How do you combine Sahaja and Mañjarī-bhāva sādhanā in married life?

This continues the questions and answers from Facebook threads related to the Sex and Spirituality article.

How can a married person following the rāgānugā bhakti path engage in sex with his wife and still cultivate his mañjarī-svarūpa?

Those who are fortunate enough to be in a married relationship with a Vaishnava or Vaishnavi who has already received a mañjarī-svarūpa and is practicing rāgānugā bhajana, and if they are sexually active, there is no reason at all not to try this. It is a far better course of action than “falling down” and getting all upset and feeling guilty.

Just thinking you are a mañjarī in some far off fairyland called Vrindavan is rather difficult to do. And believe, it will start to feel silly after a while. unless, you can bring Radha and Krishna directly into your lives, as living mūrtis.

And why shouldn’t you? If Radha and Krishna can appear in a mūrti of stone to accept your service, then why not in the mūrtis of you and your wife? If your wife is a devotee, she is alreadysvarūpa of Radharani, first of all because she has bhakti, and second of all, because since she loves you she embodies Radharani's feeling for Krishna...

If it makes you feel better, you can perform an āropa ritual to help remind you of the simultaneous oneness and difference of the form and the Idea or Archetype, but it should not be seen as absolutely necessary. In the beginning, though, it may be advisable.

You should understand that the love that exists between you and your wife is the very same feeling as that which exists between Radha and Krishna. And, if you are a normal man, you like it. It gives you pleasure. And so, like Krishna for Radha, you want to give her pleasure in return. And this, simply put, is called love. And the purpose of some love is more love. So you keep on trying to please each other. Just like Radha and Krishna.

This love is of course only a tiny fraction as pure or strong. It can be compared to the spark of a fire compared to the fire. Nevertheless, the similarity of the essential nature of the love element in that attraction means that it can be used for sādhanā, just as using the voice for chanting the Holy Name or the taste for relishing prasad and so on. Seek out the essence of love in your own experience of love and see Radha and Krishna in that. Then through the sādhanā you will become capable of entering more fully into that loving mood and feeling and, through associating it with chanting and remembering, will enter directly into the lila of the Divine Couple.

Now in a sense it is necessary to keep the yogic stance of the observer in order to not become the owner of that pleasure. That is really what mañjarī-bhāva is all about -- a participation mystique, as participant-observer in the lila.

Now what about fights? Husbands and wives are always fighting, right? So Radha and Krishna also have māna. Now in that case, that is really where the mañjarī-sevā is needed most of all. You need to quickly put on your mañjarī clothes, because the mañjarīs cannot stand it when Radha and Krishna fight. So you put on your mañjarī clothes and you figure out how to get the two together.

It is a bit like playing a game, and you have to make sure that you and your beloved are on the same page. It's almost like playing a parlor game in a marriage-counsellor's office, but it's not! It is Radha and Krishna! It is all about loving Radha and Krishna who are that very love that you love so much. So work at your love and Radha and Krishna will reveal themselves to you in it.

How can you say that the mañjarīs experience Radha and Krishna’s lovemaking?

sakhyaḥ śrī-rādhikāyā vraja-kumuda-vidhor hlādinī-nāma-śakteḥ
sārāṁśa-prema-vallyāḥ kiśalaya-dala-puṣpādi-tulyāḥ sva-tulyāḥ
siktāyāṁ kṛṣṇa-līlāmṛta-rasa-nicayair ullasantyām amuṣyāṁ
jātollāsāḥ sva-sekāc chata-guṇam adhikaṁ santi yat tan na citram

Nandimukhi goes on: “And look! As Radha and the sakhis’ pleasure is synonymous, the sakhis are one with Radha. Krishna is like the moon for the lilies of Vraja (the gopis), and Srimati Radhika is the essence of his pleasure potency. She is likened to a desire creeper of prema (prema-kalpa-latā) and the sakhis to the leaves, flowers and new buds on this creeper, and as such are non-different from her. So it isn’t surprising that when the Radha creeper is nourished by the shower of Krishna’s līlāmṛta-rasa, the leaves, flowers and buds naturally experience bliss a hundred times more than if they were splashed with this rasa themselves!” (Govinda-līlāmṛta 10.16)
Why do you think the mañjarīs are allowed into the room when Radha and Krishna are making love, engaged in “carnal sharing” as it were? Would you let anyone into your room when you and your wife or girlfriend are "doing it"? So how do the mañjarīs get in there and watch? And why the heck would they want to watch anyway? Would you want to watch... well, yeah, some people do. Pretty gross, right?

The mañjarīs get to watch by being non-different from Radha and Krishna. sakhi bistariyā āra sakhī āsvādaya. What is the sakhi tasting, pray tell? Radha and Krishna's śṛṅgāra-rasa.

vṛndāraṇya-maheśvarīṁ priyatayā yās toṣayanti priyāḥ |
prāṇa-preṣṭha-sakhī-kulād api kilāsaṅkocitā bhūmikāḥ
kelī-bhūmiṣu rūpa-mañjarī-mukhās tā dāsikāḥ saṁśraye ||

I take shelter
of the handmaidens of Radha, the Queen of Vrindavan,
led by Sri Rupa Manjari,who lovingly satisfy her
by offering betelnuts and other condiments,
massaging her feet, bringing fragrant water
and arranging trysts with her gallant.
They have thus become most dear to her
and are thus allowed to enter the scene
of the Divine Couple’s most intimate affairs
without the slightest discomfiture
a reward not given even to her dearest friends. (Vraja-vilāsa-stava 38)

Isn't this superimposing our mundane frivolity onto the love of the Divine Couple?

Do you see the problem, my friend? You think this is frivolity! The whole point of Radha and Krishna lila is to say that sexual love is not frivolity!

Radha and Krishna cavorting by the Kalindi is about as frivolous as you can get, and we call that the Supreme Absolute Truth! And we can prove it! Just look at the shastras, how Rupa Goswami puts one proof on top of another that Krishna is bhagavān svayam, and then pūrṇatama in Braj, and what level of pūrṇa is he with Radha? And there he is a dhīra-lalita nāyaka thinking of sex all day long!!!

And you think your own relation with your beloved is frivolous?

The mañjarīs are there witnessing the intimate pastimes because of their selfless service, not out of a sense of identification with the Divine Couple.

Let us examine again the principle of love. The second element in love is dāsya. Now dāsya, in order to be perfected, requires a sense of non-difference. When you understand what your master wants even before he knows that he wants it, then you are a good servant. If you know what he thinks, how he thinks... And so on.

Now how can the mañjarīs serve Radha and Krishna properly? By being non-different from them.

Now Radha and Krishna know that you are non-different from them. It is advaya-tattva land, after all. So they want you to have pleasure too. They want every part of themselves, those in knowledge and those not to share in this bliss. They are having the greatest cosmic lovemaking, which the whole world is actually engulfed in it, even without knowing it. So why would they not want the mañjarīs to get a taste of it? And why would we not want to be a part of it?

The Goswami literature was written with deep awareness of the Upanishads. And indeed, knowledge can be helpful if it is seen in the right context. But bhakti is an independent process that may make use of jñāna or yoga wherever they serve its purpose. But clearly the best sādhaka is the most versatile.

Bhakti is the culture of love. It is really amazing how many devotees do not understand that. The culture of love means five kinds of love, not just with some blue boy on a distant planet, but with the people around you. Like Jesus said, so nicely, "How wll you love the Father whom you cannot see, if you cannot love your neighbor whom you can see?"

And this, in my opinion, has been the entire failure of the Hare Krishna movement. It is a kanishtha movement, about worshiping a God or a Prabhupada, and not about the sweetest rasa, which is the love of a woman for a man and man for a woman. This is madhura-rasa. It mirrors Radha and Krishna's love. The lovers' personalities become mirrors for Radha and Krishna's love to reflect into, and there the devotee lovers, the Sahaja sādhakas, witness the lila like mañjarīs in the nitya-nikuñja.

It is truly a marvelous thing and the most natural thing in the world. It brings the whole process of bhakti-yoga in the madhura-rasa into perspective, like a missing link.

All those who prefer the bitter fruit of the vairāgya neem tree, let them chew on it. Why not follow the path of love by starting with love? All those fearful of promiscuity... well, what is it that you are afraid of exactly?

I suspect that many devotees, males especially, harbor a little heroic spirit and think they can go out and "conquer" sex desire. Others want something unique and different. Why not do something that works? You want to "conquer" sex desire? Let us call it love desire and then see who wants to conquer it! Sex desire is only the psychic raw material for the culture of love. Trying to get prema without using it is like turning the lights on with only a feeble electric current.

And may I make it clear. This is a sādhana. It is not the sādhya. That is orgasmic thinking and the whole source of the confusion by many of those who are reading and commenting. In one sense, no matter where one is on the bhakti path, if he or she is sexually active, they should train themselves in orgasmic retention just as a matter of course for the physical and mental benefits. On its own, of course, this is not of great use without chanting of the Holy Name, which is the main bhakti element. If one has all the appropriate preparation through initation in rāgānugā practices of smaraṇa, etc., the sādhana will be the most powerful. If both partners are strong in their sādhana, it will be extremely powerful.

Look... my friends! Just think! If sādhu-saṅga is the most powerful means for spiritual advancement, then does it not stand to reason that the most intimate and loving association of an advanced devotee in the physical, mental, and spiritual union of the amatory act, with all defenses dropped and in full surrender to the pleasure of union, serving the devotee by giving him or her your loving touch while reciprocally receiving the mercy of their loving touch, hearing the sound of the Holy Name ecstatically uttered directly into your ear and responding in such close sankirtan... Does it not stand to reason that this love-soaked union in remembrance of the Divine Couple is the most perfect of sādhu-saṅga?

Just one final comment. Men! You have a problem. You run the world, you ruin the world, you run away from the world. You think, think and think. The pure female energy is the energy of love, which is not the same as discursive knowledge, philosophy, siddhānta, or any of the masculine approaches to God. Bhakti is a feminine process.

You are afraid of love, even though you claim to be bhaktas. You are disguised vairāgīs and jñānīs, mesmerized by the edifice of Rupa and Jiva Goswami's thought, but you have been lost in the alleyways, the byways and cul-de-sacs of intellectual argumentation. And you have missed the forest for the trees. This process is about prema, and because the prema is missing, people become hardhearted and argumentative, "separatists."

If you have the good fortune to have a loving devotee wife, start cultivating an attitude of discipleship to her. It will be hard because your male ego is so entrenched. Just by formal similarity to Radharani, she is capable of channeling Radha's mercy to you. Devotion to Radha is devotion to the Female Energy. Learn the art of making that energy come alive in your partner.


Steve Bohlert said…
Amen. I'll second that fine sermon. Tell it like it is. I say this as you know a Radha-Krishna devotee for 45 years, practicing manjari bhav for 38 years, a former sannyasi who's been married three times, and with my current wife for 25 years.

Living in the West and not having the language skills or education you do, I had to put things together on my own using available resources and following my inner guru. What I call the way of natural devotion is the Western parallel to your sahaja bhakti. By parallel paths we have reached a common ground.

Best wishes since what you write complements my writing quite well. Thank you.
Anonymous said…
Jadad bhai, pranams. Jay Sri Guru & Gauranga!
Without hesitating i can say that i subscribe to what you r saying in detail, however i read all of it "within one breath".

My question remains at the level of "pure spirit"... since how one can enter into such state of grace devoid of a perfect spiritual body?

Furthermore, how a manjari will continue as such if has voluntarily adopted the path and feelings of the sakhis....... i guess that from then on --meaning once a manjari, who originally is allowed to enter Radha-Givinda's nikunja-rati-- such manjari who opted to be a sakhi will then evolve into having her own kunja... and "privacy" in the company of her "new" manjaris assisting her in serving Govinda particularly...... to me this seems funds-mental. Most respectfully i ask u to comment, pls. TXS in advance. sadhudasa anudasa

Popular posts from this blog

"RadhaKrishn" TV serial under fire

Getting to asana siddhi

What is sthayi-bhava?