Sunday, January 18, 2015

Gender relations : Purush and Prakriti

I just came back from an interesting group meditation session in the wake of this conversation, in which naturally sent the most interesting and joyful waves riding through my consciousness, and I have all of you to thank for it. I don't think it would really be possible to share all of the reflections that went through my mind, but I especially would like to thank Prishni for reminding me of exactly what my entire Sahajiya philosophy was about and what I have been writing about ad nauseam on my blog for the last ten years.

Even today, I was teaching Sanskrit to my little group of Gurukula students, which consists of one young Indian male and two North American women over 60. Mostly I am teaching the alphabet and basic Hindu dharma vocabulary. Since we have been learning about gender in Sanskrit, the implications of grammatical gender is a subject that we have already encountered. Today again, in the course of talking about the purusharthas, we were led to a discussion of dharma and varnashram dharma and stri dharma, etc., contrasting modern western expectations and ancient Indian civilization and its standards and mindset.

The word purusha of course implies prakriti. And these are loaded terms implying a particular relationship of the masculine to the feminine, that of male subject to female object. But Gita 7.5 places the jiva as a prakriti in relation to the purushottama. This is the model that comes to life in the mythology of the Bhagavata Rasa-lila.

A third option is the Shiva-Shakti model which also has implicit, though more egalitarian and positive, implications. If the male is energized by the female, then does the woman have no other function than this energizing role, from either the maternal or consort position? This is a rather trite way of looking at sexual motivations both in males and females, but is nevertheless true. Sexual energy empowers, but the range of manifestations of sexual energy reaches from the extremes of Kama to those of Prema, from the grossly physical to the most refined intellectual. And though this works ideally in both directions, the principal seat of Love will primarily be in the feminine. She Gives and She Takes Away.

Biology has bestowed this difference in the genders, and we wish to nurture this quality in its purest form for our own personal greatest good and for the good of humanity.

Thus we come to the Radha-Krishna model that though it has a definite relationship to that of Shiva-Shakti, in it the greatest significance is given to the surrender of the Masculine to the Feminine. In this scenario also many questions about the psychology of love are raised, but the essence of the idea is that the Male surrenders to the Female because a man cannot get by force or logical argumentation the one thing he wants from a woman, which is now recognized as Love in its highest manifestation as divine communion.

So I am glad to have been reminded of these things, by Prisni showing a certain appreciation for my intent. as I have been more or less sitting on these ideas for the last couple of years due to a curious lack of inspiration. I had perhaps fallen into a bit of pessimistic frame of mind regarding the idea of adopting the woman's point of view, which had only too late in life become something to actually strive for rather than just talk about. The samskar is still too shallow.

Yoga in its pristine form is a masculine process of spirituality, as are both jnana and karma. All have a big component of "purusha-kara", heroic exertion and an exercise of mastery. It is about the purusha breaking free of prakriti, or of accepting to merge into oceanic consciousness rather than being imprisoned in the web of Maya, woman and family.

No one likes stereotypes, and especially not one based on mythologies, or ones that are considered normative for all psychologies, I think it is natural for everyone to form certain conceptions of maleness and femaleness, and along with them, an idea of how those characteristics are complementary. Some of those conceptions come from nature and some from nurture. The human species evolves by what we nurture. The advancement of civilization should mean that we evolve in understanding these things in order to become a little more adept at love.

So it is nice to get a confirmation, however small, that this decision to nurture an appreciation for the feminine, the apotheosis of the feminine symbolized by the mythology and image of the Divine Syzygy in this particular form of Radha and Krishna, as the embodiment of perfect love due to this particular transformation of Krishna, the Purushottam, into the lover and servant of Radha.

They are my God, who includes all other gods. This Radha I serve. May it transform me, and may it transform the world.

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