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Posts tagged ‘Vaisnava’

  1. Krishna in the dock: the 1862 Maharaja libel case and its consequences – III

    “Through a long night of superstition and darkness, vile creatures like this Maharaj have been able to make their dens of vice and debauchery seem to their spell-bound followers to be the holy temples of God. But as soon as the morning light comes, the place is found in full corruption and uncleanness; magical spells lose all effect; and men of a better sort rise disgusted, and at any cost break loose from such a haunt.”
    Times of India May 2, 1862

    Some recent correspondence has reminded me that I had more to say about the Maharaja libel case. For this post, I’m going to examine some of the intersecting factors which allowed Gujurati social reformers to enter into a strategic alliance with Imperial law, with far-reaching effects. Continue reading »

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  2. On the perils of becoming a Gopi – II

    Then, smiling, Prabhu showed to him his true form: Rasaraja (Krishna) and Mahabhava (Radha), the two in one form. And when he saw this, Ramananda was faint with joy; he could not control his body and fell to the earth. … Embracing him Prabhu comforted him. “Except for you, no one has seen this form. It is because of your perception of the tattva of the rasa of my play (lila) that I have shown this form to you. The golden-coloured body is not mine but is the touch of the body of Radha: she touches no one except the son of Gopendra. I experience in my heart and soul everything she feels; then I taste the rasa of the sweetness of myself.
    Caitanya Caritamrta

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  3. On the perils of becoming a Gopi – I

    India has many religious traditions in which both female and male practitioners seek to become goddesses or are oriented towards exemplary female models which represent the ideal devotee in relation to the divine. As a follow-up to Ardhanarishvara and other conundrums of gender I thought it’d be interesting to take a look at the Gauḍīya Vaisnava tradition – in which both male and female devotees seek to identify themselves with the gopis – the “cowherd maidens” who participate in Kṛṣṇa’s sacred drama – and how this identification is approached in theology and practice – and its limits. For this first post, I’m going to briefly discuss some of the key elements in Gauḍīya Vaisnava theology and practice which relate to the ideal of becoming a gopi. In future posts, I will examine some issues which circumscribe the “limits” of this practice – such as the so-called “heresy” of Rūpa Kavijāra in the eighteenth century, and heterodox movements influenced by Gauḍīya Vaisnavism – such as the Sakhibhavas and Sahajiyās. Continue reading »

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  4. Krishna in the dock: the 1862 Maharaja libel case and its consequences – II

    “Amongst other articles of the new creed, Vallabha introduced one, which is rather singular for a Hindu religious innovator or reformer: he taught, that privation formed no part of sanctity, and that it was the duty of the teachers and his disciples to worship their Deity, not in nudity and hunger, but in costly apparel and choice food; not in solitude and mortification, but in the pleasures of society, and the enjoyment of the world.”
    Horace H. Wilson Sketch of the religious sects of the Hindus (1846, pp76-78)

    Before I get down to examining the 1862 Maharaja libel case in detail, I thought it would be useful to take a brief look at the particular sampradaya – at the heart of the case – the Vallabhacharyas – and examine aspects of its doctrines, practices, and historical development. Continue reading »

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  5. On Queering deity: Ardhanarishvara and other conundrums of gender

    “Her body is dance preparing for the creation of differentiation,
    his is the dance of destruction that destroys everything.
    I bow to Śivā, mother of the universe.
    I bow to Śiva, father of the universe.
    Her ear ornaments are radiant precious stones giving light,
    his adornments are hissing snakes.
    He is embracing her, and she is embracing him.
    I bow to Śivā and I bow to Śiva.
    Ardhanarinatesvara stotra (Ellen Campbell, 2002, p105)

    If they see
    breasts and long hair coming
    they call it woman,
    if beard and whiskers
    they call it man:
    But, look, the self that hovers
    in between
    is neither man nor woman
    O Ramanatha.
    Dasimayya(10th century Virasiva poet)

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  6. Krishna in the dock: the 1862 Maharaja libel case and its consequences – I

    The cardinal idea of the doctrine of Vallabhacharya is the incarnation in his person and in that of his descendents of Krishna, and the enjoyment for that reason, of the right to confer upon the faithful the privilege upon this earth of a personal union with the deity of their worship. Theoretically speaking, were this personal union to be regarded spiritually and held to elevate the mind to an intimate union with the highest moral principle; were it to hold forth by meditation and isolation some incentive to a consideration of self-annihilation and self-denial, this doctrine might have claims upon our attention as doing some, however limited, a good. But preached to a people who, from climatic influences and early conditions of puberty are peculiarly lascivious and prurient, the evil grows more and more enormous with the progress of the sect. …Gloomy faiths, bound to asceticism, have no real hold on the moral conduct of the professors of them, but a religion which rushes into an opposite extreme, and stimulates an evil too great already for the patience of mankind and civilisation, deserves to be trodden out.
    Anthropological Review, Vol.4, No.14, 1866

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  7. Metaphor, Metonymy & tantric interpretations – II

    It seems likely, for example, that advanced practitioners of yoga and other psychophysical practices would develop rather distinctive image schemata appropriate to their experiences and sadhana, transmitted by specific gurus and teaching lineages.
    Quoted from Glen A. Hayes in Whicher, Carpenter, p164 (2003)

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