The Yugala Bhajan formula
Here is the formula for Sahaja Bhajan.
upāsya-rūpaṁ yugalātmakaṁ vai
upāsakatvaṁ yugala-svarūpe |
tathopadeṣṭṛ-yugalena prāptam ||
- The worshipable object is the Divine Couple.
- The ideal worshiper of the Divine Couple is the sadhaka couple.
- The worship of the Divine Couple is based in the chanting of their Names.
- The Guru Tattva for this worship also takes the form of a Divine Couple.
This formula condenses most of the points that are made on this blog.
1. The worshipable object is the Divine Couple, Radha and Krishna.
Needless to say, this is repeated again and again here, most recently in the article Do Radha and Krishna really have nothing to do with human love? Radha and Krishna are the worshipable object of all the rasika sampradayas of Vrindavan, but little thought is given to the implications of the distinction that is made between the Dual form of God as represented by the Divine Couple and any other form of God in either male or female form.
Sahaja bhajan takes the position that the dual form of the Godhead as the worshipable object has inherent significance.
We do not worship Krishna as God, as such. We do not worship Radha as an appendage to Krishna, as his "shakti." We worship them as two "Moieties" as Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati liked to call them. One does not exist without the other. Radha is Krishna's guru and God, just as Krishna is her God and guru.
Godhood is not identified with the male or female genders. God is beyond gender. We must try to understand what is the meaning of a God with form as opposed to God without form. Form in this case means gender; it begins with gender. But a concept of God that identifies Deity prima facie with masculinity is incomplete, erroneous, and conditioned by a patriarchal concept of social hierarchies dominated by the male. It is this vision of Deity that we object to and feel can only be corrected by the cult of the Divine Couple.
2. The ideal worshiper of the Divine Couple is the sadhaka couple.
The implications of God as a Divine Couple can only be realized by a practicing sādhaka couple. It is here that most of the complications and difficulties about this sādhanā are raised. I have dealt with some of these issues and shall return to them again and again, but suffice it to say that the very concept of devotion as defined by "simultaneous oneness and difference" requires that the practitioner not strive for an independent, isolated and subjective spiritual experience (kaivalya), but one that is defined by a genuine intermingling or union with the Other, God, who is present not only in the Divinity manifest in word and symbol, but the Divinity as manifest in the pure soul appearing as the sādhana partner. This is the "internal" guru tattva as it expresses itself in the mutual relationship.
Although a man and woman practicing yugala sādhana may be at differing levels in terms of their spiritual achievement, when the contents of a sincere devotee's unconscious are projected onto another devotee in the phenomenon that we call "falling in love," and this is further purified by dispassionate self-examination and sādhana, etc., then it must be taken as axiomatic that guru-tattva in the matter of prema-sādhana is acting through that person, i.e., being revealed through the sādhana partner by the grace of Srimati Radharani.
It is very rare that any couple has matching and equal sentiment for one another in the beginning. The whole point of the sādhana itself is that one cultivates prema through a combined effort. This can only be achieved if one has faith in and discovers the presence of guru-tattva in the sādhana partner. The mutual guru relationship is the best sādhu-saṅga.
At any rate, if a single person wishes successfully cultivate the religion of prema, there are plenty of paths open to them. Most Vaishnava schools swear to celibacy and prescribe either individual and independent practices and social rituals to that end. We call this the "monadic approach" (kaivalya). We do not begrudge these sādhakas their faith or belief. We simply say that they have missed the point, and the opportunity that comes from the Dual concept of Divinity.
The subtle psychological truth manifest in the concept of mañjarī-bhāva or sakhī-bhāva plays an important role in Yugal bhajan, but by no means indicates that the monadic (kevala) approach is intended.
3. The worship of the Divine Couple is based in the chanting of their Name.
The prurient interest of most of those who inquire into Sahaja Bhajan is based on a curiosity about sexuality. Since we are talking about couples here, we are of course confronting the questions of sexuality head on, but we are making an important point here: that this is not about a purely mundane sexuality.
Over and over again I am told by the brave orthodoxy that kāma or material sexuality, etc., cannot lead to prema or pure spiritual love of God. We do not contest this. To make this point of agreement more clear, we are saying that we worship the Divine Couple through their names, Radhe Shyam.
The Holy Name precedes, accompanies and follows all other sādhanas. Whatever the Sahajiya does in terms of esoteric practices is fulfilled by the association of the Holy Name; the Holy Name accompanies, transforms and sacralizes all other practices, and the ultimate residue of the practice is the enlivening, the spiritual surcharging, the prāṇa-pratiṣṭhā, as it were, of the mantra and the Holy Name.
4. The Guru Tattva for this worship also takes the form of a Divine Couple.
This is perhaps the most radical of the ideas we are working with here. Since the Yugala Tattva contains the division of gender—Krishna and Radha representing the male and female, respectively—their complementarity and their fundamental unity, they cannot be represented by a Guru Tattva that does not take the same form.
There are several possible arguments that can be presented in opposition to this idea.
First of all, it is said that Radha and Krishna, God Himself, are beyond sexual differences. Sometimes it is even said that they are pre-pubescent and that there is no question of sexuality in them.Such an argument from asexuality just avoids the very essence of what Radha and Krishna symbolize and everything that they represent.We take their forms seriously: Radha is a female and Krishna a male and their relationship in madhura-rasa is an erotic one, with everything that it implies, including genital sexuality.
Others say that an individual man may take on the female identity as a gopi in Vrindavan, so where is the question of his maleness? It may also be said that the perfected sādhaka, male or female, finds an internal equilibrium of masculinity and feminity, as stated in yoga and tantra texts or in the Jungian goal of coniunctio oppositorum. We do not in principle oppose this concept, but when it comes to guru-tattva for those couples who wish to practice Yugala sādhana, we say that both genders must be represented.
If the Yugala follows the fundamental principle of mutual guruship (as described above in #2) then the guru-principle that manifests in the sādhaka as well as in the sādhikā must also be manifest in the guiding principle to new sādhaka couples who wish to learn the practice. This principle may have been de facto present in the past, historically, but the emphasis was usually given to the male partner who would have been named or identified as the guru, śikṣā-guru or dīkṣā-guru, his wife or partner playing a secondary or supporting role.
In every couple, there will be an individual dynamic, and of course different forms in which they find their equilibrium and conjunction, but the essence of what we are driving at here is the validation of the female principle as an equal and even primary force to the male. One needs to understand Radha-tattva as an explanation of female power, particular in the domain of love and the pleasure principle, and the role of the hlādinī śakti in the Radha-Krishna relation is no less real in the functioning of every male-female couple.
This then is the natural sequence and framework in which this sacred sādhana must operate. The goal is Yugal, the practitioners are a Yugal, therefore the guiding principle or guru-tattva must also be represented in a dual form.
In this sādhana, a man alone cannot speak for or guide a woman. Neither the male nor female represents objective reality on their own.
Moreover, as objectors regularly point out, this sādhana presents a potential danger -- real or imagined -- that needs to be guarded against. The idea of a practice of the cultivation of prema that has within it a sexual component could be easily exposed to exploitation by unscrupulous or misguided individuals who present themselves as preceptors. A bit of yogic training leading to control of seminal emissions can mislead one into thinking that he is a siddha and capable of bestowing prema on women disciples through the magic of his membrum virilis. And, of course, a similar mirror image could also be true, but this tendency is clearly more pronounced in the masculine gender, which usually appropriates the guru role and is more susceptible to falling down to its temptations.
It is partly to avoid all such confusions that I am taking a stand and saying that the guru-tattva must also be represented by a couple. But since sexuality is an integral part of the Yugala sādhanā, this stipulation is meant to further avoid the potential embarrassment of men directly or privately instructing women in sexual matters and vice versa.
In a siddha couple, the predominant roles played by each, male and female principles, i.e., their respective zones of guruship, will have been clarified through their personal experience of the sādhanā. They will thus, as a yugala, be able to provide initiation, proper guidance and an example to both individuals in a sādhaka partnership.
What this principle is about, clearly, is the apotheosis of the feminine in all aspects of the practice. Radha represents the feminine in the erotic relationship, and as we have said many times, the female is always the guardian of the gates of love. An advanced sādhikā will be intuitively and instinctively wise where the purity of love is concerned. The advanced sādhaka and sādhikā will have ripened mature awareness of the process, but the female principle, like Radha, stands as the ultimate guardian and arbiter of the purity of love.
Sahaja bhajana is yugala bhajana. But the Yugala itself is the apotheosis of the feminine. It is about the synthesis of maleness and femaleness, i.e., the complementary aspects of the couple, through prema. The human couple strives for the same mystic experience of unity in difference that characterizes Radha and Krishna, through identification with and service to that very Divine Couple, through the process of sacralization that is conducted through the Yugala name and the Kāma Gāyatrī mantra, etc., and by the combined grace of the Yugala Guru.