Monday, April 10, 2017

The Yugal Bhajan Triangle

I have been sitting on the following diagram for several weeks now, but got caught up in various distractions, but lately some additional insights have come and so I now come back to it and share it, for the pleasure of the devotees.

I have been working on this concept for some time before becoming aware of the popular Christian use of the triangle image in a similar way. It seems that variations on the concept are quite widespread and you can see both Christian and secular versions of it on Google images. Since the image and symbolic potential of a triangle or pyramid is a simple one, it is not particularly surprising that it has been used so frequently. After all, what is the Star of David but two triangles?

The triangle represents synthesis, and there is no spiritual achievement that is not represented by synthesis. It can furthermore blossom into countless other dialectical configurations, as is represented by the Shri Chakra.

In the discussion that follows, however, I have not made use of any other source other than my own prior knowledge, insight and experience. I have insufficient knowledge of either of the abovementioned traditions, neither am I a practitioner in them. The following is based on my thinking arising from yoga and bhakti and a few other odds and ends, such as some faint knowledge of Western psychological systems, that have trickled into my awareness.

It is still preliminary, but I am posting it anyway.


The apex or pinnacle of the triangle is Radha and Krishna. The right corner represents the male, the left the female. The goal of the sādhana is to reduce the distance between the three corners, effectively minimizing them to zero.

The Apex can be said to exist archetypically as any ultimate concern. In other words, there is no relationship that exists without a "concern." But to the degree that Love is most profound of concerns, it must in our view be taken as "ultimate." Moreover, what is not ultimate is idolatry and does not suit the purpose of a true transcendent spiritual practice.

For us, the Ultimate Concern is expressed as Radha and Krishna. This representation of the Ultimate Concern as the Unity of Divine Lovers is of particular relevance to the rest of the model, since our subject here is the bhāva sādhanā, the culture of spiritual love.

In our diagram, we have made use of the Yin-Yang to represent the Divine Couple. We take it as a universal symbol of the Union of Opposites, the Divine Syzygy. It is surrounded by radiation, shown by outward facing blue arrows, which stands for the energies that emanate from the Divine Union, which is love.

This concept is based primarily on the two verses by Jiva Goswami quoted and explained here. According to these verses, "Love takes form as Radha and Krishna." and "The same Love inundates Radha and Krishna and the sakhis, and then the entire world."

The idea is that Prema is the Ultimate Concern, which has taken form as Sri Sri Radha and Krishna, Mahabhava Svarupini and Rasika Shekhar Murali Mohan, the Aprakrita Navina Madana. At the same time, they are the dynamic poles from which this formless form of Love, the Ananga form of Love, arises, permeates, activates and bewilders the material and spiritual universes. We may compare it to the Brahman effulgence in this way.

ānanda-cinmaya-rasātmatayā manaḥsu
yaḥ prāṇināṁ pratiphalan smaratām upetya
līlāyitena bhuvanāni jayaty ajasram
govindam ādi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi
I worship Govinda, the original Purusha, whose intrinsic nature as eternal existence, pure consciousness and the bliss of love is reflected in the minds of the living beings whereby he takes the form of Kamadeva (Smara = "memory"); by this playful pastime he easily triumphs over the limitless mundane worlds.
Though Krishna and Radha are differentiated as Purusha and Prakriti, they are the subtlest and truest archetypal form of these two, as Kama and Rati in their ideal form. Being so conceived, i.e., being so revealed by the Guru-parampara from Chaitanya Mahaprabhu through Rupa Goswami, they are Reality Itself.

The Ultimate Concern might have other representations, such as Guru, but only where they also serve the same purpose as the Divine Couple, i.e., act as transparent via media to that primordial symbol of Prema.

So, the idea is that God is the Ultimate Concern that can unite the opposites. God in the form of Radha and Krishna is particularly suited to the culture of Prema, as no other form of God is.


The points on the base of the triangle represent the sādhakas, the male on the right, the female on the left. The relations between the three corners will fluctuate and differ in the course of the sādhana. The goal of the sādhana is to reduce the Triangle to a single point, which we will call the Bindu in keeping with various Tantrik and Yoga traditions. As Gaudiya Vaishnavas, we accept the doctrine of simultaneous union and difference; nevertheless all sādhana is always about union. Love itself can be defined as union or oneness.

Each corner is simultaneously in relation with the other two. For the sādhaka, one is the sādhana partner, the other is Radha and Krishna. As the triangle shrinks, the difference or distinction between these two is diminished.

The lines leading upwards from the bottom corners towards Radha and Krishna in the Apex represent each sādhaka's individual sādhana, which is originally independent of the Yugala sādhakas' relationship. This is the a priori of this practice, for the primary defect of the Yugal practice is inadequacy in the individual culture of the Ultimate Concern as Radha and Krishna.

The line joining the two points on the base, i.e., between the sādhakas, shows their mutually approaching one another as they come closer to the center, i.e, the state of equilibrium, harmony or synthesis. As the distance between them grows smaller, the combined power of fusion drives them upward towards the apex of prema realization. Though this is represented as a movement upward, it has the effect of shortening the altitude of the triangle. In other words, the energies of love experienced by the sādhakas combines and propels them closer to God.

The triangle shrinks as the corners converge: Radha and Krishna move down by grace, the others upward by sādhana, and the lower corners approach each other through their mutual attraction.


The lower ego circles have been divided into three sections. The inner ones, facing each other, are the external egos, which are valenced as male or female and are therefore attracted mutually.

The principal relations between the sādhakas are twofold. They can be characterized as "face-to-face" and as "shoulder-to-shoulder."

In face-to-face, their external egos, i.e., consciousness identified as male or female, are facing the other and being mutually attracted. This is the fundamental energy source provided by material nature both for material and spiritual purposes.

The corners get closer, so the triangle is never perfectly isosceles. The bottom line is key: As the two poles reach a state of unity and balance, they create a unitary axis up and down from the Radha-Krishna to the unified Dual. This is parallel to the three nāḍīs of yoga, iḍā, piṅgalā and suṣumnā in the middle.

The shoulder-to-shoulder relationship is that of friendship. Here one needs to look at the model of the psyche in rasa psychology as shown here, in particular under the heading "The Rati Complex."

The idea is that as individuals, the sādhaka and sādhikā are expected to have become qualified through the pravartaka stage. The pravartaka stage means the entirety of external sādhana bhakti as described in the Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, etc. This stage usually is described as the mood of devotional culture and service, where the element of aiśvarya is present.

There are many places on this blog where this subject is discussed, the fundamental problem being: "How does one pass from aiśvarya to mādhurya when one is engaged in religious activities that of necessity identify a God or Ultimate Concern that is transcendent, and also accepts that he or she is a conditioned soul in need of grace? How does that process work in practical terms?"

The answer is that one must proceed to the madhyama stage and learn to see Braj bhava in worldly relations.

The two sādhakas must both be qualified by having been intellectually and psychically transformed by the processes of sādhana-bhakti, up to and especially including the "external" rāgānugā mārga.

There is no point to the sādhaka-mārga if one is not qualified. This is why the choice of a sādhana partner is so important. A high standard of character is part of the qualification, but more important in the madhyama stage is to have common values based in the philosophy and theory of bhakti-yoga. The basis here is that both sādhakas must share the same Ultimate Concern and be sādhakas of that Prema Bhakti as individuals. Otherwise, whatever attempt they make at Yugala sādhana will be fruitless and constantly subject to distortion by mundane or mixed conceptions.

Really, there is no point in talking about face-to-face without first coming to terms with shoulder-to-shoulder. The common ground of the sādhakas is their interest, as friends, in their Ultimate Concern, the topic of Prema Bhakti. They are partners not only in practice but in coming to a more perfect understanding of the subject, which naturally undergoes transformation through their changing experience and growth in sādhana.

They provide each other with perspective coming from their complementary standpoint. It is the culture of the "Other" in a process of mutuality that goes through five levels, corresponding to the chakras.

Parallels in the five stages
śṛṅgāra /śānta

This parallelism will require further explanation at another time, in particular the complementary nature of the rasas in the pairs śānta/śṛṅgāra and vātsalya-dāsya. Some hints can be found here. An understanding of these parallels is essential to understanding the process.

The central core of each partner is their inner Radha Krishna, the androgynous center which is also acting from within. The individual sādhaka by natural proclivity seeks equilibrium of the opposite parts of his or her own nature in what Jung calls the coniunctio oppositorum. The lack of equilibrium in the individual results in tumult in the other aspects of the sādhana and general inefficiency of the practice. The anima/animus dynamics in the individual unconscious are both the force of attraction and the obstacle to perfection of the union.

And on the outer side is the inner ego, which is that of the mañjarī. The mañjarī ego is serving the Yugal, i.e., the Divine Union. This is the ego in relation to the Ultimate Concern. The mañjarī concept is that of the Intelligence in the service of Union. On the individual level it functions as the intelligence in one's own practice, on the dual level as the servant of the union of the sādhakas.

The work of the mañjarī ego is further represented by an arrow pushing the masculine and feminine egos towards union.

So it is something like a superego providing intelligence. It is closest to the inner Radha-Krishna, which seeks external union, i.e, seeking its own transcendent Selfhood through the medium of the worldly devotees.

The mañjarīs are friends. This makes the underlying sakhya rasa the key to union. Sakhya means a common goal (standing shoulder to shoulder), and in this respect is different from the purely sexual attraction (face to face). The common goal is Radha-Krishna.

Sakhya is always fluctuating between dasya and vatsalya, containing elements thereof, depending on the need of the moment.

Radha and Krishna represent intelligence, and the mañjarī bhava also represents an intelligence that is aligned with Radha and Krishna. But it is the intelligence as manifest in the individual in relation to Radha and Krishna. In both cases, though, it should be seen as the intelligence of love.

That which is in the thousand-petalled lotus is always the intelligence. The mañjarī could thus also be seen as the internal manifestation of guru, whose purpose is to link the jivatma to the Divine Person.

In UN 3.50 it says that sometimes bhaktas attain Radha singularly or in groups. So the idea of a pair of devotees attaining Radha and Krishna together is accepted by Rupa Goswami.


Anonymous said...

Dearest Jagadananda Das,

In light of your excellent diagram, one will like to forward a practical exercise from a very ancient source.

The words of this exercise are reproduced here phonetically (and are spoken as written) from the original hieroglyphic pronunciation.

In this exercise you are going to work the two cerebral hemispheres.

Sit upright on a chair, keeping the spine straight, the thighs horizontal and both feet firmly on the ground with the knees bent at right angles and head held upright facing forward with the palm of each hand placed flat on the thighs.

Breathe in deeply several times in order to relax completely, then breathe normally; now focus your consciousness on your breathing. Stare at the centre of your forehead (squint) and give rhythm to your breathing by staying in apnoea (holding one’s breath) for a moment at the end of each inhalated of breath.

Then, visualise a brilliant light at the top of your skull and mentally repeat the words


continuously without any pause for a few minutes. You will feel energy (light-illuminating-essence) flow like water into the right hemisphere of your brain illuminating this zone.

Now, mentally repeat the words


continuously without any pause for a few minutes, you will now feel energy flow into the left hemisphere of your brain illuminating this zone.

Likewise, now start mentally repeating the words


continuously without any pause until you feel the energy increase and concentrate in both hemispheres - so much so that it combines and merges in your forehead; at the moment this occurs start mentally repeating the words


again, this time for as long as possible while keeping eye convergence and the energy between the eyebrows.

When you have managed to complete this practical exercise, think again about your archetypal diagram Jagadananda Das.

Hint: imagine your diagram superimposed above the Human skull...

Jagadananda Das said...

Thank you for sharing this practice.

You will forgive me if I do not follow it though. There are hundreds of such practices, many of which I have done. But I usually use the mantras of my own tradition into which I have been initiated.

Nishtha is the watchword for any sadhaka, as I try to make clear throughout my blog. Even when recognizing the universal character of a particular insight, it is best to stick with what one has been given through one's own diksha tradition.

I do not claim any great originality in my design here. The main point in this model is to coordinate the individual practice with the Dual.

Thank you again for your kindness in sharing. Jai Radhe.

Anonymous said...

You are welcome Jagananda Das.

Yes, my person has also tried many such practices in the past; although one must admit, the results of this practice were most surprising indeed.

Anonymous said...

On the battle-field of Kurukshetra, Krishna tells Arjuna:

लोकेऽस्मिन् द्विविधा निष्ठा पुरा प्रोक्ता मयाऽनघ |
ज्ञानयोगेन सांख्यानां कर्मयोगेन योगिनाम् ||

"O sinless one! Two kinds of disciplines in this world were set forth by Me in times of yore – for the Samkhyas the discipline of knowledge (Jnana-nishtha), and for the yogins, that of works (Karma-nishtha). " – (Bhagavad Gita III.3)


Prem Prakash said...

Jagadanandas, Beautiful writing. Thank you.
You write: "God in the form of Radha and Krishna is particularly suited to the culture of Prema, as no other form of God is."
I wonder if the tantrikas feel the same about Shiva and Parvati/Shakti? Maybe even the Christian mystics regarding Jesus and Mary?
Could you say more about this?

Anonymous said...

Dear Prem Prakash,

To some whom in the love of truth have raised the lingam of energy above the skull and impregnated the abyss there are no boundaries, not even the threshold of death.

All is the same, all is one.


Prem Prakash said...

My anonymous friend,
This is beautiful. Thanks.