Friday, June 13, 2014

How can a Sahajiya represent Bhaktivinoda Thakur?

The short answer, of course, is that he cannot.

In my last post I talked about parampara and consideration of what it means to follow in this particular line of devotees from Jahnava Mata, and how it took a bit of a turn with Bhaktivinoda Thakur when the first waves of Westernization hit Bengal. I admit that I chose to consider this one aspect of Bhaktivinoda Thakur. I could have chosen others. But that is the nature of following; nobody can be anything but what he is and follow the path that he sees. Lalita Prasad Thakur followed one way, Bimala Prasad another. Now, how am I to follow?

This first point already puts me at risk with many devotees and kanisthas can be pretty rough with those they consider heretical. But this next question is even stickier.

Any role I play in the future development of Dwadash Mandir is going to be affected when people inquire into the defense of Sahajiyaism I have been engaged in over the last ten years. Even today on the comments to this blog someone asked me whether the devotees at Birnagar will be Sahajiyas like myself. Since the answer is no, it is almost inevitable that this will be a problem down the road.

So what am I going to do? Am I going to repudiate the ideas I worked so hard to justify in order to take a "position" that promises some other kind of benefit? Will I turn my back on thoughts I had developed over the years, taking a big backward step to return to an earlier place in the evolution of my thinking? Am I about to become a big hypocrite here?

I came to my ideas, which I recognized as Sahajiya, as the result of significant spiritual experiences and much thought after a long and deep involvement with Radha Krishna bhakti. I decided I should follow through and see what happens, for without attempting it, a seed of doubt would always remain in my mind and disrupt any future bhajan I did.

I called it an experiment, in the same spirit as Gandhi's "experiments with Truth."

I took the "leap of faith," as it were, thinking that God would protect me from any evil because of the sincerity of my desire to know and understand prema. This is not the first time I have made such a bargain with God. It is not always easy to measure the results, but as a general principle, such leaps of faith have far reaching consequences in one's life, consequences that are primarily educational in nature.

This experiment has been going on for nearly ten years, and for numerous reasons, which I don't think I need to go into here, it is now terminated. Seven years ago I left my married life in Canada and came to India in the hope that I would be united with my sadhika partner. But due to personal failings on my part, we were unable to make progress towards the kind of spiritual communion that I had envisioned. Perhaps I should not give up, as that in itself is a kind of treason to Love, but at a certain point one has to assess whether anyone is benefiting from the situation, rationally assess the possibilities, etc., and make a decision.

As things stand now, I have no standing with the woman I thought was my "sadhika"; she speaks ill of me, perhaps justifiably. She makes a mockery of my philosophy of prema. I should think that is a pretty big failure when one's ostensible partner finds nothing redeeming in one's person or one's ideas.

So, I have now tried three times in my life, by way of two marriages and this one parakiya relationship, to try to understand the phenomenon of love, the differences between men and women, and how it can be spiritualized through love of Radha and Krishna. Each of these experiences has been an objective failure, whatever valuable lessons I have learned from them. Whatever the case, at this point in my life, I think it best to humbly admit that after three strikes I should gracefully leave the game. It really is too late to make another effort of this type.

A failed experiment can be approached in different ways by a scientist. The problem may be with the hypothesis itself, or it may be with the implementation or design of the experiment. In life experiments of this sort we don't get much of a chance to do it over. So even though I tend to think that personal failure is the cause rather than a bad hypothesis, if success is such a rare thing, a pessimistic view of the hypothesis seems in order.

I suspect that even if I am not directly involved, the romantic Sahajiya idea will probably set sail one of these days. Maybe someone will be able to make it work. DaVinci was not able to create a flying machine, he just dreamed of it. Four hundred years later someone actually did it. So I will not repudiate anything I have said on this blog -- at least not yet! -- but I must bow my head and admit my failure to achieve the goals that I expected to attain in the way that I expected to attain them.

There is no blame. We will say that man proposes and God disposes. And now we must move on. I will harden my heart to any other possibility and see what crumbs of prema I can get from more orthodox forms of bhajan. Perhaps one day, when there is less sensitivity, I will be able to speak openly and frankly about this experiment, but that is not possible at the present time.

So as a 64-year old man who should be contemplating the last quarter of his life, I am again looking to sannyāsa as the only viable option for me. Sannyāsa or other station of life, these are just as often imposed by circumstance as by personal will. These are the parts of our lila lives that the Great Editor writes in. Life is what happens when you are making other plans.

So, to summarize: the experiment is over. My taste for female companionship and desire for sexual union or communion have shriveled up. This might be a case of sour grapes or śmaśāna-vairāgya, it does not really matter. Over the past seven years I have spent more time doing bhajan alone than sharing my life with anyone. I have been living a kind of sannyāsa lifestyle already, and my taste for it has been revived. So let me finish up my life's business without troubling any more of the females of our species for their compassionate glances.

When I was mulling making this decision, Harigopal Dasji invited me to join him in Birnagar. Something there made me feel that it was time to make a choice, and I chose my Guru's ashram.

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6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nice post, very honest. While I am sympathetic to these ideas of sahajiya and try to remain open minded towards all possibilities, the fact does remain, as you pointed out, that we can't really depend on anyone but ourselves ultimately. A woman may help us in our path but in the end, we all die alone and must face God alone.

niscala said...

Jagadananda thanks for sharing your story. Relationships in this world are essentially different from Sri Sri Radha Krsna's loving affairs, as they are temporary, obviously, and illusory, being based on the body, which we are not. Your "sadhika" partner has had the body of a man many times, and you that of a woman many times. Only in illusion do we think there is perfection in such relationships- impossible because the swarupa sakti is not present. Impossible also because you are not a man and she is not a woman. You are not these bodies. How can you love on the basis of illusion? I may have had a dream last night that there was a stray cat outside- but do I now go and put a bowl of milk outside? Even if I love cats, where is the cat? How can there be anything real in an illusion? It is a contradiction of terms. That being said, developing loving relationships in the 5 rasas are preparations for us to soften our hearts and develop "otherness" essential for love in reality, just as dreams can teach us something about the "real" world. Hope this meets you well, and that you find the next new phase of your life full of happiness and well-being.

ItsOkToKnow said...

Dear Jagat,

Is it possible that the time you spent in fruitless experiment was in fact a sort of purgatory and purification which was unavailable by any other means, due to your karmic composition (personality)? Those who welcome you now may be hopeful that you will internalize the lessons of your past 10 years and the previous chapters of your life into a pesto that lacks the garlic essence of mundane romance (which naturally dwells upon the frustration that is inherent in fantasy, due to one's naturally poor faculties for actually knowing). This is a powerful opportunity to become more humble, but that is impossible if any aspect of your heart remains or becomes hardened by your experiences.

If your big knowledgeable brain has no use for a vyasti guru, perhaps your heart does. Is the sannyasin actually without a paramour? Is not his paramour his very own vyasti guru in the form of his bhajan-siksa guru? Given that sannyasi must travel and beg for mercy, why not begin and document your search for living siksa within the broad network of the Gaudiya Vaisnava sects?

This could prove to be a valuable service to the esoteric (as opposed to exoteric) devotees who eventually desire to go more deeply than the confines of their particular religious organization will allow, as they follow the Bhaktivinoda Thakura's injunction to be a Saragrahi Vaisnava. Rather than copping out and claiming that there is not a living vyasti guru through whom you could properly revive and nourish your diksa inheritance, why not become the best known well-wisher of all of the sadhus, hearing from hardly known and hiding saints and helping to educate your onlookers about the sincerity of the pure vaisnava who is not beholden to organizational politics? In other words, if you choose to leave a legacy of sincere puspanjali rather than mental frustration while you still have time, you may court the mercy of Nityananda Prabhu, who will beseech Gauranga Mahaprabhu on your behalf.

If you cannot pass along Sri Caitanya's central teaching of humility by embodying that bhava, then what good is anything else you have to offer. Let people judge the tree by its fruits not by its flower. Don't go to seed.

Jagadananda Das said...

I would not say the experiment, or for that matter any experiment, is fruitless. It just had a different outcome from the one I expected.

Jagadananda Das said...

Otherwise, thank you for your well-intentioned advice. The kindness of the devotees is always appreciated. Jai Sri Radhe.

ItsOkToKnow said...

Hare Krishna

I suspect that some juice from the aforementioned fruits will spill onto your blog. I look forward to that. The byline can be: "The juice of the fruits of knowledge - now with more pulp!" or "Pulp Friction: where the paradoxes of one's desires and activities resolve into destiny." I very much appreciate your professed tendency to not hold on to the past. Krsna appears to be arranging new service for you. That's a wonderful thing.