Raganuga Bhakti and Sahaja Sadhana, Part II

Now since rāgānugā bhajana focuses on the mind (ruci-pradhānasya mārgasyāsya manaḥ-pradhānatvam—Bhakti-sandarbha, 311), its principal practice is smaraṇa. Indeed, since devotion by the inner organs is the goal, smaraṇa is said to be the objective of vaidhi bhakti also.

smartavyaḥ satataṁ viṣṇur vismartavyo na jātucit
sarva-vidhi-niṣedhāḥ syur etayor eva kiṅkarāḥ

One must always remember the lotus feet of Lord Vishnu and never forget him for even a moment. All scriptural prescriptions and prohibitions are subservient to these two. (BRS 1.2.8, CC 2.22.113)

Narottam Das expresses the same idea as follows:

manera smaraṇa prāṇa, madhura madhura dhāma,
yugala vilāsa smṛti sāra
sādhya sādhana ei, ihā boi āra nāi,
ei tattva sarva tattva sāra

Meditation or remembering is the life of the mind. It is an abode of ever increasing sweetness, the essence of which is the Yugala Kishor’s vilāsa-keli, Radha and Krishna's most intimate pastimes. This is our sādhana and this is the goal of our sādhana (the sādhya); this particular truth is the essence of all theological teaching. (Prema-bhakti-candrikā, 61)

In Prema-bhakti-candrikā, Narottam again emphasizes the relationship of the rāgānugā devotee’s desire and the fruit of his practice.

sādhane bhābibe jāhā, siddha dehe pābe tāhā
rāga mārge ei sei upāya |
sādhane je dhana cāi, siddha dehe tāhā pāi,
pakvāpakva mātra se vicāra |
pākile se prema bhakti, apakve sādhana-gati,
bhakti-lakhaṇe tattva-sāra ||

That which you meditate on in your spiritual practice (sādhana) is what you obtain in your spiritual body, for this is the method on the rāgānugā bhakti path. The goal we hanker for during sādhana will be attained with the suitable siddha-deha; the only difference is in the degree of ripeness. When one’s sādhana matures, prema will bring one to the supreme destination. This is the essence of all bhakti tattva. (Pbc 54-55)

Now it is no doubt clear to all that though direct contact with God will always be far more wondrous than anyone could possibly imagine, it could not be different in its fundamental specifics. In this restaurant, if you order crêpe suzette, you should not get boeuf bourgignon. You get what you order.

On the other hand, it is said that Krishna sometimes shows special mercy even to a bhakta who is engaged in bhajan for some trivial reason; sometimes he brings crêpe suzette to even the non-gourmet who has ordered Kraft Dinner.

satyaṁ diśaty arthitam arthito nṛṇāṁ
naivārthado yat punar arthitā yataḥ
svayaṁ vidhatte bhajatām anicchatām
icchāpidhānaṁ nija-pāda-pallavam

It is true that Lord Krishna fulfills one’s desire whenever someone petitions him to do so. However, he does not award anything which, once having been received, will be asked for again and again. Even if these worshipers show no desire for them, the Lord personally bestows them his lotus feet, whereby they forget all their transitory material desires. (SB 5.19.27)

In the same way, though the Bhagavata says that one should remember Krishna in any way possible (tasmāt kenāpy upāyena manaḥ kṛṣṇe niveśayet, 7.1.36), still some methods are superior to others. Hatred and fear are not good, but desire is. But such examples are always accompanied by the a fortiori argument, "If such is the case for one who barely desires the Lord, such a one as Putana, or the demons who gained liberation at his hand, then how much more would he be merciful to one whose desires are for pure service in a particular mood?"

Now let us just briefly remember the exalted status that is given to the madhura-rasa, the topmost of the sentiments.

taṭastha hoiyā mane vicāra jadi kori
saba rasa hoite śṛṅgāre adhika mādhurī

If we compare the sentiments in a spirit of impartiality, we find that the conjugal sentiment is superior to all the other rasas in sweetness. (CC 1.4.44)

yathottaram asau svāda-viśeṣollāsamayy api
ratir vāsanayā svādvī bhāsate kāpi kasyacit

Each of the devotional flavors is successively tasted as having some special delightful qualities not present in the previous. [Even so,] according to the individual character of the devotee, any one of these kinds of love may seem more delectable to him. (BRS 2.5.38, CC 1.4.45)

The hierarchy of rasas can be found in the Rāmānanda-saṁvāda from Caitanya-caritāmṛta (CC 2.8), ending with Radha's love in the topmost place, which is accompanied by a brief description of the exalted position of her sakhis.

Chaitanya, “Of all songs, which is to be considered the actual religion of the living entity?”
Ramananda Raya, “Songs describing the loving affairs of Sri Radha and Krishna are superior to all others.”
Chaitanya, “Of all topics a jiva should listen, what is the best?"
Ramananda Raya, "The love games played by Radha and Krishna are the best of topics a jiva should hear."

Now here basically is where the orthodoxy ends, unless you want to argue that other zones of smaraṇa like Gaura-nāgara are in a separate category, which I do not think is possible since they too remain within the scope of madhura-rasa.

Now we have already said since bhakti is a type of consciousness, the culture of the mind is central to rāgānugā bhakti, and that smaraṇa therefore predominates in its practice. Nevertheless, prema goes beyond the mind and into the realm of pure being; therefore the real culture of bhakti is not so much in the mind, but in the heart. This is one reason for the incredible importance of the Holy Names and kirtan--i.e., the Holy Name accompanied by music, especially as sung by someone with bhāva, has tremendous power to touch the very core of our being, beyond the dualities indulged in by the mind.

This is why bhakti is divided into means and end, sādhana and sādhya-bhakti, with the principal realms of sādhana-bhakti being the body and senses (vidhi), and mind (rāgānugā), bhāva to the realm of self-identity, and prema, the ultimate sādhya, i.e., the heart. We have briefly touched upon the culture of bhāva above when talking about sthāyi-bhāva, because this is really what is meant by bhāva. Sometimes people define it as "ecstasies," but this is misleading. Bhāva means knowing one's spiritual self-identity; it means love itself. Prema is the state of divine reciprocation.

The Gaudiya Math criticizes the giving of mañjarī- or ekadaśa-bhāva to "beginning" students, but it is difficult to know how one is supposed to cultivate bhāva without it, since bhāva is so closely tied to one's specific spiritual identity. So generally speaking, if ekadaśa-bhāva is not given explicitly or formally, it will be given indirectly or informally, such as from a book like Bhajana-rahasya).

In Rupa Goswami's description in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, prema is the consequence of bhāva, and in practical terms it follows close behind as divine reciprocation.

Now in the culture of the sādhya, five activities are considered to be most valuable. Of these, one is sādhu-sanga:

Chaitanya, “What is the most painful kind of suffering?”
Ramananda, “I know of nothing more unbearable than separation from the devotees of Krishna.” (CC 2.8.248)
Chaitanya, “What is the most auspicious and beneficial activity for the living entity?”
Ramananda, “There is nothing more auspicious than association with the devotees of Krishna.” (2.8.251)

The association of devotees is characterized by friendship and love. The Vaishnavas are the representatives of Radha and Krishna in this world. There are six kinds of affectionate exchange that are shared with devotees, called prīti-lakṣaṇam, the signs of love. The devotee is a harbor, a storehouse of love. Even if we know only a somewhat advanced sādhaka, we will recognize the greater presence of natural affection in him, an attractiveness that is attributable more than anything else to his quality of love.

If one falls in love with such a sādhaka, male or female, and wishes to share the process of sādhana with him or her, then how can this be considered faulty or negative?

The use of all the senses, including touch, is included in bhakta-saṅga:

akṣṇoḥ phalaṁ tvādṛśa-darśanaṁ hi
tvacaḥ phalaṁ tvādṛśa-gātra-saṅgaḥ
jihvā-phalaṁ tvādṛśa-kīrtanaṁ hi
sudurlabhā bhāgavatā hi loke

The goal of the eyes is to see someone like you; the goal of the skin is to embrace the body of one such as you. The goal of the tongue is to sing the glories of one such as you, for great devotees of the Lord are rare in this world. (Hari-bhakti-sudhodaya 13.2, quoted in Madhya-līlā, 21)

A devotee in love with another devotee, both of whom are in love with Radha and Krishna, is not the same as the sexual union of two persons whose intent is purely sense gratificatory in nature. This is, I repeat over and over again, a form of devotional association that is highly privileged and sacred.

Since sādhu-saṅga is a svarūpa-siddha devotional activity, so too is this activity. Nevertheless, because of its volatile nature and the necessity for maximizing one's devotional culture, it is still advised to exercise great care.

Now here, obviously is where we first start to lock horns with the orthodoxy and where the principal debate lies. And it is more than just a symbolic matter, because it does change rather significantly the whole way of looking at everything that has already been said above, as it transforms our way of looking at the world and of looking at Radha and Krishna. Preliminarily, it will appear that we are moving away from a "pure" concept of Radha and Krishna and compromising it with matter, but in the long run, it will strengthen our understanding of the Divine Couple, indeed will purify it so that it no longer becomes a prisoner of cultural and historical accidents but a divine, transcendent and eternal truth.

At the same time, the principal point I am trying to get across here is that in order to really understand the culture of sahaja-sādhana, it is somewhat necessary to have at least begun the madhura rasa sādhana in the rāgānugā mode, as shown by the traditional orthodoxy and described above. It is my feeling that one who approaches the subject of sacred sexualithy without having had his subconscious molded by an innocent faith in Radha and Krishna, will likely overemphasize the purely symbolic and metaphoric elements in Radha and Krishna and lose sight of the reality of the Transcendent Person existing in that form.


Anonymous said…

Your writings seem to be a bit starry eyed regarding relationships and Vaishnava sadhikaa-sadhak partnering.

More often than not, what I am witness to is that couples seldom understand each other, what to speak of totally vibe with one another. Your dream of love, romance, sadhan, raganuga bhakti sadhan and prem, although a noble and lofty dream no doubt, does seem a bit unrealistic. What I find amongst Vaishnava couples in particular is that one of the two are usually far more ahead of the other in terms of bhakti. That often creates great conflict.

Also, when reading Krishna Bhavanamrtam or any such rasik granthas, the level of sweetness and romance found therein totally captivates the mind and heart to such an extent that one could hardly be satisfied with anything less charming. The result is that when you do enter into a relationship you have only Krishna to compare a partner to, and, well, no guy is like that.

I guess for a man reading those books they might superimpose the charm and rasikatva of the gopis onto a female partner, and well, no woman is that sweet and clever. Although in my opinion most women have far more potential in coming close to such ideals than to the men of the current millenium.

So such high expectations of poetic romance and progress on the path of raga marg bhakti with a partner are a bit out of reach. Although the word out now is that if you visualize something enough, it will happen (law of attraction). And that is really the point of lila smaranam to begin with, isn't it? .... Drawing the lila towards you through the process of intense remembrance and visualization. So when one could be utilizing one's limited time and energy to draw that near, why spend it trying to draw a relationship near?
Jagadananda Das said…
Now this is the situation where Parakiya Rasa comes in. I have to say that I am not so much in favor of parakiya rasa as a way of life. There are many dangers involved, and why disrupt the Vaishnava society by breaking up relationships that seem functional.

Well, that is precisely it: they are not functional in the true sense of the word. Functional means that they are part of the sadhana process.
Anonymous said…
Radhe Radhe.

My guru is giving ekadas bhav sparingly. It is easy to see why. The fact of the matter is that most Vaishnavas I meet are putting very little time, if any, into cultivating rasa bhakti. They are mostly caught up in family samsar - work, paying bills, taking care of kids, etc. Most of their conversations revolve around that.

They barely get time to sit down in one place silently and chant Harinam. Where is the time for going deep?

Still, if one has ekadas bhav in such a condition of life, no harm. It can only help. But without sadhan-bhajan will the seed of such things ever sprout, what to speak of bear fruit?

Can you believe that I know Vaishnavas who do not even want to know their own eleven items? Supply and demand. Except the demand is not there!

First a greed must be created in their hearts via Hari Katha. A lot of people are satisfied working, raising kids and time to time chanting Harinam. Hard to believe, but true nonetheless.

It all depends on purva janam samskaras whether one will be rasik or not. In most cases I say it has to do with environment, one's exposure to Braj, Braj katha and rasik vaishnavas, regularly. When one takes many disciples from all over the world at all different levels of understanding, one has to speak to satisfy the levels of all and some of that ras gets watered down so that instead of pure, thick juice squeezed straight from a mango, you are left with drinking the contents of a "Fruity" box through a tiny plastic straw.

Ras is something to be relished in small, intimate and concentrated circles. Once bhakti spreads itself outside from that, it becomes way less rasik, in my opinion.
Jagadananda Das said…
Rasik gurus in most lines would likely be against what I am proposing also, but I think that this direction is inevitable.

Indeed, although I try to set the bar high in terms of the pravartaka stage, my speculation is that Sahajiyaism as I envision it will degrade pretty quickly and go into some pretty crappy places, if it hasn't already.

When I say that the Parakiya bhava should be admitted, I mean that in the interest of sadhana, it should be admitted. I know that this idea will be misunderstood and distorted, but the fact is that the shastra tells us clearly that we should place our spiritual priorities first.

A loving relationship with a sadhana partner provides great power to our spiritual practice and this kind of compatibility shoudl be given first priority in selecting a partner. Where that motivation has been neglected and the situation has become hopeless, we should accept what is indeed a "call of the flute," and accept the obstacles from friends, society, dharma, God Himself, in the spirit of Vraja parakiya rasa.

It is my opinion that parakiya rasa can only be experienced properly in this world by people who are like the gopis, i.e., honestly committed to dharma, and for whom having affairs is not a way of life, but a life-reversing and exceedingly troubling situation.

If one is simply a bumblebee flitting from one partner to another, the rasa is minimal. That is called sadharana rati, whether it is on the part of the man or the woman. Krishna's example is not practicable here. That is where the verse about bhaktavat na tu krishnavat, naitat samacaret jatu, and all the rest of the dire warnings are applicable.

Enough marriages collapse for no good reason. At least make it a good reason.

But this is also why yoga culture and the practice of seminal retention is necessary. Vaishnava couples should be warned before they even get married that having children should preferably be avoided or delayed until the bhajan as a couple has become strong.

At least, they should having unwanted children. Having children should not be a byproduct of uncontrolled sex desire. This is a missing part of education.

If Vaishnava couples start out with a decent impetus for bhajan and then get entangled deeply in samsara and lose all taste for bhajan just because they have no control over their reproductive processes, then what was ever gained from it?

There is no reason why Sahajiya couples should not have children, but they should learn to control the reproductive function. Both partners should see passing semen as undesirable and work together to avoid it. Non-orgasmic sex is sattvik sex, and sattvik sex is the basis of Sahaja sadhana.

Jai Radhe.
Jagadananda Das said…
I just want to make another comment about the first post, i.e. about the romanticism and idealism with the partner.

There is a bit of a mistaken understanding here. It is similar to the misunderstanding where guru is concerned as well. Indeed, the problem applies to all relations, and romantic relations suffer from this problem with or without Sahaja sadhana.

The idealism and the romance may exist on the human level, but its real place is in transcendence, in Goloka, in the Nitya Vihara. That is the place where True Love exists. Sahajiya partners are simply using their love as a doorway into a mystic unity with the Divine Love of the Yugala Kishor.

And this is why I have stated that both partners should have at least some experience in meditating on their kishori svarupa in the ashta kaliya lila. They have to have at least an idea of the concept that they are not enjoying Yugala Milan, but are engaged in serving the Yugala Milan. But more about this later.
Anonymous said…
"A lot of people are satisfied working, raising kids and time to time chanting Harinam. Hard to believe, but true nonetheless."

Perhaps the claim is a “hard to believe” one because it isn’t quite “true”? The truth is, most people in the world are rather dissatisfied. People want true satisfaction. What to speak of the world at large, vaisnavs who chant, even if just from time to time, have already understood the need for a state of complete satisfaction. Thus they have taken to chanting, simultaneously as an act of rebellion against the mechanical motions of material life, and as a glimpse into true satisfaction. They work, raise kids, AND chant. So, perhaps they work and take care of kids while chanting, precisely due to their integrity as genuine seekers of truth? Perhaps the abandon-it-all hasn’t resonated with them after all in the face of the contradictions and unresolved problems coming right down from their leaderships?

There clearly is a problem with this philosophy of taking an act in itself, like the act of responsibly raising children or the act of generating one’s own income, and classifying it as a “material” act, while “spiritual” acts are projected in the sky above as some sort of hollowing practices involving anything but loving and responsible relations with people in this world. Making a distinction between the material and the spiritual based on an action itself, without considering the motivation involved, is rather a misleading way of representing both matter and spirit. Misleading because the full picture is not given: If the ideal is to reject life in this world altogether, then it must be also understood that the consequence of such is that life in the spiritual world will have to be given up as well. How so? Because the fact is that life in this world is only so because there is such life in the other world - it is a descending process, not the other way around. There is love in this world, i.e., love for one’s children, beloved, etc., because there is such love in the permanent world. But if artificially eliminating love in this world, what one gets is brahman (sat), at best. However, life without action simply does not hold permanence, so, as the axiom that it is, more than existence alone, or sat, life is consummated in cit and ananda. Thus there is a problem with the idea of considering the events of this world disconnected with the eternal world. The reason there is love in this world right down to procreation and rearing of children, is because it cannot be otherwise. The yukta-vairagya principle is about understanding why such loves do exist, and not about expecting to artificially eliminate them. Even rasik saints in this world act by the rules of yukta-vairagya, i.e., instead of a small family, they sometimes develop a very large family of darling sons and daughters, and bring Krsna Consciousness to the fold. But a loving family it is.
Anonymous said…
Please clarify what you mean by parakiya. If you mean extra marital affairs for the sake of bhakti, how can that be anything other than disruptive to bhajan and devastating for the spouses who are being cheated on?

However, if you mean two unmarried Vaishnavas coming together for the sake of sadhana, without setting up a samsara, then it can work. That would be neither svakiya nor parakiya. Friends with benefits I guess...

Family samsar is definitely binding, entangling, and expensive in this day and age. Better to remain free.
Jagadananda Das said…
I am not in favor of cheap adultery. I am in favor of responsible parenthood. I am in favor of families based on common spiritual purpose.
Anonymous said…
"However, if you mean two unmarried Vaishnavas coming together for the sake of sadhana, without setting up a samsara, then it can work. That would be neither svakiya nor parakiya. Friends with benefits I guess... Family samsar is definitely binding, entangling, and expensive in this day and age. Better to remain free."

The obvious error with this argument is that, in reality, when the desire for bhakti and service to the Divine is genuine, there is no question of picking and choosing whom to interact with in this world, even if for sadhana purposes. When bhakti is involved, it only APPEARS that people pick and choose. In truth, when it comes to bhakti, people are united or separeted in this world (and the next), directly by the will of the Divine. It is called sadhu sanga. Thus, in relation to bhaktas, setting up a family is not the same as "setting up a samsara". Vaisnava families are rather a coming together of bhaktas by the grace of God, in many cases even practicing sadhana exercises harmoniously in an apparently ordinary family environment. To necessarily condemn vaisnava families to the rank of entanglement and bondage is a crass misrepresentation, in my view. Especially on the grounds of its material cost(!) Love among humans is priceless, even by material estimation. Just ask parents or engaged couples out there how much they believe their object of love is worth in money. The notion of there being more individual freedom for bhajan outside of a family set up is a lesser evolved concept of liberation, in my opinion. Saranagati is where freedom is at its fullest. A person who choses to serve others in the very challenging and demanding universe of social dymanics, even at the cost of his/her own priorities, is just as eligible to experience true freedom as a formal vairagy is, if not more! There is no knowledge to be had other than the knowledge of true service. Especially service to fellow bhaktas. The renouncing of family for a higher ideal is precisely that: A higher ideal. A genuine embracing of a higher ideal does not discard the lesser ideal but uplifts it along in the very act of the transition. Such is called faith.
Anonymous said…
I agree with the first anonymous poster here.

Cuz it's Kali Yuga, is very rare that a relationship does not turn into pure Cheesiness Personified.

Now why is that? Cuz isn't it true that according to the Gaudiyas that everyone is a gal and Krsna is the only man?

So how is Krsna gonna let anyone get away with anything other than to get fried on (an)other person(s)?

And especially if you are serious. If you are serious then Krsna REALLY wants you for himself.

And as such, since he always gets what he wants, he has a cute little way of making our lives into a Alanis Morrisette song, i.e.
"Life has a funny way of helping you out."

Like basically you are just going to figure out that no one is perfect. Or the perfect man is a clone of five guys you know. Or wait a minute...not even that is gonna work - look at Draupadi!

But until you get to that realization, "hope springs eternal" I suppose, and/ or the only thing that Pandora did not let out of her box was Hope.

Also, in feminist writings, one feminist observed that it's always men going to prostitutes and not the other way around. Well not always obviously or my gigolo boyfriend would be out of a job.


But you know what I mean. So these ideas are usually just male fantasies.

Because of the principle that it is usually women who end up eating ice cream out of the fridge if they are frustrated and men end up trying to be a gopi because that might make it easier to score more chicks. Or see more breasts, have an excuse to think more about breasts, something.

Anyway whatevers. To each his own.

If you want to do it, why don't you just call it a gandharva's marriage then? And plenty of karmi men figure out how to do it, from the milkman to mailman to pilots to travelling salesmen.

So is not like it cannot be done.

Is not like nowadays you have to go and visit the village washerwo/man to get carnal knowledge of the opposite sex.

I dunno is there a female equivalent? Like Jahnava Ma had a string of Chippendale's dancers we never read about in the Gaudiya lit yet?

The only enlightened gal I ever heard of who was married, then her husband became her first disciple.
Anandamayi Ma or something like that. But because she was absorbed in Brahman all of the time, she wasn't interested in things of this world. Her devotees had to feed her.

Anyway seems like that is one p-r-e-t-t-y smart diet plan and avoids the whole syndrome of eating ice cream out of the fridge.
So there you go!
Anonymous said…
Perhaps what is needed is some post-modern innovation to go with the medieval idea. Therefore I propose that anyone who wants to pick up the ball and run with the sahaja sadhana things run it by a lawyer and develop a PRE-KUNJA AGREEMENT:

This is a binding agreement between
John Doe henceforward known as Gopi A
Jane Doe known as Gopi B

Gopi A is:
a) swami in ISKCON
b) swami in Gaudiya Matha
c) freelance householder

interested in: "sweeping the kinj" with Gopi B. He freely admits that he has: [check all that apply]
a) Swiss bank account and/or assets in the amount of rupees ___
located at ____
b) collection of Rolex and Persian rugs and ______
c) wife, kids named ____, ____, and _____

Gopi A is wants to do offerings with Gopi B to the Divine Couple
HOWEVER any such offerings are considered separate assets owned only by Gopi A and Gopi B respectively. And if they do joint mental offerings and the relationship is dissolved, then each offering shall go back to whence it originally came.

i.e. Gopi A provides the string then string reverts to Gopi A or his designee, Gopi B provides the flowers then flowers revert to Gopi B or her designee.

This binding agreement shall cover all aguru, campaka, kunkum, and all 1,008 other offerings itemized and inventoried in Appendix A

Gopi B hereby has exhibited proof that she has attained the martial arts title of Bhava Belt, having previously passed through the stages of ashakti, rucci, and all the necessary stages leading up to prema.

She is doing a science experiment to see if by associating with Gopi A she can get to prema, or will she implode because the human body cannot withstand the force of prema.

Gopi A hereby solemnly swears that he ain't "lookin to get some" and is qualified to deliver the said "prema".

In the event that Gopi A was basically just playing spiritual poker with Gopi B and bluffing her then this contract shall be rendered null and void, and Gopi B may seek past back wages for her hours of sweeping the kunja and other menial tasks she was made to perform by Gopi A.

Witnessed today this ___ of ____, year ____.

If you do something like that then I guess it's okay.
Anonymous said…
I think you need a job application to attract your Gopi wannabees also and a spiritual aptitude test.


1)Why do you want to ahem sweep my kunja?
a) cute pic by your biopic
b) I need Canadian citizenship so I can get free meds
c) I want to be enlightened by you Oh Master

2) When you watch re-runs of "I Dream of Jeannie" starring Barbara Eden and Larry Hagman, your first thought is:
a) I would love to say "Yes Master all day long" to a man wearing cute clothes that highlight my navel ring and washboard abs
b) Same as (a) but get even more turned on thinking I get to say "yes SPIRITUAL master" to a man
c) That show is degrading to women...harumph! but I do like the idea of having the ability of turning a man into a braying jackass by wrinkling my nose

3) If you were to ahem sweep my kunja and found a Shiva lingam there, your first impulse would be
a) to run screaming from the kunja
b) eyes widen in amazement and say "I never saw one before I only read about it in Vedic literature"
c) call in my other girlfriends

Anyways you know. You are quoting all of these old school lit. So you have to go and find a medieval person willing to be medieval with you.

So like one venue where this sahaja sadhana would happen alot was in Tibet like 50 years ago. Just read any autobiography of any famous lama. In that society for one, polyandry is practiced cuz there are more men than gals. So the men are used to sharing.

Second is a part of their society and social order. They even have a joke about it, "You sleep with our wives and we give you the children [that it produces to the temple]."

See like a fourth or a third of the guys in Tibet back in the day lived in huge monasteries. They were sent there from babyhood. So some grew up to be gay and then they did not feel the need to come into town and be with a woman.

But some wanted to have the experience of being with a woman. And also the gals there did not exactly have a liberated lifestyle. They had a lot of drudgery and menial work. Is not like they are getting facelifts and manicures and going to the gym all day long, eating bon-bons and watching Oprah.

Their big entertainment was to be religious. And some were very good yoginis. So it was a break from being with a bozo who just knew how to herd yaks and drink chang.

Anyways in that society what you are proposing happened alot. In fact that is how most of the famous lamas that came to the West were born.

But is a different culture than being a post-modern college educated person.

For example, no one really knows how the women felt about it. Because most hagiography is written by men. But we have some idea how Western women felt when the male lamas started proposing to do the same thing with their Western students and devotees.

The most famous one was June [Campbell?] I think her name was. She was the translator and secretary to a lama. And one day he surprised her and proposed they do this sahaja sadhana thing. She never told anyone until he died.

Well you know, it was okay until he got tired of her and then wanted her to procure more and more younger women for him.

Well yuck. That's your spiritual mentor. So like uh how "spiritual" is that? It was not a very nice experience for her. But she loved her master also. Because he taught her so many things. Well they did not have the internet back then.

Anyways what you are proposing sounds good to you on one level. But maybe you can ask yourself what do you REALLY want?

Do you just want a good massage then get a good massage from a licensed massage therapist. Or do you want a friend then think of how you can have friends without involving your private parts in it.

Is it just the affection that you want? The camaraderie? Just being able to tell someone about your spiritual hopes and fears?

Sometimes it is good to break down and analyze what it is that we really want. Because this sahajan
model was formulated in a different era.

To be frank, if you wanted sex back in the day, then a man in India went to the "shampoo" girls and "shampoo" men. That is the "washerwoman" concept you were quoting. If you don't believe me then just read Kama Sutra and it is right there.

If you wanted to experience sex acts that a brahminical lady would not do, then people went to the "shampoo" men or women.

And you mentioned Socrates, he was gay and lived in a gay society. As were the samurai. So to be with a woman was like an "experience" that you might want to try if you were hetero-curious, bi-, or wanted to produce an heir.

So anyways some food for thought.
Happy Shiva Ratri!
Jagadananda Das said…
The hunger of humans for the sacred is deep, and their desire for love is as deep. Learning to combine the two is the trick I am trying to master.

This is not about becoming medieval. This is about becoming human. Intelligence is a good thing, and I appreciate that you have plenty of it. And good luck with it, because it is not for nothing that our acharyas have identified it as separate from bhakti.

This is not about trickery, sexual exploitation or any of the rest of it. It is about cultivating the love of a fellow human being and coming closer to God through that relationship.

You are flailing in the midst of rajasika and tamasika jnana, like mostly everyone, only with your vast reading and vast intelligence, you flail vastly.

My beginning point is shraddha. Which shraddha? Shraddha in the experience of God that came to me through the Holy Name and through sadhana bhakti. This shraddha has grown into something I call love--it is love for the Holy Name, for this tradition, for this adoration of Radha as the image of love, of Krishna as the form of attraction. Radha and Krishna are all-pervading. They are simultaneously the objects of love and they are Love.

That is the way I think of Them, I feel my love for my beloved, my love for humanity and my love even for myself grow. If someone like you tries to throw a bucket of factoid wastewater (called "food for thought") on my Radha and Krishna and their bhajan, it does not bother me because it is not even my Radha and Krishna who are being touched, only a Maya Murti. Like every iconoclast, you think you are breaking a god when you break the statue, and then you wonder why the foolish believer thinks his god has not been broken.

Food for thought I have had aplenty, and the food I have taken has fed my shraddha. There were times when I had indigestion, but when I learned from my guru varga to be (1) a sadhaka, and (2) a sara-grahi, I was able to conquer my indigestion and my shraddha grew.

It is unfortunately hard to speak in response to someone like you without sounding either naive or pompous. I guess I have taken that risk. My apologies if I have failed to avoid doing so.

Your servant,

Jagadananda Das.
Anonymous said…
Anonymous has a point though.

I can imagine how the disdain for female company may have arisen from the men of yore who built a strong bond amongst themselves as they cloistered themselves in their monastaries, ashrams or philosophy circles.

If both intellectual stimulation and physical affection was provided via the medium of male comrades, of what use were women?

Another piece in the puzzle....
Anonymous said…
Jagat ~

Dandavat pranam. The main point I was trying to say is that my feeling is that anything that is going to involve actual physical sex on the gross material platform, i.e. actual body parts touching, requires that people be as conscious about it as possible.

I understand that our innocence about something protects us. I have no problem with your devotion to Radha and Krsna now. In fact your blog help me to sort that out. Would take too long to go into details but that part is fine.

Just I think that people need to be careful when it comes to the matter of sex. And that is just because we have alot more information about sex than any other generation in history has had available to us.

We know now that women have a different experience in life than men. Is called herstory as opposed to history. That information is out there now.

I am just trying to point out that what you are proposing is an idea developed by men, in patriarchal societies. And as such if people don't think things through, it can be extremely traumatic experience for a woman to get into this sadhana sahaja, unless is approached in a highly ethical way.

In the past men mostly took the gals by surprise and forced themselves on the ladies. Just the fact that you are open about what you are proposing I feel is at least more sattvic.

And even though I kid around about the job applications and all, I think it would be a good idea to sit down and discuss with the other person all of the possible things that can go wrong first. On every possible level: from the physical dangers of STDs and HIV, to the emotional dangers of Shakespeare's "Love to man is a thing apart; tis woman's whole existence."

You seem to be of a certain material age from your photo. Well as far as I can tell, back in the day people did not get the same kind of sex education as is given to young people now. For example in front of me is 'Student Manual: Choosing the best Path, an Abstinence based Curriculum" by Bruce Cook.

And it has worksheets that makes kids think about the difference between boys and girls, and how sex can ruin a great friendship, which may or may not be extended to the concept of it can also ruin a sacred and spiritual mentorship.

That is all I am trying to get at. People really need to be careful out there. Is no accident that India has one of the highest rates of AIDs in the world, because people won't talk about this stuff honestly and openly.

And there are many more STDs out there than the common sex clinics tell you about. For example if you read the Harvard Guide to Women's Health, it mentions sex diseases not even in "Our Bodies Ourselves" which most people would assume is the gold standard for awareness.

Most of your writings I enjoy, and that is why I try not to be like Dvivida Gorilla and urinate and defecate on the threads that I agree with or find no harm in.

Just this is not a Matha with goondas who are going to come at me with weapons for speaking the post-modern educated female point of view. If anything can be learned from Lord Chaitanya, I feel at the very least is that it is important to have a balanced point of view: both male and female.

Just I think you need to be careful some of the things you are proposing. That's all. And it is not too far fetched to even have an interview process and people discuss what can go wrong first, and then decide if they should "do it".

That's what it says in "How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World": whenever you want to do something, ask yourself what is the worst thing that can go wrong. Then, if you can handle the worst thing that can go wrong, do it. If you cannot handle, then don't do it.

I think it would be good to examine one's motives for doing things that's all. And be upfront with the other person.

Anyways I think I found a more amenable blog where people think more the same way that I do. I am going to try to post there more.
Thank you for your tolerance with me and compassion.

But because I do have a background as a sex educator and had to teach sex ed as part of my job description, then it is very difficult to read the rasika info and then to read things that sound like they are coming from an imexperienced teenager who did not have the degree of sex ed that people have now in upper middle class affluent community might receive.

Anyways sorry it is an occupational hazard when I read things that are not well thought out--to my mind--and it may involve women getting exploited or hurt, then I feel I have to speak up.

But Radha and Krsna is great and all the best to you with that.

Dandavat pranams ~
Jagadananda Das said…
I was very pleased to receive this letter. I very much appreciate your vantage point and indeed I believe that we are allies at heart. I don’t know to what extent you have read this blog, but you will see that the concerns that you bring up are things that have been discussed here.

As a practitioner primarily, I have to admit that I am first concerned with my own experience and extrapolate from there. So it may be that I am a Johnny-come-lately with innocent and uneducated ideas about the truth of sex, but what else can I do?

Radha and Krishna's innocence is essential to understanding this whole spiritual path. But it is not a fool’s innocence, it is the childlike purity that is needed for transcendence.

Much information about sex does not necessarily translate into meaningful experience. Are young teenage girls less exploited because they watch porn films and have seen many extravagant sexual acts portrayed there? Does that so-called knowledge translate into woman's liberation, or is it a case of leaping from one frying pan of exploitation into an even worse flame? And why are women so easily exploited anyway, even now, after forty years of sexual liberation?

I have one thing in common with the Christian abstinence movement, and that is a concern for the sacred character of the sex act and of love between men and women in this world. But where Vaishnavism is concerned, I think you are wrong to raise this bogey man line of argument about “men inventing it to preserve a patriarchal system.”

Of course, the fact that things were written from a man’s point of view may mean distortion, but it may mean other things. There is no reason to think that some men at least did not take women’s point of view into consideration.

But it seems that whether men idealize women, or detest them, or adopt any one of a hundred attitude points in between, nowhere do women ever come to a feeling that men have understood them.

And even when men say, “We must become like women in order to understand the highest value of love,” women seem unsatisfied with this absolute and abject capitulation and project deceit and manipulation into men’s motivations. It seems that misunderstanding of the sexes is not a one-way street.

Let us say that the solution to this problem is transcendence. Let us call transcendence “neutral territory.” That neutral territory is the imaginary land of love, which is otherwise called Goloka, or the Kingdom of God. There the Supreme Male and the Supreme Female cavort in an eternal dance and lose themselves absolutely in each other. Then he is no longer male, she no longer female, but both merge into Pure Love. This is an eternal state called Nitya Vihara, where committed lovers can go by the process of mystic participation.

As ordinary jivas there are limits to what we can achieve, but if we cherish the concept of love, we must learn how to make it sacred. The sacredness of love is experienced through the mystic communication with this divine realm. But all these so-called experienced adolescents, who are experimenting with all varieties of sexual acts before they get out of junior high, are they educated in the sacred nature of sex? How can they be when they have no sense of the sacred or of spirituality?

As I have already said, there is little doubt that things get misused, but I push on with this doctrine because I think that more good than evil will come of it. The absolute celibacy movement is fruitless path that tries to put a lid on a boiling pot. The absolute freedom movement is a fire that burns wild and consumes everything in its path until there is nothing left but charred remains. Starry-eyed romanticism about worldly love is a fool’s paradise and invitation to be conned. Cynicism leaves you floundering in the void. The only path is Sahaja sadhana.

Jai Sri Radhe Shyam.
Anonymous said…

Good points.

I have an acquaintace who wanted to tread the tantrik sex path as a sadhana in his youth.

We was Indian and he had a female friend, also Indian, who agreed to travel to W. Bengal with him to find a guru to guide them. She also agreed that this was a temporary sexual relationship for sadhan purposes only and that she would not get "attached", but when the sadhan ended, would return to her home in another part of India and the two would remain "friends only".

The result was that after the W. Bengal trip she fell madly in love with this guy and begged him for months to marry her.

She did not keep her end of the deal, but he, rather coldly did.

Her heart was broken.

Anyway, that was several decades ago and she is now a middle aged married lady (to someone else) with kids and the man is still trying to find himself via various spiritual paths and sadhanas.

If this sadhana is developed, I say let it be developed by and for women!
Jagadananda Das said…
Well, I am glad to see that a few readers are thinking that there is something of substance here that should be developed. In this respect I am only a servant of the Divine Couple.

But what you have pointed out here is really the difference between Tantricism and what I am calling Sahajiyaism. Perhaps I should call it "neo-Sahajiyaism" or something in order to emphasize that the connection to the traditions is not wholesale.

I have also mentioned this difference more than once: Tantricism is an aspect of Yoga, in which the primary goal is to lift the kundalini energy to the thousand-petalled lotus chakra in the cranium. This is very nice, but it is not prema. When the Vaishnavas minimize yoga, it is specifically this that they are devaluating as irrelevant.

I don't consider it entirely irrelevant, but it is certainly secondary. I don't see this as the locus of the spiritual activity at all, and only someone who knows the difference between Vaishnava personalist philosophy and Tantric impersonalism will know the difference.

Of course, impersonalism is the disease for which love is the remedy. That love is experienced on three levels, but without the kind of committed love to a sadhana-shila partner the other two will only be partial.

However, it must be said that there are problems related to attachment, etc., that are not necessarily helpful and are false manifestations of love, arising out of the old devils of aham and mama. We must not forget the basics of spiritual culture just because we are talking about love.

A distinction has to be made between material and spiritual love, and confusion between the two avoided at all costs. This is why the kama/prema definitions have been so emphasized in the Chaitanya Charitamrita and elsewhere.
Anonymous said…
"Non-orgasmic sex is sattvik sex, and sattvik sex is the basis of Sahaja sadhana"

That may be the basis of sahajiya sex, but saying non-orgasmic sex is sattvic is just silly, it's nothing short of another form repression as is celibacy.

The orgasmic experience between a couple who are committed to one another only deepens their love toward one another and is very nourishing ..it's like saying have a nice meal but try not to taste it or feel satisfied.

The problem with these religions is that they condemn human pleasure and as a result have created a split humanity who shun pleasure and live in a state of constant guilt for having natural human tendencies.
Jagadananda Das said…
There is pleasure in the modes of passion and ignorance, and there is love in the modes of passion and ignorance. Some people think that these are equal to the similar experiences in the mode of goodness, or the experience of transcendental bhakti-prema. In fact they are not, and it is not a question of repression.

If your faith is, as you have summarized it, in the mode of passion, who am I to try to change your faith? Go for it and see where it gets you. I am talking about something different.

You cannot have anything of value without paying the price. Matches are a rupee a box, atomic warheads cost millions of dollars.
Anonymous said…
You have no clue about my personal life and saying my faith is in the mode of passion is ludicrous, and a bit of a stretch on your part. Must you measure every one by the thin line you follow.

Just because I don't go along with your advocation of frigid sadhana...doesn't mean I'm some mode of passion sex maniac, frankly I bet I'm more of a celibate than you...

Get over yourself
Jagadananda Das said…
Hm... frigid sadhana. No sirree.

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