The Erotic Principle and Un-alloyed Devotion Part II
NARAYAN DAS BHAKTA SUDHAKAR, M.A.
In the realm of the Absolute the little soul functions free from all limitations under the guidance of Krishna Himself. His function is to serve Krishna. Service implies a knowledge of the wishes of the Master. It also implies a difference or possibility of difference between the wishes of the servant and those of the master. The wishes of the master have, therefore, to be communicated to the servant who cannot otherwise know it. In this world such wishes are conveyed imperfectly through the medium of some material substance. The command is clearly distinguishable from its source. In the spiritual world there can be no such difference. The servant knows the whole of the command that is Krishna Himself. Therefore it must be Krishna Himself Who always makes Himself known to His servants in the realm of the Absolute by means of His commands. But Krishna as Master cannot be known to the servant. That would eliminate the difference between the Master and servant. If He wants to be known to the servant He must make Himself known to the latter in the Form which the latter can also recognize his Master. For this purpose Sri Krishna becomes His own servant in whose heart He appears as Master. This concept, to use a worldly word, is communicated to us by Krishna as servant. This serving counter-part of Sri Krishna is called by our Shastras Sri Radhika. She is the female or serving principle and the inseparable and eternal Counter-whole of Sri Krishna Himself. She is the premier milk-maid of Braja. For serving Krishna She expands herself into the other milk-maids of Braja. She is the Power of Krishna and every power is of Her essence, even the principle of limitation itself.
The milk-maids of Braja never forget Krishna because they are the direct spiritual power of Krishna. On the other hand Krishna Himself is manifested, or in other words becomes fit to be served, by their means. The Power of Krishna at Her source is one. The principle of limitation or ignorance is also in Her but without power over Her. The human soul is a tiny part of the spiritual essence delicately poised between the two forces viz. the Spiritual power of Krishna and Her material shadow. So the human soul must serve Krishna under the direction of the pure Spiritual power diversely represented for Her comprehension by the services eternally performed for His benefit by the milk-maids of Braja. The service of the little soul cannot be offered directly. This constitutes the eternal difference between Himself and the milk-maids of Braja. Sri Radhika alone directly serves Krishna. She is helped by the other milk-maids. Sri Radhika and Her companions are, therefore, the direct servants. The little soul can also only serve in a subordinate position. The object of the other milk-maids is not direct dalliance with Krishna which is the right reserved of Sri Radhika but to carry out the orders of Sri Radhika in Her service to Krishna. The object of the human soul is to carry out the orders of Sri Radhika and Her companions in their service of Krishna. This is the arrangement of Braja. The sex idea loses all its unwholesomeness when it is applied to Sri Radhika in as much as She is Sri Krishna Himself in the guise of His only Love or Sweet-heart. The unwholesomeness of sex in this world is due to the desire of domination of one over another each one of whom is by constitution really independent of the other. The basis of this unwholesomeness is eliminated in the case of the amours of Sri Radha-Krishna.
In the realm of the Absolute, therefore, Krishna is eternally served by the pure spirits who are allotted their respective functions by His Counter-whole Sri Radhika without whose help the contact with Sri Krishna that is necessary for serving Him cannot be attained. Sri Radhika and the milk-maids of Braja are the direct or subjective constituents of Sri Krishna Himself. Our souls are the tiny constituents of the spiritual power of Krishna represented in its fullness by Sri Radhika and located on the margin of the spiritual realm contiguous to the borders of this world, the realm of Maya. Maya herself is a constituent part of Sri Radhika serving Krishna not directly but indirectly and from a distance. We are perpetually exposed to the pulls of Braja and Maya at the two ends and we are free to choose between them.
The pastimes of Sri Krishna with the milk-maids of Braja as explained by the Srimad Bhagabata are neither history nor allegory. They are not history because they are transcendental whereas our so-called history is only a record of our experiences of this world in terms of the egotistic principle. They are also not allegory for the reason that they happen to be the actual concrete Reality of which this world is the perverted reflection. As a matter of fact it is this world and its happenings that are really allegorical and impossible of comprehension except relatively to the Real and symbolising the Reality. Our souls have really nothing to do with this allegory which misrepresents our function and deludes us into the acceptance of this perverted existence. The proper function of our souls is to serve the Absolute in obedience to the commands of Himself conveyed through Himself in the form of His devotees.
The sexual principle is a misunderstood symbol of the Reality. It can no more be banished from our consciousness than the consciousness itself. The male and female forms are also not the sole and distinctive possessions of this world. There is a Reality behind them as well. The soul has a body which is symbolised by the female form and which is absolutely free from any unwholesome material association. Our present objection to the female form is due to the egotistic principle which for the same reason does not object or rather, readily enough adopts the male form as more properly representing the pure little soul. This repugnance to the female form prevents us from unprejudiced examination of the position and functions of the milk-maids of Braja. The recognition of the female sex is a necessary factor of our conception of amorous love. This amorous love is the highest subject of human poetry and the most powerful factor in all human activities. Its worthlessness is not established by the mere refusal to recognise it as a part of our nature. It would be much more to the purpose to try to understand what it really is. The Srimad Bhagabata is the only book that furnishes a satisfactory answer to this all-important question.
The only kind of answer that we require to such questions and one which will remove our doubts and difficulties must needs be absolutely true. The empiricists pin their faith on tentative truths. They seem to believe that by progressive movement they will attain the goal. But the goal which is attainable by a process of advance is an illusion. It is like the ever receding rim of the horizon that can never be actually reached. The Truth is not determinable in terms of progress. He is fixed and immutable. It is subject to obscuration doe to defects of the observer. These defects are also material which alone can stand in the way of the Absolute Truth who is Spiritual. The real progress towards Truth consists in the endeavour to improve our faculties of observation. We cannot realize the Absolute by extending our so-called knowledge of the relative. It is moving in the opposite direction. The greater the number of limited objects that crowd into our brains the greater is the difficulty of discovering their uselessness for our purpose. And in fact it is our own hankering for half-truths and seeming truths that is also really responsible for such overcrowding. We create the fog that obscures our vision. By this endless process of rejection and election of material objects we can never reach the goal. We must stop and refect on the cause of our perpetual and utter failure. If we do so sincerely we make the real discovery with Kant that we cannot know the truth by means of our present faculties. But we need not, therefore, give up the quest as hopeless. We are to question again and then we shall get the true answer. That answer will be that the Truth for Whom our souls hanker is not a dead thing or relations of dead and limited things or thoughts but Something Who is akin to ourselves. He is something that is living and self-conscious. He is also spirit like our souls. The next question that will arise in our minds will be, why cannot we see Him? The answer will be, ‘Because He does not show Himself to us’. If we ask again, ‘Why does He not appear to us’? We shall be told that He is so because we do not seek for Him. We never seek for the Truth but always seek for the half-truth. That is the disease. The real Truth himself comes to us the very instant we seek for it. And we seek for Him only when and as soon as we really understand His nature. This is the vicious cycle. At present we have no real idea of the Truth and so whenever we seek for anything that thing is necessarily un-truth. Then at last the conviction dawns on our understanding that the whole process hitherto pursued requires to be reversed and we begin to understand the mystic words of the scriptures. ‘Give up once for all the empiric quest for the Truth and wait for Him to take the initiative. You cannot go up to Him. When you try to go up to anything of your choice you go away from it. So you must submit to be enlightened. He has the power and the will of making Himself known to you.’
At this stage one naturally asks, ‘Shall I then sit idly and do nothing?’ And now Truth answers in a definite manner, ‘No, let your mind and body do what appears to them to be their proper functions but you yourself stand apart and do not identify yourself with them, but wait for communications from Me. Rely wholly on Me and I shall guide you to the goal which is Myself.’
Thus faith is kindled in the doubting heart and we are in a position to profit by the instructions of the good preceptor whom Krishna sends to us the moment we really seek to be enlightened in perfect humility. Then we are also able to understand the words of the good preceptor as being identical with the words of the scriptures. Being now convinced of the real ability of the good preceptor to guide us on the path of the Absolute we take hold of his hand that is ever extended to us and submit to be led with hesitation and much questioning at first. As we gradually learn to walk in the path of service our vision slowly clears up and we see the truth for ourselves. Then only we understand what it really is.
The empiricists although they seem to recognize the necessity of being taught and trained in the affairs of this world are unduly sceptical in regard to such training in spiritual matters where its necessity is very much greater because we happen to possess absolutely no knowledge of it. In the ‘terra incognita’ of the spirit it is indispensable to have a guide unless, indeed, we persist to confuse the spiritual with the material and retain our faith in empiric efforts. But as a matter of fact all predilection for the limited shuts out the unlimited not partially but radically, not quantitatively but categorically. Srimad Bhagabata asks those who really want to serve Krishna to forego all thoughts of any advantage in the worldly sense the conscious or unconscious, direct or vicarious, pursuit of which is the cause of all impurity and ignorance. This reform of life is the indispensable preliminary condition for obtaining any real knowledge of the Absolute and the nature and imperative necessity of such reform and also its practicability are clearly realised by close spiritual association with the good preceptor. It cannot be realised so long as we retain an iota of egotism. It cannot be realised unless and until one agrees with the sincerity of real conviction to receive it at his hands as a favour to which he can lay no claim on the strength of any worldly merit or demerit. It is only by such reasoned submission of the will to the process of enlightenment from above that our clouded vision can be cleared up. The guru is not a mortal, erring creature like ourselves. He is the eternal servant of Krishna whom He sends into this world for the deliverance of fallen souls. He comes into this world on this mission of causeless Divine mercy in order to help us to rise out of the depths of sin to our natural state of absolute purity by methods which are perfectly consistent with the principles of our really un-biased reason. So long as we refuse to listen to him we are doomed to misunderstand everything.
By the process of abstraction we are bound to obtain only a negative result. In our present sinful state the sex suggests the idea of sensuous impurity because our present outlook itself is sensuous. The sense of impurity is really nothing but that of incongruity of any material, limited, unconscious substance with the nature of the human soul. We are not on the same plane with the object of our thoughts but are yoked to it in a most unnatural way. This is the feeling of impurity or repugnance. So long as we continue to look upon sex with an eye of longing we can never think of it in any other way. But this longing is also part of our present acquired nature and cannot leave us til we are enabled to lay aside this secondary nature itself. With this reform of nature our relation to the principle of sex also undergoes a complete transformation which is, however, otherwise incomprehensible to our present understanding. The female form of the human soul is not a material form. The relation between the human soul and Sri Krishna is not the relation between the material female form and its corresponding male form. The amorous pastimes of Sri Krishna with the spiritual milk-maids of Braja are not the amorous pastimes between male and female of this world. The amours of Sri Krishna are not a concoction of the diseased brain of a sensualist. The amours of this world could have no existence unless the substantive principle exists in Sri Krishna. But no one denies the existence and importance of the principle of amour in this world. Why do they imagine that it does not exist in the realm of the Absolute in the perfectly wholesome form?
It is because we choose to regard as material the female form of the soul that we are shocked at what we suppose to be the shameless sensuous proclivities of the transcendentalists. This is inevitable so long as we deliberately choose to nurse the error that the sex of our experience is the real entity and not its perverted reflection and imagine that we have been able to solve the problem of sex by transferring our sensuous activity from the body to the mind and by condemning as impure the excesses of the external sexual act on no consistent principle. Such bungling philosophy has not convinced and will never convince anybody of the real nature and purpose of the sexual act. This is so because the sexual act is the eternal concomitant in this sinful world of the highest function of the spirit which can, therefore, be never minimised or abolished by all our empiric endeavours but the right understanding of which can alone save us from the terrible consequences of our present suicidal sexual follies.
All the misunderstanding on the subject is due to our deliberately confounding the medicine with the disease, the Truth with His perversion, the substance with the shadow. The Srimad Bhagabata has offered us in an unambiguous form the medicine knowing full well that it will be wilfully misunderstood and misrepresented by its so-called friends and foes alike. But the medicine is, nevertheless, indispensable to our well-being. No religion which has overlooked this necessity of the human race can afford us the relief of which we stand most in need. It is for this reason that the Srimad Bhagabata which is so much maligned by all diseased persons, that is to say by practically every body of this world, has been declared by the greatest teachers of the religion of this country as being the only book in the whole world that offers the most unambiguous exposition of the whole Indivisible Truth a right understanding of which alone can really save us from sin and consequent misery. Sri Chaitanya and His associates and followers have explained the religion of the Srimad Bhagabata by their teachings as well as conduct. They tell us that the Truth must be lived in order to be realised. If He be not lived but merely professed He ceases to be the Reality and degenerates into the worst form of His materialistic caricature, doing infinite mischief to His professor and His followers. The right application of the medicine is absolutely necessary for curing the disease of ignorance. One who fails to take the medicine administered by a competent physician will never be cured of ignorance. If the blind man pretends to be able to see he may be believed by the blind but cannot escape detection by those who really see. Neither can he guide others aright on the narrow path of righteousness. Unless and until we choose to actually give it our most serious attention being urged to such a course by real necessity and find our way to its acceptance our irrational perversity will continue to bar most effectively its ingress to our benighted understanding. We must know that the realm of the Absolute is self-protected against the intrusion of all guile and imperfection which are the parents of self-deception.
As a matter of fact we are required by the Srimad Bhagabata, if we want to realise the true nature of amorous love by which alone Krishna can be properly served, to be ready to make the supreme sacrifice of discarding once and for all and unconditionally all sexual hankerings and prospects. We are perfectly free to choose this course. But no choice is a real choice unless it is of the nature of conviction based on actual experience. The discourses regarding the truth help us to such conviction. After the conviction is produced we feel naturally disposed to accept the guidance of the scriptures as expounded by real devotees. There are carefully graded stages on the path of spiritual effort which have to be traversed before we can reach the goal. It is only when the goal is reached that we can actually realize the truth underlying the principle of sex. It is realised last of all although the sexual hankering is cured on the threshold of spiritual endeavour. There are people who mistake this elimination of the sexual desire for the goal. Those who choose to be content with the relief which such elimination seems to afford for the time being and allow themselves to be dissuaded from the search of the truth by the attainment of a means of self-gratification unconsciously begins the retrograde journey by a side path. One should not stop till he gets the final answer to the question. ‘What are we to do with our senses?’ It is the positive attitude. We cannot desist from making some use of our senses. It is therefore, necessary to know their right use. It is by persevering in this selfless search for the Absolute truth that we are enabled by and in the Search Himself to realise the object of our Search who is identical with the means itself that is really adopted for His Search.