Thursday, October 09, 2008

Obeisances to Radha's Direction, RRSN 2

There has been a lot of talk about symbolism of late. Seriously, though, despite the symbolism, which is important no doubt, the real rasa is where it always was—in the Transcendent Divine Couple. The symbolism points both ways: Life in this world is itself merely a symbol for the Divine Transcendent Truth.

Whether the Goswamis and Prabodhananda Saraswati and the other rasika gurus of Vrindavan in the 16th century were aware of all the psychological subtleties that we are today is not a reasonable question to ask. I think that they were intuitively more aware than the moderns would give them credit for, but ultimately that does not really matter.

My personal attitude is that I have faith in the way the Divine appeared to them. That is revelation, and revelation is a gift that keeps on giving. Its profundity is related to underlying eternal truths that by definition do not change. This is why we should be careful not to say that the Goswamis did not really understand what they were saying, or say that they really meant something other than what they said they meant.

The Goswamis, and the acharyas of all the Vrindavana Rasika sampradayas, are agreed that sakhī-bhāva is the highest goal for the jiva, not kānta-bhāva. Whether you think of Krishna as your lover, or Radha as your mistress [a completely original attitude that has no precedent as far as I can see anywhere in either our disciplic succession or any of the related Vrindavan paramaparas], it comes down to pretty much the same thing: you are thinking that you alone are a source of full joy to the Supreme Lord.

But this is a conception that is flawed. It may be true that the jiva is fulfilled by this kind of relationship with God, and no doubt God himself is gratified by the devotion of the jiva, but the Goswamis' conception is different: We enter into the most intimate zone of the Divine Lila through service to and identification with the Hladini Shakti.

This has symbolic ramifications on many levels, as I have pointed out many times. There is the inner psychological meaning of the union of opposites that is symbolized by the Divine Couple. There is the valorization of human love, in particular monogamous commitment, as well as a great deal of insight into the mysteries of that relation. There is even a symbolism for yogis and the awakening of the kundalini, or other variations on the same theme of the union of opposites -- retaso rajaso yogo rāja-yoga ity ucyate.

It also has significance for the preference for the feminine, both as the principal object of devotion and as one's own svarūpa. And all these things are related to the ideal of love, which is symbolized primarily by the feminine. This is not a general statement about women or men, but is simply a symbol. Just as femininity and masculinity are in everyone, so are the functions of āśraya and viṣaya, but āśraya is symbolized by the feminine and viṣaya by the masculine.

But since this world ultimately points to that One, we do not replace the symbol with some esoteric meaning. We recognize that everything points to Them. In all cases, whatever the symbolism or reality, the purpose is the same: To serve the Divine Union.

I don't really have anything more to say on this subject. I am just going to be dogmatic and say that I accept the insight of the Vrindavan rasikas to be the most authoritative, and I choose to follow that and to contemplate that--śravaṇa, manana and nididhyāsana. If someone else has a different realization, I have no quarrel. I simply choose to follow the opinion of Rupa and Raghunath.

I have no quarrel, but frankly I have no patience either. Sorry.

nānyat kadāpi samaye kila devi yāce
sakhyāya te mama namo'stu namo'stu nityaṁ
dāsyāsya te mama raso'stu raso'stu satyam ||
O Devi, Radhe, other than service to your lotus feet, I ask for nothing at any time. I bow down again and again to your friendship, my taste is for your service, for your service alone.
hā devi kāku-bhara-gadgadayādya vācā
yāce nipatya bhuvi daṇḍavad udbhatārtiḥ |
asya prasādam abudhasya janasya kṛtvā
gāndharvike nija-gaṇe gaṇanāṁ vidhehi ||
O Devi! I fall down like a stick on the ground before you and beg with a voice broken by emotion: Please be graceful to this ignorant fool and include me as a member in your group, your gana.
tāmbūlārpaṇa-pāda-mardana-payo-dānābhisārādibhir
vṛndāraṇya-maheśvarīṁ priyatayā yās toṣayanti priyāḥ |
prāṇa-preṣṭha-sakhī-kulād api kilāsaṅkocitā-bhūmikāḥ
kelī-bhūmiṣu rūpa-mañjarī-mukhās tā dāsikāḥ saṁśraye ||
I take shelter of Radha's dasis headed by Rupa Manjari who are dear to the Queen of Vrindavan, who please her by services like offering tambula, massaging her feet, bringing water when she is thirsty and taking her on abhisara to meet Krishna. More fortunate than even Radha's dearest sakhis, they have uninhibited access to Radha and Krishna's most intimate lilas.
tad atimadhura-dhāmni nāmni vātsalya-mātrāt
katham api kalanīyau kasyacid bhāgya-sīmnaḥ |
śruti-tatibhir agamyau sat-sabhājasra-saṅgau
smara nibhṛta-nikuñje rādhikā-kṛṣṇa-candrau ||
Radha and Krishna nama is the abode of sweetness; yet only the most fortunate persons receive their darshan by extrema affection (prema). And although unknowable by the Vedas, they always appear within the assembly of the sakhis and manjaris. Oh mind! Just meditate on Radha and Krishna within the hidden nikunjas!!

***

We are still on the first verse of the Rādhā-rasa-sudhā-nidhi. It has been more than two weeks and we don’t seem to get more than a couple of sentences done each day. I actually fully intend to read more, but somehow or other I end up bloviating (that’s the second time I use the media’s mot du jour over the past couple of days) extensively anyway.

The verse, again for those who missed it, is—
I bow down even to the direction in which Vrishabhanu-nandini is present, for Madhusudan himself, whose characteristics are incomprehensible to even the greatest yogis (yogīndra-durgama-gatir madhusūdano’pi), thinks himself to be most fortunate and fulfilled when the glorious, most glorious breezes arising from the playful movement of the hem of her sari come his way. (RRSN 1)
The last few days have been spent on the line yogīndra-durgama-gatir madhusūdano’pi. I will translate the remaining portion of the commentary by Harilal Vyasa, who gives three distinct meanings for this portion of the verse.

अपिशब्दस्य मधुसूदनैकपदनिबद्धत्वं चेत् तदा कृतार्थमानी इति वाक्यानन्तरं योगि इति विशेषणव्यङ्ग्यमाह-अत एव योगीन्द्राणाम् अपि दुर्विवेचनीया गतिः स्वरूपं रीतिर्वा यस्य अहो तादृशैश्वर्योऽपि तादृशमानीति परमविस्मापक इति सूक्ष्मातिसूक्ष्मज्ञानामपि प्रस्तुतानन्दरहस्याज्ञानान् महाजितेन्द्रियनिष्कामपरिग्रहाणामपि, अपि चास्य बुद्धिपूर्वकृतार्थमननेन क्रीडामृगत्वदर्शनाद्दुर्वितर्क्य इति। अतो योगीन्द्रेत्यनेन तद्धेयमायिककामादिप्रतीतविलासाः स्वत एव निरस्ताः। ततश्च शुद्धप्रेमविलासा अत्र व्यञ्जिताः।
The word api (“even”) if taken to apply to the word Madhusudan only, then the words yogi etc., that follow the phrase, “considers himself to be most fufilled” have the following adjectival meaning: Madhusudan is one whose essential nature and actions are most difficult for even the greatest yogis to understand. They think, “Aho! Madhusudan has such opulence and divine grandeur, and yet he still thinks that he is fulfilled when he gets the fragrance coming from Radharani’s cloth. This is most amazing.”

Though they have knowledge of both the gross and subtle aspects of the material nature, they are ignorant of the joys of the particular phenomenon that is here being discussed, and since they are fully sense controlled and indifferent to all manifestations of desire, they find it beyond their understanding when they see Krishna’s willingness to act as Radha’s plaything and to find fulfilment in so doing.

The word yogīndra thus naturally implies that these pastimes could not be the kinds of Mayika material sensuous activities that they have rejected. Thus the use of this word reveals that these pastimes are pure prema in nature.

This is the primary meaning and has many precedents in the Bhagavatam, where it is said that Shukadeva and others were attracted to hearing Krishna's pastimes, even after attaining Brahman realization. This also reminds us that the madhura lila is not comprehensible to three kinds of person, as stated in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 3.5.2.

अथवा योगिनां संयोगिनां शृङ्गार्यभिमानिनां महाविषयिणामिन्द्राः परमभोगिनो विलासिप्रभवः, तेषामपि दुर्गमा दुरूहा दुष्प्राप्या गतिर्विलासरीतिर्वा रसिकता यस्येति। किं च, ते तु नायिकां स्वसुखार्थमेव मन्यन्ते। अत्र पतित्वेऽपि तत्सुखसुखित्वासक्तिदास्यादिनियतबुद्ध्या परमसेव्यत्वमननादुत्तरोत्तर-निरतिशयाखण्डानन्दैक-पर्यवसानात् तृप्त्यनुपरमाच्च गतेर्दुष्प्राप्यत्वं विस्मापकत्वमुचितमेवेति शृङ्गारविलासमात्रापेक्षयोक्तम्। ऐश्वर्ये तु कैमुत्यमेवेति।

Alternatively, yogi here means people who are attached to union, i.e., sexual union. These people are proud of being cultivated in the erotic arts, they are great sensualists, and amongst them those who are indras are the greatest enjoyers or masters. For them, these pastimes, i.e., this kind of ability to relish such pastimes of love, is impossible to comprehend.

Moreover, such persons think that the nayika is an object of their own pleasure, whereas Krishna, although the lover or husband of Radha (pati), thinks only of her pleasure (tat-sukha-sukhi). It is he who is attached to her and considers himself to be her servant and her to be the supreme object of service. From this, his love for her is transformed into a unique and unbroken bliss and ceaseless sense of satisfaction that is incomprehensible to such sensualists, a source of great astonishment to them, and is yet recognized as appropriate.

All this is being said purely from the point of view of Radha and Krishna’s erotic pastimes. When the element of divine transcendence or aishwarya is added, then it certainly becomes even more incomprehensible, astonishing and appropriate.

In other words, Krishna's sensual activities may seem similar to those of mundane sensualists, and even an object of imitation. But these persons have to admit that they could never match what Krishna does. The last verses of the Rasa-lila are appropriate here.

यद्वा, योगीन्द्रपदमन्तरङ्गसख्युक्तौ बहिरङ्गमिति मन्यमानभावुकानुमोदनार्थमन्यदप्याह--द्विदलात्मकशृङ्गारे विप्रलम्भलवाभासमसहमानत्वात् योगः संयोगरसः, तत्सिद्धान्तनिष्ठत्वात् तत्सम्प्रदायिनः सखीजनास्तदाचार्यत्वादिन्द्राः, प्राप्तैश्वर्या यूथेश्वर्या ललिताद्या वा। अतितृषितप्रियस्य योजनमेव योगः। तत्रासाधारणगुणकुशलत्वादिन्द्राः। तत्राप्यशक्यकरणेन प्राप्तप्रियप्रशंसनोत्कऋषाच् चेन्द्राः यथा कविरेव कवीन्द्र इतिवत् तेषामपि दुर्गमरहस्य इति। किं च, तेऽपि नित्ययोगे कृतार्थमननेन विस्मयं कुर्वन्ति।

A further external interpretation of the word yogīndra, seen from the more intimate level as a statement of a sakhi. Though love has two aspects, separation and union, the sakhis cannot tolerate even the momentary appearance of separation. So here, yoga means the Divine Couple’s pleasure of union. Since these sakhis follow a tradition in which the siddhanta is that Radha and Krishna are never to be separated in which they are indeed the acharyas, they are the yogīndras. Or, the word indra here refers to Lalita and the other chief sakhis who have attained a degree of power amongst the sakhis as yutheshwaris.

Since they have attained an incomparable degree of expertise in arranging the union of Krishna, who is most eager, with Radha, they are known as indras. Furthermore, since on achieving this goal they receive praises and thanks from Krishna, they can also be known as indras, as a kind of title in reward for their service, just as a great poet is called a kavindra. Nevertheless, even for them, Madhusudana’s activities and character are a mystery beyond understanding. Furthermore, they find it astonishing that Krishna should feel such a sense of fulfilment upon receiving this breeze from Radha’s cloth when in fact he is always in her association.

अत्राशक्यकरणं काकुचाटुनत्यादिरपि प्रियस्य न सिद्ध्येत्। तत्रैते प्रियावाम्यं शमयित्वा संयोजयन्ति। तदा प्रियप्रशंसाप्राप्तिरिति कदाचित् तादृश्योऽपि मानाधिक्येऽनुनेतुं न शक्नुवन्ति। तदा प्रियो दुर्घटघटनोपायान् एवं करोति यत् पश्यन्तीनामपि मनोवागतीतं प्रियावशीकरणकौशलं चित्रमुत्पादयेत्। तदास्य रसिकगतिं दुर्गमां मन्यन्त इत्यादि सहृदयगम्योऽर्थः।

[Moreover} Sometimes it is impossible for Krishna to calm Radharani’s temper even with sweet words, appeals and falling at her feet. At such times, the sakhis intervene and pacify Radha and bring about their union. Then they receive Krishna’s accolades. Though this is frequently the case, sometimes Radha’s temper is so great that even they are incapable of calming her. Then Krishna reveals his potencies whereby the impossible becomes possible and changes her mood. The sakhis watch all this and become astonished at this ability he has to win Radha over, which is beyond the power of the mind to understand and words to describe. This ultimate rasikata that Krishna possesses is thus incomprehensible. This meaning is meant for the initiates.

The translation of the above two paras, in an attempt to be literal, is a little awkward. There are two things going on. One is that according to the sakhi sampradayas the nitya-vihāra is always taking place and so Radha and Krishna are never separated. Other persons admit to a certain appearance of separation. So here the first part is that the amazing thing is that Krishna should find the scent coming from Radha's cloth as anything special when he is always with her. The second is about Krishna's ability to calm Radha's anger even when the sakhis cannot.

एवं श्रीहितः स्ववस्तूत्कर्षातिशयमनुभूतं स्मरन् धन्यासौ दिग् यस्यां सा राजते इति दिशं प्रति प्रसद्य त्वत्सदृशी त्वमेव इत्यपि नमनभङ्ग्या व्यञ्जयन् सूक्ष्मसम्बन्धपर्यन्तस्यापि नमस्कारेण सजातीयाशयान् अभिमुखीकरोति शिक्षयति चेति।

Here the author Harivamsa remembers his experience of the supreme wonder of the subject he is about to describe and thinks how glorious is that direction in which Radharani is present, and so in a feeling of pleasure towards that direction, thinking that you are equal only to yourself, by paying his obeisances to that direction, he turns the minds of those who are like him in spirit towards her and also teaches them that this is to be done.
ananya-madhupaṁ naumi priyā-kañjaika-jīvanam|
tat kañjaṁ yatra vasati tasyai cāpi diśe namaḥ ||
I bow down to that single-minded bumblebee, whose life and soul are the lotus of his beloved. I also bow down to the direction where that lotus dwells.
I rather like the idea of paying obeisances "to the direction." Here that means pointing yourself towards Varshana or Vrindavan towards the south. But it also means pointing oneself towards love.

Since I am moving through RRSN so slowly, it may be feasible to translate as I go along. So far, this commentary is pretty good. I am interested in finding other Radha-vallabhi commentaries. Jai Radhe!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

" sadhu sadhu "