True Love and Vishaya-Ashraya theory

Love and Truth were lovers.
Love became the Love of Truth,
and Truth became the Truth of Love,
and together, they were True Love.

Love should be looked at as a verb, not just a noun. Love is as love does. There is no place in love for abuse. Unless we uproot the untruth from our self knowledge, there is no possiblity of love. There are no magical beliefs that we can dress our ignorance in: not even the most noble-sounding of lies, can make us eligible of love.

Krishna is a man. Like all men, he thinks he is God. And this is his problem. His lie. Until he gives it up and becomes a man, he is lost to love.

This is our current working theory. And because Krishna is a man, having nara-līlā, we have to make the connection to our human lives and our human reality. Here is what Bell Hooks says in her book All About Love:

"All my life I have thought of love as primarily a topic women contemplate with greater intensity and vigor than anybody else on this planet. I still hold this belief even though visionary female thinking on the subject has yet to be taken as seriously as the thoughts and writings of men. Men theorize about love, but women are more often love's practitioner. Most men feel that they receive love and therefore know what it feels like to be loved; women often feel we are in a constant state of yearning, wanting love but not receiving it."

This is a great statement of the problem, which we can recognize as a perfect confirmation of viṣaya/āśraya theory. Though in fact the one feeling love is the āśraya and the object of love is the viṣaya, regardless of gender, in both poetic description and practical experience, the former tends to be female, the latter the male.

Hooks herself is of the opinion this is a learned behavior and not innate in males and females; that really everyone is basically the same in their need for love, because if not, why would men even theorize about love? Nevertheless, in her book, she indicates the extent to which this "learned behavior" vitiates relationships and achievement of the true goal of love, which is a sacred mutuality.

Whether we accept that the tendencies of men and women are innate or learned, the true power of human nature is that we are free to combat the dictates of both nature and nurture. That is what defines us as humans with free will. In learning the art of love, the conditions of our respective genders are both a source of energy even as they are a source of obstacles to be overcome.

In my understanding, what we call the "material ego" though of course existing in both genders, is most solidly exemplified in the male ego. And that is why symbolically we accept the ideal feminine as the higher ideal, in Radha.

Krishna in the Rāsa-līlā of the Bhāgavatam is still God, the bahu-vallabha, in other words he has all the power and pleasure conceivable, but the lesson of the Gīta-govinda is that he has to surrender in exclusivity to his "pleasure potency" in order to find fulfillment in love. This is the point of our Dual Divinity. We are not Deists who worship a God "out there."

In other words Vaikuntha is not on our itinerary because where there is no genuinely mutual surrender of power, there is no love. Whatever kind of power. As Jung says, "Where the will to power is paramount, love will be lacking."

Power is the desire to be viṣaya rather than āśraya. But it is better to love than to be loved. And the whole religious process of devotion is to prepare us for that capacity to manifest love in this world, first in I-Thou relationships and then in community.

Krishna cannot love Radha properly until he knows what it is to be a woman, i.e., āśraya. Of course, in practical human terms, this is never entirely possible nor even desirable. But there must be comprehension and empathy on a very deep level in order for the unity of love to be effectuated. So, in other words, Krishna has to make Radha his guru; He has to internalize her and her mood of love. When he understands the truth of his need for her love, and the power her love has over him, he must act as the servant of Love. And we must follow, especially we men.

This is how people misunderstand Sahajiyaism. As soon as they here the word sex or erotic love, they immediately conclude that the man is acting from the male-ego platform, appropriating to himself the role of the viṣaya, but in fact he is learning the art of love from his beloved sādhikā partner. In other words, like Chaitanya, learning how to be a woman, i.e., an āśraya of love. This is the only way to love.

Again, with reference to Chaitanya, the rasa of Gīta-govinda and similar texts can only be perceived from the standpoint of a gopi, by which is meant woman, or female identity. The difference between a sādhaka and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, is that he is not relishing even in the spirit of Krishna serving Radha, but both sādhaka and sādhikā are in the mood of servants to the Divine Couple, Radha and Krishna together. By doing so, they assimilate Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's mood and they enter into the nitya-nikuñja. They create the līlā in their living reality and they relish that līlā as the manifestation of rasa, in their living reality. That is the meaning of mañjarī-bhāva.

So, as I understand it, when it comes to love, the masculine ego -- which in Vaishnavism is often called "the desire to be God" or the object of love, the viṣaya -- is the main problem. Krishna, who really is God, demonstrates the solution to the problem in his līlā when he surrenders to Radha. But in order to truly be able to love, he must know how to identify with her. This is also the case with a human man. There is no love without empathy, without identification. That capacity to empathize is the root of individual love and universal love also. So Mahaprabhu symbolizes and exemplifies that particular secret to love, which men have great difficulty with. These days we call it accessing your feminine side, etc.


Anonymous said…
i read the entire article, but i halt at the third sentence. There is no place in love for abuse. Don't you think krsna, and His other visnu tattvas, are abusive to whoever They feel like abusing? So where's the love for those devotees? And if there is no love, it's all a big big big lie.

I think first of Sita. At the end she didn't want to go back with Rama, she chose suicide instead. My heart can only understand that the cause was a hurt unfathomable. I dare to say, Rama abused Her. If you're feeling love with someone you don't say, "no i'd rather kill myself than go back and live with you," and then do it.

Think of krsna's 16,000, and how it's said that He cared nothing for them...i'm not going to look up where precisely it says it, but it's here and there and everywhere that krsna has no attachment to them...they love Him so much and He....And they ended their life well, didn't they? Getting raped by some brutes. Thanks krsna.

If a man acted toward a woman the way krsna acted toward some of the gopis, you would define it abuse. Lying. Using you to make someone He likes better get jealous, so she'll love Him even more, because He really loves her. That's using, abuse.

For us, ok, because we don't aspire to be His girlfriend, we aspire to serve if He's using someone else to increase Her love for Him, we don't care...but what about those He you not think they are people too? What about poor chandravali? He doesn't care a whit for her and all these devotees practically spit on her, He lies to her, He accidentally calls her radha's name...etc. You don't think she doesn't know He cares nothing for her? What kind of happiness is that? Krsna abuses her. She is not happy.

Krsna abuses. Krsna is an abuser. And that's the thing, even though He's miserable, still they can't let go of Him. Even though He's a creep, a liar, a cheat. Even though a poor girl knows He cares nothing for her (because of course He can't really, can He? It would be cheating on radha, and He really can't do that because They are one) even though a girl knows He cares nothing for her, that He only pretends to so R will get all mad and He can get all into that...Still she stays. It's stupid. I just can't understand how all of you want to be with this person. Me, I'd like to love someone that loved me back. Poor some people or everyone that just don't have that chance.
Jagadananda Das said…
Dear Anonymous,

Your points are appropriate and well understood.

The whole point and my point all along is that the concept of God evolves, but the tradition remains. We can either look at it as it evolves and see where it ends up, or we can get confused by what I will call the "old testament" of Krishna bhakti, or purva-paksha.

Think of Krishna as a man who has the flaw of thinking he is God, i.e. vishaya. He has to surrender to Radha in order to learn what it is to love, or be the ashraya.

We are not so much concerned with all the rest, because that is all the "purva-paksha," what must be overcome.

That is my point. There is more of course, but that is the essence.

Jai Sri Radhe,

dr.jaya said…
Anonymous comments are interesting and seem justified to our material intellects .. but Gopala Sahasra Nama Stotra praises Him as 'apaara karuNaa sindhur bhagavaan .. bhakta tatparah ..' Gopis too wondered about their Beloved's true motives when they asked Him wisely at the end of Mahaa Raasa - Lord Krishna's reply was very sublime .. SB 10.32.19: Then there are those individuals who are spiritually self-satisfied, materially fulfilled or by nature ungrateful or simply envious of superiors. Such persons will not love even those who love them, what to speak of those who are inimical.

SB 10.32.20: But the reason I do not immediately reciprocate the affection of living beings even when they worship Me, O gopīs, is that I want to intensify their loving devotion. They then become like a poor man who has gained some wealth and then lost it, and who thus becomes so anxious about it that he can think of nothing else.

SB 10.32.21: My dear girls, understanding that simply for My sake you had rejected the authority of worldly opinion, of the Vedas and of your relatives, I acted as I did only to increase your attachment to Me. Even when I removed Myself from your sight by suddenly disappearing, I never stopped loving you. Therefore, My beloved gopīs, please do not harbor any bad feelings toward Me, your beloved.

SB 10.32.22: I am not able to repay My debt for your spotless service, even within a lifetime of Brahmā. Your connection with Me is beyond reproach. You have worshiped Me, cutting off all domestic ties, which are difficult to break. Therefore please let your own glorious deeds be your compensation.

Anonymous said…
thank you Dr. J for your comment, but i cannot see how tossing your pregnant wife into the forest, like a piece of trash--abandoned and raising her children alone--will increase her love for you. Yes, sita is not a normal jiva, but she is female...and if her love was increased she certainly had a funny way of showing it.

Staying away from someone can help to increase their love, but treating someone cruelly, as say krsna treated candravali, does not increase love, it decreases it. It's natural psychology, material or spiritual. These people are real. Krsna really loves only one female, you can help with that or you can go somewhere else.

Jagat Prabhu, i like the idea of evolving understanding of god. I don't like the lila i read of k. But what do you say to: 1. You have an eternal particular personal relationship with god. 2. God's pastimes are eternal.

Let's take candravali for a minute because she seems to be in the worst position. Ok, if 1 and 2 are correct we have to say to her (and she is real after all) you are eternally candravali, and you eternally have a relationship with god in which He does not love you, but loves someone else, and makes you into a joke just because he thinks it's fun to see R jealous (for no real reason) and additionally almost all devotees hate you. So with all your evolving understanding, what would you say to her?

Isn't it that just as jivas are the same class yet all individual, "God" is a class of being...visnu tattva. Krsna can make Himself look like a girl or R's husband or whoever, but He is always Him, but Balaram is not K with a different skincolor. Balarama is a different individual. So, tell me if you would be so kind, what if Sita said to rama, ok that's it, i've had enough, you don't love me, you never will, so please let me associate with a different visnu tattva. Could she do that? Or is she forced to be eternally with rama. Does she have free will? Not to come to the material world...but to go to a different vaikuntha planet and serve a different visunu tattva who treats her better. I know that visnu told laksmi to forget doing austerities because there was no way she could get into k's pastimes as she so much wanted...(strange that a jiva soul can aspire for something higher than laksmi--she is a person afterall...why can't she go to the rasa lila if she's willing to do what everyone has to do to get there??) So, it was made clear that laksmi can't go "up" but, can she go "down" or "over"? Can sita, that real individual, can she leave rama and go to a different vaikuntha planet and have a personal relationship with a different visnu tattva, a relationship that is different than her relationship with rama? Or is she eternally stuck...and maybe rama, at least in the materially manifested pastimes, just takes her memory away and makes her live that awful life over and over again? No free will for sita. ??

thanks for your time. Hope all is well with you.
Jagadananda Das said…
Let's just leave those lilas and those characters to their own fate! Why do we need to defend every word that has been written?
Unknown said…
This description of Sahajiyaism sounds very much like the seva of sakhis in the Swami Haridasi Sampraday. Perhaps what Gaudiya Vaisnavas do not realize is that our great seva of serving Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's preaching mission is fully catalyzed according to how rasik we become. The devotees of Swami Haridas do not follow Caitanya Mahaprabhu, so they are not concerned with preaching. They are ananya to the mood of their beloved Swamiji. However, their method may hold a lesson, a key to opening up the real and pure spirit of sahajiya that may be seen as misunderstood by those who come from the platform of great mental prowess, as did Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura.

What the sakhis who are devotees of Swami Haridas appear to know is that love is its own reward and that by simply surrendering to love and becoming love, we get access to hope and faith, rather than having to work so hard to move through all the prerequisites of faith into hope and cultivate love. The secret is that they accept that they are authorized by love. They become into the image of that love and serve in such a way that their loving is their knowing. Their musical tradition facilitates this metamorphosis of mood. This is bhajan, although technically not sankirtan. Gaudiya vaisnavas seem to get stuck on the idea that they will become qualified someday, to get access to this love. But, we can skip over faith and hope and go directly to love, simply by fervent supplication, weeping to Sri Guru Hari for all the stones to be removed from our heart.

Certainly, there are vast flavours of rasa available from various vaisnava sampradayas and gurus, but we should all be able to learn from each other. If our awareness causes us to go against convention, we have to trust that the honey of rasa will attract others of its own accord, not as evidence that any other perspective is lower, less sophisticated or too sentimental, but as a beacon of bliss.

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