The Rasa-Lila Dance: Caroling the Hora – Part 1 An Introduction to Radha-Krishna’s Dance of Divine Love in the Garden of Paradise in Biblical Traditions

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HARE KRISHNA !

SRI SRI GURU AND GAURANGA KI JAYA !

DEAR FRIENDS,

PLEASE ACCEPT MY HUMBLE OBEISANCES.

(PLEASE FORGIVE THE ALL-UPPER CASE, AS I HAVE TROUBLE SEEING SMALL LETTERS ON MY MONITOR.)

SRI SRI RADHA-KRISHNA AND SRI RADHA’S ‘EXPANSIONS’, AND BALARAMA (SRI KRISHNA’S FIRST ‘EXPANSION’), ARE AT THE HEART OF HUMANITY’S DIVINE LOVE ‘BRIDAL MYSTICISM’ TRADITIONS. THUS IT WOULD SEEM REASONABLE TO EXPECT TO FIND EVIDENCE OF THEIR ‘RASA LILA’ DANCE-OF-DIVINE-LOVE IN THE VAISHNAVA-RELATED OTHER GREAT BHAKTI TRADITIONS. IN THE LATE 1960S I BEGAN A STUDY OF ‘CAROLING’ AND THE SACRED DANCE IN CATHOLIC, GRECO-ROMAN, JEWISH AND OTHER ANCIENT DEVOTIONAL TRADITIONS. ON THIS THREAD I WILL TRY TO PRESENT A LITTLE SUMMARY INTRODUCTION TO MY LONG STUDY OF THIS VERY IMPORTANT SUBJECT.

IN 1982 AND 83 I COMPLETED AN INTERDISCIPLINARY B.A. DEGREE PROJECT AT THE HIGHLY RESPECTED CATHOLIC INSTITUTION, MARYLHURST COLLEGE / UNIVERSITY IN LAKE OSWEGO, OREGON USA. ALMOST ALL OF MY LAST THREE YEARS OF CREDITS WERE FOR GRADUATE-LEVEL WORK. I WAS TRYING TO CREATE A CURRICULUM IN COMPARATIVE BHAKTI TRADITION STUDIES. TO THIS END, I HAD DESIGNED AND FULFILLED A NUMBER OF INDEPENDENT AND DIRECTED STUDY COURSE CONTRACTS WITH THE HUMANITIES DEPARTMENT AT MARYLHURST. I ALSO COMPLETED A ‘PRIOR LEARNING EXPERIENCE’ (PLE) PORTFOLIO, IN WHICH I ESSENTIALLY CHALLENGED COMPARABLE GRADUATE-LEVEL UNIVERSITY COURSES IN AREAS OF KNOWLEDGE IN WHICH I HAD ALREADY GAINED EXPERTISE.

TWO OF THESE AREAS WERE IN THE MUSICOLOGY DEPARTMENT. ONE WAS ON THE HISTORY, THEOLOGY AND STRUCTURE OF BLACK SPIRITUALS COMPARED WITH THE FORMAL HYMNOLOGY OF ‘HIGH CHURCH’ MUSIC IN NORTHERN PROTESTANT AND SOUTHERN CATHOLIC EUROPE. BOTH OF THESE TRADITIONS I THEN COMPARED TO THE THEOLOGY AND STRUCTURE OF BENGALI AND SANSKRIT VAISHNAVA HYMNS. I ALSO COMPLETED A SERIES OF PERFORMANCE TAPES ON THIS PROJECT. ALTHOUGH THESE TAPES HAVE BEEN LOST, SOME PRACTICE TAPES WITH THE RELATED LECTURES MAY STILL EXIST. I AM TRYING TO LOCATE THESE, AND HOPE THAT THE NEW DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY CAN CLEAN THEM UP AND MAKE THEM USEFUL TO THE DEVOTEES.

IT IS DOUBTFUL THAT I COULD RECREATE THIS PROJECT, AS MY POST-POLIO HAS NOW PROGRESSED TO THE POINT THAT MY ABILITY TO SPEAK AND SING IS QUITE LIMITED BY NEUROMUSCULAR EXHAUSTION PROBLEMS. FOR INSTANCE AFTER SEVERAL WEEKS OF LECTURING LAST YEAR, I LOST MY VOICE FOR SEVERAL MONTHS. AT ONE POINT THE PROGNOSIS WAS PERMANENT VOICE LOSS. IT TOOK MONTHS OF THERAPY WITH A VOICE SPECIALIST TO GET ANY VOCAL CHORD USE BACK. I HAVE A NEW VOICE NOW, BUT IT IS SUBJECT TO EASY LOSS, SO I AM PRAYING THAT I CAN LOCATE SOME OLD TAPES TO MAKE AVAILABLE TO THE DEVOTEES MY DEGREE WORK ON HYMNS AND BHAJANS.

THE SECOND MUSICOLOGY P.L.E. RESEARCH PROJECT I RECEIVED CREDIT FOR WAS A SUMMARY OF MY LONG STUDY OF THE HISTORY OF CAROLING.

THE ENGLISH WORD ‘CAROL’ COMES ORIGINALLY FROM A COMPOUND OF THE TWO GREEK WORDS CHORUS AND AULOS. THE CHORUS WAS ORIGINALLY THE CIRCLE DANCE OF HELIOS KOUROS. ITS NAME WAS A PUN ON HIS NAME ‘KOUROS’ AS THE ORIGINAL YOUTH. AULOS MEANS ‘FLUTE’. SO THE LEADER OF THE SACRED CIRCLE DANCE WAS CALLED CHORU-AULOS OR CHORUALES, THE FLUTE-CIRCLE DANCER. GOD WAS THE CHOREAGOS (CHOREOGRAPHER) OR ‘LEADER OF THE DANCE’. CATHOLIC TRADITION CONTINUED BOTH THE CIRCLE DANCE OF GOD WITH THE ANGELS AND SAINTS IN PARADISE, AND THE CONCEPT OF GOD AS THE CHOREAGOS. IN LATE USE, THE WORD ‘CAROL’ REFERRED TO SACRED SINGING AND DANCING WITH A FLUTE. PUBLIC AND DOOR-TO-DOOR CAROLING WAS AN EXTREMELY IMPORTANT PART OF POPULAR EUROPEAN CATHOLIC DEVOTION FOR CENTURIES.

THE PROTESTANT ‘REFORMERS’ RUTHLESSLY TRIED TO WIPE-OUT THIS 365-DAY-A-YEAR CAROLING PRACTICE. IN THE CATHOLIC ‘COUNTER REFORMATION’ CAROLING ALSO FELL INTO DISUSE, SO THAT NOW THE RESULT IS THAT CAROLING IS ONLY ASSOCIATED WITH ‘CHRISTMAS CAROLING’. IN MY STUDY I TRACED THIS HISTORY OF ‘CAROLING’ ALL THE WAY FROM ANCIENT GREECE, IN THE WORSHIP OF HELIOS AND DIONYSOS, TO MODERN ‘CHRISTMAS CAROLING’.

BELOW IS THE MARYLHURST MUSIC DEPARTMENT HEAD’S OFFICIAL STATEMENT REGARDING HER AWARD OF CREDIT TO ME FOR MY PLE PRESENTATIONS ON THESE TWO STUDIES.

 


 

MARYLHURST EDUCATION CENTER PRIOR LEARNING EXPERIENCE PORTFOLIO EVALUATION

Student’s Name, Sherman, David

Evaluator’s Name, Sister Lucie Hutchinson

Evaluator’s Area of Specialization Music

General comments on the overall competency demonstrated by the student, incomplete or unsatisfactory sections, areas of learning which overlap :

This student shows overall excellence in his research, presentation, [and] in-depth knowledge of his subject. He approaches his subject from several points of view and from several disciplines, thus strengthening the value of his content and the interest in his presentation.

Scholars such as this are few and far between in an undergraduate program. I’d like to congratulate him and express my great interest in his work from the point of view of a teacher and a musicologist.”

 


Sister Lucie awarded me 6 497 graduate-level PLE credits for my two music studies. THIS WAS THE EQUIVALENT OF CREDIT FOR TWO FULL TIME GRADUATE LEVEL SEMESTER CLASSES.

 

It should be noted that the Music Department at Marylhurst was quite famous and Sister Lucie was very highly regarded as its Head.

I have included this reference to my credentials at the outset, because my work has long been ignored and suppressed by persons opposed to Judaism and Christianity.

THESE ADVERSARIAL PERSONS HAVE TRIED TO DISCREDIT MY FINDINGS BY POINTING OUT THAT I HAVE NO CURRENT ACADEMIC STANDING OR PUBLICATIONS. THEY NEVER HAVE SERIOUSLY CONSIDERED OR ATTEMPTED TO VERIFY ANYTHING THAT I HAVE SAID IN 30 + YEARS, AND THUS THEMSELVES HAVE SHUNNED ME FROM VAISHNAVA ACADEMIC RECOGNITION. THUS I AM NOW TRYING TO TAKE MY FINDINGS DIRECTLY TO THE ‘RANK AND FILE’ DEVOTEES. SO, I HAVE INCLUDED HERE SISTER LUCIE’S FORMAL EVALUATION OF THE INFORMATION YOU ARE ABOUT TO READ.

THE BELOW IS EXCERPTED FROM MY RECENT CORRESPONDENCE WITH A FORMER CATHOLIC MONK.

MY COMMENTS ARE IN UPPER CASE.

 


[former monk]…

 

For me personally, the most PRACTICAL connection is with/via the figure of ….

Of course, I then set about researching this figure/these figures at a level that led me beyond my school days’ conditioning.

AH ! THE RETINUE OF DIONYSOS (BAAL-THEOS, BALA-DEVA), OUR LORD AND SAVIOR !

I have, in the last week, found some very interesting material on the subject of “the sacred dance” in the history of the Church. I will send it to you in the next few days. Of course, you may already be cognizant of it.

GREAT ! IT HAS BEEN VERY EASY TO CENSURE AND SILENCE ME ALL THESE YEARS, BUT AS MANY DEVOTEES DISCOVER FOR THEMSELVES THAT EVERYTHING I HAVE BEEN SAYING IS TRUE, THEY WILL CREATE A MOVEMENT WHICH CANNOT BE SILENCED !

IN 1983 I RECEIVED MY BA DEGREE. FOR IT I HAD CREATED A NUMBER OF GRADUATE-LEVEL ‘PRIOR LEARNING EXPERIENCE’ COURSE CHALLENGES. ONE OF THESE WAS A MUSICOLOGY DEPARTMENT PRESENTATION OF MY LONG RESEARCH PROJECT ON THE HISTORY OF CAROLING. IN THIS STUDY I TRACED ‘CHOIR’ AND ‘CAROLING’ IN THE HISTORY OF CATHOLICISM BACK THROUGH THE PROTO CATHOLIC ASYLA FEDERATIONS TO THE CIRCLE-DANCE AND KOUROI – KORAE REVELRY OF THE WORSHIP OF HELIOS-DIONYSOS AND RHODA-KORE. THEN I CONNECTED THESE WESTERN TRADITIONS WITH THOSE OF THE RASA LILA AND KIRTAN IN KRISHNA-BALARAMA AND RADHA CENTRIC VAISHNAVISM.

IN LATE ‘CLASSICAL’ ART AND ‘MYTH’ THIS TRADITION IS PRESERVED IN SEVERAL WAYS. ONE WAY IS IN THE MYTHIC FRAGMENT AND IMAGE OF KOUROS-APOLLO’S CIRCLE-DANCE WITH THE MUSES, NYMPHS, HORAE, GRACES, CHARITIES ETC. ON MOUNT PARNASSUS. THIS IS RELATED OF COURSE TO KRISHNA’S CIRCLE/ CYCLE / CHAKRA DANCE WITH THE GOPIS. ANOTHER WAY IS THE KOUROS / CHORUS / CHORU-AULOS /CAROL DANCE ASSOCIATED WITH DIONYSOS AND THE MAENADS OR BACCHAE / BACCHANTS. THE BACCHANALIA OF COURSE IS ONE COMPLETELY CORRUPTED LEFT-HAND-TANTRIC VERSION OF BAAL-DIONYSOS / BALADEVA’S RASA LILA. A THIRD WAY IS THE ALL-MALE REVELRY OF HELIOS-DIONYSOS WITH THEIR KOUROI EXPANSIONS. THIS TAKES THE FORM OF BOTH PASTORAL AND MARTIAL DANCING. THE LAST WAY IS THE ALL-KORAE DANCE IN WHICH THE MAIDENS MEMORIALIZE THEIR PASTIMES WITH THE LORD IN HIS ABSENCE. ALL OF THESE FORMS OF THE SACRED DANCE HAVE THEIR HISTORICAL AND THEOLOGICAL PARALLELS IN INDIA IN KRISHNA-BALARAMA AND RADHA CENTRIC VAISHNAVISM.

IN THE MEDITERRANEAN AND EUROPE, THE HELIOPOLITAN LITURGICAL YEAR REVOLVED AROUND THESE SACRED DANCES AND THEIR RELATED SEASONAL FESTIVALS. THESE PERSISTED LONG IN THE CULTURE IN VARIOUS WAYS. ONE OF THE MOST PROMINENT IS IN THE HIEROGAMOS SACRED WEDDING OF KRISHNA AND TULASI OR RADHA AS ‘THE QUEEN OF HEAVEN’ OR ‘QUEEN OF THE MAY’. THIS GREAT SPRING FESTIVAL OF THE CIRCLE DANCE (WITH OR WITH-OUT THE ‘MAY POLE’) HAS RETAINED ITS SACRED BRIDAL-MYSTICISM CHARACTER IN OLD-FASHIONED CATHOLIC REGIONS, WHERE MARY IS CROWNED THE QUEEN OF HEAVEN AND QUEEN OF THE MAY, AND THE ENTIRE FESTIVAL REVOLVES AROUND HER HIEROGAMOS RELATED MYSTERIES. MARY IN HER WORSHIP AS THE ‘MYSTICAL ROSE’ IS RHODA / RADHA, AND AS ‘MOTHER MOST TOLERANT’, THE ONLY REFUGE OF PRIEST (CHRIST) SLAYERS, SHE IS TULASI, THE SOLE REFUGE OF BRAHMIN-KILLERS. (THE ‘TOL’ IN ‘TOLERANT’ AND ‘TULASI’ ARE LINGUISTICALLY RELATED.) AS THE QUEEN OF THE MAY, MARY IS FLORA-MAY (ROMAN FLOS -MAIA) WHICH IS ANOTHER NAME OF TULASI AS THE LILA SHAKTI OF THE SUPREME ABODE. FLOS-MAIA IS PUSHPA-MAYI TULASI. TULASI IS OF COURSE A PRIMARY ‘EXPANSION’, PERSON OR ‘FORM’ OF RADHA HERSELF.

IN VAISHNAVISM THERE ARE VARIOUS TRADITIONS OF TULASI, SOME OF THEM MORE CLOSELY ASSOCIATED WITH RADHA AND OTHERS WITH LAKSHMI, SRI OR NARAYANI (MARIAM). (NARI = MARY.) IN ONE TRADITION, RADHA HERSELF ARRANGES THE MARRIAGE OF TULASI AND KRISHNA !!! THIS HIERO-GAMOS (SACRED WEDDING) FESTIVAL IS ASSOCIATED IN SOME PLACES IN EUROPE WITH MARY’S ‘MAY QUEEN’ PUSHPA -MAYI / FLOS-MAIA / MAY-FLOWER ‘BRIDAL MYSTICISM’ FESTIVAL.

THE ELECTED OR CHOSEN ‘KING AND QUEEN’ OF THE MAY, PLAY THE ROLES OF HELIOS KOUROS AND KORE. THEIR RETINUE ‘COURTS’ ARE THE KOUROI AND KORAE, AND THE CLIMAX OF THEIR LITURGICAL YEAR OF ‘REIGNING’ IS THEIR DAY AND BON-FIRE LIT MOON-NIGHT MAY DANCE REVELRY. SACRAMENTAL OR SACRED MARRIAGE IN THE CATHOLIC TRADITION IS ENTIRELY CONNECTED TO THE ANCIENT HIEROGAMOS TRADITIONS OF KOUROS AND KORE. THUS THE MAY FESTIVAL AND RELATED SACRAMENTAL SPRING WEDDINGS AND THE ‘HONEY MOON’ ARE ALL PART OF THE WHOLE MEDITERRANEAN AND EUROPEAN CULTURES’ COMMEMORATION / CELEBRATION OF THE LOVE SPORT AND FINAL ‘RASA LILA’ OF THE ORIGINAL DIVINE MEGHISTOS KOUROS AND KORES’ LOVE AFFAIR.

THERE ARE VOLUMES WORTH OF NECTAR WHICH COULD BE SPOKEN ON THE RASA LILA AND KIRTAN TRADITIONS IN VAISHNAVA RELATED DEVOTIONAL RELIGIONS. I AM CERTAINLY INADEQUATE TO THE TASK, BUT SOMEHOW I MUST TRY DESPITE ALL OPPOSITION.

MAY SRI SRI GURU AND GAURANGA BLESS AND PROTECT ME AS I TRY TO INTRODUCE THIS SUBJECT FOR THE EDIFICATION OF ALL THEIR DEVOTEES.

AMEN AUM & HARE KRISHNA !

YOUR ASPIRING SERVANT, 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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