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February 25, 1999   VNN3163  

Myth And Meaning


EDITORIAL, Feb 25 (VNN) — (from Sanga wfd@efn.org) "The true story is the so-called myth that leads us to our soul."

There is a fine line between myth and reality. The word myth can mean a story that expresses a certain truth allegorically or it can simply mean a falsehood. Since the time of Freud and Jung, it has become popular to search for significant psychological truths in myths . Yet even the most powerful myths at best only an allegory; it is not itself truth in the sense of objective reality. It is never a true story.

For most of us, our reality is the world of our mind, informed by data gathered through our senses. This may be our reality, but how real is it? It certainly does not endure, Our instruments of perception, our senses, are imperfect to begin with, and thus the world of our mind informed by them may be more false than real. Hot, cold, happy, sad, good and bad are mental notions relative to our sense perception. The same day is cold for one and hot for another, good for one, bad for another. We view the world through the glasses of our mental and sensual experience, yet ultimately these get in the way of truly experiencing.

According to Vedanta, that which we presently perceive to be reality is more akin to myth, a falsehood, while we ourselves, the experiencers are units of reality-souls. The phenomenal world is no doubt real, but our perception of it is false, so false that it causes us to lose sight of our souls. The sense of the loss of soul that permeates our culture serves to underscore the mythical quality of our perception of reality. That which we perceive to be reality is rather an allegory for the true story: it is a reflection of the reality of the Absolute. Upon close examination, we will find that this reflection reveals much to us about ultimate reality.

What then is the true story? The true story is the so-called myth that leads us to our soul and thus to the real. Indeed, that myth may not be a myth at all, just as our mental and sensual perception of so-called reality may not be reality. The religious "myth" of the rasa lila that this book is concerned with is the ultimate reality and not merely a myth. It is an ultimate reality, however, that also confirms the value of humanity, especially its sensual and emotional aspects, for it informs us both that our sensuality has its origins in the Absolute and that the Absolute's expression of such is best facilitated within the human experience.

In the rasa lila, God enters humanity to celebrate his sensuality, thus confirming the feeling in all of us that our drive for the erotic is not something to be abolished. It is to be redirected away from the world and toward the Absolute appearing in its human-like expressions of Radha and Krsna. In the rasa-lila, we discover divine humanism-where divinity validates the essence of humanity, and humanity speaks to us about that which divinity must embody in its fullest manifestation.

The rasa lila is considered by many to be the greatest story ever told. It has been recorded in the sacred literature of India, retold by poets, depicted by artists, sung about and celebrated in music, philosophized about, and meditated upon for thousands of years. It is one of the cultural and spiritual gems of the civilized world. Had it not been for the rasa lila of Radha and Krsna, the rich religious tradition of Hinduism might have been effaced from the world during the Muslim domination of India.

Although the Muslims cared little for Hinduism, they could not ignore the love story of Radha and Krsna. The Moghuls in particular commissioned their artisans to depict it in art, and the Muslims were thus stopped short in their conquest by the force of divine beauty and love. Enduring, charming , and profoundly mystical, the love story of Radha and Krsna is capable of conquering kingdoms, even one as fortified as the mythical empire of our mind. This is so because it speaks deeply to the soul, yet in a language most suited to our sensual and mental preoccupations.

Although the love story of Radha and Krsna has been analyzed on many levels-social, psychological, political and so on, an effort is made herein to lay bare its most far-reaching implications: It is the truth that many have reasoned is synonomous with beauty, and it is the eternal drama in which the soul can realize its highest potential, living in love.

'Aesthetic Vedanta'
Swami B.V. Tripurari

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