Samartha rati II

I have been busy trying to complete the series I started a long time ago on the three kinds of rati. The final article in the series, a full investigation on samarthā rati is still in the works, being based primarily on a summary of the Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi commentaries on the relevant section of the 14th chapter, accompanied by my own insights. As I said in the beginning, the purpose is to try to understand these matters by reference to the world of experience and to see where that takes us.

In the last article on samarthā rati, there was in fact very little but the straight information from the śāstras. So we look at these things and they do not register very much at first. In a sampradāya, you listen to your gurus. And you reflect on what they say. That is called manana. And then, when you have come to a solid faith in the conclusions of the śāstra, you engage in nididhyāsana, which is usually meant a constant meditation on that conclusion.

[Please read the linked articles on samañjasā and sādhāraṇī if you have not already. This specific article was the result of a meditation on current Western attitudes of free "lust." Please see here.]

To do a full study of samarthā rati, in fact, entails studying the entire corpus of Gaudiya Vaishnava rasa literature, because in fact that is what it is about, i.e, that is the rasa that the acharyas of our school held above all the others. The whole difference between the Gaudiyas and the rest of the Vaishnava rasika sampradayas is the question of svakīya and parakīya.

The implications of this are to be looked for in the real world, for that is really the only way to understand the controversy. It was indeed in contemplating a real-world event that these musings found their way into words.

There is a disagreement in the commentaries between Jiva and Vishwanath on the first verses of the discussion of samarthā, etc. Each of the words is said to be self-explanatory. That is, sādhāraṇī means common, samañjasā means "compromising" (that is the translation I have been using but which, as shown below, is inadequate) and samarthā ("competent').

My translation of samañjasā flies for Vishwanath Chakravarti's interpretation, but not for Jiva. That is because Jiva says that although the gopis are samarthā, but that does not mean they are not samañjasā, which for him means something like "proper." The former includes the latter, much in the way that madhura contains the other kinds of love.

In other words, Jiva is defending the "higher svakīyā" here. He wants to say that the gopis, Radha, are Krishna's eternal consorts and so there is no impropriety or incorrectness in their love. (Maybe "correct" would be a better translation for samañjasā.)

Vishwanath, on the other hand, takes each of these three ratis to be mutually exclusive. In other words. common love is neither correct/compromising, nor is it competent. Similarly, correct love is neither common nor competent, and competent love is neither common, nor is it correct/compromising.

So, as I was saying before, the big problem we have is distinguishing sādhāraṇī from samarthā. This is because most people (including it would seem Jiva) want to put "correct" love (married dharmic love) at the top of the pyramid. Since sādhāraṇī and samarthā are both "incorrect" as it were, they are indistinguishable for many.

Therefore it is said, premaiva gopa-rāmāṇāṁ kāma ity agamat prathām -- "The gopis' pure love became known as lust." The word kāma is used numerous times to describe the gopis' love in the Bhāgavata (See 7.1.30, 10.29.15, 10.47.59, and 11.12.13).

In my view, we should understand kāma and prema to be fundamentally the same thing as two extremes along the same continuum. This applies in the lila also, but in this case, it might be said that Kubja, at one extreme, is there as a "place filler" to round out the picture of this range of lust to love.
Sādhāraṇī, as in Kubja, appears closer to actual kāma, whereas samarthā is at the prema end of the spectrum. But to the unitiated they appear the same – adharmic or irreligious, whereas samañjasā alone is nice and tidy and all happy.

But from both the "incorrect" points of view, samañjasā is really the big problem because it tries to bind love into a structured, institutionalized format. Regimented, rules and regulations. We love each other because we have to. That is why it falls into the category of vidhi bhakti and why Rupa Goswami makes the rather strong statement:

riraṁsāṁ suṣṭhu kurvan yo vidhi-mārgeṇa sevate |
kevalenaiva sa tadā mahiṣītvam iyāt pure ||
Those who have a desire to enjoy with Krishna [amorously] but serve him according to the vidhi-mārga alone will attain his queenhood in Dwaraka. (BRS 1.2.303)
So those who promote promiscuity and those who promote the kind of "true romance" ideal that is behind samarthā rati are united in their opposition to the constraints on love that are found in samañjasā. (Constraining might be another translation for samañjasā.) In our view, the extreme limit of sexual desire, though kāma, still has vestiges of love, but in the tamas mode. Prema, though appearing in this world in sattva, is always mixed, as that is the nature of the world. True prema comes when this same love is directed in complete purity to the Supreme Truth. To understand how this works is the purpose of this blog.

From the point of view of samarthā, the very essence of which is giving up everything (yā dustyajaṁ svajanam ārya-pathaṁ ca hitvā), that very structure of samañjasā itself is a sign of subtle kāma. The subtle kāma of having the security of being loved by obligation. "Love me because you have to love me." "You have to make the marriage work." Sounds a little tedious already, doesn't it?

A woman needs friendship in a relationship; a man primarily wants availability. A woman wants emotional and mental intimacy. A man wants physical and, if possible, intellectual intimacy. Samañjasā tries to resolve the problem by hemming the relation in through assigning defined roles, rules for behavior that are stereotyped.

Coordinating the needs of the two sexes on the basis of love alone is the big challenge of samarthā. Love only becomes samarthā, "competent, potent," when that level is reached. Samarthā's power is in the fusion of two beings, as individuals, not as generic natural beings, as insamañjasā.

The illustration may be given from A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami's response to a student who wished to get married, "So you want to get married. There are so many girls, pick one." Implying that the individual personality is secondary and that sex desire can be satisfied by purely the physical availability of a woman, sustained through the respective dharmas or roles of a man and a woman.

You see "needing" is the problem." Need or "thirst" (tanhā, trishnā) is the one constant throughout all. But what is needed? The difference lies here.

One on the level of sādhāraṇī thinks it is sex. According to UN, when the sex desire goes down, the love goes down. This appears to me to be a direct recognizable in the physical and psychological effects of orgasm.

Samañjasā thinks "I need a husband [or wife]." In this, both man and woman are primarily generic, meant to fulfill a role.

Samarthā, on the other hand,is attracted to the individual: "I need to be one with this specific person, whether there is social sanction or not." Actually, it is the need to be fused absolutely with that one specific person. Only samarthā says, "To hell with everything, I want this person no matter what."

might say that in the beginning, when lust is strong, but after consummation, or after the other aspects of the individual personality of the partner are revealed, etc., it fades. That is the difference. Rupa Goswami does allow that it attains as far as the sthāyi-bhāva of prema, but it cannot reach the higher levels of sthāyi-bhāva.

But there is still a problem with the material plane, i.e., applying this to material world lovers. To understand prema, one has to understand the workings of kāma.

To be successful, lovers must be sādhakas. They have to contextualize everything within Radha-Krishna. otherwise nothing makes sense, and one ends up loving no one and nothing. If they cannot frame their love within the world of Radha-Krishna, they are bound to end up with sādhāraṇī or samañjasā.

Because without them the world doesn't make any sense. Radha and Krishna may be archetypal [in the sense of serving as a general model of human sexual love], but they are also transcendental and sacred.

They are only realized when the pure individuality of soul is realized in the sādhana partner.

* * * * *

So sādhāraṇī means common, or general. It is the lowest level of prema, since it is kāma that is common to everyone. But since kāma is said to be the means (as in the verses above cited from the Bhagavatam), Sairindhrī must also be eligible for prema. After all, she spent the night with the Purushottama, so that was the fulfillment of kāma!

So although she is on the bottom rung, her love can still count as prema, because it has the power of not-breaking in the face of difficulty.

sarvathā dhvaṁsa-rahitaḥ saty api dhvaṁsa-kāraṇe |
yad bhāva-bandhanaṁ yūnoḥ sa premā parikīrtitaḥ ||
Even though there are many reasons for it to come to an end, when the relationship between lovers does not break, then that is called prema. (UN 14.57)
Though Sairindhrī is the lila example here, there is something to be gleaned from all this by the sādhaka in yugala-rasa. If love does actually meet this qualification of unbreakable commitment, it means that it can develop upward. So this means that sādhāraṇī can become samañjasā and be purified through acceptance of a committed relationship. It is necessary to know that kāma can indeed become prema.

And by the same token, in Jiva’s view, samarthā can become samañjasā precisely because nothing can deflate pure love, but also because love seeks permanence, despite the excitement and thrills that come from the first and most challenging stages of this kind of love.

Jiva's Goswami writes in Gopāla-campū:

śṛṅgārasya bhayānakena milane hānir hriyā mādhurī 
tasya syād uditeti sarva-kavibhir bāḍham kṛte nirṇaye 
prācā satyam adharmajā mithunatā dhatte vṛtā vyagratāṁ 
dharmyā cāparayā parantu katarā rasyeti nirṇīyatām
The romantic sentiment is weakened when mixed with fear,
while its sweetness is aroused when combined with bashfulness.
When it has been thus ascertained by all the critics of poetry,
then it should also be determined that
the hidden loving union born of irreligion,
being covered by the first of these,
must truly bring distress, while that religious union
which is combined with shyness
is highly relishable. (2.36.13)
The śṛṅgāra and bhayānaka, etc., rasas, are ultimately not friends, but opposed to one another. Therefore whatever obstacles are considered to be beneficial to rasa in the parakīya situation are ultimately a cause of impediment to the rasa. In other words, the obstacles are a cause of a heightened sense of pleasure in the beginning, but eventually they become a genuine disturbance to relish.

Thus though Jiva admits that some purpose might be achieved by a temporary causing of fear or horror, he states that no useful purpose could be served if fear remained permanently. He ends his discussion of the subject in his commentary to UN 1.21 with a verse from GC that states the same conclusions.

nāmūṣāṁ sahajānurāga-vibhutā bhī-nirmitā kintu bhīr 
laṅghyā syān na tu veti kautuka-maya-jñānārtham antaḥkṛtā 
taj-jñātaṁ yadi dharma-setu-dalanāt tasyāḥ punar vistṛtiḥ 
śuddho py agni-parikṣayāgniṣu yathā sthāpyeta tadvan matā
The power of the gopis natural love
is not a result of their fear,
but rather was accepted by them (antaḥ-kṛtā)
to see whether or not they could overcome their fear.
If by overcoming the social and religious barriers
the power of their love is increased, it is confirmed;
it is like gold which, already known to be pure,
having undergone the test of fire,
is put in the fires once more
[to increase again its purity]. (GCU 2.36.15)
At any rate, the point is that for most sādhakas, the parakīya state, whether coming from sādhāraṇī or from samarthā, is usually best conducted from the samañjasā position.  


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