Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Male ego and Manjari-bhava

I am currently engaged in a multi-pronged research into the intersection of compassion, rasa, vātsalya and madhura-rasa, with specific reference to the rasa-śāstra. Since I am under pressure to finish my work here in Rishikesh on the third volume of the Yoga-sütra, I am surprised that I find the time to write anything on this blog, but frequently, this is the way things happen. Creativity often arises when there are conflicting pressures that percolate and hubble and bubble, bringing many thoughts to the surface. Anyway, I rapidly wrote the following on Facebook as a reply to the post that I put up yesterday.

I would think that there would have been a personalized description somewhere. Mādhurya-kādambinī is the closest thing we have in our sampradäya to such a thing, which otherwise in most mystic lineages is fairly commonplace. It is a very nice book. Anartha-nivṛtti is presented as a catalog of flaws rather than a road map, but I guess it is the closest thing to what I was thinking about.

But the reason I bring it up is rather more subtle.

Because sexuality is so central to this whole business of Radha and Krishna bhakti, it requires a great deal of thought on a profound psychological level. Even if it is only to counter the obvious direction of arguments that modern psychologists and atheists would levy at the process. And this is indeed something that I have thought long and hard about.

If you are a Westerner, it will be hard to think of Radha and Krishna lila for very long without having to face these kinds of considerations. You may dance with a smile on your face, but real religion is not for simpletons. And religion that expects to be taken seriously, no matter how many beautiful Sanskrit hymns it has, must have answers for questions like why does a man want to become a prepubescent girl who is sold out to her 15-year-old adolescent girl-tribal leader in a scenario that sometimes resembles Degrassi High more than paradise.

I know I am caricaturizing there. But I have been trying to understand Radha and Krishna as a psychological phenomenon. What does happen if you let Radha and Krishna take over your mind?

Leaving aside everything else, just meditate on Radha and Krishna in the kunja. What does that mean psychologically? What does it mean as a yoga exercise of visualization? What makes it so different from koans (though a koan it is), or [to give an example from Patanjali Yoga] meditations on the distinctions between nirodha-pariṇāma and ekāgratā-pariṇāma? What does it mean to have THAT bhāva? And is it at all possible for a person in a man's body to even imagine it?

It seems to me that Radha and Krishna are telling us that desire is central to existence, and the beauty of the manifestation of love should be the all-absorbing focus of our meditation.

Maleness and femaleness are the medium through which such desire is experienced and transformed. So it is altogether unnecessary to give up maleness in the sādhaka body. The femaleness in the siddha-deha is internal. It is a way of shaping the mind. The only way to do that is to surrender to a woman guru in love.

In fact, the implicit meaning is that one has to really beat down that dominant male ego, the one that thinks it knows it all.

Before we can be mañjarīs, we need to try to understand Radha and Krishna's love. And I really don't see any way of doing it other than loving in this world. And I don't think that this means giving up the male sexual role either. Far from it. Because for a man who is straiṇa, who is always subject to his sadhika guru, he will become a woman inwardly, because he knows that without doing so he cannot get prema. He will be like a donkey always running after the carrot.

The very task of becoming humble is in itself the principal sādhana for mañjarī-bhāva. And mañjarī-bhāva is the principal sādhana for prema. But mañjarī-bhāva is not simply sitting and imagining the pastimes. It is a part of the living life of love. And unless we can activate mañjarī-bhāva and make it meaningful here, all this imaging of lilas and so on will simply be seen as another religion with a set of very strange beliefs.

A few more articles on this blog about mañjarī-bhāva:


Anonymous said...

One loved reading you comment in your post 'Madhurya Kadambini' (Tuesday, May 19, 2009).

"So, although the participants in this project dispersed like that banana slurpy that sprays everywhere when the mixer's top suddenly comes off, we have this wonderful testimonial to what was, in fact, a magic time in all of our spiritual lives."

Am still smiling whilst re-iterating your words in this reply.

When one is in this union, your simile is a good description of what happens to the yogic body (smile again), it becomes an instrument (Saraswati veena) of union and release...

The skull is opened (the Saraswati veena's sound hole).

The inner sound is perceived, and then over time and further practice (as well as the sound) one begins to see the inner light.

The Saraswati veena is a fretted stringed instrument, similar to a guitar, having a long neck and bowl-shaped body (the sound-box). This analogy esoterically represents the spine (lute’s neck) and skull (lute’s sound-box) with also the cauda equina (bundle of spinal nerves and spinal nerve roots emerging from the spinal cord) being fretted to the lute’s tuning pegs, which are tuned by tightening the muscles of the perineum during Mūla Bandha and strung by the Ida, Pingala and Sushumna. Additionally, the musician will compress the strings on the Lute’s neck to play the instrument; this also represents the practice of Uddiyana-Bandha (abdomen-contraction) and Jālandhara-Bandha (throat-contraction) in addition to Mūla-Bandha (perineum-contraction), these three Bandha’s being represented by the tuning triads of the lute (the chords E, A and D open position major triads, each chord being played by the three-fingers of the left-hand pressing down on three strings, with the thumb pressing against the back of the lute’s neck as a reminder to keep a straight back). Saraswati also translates to tongue, and alludes to the practice of khecarī-mudrā...

Practice makes perfect, repetition enters the dullest of minds.

Anonymous said...

Which is indicated in the second line of verse 173 sent to you on

śṛṅkhalā-jīva-cāla-meruś-ceti rahasyakam │

vihāyāṣu kumbheṣu kim-artham-anudhāvanam ║173║

Anonymous said...

The first line of verse 173 is close to your simile:

"So, although the participants in this project dispersed like that banana slurpy that sprays everywhere when the mixer's top suddenly comes off, we have this wonderful testimonial to what was, in fact, a magic time in all of our spiritual lives."

And also describes khecarī-mudrā (Māṃsa – see the five M’s of the Kula-dravyas):

Partial quote from 173a - "with the tongue (arrow of speech) lifted and raised up straight ([like an] arrow) to be hurled out and discharged ([into the] latitude of the sky"

Anonymous said...

Dear Jagadananda Das,

There is a private message awaiting you on

Kind regards,

M. N.