I’ve seen a little Q&A recently, the question was about sahajiyas and why Krishna disclosed His intimate pastimes that started that deviation. I will not mention any names since I’m not competing with the provided answer.
The answer was along the lines that Krishna had to present His full personality, including His intimate pastimes, so we could know Him in full. Without it we would see Him as incomplete and ultimately impersonal.
That sounds nice but there’s a counterargument to that, too – nobody had any idea of those ultimate pastimes for millions of years and they survived, what’s the rush now? We, meaning the movement started by Lord Chaitanya merely five hundred years ago, are not the first devotees ever. There’s some scent of Christianity’s special privilege in this – no one before Christ, or Lord Chaitanya, could have been saved or rendered unalloyed devotional service. I hope we are not as proud as Christians, so I think there’s a need for a better explanation.
I don’t know the answer but thinking about Lord’s pastimes is not a bad thing to do anyway, so why not speculate a little?
The best answer I’ve ever heard so far was from HG Ravindra Swarupa Prabhu – every endeavor in the material world is covered by imperfections, even if initiated by the Lord Himself. It’s good that Lord Chaitanya gave us this secret knowledge but the downside is that after five hundred years of Kali Yuga it has been tinted with sahajiyism, if there is such a word.
We can take it even further – in Bhagavat Gita Krishna says that He establishes principles of religion but eventually they get lost and He has to come here again and explain them all over.
Look what we have done with sacrifices (we, the conditioned souls). Once it was the primary method of worshiping God but in the end it was just mass cow killing business and the whole Vedas needed to be rejected (by Lord Buddha) in order to stop it.
What is happening with sahajiyas is not even half as bad. Though their attitude of enjoyment can lead one off the proper devotional path it’s still incomparable to animal slaughter, is it?
This brings an obvious question – how bad sahajiyism really is? How does it balance against all the positive results of presenting Krishna’s intimate pastimes?
Let’s look at the downside itself – Krishna is presented as a lusty young man and so He is not taken seriously, His character questioned, and His authority to set a course of dharma for the rest of us is in doubt. Our service to the Lord goes way way back and even now it still doesn’t include any of Krishna established precedents in our daily practice.
Lord Ramachandra set an example – He came in a human form and He behaved like a human and He taught us how to be human – he taught responsibilities of the kings, wives, servants etc etc. What can we learn from Krishna’s example?
People are inspired to follow Lord Rama’s footsteps, people are prohibited from following Krishna’s. That’s an obvious problem.
Then came Lord Chaitanya and again He set a perfect example of executing devotional service in this world. He was married, He took sannyasa, He served devotees, He served prasadam, cleaned temples – we are inspired to follow Him in all regards, at least since He started chanting the Holy Names.
Krishna is definitely an exception here. To his credit He wasn’t responsible for broadcasting His intimate pastimes, they stayed well hidden for thousands of years, as I said. It was Lord Chaitanya’s decision, not Krishna’s.
So, did Lord Chaitanya do the right thing?
I don’t know. Very few of us gain any visible benefits from Krishna’s intimate relationships with the gopis. In fact we are discouraged from dabbling in them at all. But then again – there’s no principal difference between, say, rasa dance and enjoying being spanked by Mother Yashoda. They all are intimate exchanges between Krishna and His devotees who didn’t even know He is God – that’s a principal difference from pastimes of Lord Ramachandra or Lord Nrisimha, for example.
This is mighty confusing – we do not worship the Lord in any of those exalted rasas, we worship Him as the Lord, as our Supreme Master, so why do we need to know about them at all? As soon as we look at Krishna as our possible friend, son, or husband we are doomed – that’s a very dangerous knowledge to carry around, especially in our age when ALL our authorities have been brought down to ordinary man’s level and forced to be equal.
I cannot speak for other devotees but personally I’ve never been comfortable with surrendering to anyone. It’s not true that everybody is equally proud – there are plenty of people who don’t question the authorities an actually prefer to simply follow and depend. I’m one of those who doesn’t. Tell me that I can treat God as a friend, too, and I will not be able to stop my mind from indulging, God or no God. Luckily, as a male, I can’t quite imagine myself as a gopi lusting for Krishna so there are some benefits to my current conditioning.
Or, perhaps, this kind of approach to Krishna is not as bad as it seems and it doesn’t necessarily lead to spiritual suicide. Perhaps it leads to purification instead, just like any other contact with the Lord. Even without knowledge of Krishna’s intimate pastimes we approach Him with other inferior motives. Due to our imperfection we ask him to provide us with mundane sense enjoyment in one way or another, all our efforts are imperfect in this way. What we hope for is that by keeping in contact with Krishna even in this inferior way our hearts will be purified.
Maybe the same principle works with Krishna’s intimate pastimes. Maybe it’s okay to look at Him as a young playful boy, or a cute little baby, or even as a possible romantic interest as long as it keeps us engaged in thinking about Him, one way or another.
If it’s not okay – it’s all His fault.
He shouldn’t have told us about Himself then. As soon as He is presented in some personal form we can’t stop ourselves from evaluating and classifying Him by our material standards, it’s impossible not to, and it’s impossible to always approve of His behavior on the basis of our standards only.
Perhaps the answer is simple – I, and I suspect a lot of other people, too, would have been bored out of our wits if all we had to go on was the image of and old bearded man on a cloud.
Perhaps Krishna was simply trying new marketing strategies when people lost the interest in the old methods and, well, not everybody likes it and considers it infantile and debasing.
At least for those who do like it, it works rather well.
A small group of deviants who take it too far does not outweigh the benefits and the problem with sahajyism is not as acute as it was a hundred years ago, thanks to Bhaktivinoda Thakur and Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati – the Lord corrected the problem via their hands.
Our job is to raise this new marketing to professional level so it appeals to everyone.