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Murali Vilasa, Vamsi Siksha and the Rasaraja Concept - Ramakanta Chakravarti
Jagat - Tue, 06 Jul 2004 23:39:15 +0530
The following is taken from "Vaishnavism in Bengal" by R.K. Chakravarti (Calcutta: Sanskrit Pustak Bhandar, 1985), pp. 257-274.
Towards the end of the sixteenth century, a powerful Vaishnava center evolved in the bush-covered and desolate Baghnapara are of Kalna subdivision. The center developed a distinct theology which was linked with the ideas of the Vrindavan Goswamis, but which yet sound at least partly deviant with a Tantrika Sahajiya undertone. The Baghnapara Vaishnavas claimed a special relation with the Vaishnavas of the Nityananda branch. In fact, Ramachandra, the founding father of the Baghnapara center, was a foster child of Jahnava Devi.
The legends and theology of the Baghnapara Vaishnavas are given in two works entitled respectively Murali Vilasa (MV) and Vamsi Siksha (VS). These works were published toward the end of the 19th century. MV was written by Rajavallabha Goswami, possibly toward the beginning of the 17th century. Premadas Misra wrote the Vs in Saka 1638 (AD 1716). He was indebted to MV for his biographical materials. According to Sukumar Sen, the printed MV is not authentic. Biman Bihari Majumdar rejects these works as forgeries. According to Majumdar, they are so full of anachronisms and Sahajiya theories that no sober historian of Gaudiya Vaishnavism should regard them as authentic.
But the only thing that may not be apocryphal in these works is the exposition of theological and ritualistic concepts. The acceptance or rejection of such works should not be conditioned by their apparent conformity to or deviation from what is considered the orthodox and correct interpretation of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. There is at least one recorded instance of the recognition of the Sahajiyas and Bauls as Gaudiya Vaishnavas on the ground of their deep veneration for Chaitanya.The author gives a footnote here, Bhupendranath Datta, Vaishnava Sahitye Samaja Tattva, p. 109fn. Unfortunately, he does not give any details.
B.B. Majumdar is of the opinion that Vamsivadan, grandfather of Ramachandra and the earliest Vaishnava of the Rasaraj school, was certainly not an "important" companion of Chaitanya. He also refers to the authors of MV and VS as men of "unknown antecedents", whose accounts fundamentally idffer from such "respectable" works as Prema Vilasa (PV) and Bhakt Ratnakara (BRK). Vamsivadana is not mentioned in Chaitanya Bhagavata, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Murari Gupta's karacha, or the biographical works of Kavi Karnapur. But he is certainly mentioned in Gaura Ganoddesa Dipika (179) as the incarnation of Krishna's flute. It is strange that Majumdar did not find any reference to Vamsivadana in Devakinandana's Vaishnava Vandana, where the man is refered to in two consecutive verses.
According to Prema Vilasa, Vamsivadana and Ishan looked after Srinivasa Acharya in Nabadwip. According to another authority, Vamsivadana was so important that he was adopted by Vishnupriya as her son. He acted as the guardian of Sachi Devi and Vishnupriya after Chaitanya went to live in Puri. The same authority even avers that Vamsivadana married the daughter of Chandrasekhara Pandit, Nityananda's younger brother.The footnote here refers to Gaura-pada-tarangini, p.209. Likely this is some kind of introduction to verses attributed to Vamsivadana given by the editor, Jagadbandhu Bhadra.
Narahari Sarkar, albeit important, was not mentioned in Chaitanya Bhagavata. Some orthodox Gaudiya Vaishnavas regarded even Virabhadra as a simulacrum because his name was not mentioned in Chaitanya Bhagavata. We should not be oblivious to the fact that the importance of the Vaishnavas mentioned in the biographies of Chaitanya was merely relative. The great majority of them simply disappear from the stage after being perfunctorily mentioned once or twice.
Rajavallabha, the great-grandson of Vamsivadana, cannot therefore be summarily dismissed as a person of unknown antecedents. For some unknown reason, he does not give in MV a long and tedious genealogical account. Just from the fact, one should not jump to the conclusion that he was a non-entity. As for Premadas Misra, the author of VS, it will suffice to note that he translated Karnapura's Chaitanya Chandrodaya into Bengali verse in Saka 1634 (AD 1712). He had considerable literary ability.
Admittedly, MV and VS are not merely copies of PV and BRK. These works do not mention Srinivas Acharya, Narottam Das, Ramachandra Kaviraja or Syamananda, the great leaders of the post-Chaitanya Vaishnava movement in Bengal. But iti si a blunder to say, as Majumdar deoes, that these works refer to matters that contradict the legends given in BRK and PV. According to MV, Jahnava Devi went to Vrindavan and there met Rupa and Sanatan. Majumdar writes that, according to PV and BRK, Jahnava Devi went to Vrindavan after
the Kheturi festival when Rupa and Sanatan were no more. Majumdar apparently pays no attention to chapters 15 and 16 of PV, where Jahnava Devi's two journeys to Vrindavan are narrated. The first journey was made before the Kheturi festival when Rupa and Sanatan may well have still been alive.
The biographical portions of both MV and VS contain similar narratives. Apart from this similarity, MV is quite different from VS in both basic design and interpretations. MV is the biography of Ramachandra, foster-son of Jahnava Devi. VS deals mainly with the Rasaraj concept. In MV, Jahnava Devi is both the initiator guru (diksha guru) and teacher guru of Ramachandra, but in VS, the Rasaraj idea is explained by Chaitanya himself even before he has renounced the world. The evidence for the basic formulations of MV is derived mainly from the works of the Vrindavan Goswamis, but these are scarcely mentioned in VS. The Goswamis are, however, mentioned in the invocatory verses of VS.
Jagat - Tue, 06 Jul 2004 23:47:30 +0530
II.The following account is based on Murali Vilasa.
Vamsivadana Chattopadhyaya, a kulina brahmin and son of Chakadi Chattopadhyaya, was the "human incarnation of Krishna's flute." He was nine years younger than Chaitanya. The newborn infant was christened Vamsivadan by Chaitanya himself. At Chaitanya's request, Vamsivadan married and became the father of two sons named Chaitanya Das and Nityananda Das. Vamsivadan died just after Chaitanya's death. Chaitanya Das, his elder son, maried and became the father of two sons named Ramachandra and Sachinandan. Chaitanya Das participated in the Kheturi festival. Both Jahnava Devi and Vishnupriya Devi were intimately acquainted with the Chattopadhyaya family. Even before Ramachandra's birth, Jahnava Devi, a childless widow, extracted from Chaitanya Das the promise that he would permit her to adopt Ramachandra, his oldest child.
In due time, Jahnava Devi became Ramachandra's foster mother. A formal ceremony of adoption was held and Jahnava initiated Ramachandra in the Hare Krishna mantra just prior to this ceremony. It was really very difficult for Chaitanya Das and his wife to give up their beloved eldest son and when Jahnava took him away to Khardaha, the parents shed bitter tears. At Khardaha, Virabhadra graciously accepted Ramachandra as his younger brother. Jahnava Devi taught him the basic tenets of the Vrindavan Goswamis. Ramachandra strictly followed a schedule of daily rituals under her guidance.
With Jahnava Devi's blessings and Virabhadra's assistance, Ramachandra went to Puri where he met Gadadhar Pandit, Ramananda Raya, and King Prataparudra. From Puri, he returned to Bengal, and for the first time since his adoption met his parents in Nabadwip. He also went to Shantipur and there met Sita Devi and Achyutananda. Later he met Gopala Ramdas Abhiram in Khanakul Krishnanagar, and Narahari Sarkar in Srikhanda. Meanwhile, he had taken the vow of lifelong celibacy. After coming back to Khardaha, he proposed that he should be permitted to go to Vrindavan. Jahnava Devi expressed her desire to go with him.Almost none of this seems historically acceptable. It is unlikely that Jahnava Devi would have instructed Ramachandra in the teachings of the Goswamis prior to going to Vrindavan herself, when she would have been accompanied by him.
We also know the years of Prataparudra's passing (1542), and it is highly unlikely that Ramachandra could have travelled to Puri on his own at this early date. Similarly, Gadadhar is traditionally said to have disappeared within a year of Mahaprabhu. So on the whole, this story of peregrinations is not much more reliable than those of Srinivasa Acharya. However, the trip to Vrindavan with Jahnava is pretty certain.
With Uddharan Datta as their guide, Jahnava Devi and Ramachandra arrived in Vrindavan. They were given a grand reception by the Vrindavan Goswamis. Jahnava Devi soon became a prominent figure in Vrindavan. She visited the sacred spots and the woods. She gave magnificent feasts, feeding the Goswamis and Vaishnavas there in Vrindavan. One day, however, many Vaishnavas, including Ramachandra, witnessed her fusion with the idol of Gopinath in Kamyavan. In other words, they witnessed her death, which cause great grieving. The Goswamis asked Ramachandra to go back to Bengal. One day, while bathing in the Yamuna, Ramachandra found the deities of Krishna and Balaram, which he took with him on his return to Bengal.
Ramachandra first came to Katwa and then went on to Baghnapara, which was then covered with tiger-infested bush. But he decide to stay there anyway. In the presence of some inquisitive villagers and backwoodsmen, Ramachandra performed a miracle by Vaishnavizing a man-eating tiger. Once converted, the beast took a dip in the Ganges, rolled on the ground in bhakti ecstasy, and ultimately gave up the ghost. The miracle at once made Ramachandra famous and a rich kshatriya soon came forward to help him clear the jungle. Ramachandra built a temple with a Vaishnava dormitory. A big village with a market grew up around it. Ramachandra, who soon became a powerful mahanta, also made proper arrangements for the worship of Shiva and Durga.
Virabhadra somehow came to hear of the emerging Vaishnava center at Baghnapara and wanted to test Ramachandra’s strength. Without prior notice, he sent to Baghnapara a terrible task force of twelve hundred Neraneris (or “shaven-heads”), who arrived there at midnight and clamoured for food and shelter. They demanded a feast of mango and hilsa fish curry. Hilsa fish might somehow have been procured from the Ganga, but mangoes in the wintry month of Magh were an impossible proposition. Ramachandra once again performed a miracle: he procured for his disreputable guests both hilsa fish and mangoes, nicely cooking the curry within a few minutes and serving it in large, steaming dishes. The gluttonous Neraneris were fed to repletion. At bursting point, they rose up and warmly thanked Ramachandra. Enjoying his hospitality for two more days, the shaven heads went back to Khardaha and gladly reported to Virabhadra the fact that the abbot of Baghnapara was Ramachandra, his “younger brother.”
Virabhadra now appeared in Baghnapara with hundreds of his disciples. Ramachandra organized for the party a grand reception. Virabhadra was very impressed by Ramachandra’s “brotherly love” and stayed with him for a month, studying such classics as Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu, Ujjvala-nilamani, Hari-bhakti-vilasa, and Vidagdha-madhava.
Ramachandra also cultivated the friendship of Minaketan Ramdas and other surviving Gopals. The images of Radha and Revati were installed in the Baghnapara temple and Rajavallabha was initiated in a magnificent function attended by many important Vaishnavas.The Neraneris were Buddhists or Tantrics who were converted to Vaishnavism by Virabhadra. The annual festival at Baghnapara is attended by their descendants to this day. Rajavallabha is in Bhaktivinoda Thakur's disciplic succession after Ramachandra Goswami.
Jagat - Wed, 07 Jul 2004 01:27:58 +0530
The teachings of Jahnava Devi, summed up in MV, lack originality. She seems to have been deeply influenced by the works of Rupa Goswami and Krishna Das Kaviraj. The theology ascribed in MV to Jahnava Devi has no Sahajiya concept. It may, therefore, be safely assumed that Dimock committed a blunder when he regarded her as a Sahajiya leader. Ramachandra too strictly adhered to the orthodox faith. At first he belonged to the school of Nityananda which emphasized the friendly mood. Ramachandra’s worship of Balaram, described in MV, had a connection to this “friendly” or “brotherly” mood. But ultimately he worshiped Radha and Revati also, as well as Shiva and Durga. None of these types of worship had a Sahajiya flavour, however.
Jahnava Devi regarded Chaitanya as the Supreme God and her Guru. She preached the doctrine of the consubstantiality of the Guru and the disciple. The madhura rasa, or erotic sentiment, was to her the best of all sentiments. Radha was the fountainhead of madhura rasa. Jahnava Devi was conversant with the sädhya-sadhana tattva as expounded by Krishna Das Kaviraj in Chaitanya Charitamrita. But she believed that without Guru’s help, bhakti could not be meaningful. Only the basically honest and pious men were predestined for bhakti worship.
Jahnava Devi made a distinction between conditional and unconditional worship. The latter was un-Vedic and unritualistic. It was the best form of worship inasmuch as ambition or selfish hankerings had no place in it. The concept of predestination was, according to her, intimately related to that of virtue and vice. The virtuous person was not affected by it. Only the virtuous were blessed.
Jahnava Devi recognized the five fundamental moods of placidity, servility, friendship, filiation and “unlibidinous” erotic love. [argh!
]. Radha was the fountain of all these moods. According to Jahnava Devi, there were three types of erotic love, namely ordinary (sadharani), mixed type (samanjasa), and capable (samartha), Only Radha and the milkmaids had the third type of love. The manjaris or the adolescent milkmaids felt a love for Krishna which was the basis of their spirituality. Jahnava Devi described their mood as Bhavollasa-rati. By contributing that mite to the erotic pleasure of the Divine Couple, they themselves felt a pleasure which was seven times more intense than that of Radha herself.
Jahnava Devi described the four types of heroes and the sixty-four aesthetic rasas in accordance with the principles laid down in Rupa Goswami’s works and the Tenth Skandha of the Bhagavata Purana. She believed that Vrindavan was the eternal abode of adolescent Krishna. She also propagated the view that Chaitanya, the golden coloured youth, was Krishna’s avatar for the Kali age. She defined Radha as the greatest bliss attribute of Krishna and his hladini shakti, or the power that makes him capable of enjoying bliss. According to her , man should regard God as a beautiful and charming human being. She also laid stress on the necessity of manjari worship. Realization of the supreme truth came from practising bhakti as an adolescent maidservant of Radha.
The basic rituals of Radha Krishna worship were Kama Gayatri and Kama Bija, which could not be learnt without the guru’s guidance. She preached the necessity of developing, stabilizing, and gradually refining the “psychic” dedication, which she described as tathAbhAvitAvasthA
. The whole mind, including the subconscious mind, should be so trained that it would be incapable of deviating from the unending contemplation of God.
Jahnava Devi made a distinction between Radha and her female companions. Radha was the personification of the love’s quintessence of Rasa. Her female companions were merely personifications of love. Radha and Krishna were consubstantial. Radha could not be regarded as a promiscuous woman because she loved Krishna, the Supreme God. Her love was “capable” (samartha) and extramarital, because extramarital love was incomparably more intense than conjugal love.
Jahnava Devi next described the mystic Vrindavan and gave a short hagiological account of the Vrindavan goswamis, the Gopalas and some of the companions of Chaitanya. At first she said nothing about herself. On being pressed by Ramachandra, she modestly admitted that she was really the incarnation of Ananga Manjari, Radha’s sister. On hearing this, Ramachandra grew highly ecstatic. He wept, rolled on the ground before her, and asked for her blessings.This above account was taken entirely from Murali Vilasa. This teaching could not possible have been given before Jahnava herself went to Vrindavan, nor indeed before the Chaitanya Charitamrita, which was completed in 1615. What is likely is that the Baghnapara group wanted their own "in-house" text that promoted Ramachandra Goswami as an insider in these esoteric teachings. The truly significant and probably truest information that can be gleaned from this is that Ramachandra was genuinely close to Jahnava and that she, and by consequence he, fully accepted the Goswami teachings on their visit to Vrindavan. The relation with the Gopals would have been a residue of the association with Nityananda. Clearly, though, Ramachandra's relationship with Jahnava differed substantially from that of Virabhadra. This is also shown by his only known work, Ananga-manjari Samputika
Jagat - Wed, 07 Jul 2004 02:40:57 +0530
Premadas wrote Vamsi-siksha in 1716. He was a Vaishnava of the Baghnapara circle, who in all probability belonged to a group that was no longer satisfied with the theories ascribed to Jahnava Devi. In the first place, she was a woman and a woman’s right to propagate any theory on religious concepts was challenged in VS. Premadas expressed his respect for her in the introductory verse and his doubt in the credibility of the teachings of a Shudra and or woman at the end of his work.
kAra upadeza prabhu grAhya-yogya nayaI find it hard to believe that anyone in Baghnapara could minimize Jahnava Mata, even if they disagreed with her. I would suspect that something else is going on here that is perhaps not being spoken clearly.
strI zUdra patita brAhmaNera vede kaya
strI jAtira upadeze kivAnartha haya
dharma artha kAma mokSa bhakti Adi kSaya
Secondly, some of the Baghnapara Vaishnavas felt the necessity of introducing into the concepts of the circle a radical element. One can only presume that the necessity of radicalizing the ideas of the circle had some connection to the growing influence of the Sahajiyas during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. But the radical group of the Baghnapara Vaishnavas was not prepared to deviate fully from the orthodox line. In VS, Chaitanya is the original formulator of the Rasaraj idea, which constitutes the theme of the work. There is in it not a single reference to the Vaishnava biographies and theologies prepared in Vrindavan. But Premadas often makes it clear that he is fully conversant with Krishna Das Kaviraj’s vocabulary. VS was written only for those who were conversant with Gaudiya Vaishnava theology, and yet supported the Rasaraja concept. They were Thakur Haridas of Panagarh (Burdwan?), Thakur Krishnananda, who was a Kayastha, a brahman named Baru Thakur, Gokulananda of Katabani, Thakur of Kogram Ujani (Burdwan), Ramachandra, the Vaishnava ascetic of the dhamas and Thakur Hari.
Premadas’s own Guru first took him to task for revealing the Rasaraj secrets.
grantha paDi prabhu more kana krodha bhari
Are Are premA tui kaili sarva nAza
nigUDha bhajana tattva korili prakAza
He then had to revise the original version in accordance with the instructions of his guru.
Jagat - Wed, 07 Jul 2004 03:37:58 +0530
Chapter 1 of Vamsi-siksha is devoted to an explanation of the Rasaraja concept. Premadas says that Chaitanya first practised two different types of Vaishnavism. The first type was external, the second internal. External Vaishnavism or “social” Vaishnavism consisted in kirtan singing and chanting of the sacred name. Internal Vaishnavism consisted in the secret worship of Rasaraja Krishna.
In the Rasaraja hagiology, Vamsivadana was a peer of Advaita and Nityananda, mainly because he was the human incarnation of Krishna’s flute. It is said that he was born in 1416 Saka (1494) and that just before renouncing the world, Chaitanya himself revealed the Rasaraja secrets to him.
Conceived as Rasaraja, God himself is the fountain of all rasas. Apparently he sports with the wives of other men, but in reality he plays with his own wives. The leader of the milkmaids is Radha. The other milkmaids are Radha’s attributes. Sringara rasa or the erotic rasa is the highest rasa with thirty-two distinct characteristics.
Krishna represents Sat, Chit and Ananda. Radha is Krishna’s hladini shakti, or the power which makes him relish pleasure. She is the embodiment of ananda or bliss. The highest stage of bliss is the psychic state of maha-bhava, which is occasionally manifest in Radha. The tremor of love (kampA), the tears of love (azru), the thrill of love (pulaka), the unmoving depth of love (stambha), the whispered feelings (asphuta-vacana), the madness (unmade), the paleness (vaivarNa), the perspiration (sveda), the stupefaction (jaDatA) are Radha’s ornaments.
Purity is the hallmark of Krishna’s love, but its coital phase never ends.
kRSNera vizuddha prema ratnera AkAara
prabhu kahe rasa-rAje sudhIra Lalita
nirantara rati-krIDA jAGhAra carita
Nanda, Krishna’s father, is the symbol of benediction. Yashoda, Krishna’s mother, represents pure bhakti, as well as the reputation of a pure bhakta. Vraja is the eternal, universal abode of bliss. Vrindavan is its zenith. Vaishnava is beyond misery, human frailties and physical death. It remains unattainable to those who seek God through action, cultivation of knowledge and rituals. Krishna, Purusha (the male principle) and Radha, Prakriti (or the female principle) are ever present in Vaishnava.
Chapter 2 of Vamsi-siksha deals with the Purusha-tattva, or male principle and other related topics. Krishna is the supreme embodiment of the non-dualistic principle (advaita-tattva). He has five forms, name Brahman, Atma, Bhagavan, Guru and the devotee. Brahman is omnipresent. Atma is soul, the kernel of the heart. Bhagavan is eternally sportive. The Guru is the redeemer of lost souls. Being a part of God, the devotee is an extraordinary being. Despite his human form, the Guru is divine. He may sometimes seem to have gone astray, but even then he should not be criticized. In fact, the Guru is infallible. In him are manifest all the gods and goddesses. He is Krishna’s incarnation, and the savior of the world. The disciple must place him above his parents. If the Guru gets angry, the disciple is really done for; nobody can save him from the fires of hell. Yet one has the right to repudiate a false Guru. A genuine Guru knows both the “qualified” (saguna) and the “unqualified” (nirguna) Brahman. The wise Guru is both the father and mother of the truth-seeker. The Guru is immortal. Both life and mind are to be consecrated to him. He is to be worshiped in ever conceivable manner. But the Guru himself is expected to practise what he preaches.
Radha is the heart of the Female Principle. Her incarnations are qualitatively and quantitatively equal to those of Krishna. The queens of Krishna and the milkmaids whom he loves represent two aspects of the Female Principle. The Female Principle has three related functions. The first and best of them is the Hladini, which generates the capacity to relish bliss. The next function is sandhini, which leads to materialization and existence. The third function is samvit, which represents pure consciousness. The Female Principle, equipped with these properties, is an attribute of Krishna.
Krishna, Absolute Pleasure, is eternally united with Radha, Absolute Pleasurable. Krishna, Existence, holds anything which is Existent. Krishna, Knowledge, enables the world to know. As pure knowledge, Krishna is untouched by illusion. But the kernel of pure knowledge is self-knowledge. The Vaishnava devotees are the attributes of the sandhini function.
Atma-vidya, self-knowledge, is the ashraya or the ultimate resort of the devotees. Self-knowledge is the knowledge of the identification of the soul with the universal spirit of Krishna, Rasaraja. This knowledge is deeper and higher than the knowledge of endless, timeless Brahman.
Bhakti is an attribute of the hladini function. Priti or love is the kernel of devotion. Devotion is not born of fear. It is born of love. The practice of priti is very difficult.
Rasaraja and Mahabhava are inseparable, but these universal principles may assume different forms. The cowboys of Vrindavan emanate from Krishna. The milkmaids emanate from Radha.
Chapter 3 of Vamsi-siksha is devoted to an explanation of the forms of worship and related subjects. Chaitanya describes himself as Krishna Rasaraja. The Guru is also Krishna. Chaitanya, therefore is both Krishna and Guru. As Guru, Chaitanya is to be worshiped with the consecration of the sense organs. Such worship requires psychic preparations, which are technically known as AnukUlya
, or “the state of preparedness.” AnukUlya
admits of no pre-condition. It is not based upon any hope for final liberation. AnukUlya
devotion has sixty-four characteristics. It is not different from unconditional and selfless love.
indriya dväraà kRSNera sevane
nirmala AnukUlya bhakti kari mAne
Devotional love produces indescribable pleasure even though it is not sought for. This love is unritualistic. Its aim is the enhancement of Krishna’s pleasure. It is beyond human institutions and ethics. All actions and their consequences are to be consecrated to Krishna. All bhavas or moods are to be used in Krishna worship. Ordinary mortals behave like rope-walking jugglers who perform a worthless balancing feat, carrying big jars on their empty heads. The jars they carry are full of poison. They watch their steps, think of the poison jars on their heads, and thus move about in this barbarous world.
Kumbha-zreNi zire dhari vajIkara-gaNa
rajju diyA nece kare gamanAgamana
dRSTi tAra rahe pade kumbhe rahe mana
se lAgi tAhAra zire nA naDe kakkhana
pade dRSTi rAkhi Ara kumbhe rAKhi mana
abhadra saMsAre sadA kariche bhramaNa
A devotee of Rasaraja Krishna pursues two contradictory value schedules. His ways and motives are really incomprehensible. He is dumb, yet garrulous. He is deaf and yet a sharp listener. He is blind, yet hawk-eyed. He lives all alone, and yet belongs to a vast crowd. He is lame, yet he can carelessly walk on the tightrope of illusion. He smiles, but his eyes are tear-stained. He is both asleep and awake. He is both naked and fully clothed. He is both active and inactive. He has no hunger or thirst, yet he eats and drinks. Though an orphan, he lives with his parents. He has no children, yet he is the breadwinner in the family that consists of his wife and children. He has no ambition, yet he performs rituals in an ambitious manner. He has no libido, yet he indulges in coitus. In fact, he makes the frog dance on the deadly cobra’s hood. He has no social background, yet he is a social man. Illusion cannot touch his soul, because it is veritably the home of Krishna, Rasaraja.
In effect, Rasaraja is a monotheistic concept. The bhakta of Rasaraja Krishna does not worship any other god or goddess. The Guru makes his disciple capable of understanding the spiritual meaning of the love of the milkmaids. This love is unsullied by sex, though it is apparently similar to the sexual relations between a man and a woman. Chandi Das was the greatest poet and philosopher of the Vrindavan sports. He knew the significance of mystic love. One who realizes the Rasaraja nature of Krishna is the real rasika. The rasa of the sports of Radha Krishna is deeper than the rasa born of the realization of Brahman.
Men and women have equal rights to worship Krishna as Rasaraja. Their worship consists mainly in the contemplation of the eternal sports of Radha-Krishna. The worshippers think of a beautiful lotus with eight petals which blooms in mystic Vrindavan. At the center of the lotus stand Radha-Krishna. Its eight petals are the female companions of Radha, Krishna represents the male generative organ. Radha represents the female generative organ.
The Rasaraja contemplation is strengthened by the performance of many rituals, each of which has a symbolic meaning. The rituals are those of ordinary worship. The Guru is the master of these rituals. The devotee must think of his own psyche as the invisible but real Vrindavan. His heart is the mystic lotus with eight petals, whereupon Krishna sports with Radha.
Chapter 4 of Vamsi-siksha has two parts. The first part deals with mystic physiognomy and the social duties of a devotee. The second part contains the biography of Ramachandra, which is based on the materials given in MV. Vamsivadana is referred to as Ananga Manjari, Radha’s younger sister. Premadas, therefore, rejects the idea that JD was Ananga Manjari. The eight female companions of Radha are the different shades of Radha’s hladini shakti. The manjaris are the different senses, like the sense of sound, touch, color, smell and taste. Chit, or consciousness, is integrally connected with Krishna’s sports, in which Cupid or Madana plays an important part. Cupid (we may say, like gout) resides in different sense organs at different dates. The method of “subduing” Cupid at these dates should be learned from the Guru.
It is not necessary for Rasaraja worshippers to renounce the world, but one must have Krishna diksha or initiation before being entitled to worship him as Rasaraja. Moreover, a Rasaraja Vaishnava must remain ever faithful to his wife. He must love and respect his friends. His relatives must be honoured by him as different gods and goddesses. He must practice hospitality. All human beings are to be loved and honoured as manifestations of Krishna. The Rasaraja Vaishnava must be a faithful husband and a good father. A Vaishnava of this school must eschew hedonism.
The various rituals of Rasaraja worship are then delineated. Shorn of mystic symbolism, these rituals are not different from those of the worship of Brahmanical gods and goddesses.
Jagat - Wed, 07 Jul 2004 03:49:26 +0530
Biman Bihari Majumdar finds in this work some ideas which are, according to him, unmistakably Sahajiya. One such idea is AnukUlya
. He sees this as a Sahajiya technical term which means the disciple’s willingness or preparedness to permit his guru to perform ritual coitus with his wife. But AnukUlya
is also used by Krishna Das Kaviraj, who by it means the psychic preparedness for the worship of Krishna and Premadas does not use it in a different sense.
According to Majumdar, another Sahajiya idea is that of the suppression of Cupid, but nothing much can be said about this because Premadas has not elucidated the concept. The purely sexual aspect of the theory is explained in such works as Ananga-ranga
. Whether Premadas uses the term in a sexual sense is not definitely known. He advises the Rasaraja Vaishnava to practice sexual discipline and conjugal fidelity.
It seems that Rasaraja worship is basically contemplative like Tantrika dakSiNAcAra
(right-handed worship). The introduction of the linga-yoni symbolism in Radha Krishna worship perhaps reflected Tantrik Vaishnava syncretism in an age when the sectarian differences had been considerably toned down, and when Shiva Durga temples and Vaishnava temples were built side by side by the patrons of these cults. The Rasaraja concept probably signified an attempt on the part of a particular Gaudiya Vaishnava community to accommodate certain select Sahajiya concepts within Gaudiya Vaishnava theology. This attempt was made in the beginning of the eighteenth century probably because the Sahajiya Vaishnavas had infiltrated into the ranks of the Gaudiya Vaishnavas. The only method of counterbalancing their growing influence was acculturation on a small scale. This is evident in the conceptualization of the Rasaraja creed.
Jagat - Wed, 07 Jul 2004 04:18:09 +0530
I would not form any hasty opinions on the basis of this outline of Vamsi-siksha. I just checked out the yoni-linga reference, and it is basically a translation of the Brahma Samhita, 5.14.