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October 7, 1999   VNN4887  Comment on this storyAbout the AuthorOther Stories by this Author

Allegory, Mythology And Lila


EDITORIAL, Oct 7 (VNN) — (from Sanga) "Yes, all of this is very high (Gaudiya siddhanta), but it is valuable to have a theoretical understanding of the highest ideal and then focus on that which is relevant to your immediate advancement."

Q u e s t i o n: Re: 'With the Help of the Demons,' Sanga 2/13/99. By interpreting Krsna's pastimes of killing the demons as being allegorical, doesn't this open up interpreting all of his pastimes as allegorical and even his very person as allegory thus leading to impersonalism?

A n s w e r: This danger does exist, and my Guru Maharaja was concerned about that. His emphasis was clear. He hoped to establish a world wide association of devotees who had sraddha in the eternal form of Krishna, his lila, etc. This is no easy task. The idea that Krishna is a person with form that exists everywhere and in one place while moving to another at the same time is very esoteric. Awakening faith in this is not an easy task. In this Prabhupada was very successful. At the same time the lilas of Krishna offer meaning on many other levels. They are not just stories, but full of philosophical insights. Thus when we narrate the lila, we also give a practical purport as to what this lila teaches us. We must then apply this teaching in our practice. Only then will we know Krishna as a person in his lila.

Q u e s t i o n: I understand that Bhaktivinoda Thakur showed how each demon can be correlated with impediments to bhakti and this is certainly very valuable - but isn't suggesting that the pastimes didn't occur opening up the idea that it's all allegory/mythology - thus leading to impersonalism?

A n s w e r: It is not that these pastimes did not happen (although mother Yasoda might question them). They happen eternally and eternally instruct us on many levels.

Q u e s t i o n: On pg. 195 of 'Aesthetic Vedanta: The Sacred Path of Passionate Love', you write, 'In assisting the manjaris, the devotee experiences heighteded aesthetic rapture equal to or greter than that of even Radha.' When I came to this I read it over several times and my wife and I were perplexed. How is it possible? I have always read that the ecstacy experienced by Radha is unattainable by a jiva soul. Can you please resolve this apparent contradiction for me? My wife thought, 'Oh! He is wrong.' and was ready to condemn your whole book for a moment. I explained to her that you could resolve the apparent contradiction and that many times in scripture there are apparent contradictions that can only be resolved by hearing from a realized soul.

A n s w e r: In one sense I appreciate your wife's condemnation. I take it that she is concerned that you don't get connected to someone less than perfect, a true saint. I am much less than perfect. My faults are numerous.

However, I am not canvasing for followers either. I am simply sharing my realizations and scriptural understanding with those interested in hearing from me.

The position of the manjari (bhavollasa rati) is very elevated. Indeed this is what Sri Caitanya came to taste, for only through the culture of manjari bhava can one experience the love of Radha. In manjari bhava one is so identified with Radha that whatever she experiences, the manjari also experiences. When Radha is scratched by Krishna in intimate love dalliance, the same scratch appears on the body of her manjari. It is something like the concept of stigamatika in Catholicism. It is called 'tadbhavecchatmika', a desire to taste the same feelings as Radha without becoming her competitor. This is manjari bhava.

Sri Jahnava Ma, the wife of Nityananda, says in Murali-vilasa ch. 6, p. 46, 'When she (Radha) and her lover (Krishna) are at the height of rapturous intimacy and the hair stands erect on Radha's body, the very same phenomenon occurs on the bodies of her girl friends (manjaris). They experience seven times the pleasure that Radha does.'

Imperfect I am, no doubt, but this is our Gaudiya siddhanta. It is very, very high.

Q u e s t i o n: The topics that you cover in Aesthetic Vedanta are very advanced and I certainly don't have the devotion to properly understand them. I hover too much on the mental plane. Nonetheless, I very much appreciate the book and want to enter into its heart of devotion. You explained that Rupa Goswami calls the method of vicarious experience 'sadharani-karana.' I don't know if I grasp this whole concept properly.

Is it that the devotee understands that only Radharani can completely satisfy Krsna and he/she therefore wants to assist Radharani?

A n s w e r: The idea is that while participating as a witness of the lila in meditation, the bhava of that lila event manifests in the meditator. It can be compared to the audience of a drama experiencing the emotions depicted in the play. Yes, all of this is very high, but it is valuable to have a theoretical understanding of the highest ideal and then focus on that which is relevant to your immediate advancement.

Q u e s t i o n: Can you please help me explain paramour love to my family in such a way that they can understand it better?

A n s w e r: According to siddhanta, Radha has no husband other than Krishna. According to bhava she does. For the pleasure of Radha Krishna in the lila, Yogamaya manifests a so-called husband for Radha. His name is Abhimanyu. Actually, he is a partial manifestation of Krishna himself. This is the case with all of the gopis. When the cowherd boys were stolen by Brahma, Krishna manifested himself as all of those cowherds. This incident coincides with the need to marry the young girls of Vrindavana. Thus, at that time Krishna married so many gopis, appearing as other boys.

This arrangement makes possible paramour love, in which the excitement of risk, etc., heightens the exchange of love. It is a divine illusion that gives transcendental pleasure to Krishna, and that which pleases Hari is the measure of dharma, 'samsiddhir hari tosanam.'

I have explained the notion of paramour love with some comparison to the bridal mysticism of Catholicism in my book 'Rasa: Love Relationships in Transcendence.'

Send your questions or comments to Q&A http://www.swami.org, or email sadhusanga@swami.org.

[Reprinted with permission from Sanga 10/2/99 http://www.swami.org]

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