot tolerate the arrows of Cupid, which do not kill me physically, but only burn me to a crisp within. I cannot bear the wound made by this invisible arrow, which Krishna uses to kill other's wives (para-tirI)." And with that, Radha falls to the ground unconscious.

Krishna and Barai are now afraid that Radha really is dead. Barai suddenly changes her tune and shows displeasure at Krishna's action. She says, "I told you to kill her, but that was a joke. Why didn't you oppose me? You could kill a hundred brahmins here in Gokula, but that is not as sinful as killing a single woman. There is no more pious woman in the universe than Radha and you have gone and shot her, like a low class chandal. Do everything you can to save her, Kanai, or there will be no escaping condemnation." Radha's sakhis also cry and rebuke Krishna for what he has done. (297-298)

Krishna becomes afraid. "I don't know how to save her." He also promises to reform himself: “I will stop doing things like asking for tolls or flirting with women. Help me, Barai!”

She continues to chastize him and he, childishly, answers that it is not his fault. "What accidental impiety did I do so that I am falsely accused? I got nothing out of this relationship, no kisses, no lovemaking. All I got was criticism and backbiting." Then he blames Barai for getting him into the mess by telling him to shoot the arrows. (299-301)

Finally, after Barai (302) continually tells him the only way to solve the situation is to go to Radha and save her life, Krishna goes to her. He blames Barai. He touches her even while blaming her for going and talking to his mother, "Why did you go and do that?" [sounding ever like the battering husband]. Interestingly, Krishna here again promises that he will give up playing the toll duty collector. [This sure makes it sound like the WHOLE of SKK is focused around the dāna-līlā, or grew out of it. So, it may well be called the "defining" līlā of SKK?]

As this sequence of four songs (303-306) by Krishna to the fallen Radha, which Chandidas calls a vilāpa, or lament, develop, Krishna becomes more and more anxiety ridden. "Look at me, may my sin go away. May the pain of being separated from you go away. My life is intertwined with yours (āhmāra jīvana rohe tohmāra jīvane)."

Krishna does seem remorseful. "Just come back to life. I will not behave in this way any more," he promises repeatedly. Four songs in a row by Krishna is pretty unusual in SKK. He begs her to come back to life, saying he will go to Benares and become a sannyasi, or jump in a river or the ocean to commit suicide. One line here makes me think that Chandidas is setting up this as a reason for Krishna's going to Mathura--to flee a difficult situation of his own making. (kon puri jaibe ṁ pālāiyā ṁ?). "I will burn my flower arrows and bow, for they have caused you to lose your life."

Radha slowly gets back up. Krishna fans her and brings her Yamuna water to drink. The sakhis cheer (hulāhuli). Radha is still giddy with love. (307) The chapter concludes with a long milan in beautiful Vrindavan. (308)

Amitrasudan Bhattacharya observes when discussing Krishna's personality in SKK that in general, though Radha seems to develop progressively in the SKK, Krishna is strangely unemotional and unaffected. Certainly where love is concerned, he does not act in ways that we would expect. Bhattacharya uses this chapter as an example, pointing to the fact that Krishna only saves Radha from the damage he has caused when he is being chastised by Barai and the sakhis. Throughout the poem, Krishna never seems to rise above base sexual desire and there is little or no manifestation of the nobler aspects of love. Whether justified or not, seen in this way, it is no wonder SKK is problematic for Vaishnavas! It may be a little strong, and certainly when we compare this to Gopāla-vijaya or the works of the Goswamis, for example, Krishna does not come out looking all that good. It is certainly food for thought.

A couple of thoughts: One is the theme of "woman killing" which of course is famously found in the second verse of the Gopī-gīta. The other is Jiva Goswami's description of Radha's first encounter with Krishna, where she falls into a faint on hearing Krishna's flute and Paurnamasi sends Vrinda Devi to have him touch Radha with his feet to ressuscitate her. There is certainly an equation between Krishna's flute and the shooting of Cupid's arrows. In the Bhāgavatam (and GC) Krishna is in control of it. So the idea of Navīna-madana is being developed here.

I was thinking that there is a change of focus from Krishna's power to Radha's in the GoVi because there he is the one being hit by arrows of Cupid, but Radha is not consciously shooting them there. At any rate, the SKK is interesting because it appears that there is some kind of boomerang effect. The two Bengali commentators named above don't seem to recognize that whatever the reason, Krishna has been thrown into confusion by the effects of the arrow on Radha and this has affected him deeply. So there is some transformation.

Whether it is heartlessness or just immaturity -- Krishna comes across as a petulant and narcissistic child -- the depiction of Krishna is certainly a problem for anyone who calls him "the Supreme Personality of Godhead." What was Chandidas thinking?

At any rate, we expect SKK to be an exception to the vision of the Goswamis and the other authors. In a sense, I am looking at it as the purva-paksha against whom their own versions are being created. Though there is mention, even in this chapter, of Krishna being "Lord of the Three Worlds," and he certainly possesses some great mystic power in these arrows of Cupid, but a certain flawed humanity predominates. It makes it a bit difficult to interpret, since we expect there to be at least some metaphorical subtext, and that is a bit hard to read when these flawed human elements are so strong.

43 comments:

Kandarpa Sundari said...

Puspa-banaya dhimahi!....

Anonymous said...

Pranams!

I recently re-read Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes PhD. She is a Jungian analyst as well as a cantadora, similar to a kirtaniyah or kathayar.

There is a chapter in that book called "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter". She analyzes a myth from the Inuit peoples of Arctic region.

The summary of her analysis is that there are seven stages of love tests that a couple needs to pass through to ensure that the love is not infatuation or a selfish, narcissistic love.

Or, more precisely: Narcissist with Narcissist Supplier [the dyad of a relationship with a narcissist].

Basically stage one is: Accidental Discovery of Treasure. When we stumble upon someone appears to be precious. Steals our heart, etc. Eye candy and become besotted.

However, there are six other stages one must pass through in order for the love to show maturity. These stages are imperative esp in Inuit culture because a person's mate has to be someone who might literally have to rescue them, often, being a barren and desolate place.

In each of the seven stages, one must "dance with Skeleton Woman": in other words: die a little death and then be reborn, or survive the crises, or, learn how to look deeper.

In the chapter, Dr. Estes also dicusses the difference between Ego and Soul. Ego has the characteristics or Raven, or the trickster archetype. The characteristics of the trickster are scarily similar to Krishna's modus operandi of he travels from kunja to kunja, getting easily sidetracked by any pretty maiden.

Ego wants only soft bed, and who is the prettiest [or most handsome]. Ego is fearful of anything difficult and involving tests, sacrifice, commitments, hardship. Ego is also a consumer.

Soul, on the other hand, is a creative force: the opposite of a consumer, according to Dr. Estes.

At any rate, perhaps these mythos of Krsna were written by people in a certain time and place. And that is the highest form of love that they could think of/ conceive of at that time in human history.

However, is stated that the Vedas are continuously being revealed. Therefore, perhaps archetype of Krsna matures at some point and would even travel through the seven stages of love.

In these seven stages of love, also: BOTH parties have to be mature. I have heard several sadhus say, "Krsna is Beauty and Charm, but Radhe is Love and Affection...which are higher than Beauty and Charm. Therefore, we worship Radhe."

However, if this is so, then this is a painfully one-sided love affair for Radhe.

Also, Dr. Estes says that she advises her patients, "Do not jump from stage one [Accidental Discovery of Treasure] to stage seven [Union of the Body]. It seems Western culture is obsessed with this, in the media like films, etc., and presents this as normative behavior in popular Western culture.

She said is better to test the lover and see if s/he can pass all the seven tests.

Dr. Estes also states that the very young and naive person is the one who may fall under the sway of someone encouraging them to "Jump to the top of the Tree" i.e. rush from Stage One to Stage Seven.

In this archetype of Radhe we see such a loss of innocence.

I appreciate your honesty in the analysis of the character of Krishna in this story you have translated.

Jagat said...

Thanks for you thought-provoking post. I don't know if you wrote about this before here on this blog, but someone else also accused Krishna of narcissistic love, etc.

This is something like what I am trying to get at. I don't think I really understand what the SKK is getting at. It certainly cannot be characterized as "mature love" in the way this or any other psychologist would conceive of it.

And I certainly believe that concepts of love evolve. In a sense, there are aspects of SKK that I find almost modern rather than mythological, despite the magical elements.

In other words, Chandidas seems less interested in telling us about any ideal and more concerned with a kind of reality. But I would not easily be able to fit this story into Estes' categories. Krishna certainly comes across as a narcissist in this story, and people say he does not change. Unless we see Krishna's penitence at the end of Bana-lila as false or evanescent, then it does perhaps signal some kind of development.

I believe that in SKK, Krishna comes back to Radha after leaving for Mathura. (Those pages are missing in the only manuscript ever found.) K comes back in Gopala-vijaya and most Padavali versions of the story, as well as in Gopalachampu. GoVi is too closely modeled on SKK for SKK to have had a different ending. Indeed, the SKK really does not have any overall meaning unless Krishna "grows up" emotionally.

In a realistic sense, the SKK seems at least to recognize that the path of love is not an easy one, that it requires work and psychological development on the part of both partners.

The Goswamis and perhaps Devakinandan also (he is also a Vaishnava, though a Narayan worshiper rather than a pure Krishnaite) want to place the whole pastime outside of the human frame of reference and make it "lila" in which idea aspects of love are highlighted and the hard work of real human, personal relationships is ignored. Mana (which I guess symbolically equates to Èstes "skeletion woman") is not seen so much in real terms. It feels symbolic rather than real. Which is why, to a great extent, Krishna's madhura lila seems removed from our own everyday experience. In that sense, Chandidas really does feel more "real," in the sense that it is a gripping story, like "Rebel Without a Cause" or "The Wild One." (Really showing my age there! Two B&W movies from the 50's).

But let me say this: I don't think that the Goswamis thought of Radha Krishna lila as an educational manual for human lovers. Radha and Krishna are divine archetypes. They are the backdrop of all love. We must look at them religiously and relate to them mystically. They are the transcendental substance or backdrop against which human love can mature.

In other words, we are told verbally that Radha and Krishna represent "ideal love." I will try to elaborate on this in a current posting I am working on.

Anonymous said...

But let me say this: I don't think that the Goswamis thought of Radha Krishna lila as an educational manual for human lovers. Radha and Krishna are divine archetypes. They are the backdrop of all love. We must look at them religiously and relate to them mystically. They are the transcendental substance or backdrop against which human love can mature.
In other words, we are told verbally that Radha and Krishna represent "ideal love." I will try to elaborate on this in a current posting I am working on.


But here we forget about one important thing -- the dynamics of revelation. The image of love we hold as some ideal, as you suggest, cannot be static. Love changes, as time and centuries change, and an expression of love in a caste system of six Goswamis is something we people of today cannot relate to in its entirety.

We can glimpse into some old expressions of affection, say love vocabulary, manners and nuances we had in western Europe in early Renaissance (for example), and we may admire them or hate them, but lots of things changed since -- inside society and humanity, inside scope of our understanding of sexes, rights, environment, universe, etc. It's all interconnected into one new experience of being.

How you adjust those changes into the understanding of divine lila? If you ignore them, you ignore a significant part of divinity, denying it right of a new self-expression.

The only possible and satisfactory answer would be that eternal ideal of love is here and now, and is not limited to previous expressions (or cemented in the understanding of days of six Goswamis). It must be dynamic; otherwise it withers and dies.

Jagat said...

This is indeed the gist of what I have to say. Nevertheless, the original cultural continuum can continue to vehicle the symbol, even if the cultural context changes. Can you see making Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie the new Divine Couple? I think that a bit of cultural distance helps rather than hinders the mythical elements.

That does not mean we have to accept the cultural continuum in its entirety. I mean, we don't have to idealize the REAL culture as it existed or exists. We can, however, accept the idealized cultural situation, with its idealized obstacles, as a situation within which the idealized love develops.

Just think: Rasa does not require an exact artefact of your own culture in order to be experienced. You can hear a story about love in Ottoman Turkey and be affected, or closer to home, you can be an American and hear a love story taking place in Communist Cuba and still be affected.

Alfred Hitchcock used the word "McGuffin", i.e. ""a plot element that catches the viewers' attention or drives the plot of a work of fiction." That word may not apply here perfectly, but what I am trying to get at is that the specific content or nature of the obstacles is not important. Each culture has its own set of obstacles to love--in Romeo and Juliet it was the family feud, in Peter and Eloise it was the Church and Abelard's enemies. So the particular cultural circumstances, etc., are not the essential element.

But, I think that for most devotees there is a cultural attraction, to something that can only be called an ideal. The essence of this is the very fact of a "living" Divine Couple.

More on all this coming up.

Anonymous said...

Can you see making Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie the new Divine Couple? I think that a bit of cultural distance helps rather than hinders the mythical elements.

Ah, we can ascribe this to at least few drops of self-justification, Jagat. But I see what you want to say.

However, there's the one more problem. Don't mistake a finger that points to the moon with the moon itself. Do you believe Gosvamis described divine reality "as it really is", or they were simply expressing some high ideals using local, cultural metaphors and language? Other metaphors they simply didn't have!

Probably the best is example is this: gopis 12 years old having sex with Krishna, who by today's standards are nothing but a boy and girls at 12 years of age. And we want to apply that ideal today? We'll end up in jail for advocating such stuff!

Also, to which devotees you're referring to when saying they like the ideal of divine love (as described by Gosvamis?)? 90% of people drop off KC just because of the misogyny, fundamentalism and strong cultural racism present in GV in all of its pores. Those 90% are not (a) inspired or (b) even allowed to express their natural love! GV is completely dissonant with today's world.

So you're left with some 10% of them all who can survive the torture. But who says those 10% are devotees indeed (as devotees in true sense of that word)? Many of them are religious fanatics because they hang on upon rules and regulations coming from a bygone society which they mistake for the goal itself!

You can probably talk to a less than a handful of them without risking leaving home with a strong cognitive dissonance and the fear of hell coming upon you.

And those rare ones are trying to communicate and run blogs like this one. So you see, it's not that straightforward as it seems. So, let's come again to your sentence I've quoted above: people are attracted to the idea of Radha Krishna not because it has a charming cultural background (which by today's standards might be totally repulsive in some aspects).

The true reason is that we recognize elements in it which are eternal, familiar to our hearts, we all thirst for and would gladly try to taste it, participate in it .. while still keeping our own personality, distinctiveness and many elements of our uniqueness.

Jagat said...

A very intelligent post and I appreciate everything you say. As to whether this is self-serving or not is a moot point.

I made the point on another post that most people want their path to be both broadly based and yet exclusive.

I think that the narrowness of the path comes from the depth of one's own individual commitment to the search. I happen to take guru-tattva seriously enough to say: This is my path. From a spiritual and intellectual standpoint I feel satisfied that this IS my path.

Now I may have to take a defensive stand where I disagree with my tradition, or feel obligated to reinterpret or reframe elements of my tradition. Not only do I feel this is a necessary step in making the tradition meaningful to me as a creature of the 21st century. But I cannot separate myself from my medium.

If there is a question of distinguishing the finger from the moon to which it is pointing, I refuse to give up either. In this particular case, I don't want a moon without the finger (if that is indeed all it is).

Tillich was the first whose analysis of religious symbols made sense to me. He does not reduce the symbols to mere signs, but recognizes that they have an independent life of their own and are sources of inexhaustible meaning.

We could give Radha and Krishna a generic name, "Divine Couple" or "Divine Syzygy" or whatever. But as soon as we do so, we lose a lot of the pleasure that comes from the culture of Radha and Krishna... and Chaitanya and all the rest of the baggage.

What I am trying to get at in this Danakeli episode is to show already how things are changing in the tradition. How Chandidas's Krishna and Rupa Goswami's Krishna are not the same person. A tradition is a fluid thing that evolves and as participants in that tradition we contribute to it in a way that makes it more consistent with and consonant with the ideal of the symbol in all its purity, as we experience it mystically and religiously.

The cultural elements are constantly undergoing change, just as Chandidas was practically forgotten, and replaced by Rupa Goswami's vision. But Radha and Krishna continue to mediate the concept of pure love.

And as Asian Fetish said, if you don't like it, well, "rasa" is based on a liking, an affinity for these cultural artefacts.

Anonymous said...

" if you don't like it, well, "rasa" is based on a liking, an affinity for these cultural artefacts."

I guess the next question regarding this is whether what one "likes" (what one gets ones "rasa" from) is the culture itself or the liberty one takes in interpreting such culture at will. If one moment you see the "cultural artifacs" as objectionable human traits, i.e. misogyny and casteism, and the next moment you see them as sophisticated expressions of pure spirit, then you've got a little better explaining to do than telling questions off to whatever "other paths" out there. What other paths? Indeed, when the subject of Indian culture comes up, rasa experts are defitnitely expected to know better than tell fellow Gaudiya Vaishnavas to look elsewhere for meaning. Its a cop-out no doubt. Experts should have worked this out by now. But perhaps the disapproval of Indian culture, the obvious healthy reaction to have by now, is a step some of us feel too inconvenienced to take. And so we make rasa a culture too. A comodity, a matter of convenience.

Jagat said...

You are arguing a bit of a red herring. I am not defending misogyny. Mysogyny is not intrinsic to any culture. Gender roles may have been more clearly circumscribed in certain cultural contexts, but that does not mean we are to take as intrinsic to this one.

I don't see that one has to associate Radha and Krishna with any kind of misogynistic social order in today's world. We can worship Radha and Krishna as exemplars of masculine and feminine role playing in the emotional universe of pure love.

I suppose that some feminists deconstruct love itself as a patriarchal myth used to subjugate woman. But, please...

Anonymous said...

I've got a red herring and you have got a straw man there, so perhaps we have come out leveled in our (mis)reading of arguments(?) I mentioned misogyny as an example but it absolutely isn't the only undesirable trait of Indian culture I meant to refer to. And yes, I still say Indian culture because misogyny finds its greatest channels in Indian and other similar Asian cultures. Just look at history and see. But again, I don't mean to zoom in on misogyny alone. It was just an example. There are other aspects of Indian culture that we, Westerners, and even some Indians themselves, want far away from us. The fixation with social position at basically any cost; the refusal to embrace risk unless there is calculated personal profit, in other words, lack of generosity, which leads to lack of liberality, are a couple of things that come to mind. The list can go on, but honestly we all know what we mean when we say simply "Indian culture". There is no shortage of critical references to it throughout these discussions. Why is it suddenly not only likable, but the ticket to the lila, to rasa, or else go to other paths? Indian culture is one other path, if you haven't noticed yet.

Asian Fetish said...

India does have a lot of sexism but it also has a lot of wonderful aspects of its culture(s) too. Just as the West as some sh*t going down but some good aspects too.

Personally I find nothing sexist in the Braj Lila Meditation Modality, though it is true that the gopis make (jokingingly) deregatory remarks about Krishna's skin color, so some colorism is certainly present in the lila.

Nowhere in the Goswamis' writings will you see them advocating people having sex at the age of 12. It is understood that Krishna's Lila is Divine and there are things that Radha-Krishna (God) do that as sadhakas and well, just normal people, we will not (and cannot) do.

Krishna Lila is not presented by the Goswamis as an ideal social model for society at large. It is simply a meditation modality.

Like I said before, Raganuga Bhakti is not for everyone. There are so many modalities to choose from so find one that suits you and run with it!

Anonymous said...

Anyway, instead of swinging back and forth about the c-r-a-p-p-i-n-e-s-s of IC but also how you have your own personal sweet memories within it, I think you (AF) and Jagat should work out the problem of IC, past and definitely present, not being a model for much in this day and age. And then we talk about transcendence which is, of course, a concept meant to be synonymous with the concept of universal.

Asian Fetish said...

Anonymous, seeing as Shavan Masa is over, I'm no longer swinging back and forth on anything;)

Anywhere you go in the world you will find good and bad. That is the nature of this dualistic world. After having been in the USA for the past few years I am beginning to appreciate the tight family structure, respect for elders and lack of divorce found in India. I'm meeting so many kids here in America who are really screwed up and on drugs because of their divorced single parents who are more concerned with "dating" and finding "the one" or their "soulmate" than with properly raising and educating their kids.

These single moms and dads have a thing or two to learn from India.

And of course India has a thing or two to learn from the West.

But that is the case everywhere. Duality.

As I am not Indian I am really not concerned with whether India's culture(s) work or not. I can take them or leave them. I have been blessed with a US passport so I can practically live anywhere in the world I want to. (Shout out to the Gods of Sukriti - thanks, i owe you guys one!)

I think the crux of the matter is that raganuga bhakti does not appeal to you, no problem. Move on to something else or perhaps live free of any sort of religion or spiritual practice.

No. Big. Deal.

Whatever spiritual paths are out there are reflective of the culture and time era it was first conceived in. That's just how this world works. You can create your own but then that will reflect your own cultural samskaras as well.

The aesthetics of raganuga bhakti are not universal.

There is no objective reality.

Anonymous said...

"I think the crux of the matter is that raganuga bhakti does not appeal to you, no problem. Move on to something else or perhaps live free of any sort of religion or spiritual practice."

Raganuga bhakti is very attractive. What is not appealing is Indian Culture. Unfortunately, the crux of the matter always ends up being people misreading this question and still offering their less than pertaining advice.

Satya devi dasi said...

The school year has started and I sit here on bus duty waiting for our students to arrive for another day of school. Reading this post was wonderful--in the cool morning air and the trees rustling in the wind.

As I read it I wondered if the arrows—stambhana (immovable), mohana (bewildering), dahana (burning), shoshana, uccATana—were stages of ecstasy, and if the “killing” of Radha was more of a conversion into Krsna’s “love slave.” Krsna Himself was also converted, His mood changed when She exhibited those symptoms. Is this not parallel to our conversion as bhaktas and our continuing love relationship with Vanamali? Aren’t we both transformed—as we reveal more and trust more—as our relationship develops?

Questions: What are the meanings of shoshana and uccATana? Do you see any correlation between, or are there any writings about, the stages of ecstasy and the arrows of cupid?

Asian Fetish said...

Well then, if you are not living in India, then there really is no need for you to be concerned about Indian culture, is there?

Krishna says in Gita that he will reciprocate with whatever conception the sadhak has of him. His entire example demonstrates that he will be whatever you want him to be.

"As is bhakta, so is Bhagavan"

Therefore, if you don't like anything Indian (South Asian), simply conceive of Krishna without all of his South Asian trappings, no harm.

He spends more time out of his dhoti than in it, anyway ;)

Anonymous said...

" After having been in the USA for the past few years I am beginning to appreciate the tight family structure, respect for elders and lack of divorce found in India. I'm meeting so many kids here in America who are really screwed up and on drugs because of their divorced single parents who are more concerned with "dating" and finding "the one" or their "soulmate" than with properly raising and educating their kids.

These single moms and dads have a thing or two to learn from India."

Now this is what I call a dishonest debater. There is cotempt for India and then for America at convenience, but no real concern for either. Well, I say, for a single woman without children and without ever been in a marriage to condemn separations just because these happen in America is just as bogus as Indian sannyasis counseling couples to never divorce. First be it, then advice. "Tight family structure, respect for elders and lack of divorce found in India" indeed. It would be ok if you were joking but... unfortunately such dishonesty is just another display of disrespect for others. And of all people, wouldn't you know that the "tight family structure" in India is but a sytem which is nothing but abuse of the weaker, i.e., women and children. And "respect for elders" is nothing but fear of not inheriting facilities in life. And last but not least, "lack of divorce" is but crumbling in India due to the firt two factors. What a joke your argument.

Jagat said...

There seems, as always, to be a certain amount of subtext that is unspoken.

Radha and Krishna "descended" into Indian Culture. Nevertheless, it is an expression of Transcendence. That is the meaning of Avatar: Transcendence appearing in the Phenomenal.

The ideal culture is the one that serves the purpose of Transcendence for as many people as possible. As our understanding evolves, the way we look at culture changes also.

Jagat said...

Satya Devi, your question is good. I can't recall having seen any analysis like that (about the five arrows). Or even satisfactory definitions. Or names: Just a quick Internet search

unmAdaka = intoxicatiion;
tApan = fever;
shoShaNa = weakness (ofknees?); stambhana = stupefied, paralyzed, dumbstruck);
sammohana = spell bound.

Harsanam - Pleasing or gladdening
Rocanam - Attracting or tempting
Mohanam - Deluding or infatuating
Shoshanam - Weakening
Maranam - Killing


I shall think about it a little more deeply.

Asian Fetish said...

Part 1.

Anonymousji, I don't think you've had much contact with India. If you had you would know that their tight family culture and respect for elders cannot be reduced only to what you say they are;

"the "tight family structure" in India is but a sytem which is nothing but abuse of the weaker, i.e., women and children. And "respect for elders" is nothing but fear of not inheriting facilities in life."

Things are not so black and white. It is not "NOTHING but abuse of the weaker" and "NOTHING but fear...".

You seem to live in a mental world of black and white and no grey areas. The world does not work like that, it is not either/or, but rather many points in between.

Every postive gives rise to a possible negative.

It is possible that cultures with tight family structures and respect for elders can be repressive.

It is also possible that a culture that recognizes the very real need for divorce in cases of abuse and addiction can give rise to frivalous divorces based on yoni/lingam tinglings resulting in seriously f*cked up kids. I personally have a friend who divorced her good husband who very much loved and provided for her and their kids simply because she wanted to explore her bi-sexual side with women.

The result is that now she is back to swinging with men and her young daughter that lives with her (separated from her little brother who lives with Dad) gets to see her mom ho it up with various men. The daughter herself is not yet a teen but has already had a boyfriend who is a confirmed theif and assaulter of elderly women.

The teen boyfriend by the way is the son of one of the mom's boyfriends, who himself is a single dad of 6 kids between the ages of 2-16 who nonetheless, despite having all those kids and very little money, still finds time to chase yoni.

And thus the cycle perpetuates itself.

I am not a fan of everything Indian. I've been through way too much there and seen the ugly side of things to romanticize the place as any sort of "ideal".

However, I must say that I held my own country and culture in a more idealized light, having not been a part of its mainstream since my teens.

Having lived in an ashram since the age of 19 and then living in a foreign land from my early 20s onwards, I was out of the loop of what went on in the USA. Having returned and for the first time ever, ventured outside of the cult to socialize, I see that either...

1.) things have changed on a social level, and for the worse, since I was a kid

or

2.) I lived a very sheltered life as a kid

I don't consider myself repressed or suppressed in any way, and I also consider myself very open-minded, yet even I am shocked by some of what I am exposed to here.

And mind you, I only hang with the "progressive, new-age, spiritual" types, you know, the "good" people.

And yet frivalous divorce and single moms and dads pimpin' and ho'in it up is common.

I've nothing against divorce per se. I think it's an awesome concept and a good way out for people suffering from abuse or co-dependent substance addicted spouses.

When I was growing up, the few people that we knew that were divorced got divorced for very good reasons like the above.

However, things have changed and more and more people are divorcing for frivilous reasons and their kids are suffering because of it.

If you don't have kids - divorce and pimp and ho all ya want! But when you have kids that you CHOSE to bring into the world, you OWE them more than that.

And I'm not even going to breach the subject of gold-diggers who divorce their GOOD husbands simply to reap alimony or child support cash. (You can google MRA, Men's Rights Activists, to read about all that)

Perhaps you are also sheltered like I once was, but believe me, these scenarios are more common than you think in today's Amrika.

The ideal would be to take the best of both East and West and fuse them. But we know that is never going to happen.

Asian Fetish said...

Continued Part 2...

Anyway, I personally find it refreshing to be treated nicely by kids in India. The way kids and teens here behave towards their elders is nothing short of shameful in many cases. And I am speaking even of so-called "Vaishnava kids" or "western devottee kids".

Not all of them, but many.

Is it because their parents are not properly raising them or is it due to negative mass-media and pop-culture exposure?

Check out some of the myspace pages of "devottee kids". They are all down with this "American ghetto culture" music and style.

Wazzup widdat, nig?

Whatever happened to good old fashioned punk rock?

Bring anarchy back and get rid of all this gold-diggin', pimpin' and ho'in!!!

Generation gap I guess. Maybe I'm getting old.

Anyway, gotta go pimp my G's, so...

Laterz niggaz!

Yo.

Anonymous said...

AF, I appreciate your points about the vices of American culture, especially respective to families. But you incurr in your own debacle: your analysis is more black and white than you would like it to be. To say as you do that, "when you have kids that you CHOSE to bring into the world, you OWE them more than that (more than to divorce)" is a cheap shot at morality. And a cheap shot at sociology, to boot. Where is the personal experience, the VERY GREY personal experience which will give you a real perspective of the subject??? I am done listening to people who have no faith whatsoever in marriage, no faith in relationships in this world other than "for breeding", talking down to me as if they know something on the subject.

Asian Fetish said...

Anon-ji (G, yo)...

I'm not talking down to you. I have no idea if you are a single parent who is dating or not.

You assumed I have no faith in "marriage" or "relationships" in this world? How would you know that?

I'm not writing against either marriage or relationships, but rather, single moms and dads who date and spend their time looking for "the one" and their "soulmate" instead of spending all their spare time with their own children!

I'm OK with "relationships" - for single people who do not have kids.

I'm also favorable to functional marriages (marriages that work). In fact, I'm the product of one that's been going for more than 50 years! (thanx Mom and Dad!)

My experience is that I am often the one these single moms and dads come to in order to vent their raw emotions on. I'm also the one who sees their poor children suffering and spiraling down into drug use and other damaging behaviour right before my very eyes, so I feel compelled to speak out, even though it's not politically correct in Amrika to say such things.

Anonymous said...

Debacle debacled part 2:

'Devotee' culture and western culture are two separate things. To point out devotee kids' bad bahavior is not realistic vis a vis American culture. Devotee kids' is a case of bad behavior within bad behavior. You tell me that Indian kids are well behaved in comparison and I tell you that such claim is a load of BS. Indian kids are the worst behaved I have ever witnessed. Rude in the most senseless sort of way. You ask, "is it because their parents are not properly raising them or is it due to negative mass-media and pop-culture exposure?" Its both. Rude because living in the most directionless type of culture for generations. By the way, I do know these things from experience, from living right there with Indians. As far as music and entertainment Indian kids are into these days, well, have you seen something like, say, teh closing credits of Doom, for example, or just commercials on Indian TV lately (which is directed to youth)? It makes Western soft porn blush, trust me. And why such bahavior? Not because of a natural development within the culture. Its sheer insanity, sheer samplying of western leftovers. Its loss of identity in an uspeakable collision with lack of perception.

Regarding the "stability" of the Indian family, which you call no divorces, no amount of so called community stability justifies the usage of human beings as seen in Indian and similar Eastern cultures. Such cultures don't know the concept of love unions. Unions for them means transactions. There aren't divorces because no one will give back goods received freely. Now Indians talk more and more abour "love marriages". Its a new territory for them, but in the West we know that love must also mean meaning. And so we are sacrificing social stablity in that quest, its been a mess, granted, but there is a reason for all of it. Indians will copy Western culture regarding divorce too, make no mistake. But it will be only more senseless madness. Like a real bad bollywood attempt at throwing together a mega masala of all hollywood flops, x-rated dancing and all. Just wait and see. Or don't.

Satya devi dasi said...

I found a mention of cupid who is also known as Pancha-sharaih, one who holds five arrows. But the mention was in relation to Ekadasi. It says: The five arrows with which Cupid pierces the mind of the living entities are taste, touch, sound, smell, and sight. This is something completely different, it's more related to our contact with maya. (http://www.punditravi.com/bhaimi_ekadashi.htm)

The context of this cupid still feels like symptoms of ecstasy. In looking through Nectar of Devotion I couldn't find anything to answer my question. I look forward to your observations.

Anonymous said...

Let me just say AF that your experience is limited. In fact, as a unmarried person without children your experience is so limited that you basically do not qualify to advice real parents and married/divorced people. It takes one to know one. Sanyasis in Iskcon/GM, and babajis at large around India do the same, advice without qualification. Many of them even have left their own wives, and yet advice others to never leave theirs. Thats Indian culture. Sanyasis advising couples to stay together, never divorce, but in their minds they are thinking "this 'togetherness' is actually the 'dark well of existence', from which, if lucky, one must emerge alone, as a sanyasi, like me". Such hypocrisy, such madness. People who talk about "soulmates" might actually be desperately trying to hold on to some sense of humanity, of dignity, of purpose. Don't be so fast in judging these.

Asian Fetish said...

" but in the West we know that love must also mean meaning. And so we are sacrificing social stablity in that quest, its been a mess, granted, but there is a reason for all of it."..............

What is the "reason" for all of it, as you say?

Asian Fetish said...

"Let me just say AF that your experience is limited. In fact, as a unmarried person without children your experience is so limited that you basically do not qualify to advice real parents and married/divorced people."
........................

I agree. Now if only those married and divorced persons, as well as single parents dating, would STOP coming to me to vent all their frustrations...

Also, why do you assume I've never been married nor had kids?

That would be like me assuming you're a married woman with kids who decided not to divorce her husband for the sake of family stability, despite the fact your marriage was on the rocks due to an infidelity.

Anyway, on note with "Bhakti and Culture"...

Here is something from Vaishnavacarya Chandan Goswami's blog;

"First bhog takes approximate 45 mins. He is male and needs plenty of time during his eating session. Radharani, Ofcourse she is female she would eat little bit We give Her 10 mins only"

From: http://www.sriradharaman.com/blog/?p=76

I find the current interest of white people in traditional Indian Gosai parivars to be particularly amusing.

I think it qualifies for an entry on STUFF WHITE PEOPLE LIKE.

http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.com/

Stuff white people like: leaving sexist neo-Hindu 1970s cults like ISKCON and replacing them with even more sexist "traditional" cults in India, in the name of "authenticity".

(By the way. We all know the names of various gosais in and around Radharaman Ghera. What about their wives? Who are they? What do they look like? WHERE are they?)

Anonymous said...

"What is the "reason" for all of it, as you say?"

Aha, I was thinking exactly about that as I drove home from work: I shouldn't have used the word "reason" because it gives the impression of justification. And I don't mean it is justified behavior. Perhaps "cause" would have been a better word. The point is that in the West its a given that people marry for love, at least in principle, wheareas in Eastern societies unions have been about not inconveniencing the community. But love marriages in the West have proven flawed in that Western societies mistake economic development for self realization, and ultimately for love. I believe Western societies are beginning to question these things, and of course such questioning reflects in the very core of its expression, i.e., the institution of marriage and family.

In Eastern societies there isn't a misconception of love to question, there isn't a history to process. What there is is an acceptance that marriages are mainly about economic stability. But there will be divorces, breaking down of families, because the pattern has been one of copying senselessly. They will not know why they are dissatisfied with a 'love' which wasn't there in the first place, wasn't an issue to begin with. It will be a leap to a non existent bank on the other side. Like many times seen in bollywood dramas where the writer clearly had no idea how to finish off an unfortunate character in the plot other than to have him drive off a cliff on a motorbike at 160 km/hour. And then show the fall in very very slow motion.

Asian Fetish said...

Marrying for love alone is a recent phenomena, even in the West. By recent I mean it had its gradual build-up over the last 100 years. Generally marriage was like a contract between two families, all over the world. A union that would benefit the couple, their families, their tribes, their cultures.

Does that mean that "love" was entirely absent? No. Just like in the arranged marriage system you find in India now; the marriages are arranged with other families who come from similar socio-economic-religio-cultural backgrounds, so the basics are covered.

If the young couple are decent looking and neither are not crazy or suffering from major psychological issues, there is no reason why "love" should not develop, and indeed it does in many cases, as I have seen in India.

The reason for that is that the feelings of "love" and specifically "falling in love" (sexual attraction/romance) are a physiological manifestation of evolutionary biology and evolutionary psychology.

I won't get into specifics here, but read any scientific book on the nature of human sexuality, its causes and affects, and you'll get what I'm saying.

It's not really all that difficult for a heterosexual man and heterosexual woman to feel romantically or sexually inclined towards one another, provided a base of attraction is present. It goes on even without our consciously realizing it, there are triggers that our imbedded in our evolutionary DNA.

That is why in the West strangers are able to meet in a bar and one hour later go home and hop in bed together - its the evolutionary drive between two sets of secondary sex characteristics being drawn to one another like a magnet.

It's raw science.

So feelings of romance and sexual attraction can and indeed DO develop in arranged marriage couples, but they also have the foundation of "duty" to keep the marriage together after all that evolutionary electricity subsides (which is the point at which many Western couples divorce).

For the most part I think it's a good system, and like everything else in this polarized world, it can also have its drawbacks.

(read up on "evolutionary psychology")

Anonymous said...

"why do you assume I've never been married nor had kids?"

AF,
Doh obviously I know you. And obviously you don't know me. Double d...

But I don't mean to be personal. Its just that it fits in with my general objection of individuals in the renounced order telling couples what to do or what not to do. If they keep coming to you for advice, my humble suggestion is that you let them know that you actually cannot help regarding marriages and divorce and raising kids issues.

Jagat said...

It seems that this conversation is jumping around quite a bit. I think that the criticism of Indian cultural values was primarily based on a disliking of attitudes to women.

Marriage as a business deal is fundamentally the sale of a woman. Whatever the merits of the system may have had socially, it ultimately debases the woman as an individual and her freedom to grow.

The questions are whether your life partner is an intrinsic part of your own self-realization, and whether someone else can make that choice for you.

As a Sahajiya, I have said many times that I believe that Radha and Krishna, as symbols, work on many levels. And one of them is to justify romantic love (parakiya) as having a higher value spiritually than svakiya rasa. This goes against the very grain of Indian traditions. Whatever merits the system may have.

Anonymous said...

AF, you said: "Marrying for love alone is a recent phenomena, even in the West. By recent I mean it had its gradual build-up over the last 100 years."

This is innacurate. East and West have always been distinct psychologically, and the social dynamics of each have always been correspondly distinctic. Its not that the world was an immense India just a little over 100 years ago and then Western societies sprung up and started to do things differently, like marrying for love.

As far as "raw sciene", if you take up science on love and human relations, you will have to take up science on faith and religion as well. And you know what science says about your "raganuga bhakti".

Jagat,

The criticism of Indian culture was based in all of it, not only in its attitude to women. Recapping my own words: "I don't mean to zoom in on misogyny alone. It was just an example. There are other aspects of Indian culture that we, Westerners, and even some Indians themselves, want far away from us. The fixation with social position at basically any cost; the refusal to embrace risk unless there is calculated personal profit, in other words, lack of generosity, which leads to lack of liberality, are a couple of things that come to mind. The list can go on, but honestly we all know what we mean when we say simply "Indian culture".

In other words, there isn't a clear point where to start and determine, "here, this is the cause of it all". But yeah maybe you are right, attitude to the feminine seems to be where Indian culture crosses the farthest lines of human decency.

Regarding "all over the place", Its interesting how this complaint comes up frequently on the internet, the place wherefrom one obviously should not expect throughou and conclusive elaborations on any matter. Want a better reading? Where is the book?

Asian Fetish said...

"AF,
Doh obviously I know you. And obviously you don't know me. Double d..."

Double D? Is that a reference to my bra size? If it is, you got it wrong.

You think you know me, but there is actually no way you can know for certain.

And I also think I know who you are.

I have more than a few stalkers on the net who like to call me out without saying who they are.

Not all of them are men, either.

I guess I should be flattered.

Jagat, why do you think a legally married spouse cannot also be an intrinsic part of one's own self-realization, even if that partner was initially chosen (suggested) by a parent?

And anyway, your stance does not hold up. For there to be parakiya there must be swakiya. The paramour afterall has to belong to another in order to qualify him/her as parakiya.

Therefore it seems that even sahajiya sadhana relies on the institution of marriage to supply it with partners.

Asian Fetish said...

Anon, I don't know what your self-education background is like (what types of books you read, if any) but there are some good books out there that trace the history of this concept of "romantic love as a foundation for marriage and family" and indeed, this emphasis is something that did come gradually into vogue as a major component around the world, only in the last 100 years or so.

It has nothing to do with India.

RE: "As far as "raw sciene", if you take up science on love and human relations, you will have to take up science on faith and religion as well. And you know what science says about your "raganuga bhakti". ...

Of course I know what the latest scientific research says about meditation (raganuga bhakti). I even get PAID to write about that.
Imagine that!

Perhaps it is you who needs to update yourself on the current links between science and emotional/meditational states.

There's a lot of material out there.

Books like The Biology of Belief, as well the written material of Dr. David Hawkins PhD, and many others.

Anonymous said...

"It has nothing to do with India."

Usually we include other Asian cultures when we contrast those with the West. So yes it isn't an Indian thing exclusively, but it is definitely an East-West thing. The psychology of the East and the psychology of the West have always been distinct, I would even say contrasting. If this weren't a fact AF wouldn't even have material to write articles on (and gat PAID for!). The dynamics of marriage are also different in those two opposing cultures. Even the idea of "love marriages" in the East has developed and currently means something different than how it developed and currently means in the West.

Anonymous said...

BTW, for the record, Deepak Chopra's is pseudo-science. And I wouldn't bet much in his grasp of actual spirituality, so...

Asian Fetish said...

I disagree that the East and the West have always been drastically different. ESPECIALLY when it comes to mating and marriage.

Dating culture as we know it in the West is a relatively recent phenomena, before that was courting, but only family approved courting, generally.

Perhaps you need to read up on European and American social and cultural history.

Until then, lets just agree to disagree, since time is money, at least for me.

I don't know what Deepak has to do with anything.

Anonymous said...

"Perhaps you need to read up on European and American social and cultural history."

Yeah, how silly when we can't remember our own history but somehow know all about others'. But then again, if all history is equal, knowing Indian is to know Western, right? I'll just go and read all of Jane Austin's novels, right at this moment!

Anonymous said...

"I disagree that the East and the West have always been drastically different. ESPECIALLY when it comes to mating and marriage."

ESPECIALLY when it comes to mating and marriage, and I would add when it comes to allowing feelings of attaction into the psyche, East and West have always been indeed very very drastically different.

While in the East mating are to be had despite human feelings, in the West feelings have been not only the human element considered but considered so as to represent a bond with the Divine. Christianity sees marriages as a way of communing with God, marriages are made in heaven. Fate figli and experience God, says the Catholic church. In Eastern Faiths unions are to be endured, and when one gets lucky, he will be liberated by achieving no feelings for no partner. Thats the difference, for starters, AF. But, I will take up your proposal and stop discussing [with you] just about now. Arrivederci.

Anonymous said...

"I disagree that the East and the West have always been drastically different. ESPECIALLY when it comes to mating and marriage."

ESPECIALLY when it comes to mating and marriage, and I would add when it comes to allowing feelings of attaction into the psyche, East and West have always been indeed very very drastically different.

While in the East mating are to be had despite human feelings, in the West feelings have been not only the human element considered but considered so as to represent a bond with the Divine. Christianity sees marriages as a way of communing with God, marriages are made in heaven. Fate figli and experience God, says the Catholic church. In Eastern Faiths unions are to be endured, and when one gets lucky, he will be liberated by achieving no feelings for no partner. Thats the difference, for starters, AF. But, I will take up your proposal and stop discussing [with you] just about now. Arrivederci.

Asian Fetish said...

In both the Americas of the natives and the Europe of the whites, arranged or semi-arranged marriages within tribe or social class (and definetly within same ethnic background/race) was the norm up until industrialization. Industrialization changed everything, including family structure (from extended to nuclear) and mating (from semi/arranged to courting to dating).

Currently the post-modern technological age changed everything from nuclear family to step-family to shacking up with a baby's mama, and dating to "hooking up".

You seem to be out of the loop, sheltered or eastern European.

Even a Greek friend of mine, though her parents were born in the US, tried to arrange her marriage to a "good Greek doctor" when she was young, and that was only 30 years ago. Unfortunately she did not take them up on the offer but instead chose 2 of her own husbands who ended up having less money than the doctor and abusing her to boot. Now, in her 50s, after decades of abuse, divorce and dating losers, she wishes she would've married the rich Greek doctor that her mom and dad picked out for her.

And this is here in USA.

Add to that the many frustrated men and women who wish that our culture had more of an "assisted marriage" system because they are tired of going round and round endlessly on the dating chakra. I meet these types all the time.

People are hankering to get back to more order. They are sick of the chaos.

And again, it has nothing to do with India.

I am not in India anymore and I'm not really all that concerned about the place or its people.

However, I will say that the concept of atma-sathi (soul mate) and jivan-sathi (life partner) is also found in India. Hindus believe that one's husband or wife is chosen by God and that marriage is a sacred, spiritual bond between 2 souls that extends beyond just 1 lifetime.

I don't believe that, but Hindus do.

And guess what Anon? In India, even CHRISTIANS have arranged marriages.

Have you ever even been to India - I mean outside of just associating with white people in a cult?

Anonymous said...

"People are hankering to get back to more order. They are sick of the chaos.

And again, it has nothing to do with India."

I wanted to retire from this exchange but the above begs addressing. Its all about not wasting our precious human life after all, isn't it?

I think there is a great deal of time and energy being wasted in trying to look right, to look smart, when we actually are not that hot...

Anyways, the point that I want to raise about the above opinoin hinges on that little word there, "back". Nobody, and I repeat, n-o-b-o-d-y in this world really wants to go back to... anything. When there is a longing about something that seemed right in the past, what we mean by going back to that is to have the apparent good of the past in the present. Now that requires a little tweaking. This tweaking starts by, if we are smart enough, noting that somethings that seemed orderly in the past, have disapeared! And so then, the next smart thing to do is to find out why have the seemingly good things disappeared? Perhaps they weren't as good as they seemed??? At least in some level? The level that would keep it from disappearing...? In other words, they meant order at that time and place, and as such cannot and, more specifically, should not be gotten back to. So if there is any "backing up" to do its actually go forward.

Otherwise, if the "order" of the past needs to be gotten back to but cannot (because its impossible, things evolve, mature, progress [or decay?], in short, change), then what exactly it is that we talk about when we say things like, 1) "order" and 2) going back to? Number one is an error - order is a relative state which is dependent on evolution - and there is only evolution. Number 2 is irrelevant in the light of number 1.

So again, no one wants to go back to anything, but yes, people tend to want to go from chaos to order.

And of course India has everything to do with it:
Its possibly the most disorderly environment in the world today.