Raas Leela

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Mystical dance of the soul

Raas Leela: Mystical Dance Of The Soul

Pranav Khullar The Times of India Mar 05 2015

The philosophical proposition of “achintya bheda abheda“, establishing a principle of an inconceivable oneness and difference existing simultaneously in nature, is at the heart of the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition of Chaitanya. Taking the middle path between Shankara's advaita which states that the individual soul and God are one and Madhava's dvaita position that the individual soul and God are eternally separate, Chaitanya suggests that God and his creation are separate yet inconceivably linked, just as the spider and its web, as the Sun and its sunshine, and the nature of this symbiotic relationship is incomprehensible to the human mind. This becomes the cornerstone of devotional theism, with Krishna personifying the Self, whose love is accessible to all jivas or individual souls once they aspire to it. From this tenet flowed the revolutionary Sankir tana movement of Chaitanya, the mass chanting and singing of the name of God. This ecstatic outpouring of love for one's deity in the form of singing and dancing was presented by Chaitanya as the most natural and best sadhana for the seeker. Krishna is Brahmn or Sat-chit-ananda, both the efficient cause and the material cause of the world, and even though He manifests Himself differently to different kinds of seekers, a bhakta alone can enjoy the blissful love of a personal god.

The notion of Krishna as the Supreme deity , the embodiment of the vedantic Self, man ifested itself in the singing of the leela or play of the boy Krishna, and in the resurrection of his playground, Vraja bhumi in Vrindavan. The Gau diya tradition establishes Radha as a symbol of supreme prema bhakti for Krishna, with Jiva Goswami stating it as the highest form of liberation, to which every Vaishnava seeker aspires.Chaitanya and his six Goswamis recreate the charm and aura of Krishna's boyhood at Vrindavana, by seeing Krishna as the highest personal aspect of Godhead.

Just as Vallabhacharya states his theological principle of surrender and grace to God, around the adoration and bhakti-seva of the boy Krishna, as at Nathdwara, through the Pushtimarga, Chaitanya takes the seeker into the magical raas-world of Krishna and the gopis, a mystical dance of the soul, incomprehensible to the worldly mind.

The Gaudiyas bring alive the innermost desire of each seeker to merge with Brahmn, embodied in the madhurya feelings of the gopis towards Krishna. Chaitanya prods the seeker to be like the gopis, wherein complete detatchment from the outer world alone will trigger the inner attachment towards Krishna.The union, separation and reunion of Radha especially , with Krishna, is nuanced in Gaudiya tradition sketching her out as the perfect epitome of this maha bhava, placing her as Krishna's eternal soul-mate at the centre of this theology . The vision of Krishna through the eyes and soul of Radha, is the highest form of bhakti.

Chaitanya also emphasised the need to chant the mahamantra, which would awaken this love for Krishna. And this awakening would be a call to the search for the larger meaning of life. Chaitanya brought the mahamantra chant of Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare hare Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, from the KaliSantarana Upanishad, to the people, stating ancient vedantic truths through the magnetic persona of Krishna, whom Chaitanya felt personified the Self completely .

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