Tuesday, March 28, 2017

What is Sex For?

Truth Dig published an interesting excerpt from a book by Robert Jensen called “The End of Patriarchy: Radical Feminism for Men”, which begins with the question of sexual equality and prostitution. "How can a society achieve a meaningful level of justice if people from one sex/gender class could be routinely bought and sold for sexual services by people from another sex/gender class?" This of course leads to questions about the meaning of sexuality itself, and these significant questions are at the basis of the theory and practice of Sahaja.

The excerpted piece ends with the following reflection,
More than two decades ago, when I first started thinking about this question, I kept coming back to the phrase to describe an argument that is intense but which doesn’t really advance our understanding — we say that such a debate ‘produced more heat than light’. Much of the talk about sexuality in contemporary culture is in terms of heat: Is the sex you are having hot?

What if our discussions about sexual activity — our embodied connections to another person — were less about heat and more about light? What if instead of desperately seeking hot sex, we searched for a way to produce light when we touch? What if such touch were about finding a way to create light between people so that we could see ourselves and each other better? If the goal is knowing ourselves and each other like that, then what we need is not really heat but light to illuminate the path. How do we touch and talk to each other to shine that light?

Though there is no sexual instruction manual to tell us how to generate that light, I do not hesitate to suggest that the sexual-exploitation industries leave us in the dark.
Jensen sees the problem and the direction in which to look for a solution. In our view, there is no solution without an understanding of and faith in the inherent sacred character of sexuality and the appropriate practice that heightens this sacredness. Though sexuality is given to almost everyone, very few realize its material potential, what to speak of the spiritual.

The Sahaja idea is that Radha represents feminine sexuality and Krishna the male. The purpose of sex is thus love and it is the highest love. Thus it is clear that the erroneous conception of sex is that its purpose is either procreation or mere pleasure.

Pleasure and love are synonymous for those who are spiritually evolved, for those who are not, pleasure is restricted to orgasm alone and is ultimately a process of self-debasement.

This latter truth is very poorly understood even by those who promote abstinence.

For those who are yogis and bhaktas, sexuality is the primary force that pushes the awareness or consciousness to its highest regions of bliss.

This is true whether one is celibate or engaged in Yugala sādhana with a partner.

The essence of sādhana, for all, is one-pointedness to the Deity, but in the sādhana practice of sahaja, the partner must -- like the Guru -- also be the object of one-pointedness. The partner is him/herself the sādhana. The sādhana is the creation of a Yugal through embodying the Divine Couple. Such a Yugal is the Divine Couple on Earth.

For the yogi, the goal may be symbolically represented by the preferences of whatever tradition he or she follows.

But generally speaking it is any Hindu or Buddhist deity, all of whom are accompanied by their shakti. Nearly all are Duals, or Syzygies, representing, as the yogis are wont to say, the union of the Sun and the Moon.

For the bhaktas embedded in madhura Radha-Krishna consciousness and the glories of Radha Shyama Nam, this state propels the experience of Radha and Krishna forward to all planes of psycho-somatic existence, through every kosha, through every chakra, through every stage of mental and social evolution, through the entire tangled morass of past samskāras, individual and collective, so that it becomes the only Reality.

And for the Sahaja bhakta, that is compounded by ekāgratā in the sādhaka deha to the Love Object, who is none other than Radha and Krishna together at once.

And for anybody who wishes to dispute this, I say that this is the true core and meaning of Gaudiya Vaishnava philosophy, though hidden like Krishna in the Veda.

And anyone who thinks that this would lead to promiscuity, I say that such a thing would be impossible if young men and women had been properly trained in brahmacharya.

This is almost completely absent from not something that can be enforced in our day, and indeed we should be wary of enforcing it even where there is social acceptance of the principle of abstinence.

Rather we should try to encourage young men and women to be aware of the spiritual purpose of sexuality. To become aware of its deep sacredness.

When it is seen as yoga, then as in any yoga, its purpose is to facilitate ekāgratā.

Thus the selection of a partner is of utmost importance.

The preparatory process in character building -- the yamas and niyamas -- for someone who is intent on becoming a sādhaka of Yugala Rasa is of utmost importance.

This is the pravartaka stage, and only a serious practitioner on the pravartaka stage can expect to become a sādhaka of Yugala Rasa.

pravarta nā hate siddhi sādhaka je hoy
bidhi biḍambana tāra jānibe niścaya
kabhu se bhajane tāra siddhi nāhi habe
bicalita haye rati narake se rabe

You should know for certain that whoever takes up this sādhana who has not perfected the pravarta stage is disrupting the proper sequence of the practice. He will never attain success in this practice. When engaged in the love act, he will be disturbed and remain in a hellish condition. He is like an unbaked clay pot trying to hold water.
The pravartaka stage may also be called vidhi bhakti. If you fail at Yugala Rasa, in other words, if you fail to be ekāgra, then you should double your efforts in vidhi bhakti, but continue to understand the psychology, the subtle desires and forces that misdirect you from understanding the Yugala Rasa.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

New Introduction Jiva Tirtha Sanskrit

This book is the first draft of a Sanskrit text book that was used in the 2016-2017 academic year at the Jiva Institute in Vrindavan. It is still in need of revision and refinement, which will be undertaken during the next academic year of the Jiva Tirtha course while being used for a second group of students. It will also be expanded as the first year students continue in their studies.

Exercises and vocabulary are an important element in such a course and I have integrated many verses and texts that I prepared in an earlier publication, Sādhaka pāṭhyam, which was done on behalf of the Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama in Rishikesh.

The Jiva Institute under the direction of Mahant Satya Narayan Das Babaji started the Jiva Tirtha program in the autumn of 2016 with 25 students from Europe and America. The Sanskrit course started with a couple of trial and error efforts using different texts, including Hari-nāmāmṛta-vyākaraṇam, the grammar text composed by Srila Jiva Goswami himself. Since he is the patron saint of the Jiva Institute, this seemed natural. However, as a method for beginners learning Sanskrit it is a little ambitious. The idea now is to get students started with this course and afterwards they will be able to fine tune their grammatical knowledge with Hari-nāmāmṛta.

Even so, the advantage of this trial and error beginning was that the students were familiar with both the alphabet and the basics of most of the sandhi rules by the time I started developing this course with them about six weeks after the beginning. This is reflected in this text, as there is no teaching of the alphabet in it. The second edition will likely have to include it. The sandhi rules have been given in an appendix. And in actual fact, in the approach I am using, sandhi is taught on an ad hoc basis through encountering and recognition.

I have also succumbed to the temptation to develop a methodology of my own devising, Though I am not enough of a student of Sanskrit pedagogy in the West to be able to know whether it is original, I was nevertheless inspired to try something that seemed fairly different from most other methods I have seen.

Most Western texts for learning classical languages like Greek or Latin served as the model for Sanskrit pedagogy, and this leads to a "dead language" mentality, which is absolutely what we need to avoid. Students must feel that they are learning to live in that language through becoming enchanted by it.

The course is thus designed to minimize the amount of memorization that needs to be done in the beginning and to be more reflective of what will be encountered in the texts of the Vrindavan Goswamis. This means trying to get a feel for the way Sanskrit would actually be spoken.

The course is thus (as of now) designed around the cases (kārakas) but keeping to the singular. At the same time, we do spend time at the beginning of each class to chant the declensions just for fun and familiarization. As an important part of this scheme, we are learning passive constructions including passive participles before learning all the complete conjugations. Even so, a lot is crammed into these first ten lessons, and in fact most of the basics of the language should be mastered after completing them, after which reading texts with a competent teacher will be the principal teaching method.

The speaking or conversational part of the course will hopefully develop out of the readings. Classical languages are their literature, and though attempts to revive spoken Sanskrit are welcomed, it must be remembered that the very meaning of the word saṁskṛta is that it is, by design, a spiritual nobility's refined language and medium of thought.

That is why the word "sanskritization" is appropriate in the context of Brahminical civilization. And it also makes clear the meaning of saṁskāras, at least in their positive sense as a purificatory or refining ritual which are meant to give a sāttvika tenor to the developing consciousness of the human being as he passes through the different stages of life.

The word saṁskāra in its broader sense as imprints on the unconscious and the resultant unconscious effects thereof always sounds to me like French sang (blood) and "scar," which are also appropriate, no doubt. The Sanskrit language is, however, to be integrated into the process of transforming the consciousness and training the mind to move naturally in a spiritual direction. The purpose of learning Sanskrit, in the Jiva Institute at least, is to enter the "mind-field" of the Vaishnava gurus like Shri Jiva, Rupa, Sanatan, Raghunath Das and the other scholars and poets of the tradition.

It may be impossible to return to a golden past – nowadays everyone looks to the future and humankind's millions of years of evolution up until the modern age ignored as primitive – but for us it seems that the riches of spiritual discovery that are hidden in the vast Sanskrit literature are still worth pursuing and implementing, even as the globalized civilization continues to rush towards environmental and social destruction without them.

It may be an impossible dream, but I imagine living in a linguistic medium where the words of the Veṇugīta are understood as naturally as a popular song on the radio and the limitless dhvanis of a verse send off a fireworks display of bhakti rasa in the mind of the devotee. Let us at least try to create a small alternative to the global cultural wasteland.

Many thanks are due to Mahanta Sri Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji Maharaj for the vision that is taking form in the Jiva Institute and Ashram, to Stuart Trusty, who has undertaken the publication of this first edition and to Malatimanjari Dasi, who helped with proofreading and in other ways. And thanks also to Radheya Mansel, Maria Christanell and other students who offered their help.
There are no doubt many errors and flaws in this very limited first edition, which has been prepared in a bit of a rush primarily for the students who followed the course this year and those who will come next year. I humbly ask all those using it to forgive its deficiencies. If they get some benefit and make progress in learning this wonderful and important language, I will consider the effort worthwhile.

Jai Sri Radhe.
Jagadananda Das


Saturday, March 11, 2017

Jai Sachinandana! Jai Gaura Hari ! Gadadhara Prana Nath! Nadia Bihari!

Gadadhar Pran's Gadadhar Pran.

জয় শচীনন্দন, জয় গৌর হরি
গদাধর প্রাণ নাথ, নদিয়া বিহারী
নিতাই গদাইএর সঙ্গে গৌর জয় জয়
যাঁহার কৃপা কটাক্ষে প্রেম ভক্তি হয়.

Today is an auspicious day. Let us rejoice that by the grace of Sri Guru we have been able to live our lives in the adventure of following Gauranga Mahaprabhu's conception of reality, along its hundreds and thousands of streams and rivulets.

Whereby our brains have been illuminated by contemplation of the the question of Divine Love in all its splendor,

Whereby our hearts have been granted the hope to become servants of that Love.

Whereby we have been initiated into the mysteries of the Hladini Shakti, whose rays of effulgence shone on the world through him.

Whereby we have learned the ecstatic meaning of separation as bliss.

Whereby we have learned that all words are a song when they are the Holy Name. And that all words _are_ the Holy Name. All sounds are the Holy Name.

Whereby every movement becomes a dance, for every hair and follicle is permeated by the Holy Name, and thereby the world's ignorance is ignored.

May Mahaprabhu's grace continue to shine like the full moon peppered with the pink powders of Holi in the clear spring sky over Vrindavan.

All glories! All glories to Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu!!!

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Birthday thoughts

Dear friends,

I have been trying to respond to all your happy birthday wishes, but my connection here is not so good and I have not been able to answer all of them. Please be assured that I appreciate getting so many happy birthdays. It helps me forget that I am just getting older and closer to death...

On the other hand, some people have told me to have a "Krishna conscious" birthday. Though I could be a little smug and say, "Then it is no different from any other day," in fact I have to say that today I awoke singing the Maha Mantra to one heck of a happy tune and truly feeling as though I was the luckiest person in the world.

I told Babaji this morning that this year at Jiva has been the happiest year of my life. Babaji's friendship is making it possible for me to accomplish many things that I would like to accomplish before I finish this particular lila. I am becoming more and more eager to do bhajan -- something about seeing Binode Bihari Dasji in Barsana, but doing these services to the Dham and the Goswami literature in the Dham is anukula to bhajan -- but hopefully not for too long.

It seems that somehow a drop of the joy of bhajan and Vrindavan vasa and bhakta sanga and the mercy of my gurus has penetrated to the point where it is truly bubbling over, spontaneously and continuously.

All glories, all glories to Vrindavan Dham! The effects of the Dham can only be truly known to one who has rolled in its dust continuously for many lifetimes.

All glories, all glories to the Holy Name!

All glories, all glories to Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Nityananda, Adwaita, Gadadhara, Shrivas, Narahari, Rupa, Sanatana, Bhatta Gopal, Bhatta Raghunath, Raghunatha Das and Shri JIva, our heart's jivatu. On Nityananda Trayodashi I felt that Nityananda's special kripa had been given me. I translated Manjari Svarupa Nirupana while staying at Shringar Bat, which I visited on Nitai's appearance day. Could anyone deny that I have received Nitai's mercy?

All glories, all glories to the Guru Parampara from Jahnava Thakurani to Ramchandra to Rajvallabh to Bipin Bihari, to Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur, to my heart's Gurudeva, Sri Sri Lalita Prasad Thakur, who opened my eyes to the Yugal Svarupa, Gadadhar Radha Gaura Krishna and the doors to the next zone, who made me part of a larger, older family.

All glories, all glories to Dwadash Mandir, to the Bhakivinode Goshthi and to Hari Gopal Dasji Maharaj!

All glories, all glories to my godbrother Gadadhar Pran Das, may all his bhajan bear fruit and he enter Nitya Nabadwip Dham with Gaura Gadadhar in full nagara bliss!

All glories, all glories to Bhaktisiddhanta Sarawati and all his disciples and especially to Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, my eternal guru, my ground zero, my second birth father. And to Shridhar Maharaj too!

All glories, all glories to all my gurus, large and small, can I mention them all? To Madhusudan Das Babaji, to Sachinandan Bhakti Prabha, to Hridayananda Das Babaji, to Shambhu Narayan Ghoshal, and to all the Nabadwip Vasis, kirtaniyas, katha vachaks, to Madan Gopal Goswami, to Tin Kori Prabhu and all his disciples! To Nimai Chand Goswami and his sons!

To my Shikha Guru, Priyalal Gosai, may I one day see him again and find out what it was I learned from him! To my Shakti, may she also realize her true svarupa.

To Ananta Das Pandit Maharaj! Who kindled in me, more than anyone else, the desire to understand bhakti-rasa and increased a thousand-fold my love for the Goswamis' writings.

To Swami Veda Bharati! My yoga guru.

To all the Vrajavasis!

To Radharani, Shyamashya, Piya Piyari! To Radha Raman! To every square inch of this divine dham! Vrindavan is what Walt Disney might have wished to imagine, but could not, because the material intelligence cannot reach this world of eternal premananda!
And all glories to you, O Vaishnava sanga!
Jai Jai Shri Radhe Shyam!!!