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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Almighty vs. the Inquisition

For making eyes at another man, Reṇukā was killed by her son Paraśurām, to teach complete obedience to the Guru (ājñāṁ gurūnāṁ hyavicāranīya, Raghu-vaṁśa, quoted in CC Madhya 10). Reṇukā was later revived, after the order to kill her was carried out and Paraśurām passed the test of surrender (SB 9.16.2-8).
Rāma abandoned Sītā to teach complete chastity of the wife. To set the standard and to avoid creating a precedent it was done without compromise, as Śrīman Mahāprabhu later did with Chota Haridās, too. Both Sītā and Haridās were innocent in prakat līlā and are the Lord's eternal associates in the nitya līlā. In other words, Sītā-devī is inseparably Rāma's hlādini śakti and Her 'abandonment' was a mere līlā for Them and a lesson for us. One should not have a mundane view of the transcendent Lord - kartum akartum anyathāpi kartum samartha sa eva īśvaraḥ - 'He who can do or not do as He pleases or even do otherwise - that alone is Īśvara'. naitat samacārejjātu manasāpi hyanīśvaraḥ (SB 10.33.30) "Not even within one's mind one should imitate the Īśvara".

Perhaps Rām cut off Śūrpānakhā's nose to show the resolve of the monogamous man (eka-patnī-vrata).

Interestingly, līlā puruṣottama Kṛṣṇa enjoyed pūrva-bhukta ramaṇīs (women previously enjoyed by others) like the gopīs and the 16,000 captives of Bhaumāsura.

Viśvanāth Cakravartīpāda comments, by the way, that only the gopīs who attained spiritual bodies not stained by other men's enjoyment,were able to reach Him in the Rāsa-dance (S.D. 10.29.11) and that the 16,000 queens were expansions of the gopīs (Kārtik Māhātmya, quoted in SD 10.59.43). But maryādā puruṣottama Rāma rejected Sītā after She was kidnapped. (Asked for by Sītā,  Agnideva made a false Sītā who was kidnapped by Rāvana. Sītā entered Agniloka and the māyā-Sītā entered the fire during the fire-proof - Kūrma Purāṇa, CC Madhya 9,210,211)

Speaking of Rāma, in Tulsīdāsa's Rāmāyan it is said that drums and women sound better if regularly beaten, but this is not OUR scripture. Our scripture is the Bhāgavata (śāstraṁ bhāgavataṁ pramāṇam amalam....śrī caitanya mahāprabhor matam idam) and the Bhāgavata says women should not be beaten (praharanti na vai strīṣu).

Having said all this - bhakti means that the Lord tells us what to do, not that we tell Him what He can and cannot do. The Almighty will not subject Himself to today's Inquisitions of Political Correctness.

23 comments:

  1. << Having said all this - bhakti means that the Lord tells us what to do, not that we tell Him what He can and cannot do. >>

    Bhakti means, when somethings are transcended, the devotee may tell krsna, "don't come down from that altar today", or "don't steal buttler, you little thief!", and Krsna takes pleasure in being so told.

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  2. Yes, that is beautiful, but let's not mix up the external, moral level and the internal lila-level, won't we?

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  3. That it is beautiful, thats all it is, thank you very much. You may keep the other part as you wish.

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  4. Krishna lila represents more morality and deeds to be emulated than does Rama lila.

    Funny how Indians see Rama as the ideal leader and husband. His actions are harmonized via the concept of inconceivable lila only, for me. As far as being an emulatable or ideal husband or leader, from a moral standpoint He falls short. But that's ok, His actions are justifiable from the higher point of lila.

    So far Krishna's actions are seen as more merciful and emulatable for the regular human being.

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  5. I think you're quite wrong in your interpretation, Advaitadas. Sita was not banished on account of her (lack of) chastity, but because Sri Rama took the words of a low-class washerman to heart. Sita-devi was not guilty of any type of physical or mental adultery, but still it was enough for a few words of village gossip to have her sent away. Why do you think this happened, Advaitadas? Which lila was playing out here? Especially as Sri Rama knew the difference between the real Sita and the false Sita?

    Chota Haridas was, according to the story, not innocent as you say. According to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, he had been guilty of talking intimately with a woman (CC Antya 2.117).

    I didn't get the point of your last paragraph. According to you, we should throw out our wives if they have stayed in another man's house, regardless if they committed adultery or not? Is this what the Lord teaches us to do? The Almighty may not subject himself to today's "inquisitions" of political correctness, but you don't seem to explain exactly how he would act in today's world. What was the need to mention that women sound better when beaten? Why do you keep making statements like that?

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  6. Also, the 16,000 princesses were virgins. They were not enjoyed by anyone previously.

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  7. I think you're quite wrong in your interpretation, Advaitadas. Sita was not banished on account of her (lack of) chastity, but because Sri Rama took the words of a low-class washerman to heart. Sita-devi was not guilty of any type of physical or mental adultery, but still it was enough for a few words of village gossip to have her sent away. Why do you think this happened, Advaitadas? Which lila was playing out here? Especially as Sri Rama knew the difference between the real Sita and the false Sita?

    I know that, anon, Ram didnt want to create a precedent for adulterous women.

    Chota Haridas was, according to the story, not innocent as you say. According to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, he had been guilty of talking intimately with a woman (CC Antya 2.117).

    Get a life, anon. Madhavi was 84 years old.

    I didn't get the point of your last paragraph. According to you, we should throw out our wives if they have stayed in another man's house, regardless if they committed adultery or not?

    Would you take your husband back if he stayed in another woman's house for 45 days?

    Is this what the Lord teaches us to do? The Almighty may not subject himself to today's "inquisitions" of political correctness, but you don't seem to explain exactly how he would act in today's world.

    Poor God. He'd take a one-way ticket to Vaikuntha and only return here next Satya-yuga.

    What was the need to mention that women sound better when beaten? Why do you keep making statements like that?

    To show the benign character of the Bhagavata. You need a tranquilizer prescription, anon. You see misogyny and sexism where there isnt any.

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  8. Sita was a victim of the crime of kidnapping. She did not run off with Ravan as her paramour, so there was no point for Sri Rama to make about adulturous women. Rather there was an oppurtunity for him to make a point about vicitms of kidnapping and possible rape, which he did not. Too bad, a victims rights movement was very much needed in that day and age.

    However, Krishna did just that many hundreds of thousands of years later in his lila when he rescued the young victims of Bhaumasura and when they cried to him to please take them with him to his palace as maidservants because in their dysfunctional culture victims of crimes such as kidnapping were not welcome back by THEIR OWN PARENTS (what the heck?), my beloved Shyam basically gave the finger to such a dysfunctional society by taking those young girls with him and instead of making them maidservants, gave them positions as QUEENS!!!!

    I think that must've really put their merciless parents and the society in general in it's place.

    Those that they rejected would now have to be respected by them.

    Go Krishna!

    Krishna is the real "dharma purushottam".

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  9. Anon, you've got some cheek for daring to put forward your own mundane, (Western) reductionistic-influenced opinion on the Lord's divine lila. It is not "Indians" as such but shastra that refers to Bhagavan Rama as maryada-purusottama, and Svayam Bhagavan Sri Krsna as lila-purusottama. Krsna is ultimately the source of Rama but in either form, the Supreme God displays wondrous, humanly impossible and inimitable pastimes. What exactly is it in Krsna-lila that you find emulatable - Baby Krsna suckling the lifebreath out of Putana, the lifting of Giri Govardhana, the Lord expanding Himself into countless identical copies of His Own Self to dance with the gopis, Him showing the entire brahmanda in His little mouth to Yasodamayi, or else the speaking of the Gita and manifesting of the virat-rupa to Arjuna at Kuruksetra? Please let on, because I'm deeply intrigued by this chutzpah-laden assertion of yours.

    The fact is, even for Gaudiya Vaisnavas, SOME of the activities of Lord Rama represent a better repository of examples that can be projected into our own lives: his eka-patni vrata pledge, assiduous obedience to His elders, unfaltering commitment to His duties as well as His ever-ready disposition to give full respect to others. If we want to attain Krsna, these are essential qualities that every sadhaka should develop, and none other than Mahaprabhu Himself tells us the same thing in slightly different words in the Siksastaka.

    Lastly, as Advaitaji mentioned, the Lord is neither bound nor conditioned by our 20th/21st century demagoguery and selective morality. The present cacophony which we call civilisation and which is slowly killing our planet everyday was only engendered a couple of hundred years ago, and in my opinion, will no more exist a few centuries from now. It is a momentary phenomenon that is inherently unsustainable, putting a strain on nature's resouces as it does, and polluting the earth simultaneously. To judge Lord Hari from the standpoint of modern (Western) relativism is about the most foolish and ill-advised thing one can do.

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  10. Lastly, as Advaitaji mentioned, the Lord is neither bound nor conditioned by our 20th/21st century demagoguery and selective morality. The present cacophony which we call civilisation and which is slowly killing our planet everyday was only engendered a couple of hundred years ago, and in my opinion, will no more exist a few centuries from now. It is a momentary phenomenon that is inherently unsustainable, putting a strain on nature's resouces as it does, and polluting the earth simultaneously. To judge Lord Hari from the standpoint of modern (Western) relativism is about the most foolish and ill-advised thing one can do.

    Well, to judge the Lord from the point of view of the Middle Ages or Satya Yuga morals is not that brilliant a school either, is it? The problem of today is precisely that the old model wasn't good enough either. If it was as good as some people like to believe, why then did it not remain? If the answer is that there is no stopping the march of Kali Yuga, then what is the point of establishing any model at all - God has a gran plan for the easy release of the whole of Humanity but there is one little problem with said plan: It can't be implemented!?

    So, if today is bizarre, so was yesterday.

    Whoever believes there will be a return to bows and arrrows and trafficking of ladies' charms for measurement of spiritual strength is a baby crawling around in a circle. Wheeeee. Cute but, can't carry me.

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  11. Excellent, Vikram. :-)

    It occurred to me that maybe that is the point of these exchanges here - to point out or remind that this validating of shastra from a position of [modern (Western) relativism] and [selective morality] is illusioned.

    "victims rights movement needed in that day and age"...?
    Maybe, I don't know.
    I do know that it's Krishna consciousness movement that is needed now, and we've been instructed quite emphatically that the real remedy is chanting of the holy names.
    "Chant and be happy", never mind dysfunctional society and so on. :-)

    - Brian

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  12. "What exactly is it in Krsna-lila that you find emulatable?"

    His love and compassion.

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  13. i heart krishna and radha RAManFriday, January 25, 2008 at 8:02:00 PM GMT+1

    Question:
    I didn't get the point of your last paragraph. According to you, we should throw out our wives if they have stayed in another man's house, regardless if they committed adultery or not?

    Adwaita's answer:
    Would you take your husband back if he stayed in another woman's house for 45 days?

    If my husband was the victim of a kidnapping crime, YES. And with more love and care than previously shown to him.

    Do not agree with your premise that Sri Rama was trying to make a "point about adulturous relationships" in the lila of banishing Sita.

    Kidnapping and adultery have no connection. Don't know how you concluded what you did out of that.

    Vikram Ramsoondar: The fact is, even for Gaudiya Vaisnavas, SOME of the activities of Lord Rama represent a better repository of examples that can be projected into our own lives: his eka-patni vrata pledge, assiduous obedience to His elders, unfaltering commitment to His duties as well as His ever-ready disposition to give full respect to others. If we want to attain Krsna, these are essential qualities that every sadhaka should develop...

    Comment: True, SOME of His activities are emulatable, not all. Certainly not the banishment of a crime victim - that can only be resolved via the concept of inconceivable lila.

    Some of Krishna's activities are emulatable as well, not all.

    It's all good.

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  14. Chota Haridas was, according to the story, not innocent as you say. According to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, he had been guilty of talking intimately with a woman (CC Antya 2.117).

    Get a life, anon. Madhavi was 84 years old.


    Dear Advaitadas, instead of rudely attacking people why not answer the question? The fact that Madhavi was 84 years old changes nothing, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu still ostracised him for "talking intimately" with a woman and he eventually committed suicide because he was not allowed back into the Lord's presence. If you want to interpret this as "setting a standard" you are free to do so, but then you should be aware that not everyone will agree with this proposition. Including you, it seems, from your own response to this point.

    And by the way, I'm a man. Not a lady. So asking me what I would do if my "husband" played away is invalid. I know very well what I would do if my wife played away, but the question is whether she played away or not. If Shri Rama knew that Sita had remained chaste (whether it was the real Sita or the false Sita) then why go through all the rigmarole of throwing her out and testing her with fire?

    The Almighty may not subject Himself to today's political inquisitions, but the "standards" He apparently set have caused much strife over the centuries vis-a-vis the practice of Sati etc. It is wise to acknowledge this and not avoid embarrassing incidents. Don't you think?

    Dear Vikram Ramsoondur, I'm well aware that viewing the Lord's actions according to 21-st Century morals is inappropriate. But why is it inappropriate? This is all we can do, because we were not around then to understand His actions according to the morals of that time. I agree that Shri Rama's other actions are fantastic examples of how to behave according to dharma.

    Yet I also think that it is important to acknowledge embarrassing incidents and present them as rationally as possible. Do you think that Shri Rama was admired by His subjects for throwing out His Queen? And having His children Lav-Kush growing up in a poor ashram hermitage instead of a palace as their birthright? I would like to know this, according to the morals of that time, never mind the morals of this time.

    Anyway, this is a very interesting subject.

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  15. Perhaps there was a young lady in Madhavi devi's house as well, and Chota Haridas gazed desirously upon her? I've heard that was a possibility.

    Anyway, Anon Inspiration, the whole of India since the time of Sri Rama has indeed criticized Him for banishing Sita. That whole lila and the consequential ashram residence are the topics of so many songs and poems written in karunya bhav and relished in a sad sort of way by bhaktas.

    Although from one point of view even Sri Krishna's ras-lila with the gopis can be reconciled according to morality, there is absolutely no way the banishment of Sita can be justified on moral grounds. This is where lila kicks in. Tragedy, separation, suffering, these are all components in the grand drama of Shakti/Shaktiman's dance of divine love here on the Earth planet.

    Some lilas are meant to teach moral lessons. This one is not. This lila is specifically to create empathy in the heart of the bhakta for her/his Ishta Devi.

    The banishment of Sita has done precisely that over the centuries for millions of Sita enthusiasts, just like Krishna leaving Braj has done for the Radha bhaktas.

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  16. Appreciations are in order for the last comment for making the point about the Lord's choice of lila specifics with a view to imparting the spirit of devotion in all its multifarious moods to souls in material bondage.

    To respond to some of the other remarks, yes, the Vedic system exists no longer because we are 51 centuries through Kali-yuga already, and even at the time of Bhagavan Krsna's manifest pastimes in the late Dvapara era, things had already degenerated in a significant way, hence the need for the bloodshed at Kuruksetra. We certainly are not reverting to utilising bows and arrows, at least not for another 427,000 years, when Lord Kalki shall practically depopulate the planet and usher in the next Krita-yuga. However, those who naively believe that the present civilisational set-up will endure long into the future are also hopelessly ignorant of the realities of life around this globe.

    Of course, the banishment of Mother Sita from Ayodhya is a heart-rending account, but Lord Ramacandra is visnu-tattva, and us fallen beings of Kali-yuga are digging our own spiritual graves, if we dare believe that we have a platform from which to dictate to the Personality of Godhead how He ought to behave when He descends to the material world. For my part, I shall do what is best for the development and growth of my own devotional seed, i.e. steer a million miles clear from those who would prefer to trust in their materially-conditioned, limited finiteness rather than in the transcendental Supreme Infinite Reality. After all, in addition to being the basis and cause of everything in existence, the Lord in all of His visnu-tattva forms is also the original Guru. The shameless audacity evinced by some in criticising certain aspects of His eternal lila is about the most grievous aparadha that can be committed.

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  17. i heart krishna said...
    Perhaps there was a young lady in Madhavi devi's house as well, and Chota Haridas gazed desirously upon her? I've heard that was a possibility.


    That is a complete speculation, and there's not a shred of evidence for it. Mahaprabhu did not want His sampradaya embarrassed by a display of debauchery or loose conduct, so He made a point with this absolute and extreme punishment, for a minute transgression. If He had not done that, insincere persons would have found a crack in the dam and a huge flood would stream through it, making the crack into a large hole.

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  18. That it is beautiful, thats all it is, thank you very much. You may keep the other part as you wish.

    Anon, Tuesday, January 22, 2008 2:44:00 PM CET

    You cannot just turn a moral issue into a lila issue and then, when I put things in proper perspective, tell me to leave aside the moral issue! Then don't come up with the moral issue to start with!

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  19. You cannot just turn a moral issue into a lila issue and then, when I put things in proper perspective, tell me to leave aside the moral issue! Then don't come up with the moral issue to start with! (Advaitadas)

    Well first of all I disagree that you have actually put things in proper perspective. That is in fact my contention: that you see the lila as having a moral meaning while I say it is beautiful in itself and the morality issue attached to it is a matter of individual persception. You have the right to an opinion but that is the extent of it - it is your perception, your taste. The beauty of the lila is accessible to anyone indiscrimately. To me, your perception makes the lila actually, even um, ugly at times. Sorry. But that doesn't mean it is not beautiful to you as you chose to see it, just as it is beautiful to me as it graciously reveals itself to me. So, we have freedom do like or dislike things, but not the freedom to highjack the lila for personal purposes one way or the other. Tell your readears "I think", "I believe", "I feel", "I hope" more often and see how realistic the lila starts coming through.

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  20. Vikram Ramsoondar asserts:

    Lastly, as Advaitaji mentioned, the Lord is neither bound nor conditioned by our 20th/21st century demagoguery and selective morality. The present cacophony which we call civilisation and which is slowly killing our planet everyday was only engendered a couple of hundred years ago, and in my opinion, will no more exist a few centuries from now. It is a momentary phenomenon that is inherently unsustainable, putting a strain on nature's resouces as it does, and polluting the earth simultaneously. To judge Lord Hari from the standpoint of modern (Western) relativism is about the most foolish and ill-advised thing one can do.

    And Vikram further asserts:

    To respond to some of the other remarks, yes, the Vedic system exists no longer because we are 51 centuries through Kali-yuga already, and even at the time of Bhagavan Krsna's manifest pastimes in the late Dvapara era, things had already degenerated in a significant way, hence the need for the bloodshed at Kuruksetra. We certainly are not reverting to utilising bows and arrows, at least not for another 427,000 years, when Lord Kalki shall practically depopulate the planet and usher in the next Krita-yuga. However, those who naively believe that the present civilisational set-up will endure long into the future are also hopelessly ignorant of the realities of life around this globe.

    MY RESPONSE:

    Please show me anywhere in the comments where someone claimed the present form of civilization will last a long time? Rather, that was your assumption of our attitude. No claim was made.

    Nor was their any assertion on our parts of what you refer to as "modern, western, relativism".

    If the banishment of a crime victim is seen as questionable only to western values, then one would naturally question what values, if any, eastern cultures had. However, the presumption of western values over easter values was not made by me or anyone else in their comments. Naturally the banishment of a crime victim is abhored the world over. The modern west is not the only place and time in the world that has noble human values in place.

    Nor is a judgement on the Supreme Lord thy God being made. What is being asserted however is that just as some of Krishna's lila is viewed as not being emulatable for the human being due to appearing out of the context of normally understood morality as well as what would be considered bhakti pratikula for a sadhaka to imitate, similarly, this particular lila of Sri Rama falls into the same category.

    It cannot be accomadated from a human ethics and moral values point of view, however, it can and IS accomdated from the viewpoint of lila.

    Anyone who tries to extract a "moral lesson" for humans out of the banishment of Sita has a long and hard task ahead of him/her which will only result in failure, as there is not a moral lesson in that lila. Aside from perhaps a lesson in what NOT to do when your spouse is suffering from PTSS, post traumatic stress syndrome, after being a victim of a crime.

    However, what can be gained from it is the churning of emotions in the heart of the bhakta upon hearing the narrations of Sitaji's trials, just like we are not advised to dance with the spouses of other persons, like Krishna did, but we are indeed advised to make our hearts one with the emotions the gopis felt when dancing with Him, and pray to be able to assist them in their suffering when He left them.

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  21. "just like we are not advised to dance with the spouses of other persons, like Krishna did"

    Need to correct and clarify my above statement, for all of the dance enthusiasts out there.

    It's not the dancing with other persons' spouses that might not be advisable, but rather the implication of an extra-marital affair. While Krishna's taking of many wives and girlfriends is a ras enhancer, for us ordinary humans, both could be detrimental to bhakti progress as well as mental health, and might be considered immoral or sinful activity as well, depending on circumstance (such as an adulterous affair).

    However, dancing? It's always good.

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  22. still hearting Krishna, sure, I can see the several good points in your last post but you would be hard-pressed to find a statement of mine proposing that the activities of Lord Rama be imitated in any mode at all. I cannot even bring myself to think along those lines. In fact, let alone Ramachandra, I would not even try to project the experiences of the lesser, administrative Devas in my own life. If and when the Lord guides me to a guru, I shall abide by the latter's instructions with as sincere a heart as possible and try to inch forward in my metaphysical quest, in whatever doses the core of my being is capable of assimilating.

    As for the West to have solid pretentions of the moral high ground, I find that on the one hand risible and self-serving on the other. The British Empire was built on nothing other than the exploitation and subjugation of Africa, Asia and parts of Oceania (I'm subsuming the Antipodes under this grouping). Ditto for the overseas possessions of France. What the Spanish and Portuguese did in Central and South America is secret to none. Also recall South African apartheid. And even the genesis of the nation that more than any other likes to see itself in the role of world police, the USA, is deeply embedded in injustice and prejudice: the dispossession of the Native Americans, the enslavement of the Blacks. Even until the early 1960s, folks of African descent were considered as being only 3/5s of a human being in America. It is only in the last few decades that human rights have become an issue, largely thanks to the highly influential and affluent Jewish community in the States, since we are all cognizant that the Jewish lobby is the most powerful in Washington.

    Having said this, Indians have done more than their fair share of less-then-noble acts. Widow burning, female infanticide, casteism, you name it, the list is long, long, and long. Perhaps this is why the land of Bharata today is only a pale shadow of its magnificence of yore, as some variety of karmic retributive justice. As a sixth-generation Indian immigrant in Mauritius, I certainly disapprove of many current subcontinental attitudes and practices.

    Anyways, we all here are more attracted to the Krishna form of the Lord, otherwise the religion of Mahaprabhu wouldn't be so dear to us. What I was driving at was that we should, however, respect and honour all incarnations and expansions of the Lord, and not put Them through inquisitions such as we've witnessed on this blog, for in humility lies our salvation, as Sri Chaitanya communicated in his famous trnad api sunicena shloka.

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  23. Vikram: If and when the Lord guides me to a guru, I shall abide by the latter's instructions with as sincere a heart as possible and try to inch forward in my metaphysical quest, in whatever doses the core of my being is capable of assimilating.

    Nice to hear you are praying to find the Guru that will move your heart.

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