Romantic Love and Sexual Repression
hṛd-veśma bhāsayati niścala eva bhāti |
dvārād ayaṁ vadanatas tu bahiṣkṛtaś cet
nirvāti śīghram athavā laghutāṁ upaiti
The Prema of the Rasika pair is a wondrous lamp
that floods the room of the heart with light
and burns bright with a steady flame.
Should the door of the mouth be opened
and the lamp brought out into the wind,
it quickly is extinguished, or its effulgence reduced.
Secrecy is the essence of romantic love. Secrecy means being able to control your sexual desire. The problem is that no one today is trained in this. I was reading in Gopinath Kaviraj's explanation of "Tantric" society, by which he was giving a Tantrik explanation to the Vedic or Varnashram social system, he says that the first stage of life, brahmacharya, is all about controlliing the bindu. The essence of education is to control the bindu.
It was being able to control the bindu that made you eligible for householder life. It was controlling the bindu that made it possible to have a happy householder life.
maraṇaṁ bindu-pātena jīvanaṁ bindu-dhāraṇāt |
tasmād atiprayatnena kuruta bindu-dhāraṇam ||
I would also think that the vanaprastha stage was meant for the couple to engage in sadhana together until as such time as fate separated them through sannyas or death. But really in fact for a proper vanaprastha couple, is that there is no need for external sannyas, internal sannyas will be natural and spontaneous. Sannyas is really for those who are separated, or for those who are ineligible for Yugal Bhajan.
The problem is in the way we deal with sexuality in the West nowadays, and India and other Asian cultures are following down the road to uncontrolled sexuality. To begin with, everything has been sexualized, thanks to Freud. C.S. Lewis was dismissive in The Four Loves of the idea that male friendships must of necessity be homoerotic in nature. He admitted there was a possibility of male/female friendships, but said they were rare because they nearly always become sexualized. In the most rare cases, the common interests of friendship sustained their erotic love. But nowadays things have become rather unpredictable and it seems that everything has been sexualized, by which I mean that the possibility for erotic activity is present, whether acted upon or not.
I don't doubt there are sexual elements in all relationships of whatever kind, but restrictions are placed on them, what Freud related to the incest taboo, but looking at these things from a purely material point of view, he thought it was part of the neurotic complex that screws people for life. Well, certainly he had no cure, or at least his cure is worse than the disease.
The point of treating women as your mother or your sister is that you don't have sex with them. You love them as those who need protection and so on, and you enjoy friendships with them that are uncommon. In short, it is the appropriate way for men and women to concentrate the sexual energy in one person of the opposite sex.
Of course, I don't doubt for an instant that human beings are beasts and have uncontrolled lusts that approve of bestiality and other abominations of the sex drive. And that such things have gone on since time immemorial even in so-called Vedic society and they go on to this day, perhaps to an extent of sexual obsession that previous cultures could scarcely imagine. We will see how the human species evolves if we continue along this path, which might be unstoppable. What the long term and knock on effects of this disease of the mind are rather hard to fathom.
But never fear, there are people who have been working on this problem of sexuality seriously and have thought carefully about the spiritual function of the sexual drive and the spiritual potential inherent in brahmacharya. Freud was wrong about repression, in the sense that he thought it was impossible past a certain point. When the steam is boiling in the cooker, it is time to let it whistle. He thought the free pursuit of sexual activity would release one from the negative effects of repression.
People have the mistaken idea that married life is only for getting release from too much repression. Better to marry than to burn, as Paul said. But in the Vedic sense I mentioned above in relation to Gopinath Kaviraj, to control the sexual desire or drive is the essence of education.
And marriage means to cultivate spiritual unity with a woman in the spirit of the raising the bindu together, as a unified force. That is what it means to not be attached to pleasure or to pain.
So this is the path that has been rejected by almost everyone in modern society. The concept of pure, sacred love between the sexes, which is the real truth about romance, or the romantic tradition, the chivalrous tradition, has been lost in everything but the most superficial dimensions of magic thinking.
To see the divine in the woman, to see the divine in the man. That is love.
And the way to do that is to first be a worshiper of God as Love. To worship at the Altar of Divine Romance. To become a servant of the Divine Couple, the God and Goddess of Eternal Unity, of Shakti Shaktimator abhedatvam.
*Paritosh Das, Bharatiya Samskritite Acharya Gopinath Kabirajer Abadhan, 1998, pp. 14-15.