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Saturday, February 20, 2016

Krishna's Lovers

Blue Krishna

Describing the mystical experience with mundane language is next to impossible. The words "mystical" and "spiritual" are too subjective as very few people understand the words exactly the same way. In fact, historically only a few individuals, have entered samadhi, making it very hard to explain to the inexperienced. Misunderstanding the mystical experience and its relationship to Kundalini is probably the number one reason for religious wars and cultural tensions.

The same difficulty of expression pertains to many important emotions in life. How can "Love" or "Beauty" be defined? It is relatively easy to talk about the world of jobs, money, and sex. Language suffices to communicate the mundane, but when expressing our spiritual life, we resort to using enigmatic symbols like virgin births, and golden treasures and serpents.

The ancient myths and folklore developed organically from the depths of the mind to express the ineffable spiritual experience. And used allegory and parables as the best method capable of communicating such abstract internal experiences. Humanity is slowly evolving mentally, which enables us to understand abstract energies as spiritual forces without resorting to supernatural explanations.

The world has reached a turning point; either religion is interpreted with modern methods, by comparing the symbols and motifs in regards to the evolution of consciousness, or we fall back into a conservative attitude based on blind faith.
This subtle change to logical analysis has affected church attendance, which is dropping in the first world countries

 For example, Kundalini is more than a goddess, it has real biological effects, but it had to be symbolized so that the mind would have a definite image  to hold on to. The serpent /snake /dragon became the obvious choice to denote Kundalini because the snake renews itself each year by shedding its skin and because it moves in a sine-like pattern, just as kundalini does.   

Hopefully, we are moving away from the literal perception of religious texts, as the human mind needs a rational basis for its beliefs. For a modern view of the mystical experience, one without myth, the Indian pundit Gopi Krishna, wrote;

“During the course of mystical ecstasy a new, a more potent stream of Prana enters the brain, creating a revolution in consciousness. The flow of this new Pranic current is caused by a slight but clearly marked activity in the brain. It looks as if a hitherto silent area has leapt to a sudden activity, demanding a more potent psychic fuel to sustain it. When the available store of this new Pranic fuel is spent, the mystic again reverts to his normal consciousness returning, as it were, from a smiling, brightly lit Garden of Paradise to the humdrum existence of a prosaic world. No words can express the grandeur and sublimity of the experience nor the happiness and serenity felt during the interval. In rare cases, the experience can become a perennial feature of human life. In India, it has been called the sahaja or jivan-mukta state."(1)

Gopi Krishna's explanation is clear; he doesn't use any symbolic expressions. He uses the concept of “Prana”; a subtle energy / intelligent life-force that pervades the entire universe and which is responsible for the evolution of the human mind. Technological breakthroughs in the future will demonstrate the existence of Prana,  which will help to verify the concept of Kundalini, not in symbolic terms as a serpent, but an intelligent force that transforms the body, mind, and soul.

During the first awakening of Kundalini, Pranic energy ascends up the spine and penetrates the center of the brain, then regenerates the pineal and pituitary glands. 
When Kundalini reaches the crown chakra, one will experience mystical ecstasy. Pranic energy then condenses into a sweet tasting liquid that falls onto the tongue. The human body has to adjust to this process, which may involve years to decades to regenerate the brain and nervous system.  

Coming back down to the real world, after finding oneself in overwhelming ecstasy,  results in an intense desire to repeat the experience. This impulse to experience the mystical state is addictive as it satisfies our purpose in life to find love by merging the immortal self with divine consciousness.

  Mystical consciousness in the Grail Legend.

The desire to experience higher or mystical consciousness is a hidden theme in many of the world’s greatest legends and myths. In the English legend of Le Morte D'Arthur, King Arthur's "soul" purpose in life is to return to Camelot: the magical realm he entered as a young Knight, and found the holy grail, but cannot find the path back.

The Grail legend mirrors the search for the bliss of mystical consciousness. The Holy Grail, which held the blood of Christ symbolizes the Pranic energy that feeds the higher centers. It is a symbol similar to the Indian Vedic god “Soma” or “food of the Gods” which gave one a taste of immortality. King Arthur suffered during his quest for Camelot. He made sacrifices on the physical level and psychological levels. He loses his life force, which is reflected in the death of his kingdom. Arthur is wounded in his thigh, an enigmatic symbol of sexual loss. Basically, King Arthur's journey is a spiritual quest for god, as his suffering ends when he returns to Camelot and experiences enlightenment.  

Lord Krishna

Lord Krishna's life is an allegory on the journey toward self-realization or enlightenment. His story holds many esoteric secrets and is a universal template that many other mythic-religions followed. I am presenting only one small incident in Krishna’s' life, that of the GopisKrishna’s girlfriends.  I believe the Gopis are personifications of the intense desire to experience mystical ecstasy and the sublimation of sexual energy.

The significant events in Krishna’s life are metaphors of the physical and psychological and spiritual transformations. His flute symbolizes the inner music heard when Prana flows upward on a steady basis. Some mystics describe the sound as similar to humming bees or a distant waterfall. Krishna's blue or black skin color shows he embodies the feminine qualities of the goddess Shakti and can give his followers Shaktipat. (Black and Blue denote, Earth and water, both are feminine colors)
They worship Lord Krishna as God and as he personifies the highest consciousness one can achieve. He is closely associated with the serpent power throughout Hindu scripture. In the  Bhagavata Gita-Chapter 10, Krishna says;

“I am the eternal serpent; the joined ends which are a symbol of the beginningless and endless ring of eternity. Among the creatures of the deep, I am the God of the ocean. I am judge of the Day of Judgment, I am spirit.”

The transformative process is linked to the many characteristics of the serpent. Thus the serpent may give one immortality and wisdom when positive, but in its negative state, Kundalini is depicted as the Serpent-Satan. There are many occasions when Krishna defeats a Serpent, which refers to the cleansing the nerve poisons in the blood and nervous system and from a psychological perspective, crushing the serpent is symbolic conquering the ego and lower passions.

              Krishna Steals the Garments of the Unmarried Gopis

The Gopis are a group of cow herding girls, famous in Vaishnava Theology, for their unconditional devotion (Bhakti) to Krishna. They are described in the stories of Bhagavata Purana and other Puranic literature. The Gopis worship Druga-Shakti, who is associated with Lord Krishna, which indicates their love is more a wish to become enlightened than anything else.

The young Gopis represent the psychological drive to experience higher consciousness. They follow and worship Krishna wherever he travels with swoons of ecstasy in his presence. Praying to the goddess Durga, to become one of his wives, they are saddened when Krishna leaves.

There are parts of the human body which the ancients personified. In this case, the Gopis symbolize the whole nervous system that experiences the extreme pleasure of mystical ecstasy whenever Pranic energy moves through the Nadis. The nervous system and the cells feel the same ecstatic just as the mind does. This interpretation becomes evident in the episode of Krishna stealing their clothes.

The desire for the mystical experience explains why the Gopis adore Lord Krishna.

The story of the Gopis, from the  Srimad Bhagavatam, Canto 10-Chapter 22; 

"During the first month of winter, the Gopis took a vow to worship the goddess Kâtyâyanî. At dawn, they bathed in the cool waters of the Yamuna. Performing worship with mantra and prayer they asked the goddess to “please make the son of Nanda (Krishna) the Gopa my husband!" After arriving at the river one day and singing about Krishna, they laid their clothes on the shore and enjoyed playing in the waters. Krishna, the Supreme Lord, approved this, surrounded by His companions, he went to that spot to make their actions a success. He stole their clothes and quickly climbed into a Kadamba tree. Laughing together with the boys He made fun by saying:

"Come here oh girls if you like, and take each your own garment. I am serious; it is not a joke since you must be tired because of the vow. All these boys know that I have never stated something untrue. Therefore oh slender girls, come [out of the water] one by one or all together to cover you."

With that prank, he saw how the Gopis, steeped in love for Him, looked at each other and had to laugh, but being embarrassed, they did not come out of the water.

"We beg you, behave like the beloved son of the gopa, Nanda we know, as the one renown throughout Vraja oh dearest one. Please give us our garments, we are cold! We, Your maidservants will do whatever you say, please give us our clothes back oh Knower of the Dharma, or else we will tell the king about it!"

The Supreme Lord said: "If you are my servants, must you then not do what I told you and with your innocent smiles come out of the water to pick out your garments? I will not give them if you do not do so, and with the king being angry, what can he do about it?' Thereupon all the girls, pained by the cold, came shivering out of the water, covering their pubic area with their hands. The Supreme Lord seeing them defeated put satisfied about the purity of their love their garments over his shoulder and said with a loving smile:

"Because during the observance of a vow, you were bathing naked in the water, you have offended Varuna (god of water) and the other gods. To atone for that sin you must pay your obeisance with your palms joined together over your heads and then take your garments back."

With this being pointed out by Lord Krishna, the girls considered their skinny-dipping a fall from their vow. Intent on successfully completing that vow, they, therefore, offered their obeisance’s to the "Purifier of All Sins." The Supreme Lord Krishna satisfied to see them bowing down, thereupon mercifully gave them back the garments.

Despite seriously having been cheated, not being acknowledged in their shame, being laughed at and made to act like puppets on a string with their clothes being stolen, they felt no enmity towards Him, for they were happy to associate with their beloved one. Having put on their garments, they were smitten by their beloved, with minds captivated and completely incapable of moving, full of shyness they

"The desire of those whose consciousness is fully absorbed in me does not lead to material lust, just as roasted and cooked grains, as a rule, are not capable of causing new growth."

“Dear girls, go now to Vraja. Having achieved the supreme state of fulfillment, you one of these nights will enjoy with me together. That was what you had in mind with the vow to be pure in your worship of the Goddess."

Thus being instructed by the Supreme Lord, the young girls, with their desire fulfilled meditating upon His lotus feet, could only with great difficulty [bring themselves to] return to the cowherd village.

The Interpretation

Ancient myths and legends have more than one level of meaning. It is normal to perceive the characters in a story as independent individuals but to truly understand the narratives; we should see the surrounding characters as projections of the protagonists' mind. This technique enables the physical and psychological aspects of the protagonist to be turned into supporting characters that interact and help develop the theme of the plot. Thus many transformative processes within the body are made into to exterior objects or persons, such as the Gopis, water (Prana), and the (tree).

On the physical dimension, the Gopis symbolize the prana flowing through the nervous system, which enjoys the same bliss as the mind does during ecstasy. In my other articles, I show how physical objects are used to express the transformation- the tree symbolizes the human spine and brain. Water, on the other hand, refers to the movement of Prana and its cleansing effect.

All the symbols are linked together. Krishna is the essential character in Canto ten.  He represents many different aspects of Kundalini Shakti and the power to enlighten; his presences are bliss itself.

On the spiritual level, the Gopis are symbolic of the heart 
approach to god.

The Gopis have an intense desire to experience god, in this case, Lord Krishna. Since the sexual energy provides much of the refined Prana needed for higher consciousness, it’s crucial to be chaste for a certain amount of time which helps in recirculating Pranic energies. Thus the Gopis made a vow to be pure for the Goddess Durga-Shakti. For a month they chant and pray, hoping to become the bride of Krishna. In essence, they are sublimating their sexual energy, by turning it into love for God.

Krishna tempts the Gopis sexually to test their vow of chastity and find if they are pure enough to marry him. This alludes to the “sacred marriage” motif, the conjunction of Shiva and Shakti, male and female, or the individual consciousness and the universal. It is an incredibly blissful merging of two aspects (male and female) of the psyche which only occurs after many lifetimes of conscious effort.  The final step is self-realization. 

This concept explains why the Gopis pray to become the wife of Krishna. It is not a literal marriage, but a symbolic one based on the internal conjunction of the Ida (female) and Pingala (male). The ‘sacred marriage’ is found in fairy tales at the end of the story and in many of the ancient spiritual myths such as Psyche and Cupid, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty.

There are many sacred texts and myths that are meant to be understood on a deep psychological level, and sometimes from the exact opposite viewpoint of a literal interpretation. For instance, at first glance, it looks as if Krishna has some type of perverted sexual attraction to young girls. And sadly, most readers have missed the real meaning. Krishna stole the clothes to indicate sexual desires must be sublimated. The visual evidence is seen by Krishna’s hiding of the dresses up in a tree; a symbol for the spinal cord and brain. In essence, his actions are allegorical. The most apparent proof this interpretation is out of Krishna's' own mouth, when as he says;

"The desire of those whose consciousness is fully absorbed in me does not lead to material lust."

Proceeding with this same line of thought, the naked Gopis, by bathing in the waters are undergoing a spiritual baptism. A motif associated with the cleansing power of Kundalini, which is also expressed by Krishna's conquering of the poisonous Serpent Kaylia found in the river.

 Some scholars describe the young Gopis in terms of sacrificing everything for God, which includes the ego and pride. The Gopis were cheated, ashamed, and "laughed at and made to act like puppets on a string" yet they felt no enmity for Krishna. The suffering was a test of worthiness and love of God. They passed all their trials, summarizing the physical and psychological steps an initiate passes through before becoming enlightened, yet still loved Krishna.

In summary, the Gopis experienced a mystical state when in the presence of Lord Krishna. When he leaves, they are sad and anxious, mirroring the loss of bliss and ecstasy. The Gopis quickest path toward the goal of perennial higher consciousness is to sublimate all of their lower emotions and sexual energy, symbolized by their nakedness in front of Lord Krishna, while the final goal of enlightenment is expressed in a sacred marriage to Krishna, a metaphor of the individual merging with the infinite, or the male (Krishna) merging with the female (Gopis).

In the final stanza, Krishna gives spiritual advice; making it very clear,  that he is giving his followers a spiritual path to follow in life, not the afterlife. This is why I consider the story of Lord Krishna,  a universal template on spiritual transformation.

Krishna said, "To perform with one's life, wealth, intelligence and words always for the sake of the welfare of all embodied beings, to be in this world of such a kind of birth, is the perfection of life for every living being."

Author /Joseph Alexander /2/16/2016 - edited 2/8/2019


 2. Canto 10, Srimad Bhagavatam, Chapter 22

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