Jesus, Bridal Mysticism, and Madhurya Rasa

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Dearest friends,

First, one must understand that the term ‘bridal mysticism’ specifically refers to that divine love mysticism in the jewish and christian traditions, in which the supreme lover is god.  For millinea the most powerful current of rabbinical tradition has consistantly asserted that the lover of the “song” is god (“hashem” = the holy name” !)   These jewish masters have successfully defended the “song of songs” against charges of mundanity for thousands of years.  In fact the “song”, which is the judeo-catholic scriptural source for bridal mysticism, has been and is still considered the “holy of holies” by both jewish and christian (especially catholic) mystics and devoute biblical scholars today.

Therefore it is completely uninformed outsider speculation for someone to state that the bridal mysticism of christianity has nothing to do with the ‘conjugal’ love of god !  Thousands of years of judeo-catholic / christian guru, shastra and sadhu declare that the lover of the “song” is god.   While some vaishnavas may not want to accept that the catholic apostolic jesus is vishnu tattva, in order to take god out of judeo-catholic bridal mysticism, they will have to erase / deny these entire traditions, which have the “song” as the “holy of holies” at their mystical core of revelation.

>in the early 1980s i attended some american academy of religions and society of biblical literature conferences, and especially participated in some open discussions of the “song”.   I was interested to compare jewish scholarship and christian scholarship on the “song”.  After reviewing the literature and >attending conference presentations and discussions on it, i chose two authors to respond to in my own analysis of the “song”.   These were robert gordis, who had written the american jewish theological seminary text book on the “song”, and marvin pope, who had written the anchor bible commentary series volume on the “song”.  (see google searches for these below.)

I completely disagreed with gordis, because of his modernist mundane interpretation, and could hardly stand to read his dumbed-down translation of the “song”, but what i found very useful about his book was his summary of the traditional ways that the song had been interpreted.   In these ways, which other scholars have written on at length, one can see reflections of various christian and vaishnava understandings.

Traditional judeo-catholic interpretations  of the identity of the lover and the beloved (maiden) in the “song of songs”

1.   Highest:  god is the lover, and his personal shekinah (shakti or ‘queen sabbath’ related bride) is his beloved.

Jewish scholars have actually speculated that this tradition is related to some hiero-gamos ‘sacred marriage’ tradition in the mediterranean.  I have positively identified what that tradition is….the cultus of rhoda-kouros helios and the korae-dionysos on rhodes.

On rhodes, god’s personal shekinah / shakti is rhoda ! She is also called nymphia (lotus = padma = lakshmi) and asteria (tara).  Thus rhoda-shekinah-nymphia-asteria-mariam-coronis, the personal ‘expansion’ and beloved of god in the rhodian-related jewish tradition is radha-shakti-padma(sri or lakshmi)-tara-narayani-harini.

In catholic bridal mysticism, she is of course identified with mary in her highest most hidden form as the “mystical rose”  …rosa = rhoda = radha !  The countless icons of mary in which she has an inner dress of red or pink, and an outer mantal of blue, reveal her as both radha and nila (durga).

2.      Congregationally:  god is the bride groom and all of the redeemed of israel collectively are the bride.  In shekinah mysticism, these soul-sparks of shekinah are gathered-back in and through her into her love affair with god.  Their union with god is mediated both through the messiah and shekinah.

In catholic theology, this is the new testament doctrine of the church as the “bride of christ”.

3.      Individually:  the third reading of the “song” is that the lover is god and the love-sick maiden is the individual soul.   Again this is in keeping with the greek platonic (helios worshiping)  concept that the finite soul or self is feminine in relationship to god (feminine psyche who is love-sick for eros).

It should be noted that in greek heliopolitan monotheism, it is helios kouros who dances with rhoda and her expansions the ‘goddesses’ like the muses, korae, horae, nymphs, nyads etc., but it is dionysos who comes to earth and dances with the human devotees of helios.  He is non-different than helios kouros, is his ‘second person’ or as vaishnavas would say, his first plenary ‘expansion’.  He is the high priest hierophant and initiator into the mysteries of rhoda-kouros.  In all respects this dionysos (not the late left hand tantric pseudo-dionysos of the orgiastic bacchants or maenads) is both baladeva and jesus christ.

So while it may be true that jews and christians devoted in bridal mysticism do not consumate that relationship with ‘god the father’ (which would be rasa bhasa), they do dance in the “paradise round” or sacred circle dance with god the lover as the messiah or jesus.   Since we are repeatedly told that baladeva is god-from-god etc., there is no contradiction.   So what then is the excuse for vaishnavas to attempt to minimize the rasa lila of jews and christians, because it is ‘only’ with the second person of the godhead, lord baladeva,  as if that is a minor thing !!!  Think about it, the gaudiya aspiration is not to replace srimate radharani in the rasa dance !  God forbid !!!  It is only to assist her in her romance with sri krishna !  For souls devoted in the conjugal mood who wish to dance with god….lord baladeva enacts his rasa lila pastimes.  All of sri krishna’s variegated expansions for pastimes are through, with and in lord baladeva ! This should give us a clue as to who the gopis are actually dancing with, and why they are completely satisfied, during their rasa lila  with sri baladeva, the ‘second person’ of the godhead.

By the way, pope speculated that there was a connection between the “song” and india.

 

Rabbinical tradition on the “song of songs” as the holiest book of the bible

Cedars of lebanon: levels of love

By kuk, abraham isaac

The book of the song of songs is read in the synagogue during the passover and on friday evenings. The absence of any overt religious references in it, together with its erotic imagery, has led…

…rabbi akiba, according to rav kuk’s interpretation, readily rabbi akiba said, “all the world is not worth as much as the day on which the song of songs was given to israel, for all the scriptures are holy but the song of songs is the holy of holies…

…as a consequence, his religious responses took on a deeper resonance, which seems to me especially evident in this excerpt taken from rav kuk’s commentary to the sabbath prayer book…

…as a drop of water from the ocean, as a spark from the flame of fire reaching to the heart of heaven, as one letter of a thick and mighty book, so are man’s expressions of earthly love esteemed also by this lofty soul…

…by dying for the sanctification of his name]only he could say, “all the world is not worth as much as the day on which the song of songs was given, for all the writings are holy, but the song of songs is the holy of holies…

…they who cannot see more in rabbi akiba than the passionate shepherd-lover of the daughter of calba shvua-they could never understand the impulse to that wondrous decision, that the song of songs is the holy of holies among all the other writings…

…he who is a donkey in the affairs of love will not be able to understand what the poets of love seek to express in their songs, and if he could degrade their longings to the level of his own gross feelings, he would do so happily…

…true, only he who at the moment when 333334 commentary they were tearing his flesh with iron combs called out, “all my life i was troubled about the commandment to love god with my whole soul, asking, when shall i be able to fulfill it…

…for him, rabbi akiba, a personal pure love, the love of his people, and the divine and holy love, were intertwined like “the tower of david, layer upon layer…

…the joy of visualizing the certain future so filled his pure heart that it left no room for sighs about the awful present, which he saw only as a passing cloud on the surface of the bright heavenly sun…

…rav kuk calls upon the manyfaceted life of rabbi akiba as proof of his argument-the akiba whose experience ranged from a tradition-breaking romance with his employer’s daughter, to torture and death by the romans for his political and religious activities…

…the absence of any overt religious references in it, together with its erotic imagery, has led many modern readers and scholars to regard the song as a collection of secular love poems…

…at the end of the 1st century, during the debates around the canonization of the bible, there were also rabbis who saw no reason for including these poems…

…only from the well of such a soul, who was able to surrender his life as he uttered the “one,” could the verdict come that “all the writings are holy, but the song of songs is the holy of holies…

…and if from the top of the tower a star is spied, glorious and beautiful, the pygmies scorn it, seeing nothing there…

…so, too, he whose heart is uncircumcised because he has not yet known the high reaches of holy thoughts, nor tasted the sweetness of love for the rock of all the worlds, such an ignorant and unwise man cannot conceive that the throng of yearnings which fill the song of songs comes out of a treasure stored up in the soul of the enaccepts the poem as an expression of secular love, but holds that this is only part of its meaning…

…the translation from the hebrew is my own…

…but he who has not been forgotten by god in his wisdom will recognize, and will sense, that it would have been impossible for the treasure of the holy writings of the holy people whose saga is permeated with the soul’s love for its rock and fortress, expressed, in the days of the people’s greatness, in deeds of grace and glory, and in the days of its poverty and afflictions, in rivers of blood, all quickening love, strengthening it, making it visible and feltit would have been unthinkable that these yearnings of love toward god should remain unrecorded in the book, the great compilation of all our holy meditations…

…to diminish the flame on any one level is to weaken the capacity of love on all levels…

…but the following commentary from rav kuk brings out what seems to me to be the uniquely jewish approach to the song…

…the greatness of abraham isaac kuk, former chief rabbi of palestine, was his own ability to function effectively on many levels, political, legalistic, mystical, etc…

…the church has similarly claimed that the poem is an allegory of love…

…herbert weiner tire people that was chosen by god for his sake and his witness, for he does not feel the absence of what he has not known…

…for akiba and for judaism, implies rav kuk, love is one flame expressing itself on many different levels…

…but how low are the pygmies, crawling about the lowest levels of the mist-wrapped tower, who measure its height, which reaches into the clouds, by the puny reach of their own hands, and who look up with their weak eyes…

…not only was it a holy book, he argued, but the holiest, for it was an expression of the love binding the community of israel to god…

…the church tends to disallow the meaning of the poem on any but a religious level…

…they who are pure of heart will see rabbi akiba in his full staturehe who laughed when he saw a fox walking out of the holy of holies of the destroyed temple, because to his gigantic soul the distant future was as visible as the presenthe who laughed when he heard the great noise of the roman crowds, for by the divine love which welled up from the depths of his soul’s wisdom, it was revealed to him, as in a living image, that rome and its idols would completely vanish, but the light of zion shine forever…

…it was rabbi akiba’s influence that carried the verdict…

 

So the first question of whether or not the lover in the “song” is god, has been answered by thousands of years of jewish and christian guru, shastra and sadhu.   Mundaners, outsiders and now modernists (like gordis) may deny that the poem refers to god, but the tradition of the jewish and catholic saints emphatically says it does !

Now to the identity of the catholic apostolic jesus, as opposed to all of the other ‘healers’ and saviors …

Regarding the existence and identity of jesus christ, first we must know that we have already committed a serious error if we think that there was / is only one jesus christ to investigate.  The fact is that before, during and after the emergence of jesus of bethlehem ephrata into history, there were numerous supposed christs (anointed saviors) called iasas, iason, joshua, yashas and related names in history and legend.  Iasas was one of the main by-names of asclepius, the great physician form of the second person of the godhead of the ancient krishna-vishnu-paramatma tradition. Asclepius iasas was no minor deity either, as all of humanity’s earliest and greatest centers of learning were at his places of worship, and were dedicated to him.   At these centers, which in the mediterranean region were clearly part of the rhodian tradition heliopolitan aslya federations, iasas was considered the lila ‘son of god’ on earth , but theologically he was identified with the second person of the heliopolitan godhead (bal, yahu, dionysos, osiris etc.)  Thus at delphi,

The “two brothers” helios (by the late name apollo) and dionysos were worshiped as two persons of the same godhead, and it was helios kouros (apollo is a by-name of kouros) who was the first person.  Dionysos was the supreme hierophant and spiritual master, initiator and savior-god of the mysteries of kouros-apollo.  On earth dionysos was incarnate as the spiritual master who led the chorus kyklos / chakra circle-dance of kouros-apollo and his milk maid girls korae, muses, nymphs, nyads, horae etc.  As kouros was the origin of all things, man and the ‘gods’, his supreme shekinah / heket / sekhet  (shakti) named rhoda was the origin of all the korae, muses goddesses etc. Both helios kouros and dionysos had their circle dances with these maidens and goddesses.  And in fact, they both had their sacred dances with their expansion cowherd boys / gods too, called kouroi.

All of helios worshipping mediterranean civilization revolved around the liturgical cycle of the feasts and fasts of helios-dionysos and their horae / korae etc.  Fraternities and sororities celebrated the love affairs of helios kouros and rhoda, and dionysos and the korae throughout the year.  Both the rigorous temple worship of king helios polieus basileos, and the ecstatic pastoral rites of kouros helios-dionysos (not to be confused with the late left hand tantric obscenities associated with the pseudo-dionysos or anti-christ traditions) were part of the same heliopolitan religion.    This comes through into catholicism as the tradition of god’s worship in awe and reverence in the heavenly jerusalem, and the tradition of god’s dance of divine love with his ‘brides’ (nymphia) in his eternal pastoral garden of paradise.

Anyone who has studied in-depth the heliopolitan monotheism of the orphics, pythagoreans or platonists, could recognise the two persons of this deity helios-dionysos as krishna and balarama, if they were familiar with our tradition of vaishnavism.    And in fact, dr. J. Stilson judah, my field faculty mentor for my master’s degree program, did recognize apollo-dionysus as krishna-balarama.  Dr. Judah was absolutely sure of this identification.  He had arrived at this conclusion himself over a lifetime, but had not assembled the evidence to prove it.  When i approached him about my long study of the connections between helios kouros-dionysus and krishna-balarama, he was thrilled, he actually wept tears of ecstasy and showed me that his hair was standing on end!   And although his dear wife was mortally ill, he then came out of retirement briefly to help me set up my master’s degree program, in which i specifically intended to prove by interdisciplinary evidence that the supreme heliopolitan godhead of the ancient mediterranean region was krishna-balarama-paramatma.

As a christian, who also loved krishna-balarama and radharani, and who venerated srila prabhupada, dr. Judah was especially thrilled by the evidence that i had, because he knew that asclepius-iasas was the most popular incarnation of dionysus !  Knowing that asclepius was ‘prophetically’ the catholic jesus christ, realization of this identity gave him the greatest joy.   The homeric polytheists, the jnani monists and pantheists and others of lesser realization may have had their lesser saviors or iasas-healers, but the asclepius-iasas christos of the great monotheistic heliopolitan asyla federations and university centers was clearly the jesus christ of catholic apostolic christian faith.  The lesser iasas-healers were mere mortals, demigods, ‘possessed’ or empowered ‘anointed ones’.  Only the iasas / jesus of the heliopolitan monotheists was the incarnate second person of the godhead.  Only he was “true god, from true god, mono genous (‘only begotten’ sole, alone, only generated), homo ousios ‘one in being’ with “the father”   through him all things were made, both spiritual and material.  The holy spirit (paramatma) proceeded from both he and the father!  He was the original spiritual master and initiator into the mysteries of divine love!  All revelation and all salvation was through him, because he was the cosmic sacrifice who reconciled all things unto god in his own mystical body.

If we honestly  compare the trinitarian theology of our tradition of vaishnavism to that of heliopolitan monotheism and catholicism, we will see that they are essentially the same.  This is what dr. Judah himself came to realize after a lifetime of study.   However vaishnavas have not been comparing these theologies. They have not compared the highest christology of the catholic apostolic jesus christ to that of asclepius-dionysus and balarama.   Instead they have compared the teachings of lesser jesuses to gaudiya vaishnava bhagavan-brahman-paramatma teachings. In the case of srila prabhupada’s disciples, they apparently did not engage srila prabhupada in any discussion of relevant catholic apostolic trinitarian theology.  It seems that they were more interested in neo-gnosticism and the ‘new age jesus’.  They only wanted to discuss lesser jesuses, and so since they were not prepared or apparently willing to dialogue with him on the highest christology of catholic apostolic guru, shastra and sadhu, he responded to them according to their readiness and willingness.

Puffed-up with a little knowledge about greek religion, some of srila prabhupada’s disciples presented themselves as knowledgeable about it to him, but they also completely failed to discuss with him the heliopolitan monotheism of rhodes and the mediterranean, even though ancient greek writers and modern scholars had previously suggested connections between heliopolitan religion and the worship of krishna and balarama.  One time i wanted to contact srila prabhupada about a 100 year old study that i found comparing apollo and the muses to krishna and the gopis, but these same puffed-up ‘scholar’ devotees created a wall around srila prabhupada, and did not allow me access to him.  When i wanted to dialogue with him about my research, i was told that it was nonsense ‘speculation’ and that i should not bother him by writing to him.  In the meantime senior devotees were publishing their own discourse with srila prabhupada.   Thus instead of getting srila prabhupada’s responses to and reflections on heliopolitan monotheism, and the catholic apostolic jesus, instead these leaders only gave us his responses to and reflections on what they presented as greek philosophy, religion and the judeo-christian tradition.  Thus it appears that srila prabhupada was never engaged by his disciples in any (recorded) meaningful discussion of vaishnava-related greek, jewish and catholic apostolic tradition.   Instead his opinion was sought regarding things like the (fraudulent) new age channeled ‘aquarian gospel’, and anti-catholic hate literature from the jehovah’s witnesses.  It seems that his own exposure to christianity was to protestantism.  So when we read his comments regarding jesus christ and christianity, we see a combination of responses to his disciples.  These responses range from rather main-stream protestant to neo-gnostic and new age.  What we don’t ever see is srila prabhupada comparing catholic trinitarian theology to bhagavan, balarama and paramatma.

The brahman may be a feature of lord baladeva, because sri krishna’s bodily effulgence is balarama, but the brahman is not either a person, or personal feature of the godhead.  The three kinds of god realization described as bhagavan, paramatman and brahman, are not analogous to the three persons of the godhead in catholic trinitarian theology.  The persons of the catholic godhead are each co-eternal omnipotent and omniscient persons.  There is such a thing as brahman realization in catholicism, but it is considered the lowest kind of spiritual awakening or mystical experience.  In catholicism there has been a lot written on this unitive experience of god’s pervasive spiritual ‘light’ in creation, but it is rightly not considered an experience of the personality of godhead.  Instead it is considered a form of nature (or natural) mysticism.  Neither is the so-called ‘trimurti’ of brahma, vishnu and shiva analogous to the catholic trinity.  These misconceptions have caused enormous confusion among hindus and vaishnavas. One must understand catholic trinitarian theology to properly make the comparisons.  The three persons of the catholic trinity are  historically and theologically related to krishna (bhagavan), baladeva and paramatma.  Of these three persons, the theology of baladeva is that of the catholic second person, who came to earth as jesus christ, god’s “only begotten (mono genous) son”.   This sonship is not at all like any other kind of ‘sonship’.  Rather catholic revelation clearly identifies jesus as uniquely the first, sole, singular and only generation (mono genous) or ‘expansion’ of god the father.

Please note that as the second person of the godhead, jesus christ is co-eternal with the father.  Thus among the ancient jews, bal (yahu, dionysus, osiris) was sometimes considered the brother or alter-form of eli (the supreme semitic and biblical father-god) and sometimes considered his son.   Sonship was often connected, as with asclepius iasas, with bal-yahu’s incarnation savior forms.

Try to see past the speculations of the below author to the essential  points regarding ‘apollo’ and dionysus.

http://www.geocities.com/cwye_888/apollo.html

The union of apollo and dionysos at delphi was a divine acknowledement of this. Despite the sharp opposition between their two realms, the two brothers were joined together by an eternal bond. ‘in apollo all of the splendour of the olympic converges and confronts the realms of eternal becoming and eternal passing. Apollo with dionysos, the intoxicated leader of the choral dance of the terrestrial sphere—that would give the total world dimension. In this union the dionysiac earthly duality would be elevated into a new and higher duality, the eternal contrast between a restless, whirling life and a still, far-seeing spirit.’ and the apollonian spirit would reach its noblest heights. Not only did apollo cede delphi to dionysos during the winter months but, as plutarch tells us, they both received high honours throughout the year. Indeed the pediments of apollo’s temple portray on one side apollo with leto, his mother, artemis and the muses, and on the other side dionysos with his raving maenads.

Even apollo’s handmaidens, the muses, the daughters of zeus and mnemosyne, are personifications of man’s highest intellectual and artistic aspirations and bear testimony to the essential interconnectedness of reason and intuition, clarity and vision. ‘our earliest education,’ says plato in the laws, ‘comes through the muses and apollo.’ and the nine muses—or simply ‘the nine’ as poets through the ages have called them—were the source of inspiration for scientists and historians, no less than for poets and artists. Urania was the muse of astronomy and astrology; clio, the muse of history; melpomene, the muse of tragedy; thalia the muse of comedy; terpsichore, the muse of choral song; calliope, the muse of epic poetry; erato, the muse of love poetry; euterpe, the muse of lyric poetry; and polythymnia, the muse of sacred poetry.

Did the stars and the tides and your own heart
dance with the heavenly nine?

Apollo may have been a distant god, but there was nothing distant about the muses: men’s hearts danced with them, men’s minds were inspired by them, men’s souls melted and their spirits soared through them. Apollo’s handmaidens wrought their effect on men in a way which was clearly dionysian.

Despite the mythological union of the two gods, the contrast between apollonian objective clarity and dionysian mystic exuberance remains a psychological reality that has dominated western history. Apollo may have been the god of the arts as well as science, of music and poetry as well as mathematics and medicine, but in our culture the split between the scientific and the unscientific, the objective and the subjective, has become absolute. Yet as all the great scientists would attest, there is nothing exclusively rational and objective about science. Imagination, intuition, inspiration, enthusiasm—all the dionysian elements of our being—are at least as important in scientific discovery as apollonian logic, discipline and clarity.

When descartes announced ‘i think, therefore i am’, and modern man rejected the dionysian element in the apollonian order, our culture became fatally fragmented. What was not ‘objective’ was automatically assumed to be untrue, reason’s march of conquest became a rout, and man, the self-reliant victor, was transformed into our century’s uprooted, haunted fugitive. The god of light and reason, disconnected from dionysos and the depths, became exhausted, and the exhaustion has spread over our apollonian world.

Regionally there were many non-bhakti jnani and even non-theistic groups which had their own versions of iasas.  There were mundane polytheists and impersonal pantheists who had their own ideas about iasas.   As the catholic tradition carried on the highest heliopolitan traditions of asclepius-iasas / jesus, the traditions of the lesser jesuses were carried on by the gnostics etc.    So, any attempt to arrive at a well-informed conclusion regarding the existence and identity of jesus christ, must first begin with the question of whose jesus we are discussing.  The jesus of the gnostics has now become the jesus of the new age movement, and the jesus of the new age influenced hare krishna movement.  This jesus is only a man, a jiva soul, a muslim-like prophet, an aryan ascended master, an essene, a jesus-seminar-like jewish rebel,  or at most the gnostic demi-urgos brahma, or an empowered jiva ‘shaktyavesha avatara’.  The character, attributes, activities / histories etc. Of these lesser jesuses has all been well defined by their respective promoters. Various devotees have promoted a variety of these lesser jesuses.  So if devotees want to discuss the muslim prophet jesus who is supposedly buried in kasmir, they should realize that is who / what they are discussing.  If they want to discuss the occult aryan jesus of theosophy and the later third reich, they should realize that is who / what they are discussing.  If they want to discuss the late concocted jesuses of levi, szekely, or joseph smith…by all means discuss them, but realize that is what / who is under discussion.  If the subject is the brahma-jesus, mere jiva-soul or shaktyavesha avatara of iskcon and the hare krishna movement, then discuss these jesuses, but do not confuse any of these lesser jesuses with the catholic apostolic jesus of heliopolitan monotheism and catholic guru, shastra and sadhu, because they are not at all the same jesuses.

Much more specificity is required.  A little knowledge can be a very dangerously confusing thing.

Wishing you all peace and prema,

Bhakti ananda goswami

 

 

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About Collected Works of Sri Bhakti Ananda Goswami

This site is a repository of the written work of Bhakti Ananda Goswami managed by one of his students, Vrndavan Brannon Parker. Bhakti Ananda Goswami is a practicing Catholic Hermit under private vows, and a Vedic Monk in the Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya-Vaishnava Lineage Tridanda Sannyasi and Siksha (Instructing) Master. His research provides the evidence proving that at the ultimate source there is only One Religion and Divinity yet there are multiple expressions of that religion and Divinity. Read the various collected articles on this site revealing that ancient Humanity was highly evolved and motivated by transcendent and life affirming impulses leading to High Civilization. (Please Note that this site is not maintained and updated by Bhakti Ananda Goswami himself but is managed by one of his students. Though he does scan the site he is not always able to respond to messages or comments.)

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