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6. Sakhi-bheki & Cudadhari: rasa-lila imitators
"Only when one regains his original spiritual body can one enter into the spiritual kingdom. As for as the rasa-lila pastimes of the Lord are concerned, it is futile to attempt to imitate the Lord's dances within the material word. One has to attain a spiritual body like the gopis to enter into the pastimes of rasa-lila. Simply by artificially imitating Krishna's rasa-lila dance or artificially thinking oneself as Krishna, and dressing oneself up as a sakhi, one cannot enter into His rasa-lila dance." (Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya 9.137, purport)
The confidential gopis are called sakhis. The word bekhi is a corruption of the Sanskrit word vesa, which means dress. A sakhi-bekhi is a person -- often a male, but sometimes females take part -- who dresses up like a gopi and imagines himself/herself as being enjoyed by Krishna.
Sakhi-bekhis imitate rasa-lila, sometime by dancing with a person dressed like Krishna who wears a cuda, a crown of peacock feathers. This person is called cudadhari. The philosophy of these two types of sahajiya apasampradayas is the same; practically the only difference is that one group is dressed like gopis and others dressed like Krishna.
Lord Caitanya taught, ekale isvara krsna, ara saba bhrtya -- "The only controller is Krishna, everyone else is His servant." (Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi 5.142) Each jiva or individual spirit soul is a tiny sample of para-prakrti, the Lord's sub-ordinate or female spiritual energy. But this sense of our "being female" does not have anything to do with sexual gender. We have temporarily assumed a male or female body as a result of past karma; the material covering does not reflect the constitutional nature of the soul. Srimad-Bhagavatam (Canto 4, chapter 28) informs us that a soul is placed within a male body because of a strong attraction to the masculine form that developed in a female body in the previous life. Those who now have female bodies were males who were very attached to females in their previous lives. This is all the result of material lust.
The soul as a spiritual spark caught in the cycle of birth and death is actually sexless. But according to the ecstasy of devotion most enjoyed by the soul in relation to Krishna, the devotee's transcendental gender is revealed, as seen in the spiritual bodies of Krishna's eternal associates. For instance, matr-vatsalya (parental affection in the motherly mood) is feminine, and pitr-vatsalya (parental affection in the fatherly mood) is masculine. Madhurya-rasa is purely feminine. To become established in the latter mood of love, one must develop the eleven sentiments of a gopi (name, form, age, dress, the mood of a kept maidservant, and so on) under the direction of an highly realized vaishnava.
Even if one transcends the bodily conception and has understood Krishna and his own svarupa in truth, he cannot fully participate (vastu or prapti-siddhi) in the madhurya-rasa if even the slightest material attachment lingers in his consciousness. This is explained at length in the purport to Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya 8.139.
The prakrta-sahajiya contamination of the sakhi-bekhis and cudadharis is grossly apparent. The sakhi-bekhis think that Krishna is pleased by seeing their fleshy sack-bodies, full of bones, blood and stool, dressed up in saries, decorated with nose-rings and ornaments, with hair done like women, with feet painted red, with faces shaved twice daily, singing in high falsetto voices and gesturing with women's mannerisms. The cudadaharis similarly think that Srimati Radharani will become attracted to their rotting material bodies simply because they dress up like Krishna.
Lord Caitanya gave clear instructions to Sanatana Gosvami about how the physical body of an advanced devotee is to be engaged in Krishna's service: "There are two processes by which one may execute raganuga bhakti -- external and internal. When self-realized, the advanced devotee externally remains like a neophyte and executes all the sastric injuctions, especially hearing and chanting. However, within his mind, in his original purified self-realized position, he serves Krishna in Vrindavan in his particular way. He serves Krishna twenty-four hours, all day and night. The advanced devotee who is inclined to spontaneous loving service should follow the activites of a particular associate of Krishna in Vrindavan. He should execute service externally as a regulative devotee as well as internally from his self-realized position. Thus he should perform devotional service both externally and internally." (Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya 22.156-158) The sakhi-bekhis and cudadaris simply ignore these directions.
Some of these sahajiyas argue that they are only following the example of Sri Gadadhara das Thakur (who is different from Gadadhara Pandita of the Sri Panca-Tattva), who once walked through town with a clay pot of Ganges water on his head, calling out that he had yoghurt for sale and laughing loudly. The imitators claim that they can visualize their internal spiritual form by such external play-acting. But they overlook the fact that there is no instruction from Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu or any acarya in the Gaudiya Vaishnava Sampradaya that directs the conditioned souls to awaken their love for Krishna through speculative histrionics. As Srila Prabhupada said, "If you want to cook, then you have to cook according to the method. You may have a pot and you may have a flame, but if you don't cook according to the method, then you'll never get the food." He was referring to a story of a cook who had placed the flame on the floor and the pot near the ceiling. "If you want the result, you have to follow the method" -- bhakti-yoga as it is.
The sakhi-bekhi and cudadhari take Krishna and the gopis very cheaply; this is due to the influence of impersonalism, by which they think they can become one with the Lord and the gopis though some imaginative meditation. But if even the goddess of fortune cannot enter into the rasa-lila in Her eternal spiritual form, even after ages of austerity, how will it be accomplished by a fool who merely dresses up his gross material body?