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The Erotic Principle
The transcendental amorous pastimes of Shri Krishna with the spiritual milkmaids of Braja constitute the highest platform of service of the divinity. This is the sum and substance of the teachings of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. This teaching is set forth in the Shrimad Bhagavata Purana which offers the concrete and unambiguous exposition of this religion of love.
The principle of love is not supposed by anybody as necessarily implying the reference to sex. Amorous love which involves the sexual reference is, however, regarded as a dangerous subject. It is difficult to understand how amorous love can be made to survive the complete elimination of the sexual reference as appears to be the hypocritical dream of a certain type of empiric poets and religionists. The empiricists take strong objection to the sexual element that enters most prominently and in its most repugnant form of polygamous adultery into the narrative of the pastimes of Shri Krishna. The unconventional amorous love of Braja with its frank sexual abandon is regarded by moralists and sociologists a too strong dose especially for boys and girls of a tender age, if not also for adults who do not possess a cultured taste and imagination. The idolatry of ribald sexual passion is a most mischievous religion and a survival of the ideal of promiscuity of the savage state out of which humanity has hardly yet emerged fully, despite the concerted labours of countless generations. No same man can, therefore, contemplate without a shudder the prospect of being hurled back again into the condition of primitive savagery and sheer animalism. Any doctrine that leads or tends to lead, either directly or indirectly, humanity back into an ideal of promiscuous sexualism, therefore, stands self-condemned.
In the paragraph just penned I had been trying candidly to realize the position of the anti-erotist and have not scrupled to use very strong language on his side. I may also mention that he can truly point, and he has not failed to do so, to ugly facts in support of his apprehensions. The almost open debaucheries of the dregs of the so-called followers of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu have been asserted by more than one respectable writer who have not even scrupled to attribute their degradation to the teachings of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. The fact of the wide prevalence of sexual corruption among certain sections of people, who pass themselves off as the followers of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is so painfully true that I consider it as both unnecessary and dishonest to play the role of an apologist for such persons and shall not stop to discuss the view that the charge is an exaggeration which it possibly is.
The sexual relationship which is nowadays ordinarily sought to be regulated with the help of the principle of morality is not, so far as I am aware, condemned as wholly impure by any of the writers who object to the pernicious tendency of the teachings of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Shrimad Bhagavata. They should, therefore, be surprised if they are informed that sexuality itself is condemned in the most unambiguous terms by the Shrimad Bhagavata, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His associates and eminent followers. The difficulty that confronts me in this discourse is not due so much to the onus of proving that they do not condemn, but to the much more bewildering fact that they do condemn the very principle of sexuality as the most harmful of all the delusions to which we are subject in the state of sin.
The moral principle of empiric ethics is based upon an ideal of human personality which consists in the harmonious development of all the faculties and instincts inherent in the human race. According to this view no instinct or quality is useless or immoral in itself. The proper use of every faculty is that which tends to improve its range and quality. If this method of improvement is applied to sexual instinct we obtain the principle that it is not only justifiable but necessary to exercise the sexual function under proper safeguards which will ensure the increase of sexual power and scope. This ideal is being actually realized, under the lead of empiric ethics, by the various aesthetic and scientific activities of poets, novelists, painters, artists, physicists, chemists, biologists, eugenists, etc., on a consciously organized and exhaustive plan especially in modern Europe. The teaching of the Shrimad Bhagavata has been found fault with by the empiric moralists and their followers on the grounds of crudity, grossness and want of worldly wisdom. Even the superiority of the religion of Christ and Mohammed is held by religionists, who are under the sway of empiric ethics to consist, at any rate partly, in their social principles, in their wise handling of the sex problem by condemnation of sexual excess and promiscuity. The principle of total sexual abstinence which is also recommended by those religions is supposed to be an error on the less dangerous side.
Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu following the Shrimad Bhagavata rejects the above ideal of human personality. The development of the powers of the non-soul body and mind, according to Him, has no connection whatsoever with the individual soul proper, who is located beyond the scope of all the activities and experiences of our present delusive existence. The mind is an organ of the soul who in this existence happens to be under the thraldom of matter with the acquiescence of its master. This unnatural and seemingly impossible union between spirit and matter is the mystery which has baffled all the efforts at explanation of empiric science. The principle of causation which forms the basis of the inductive method does not apply to this fact of the first magnitude. The spirit is found meddling with matter with which he has nothing in common and is also convinced for all practical purposes that all his affinities are with the limited and the unconscious, that is, the unspiritual. All the schemes of empiric science have avoided this problem for the plane reason that it is incomprehensible to the known resources of our present reason or experience. But their ignorance of this subject continues none the less to be the fatal deficiency that vitiates all their conclusions at their source. If a material state has been supposed to be the ideal of human personality by empiric ethics, it is due to the assumption that the mind with its present outlook is the undeveloped human soul which is capable of finding its way to the summit of perfection by continuing to increase its capacity and inclination of meddling with matter, or in other words, that its union with matter is a permanent fact of its very constitution.
But as a matter of unbiased reasoning the spirit need not be supposed to have any material requirements for the simple reason that he is the spirit. Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu holds that the spirit is eternally and wholly separate from matter. In the state of sin it is under the false impression that it has an intimate connection with matter. Anything which tends to confirm this wrong impression prevents its reversion to its natural condition of unlimited existence. By any attempts to increase the sexual power which aims at establishing the material connection, the state of delusion will be prolonged. The sexual power has no value for the soul. If the sexual suggestion is allowed to pervade literature, science and art, those subjects do not thereby attain the proximity of the spirit. If one can lift a mountain, does it prove that his soul is great? Matter or any capacity or instinct that derives its value from material effect, is of no concern to the soul. Spirit is eternally and categorically different from matter.
The ideal of human personality according to Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is that of the soul freed from his incarceration in matter and functioning on the plane of the Absolute to which he belongs by constitution. The faculties and instincts of our present minds are a perversion corresponding to the analogous principles of the soul in his (her) pure state. It is, therefore, not only unnecessary but positively harmful to try to increase the possibility or scope of our present misguided activity. The true ideal demands the deflection of their direction from material objects towards the spiritual. We should, therefore, desist from the attempt to increase the power and scope of our present sexual instinct and try to reclaim soul from misdirection towards any ideal that is derived from our experience of this world by turning him back upon himself thereby enabling him to find his true objective.
Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is no advocate of gross or refined sensuality or of total sexual abstinence. He is opposed to all such positive and negative connection with the matter. He wants the emancipated soul to find his own ideal. He does not consider it possible to ascertain artificially the function of the free souls by the principles of their false existence.
If this radical difference between Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and empiric moralists in regard to the ideal of human personality is kept well in view, it should be possible not to misunderstand His attitude towards the sexual principle. Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu takes sex in the same way as He does any other phenomenon of this world, viz., as offering a double face to our unbiased reason. It may be regarded either as part and parcel of our eternal nature or as an adventitious factor which has no connection with our real self. The empiricist holds the former view. Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu opposes and refuses it and establishes the truth of the latter view. The sex according to Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is a passing affair and belongs as such to this changing existence. It happens to be in our way in one form or another, so long as we are subject to this worldly existence, and it is of course necessary that we should have a principle of conduct in regard to it. That principle should also be consistent with our ideal of the human personality. If the soul freed from the shackles of matter be our ideal, we should so conduct ourselves towards sex that we may not thereby strengthen our present unnatural hankering for certain form of material activity. For this purpose, the very first thing that we have to do is to try to realize clearly that the world as it is presented to us by the material senses is not the world with which our souls are concerned. The soul has its own separate world. The soul is not an abstraction nor is the spiritual world a figment of our material imagination. Rather the opposite of this is the real truth. This material world is only the perverted reflection of the spiritual world. It is the shadow, the abstraction, of the spiritual world which is the real substance. Our soul who is a citizen of the spiritual world has somehow lost all real recollections of the substantive world. But the features of the spiritual world are reflected in a distorted manner in this material world. It is that very same world which is presented in this distorted and unintelligible form by our present defective senses. The dormant soul itself is responsible for this distortion. It is the inevitable result of the wrong use of the faculty of free reason which the constituent principle of the soul. The soul is free to choose to serve the Truth. It is equally free to follow the opposite course. The proper function of the free reason is to serve the Truth, or in other words, to be prepared to recognize its natural limitations and submit to the guidance of a higher reason whenever the latter makes its appearance. The reason of fallen souls refused deliberately to recognize his own native littleness and renounced the guidance of the higher reason. In fact, it set up for itself in order to build a world of its own with its own partly resources. The present world is the result of this disloyal activity. We have put our neck deliberately in to the noose that holds us fast in its iron grip and the same original perversity still persists and prevents us from reverting to our constitutional position. So long as this irrational perversity continues, we are doomed to grope in ignorance and reap the reward of the wilful abuse of our free reason in the form of this petty existence of sin and death. It is also under the lead of this perverted reason that we have built up the empiric science of conduct. The empiric science which are the outcome of the efforts of the reason to get rid of the consequences of its folly are really the fetters forged by itself which bind soul all the more securely to a false existence. The very first step that has to be taken in the right direction is to try seriously to realize the nature of this perversity or sin. Once this perversity is clearly perceived, the very science which have till now served to confirm our ignorance will be found to be of the utmost help in freeing us from the bondage of the world. There is nothing to be lost the change of front, and everything is to be gained in the only true sense.
Shrimad Bhagavata and Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu tell us of this transcendental existence in which, in spite of analogical resemblance, everything is different from those things with which we are familiar in this world, even as the substance is different from its distorted shadow. The amours of Shri Krishna are categorically different from the sexual performances of the debauchees of this world, because they are the eternal verity, of which the latter form the unwholesome perverted reflection. It is our eternal duty to have much to do with the One, and nothing at all to do with the other. We are freed from the delusion and snare of sexuality through the realization of the spiritual amours of the Divine Pair. The knowledge of the spiritual amours of Shri Radha-Krishna is the medicine of the diseased soul afflicted with the malady of saxuality. The amours of the Divine Pair are the Highest Truth and the last to be realized on the path of spiritual endeavour. This is the teaching of the Shrimad Bhagavata.
We have to reach this goal by graduated stages of progress. It is first of all necessary to listen to the tidings of the spiritual world from the lips of those who have actually realized the life eternal. Such persons alone can properly expound the Shrimad Bhagavata. Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is the ideal exponent of the Shrimad Bhagavata. His life is the Bhagavata reduced to the terms of the duties of everyday life of this world to enable us to really understand and realize the Truth. Any one who reads with an unbiased mind the illuminating volumes penned by His associates and eminent followers with the object of transmitting all succeeding generations the particulars of His life and teachings, can never fail to realize the imperative necessity for everyone of us to follow His footsteps. We are thereby enabled to understand that the spiritual world really exists, that it is the realm of the Concrete Absolute, that it cannot be attained by our own unassisted efforts, for the reason that Absolute Person refuses to reveal Himself to our self-asserting tiny soul, that it is necessary to approach the reality by the method of submission, that this method of submission to the Absolute Person has to be learnt, also by the method of submission, from those who have actually realized the Absolute Truth and that there actually exist among us such Godsent teachers of the religion. Once this necessity of submitting to the spiritual preceptor is clearly realized, one is thereby enabled to find out the right kind of preceptor. This is the first manifestation of the Absolute Truth to the sincere seeker. The next stage of progress consists in attentive listening to the transcendental words of the good preceptor simultaneously carrying them out into practice to the extent that they are understood, that is to say approved, by our reason. It is only after undergoing a complete course of training that we are enabled to reach the goal, viz., a right understanding of the narrative of the transcendental amours of the Divine Pair.
The spiritual pupilage is indispensable and is the key to the situation. Those who profess to understand the Bhagavata without having passed through the complete course of such training by the method of sincere submission to the good preceptor are denied all access to the real meaning of the narratives of the Bhagavata. There are many professed followers of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu who ignore the necessity of following His teachings. They reap only sin and degradation by their study of the Bhagavata. Their misrepresentations or depraved conduct need not stand in the way of our honest enquiry into the actual doctrines of Shrimad Bhagavata in the light of the practice and teaching of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His associates and sincere followers.
Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has declared that Shri Krishna is served properly only by the citizens and specially the milkmaids of Braja, and that it is not possible for anyone who is not perfectly free from sin to realize the nature of such service. It is necessary to pass through a regular course of spiritual training under a good preceptor to be able to understand what it really is and to be able to practise it. By attaining such service we realize the eternal function of our souls. This service cannot be performed by means of this body or mind. It is performed by the pure soul who is absolutely free from all worldly hankerings including the sexual. This service is a matter of spiritual realization and not of apish imitation with the help of our present ribald imagination. By sincere, that is to say, convinced submission to the rules of spiritual pupilage as laid down in the scriptures and expounded by competent teachers, one is enable to attain to such perfect purity of mind. The Absolute Truth manifests Himself of Him own accord, for He has the power of taking the initiative, to the mind that is thus purified in the sincere effort after Himself, Absolute purity of the mind is attainable. Relative purity is a delusion and a snare, and will not serve the purpose at all. The Bhagavata should never be read without bearing in the mind these warnings of the scriptures. Otherwise, there will be the absolute certainty of confounding the spiritual with the material and being punished with the acquisition of a positive repugnance for the medicine which alone can heal the distemper of mortality or misapplying the same to one’s utter ruin. It is not the counsel of intolerance or superstitious faith, but the highest conclusion of the unbiased reason in its effort to be absolutely loyal to its own constituent principles. The above position has been reached by the proper exercise of rationality which is the one unerring guide of our real self.
The spiritual milkmaids of Braja serve Shri Krishna with all their spiritual senses and for His satisfaction alone. Shri Krishna is a real Person. He is the sole Proprietor of everything. We are His property. Our eternal senses are also His property. He has got senses like our souls who emanate after His Image. Our present material senses are an unwholesome perversion of the reality. At present we want to serve ourselves by means of our senses. What we actually do, although we are not fully conscious of this, is that we serve our senses because our souls are so constituted that they can offer, but cannot receive any service from the Served. As we cannot serve ourselves, if we also do not want to serve Shri Krishna we are thereby reduced to the necessity of self-delusion. In this deluded state we wrongly suppose ourselves to be the proprietors of our senses, that is, to be like Shri Krishna. This equally applies to either sex. The males as well as the females of this world equally regard themselves as the owners of their senses, and their senses, as the means, of self-gratification. In this sense all of us irrespective of sex are males, i.e., masters or enjoyers in the spiritual sense, although this is a delusion; because by constitution we are not masters but servants. Shri Krishna is the only Master of everything including our souls. This fact is reflected in a perverted way in the principle of sex. We belong to the category of property to which our senses also belong. Hence it is practicable to identify ourselves with our senses in the deluded state of sin and mistake its supposed pleasure as that of ourselves. But as a matter of fact, in the spirit there is no dividing line separating the soul from its senses as master from property. All this is only very faintly perceptible to our present reason. In the fallen state, we suppose that the senses, conceived as different from ourselves, are pleased if we follow their dictates, again conceived as separate from ourselves, in the exercise of our function of self-consciousness.
The milkmaids of Braja are the property of Shri Krishna and are fully conscious of this relationship. This attitude is expressed by saying that they are females. In Braja the males are those who are equally spiritual, that is to say who are not under any partial delusion when they are considered citizens including in touch with Shri Krishna. The spiritual milkmaids of Braja are neither the masters nor the slaves of their senses as we want to be. They are not like our speculative misguided moralists who are engaged in chasing the shadow. They are the only realists. They know, which none of us really knows, that everything belongs to Shri Krishna, serves only Shri Krishna and that everything is also privileged to realize that Shri Krishna is his or her Master. This is purely spiritual state. The milkmaids of Braja alone possess this perfectly pure vision. Therefore, they alone are truly dependants that is to say, servants of Shri Krishna, realizing as they do that nothing including themselves belong to themselves but that everything, themselves as well as their senses, belongs to Shri Krishna.
The empiric moralists overlook the fact that our senses are not really ours. We cannot make our eyes see or our noses to smell. They do not obey us. They obey their real Master to Whom alone they belong. Everything is subordinate to Shri Krishna. Everything really ministers only to His pleasure. It is not inconsistent with but the complete fulfilment of the moral principle. The female principle in the form of subordination to the male is a real fact of our spiritual existence. In all amatory phases Shri Krishna is the only Male, all the rest of us are females. This is the exact opposite of the current ideal, viz., that we are the only males and everything else is a dependant, that is to say intended for our enjoyment. The soul functions freely in the realm of the Absolute where he is conscious of his real relationship with Shri Krishna. His function is crippled, thwarted and distorted the moment he chooses to set up as master on his own account, that is to say, wants to play the role of a male. This perverted activity is stopped on all sides by the resistance of the Absolute Truth. This mind or the ribald soul falls out with everything as soon as he falls out with Shri Krishna. In his attempt to enjoy everything, he is punished by those very things which serve to lure him to deeper depths of ignorance by a delusive response to his frantic attempts after sensuous gratification. In the normal state, those very objects help him in serving Shri Krishna. To sum up, the soul retains his natural condition as long as he serve the Absolute Person with all the resources of the principle of self-consciousness. But his will is free. He may not like to serve the Absolute Truth. This is the abuse of his free choice inasmuch as it is an offence against the principle of pure reason which also is part and parcel of his eternal nature. In consequence of his choosing deliberately to act in opposition to the dictates of reason, the delusion that it is an entity existing independently of Shri Krishna takes firm possession of it. He now finds himself exiled from the realm of the Absolute and functioning in strict subordination to the delusive or material power of Shri Krishna. In this new world, the fallen soul tries to please himself with the help of his reason on which he has deliberately put various limitations. Thus is evolved the principle of the false ego (Ahankara).
We are all egotists. When we read the Bhagavata, we therefore necessarily regard Shri Krishna Himself as an egotist like ourselves seeking after material sensuous enjoyment by means of His superior powers. To the egotist, the service of the milkmaids of Braja, therefore, appears in the guise of the sad lot of the imagined victims of his own unprincipled lust. But the egotist never wants to be the object of another’s enjoyment. This is true both of the female as well as of the male. The suffragettes are not false to their sex. They are only trying to shake off the unnatural domination of persons who do not themselves like to submit to be enjoyed on the pretext of sex. The real fact, however, is that both sexes like to enjoy and not to be enjoyed. They are all males. There are no real females or objects of enjoyment in this world but only universal hankering for enjoyment. In the spiritual realm Shri Krishna is the sole Enjoyer and everything else, an object of His enjoyment. But this arrangement is not the distortion or denial but the fulfilment of all the real wants of the true selves of every object.
As Shri Krishna is the soul Master, He is also His only Supreme Servant. In the Absolute all ends meet. It is Shri Krishna Who by His serving potency serves Himself and no one can serve Shri Krishna best except Himself. It is, therefore, not possible for us either to be masters or servants independently of Shri Krishna. We are potencies of Shri Krishna and yet not potent Shri Krishna. We are of His essence but are not the source of the essence. But although we are of His essence, we are liable to be deluded by another power which also belongs to Shri Krishna and which is called by our scriptures by the name of Maya, i.e., by which everything is measured, the principle of limitations. The soul in the pure state is subject to no limitations although it is only a small fraction of the divine spiritual essence, because in the spirit there are no such hard and fast dividing lines enabling it to be measured like material phenomena. This, however, is also liable to be misunderstood. The human soul is a tiny part of the divine spiritual essence functioning in the realm of the Absolute who is free from limitations but liable to be expelled from the spiritual world if he ever forgets his own littleness and abjures the guidance of Shri Krishna. So long as it chooses to be guided by Shri Krishna he is free from limitations or ignorance.
In the realm of the Absolute the little soul functions free from all limitations under the guidance of Shri Krishna Himself. His function is to serve Shri Krishna. Service implies a knowledge of the wishes of the Master. It also implies a difference or possibility of difference between the wishes of the servant and those of the master. The wishes of the master have, therefore, to be communicated to the servant who cannot otherwise know it. In this world such wishes are conveyed imperfectly through the medium of some material substance. The command is clearly distinguishable from its source. In the spiritual world there can be no such difference. The servant knows the whole of the command that is Shri Krishna Himself. Therefore it must be Shri Krishna Himself Who always makes Himself known to the servants in the realm of the Absolute by means of His commands. But Shri Krishna as Master cannot be known to the servant. That would eliminate the difference between the Master and the servant. If He wants to be known to the servant He must make Himself known to the latter in the form in which the latter can also recognize his Master. For this purpose Shri Krishna becomes His own servant in whose heart He appears as Master. This concept, to use a worldly word, is communicated to us by Shri Krishna as servant. This serving Counter-Whole of Shri Krishna is called by our Sastras Shri Radhika. She is the female or serving principle and the inseparable and eternal Counter-Whole of Shri Krishna Himself. She is the premier milkmaid of Braja. For serving Shri Krishna She expands Herself into the other milkmaids of Braja. She is the power of Shri Krishna and every power is of Her essence, even the principle of limitation itself.
The milkmaids of Braja never forget Shri Krishna because they are the direct spiritual power of Shri Krishna. On the other hand Shri Krishna Himself is manifested, or in other words becomes fit to be served, by their means. The power of Shri Krishna at Her source is one. The principle of limitation or ignorance is also in Her but without power over her. The human soul is a tiny part of the spiritual essence delicately poised between the to forces, viz., the spiritual power of Shri Krishna and Her material shadow. So the human soul must serve Shri Krishna under the direction of the pure spiritual power diversely represented for Her comprehension by the services eternally performed for His benefit by the milkmaids of Braja. The service of the little soul cannot be offered directly. This constitutes the eternal between Himself and the milkmaids of Braja. Shri Radhika alone directly serves Shri Krishna. She is helped by the other milkmaids. Shri Radhika and Her companions are, therefore, direct servants. The little soul can also only serve in a subordinate position. The object of the other milkmaids is not direct dalliance with Shri Krishna which is the right reserved of Shri Radhika but to carry out the orders of Shri Radhika in Her service of Shri Krishna. The object of the human soul is to carry out the orders of Shri Radhika and Her companions in their service of Shri Krishna. This is the arrangement of Braja. The sex idea loses all its unwholesomeness when it is applied to Shri Radhika inasmuch as She is Shri Krishna Himself in the guise of His only Love or Sweetheart. The unwholesomeness of sex in this world is due to the desire of domination of one over another each one of whom is by constitution really independent of other. The basis of this unwholesomeness is eliminated in the case of the amours of Shri Radha-Krishna. In the realm of the Absolute, therefore, Shri Krishna is eternally served by the pure spirits who are allotted their respective functions by His Counter-Whole Shri Radhika without Whose help the contact with Shri Krishna that is necessary for serving Him cannot be obtained. Shri Radhika and the milkmaids of Braja are the direct or subjective constituents of Shri Krishna Himself. Our soul are the tiny constituents of the spiritual power of Shri Krishna represented in its fullness by Shri Radhika and located on the margin of the spiritual realm contiguous to the borders of this world, the realm of Maya. Maya herself is a constituent part of Shri Radhika serving Shri Krishna not directly but indirectly and from a distance. We are perpetually exposed to the pulls of Braja and Maya at the two ends and we are free to choose between them.
The pastimes of Shri Krishna with the milkmaids of Braja as explained by the Shrimad Bhagavata are neither history nor allegory. They are not history because they are transcendental, whereas our so-called history is only a record of our experiences of this world in terms of the egotistic principle. They are also not allegory for the reasons that they happen to be actual concrete reality of which this world is the perverted reflection. As a matter of fact it is this world and its happenings that are really allegorical and impossible of comprehension except relatively to the real and symbolizing the reality. Our souls have really nothing to do with allegory which misrepresents our function and deludes us into the acceptance of this perverted existence. The proper function of our souls is to serve the Absolute Person in obedience to the commands of Himself conveyed through Himself in the form of His devotees.
The sexual principle is a misunderstood symbol of the reality. It can no more be banished from our consciousness than the consciousness itself. The male and female forms are also not the sole and distinctive possessions of this world. There is a reality behind them as well. The soul has a body which is symbolized by the female form and which is absolutely free from any unwholesome material association. Our present objection to the female form is due to the egotistic principle which for the same reason does not object or rather, readily enough adopts the male form as more properly representing the pure little soul. This repugnance to the female form prevents us from unprejudiced examination of the position and functions of the milkmaids of Braja. The recognition of the female sex is a necessary factor of our conception of amorous love. This amorous love is the highest subject of human poetry and the most powerful factor in all human activities. Its worthlessness is not established by the mere refusal to recognize it as a part of our nature. It would much more to the purpose to try to understand what it really is. The Shrimad Bhagavata is the only book that furnishes a satisfactory answer to this all-important question.
The only kind of answer that we require to such questions and one which will remove our doubts and difficulties must needs be absolutely true. The empiricists pin their faith on tentative truths. They seem to believe that by progressive movement they will attain the goal. But the goal which is attainable by a process of advance is an illusion. It is like the ever receding rim of the horizon that can never be actually reached. The Truth is not determinable in terms of progress. He is fixed and immutable. It is subject to obscuration due to defects of the observer. These defects are also material which alone can stand in the way of the Absolute Truth who is spiritual. The real progress towards Truth consists in the endeavour to improve our faculties of observation. We cannot realize the Absolute Person by extending our so-called knowledge of the relative. It is moving in the opposite direction. The greater the number of limited objects that crowd into our brains the greater is the difficulty of discovering their uselessness for our purpose. And in fact it is our own hankering for half-truths and seeming truths that is also really responsible for such overcrowding. We create the fog that obscures our vision. By this endless process of rejection and election of material objects we can never reach the goal. We must stop and reflect on the cause of our perpetual and utter failure. If we do so sincerely we make the real discovery with Kant that we cannot know the Truth by means of our present faculties. But we need not, therefore give up the quest as hopeless. We are to question again and then we shall get the true answer. That answer will be that the Absolute Truth for Whom our souls hanker is not a dead thing or relations of dead and limited things or thoughts but something Who is akin to ourselves. He is something that is living or self-conscious. He is also Spirit like our souls. The next question that will arise in our minds will be, why cannot we see Him? The answer will be, “Because He does not show Himself to us.” If we ask again, “Why does He not appear to us?” We shall be told that He is so because we do not seek for Him. We never seek for the Truth but always seek for the half-truth. That is the disease. The real Truth Himself comes to us the very instant we seek for Him. And we seek for Him only when and as soon as we really understand His nature. This is the vicious circle. At present we have no real idea of the Truth and so whenever we seek for anything that thing is necessary untruth. Then at last the conviction dawns on our understanding that the whole process hitherto pursued requires to be reversed and we begin to understand the mystic words of the scriptures. “Give up once for all the empiric quest for the Truth and wait for Him to take the initiative. You cannot go up to Him. When you try to go up to anything of your choice you go away from it. So you must submit to be enlightened. He has the power and the will of making Himself known to you.”
At this stage one naturally asks, “Shall I then sit idly and do nothing?” And now Truth answers in a definite manner, “No, let your mind and body do what appears to them to be their proper functions but you yourself stand apart and do not identify yourself with them, but wait for communications from Me. Rely wholly on Me and I shall guide you to the goal which is Myself.”
Thus faith is kindled in the doubting heart and we are in a position to profit by the instructions of the good preceptor whom Shri Krishna sends to us the moment we really seek to be enlightened in perfect humility. Then we are also able to understand the words of the good preceptor as being identical with the words of the scriptures. Being now convinced of the real ability of the good preceptor to guide us on the path of the Absolute we take hold of his hand that is ever extended to us and submit to be led without hesitation and much questioning at first. As we gradually learn to walk in the path of service our vision slowly clears up and we see The Truth for ourselves. Then only we understand what it really is.
The empiricists although they seem to recognize the necessity of being taught and trained in the affairs of this world unduly sceptical in regard to such training in spiritual matters where its necessity is very much greater because we happen to possess absolutely no knowledge of it. In the terra incognita, of the spirit it is indispensable to have a guide unless indeed, we persist to confuse the spiritual with the material and retain our faith in empiric efforts. But as a matter of fact all predilections for the limited shuts out the unlimited not partially but radically, not quantitatively but categorically. Shrimad Bhagavata asks those who really want to serve Shri Krishna to forego all thoughts of any advantage in the worldly sense the conscious or unconscious, direct or vicarious, pursuit of which is the cause of all impurity and ignorance. This reform of life is the indispensable preliminary condition for obtaining any real knowledge of the Absolute Person and the nature and imperative necessity of such reform and also its practicability are clearly realized by close spiritual association with the good preceptor. It cannot be realized so long as we retain an iota of egotism. It cannot be realized unless and until one agrees with the sincerity of real conviction to receive it at his hands as a favour to which he can lay no claim on the strength of any worldly merit or demerit. It is only by such reasoned submission of the will to the process of enlightenment from above that our clouded vision can be cleared up. The Guru is not a mortal, erring creature like ourselves. He is the eternal servant of Shri Krishna whom He sends into this world for the deliverance of fallen souls. He comes into this world on this mission of causeless divine mercy in order to help us to rise out of the depths of sin to our natural state of absolute purity by methods which are perfectly consistent with the principles of our really unbiased reason. So long as we refuse to listen to him we are doomed to misunderstand everything.
By the process of abstraction we are bound to obtain only a negative result. In our present sinful state the sex suggests the idea of sensuous impurity because our present outlook itself is sensuous. The sense of impurity is really nothing but that of incongruity of any material, limited, unconscious substance with the nature of the human soul. We are not on the same plane with the object of our thoughts but are yoked to it in a most unnatural way. This longing is the feeling of impurity or repugnance. So long as we continue to look upon sex with an eye of longing we can never think of it in any other way. But this longing is also part of our present acquired nature and cannot leave us till we are enabled to lay aside this secondary nature itself. With this reform of nature our relation to the principle of sex also undergoes a complete transformation which is, however, otherwise incomprehensible to our present understanding. The female form of the human soul is not a material form. The relation between the human soul and Shri Krishna is not the relation between the material female form and its corresponding male form. The amorous pastimes of Shri Krishna with spiritual milkmaids of Braja are not the amorous pastimes between male and female of this world. The amours of Shri Krishna are not a concoction of the diseased brain of a sensualist. The amours of this world could have no existence unless the substantive principle exists in Shri Krishna. But no one denies the existence and importance of the principle of amour in this world. Why do they imagine that it does not exist in the realm of the Absolute in the perfectly wholesome form?
It is because we choose to regard as material the female form of the soul that we are shocked at what we suppose to be the shameless sensuous proclivities of the transcendentalists. This inevitable so long as we deliberately choose to nurse the error that the sex of our experience is the real entity and not its perverted reflection and imagine that we have been able to solve the problem of sex by transferring our sensuous activity from the body to the mind and by condemning as impure the excesses of the external sexual act on no consistent principle. Such bungling philosophy has not convinced and will never convince anybody of the real nature and purpose of sexual act. This is so because the sexual act is the eternal concomitant in this sinful world of the highest function of the spirit which can, therefore, be never minimized or abolished by all our empiric endeavours but the right understanding of which can alone save us from the consequences of our present suicidal sexual follies.
All the misunderstanding on the subject is due to our deliberately confounding the medicine with the disease, The Absolute Truth with His perversion, The substance with the shadow. The Shrimad Bhagavata has offered us in an unambiguous form the medicine knowing full well that it will be wilfully misunderstood and misrepresented by its so-called friends and foes alike. But the medicine is, nevertheless, indispensable for our well-being. No religion which has overlooked this necessity of the human race can afford us the relief of which we stand most in need. It is for this reason that the Shrimad Bhagavata which is so much maligned by all diseased persons, that is to say by practically everybody of this world, has been declared by the greatest teachers of the religion in this country as being the only book in the whole world that offers the most unambiguous exposition of the whole Indivisible Truth a right understanding of which alone can really save us from sin and consequent misery. Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His associates and followers have explained the religion of the Shrimad Bhagavata by their teachings as well as conduct. They tell us that the Absolute Truth must be lived in order to be realized. If He be not lived but merely professed He ceases to be the reality and degenerates into the worst form of His materialistic caricature, doing infinite mischief to His professor and His followers. The right application of the medicine is absolutely necessary for curing the disease of ignorance. One who fails to take the medicine administered by a competent physician will never be cured of ignorance. If the blind man pretends to be able to see he may be believed by the blind but cannot escape detection by those who really see. Neither can he guide others aright on the narrow path of righteousness. Unless and until we choose to actually give it our most serious attention being urged to such a course by real necessity and find our way to its acceptance our irrational perversity will continue to bar most effectively its ingress to our benighted understanding. We must know that the realm of the Absolute is self-protected against the intrusion of all guile and imperfection which are the parents of self-deception. As a matter of fact we are required by the Shrimad Bhagavata, if we want to realize the true nature of amorous love by which alone Shri Krishna can be properly served, to be ready to make the supreme sacrifice of discarding once for all and unconditionally all sexual hankerings and prospects. We are perfectly free to choose this course. But no choice is a real choice unless it is of the nature of conviction based on actual experience. The discourses regarding the truth help us to such conviction. After the conviction is produced we feel naturally disposed to accept the guidance of the scriptures as expounded by real devotees. There are carefully graded stages on the path of spiritual effort which have to be traversed before we can reach the goal. It is only when the goal is reached that we can actually realize the truth underlying the principle of sex. It is realized last of all although the sexual hankering is cured on the threshold of spiritual endeavour. There are people who mistaken this elimination of the sexual desire for the goal. Those who choose to be content with the relief which such elimination seems to afford for the time being and allows themselves to be dissuaded from the search of the truth by the attainment of means of self-gratification unconsciously begin the retrograde journey by a side path. One should not stop till he gets the final answer to the question. What are we to do with our senses? It is the positive attitude. We cannot desist from making some use of our senses. It is therefore, necessary to know their right use. It is by persevering in this selfless search for the Absolute Truth that we are enabled by and in the search itself to realize the Object of our search Who is identical with the means itself that is really adopted for His search.