Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Thoughts prompted by contemplatiing the gopis' maha-viraha



So I spent my day like old times... typing out Bhagavata commentaries. Did the entire Vaishnava-toshani for 10.39, simply because two verses were cited from it in Krishna Sandarbha.

It is not a chapter I had previously tasted deeply because of the mood... Who wants to read about the gopis' suffering when Akrura comes to take Krishna away? That huge "non-cruel" form that Fate takes to destroy the hopes of the Lovers. And so soon after that apogee in the Rasa-lila!

What struck me as I went through the chapter [this typing is not deep penetration, just overviewing] was how the cowherds are all gung-ho and Krishna himself is quite ready to leave. "It is going to be jolly good fun, we go to the big fair in Mathura, we sell some milk products, make a few bucks, watch the rasslin', do a little rasslin', maybe knock off Kamsa, then come back."

Only Krishna and Balaram are a little more serious while talking to Akrura -- recognizing the moment for them to take up their life-business has arrived. It is time for the fun and games to stop and take up the task of the adult, the mission calls! [This I think is also the essence of the Krishna-kirtan by Chandidas, which could, in another version, be called "Krishna comes of age and puts away the things of a child", one of which is Radha.]

But the sentiments of the womenfolk are inconsequential. Is it not the powerlessness of the women that is at the core of the story? And who do we identify with in this: the heroic God-man with a worldly duty to perform for the good of all humanity, who must put aside the trivial sentiments of the girls who have become attached, however great the pleasure of those dances in the woods? Who are we meant to be? The lovers who love and love despite being abandoned, like the Cruel Fate of this world puts an end to all things we hold dear, even our life itself?

The verses are quoted in the context of the gopis' being able to control their emotions in public. Are they able to hide their love for Krishna? They are barely able to do so beforehand, in his presence, but when the maha-viraha of Krishna's departure comes, they absolutely cannot. "We will stop him," they say. "We cannot let him go, and we don't give a damn what the people say."

Only Krishna's promise to come back and their innocent good faith and belief in his promise makes them able to watch him leave until all that can be seen is the dust of the chariot and the horses.
The verses are:

nivārayāmaḥ samupetya mādhavaṁ
kiṁ no'kariṣyan kula-vṛddha-bāndhavāḥ|
mukunda-saṅgān nimiṣārdha-dustyajād
daivena vidhvaṁsita-dīna-cetasām ||

Let us approach Krishna and dissuade Him [from leaving]. What harm can our family elders and relatives do to us, when we are already demoralized and distressed in mind because of Providence, which is now depriving us of Krishna’s association, without whom we are not able to survive for even for half a second? (10.39.28)

visṛjya lajjāṁ ruruduḥ sma susvaraṁ
govinda dāmodara mādhaveti

They cried sweetly in harmony, without any feeling of shame, “O Govinda, O Dämodara, O Mädhava.” (10.39.31)

What Jiva is saying is that parakiya, aupapatya, jära-buddhi and so on, are all causes of suffering because they do not allow the lovers the freedom to love. You may say that parakiya is more "fun" or "exciting" but how long can that last? How many nights will Krishna be able to spend making cuckoo sounds in a hollow tree? The consequences are not joyful. So how can it be the highest goal?

If you accept that parakiya is in the nitya-lila... Let's say that Govinda-lilamrita and the other ashta-kaliya lila books are representative of that nitya-lila. Well, is the parakiya in GL real? It barely registers, like ha-ha fun, like a sit-com, not high drama or melodrama. Oh look, Krishna has Radharani's uttariya and she wrapped herself in Krishna's dhoti. But the sakhis are smart and Jatila is stupid. Ho-ho-ho.

Who wants constant obstacles to fight forever? But what is the meaning of obstacles if they have no emotional weight? Is there to be no liberation whatsoever?

Ah, but Krishna is always with the gopis, with Radha, in the nitya-lila. There is no separation in the nitya-lila, and even the prakata-lila has to end on a good note, according to Jiva. There HAS to be a happy ending. Or what is religion about anyway? Religion is proposing a happy ending where there is none, for one reason and one reason only, because it HAS to be that way.

Now it looks like a "happy ending" is necessary, and I will post that stuff in a day or two, but I don't think that the happy ending will stand, because life and human ambition demands a transformation of the world that will be a real happy ending.

At least in some respects, we need a kingdom of God, a Ramrajya on this earth. And whatever social arrangements we make are to approximate that divine realm within this imperfect world. And that has to be accomplished by individuals who have found that perfection within themselves first. In other words, it is easier to have an individual "happy ending" than it is to have a collective one. But without the former, the latter is lost, even as a dream.

What is more important, the dream or the impossibility of the dream?





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