A niggling question answered

There has been a niggling question about Krishna's different prakāśa forms, which was left over from debates a long time ago on Gaudiya Discussions. If Krishna is one, does each of his different forms have a separate sense of identity?

Radha and Krishna are One. There are countless quotations that support this siddhanta. But how should we understand this? If Radha is just another form of Krishna, then how can they be considered different, having truly different identities, for the sake of lila?

My instinctual argument all along was that the imperative of madhurya means that such fragmentation of God's personality is factual and necessary. This is an aspect of Krishna's acintya-śakti. How many different ways can Krishna be simultaneously one and different from Himself?

So, here is confirmation from Bhagavat-sandarbha 35:

यत एवं सत्योरपि तत्तदाकारप्रकाशगतयोस्तदारम्भसमाप्त्योरेकत्रैव ते ते जन्मकर्मणोरंशा यावत् समाप्यन्ते न समाप्यन्ते वा तावदेवान्यत्राप्यारब्धा भवतीत्येवं श्रीभगवति विच्छेदाभावान् नित्ये एव तत्र ते जन्मकर्मणी वर्तेते। तत्र ते क्वचित् किञ्चिद्विलक्षणत्वेनारभ्येते ते क्वचिदैकरूप्येण चेति ज्ञेयम्। विशेषणभेदाद्विशेषणैक्याच् च। एक एवाकारः प्रकाशभेदेन पृथक् क्रियास्पदं भवतीति चित्रं बतैतदेकेन वपुषा (भा.पु. १०.६९.२) इत्यादौ प्रतिपादितम्। ततः क्रियाभेदात् तत्तत्क्रियात्मकेषु प्रकाशभेदेष्वभिमानभेदश्च गम्यते। तथा सति एकत्रैकत्र लीलाक्रमजनितरसोद्बोधश्च जायते।

Here it should be noted that sometimes [such pastimes] may begin a little differently, sometimes in the same way, due to either having the same qualifiers or not. One form can perform different actions in different prakāśa manifestations. This has already been established in the explanation of the verse, “It is amazing that Krishna has alone, in a single body, been able to simultaneously marry 16,000 wives, each in their own separate home” (10.69.2).

Because of differences in their activities, there can also be a difference in the sense of identity (abhimāna-bheda) of the different prakāśa manifestations that perform them. This being the case, a different sense of relish (rasa) is awakened in each prakāśa as a result of the particular sequence of pastimes in the different places. (līlā-krama-janita-rasa-bodhaś ca jāyate)

This discussion goes on from there, but I will leave it there as the essential has been stated.


Vraja said…
You can find a verse here or there which is saying that there is some manifest difference between Krishna and his prakasha or vilasa forms, but they shouldn't be seen without the context of the many places where it says Krishna is non-different from his prakasha forms.

The verse you cited is not saying that Krishna is a different person from his prakasha forms. It is saying they can display and identify with different forms. We don't expect Krishna to display the same personality characteristics as Ramachandra or even Balarama, what to speak of displaying the same personality characteristics in a female form.

You wrote:

"Because of differences in their activities, there can also be a difference in the sense of identity "

That is perfectly correct. It's not because they are different persons that there is a sense of a difference in identity, it's because of the role being played. When God is Ramachandra the role or activity of displaying the pastimes of the perfect King causes a specific personality to be identified with, the same with Krishna, the same with Sita, the same with Radha, etc. Just like an actor identifies with a role God identifies with a role and displays a personality which that role compels, as you write: "Because of differences in their activities", not "Because of differences in their personality".

Why do we find so many places in sastra and the writings of the acaryas where we are told that Krishna and Radha or Narayana and Lakshmi are non-different? What is the point of saying that so many times if they are not non-different?

We need to step back and analyze our own history of our own development of thought on how we came to see Radha and Krishna as different. I know that I originally believed exactly as you. My first encounter with Radha and Krishna was from hearing Bhaktivedanta Swami's KRSNA book every night for around 45 minutes when I first moved into an ISKCON ashram. KRSNA book, as you know, is Krishna lila from the Bhagavatam, and maybe some other sources. Before I became well educated in any other type of sastra, I started learning Krishna lila while having it explained to me as literally as possible. I was taught that Krishna actually lifted Govardhana hill, Putana actually had a body 8 miles high, Trnavarta actually appeared as a whirlwind who Krishna killed etc. It wasn't until later that I learned that the "killing of demons" in Krishna lila are metaphors about removing anarthas in ourselves. I was also taught by KRSNA book to see Radha and Krishna as literally different from each other because they literally loved each other, and that their love is literally the most important thing going on in God's life. Later I learned that Radha Krishna rasa lila was also a metaphor to teach us about our own relationship with God.

It is a mistake to neglect all the places where Radha and Krishna or Lakshmi Narayana or swamsa or prakasha or vilasa forms of God are stated as being non-different from each simply because there is manifest difference in lila. There may be some external difference, but that difference is not a difference in the person, it is a difference in how God chooses to manifest his or her personality in a specific form for a specific purpose. Just because the necessity of lila makes Radha and Krishna, or Sita and Rama, or Krishna and Balarama, or Rama and Lakshmana, treat each other as different persons, that doesn't change them into different persons.

God created male and female forms. I know it is taught that lila is eternal and anadi, but logically that cannot be true. Complex designs had to have been designed before they existed. Krishna lila is not without a beginning because it is comprised of complex design. They have houses, furniture, clothes, musical instruments, bodies, trees, fruits, vegetables, etc. These things are all complex designs and have to be the product of a plan and design in order to exist. Therefore Krishna lila had a beginning. God is anadi, but there had to be a time when God designed and created all of the things that comprise this world or the spiritual world.

Human bodies are a product of God's imagination, of God's planning, designing and creative power. God created male and female forms at the same time, they are made for each other. God then uses male and female bodies to enjoy with. God doesn't change and become a male or a female. God always remains the same. God is an all-pervading multi-dimensional field of super-conscious omnipotent energy, a single personality. Whatever bodily forms God speaks through or acts through, whether male or female, or animal, doesn't change God's nature of being a single all pervading consciousness. God is always a single all-pervading consciousness. What God does in a human form doesn't change that essential nature of God. God as a female is the same as God as male is the same as God as a gerbil is the same as God as mango. God is always the same, the multifarious physical manifestations of God doesn't change the nature of God as one person.
Anonymous said…
If we only consider Radha and Krsna, the question can be stated-is their personality linked to their sense of being or to their transcendental bodies, or is there even a difference between the two. radha krsna ekatma dui deha dhari. They are one atma in two bodies. (Rather they have accepted or taken two bodies) Anyanya vilasa rasa asvadana kari, if it were not for them accepting two bodies would they be able to taste rasa? Is the ability to taste rasa therefore linked to a difference in identity and/or personality?

If Radha Krsna were in one body, would they have different personalities still or would they be one? The ability to have different personalities is the objective of accepting different bodies, if this is true we must conclude that the difference in bodies is intrinsically related to the difference in personality.

BTW Shiva, the lilas actually all did happen, and everything written in the Bhagavatam composed by Srila Vyasadeva is perfect and true, especially the tenth canto pastimes.

Although BVT has written lessons that can be gleamed from these pastimes in his Krsna Samhita, it does not mean that these pastimes are simply allegories, if that were the case Suta, Sukadeva or Vyasa would have mentioned it, or would have told them in another manner. With the same line of reasoning one could easily say the entire mahabharat is an allegory some way or other, what to speak of the entire compendium of vedic literature. Where the bhagavatam is an actual allegory (if indeed it is) This is clearly stated and described by one of the three aforementioned authors.
Vraja said…

In the 5th canto of the Bhagavatam it states that 20,800,000 miles above the Earth are rishis, according to Bhaktivedanta Swami that refers to "7 sages" or the planet of 7 sages. And then the Bhagavatam states that 10,400,000 miles above there is the abode of Vishnu or Vaikuntha. The Bhagavatam does not say that these are allegories. Do you believe that Vaikuntha is 31 million miles from Earth? The 5th canto is full of stuff like that. Do you believe there is an ocean of liquor, an ocean of sugar water, and an ocean of yogurt surrounding Earth? According to the Bhagavatam there is.

In my opinion clearly the Bhagavatam and all vedic sastras are full of metaphors even though they do not claim that they are. In my opinion Krishna lila and all lilas are full of metaphors. You may not believe that, but whether or not lilas are literally true is something that you cannot know unless you have actually experienced those lilas.

You said:

"The ability to have different personalities is the objective of accepting different bodies"

How did you come to that conclusion? There is one God and who knows how many jivas? In order for God to physically interact with all the jivas God would need to manifest an almost unlimited number of bodies. The objective wouldn't be "to have different personalities", it would be to enable God to physically interact with all the jivas.

The purpose of God being male and female is not to have a relationship with himself/herself. That would be pointless. Would you seek to have a relationship with yourself, especially if there are countless other people around? The Lila that we can read about serves two purposes. The first is to attract people to take up bhakti yoga. People hear about Lila and become attracted to want to attain Vaikuntha, so they take up bhakti because they want to live forever in paradise. The secondary purpose is revealed when you are advanced in the understanding of God and your inherent relationship with God. There is more to the descriptions of Lila than a literal reading reveals. The literal reading is only for the purpose of attracting people to take up bhakti yoga. There is also a hidden metaphoric message in Lila pastimes which is revealed when you have advanced to an actual direct relationship with God or it can be revealed by a devotee. Either way God is in control of what you understnd about God. You cannot understand the more intimate metaphoric message in Lila unless and until God decides you are ready to go to the next level, i.e. direct intimacy.
Anonymous said…
Metaphors take us a step back instead of bringing us forward.

The fifth canto is completely true, it simply depends on how well you understand it.

For example, check out http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-538297875584368796&hl=en

That should give you a good start.
Anonymous said…
Also, read CC, the highest reason The lord takes two bodies as Sri Radha-Krsna, or as one body as Mahaprabhu is, radhayah pranaya mahima kidrso vanayaiva,etc. The lord's desire to experience that pranaya mahima is what compells the lord engage in this process of bheda Radha-Krsna and abheda, Mahaprabhu.
Jagadananda Das said…
I mostly agree with Shiva. My whole point really is this: It seems to me that he is describing Krishna's aishwarya and failing to understand madhurya.

In this respect, Shivaji, I believe that you have underestimated the insights of the Goswamis and your symbolic understanding of the lila is lacking.

Being all-knowing is part of God's aishwarya, and as Arjuna showed in the Gita, it's not much fun for the jiva.

But it is not all that much fun for Krishna, either. The question then is whether Krishna is capable of forgetting himself and assuming these identities, or is it simply play-acting. Yes, it is play-acting in a very real sense, because Krishna always remains God and can demonstrate his aishwarya at any time if he so chooses, such as shown in various lilas in the Bhagavatam. And sometimes he chooses to do so because it adds a little sauce to the mix.

But in general, ananda trumps sat and chit. In other words, for the sake of ananda, a little less chit makes for a better recipe--for both Krishna and the devotees. That is the whole point of bhakti in the rasika sampradayas.

As to Viswanatha's points about literal understanding vs. metaphor and symbolism. I don't think you quite understand what you yourself are saying. The Fifth Canto is literally true, but it depends on how you understand it. In other words, if you read it literally, it is not true, but if you understand it another way, it is?

In my way of looking at things: God communicates himself to us through symbols. Radha and Krishna don't have to be historical truth to be True; they are manifest throughout creation in every binary manifestation. As is said of myth: It is something that never happened but is always true.

Our obsession with history is a fallacy. And I say that as someone who thinks understanding history is important. It's just that once something is gone, it lives on only in the mind, and that means that it is both archetypal and malleable.

For most symbolists, the conclusion is that symbols arise out of the mind and have only empirical meaning. In other words, (for example) Radha and Krishna represent some aspect of human sexuality, they cannot have any significance beyond that.

Though I accept that there is a relation of the symbols of Radha and Krishna to human sexuality, I object to the "there is nothing beyond that."

If God is real, then he has to reveal himself to the human mind in some way. This is done through the revelations of saints and sadhakas, but even such revelation has to be amenable to the human mind in some way. In other words, there is a relationship between worldly experience and Divine Truth. We generally argue this point using the metaphor of the "perverted reflection."

What is more significant about the symbolic understanding, though, and which comes out of the discoveries and beliefs of the empiricists, is that their significance is not just other-worldy, but this-worldly also.

In other words, Radha and Krishna as symbol stand for both the Divine Truth and validate human love at the same time. If you think about it, you will see that it cannot be otherwise. If we invalidate human love, then we invalidate Radha and Krishna as being meaningfully representative of the Supreme Truth.

We can do this without trying to say that human love, in itself, IS the Supreme Truth. It is not. But it stands in relationship to it in the way that the reflection stands to the original image. By cleaning the mirror, so to speak, through sadhana, the image and the reality come closer to one another. Or rather, the reality becomes clearer.

Just to add an important point, which seems for some reason seems to be of much confusion to a certain sector of devotees, but which needs clarification. All sadhanas require dissolution of the enjoying ego without giving up the serving ego.

The principle is that one attains oneness with God through service. For the worshiper of the Divine Couple, this means serving the Yugala. One God appears as Dual. Therefore one serves God as Dual.

This is represented symbolically by the idea of manjari bhava. But that symbol, as is the case with all divine symbols, takes on real life through sadhana.

So what is the relationship between manjari bhava and the non-enjoying ego when we speak of love in the material world?

The manjari is a part of and servant to the Hladini Shakti. In other words a servant to LOVE, writ large, i.e., in the narrow and wider senses of the word. Radha and Krishna are the symbols of and the reality of perfect love. (Even if some may object that the myths of Radha and Krishna are an imperfect representation of perfect love! The stories are not the important thing, the IDEA is the important thing.)

The Manjari does not serve either Radha or Krishna separately from Radha-Krishna, the Dual Absolute. She serves them together, because only together do they fully manifest Love. There is no factual disunion, though there may be some appearance for the sake of lila.

For sadhakas, in this imperfect material world, where love is only manifested imperfectly, we experience love most perfectly when it is understood as a sadhana for attaining and comprehending this aspect of Supreme Reality. That is done by cultivating the identity of a servitor of Love, i.e., manjari bhava.

One other thing, the idea that a jiva can give meaningful pleasure to the Supreme Truth is discussed by Jiva Goswami. Obviously there are many statements that confirm that it can, but not on its own without an infusion of bhakti, which comes from the internal potency.

The complete Deity exists in tandem with his shaktis, of which the complete shakti is predominated by the Hladini Shakti, or the internal potency. This is why we say that the Supreme Truth does not exist separately from His shakti, and is therefore, in truth, a dual manifestation.

The tatastha jiva can only best please Krishna through bhakti, which is a manifestation of the internal potency. So the jiva must approach the idea of perfection in bhakti through the shakti, not directly to the supreme vishaya aspect of the Divine Couple.

Though Radha and Krishna together are the manifestation of Supreme Love, Radha is Maha-bhava, Krishna is Rasa-raja. Their functions are distinct.

The Radha-vallabhis and some other Rasika sampradayas err in this respect. They think that because Krishna is a devotee of Radha, that therefore Radha alone is supreme. They express this idea by saying that Krishna is the ashraya and Radha the vishaya.

But this is an inadequate understanding of the terms ashraya and vishaya. Radha and Krishna are both ashraya and vishaya of each other in their mutual love. If Krishna were only ashraya, then the concept would be incomplete and sakhi bhava would also be incomplete. It would mean that the sakhis would identify with Krishna's love and not Radha's.

But it is essential to understand that the sakhis identify primarily with Radha's love because her greatness lies precisely in the fact of her being the embodiment of love.

Being a devotee of the Divine Couple means being able to identify with Krishna's love, but this is only meaningful in the context of one's eternal role as an agent for serving the Divine Union in the nitya lila, through merging with the hladini shakti.

Any relation that this eternal truth has with material manifestations of love is directly related to this very same principle: the devotee serves the the Divine Union in love.
Vraja said…
Jagat, I've said this to you in the past: you use rasa theology to unduly guide your ontological theology. Which is in my opinion a mistake that causes you to misunderstand the actual nature of Radha Krishna and their prakasha and vilasa expansions, along with the role of the jiva in relation to them. Since you think that Radha and Krishna can be one person and two people at the same time, you think the same of their expansions.

Only the jivas are one and different from God. God's prakasha and vilasa expansions, i.e. swamsa expansions, are all one and the same. There is absolutely no difference other than cosmetic external difference. That is what is taught in sastra and by the past acaryas. You ignore that teaching when formulating your understanding of Radha Krishna with their personal expansions because your understanding is based on a literalist reading of Lila. It goes like this:

"Sastra says God's personal expansions are all the same person. Lila pastimes teach about God having rasa with his and her personal expansions. Therefore God must be different in some inconceivable way from his and her expansions in order to taste rasa."

That conception is not taught by Gaudiya acaryas or sastra, it is believed to be taught by many devotees, but it isn't. What is taught is:

1) God's personal expansions are identical, there is no difference between them, they are the same all pervading supreme being regardless of what they appear to look like or do in human form.

2) God's personal expansions interact with each other in Lila. They experience rasa with each other in Lila.

It is not taught that those two conceptions merge and create a new third conception like the one you and others promote:

3) Sastra says God's personal expansions are all the same person. Lila pastimes teach about God having rasa with his and her personal expansions. Therefore God must be different in some inconceivable way from his and her expansions in order to taste that rasa they appear to be tasting in Lila.

What we are supposed to understand is that God is one person, not two, or three, or four. Lila is therefore not a manifestation of some inconceivable dual nature of God because God is not a dual being. Lila is simply Lila. God doesn't change into a different essential being just because God can interact with himself/herself with many bodies at the same time. God remains one being no matter what different bodies God uses are doing. We are taught repeatedly that Radha and Krishna are the same person. Why do you think that if the actual truth is that they are two-persons-in-one - that it’s taught that they are one person in two bodies, not that they are two-persons-in-one in two bodies? If they are two different persons in some mysterious way, then that would be taught, but it isn't. It is simply stated that there is no difference between them, that they are one person in two bodies, not that they are two-in-one persons in two bodies.

Lila is Lila, it is a play to teach about relationships, it’s purpose isn’t meant to teach about the ontology of God. The rest of the Bhagavatam and other sastras are for that. That is why we are always being told there is no difference between Radha and Krishna and their personal expansions - because in Lila it appears as if there is a difference.

Śrī Caitanya Caritāmṛta Ādi 4.56

rādhā-kṛṣṇa eka ātmā, dui deha dhari'
anyonye vilase rasa āsvādana kari'

Radha and Krishna are one person in two bodies. Not two-in-one in two bodies.

Śrī Caitanya Caritāmṛta Ādi 4.76

avatārī kṛṣṇa yaiche kare avatāra
aḿśinī rādhā haite tina gaṇera vistāra

The sakhis relationship to Radha is the same as Krishna's relationship with his avatars. They are her. They are not any different from her anymore than Narayana or Ramachandra is a different person from Krishna.

How can Lila be literally real if the sakhis are not different than Radha? How can Lila be literally real if Radha is not different than Krishna? They are all the same person. Lila has to be metaphoric in nature, otherwise it is nonsensical. Creating an ontology of Radha Krishna based upon a literal reading of a purely metaphoric literature results in pure fantasy.

Śrī Caitanya Caritāmṛta Ādi 1.5

rādhā kṛṣṇa-praṇaya-vikṛtir hlādinī śaktir asmād
ekātmānāv api bhuvi purā deha-bhedaḿ gatau tau
caitanyākhyaḿ prakaṭam adhunā tad-dvayaḿ caikyam āptaḿ
rādhā-bhāva-dyuti-suvalitaḿ naumi kṛṣṇa-svarūpam

Śrī Caitanya Caritāmṛta Ādi 4.96-98

rādhā — pūrṇa-śakti, kṛṣṇa — pūrṇa-śaktimān
dui vastu bheda nāi, śāstra-paramāṇa

mṛgamada, tāra gandha — yaiche aviccheda
agni, jvālāte — yaiche kabhu nāhi bheda

rādhā-kṛṣṇa aiche sadā eka-i svarūpa
līlā-rasa āsvādite dhare dui-rūpa

What is the purpose of sastra and past acaryas when they repeatedly claim that there is no difference between Radha and Krishna if the reality is, as you claim, that there is a huge difference, i.e. that the main aspect of God's life is experiencing the difference between Radha and Krishna?

You claim:

The centerpiece and most essential and most blissful aspect of God's entire life is experiencing the rasa of the difference between Radha and Krishna.

Sastra and past acaryas claim:

Radha and Krishna are the same person, one person in two bodies, non-different.

If what you claim is in fact true, why don't we see a tattva being taught that says "Radha and Krishna are not the same?" Why are we taught the opposite whenever the ontology of Radha Krishna is mentioned?

If what you believe is real then there would be no point in claiming that Radha and Krishna are non-different. Not only would it be pointless, it would also only cause confusion. If the truth is that Radha and Krishna's life revolves around the rasa of their ontological difference, than saying that they are non-different, that they are the same person in two bodies, would be contradictory and untrue. There has to be some difference between them for they’re rasa to be real. If they are the same person than there is no rasa because there is only one person talking to him/herself - like me speaking to my image in a mirror. And in fact you teach that there is a difference between them, an inconceivable bhedabheda. But that goes against the teaching that there is no difference between them. Achintya bhedabheda between the jivas and God is not the same as the relationship between God and personal expansions of God. The jivas are essentially one and different atmas, two atmas in one. God and God’s personal expansions are cosmetically one and different, they are one atma in different forms and displaying different external differences, while remaining the same one and only one atma.

Madhya 22.8-10

svamsa-vibhinnamsa-rupe hana vistara
ananta vaikuntha-brahmande karena vihara

svamsa-vistara -- catur-vyuha, avatara-gana
vibhinnamsa jiva -- tanra saktite ganana

sei vibhinnamsa jiva -- dui ta' prakara
eka -- 'nitya-mukta', eka -- 'nitya-samsara

There are two types of living entities, svamsa and vibhinnamsa. Svamsa are expansions of God like Vasudeva, Samkarshana, Pradyumna, Aniruddha, and other avatars. They are all the same person. Vibhinnamsa are the jivas. There is no other type of entity.

If I constantly teach that Radha and Krishna are one and the same person, that God is always a single all pervading being, that God is one person no matter what forms God may choose to appear as, - why would I then turn around and say - but really folks, the truth is that God is two distinct beings?

This is from Baladeva Vidyabhusana’s Govinda Bhasya

Isvara is supremely independent. He is the master of all potencies. He enters the universe and controls it. He awards both material enjoyment and ultimate liberation to the individual spirit souls residing in material bodies. Although He is one, He manifests in many forms. They who understand the transcendental science maintain that He is not different from His own transcendental form and qualities. Although He cannot be perceived by the material senses, He can be perceived by bhakti. He is changeless. He reveals His own spiritual, blissful form to His devotees.

"Of all the eternals, one is the supreme eternal. Of all conscious entities, one is the supreme conscious entity."

- - Svetasvatara Upanisad 6.13

As a vaidurya jewel manifests many different colors, so the Supreme Lord manifests many different forms. Each of these forms is the same perfect, complete, and pure Supreme Lord. In some forms the Lord displays all His qualities, and other forms the Lord does not display all His qualities. Therefore a wise devotee may meditate on all the Lords qualities, as described in the scriptures, as being present in the particular form of the Lord that is chosen for worship.

Both Lord Hari and His associates are the same persons in both previous and subsequent actions. Why is that? The sutra explains: "sarvabhedad" because of complete non-difference. This means that because there is no difference in Their personalities, the same Lord Hari and the same associates present in the previous actions are also present in the subsequent actions. That Lord Hari remains one even though He expands into many forms is confirmed in the Gopala-tapane Upanisad in these words:

eko pi san bahudha yo vabhati

"Although He is one, the Supreme Lord appears in many forms."

Also, in the Smriti-sastra it is said:


"Although He is one, the Supreme Lord appears in many forms."

This is also true of the Lord's liberated associates, who remain one even though they appear in many forms. The forms of the Supreme Lord are undivided. They are all full of eternity, knowledge, infinity, and bliss.

In this way it is said that although the Lord's forms present a very wonderful variety, still They are all one in essence. Although this truth was also described in sutra 3.2.14, the merciful teacher of Vedanta repeats the same teaching so this very difficult topic may be clearly understood.

The Supreme Lord is identical with each of His forms. They are all Him. That a certain form of the Lord is His original form, or an expansion of that form, or an expansion of the expansion is determined only by how much of His powers the Lord chooses to display when He manifests that form. Only in that way are some forms of the Lord considered higher and others less high. The great devotees of the Lord declare:

The Lord's forms are considered greater or lesser on the basis of how much of His transcendental power the Lord chooses to manifest when He reveals them.

Because she is not different from the Supreme Lord, Goddess Laksmi is also all pervading. In the Smriti-sastra it is said:

Goddess Laksmi is the mother of the worlds. She is the constant companion of Lord Visnu. As Lord Visnu is all pervading, so is she.

To think that Goddess Laksmi is different from Lord Visnu, but still all-pervading, is a false, a heretical idea. In this way the idea that Goddess Laksmi is an individual spirit soul, like the many millions of other individual spirit souls is refuted.
Jagadananda Das said…
I already said in my previous letter that I agreed with your ontology. I am disagreeing with your understanding of Krishna's ability to split his own personality for the sake of rasa.

If you think this is all metaphorical, would you please explain the metaphor once and for all?

Are you saying that the Goswamis' understanding of lila has nothing to do with God's reality and is only about us?
Vraja said…
Jagat you said:

"I am disagreeing with your understanding of Krishna's ability to split his own personality for the sake of rasa.'

Why? Where does it state that Krishna "splits his own personality for the sake of rasa?" Nowhere. You believe that because you take Lila to be literal truth, i.e. Because Radha and Krishna love each other therefore they must be different.

Baladeva Vidyabusana dealt with this problem in Govinda Bhasya and he didn't try to explain that Krishna "splits" his personality:

"By touching the goddess of fortune, who is actually Himself, the Lord enjoys transcendental bliss. It is like a person gazing at his own handsomness in a mirror

Different from His spiritual potency is the potency of the Lord's form. The Sruti-sastras and other scriptures explain that through the svarupa-sakti the Supreme Lord manifests as the best of males, and through the para sakti the Lord manifests His various transcendental qualities.

Manifesting as the Lord's pleasure potency, the para sakti appears as Sri Radha, the jewel of teenage girls

Is it not true that amorous love is possible only when there are two: the lover and the beloved? If there is no difference between the lover and the beloved, then love is not possible between them.

Although the Lord and His para sakti are not different, still, for enjoying different pastimes, they are manifested as different. In this way the Lord's desires are perfectly and completely fulfilled.

Even though the Lord's potency and the Lord Himself, the shelter of that potency, are one, still, because the Lord is the best of males and His potency is the jewel of young girls, when They are together there is naturally the perfection of blissful amorous pastimes."

Instead of trying to explain away the problem of one person having a relationship with himself/herself in the way that you do, all he says is:

"Although the Lord and His para sakti are not different, still, for enjoying different pastimes, they are manifested as different. In this way the Lord's desires are perfectly and completely fulfilled.

Even though the Lord's potency and the Lord Himself, the shelter of that potency, are one, still, because the Lord is the best of males and His potency is the jewel of young girls, when They are together there is naturally the perfection of blissful amorous pastimes."

He keeps making the point that they are one person even though they act like two. He says that even though they are the same person, nevertheless the Lord's desires are fulfilled by such pastimes, and when they are together those pastimes are perfected. He doesn't try to explain that somehow they become different persons, that God mysteriously splits into two people. Quite the opposite, he keeps saying they are one person no matter what they do in lila. He says the answer to this ontological dilemma is that the lila is enacted as it is - because it fulfills the purpose of perfecting lila. Radha and Krishna relationship brings pleasure to Krishna, even though they are the same person, because it serves the purpose of perfecting the pastimes. In other words their rasa is not for satisfying their own love, they are the same person so love between them is a non-starter, their relationship in lila is for the purpose of perfecting lila. They are acting to perfect the lila. The real purpose of the lila is to perfect God's real relationships - with other people - the jivas.

You said:

"If you think this is all metaphorical, would you please explain the metaphor once and for all?"

It's not a single metaphor. The lila is chock full of metaphors. But the most basic metaphor that needs to be appreciated if you want to intimately understand God - Radha and her expansions are all her, are all God, and God enjoys more as a female than as a male.

You said:

"Are you saying that the Goswamis' understanding of lila has nothing to do with God's reality and is only about us?"

It's all metaphoric on the higher level. The literal understanding is only to attract people to take up bhakti yoga. The higher level has to do with our relationship with God.
Anonymous said…
"The literal understanding is only to attract people to take up bhakti yoga. The higher level has to do with our relationship with God."

Shiva doesn't make sense. People are not attracted to these stories because the literal interpretation is so... attractive. In fact, at first, when interpreted just literally, the lila is actually quite disconcerting. The attractiveness is in the fact that the lila is real AS IT IS at the same time that it is symbolic. Only God can pull off such ridiculous stories and remain on top, supremely attractive. Its just fascinating. Its all there is! This mumble jumble about lila being literal/attractive in the beginning and in the higher levels a metaphor makes no sense in the face of the question: Metaphor for what? Something better than Krishna lila? Like, watch out Bhagavan, your stories suck, here comes jiva lila.

Yeah riiiight....

We need God and we can NOT become Him. Get it already Shiva.
Jagadananda Das said…
The trouble with metaphors is that they can be played with. I still don't find satisfaction with Shiva's apparent reluctance to share with us the full details of his metaphorical interpretation.

My position is basically that I accept the inspiration of the Goswamis on face value, even though I think we can explore and deepen these insights through knowledge of the world and the human mind, etc.

Nevertheless, there are far too many verses that indicate that the very core of their insight is (1) worship of Radha and Krishna together, as an indivisible whole, (2) in the mood of a dasi, sakhi or manjari. This is not only the position of the Gaudiya Goswamis, but unanimous position of all the Vrindavan sampradayas, with only slight variations taking place.

If we accept that Radha and Krishna are One, then what is the harm in worshiping them together? Indeed, all the Vaishnavas say that if you take Radha or Krishna separately, your understanding is incomplete and, indeed, tainted.

I get the impression that Shiva has never really taken texts like Vilapa-kusumanjali or Utkala-vallari seriously, at least not in the spirit of the rasikas.

There is a strain of thought in the Gaudiya Math and Iskcon that was represented by Rabindra Svarupa Das not so long ago, in which he flies in the face of no less a person than Bhaktivinoda Thakur himself, by saying that Manjari Bhava and raganuga sadhana, etc., were later accretions to the Gaudiya sampradaya that came as a result of association with the Nimbarka sampradaya (!). How he substantiates this claim is beyond me, but he would be debating against Bhaktivinoda Thakur himself if he insisted on holding this position.

Nevertheless, this all arises out of what I call a general discomfort with the concept of manjari bhava, which is the result of, what else, lack of understanding.

There are many areas in which I find Shiva's diligence to be impressive and so I take him seriously. He is thinking about issues of theology and metaphorical understanding seriously, he is making me think, and this is a good thing.

For instance, I have argued in the past that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu himself was turned into a metaphor or a symbol by Svarupa Damodar and Krishnadas Kaviraj, and this is actually the very reason why Mahaprabhu's position as the Avatari is still persuasive to devotees today. If he had remained the kind of avatar symbol (Yuga-dharma preacher) that Vrindavan Das and others made him out to be, then it is unlikely that Mahaprabhu would still have the kind of symbolic force that he still has today. Though in Iskcon this is still pretty much where things remain, as they have barely scratched the surface of CC 1.4, it is inevitable that for Iskcon and GM to survive and flourish, it will ultimately be necessary for the ramifications of Kaviraj Goswami's "Mahaprabhu concept" to be understood in greater depth.

But that greater depth, I am afraid, will not be found by following Shiva's path, because he ultimately nullifies everything in CC 1.4 by making Mahaprabhu's three wishes irrelevant.

I could go on, and I am sure that this conversation will go on, and on (and probably on and on from there) but this is where I say alam! today.

Radhe Radhe!
Vraja said…
I don't have much time right now, but I have a few minutes to respond to your evident dissatisfaction and misunderstanding of what I am trying to convey by saying that the rasa lila described by Gaudiya acaryas is ultimately all metaphoric in nature.

I understand your dissatisfaction. I used to see gaudiya theology like you, I used to see Krishna lila as the ultimate literal truth. But I was shown that to be simply a doorway to a higher reality, meant to prepare you for the higher reality.

You mention that maybe I have never taken rasa lila stories seriously, and that maybe I am averse to a concept such as manjari bhava or sakhi bhava and the associated raganuga sadhana - maybe like Ravindra Swarupa's position in the past.

In my life story over at Nitai's forum at - http://caitanyasympos.proboards55.com/index.cgi?board=general&action=display&thread=

- I mention the time back in the early 1980's where I was engrossed in raganuga sadhana in manjari bhava for a number of years. The end result of that I also talk about, i.e. Radha and Krishna directly communicating with me and my subsequent relationship with Radha Krishna. I am not averse to those books or concepts and I did take them very seriously for a few years. But then I was given a higher understanding. One path led to another.

As for Cc 1.4 being nullified, again, those pastimes have a deeper metaphoric meaning. I have written about it previously, and it is on Nitai's forum in my life story at http://caitanyasympos.proboards55.com/index.cgi?board=general&action=display&thread=62&page=3

"The Supreme Lord's personal qualities, the enjoying aspect (hladini sakti), are manifested as Sri Radha.

This is the point of Mahaprabhu's lila. We are told that Krishna was intrigued by the fact that Radha's enjoyment was millions of times greater then His own.

CC Adi 4.133-136:

Quote:"I taste the bliss to which the object of love is entitled. But the pleasure of Radha, the abode of that love, is ten million times greater.

"My mind races to taste the pleasure experienced by the abode, but I cannot taste it, even by My best efforts. How may I taste it?

"If sometime I can be the abode of that love, only then may I taste its joy."

Thinking in this way, Lord Krishna was curious to taste that love. His eager desire for that love increasingly blazed in His heart.

Mahaprabhu is Krishna come to taste that which Krishna cannot taste unless he takes on the mood of Radha. In other words we are being taught that God enjoys more as a female then as a male. Mahaprabhu is teaching by example that on the outside God is the masculine all powerful Purusha, Vishnu, Narayana, Krishna. But on the inside God enjoys as a female more so then as a male. God's most confidential identity is ultimately female. That is Gaura lila's metaphoric message. God's inner self is feminine while the outer display is masculine. This is Mahaprabhu's message, this is the inner message of his lila. He is externally a male but internally a female."
Jagadananda Das said…
Well, I am still not satisfied, nor do I feel that you understand my position when you say that "you used to think like me, taking everything literally."

Please give me a little credit for having gone through years of academic study of religion and having a little more sophistication than that.

All religion, know it or not, is symbolic. God himself is also a symbol, or at least is only accessible in symbolic form. So what we are really talking about, my friend, is different interpretations of the symbols, and not a superior symbolic interpretation -- yours -- and an inferior literal one -- mine.

This is why I press you to come clean with your metaphors, because you also translate your metaphorical understanding into something very concrete, do you not? But your concretization of the metaphors is quite at odds with the mood of the Goswamis, which is manjari bhava.
Vraja said…
Jagat you said "God is only accessible in symbolic form", are you sure you meant to say that? Vedic teachings, especially the Bhagavatam teach how to directly access God everywhere, within yourself, your mind, and everything you experience in your environment.

You claim that I don't give you credit for a symbolic or metaphoric understanding of lila. I am under the impression that you believe that lila as written by the acaryas is literal truth, e.g. God's highest heaven is celestial Vrindavan where Radha and Krishna have pastimes, and the goal of life is to enter those pastimes preferably as a manjari where you wil spend your time doing what is literally described in writings like that of Raghunath Das Goswami, Krsnadasa Das Kaviraja, Rupa, etc. Are you saying you don't believe those writings to be a literal description of the highest reality?

You also said:

"This is why I press you to come clean with your metaphors, because you also translate your metaphorical understanding into something very concrete, do you not? But your concretization of the metaphors is quite at odds with the mood of the Goswamis, which is manjari bhava."

From my perspective I can only repeat what I have already said about the descriptions of lila - it serves two purposes. 1) For those who are not ready and able to directly relate with God it serves to attract people to take up Krishna bhakti 2) The other value of those writings is revealed when you are ready to directly relate with God.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Twilight_Language for an explanation of what I am talking about.
Vraja said…
Twilight language needs to understood as controlled by God used to communicate with you in a way that is hidden from the average person - while using a public system of communication. It doesn't only apply to scriptures, it can apply to everything, for example this video

Jagadananda Das said…
"But on the inside God enjoys as a female more so then as a male. God's most confidential identity is ultimately female."

In fact, "feminine" and "masculine" are also symbols. What they stand for are "ashraya" and "vishaya" respectively. Loving and being the object of love.

The message is not that God as "woman" enjoys more, but that loving is more gratifying than being loved. And that just as this law applies in Man, so is it reflected in our understanding of God.

God himself is a symbol, and is mediated to man's understanding through symbolic forms. This does not mean that there is no direct experience of God, it simply means that the intelligence has to experience through symbolic forms, such as language itself.

Nevertheless, the grace of the Lord is that he makes himself accessible in this way, and that is his lila.
Anonymous said…
This seems to be going round in a circle, no?

Shiva, why don't you just come out and state your philosophy which is that jivas should aspire to give pleasure to Srimati Radharani by having sex with her. This is your philosophy, right Shiva? This is what you think all Krishna lila is a metaphor for, which in turn is a metaphor for males in this world giving pleasure to females. At the higher level, there is no difference between actions here or there, its all a matter of seeing that everything is actually spiritual reality. In fact, life as we know it on this planet is more real because its served by the the spiritual metaphoric lila.
Vraja said…
Male and female in a real relationship are both lover and object of love. You take that concept too literally and too symbolically at the same time. Masculine and feminine are not just symbols, they are real manifestations of God's or a jiva's personality. In a real relationship love is flowing in both directions. It's not just that one person is doing all the loving while the other is getting all the love.

The "metaphoric" message is that God enjoys more as a female. God enjoys being a female in relationships more so than being a male.

I don't know why you think God limits experience of God to symbols, or am I reading you wrong? An advanced yogi directly experiences God.
Vraja said…
You didn't answer my question about your belief about lila. You claimed I wasn't giving you credit for having enough of a metaphoric understanding of lila?
Vraja said…
anonymous you said:

"Shiva, why don't you just come out and state your philosophy which is that jivas should aspire to give pleasure to Srimati Radharani by having sex with her."

That isn't "my philosophy". What if we make a change to your statement like this:

"Anonymous, why don't you just come out and state your philosophy which is that jivas should aspire to give pleasure to Sri Krishna by having sex with him."

I've been saying for many years that a literal reading of Gaudiya theology has inspired people to create a sexist version of God and lila, where God is a male and jivas should aspire to be females because the role of the male is to "enjoy" a female, and the role of the female is to "be enjoyed" by a male. That is an unrealistic concept that is due to taking literally what is supposed to be purely metaphoric in intent.

There are only two types of living beings, the jivas and God. God is one person, only. Therefore God can only have a real relationship with a jiva.

I've also been saying for years that God's enjoying nature is manifest through and as the Hladini potency. Devotees usually misunderstand the Hladini potency as something Krishna enjoys, like a sandwich. But that is not how the Hladini potency is described. Krishna enjoys as and through the Hladini potency. Radha is the Hladini potency personified. She is Krishna's enjoying potency or nature, she is non-different than Krishna, she is Krishna as a female, end of story.

The highest relationship a jiva can have with God is in madhurya rati. Therefore the inner message of Gaudiya Vaisnavism is that it is Radha (the inner enjoying aspect of Krishna) who seeks madhurya rasa (not just sex) with people other than herself (Krishna). She is not a lesbian and therefore the only people she can have a real relationship with are jivas.

If you want to make this concept out to be some perverse tawdry debased conception, than you are being sexist. Devotees have no problem with Krishna having a madhurya rasa relationship with a jiva as male to a female, but due to a sexist vision when it comes to God many devotees see the idea of Radha having a madhurya relationship with a jiva as female to male, as some perverse debased conception. That is due to a perverse view of God’s male/female sexuality in general. God is the same as a female and as a male. God does not have some weird hang-up over gender issues like many devotees have.

You also said:

"This is what you think all Krishna lila is a metaphor for, which in turn is a metaphor for males in this world giving pleasure to females."

As I have already said, Krishna lila is chock full of metaphors. But I don't see Krishna lila as "a metaphor for males in this world giving pleasure to females". What you are describing is similar or maybe the same as some type of sahajiya philosophy. The metaphors in Krishna lila are not about the relationships that jivas can have with jivas.

You also said:

"At the higher level, there is no difference between actions here or there, its all a matter of seeing that everything is actually spiritual reality. In fact, life as we know it on this planet is more real because its served by the spiritual metaphoric lila."

That is not what I believe. The "spiritual world" exists everywhere only for people who are free from material conditioning and who have attained cognition of the highest truth of reality. They will see and experience everything as a direct manifestation of God. Everyone else lives in the "material world". They may live in the same physical space, but jivan-muktas are aware of and interact with all of reality as a manifestation of a single all pervading being.

There is no difference between cit-sakti and bahiranga-sakti. They are the same substance. The difference is in the awareness of the jiva.

Everything is God. Some people think that bahiranga-sakti is different than Krishna, or different than cit-sakti. But that is a misunderstanding of sakti. Sakti is not a thing; it is a quality of a thing. God is sakti, energy; the jiva is a manifestation of God's energy as tatastha, in-between bahiranga-sakti and cit-sakti because it is a separate conscious entity from God, whereas cit-sakti and bahiranga-sakti are not. The jiva can live in the bahiranga-sakti world or the cit-sakti world regardless of where he physically resides. When we are free from avidya and the conditioning of tri-guna, and therefore see God manifesting and controlling everything, then we live in the cit-sakti or internal spiritual world of bliss, truth and knowledge. When we are conditioned by tri-guna and avidya, and are therefore in ignorance of God's presence and control everywhere and over everything, than we live in maya-sakti, the external material world of ignorance and illusion.

Bahiranga or maya-sakti is always described as avidya, or being comprised of tri-guna and illusory. Bahiranga-saki doesn’t really exist as a real place, it only exists in the mind of the baddha-jiva. For example: There is no physical difference between a deity of Krishna before and after it is sanctified for worship. But after it is sanctified it is considered to be cit-sakti, spiritual substance, because it has been transformed into part of the paraphernalia of service to Krishna, comprised of sandhini-sakti. Whatever is directly connected to the service of Krishna is cit-sakti, whatever is disconnected from Krishna's service is bahiranga-sakti. The substance is the same either way, how we perceive it determines what type of substance it is. When the jiva is free from conditioning and avidya than the world transforms into cit-sakti because the jiva understands and perceives God’s everywhere and God’s control over everything. God than uses that presence and control over everything to interact with the jiva. The jiva’s lives in the cit-sakti world regardless of where he physically is because he is always serving God’s desire for rasa. The world changes from seemingly dead matter and chaos into a living being.

Here is a visual example of what I am talking about: If you live in a computer generated virtual reality world but are ignorant of the nature of the virtual world, than you will not be aware that you live inside a computer simulation where the computer is the both the substance of your virtual environment (pixels) and the controller of the environment (software and hardware). But if you are freed from ignorance and awakened to the truth about your existence, where you realize that everything you encounter is a simulation controlled by an entity who is both substance (pixels, energy/matter) and controller of the substance (software-hardware, Paramatma-God) of your reality, than your virtual world can be used to communicate with you because it is under total control by an entity which can manipulate your virtual reality in any way it pleases, at will.

So my point is that when you are freed from conditioning and avidya than God will show you directly the truth of the "spritual world", your relationship, and everything else. Until than God sends you signs and messages. Whatever seemingly external form that takes - in reality God is in total control of everything we experience because we live in a virtual reality type of world.

Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 11.13.24

Within this world, whatever is perceived by the mind, speech, eyes or other senses is Me alone and nothing besides Me. All of you please understand this by a straightforward analysis of the facts.

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