Sunday, April 26, 2009

Days Slipping By

So my plane ticket came yesterday. I will be arriving in Montreal on May 24.

In the meantime, I have cut back on almost all sadhana activities in order to finish as much of Bhagavat-sandarbha as I can before leaving--and believe me, it is painstaking work, looking at every word, at every translation available to me, scrutinizing to see whether what will be published is correct or expressed in the best and most accurate way possible. And it is dreadfully slow.

[Though I should say that after RRSN reading today,I did nagar sankirtan! Chanting Radhe Radhe Govinda, Govinda Radhe/ Radhe Radhe Govinda, Govinda Radhe// all the way from Bairaj to SRSG with Ananda Kumarji and his wife.]

And at the same time, I started going through this blog, trying to reorganize it, put labels on all the posts, not just for the benefit of the readers, but for my sake also. More than 400 articles over the past 2 1/2 years, many of them quite significant, in my opinion.

It has been a very interesting business going through these old articles, from end to beginning. There seems to be a distinguishable change, especially at the time of coming to India. In the old posts, I was making considerably more use of Western thinkers in a variety of fields, and their input. Since I have been here, my mood seems to have shifted to a more traditional vantage point, at least in terms of subjects chosen.

Also, in the beginning there was a flurry of creativity as I tried to express the basis of my concepts; some of it in the turmoil that followed the end of Gaudiya Discussions. Some of those ideas have evolved since then, but what was there in the beginning has pretty much remained unchanged. In some cases it may have been refined, but the basic idea is the same.

And honestly, I think I am too old to do much more than that. I think that basically what I say stands on the basis of the Goswamis' own texts and on the basis of logical reasoning. But most of all it has been validated by my personal experience, as a result of which, with every passing day, the manifestation of the Divine Couple becomes an intensifying reality. That same Divine Couple that have been present in my heart since I took initiation from my spiritual master. That same Divine Couple who is the subject of Rupa Goswami, Raghunath Goswami and Prabodhananda Saraswati's paeans.

I am much less radical than, let's say Subal, in my way of looking at or reforming the tradition. I am not like the Zen Buddhists who say if you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him. Radha and Krishna are so tightly bound up in my heart that I could never change the way they have revealed themselves to me, out of a desire for a more modern or rationally acceptable worldview.

Krishna in leather jacket and jeans doesn't do it for me. I can see Krishna in James Dean and Radha in Madonna, but only as a terribly distorted caricature. I have talked about this before, and I would rather defend the culture in which the Divine Couple appeared than deconstruct them, or psychologize them, or apply some other critique that reduces them into some abstraction. Radha and Krishna are not an abstraction for me, even though I understand them, their meaning and their reality, through the abstractions.

On the whole, then, I am pretty impressed by what I have done here. Not so long ago someone said to me, somewhat disparagingly, I thought, that I had to have a coherent philosophy. I think that anyone who reads through this blog will quickly realize that I do have a coherent philosophy that remains clearly committed to the goal of our sampradaya, which is prema. Though it is presented basically through the eyes of the tradition and its language, at the same time I think it can easily be framed in Western terms. I have decided that I would explain it first and foremost in terms of the orthodox tradition itself.

Is it too difficult to understand? I really don't know. Perhaps there are too many steps in the samskara. But it seems to me that anyone who reads this blog would understand it. And anyone who understood it would be demonstrating more interest. And it seems that such interest is not really forthcoming.

Perhaps my language is too technical, with all my talk of sadharani-karana and aropa, which seems to be alienating for English-speakers, or makes it look too much like a purely intellectual effort. Even so, I cannot see how anyone with even the most superficial knowledge of Gaudiya Vaishnavism and its concepts could ever think that this was the case.

And yet I hear the objections that I am just a "dry scholar." Of course, there are others who think that I am a "dirty old man" because I talk freely about the role of sexuality in the cultivation of madhura-rasa bhakti. Perhaps that is another failure of communication. Or perhaps the people who are attracted to Krishna consciousness in its current incarnation genuinely have so distanced themselves from their sexual desires that they either cannot see my point or they are honestly horrified by it. For them, I only say, na buddhi-bhedam janayet. I do not wish to disturb anyone for whom this is not a natural fit.

But I cannot believe that this is not a live and momentous option. Sexual desire is too universal a phenomenon to think that it will not rear its head in Krishna consciousness, and of course it does. Of course for those devotees who are still trapped in the IGM social world, it is very difficult to take a radical philosophical position on these matters. Which is rather odd, since in practice, in the matter of morality, men and women, single or married, with or without children, seem to have little compunction about breaking up, running off with other men and women. Sannyasis, longtime householders, brahmacharis, it seems that no one is exempt. It barely merits scandalization any longer.

And yet, the hypocrisy is so profound that no one wants to face the truth: that their sexuality is in conflict with their spiritual aspirations instead of being an energetic force that supports them. And yet, all we hear again and again are the same platitudes that not only mock human nature, but the very symbol of Divine Love that we place on our altars.

Of course, I am not saying that some people don't succeed in deadening their sexual urges. I just pity them and think they are missing the point. Now in certain circles we hear that sakhya-rasa is being promoted. So what was the point of madhura-rasa bhakti? And what the heck did Chaitanya Mahaprabhu come to give anyway?

One of the big problems, of course, is that the Gaudiya Math has been so successful in eliminating the traditional manjari-bhava sadhana and the madhura-rasa culture. This has been a complete disaster, as far as I am concerned. Even so, we have little choice but to start from where we are. There are some who have gotten a little taste for madhura-rasa, even though they have no real culture of manjari bhava. Not even in Narayan Maharaj's group.

And now, also, because Yugala Bhajan seems like an inevitable next step for those who become familiar with madhura-rasa topics, even amongst Narayan Maharaj’s group (especially since the marriage of Aranya Maharaj) the level of discomfort has risen to the point where discussion of rasika topics is slowly diminishing in favor of an Iskcon style preaching ethos.

As for those who have left Gaudiya Vaishnavism, because they could not make the jump from literalism, or because of their disagreements about whatever discipline, especially the sexual ones, or because of disappointments or feuds with individuals, or simple frustration with the entire self-realization endeavor, they seem to have lost their spiritual fire completely.

They are busy talking... well, what's the point in giving details? It is enough to make one want to cry. As if the spiritual endeavor is no different from any other way of filling in the space between birth and death. Anyway, here again, na buddhi-bhedaM janayet, the Lord is taking care of them like he takes care of us all.

So, where to go from here? Back in Canada. No choice really: BOOKS. Publish or perish.


Anonymous said...

Wow, this is one incredible talk. Timely, courageous, jolting. Many thanks.

Anonymous said...

Please forgive my ignorance but I didn't understand what you meant in this section

"Now in certain circles we hear that sakhya-rasa is being promoted. So what was the point of madhura-rasa bhakti? And what the heck did Chaitanya Mahaprabhu come to give anyway? "

Did you mean that sakhya rasa is being promoted because it isn't so overtly sexual? Also didn't Mahaprabhu come to give the 4 rasas of Vrindavana?


Dasa said...

Shocking. Real. To the point.

You've helped me to realize what it's all about. Thanks.

Love Lake said...

"So, where to go from here? Back in Canada. No choice really: BOOKS. Publish or perish."

That's a very IGM approach.

How about "bhajan or perish"?

Anonymous said...

If an empowered preacher like ACBS shows a deep attraction for sakhya rasa you question him as to what Mahaprabhu came to give? With all respect I think that he had more taste for Harinama and more realization and experience of bhava than you.

Talk about madhurya is not the same as ACBS's often expressed feeling for sakhya rasa, especially when the talk (yours) is a departure from the Gaudiya sampradaya, as your Sahajiya Vaisnavsism is.

I don't say this to criticize your decision to follow the sahajiya siddhanta, but it is perhaps confusing to some when you seem to want to make it the siddhanta of Sri Rupa. I mean you readily quote the Goswamis and then interpret their writing as being supportive of your conclusions.

Jagat said...

(1) Unnatojjvala-rasam sva-bhakti-sriyam. These are the words of Srila Rupa Goswami: The specific gift of Mahaprabhu, which had not been given cirAt, for a very long time, was bhakti in the madhura (unnata-ujjvala-) rasa.

(2) Rupa Goswami knew Mahaprabhu's heartfelt wish, as we say. This is what he came to give. The other rasas may have been given, but secondarily.

(3) If some devotees believe that Prabhupada was in sakhya-rasa, which may very well be true, then who am I to argue if they wish to follow in that mood? But that is not getting the full gift that Mahaprabhu came with.

This has nothing to do with me; this is simply an objective attempt to understand the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition as it is presented in the Chaitanya Charitamrita, etc. From what I understand, there are many disciples and godbrothers of Srila Prabhupada who do not accept that he was in sakhya-rasa.

Of course, the problem is clear. And this is my position: That because Srila Prabhupada came to spread the first waves of Krishna consciousness, he never gave any disciple any specifics about these matters and left it for them to pursue on their own.

Such pursuing entails finding siksha gurus who through their association, etc., are able to instill these various moods in the disciple. But most disciples of Srila Prabhupada have rejected any need for siksha gurus outside of Iskcon, some have gone to Gaudiya Math teachers, and only a few beyond that.

I suppose books are helpful, but there is no substitute for the direct association of rasika devotees. None. Lava-matra sadhu-sanga.

I am not in competition with Srila Prabhupada. You seem to think that I am. He is a guru of mine, so how can I be in competition with him? He is Krishna himself come to give me the Holy Name and Mahaprabhu's other gifts! Where is the question of competition?

Everything I do is built on the gifts I got from him. Why should I destroy my foundation by denigrating his contribution to me and to the worldwide Krishna-consciousness movement?

Does that mean that he did not leave any ucchishta for me to relish in my pursuance of the mystery of Mahaprabhu's love? Did Prabhupada "eat" everything and leave nothing for us?

On the contrary, there is no shortage of things for us to do. You may be preaching to the shepherds of Outer Mongolia. My service is to understand this madhura-rasa and how to experience it. I follow Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati's last instruction: To take shelter of the mood of Rupa and Raghunath.

If I have followed a slightly different way of doing so from the Gaudiya Math, it is due to inner inspiration and revelation, which I am bound to follow, as the Lord's grace impels me to do so. I cannot disobey the Lord in my Heart.

If I am wrong, or if I am inadequate to the task, then may I be corrected.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous 2,

I believe what Jagat wanted to say by noticing that certain circles promote and emphasize sakhya rasa (see Jagat's post "Sunday", with 'Oh My Friend', 'Oh My Friend' book mentioned for example) is simply a statement that denotes today's GV's indifference to, or even acceptance and open talk about everything else but manjari bhava.

Circles fully expert in sakhya rasa advocating it more and more will not be smacked or objected even remotely like those who want to say more about manjari-bhava, which is bête noire of GV since the conception of GM.

Of course, it's just a stereotyped idea that has nothing to do either with sakhya or madhurya rasa or Caitanya, but with a blind, religious zeal. It lives its own, independent life ever since GM, and like a mad Polyphemus growling and throwing stones at innocent passers-by.

So although Caitanya didn't come to promote neutrality or reverence, we can certainly say manjari bhava concept was his gift, never seen before. God certainly doesn't come just to cuddle and tap all good old things, but to give us something new too.

Dear Anonymous 3, I couldn't but laugh at your comments. Your sacrilegious admittance to a fictional idea of what is a bonafide teaching is truly humorous. Thank you, you've made my day. I also believe your admittance to Sri Rupa comes from that same religious fear you bear, and your own interpretation and belief of what Sri Rupa makes relevant to future generations.

Dear Jagat, sorry, I couldn't but notice a completely illogical point in your comparison of something non-existent (modern, reforming, rational GV) with Zen buddhism, which is long-estblished and existent. So honestly, we can't even imagine how modern GV would look like. However, you can step back and say Caitanya didn't come to give us reverence, neutrality, no taste for rasa, dharmic rules, superstition and varnasrama caste system, but that's all we're left with in GV today.

We have an opposite problem here. We have something not worth modernizing and reforming at all because its heart is already dead. Perhaps is better then to re-formulate your statement and ask who's actually killed Buddha's heart, or in our case, Caitanya's?
Thank you.
- Anonymous 4

Anonymous said...

Geez, politics gets thick eh. My blog should be so political. But one thing gets lost quickly when passions turn to make wrongs. The ability to see into someone elses world. Easier to say it's all wrong and nothing worthwhile there. But from a more universalist viewpoint one could maybe see a rhyme and reason in it all. Even if you don't live there anymore. But the fight excites the passions and the first casualty of war is truth.

We all have our schools which we will defend to our deaths, rationally or not. The truth I think is that Gaudiya Vaisnavism is evolving, expecially since coming to the west. It requires independent thinkers, who can give up to the minute thoughts on traditional ideas. Where will it all go. Far I hope.

There is tension between the Sankirtan and Bhajan. I have great hope for the World Sankirtan mission. But in the Sankirtan of Mahaprabhu, so many Rasas were being relished. Even in so public a place as Ratha Yatra, Mahaprabhu was relishing great bhavas. So one is not diminished by the other. Everyone can relish according to their ability, like in Rasa theory, with no borders to stop the ever-expanding bliss of the unlimited ocean of Sri Krishna Sankirtan.

A point that seems so abundantly obvious is if there had not been a beginners KC then where would we have started. Thanks to our many beginner Gurus. Many of the points they made are still relevant. Some toys however,can get left in Kindergarden. And one of those toys is the need to have an enemy. To make someone or some party wrong in order to feel right. I've seen many lines drawn in the sand and that may be necessary at some time (a point that requires a lot of thought-do beginners need to be indoctrinated into fundamentalism?)but it becomes a blaring inconsistancy in someone who is evolving to higher realms of consciousness.

I am pretty impressed with what I have read on your blog so far Jagat. Sometimes I wonder if there's any life out there. It's great to see you treat of these things with such intelligence. Not to puff you up but it trumps the fundamentalist voices unilaterally. Jai Ho

Anonymous said...

"I've seen many lines drawn in the sand and that may be necessary at some time (a point that requires a lot of thought-do beginners need to be indoctrinated into fundamentalism?)"

No. It's not neccessary. In fact, if in the beginning of your spiritual sojourn you have been indoctrinated into fundamentalism or any other negative impression, it may take years or even lifetimes to de-indoctrinate yourself. It is really a huge disservice to anybody to be indoctrinated into negativity.