HARE KRISHNA !
I HAVE BEEN A SANNYASI SHIKSHA (INSTRUCTING) MASTER FOR TEN YEARS NOW. SINCE I HAVE NEVER WANTED FOLLOWERS OR FANS, BY LORD BALADEVA’S MERCY I HAVE AVOIDED THE WHOLE PATHOLOGY OF THE DISTORTED MODERN GURU-DISCIPLE SYNDROME. INSTEAD I HAVE BEEN BLESSED WITH FRIENDS AROUND THE WORLD, AND I AM KNOWN FOR MY BHAKTI (LOVING DEVOTION) IN THE BALADEVA SAKHYA-RASA OR CHIVALROUS PROTECTIVE FLAVOR OF FRATERNAL LOVE. MANY OF MY FRIENDS RELATE TO ME AS AN OLDER BROTHER OF SORTS, BUT I AM ALSO RESPECTED AS SOMEWHAT OF A KSHATRIYA BY NATURE, FOR MY NATURAL PROTECTIVENESS AND MY STRONG AND UNCOMPROMISING OPPOSITION TO UNTRUTHFULNESS, SPIRITUAL AND RELIGIOUS FRAUD AND DECEPTION, AND TO VARIOUS FORMS OF OPPRESSION AND EXPLOITATION IN THE NAME OF GOD, RELIGION OR ‘SPIRITUALITY’.
I READILY CONFESS THAT I AM NOT A BRAHMANA BY NATURE, AND THAT MY PREDOMINANT DEVOTIONAL RASA IS NOT GOPI-BHAVA. THUS I AM NOT IN COMPETITION WITH THE MANY OTHER GURUS IN OUR LINEAGE WHO PRESENT THEMSELVES AS TEACHERS OF THE HIGHEST ESOTERIC SAKHI-FLAVORED DEVOTION. I AM CONTENT TO MEDITATE ON AND PREACH ABOUT SRI KRISHNA AND LORD BALARAMA AND SRIMATI RADHARANI FROM A LESS EXALTED THEOLOGICAL AND EVEN HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE. SRILA PRABHUPADA TAUGHT THAT WE SHOULD STUDY THE BHAGAVAD-GITA FIRST, THEN SRIMAD BHAGAVATAM AND THEN CHAITANYA-CHARITAMRITA. HE CAUTIONED US NOT TO TRY TO JUMP AHEAD TO THE ESOTERIC STUDY OF THE GOPI RASA, WITHOUT PROPER SPIRITUAL PREPARATION BEFORE. HE ALSO EXPLAINED THAT THERE ARE A VARIETY OF RELATIONSHIPS WITH SRI KRISHNA IN TRANSCENDENCE.
I HAVE TAKEN HIS INSTRUCTION IN THESE MATTERS VERY SERIOUSLY, AND HAVE THUS FOCUSED MY OWN SADHANA APPROPRIATELY ACCORDING TO MY OWN SPIRITUAL NATURE. BECAUSE OF THIS FOCUS, I HAVE DEVELOPED A DEVOTIONAL DESIRE TO CULTIVATE LOVING RELATIONSHIPS IN A SIBLING-LIKE MOOD OF FRIENDSHIP WITH MY GODBROTHERS AND GODSISTERS AND OTHER BEINGS. RELATIVE TO THIS, MY PREACHING MINISTRY HAS A DIFFERENT EMPHASIS THAN THAT OF OTHER GAUDIYA LINEAGE SANNYASIS. FROM MY PERSPECTIVE, I SEE THAT SOME PEOPLE ARE NEGLECTING THE WORSHIP OF LORD BALADEVA AND THUS IN GENERAL DO NOT KNOW HOW TO HAVE FRIENDLY AND FAMILIAL RELATIONS. FOR THIS REASON, I THINK THAT IT IS IMPORTANT FOR SUCH PEOPLE TO TRY TO LEARN SOMETHING ABOUT LOVE IN THE FLAVOR OF FRIENDSHIP, BEFORE THEY TRY TO JUMP AHEAD TO GOPI BHAVA. ALSO, ONE SHOULD NOT ARTIFICIALLY ASPIRE TO ENTER THE CAMP OF THE GOPIS, BECAUSE IT IS THE PLACE FOR THE ‘HIGHEST’ EXPERIENCE OF GOD. WE ARE NOT ALL GOPIS IN TRANSCENDENCE, BUT WHATEVER WE ARE, WE ARE PERFECTLY SATISFIED IN OUR LOVING RELATIONSHIP WITH GODHEAD. EVEN IF WE DO BELONG IN THE ASSOCIATION OF THE EXHALTED GOPIS, WE MUST REALIZE THAT WHILE ALL OF THE GOPIS LOVE KRISHNA, THEY ALSO LOVE SRIMATI RADHARANI AND EACH OTHER TOO ! THIS FRIENDSHIP ASPECT OF THEIR DEVOTION NEEDS TO BE DEVELOPED WITHIN OUR SOCIETY, OR JEALOUSY AND RIVALRY FOR SRI KRISHNA’S ATTENTION AND AFFECTION WILL DISTURB THE LOVING RELATIONS IN OUR SOCIETY.
True Love is Divine, and raises us up to the Transcendent Presence of GODHEAD. Real Love engages us in God-Ess’s eternal LILA of relational play, in the bliss of Their Personal Beingness. Let us contemplate this HOLY TRUE LOVE, and how we can live in the rarified state of it both here and hereafter, through, with, in and by the GRACE of God-Ess, Love’s Ultimate Source and Object.
THE SUPREME PERSONALITY OF LOVE
GOD IS LOVE. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN ? GOD HAS BEEN CALLED AGAPE, AHABHA, KANA / KAMA, EROS, AND IDENTIFIED WITH PHILOS, AND CHARITAS. HE HAS BEEN CALLED THE BRIDEGROOM OF ALL SOULS, AND THE TRANSCENDENTAL CUPID. THE SPIRITUAL MASTER HAS BEEN LIKENED TO A MATCH-MAKER BETWEEN SOULS AND GOD. THE MASTER, (LIKE THE HELIOPOLITAN HIEROPHANT OF OLD), EVEN ARRANGES FOR THE PERFECTION OF RADHA AND KRISHNA’S LOVING AFFAIRS WITHIN THE GROVES OF THE TRANSCENDENTAL PARADISE OF VRINDAVANA !
PLATONIC TRANSCENDENTAL IDEALISM WAS CENTERED ON THE WORSHIP OF HELIOS. THUS THE SUPREME GOD AS EROS IN PLATONISM IS KRISHNA, THE KOUROS OR ORIGINAL FORM OF HELIOS. IN THIS LETTER I AM NOT GOING TO GO INTO A LOT OF LINGUISTIC ANALYSIS OF THESE WORDS FOR LOVE WHICH ARE ALSO NAMES OF GOD. INSTEAD I WANT TO SPEAK ABOUT GOD AS LOVE, GOD’S LOVE AND THE LOVE OF GOD IN A MORE ‘PASTORAL’ WAY. I WANT TO SHARE SOME ANCIENT WORDS ABOUT GOD AS LOVE, AND SOME OF MY OWN THOUGHTS AND REALIZATIONS ON THE SUBJECT.
TO THE ALVAR SAINTS, SRI KRISHNA WAS KNOWN AS KANAN OR KANA. THIS IS THE SAME SANSKRIT WORD AS KAMA, BUT THE ALVAR SAINTS’ USE OF IT SHOULD NOT BE CONFUSED WITH LEFT HAND TANTRISM AND THE TANTRIC “KAMA SUTRA”. INSTEAD, WE SHOULD REALIZE THAT THE ORIGINAL KAMADEVA LOVE-GOD OF THE VEDIC AGE AND PRE-HISTORY WAS SRI KRISHNA. HE WAS AND IS RASA RAJA, THE KING OF ALL RASAS OR FLAVORS OF TRUE LOVE !
IN THE FOLLOWING HYMN FROM THE ATHARVA VEDA, WE SEE KRISHNA AS KAMA / LOVE , AS GREATER THAN ALL OF THE GODS.
(THE INTERNET SITE REFERENCE IS LISTED BELOW THE READING)
LOVE IN THE ATHARVAVEDA (IX, 2)
Prayer to Kama (Love), personified as a primordial power.
To the bull that slays the enemy, to Kama, do I render tribute with ghee, oblation, and (sacrificial) melted butter. Do thou, since thou hast been extolled, hurl down my enemies by thy great might!
The evil dream which is offensive to my mind and eye, which harasses and does not please me, that (dream) do I let loose upon my enemy. Having praised Kama may I prevail!
Evil dreams, O Kama, and misfortune, O Kama, childlessness, ill-health, and trouble, do thou, a strong lord, let loose upon him that designs evil against us!
Drive them away, O Kama, thrust them away, O Kama; may they that are my enemies fall into trouble! When they have been driven into the nethermost darkness, do thou, O Agni, burn up their d welling- places!
That milch-cow, O Kama, whom the sages call Vak Virag (ruling, or resplendent speech), is said to be thy daughter; by her drive away my enemies; breath, cattle, and life shall give them a wide birth!
With the strength of Kama, Indra, king Varuna, and Vishnu, with the impelling force (savena) of Savitar, with the priestly power of Agni, do I drive forth the enemies, as a skilled steersman a boat.
My sturdy guardian, strong Kama, shall procure for me full freedom from enmity! May the gods collectively be my refuge, may all the gods respond to this, my invocation!
Taking pleasure in this (sacrificial) melted butter and ghee, do ye, (O gods), of whom Kama is the highest, be joyful in this place, procuring for me full freedom from enmity!
Kama was born at first; him neither the gods, nor the Fathers, nor men have equaled. To these art thou superior, and ever great; to thee, O Kama, do I verily offer reverence.
As great as are the heavens and earth in extent, as far as the waters have swept, as far as fire; to these art thou superior, etc.
Great as are the directions (of space) and the intermediate direction on either side, great as are the regions and the vistas of the sky; to these art thou superior, etc.
As many bees, bats, kururu-worms, as many vaghas and tree-serpents as there are; to these art thou superior, etc.
Superior art thou to all that winks (lives), superior to all that stands still (is not alive), superior to the ocean art thou, O Kama, Manyu! To these art thou superior, etc.
Not, surely, does the wind equal Kama, not the fire, not the sun, and not the moon. To these art thou superior, etc.
With those auspicious and gracious forms of thine, O Kama, through which what thou willst becometh real, with these do thou enter into us, and elsewhere send the evil thoughts!
LOVE AS EROS IN PLATONIC HELIOS WORSHIP
“Plato”, Symposium, (page 187, 1969 Classics Club Edition) Walter J. Black.
Excerpt from Agathon on Eros (GOD as LOVE)
“…I say of Love that he is the fairest and the best in himself, and the cause of what is fairest and best in all other things…This is he who empties men of disaffection and fills them with affection, who makes them to meet together at banquets such as these: in sacrifices, feasts, dances, he is our lord – who sends courtesy and sends away discourtesy, who gives kindness ever and never gives unkindness; the friend of the good, the wonder of the wise, the amazement of the gods; desired by those who have no part in him, and precious to those who have the better part in him; parent of delicacy, luxury, desire, fondness, softness, grace; regardful of the good, regardless of evil: in every word, work, wish, fear, – savior, pilot, comrade, helper; glory of gods and men, leader best and brightest: in whose footsteps let every man follow, sweetly singing in his honor and joining in that sweet strain with which Love charms the souls of gods and men.”
Some Considerations Regarding Love / Eros in the Writings of Plato
The first extensive modern analysis of the worship of Meghistos Kouros (the Greatest Youth) and His Friends, was done by the famous Classicist Jane Harrison, in her book “THEMIS: A Study of the Social Origins of Greek Religion”. For a view into how Meghistos Kouros was actually understood in circa 400 BC Greece, I suggest reading Plato’s SYMPOSIUM (quoted above), in which LOVE is glorified as the original and greatest of all the gods and spirits. In this dialogue, various views of the SUPREME SPIRIT LOVE are expressed. One should realize that the Platonists were Helios worshipers, and Helios was ALWAYS WORSHIPED AS MEGHISTOS KOUROS (the Transcendent Ideal of Youthful Beauty) in ‘Bridal Mysticism’, as the Supreme Source and Object of Love. Knowing this, it is clear that the Beloved Deity EROS, The Supreme God and Spirit of the Symposium dialogue is Kouros-Eros as Krishna Kana. The ancients in fact identified Cupid with Eros, and Eros with Kamadeva, however our modern ideas of Cupid, Eros and Kama are pretty much all corrupt. In India Kama has become associated with the “KAMA SUTRA”, and in the west, Eros or Cupid is now generally thought of as a fat little ‘cherubic’ infant with a bow and arrows. To get past these nonsense corruptions to the earlier traditions about God as Love, we need to know where to look.
First we can recognize that the Name EROS is related to KOUROS, HORUS, KYRIOS and HELIOS. There are other clues to His identity, like His bow. The arrow is the ray-shaft of the Sun and also the ‘weapon’ of God, which he uses to wound a heart with Love. This is why the late syncretic Apollo has a bow. He has inherited it from Krishna Kana / Eros. Apollo has also inherited the Nymphs, Muses, Graces, etc. of Helios and the Psyche (soul) beloved of Eros / Helios Kouros. To understand more about how the Helios-worshiping Greek Monotheists worshiped God (Helios Kouros) as LOVE, read “EROS UNVEILED: Plato and the God of Love” by Catherine Osborne, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994. The 1992 Lonergan’s Lectures Perspectives tape series by Prof. Bernard McGinn (University of Chicago) is also an excellent source for more understanding of the Platonic worship of God as Love. These Lectures are entitled 1) God as Eros, 2) The Transformations of Eros: Mystical Uses, 3) Topics of Desire, and 4) Panel Discussion; Eros in Christian Theology and Mysticism.
Plato’s SYMPOSIUM is the starting place for the Classical and Platonist Christian dialogue on God as The Spirit of Love.
Some devotees may have difficulty with SYMPOSIUM, because of several of the participants (which include homosexuals), and opinions in this wide-ranging dialogue on love. For them, I recommend focusing on the theology of the all-attractive BELOVED HIMSELF, expressed in the exchange between Agathon and Socrates. It is the First Person of the Godhead that Agathon describes as ALL ATTRACTIVE. At one point in the dialogue, Agathon has raised the discussion up from the level of the mundane analysis of love, to the contemplation of the SUPREME BELOVED HIMSELF. However, in his typical fashion with questions, Socrates challenges Agathon to explore the less obvious Form of Love as well. The Personality of Love at first described by Agathon is EROS, Who is the Lover of the always FEMININE SOUL, PSYCHE. As the Lover of Psyche, He is also the Beloved of all beings. Thus we can easily see the parallel to the Vaishnava theology of the jivatma as feminine in relationship to Krishna, and Krishna as the Love Object of all souls. Then Socrates challenges Agathon to consider Love in His Unlovable Form. This is clearly to get Agathon and the others (and us) to realize that True Love may forsake His own beauty and power, even to the point of becoming a despised and rejected thing for His beloved. Thus Socrates juxtaposes the all-desired Love / Eros with the rejected and despised Personality of Love. If one realizes that Socrates was a worshiper of Asclepius, this Christological Figure of rejected Love is then understandable. Socrates was speaking of the Human-Divine Second Person of the Godhead in the Heliopolitan Tradition. Asclepius (Iasas / Jesus) even descended to the dead for saving His beloved souls. Socrates himself would be condemned to die for Love’s sake, so he well understood the kind of sacrifice he was describing. To understand the ancient worship of Krishna and Balarama in the Mediterranean, among the Greek authors, one must read Plato, and understand something about his Helios-centered Monotheism.
The problematic aspect of SYMPOSIUM, regarding the issue of possible rasabhasa in same-sex friendships, needs to be considered in the light of the following theological premise. To the Helios-Eros worshiping Greeks, all souls / psyches were feminine in relationship to God as Eros. The entire SYMPOSIUM discussion about Love refers to the soul in the Feminine. This idea of the feminine soul pervaded Greek society, and must be remembered when reading Plato and other Greek writers of his time. In fact, 40 times the word ‘psyche’ is translated as ‘life’ in the New Testament, and it is translated as ‘soul’ 58 times…all in the feminine gender. These souls are to be the ‘brides’ of Christ. In both Platonism and the Bible, Wisdom / Sophia (Hebrew Chokmah or Shekinah) was also considered as a Feminine Being. The finite jivatma soul is always a receiver (feminine) in Vaishnava Theology. Like Sophia, Saraswati, a Shakti of Vishnu, is the Patroness of wisdom and knowledge. Understanding such things about the Mediterranean Traditions can help us to discuss difficult Vaishnava-Judeo-Catholic and Sufi comparative issues more intelligently. The Nectar of Devotion does not shy away from discussing the difficult issues of rasabhasa, so we should not be afraid to analyze them either. Such examination can help us to better understand pure love, and to purify our own loving of any form of rasabhasa.