Coming Home To Krsna

Inner work, Spirituality, Yoga and meditation

I was born under the birth nakshatra of Anuradha, which is also the birth star of Radharani, the topmost devotee and beloved of Krsna. She is emblematic of the purest and highest form of divine love and surrender. Anuradha teaches the life lessons of unconditional love, selfless service, sacrifice, devotion and loyalty. As Saturn has the rulership of this nakshatra, he lends his resilience, dedication, perseverance, and discipline to Anuradha.

I didn’t realize until I got into astrology that plenty of my life experiences were filtered through the theme of my birth nakshatra. I had been seeking true, eternal, divine, otherworldly love all along, but that desperate search led me to the wrong places when I was immature. 

If I talk about myself from seven years back, I did not have a shred of spiritual awareness within me. I had not been raised in an environment upholding strong dharmic values. Even though I had seen my mother do her daily puja and certain rituals during religious festivals, that had not helped to strengthen my faith in God. I also looked down upon the Vedic culture and my Bhartiya lineage with contempt and mockery. 

Why such denigration? 

Possibly, I had become heavily influenced by the modern concept of freedom of women, and found the traditional feminine values of sacrifice, modesty and surrender to be binding. I had frequently noticed men take women’s purity and dedication for granted, ever since my childhood, and that’s why I had subconsciously started considering those values itself as problematic. I had been an active witness of my mother’s constant pain and regret because no one truly reciprocated her efforts with admiration and support. That made me question as a teenager if being selfless was worth it at all.

The media and celebrities played a major role in my dissatisfaction with the position of conventional women in today’s world. The whole media was rampant with ideal beauty standards and objectification of women; as a result I also started treating myself like an object, trying very hard to live up to those beauty standards. I had low self-worth and a gullible mind; hence I got easily influenced by whatever I saw in the magazines and television. I thought that wearing short and revealing dresses was an indication of my modernism and personal freedom; I scoffed whenever I used to see someone dressed in traditional wear, visiting the temple, and I made fun of them.(O Krsna! Forgive me for the times I have been so foolish.)

The current world is laden with misrepresentation of our holy scriptures. By reading them, I naively assumed that even our shastras consider women lowly. The misinformation about the Sanatan Dharma was widespread, and I had easily accepted them. I lacked discrimination in my buddhi(intelligence).That’s why I decided that I didn’t need such restrictions on myself. I required no regulation, and wanted to live a life full of unchecked passion. It was important to ask myself at that point if I was truly free, as I was hoping myself to be?

Many incidents took place in my life, and my soul started finally looking for the purpose of this existence. After leaving multiple jobs, being a shitty employee, being heart-broken in several relationships, I started to wonder if life was all about getting hurt. I already had developed an understanding at that stage that nothing and no one lasts forever. Human relationships seemed superficial and distasteful, where no one knew what true love meant. Everyone seemed to be wearing a costume, a farce where they appeared to be likable to people around them, but no one was honest about their intentions.

Externally, even though I had rejected the dharmic principles indicated for women, deep inside I was yearning to be in a position of surrender and loyalty to someone worthy of my devotion. I had picked up bad habits and addictions as a guise for sure, but somewhere I knew it came from a feeling of desolation and lack of proper direction. I was just like a boat being swayed by the tides of the ocean, without any clue about my anchorage. 

I would often be stuck in the cycle of clinginess, codependency, extreme attachment and expectations, anger, jealousy, resentment, idealizing love and romance. But none of that ever brought me endless happiness, which I used to daydream about. Where was I going wrong? Was my idea of romance and love an illusion, and didn’t stand a chance in this practical world? Does love fade away over time? Do people change and lose their attraction, intensity, passion and efforts as the time goes by in the relationship?

I was heavily depressed and questioning my sanity if I should ever open up to anyone about my feelings. I had made the huge mistake of placing my worth in other people’s hands, in terms of how they valued me. I would go above and beyond to please them, be loyal to them, but I would be betrayed in several ways in my anticipation. It was a typical doormat behavior. I was in pain, and felt like I should suffer till the time I die, because if deception is the reality of human life, I should numb my feelings to this world and lock away my heart in a box.

My soul was secretly pining for someone unknown, beyond this world to hold me in his arms and never let me go, who would just read my intensity and depth with all sincerity, and cherish me forever. “What is forever anyway? Does anything last forever at all? Maybe it’s an impossible dream and true soul union doesn’t exist. How do I find something so rare in this fleeting world full of shallow experiences?” Having no answers to my hopelessness, I curled like a baby, while lying in a pool of sorrow and emptiness.

Soon through karmic alignment, I got married within a year to a sincere, responsible man through personal choice. Our marriage wasn’t an easy ride, because both of us carried our unresolved insecurities, subconscious fear and pain to the relationship. As a result, we had numerous ego clashes and high expectations of each other, without knowing how to strike the balance. Thankfully, six years down the line, we both have matured extensively in our approach to this matrimony, where despite our ups and downs, we have learned to appreciate each other’s individuality and become true companions to one another. 

This change did not occur on its own. It was brought upon by my active spiritual quest in this life, and potentially a carry-on from other past lives.

My questions related to this human existence, and the true nature of love, relationships augmented even further after experiencing a challenging wedlock. My natural tendency was to escape in a daydream of some unknown force to save me from my internal distress. But I know I have always been led to dig deep in my psyche and courageously approach my inner demons. I was being pushed to find the why for all the agony I was experiencing? Was it my destiny? Was it all my fault? Was there a problem with the other person? What was the key to being happy within a relationship? Why does everyone have expectations of each other, and how to let go of them in order to stay equanimous? 

I tried finding my answers in the new-age spirituality(since I had already shunned the Sanatan Dharma during youth due to my erroneous, half-baked knowledge of shastras), and it was a fascinating field to me as the new-age teachings stressed upon self-love, inner divinity, manifestation, angels, spirit guides, ancestors, universe, magic, aliens, etc. And for a while, I got immersed in their philosophy because it helped me overcome my depression and lethargy in life. But that allurement started ending soon when I found my underlying questions unresolved. The patterns of hopeless romance, clinginess, jealousy, expectations still existed like a dormant disease.

I asked myself if being spiritual requires me to become rooted in my masculine energy and retract my nature of love and affection? I had often found the Vedic scriptures criticizing the nature of a woman, and unsuitable to pursue spiritual knowledge. Women were mostly asked to surrender to their husbands, and follow them under all circumstances as a wife’s dharma. I was unsure how those instructions applied to my life. 

I never had that urge to submit my will under the guidance of my husband. Was I too untamed?  Were the scriptures written from the point of view of a man, and that’s why they insulted the independence of women? Was I supposed to become practical, intellectual and emotionless in my approach to spirituality? What was my purpose in this life? Somehow, I had arrived at the epicenter of many conflicting ideas, and I didn’t know my way out of it.

I don’t remember how I got pulled back again into reading Vaishnav shastras (Krishna must have inspired my intelligence). Very soon, I found myself drifting away from all other philosophies of spirituality, and began searching my answers in Vaishnavism- this time with more seriousness. I also started with the basics of Ayurveda and Patanjali yoga, and while reading them I understood how our mind, spirit and body are interconnected. Any aberration in the body is directly connected to our state of mind and our consciousness. How we view and navigate the world outside was a direct reflection of what he held inside. 

I also gravitated towards tantra initially because of how Shakti, the primordial feminine energy, the force of nature was worshiped, and also how the divine union of Shiva and Shakti creates this entire universe. I felt a huge attraction for tantra because the feminine force was being revered without any condemnation; the divine union of Shiva-Parvati sounded like a fairytale to me. I could identify that similar intense desire within me- to be in union with someone who was beyond this world, where I could feel safe and nurtured in my delicateness and grace, comfortable to be utterly vulnerable and sensitive and still not feel unseen or unheard, but instead be warmly and vigorously embraced by Him who is the best and most admirable of all Men. 

But who is the Purushottama? I was pretty sure He didn’t belong to this world. But who was He for whom my heart had searched for all these years, and I had ended up directing that desire to the wrong people?

It was at that stage when Krsna led me to Him; the journey to His heart and attain His prema is still ongoing. Where the rest of the paths felt incomplete and irresolute, the road to Him has consistently brought me peace, protection and assurance.

“All that has a form in this material manifestation (like earth, water and fire) and that which does not have a form (like air and ether), all that is seen and unseen, all that is spoken and not spoken, it is all Your manifestation O Purushottama! So I offer my respectful obeisances to You again and again.” -Vishnu Purana 1.4.24

“[Nārada Muni said:] O Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa, unlimited Lord, source of all mystic power, Lord of the universe! O Vāsudeva, shelter of all beings and best of the Yadus ! O master, You are the Supreme Soul of all created beings, sitting unseen within the cave of the heart like the fire dormant within kindling wood. You are the witness within everyone, the Supreme Personality and the ultimate controlling Deity.”- Srimad Bhagavatam 10.37.10

“Let us approach You, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, for shelter. You are full of perfectly pure spiritual awareness and are always situated in Your original identity. Since Your will is never thwarted, You have already achieved all possible desirable things, and by the power of Your spiritual energy, You remain eternally aloof from the flow of the qualities of illusion.” -Srimad Bhagavatam 10.37.22

“I am transcendental to the perishable world of matter, and even to the imperishable soul; hence I am celebrated, both in the Vedas and the Smṛitis, as the Puroshottam.” – Bhagavad Gita 15.18

Coming across multiple scriptural mentions of Krishna being the ultimate and original Purusha, who was in control of everything within and outside the universe, who creates, maintains and destroys multiple universes in the blink of an eye, I was convinced that He is undeniably the best of all men, and no one comes closer to Him.

But, how do I get to know Him personally? Will He even know that I exist? Will He even accept me? Is He an unreachable goal? What would be my role by His side when He doesn’t need anything and is self-content? I have committed so many sins in this life and the previous ones. Why will Krsna even glance at me? Am I even worthy of this flawless, all powerful man? 

I felt impure and disgusted at myself, for I had been tainted by countless immoral acts knowingly or not; I felt like I might disappear in the thin air if my Lord looked too deep in my conscience. I was contaminated and unfit for Him.

I began searching for my answers in the sacred sound of Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam. 

And there He answered my burning questions in Gita,” Even if the most sinful person worships Me with no other desire than to please Me, I consider that person to be My devotee, as he has fixed himself completely in Me. Very quickly he becomes a righteous person, and becomes completely devoid of contamination. O son of Kunti, you declare that My devotee never perishes.” -BG 9.30-31 

“Concentrate your mind on Me. Be My devotee. Worship Me. Offer respects to Me. Having absorbed your body and mind in Me, surrendering to Me, you will come to Me. “ -BG 9.34

“Intelligence, knowledge, freedom from illusion, tolerance, truthfulness, sense control, mind control, pleasure, pain, birth, death, fear, fearlessness, non-violence, equanimity, satisfaction, austerity, charity, fame, infamy–all these various states of the living beings arise only from Me.” -BG 10.4-5

“I am the source of everything. Due to Me everything operates. Convinced by this knowledge, the intelligent persons, endowed with love, worship Me.” -BG 10.8

“With minds greedy for Me, being completely dependent on Me, mutually hearing about Me, and singing about Me, they continuously experience satisfaction and enjoyment.” -BG 10.9

“I appear within the heart of those who constantly desire to be with Me and worship Me with great love. By this appearance in their heart, they attain My direct association. To show favor to them, I, by Myself, situated in their mental functions, extinguish the darkness born of ignorance with the shining lamp of knowledge.” -BG 10.10-11

Probably, I did not need to worry about my purity. If I open my heart and just fall on His lotus feet, He would hold me close anyway because He is supremely merciful and an ocean of divine love. With all the human connections, I had always worried whether I’ll be accepted or understood by others in total earnesty. I had numerous cases of letting pride, disagreement, lack of trust or attention come in between those associations. Hence, I had distanced myself from the majority of them.

I am not adept at understanding the ways of this world. Being dishonest about my true self and feelings is not natural for me; and yet in order to keep the peace and not to ruffle the feathers, I have to often pretend to be someone I’m not. Just the simple awareness that Krsna witnesses everything in my conscience and heart, reassures me that even though I might have to be disingenuous and reserved in social circumstances, He is the one whom I never lie to. I simply cannot!

I did not want to fall in love with the mere idea of Krsna being out there somewhere, but rather I desired a solid relationship with Him by my side- all the time, every second. I kept on probing my psyche, “What kind of relationship have I been seeking with Him? Would it be okay to be clingy, extremely attached and co-dependent when it comes to Krsna? How far should I fall in love with Him? What does the divine love with Krsna feel like? Is it the same experience like the mundane world, where the intensity fades away after some time? What does He look like? What does His voice sound like? What color are His eyes and lips? What does His touch feel like? What jewelry and dress does He wear? Do I look good enough for Him? How can I please Him?” 

My mind was flooded with so many questions, and I did not have the answer to them until I started reading Srimad Bhagavatam, Narada bhakti-sutra and Bhakti Rasamrita-Sindhu sincerely. There I came to know about the different rasas of relationship Krsna has with His devotees, and they are exceptionally special and unique.

The five primary rasas one can experience with Krsna are:

(1) Santa Rasa  (Reverence),

(2) Dasya Rasa (loving service as eternal servant),

(3) Sakhya rasa (friendship),

(4) Vatsalya rasa (Parental affection), and

(5) Madhurya rasa (Conjugal/intimate love)

“From the three truths(karma, jnana and bhakti),bhakti alone is the highest truth, bhakti alone. Although it is one, bhakti has eleven forms: attachment to the glories of Bhagavan’s qualities; attachment to His beauty; attachment to His worship; to remembering Him; to being His servant; to being His friend; to being His parent; to being His lover; attachment to surrendering one’s whole being to Him; to being one in essence with Him; attachment to feeling separation with Him. So say all with one opinion irrespective of public opinion, the great teachers of Bhakti: the Kumaras, Vyasa, Suka, Shandilya, Garga, Vishnu, Kaundinya, Sesa, Uddhava, Aruni, Bali, Hanuman, Vibhishana and others.”   – Narada Bhakti Sutra 81-83

Krishna naturally pulled me towards His transcendental charm in the madhurya rasa. It was easy for me to give Him the position of my true Swami, my husband in the heart, as most of the doubts concerning the validity of my attraction for Him were already resolved. He is the perfect man; no one else can ever be like Him; everyone else I see has a fragment of Him, hence they are extensions of Him. But I have started carrying the desire to be with the Purna Purusha, my Madhusudana. How does one attain His prema?

I realize already that whatever appears to be lacking is solely my steadfast efforts. When I’m ready and worthy enough of Him, He will show up without fail. He might try to test my devotion in several ways. One of the challenges I would have to cross over would be this dense illusion of maya. I need to submit my entirety to Him, in order to win Him over. But how would I go beyond the entrapment of maya?

“The ocean of nescience is very difficult to cross because it is infested with many dangerous sharks. Although those who are non-devotees undergo severe austerities and penances to cross that ocean, we recommend that you simply take shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord, which are like boats for crossing the ocean. Although the ocean is difficult to cross, by taking shelter of His lotus feet you will overcome all dangers.”- SB 4.22.40 

“O son of Påthä, I quickly deliver from the ocean of repeated birth and death those who meditate on Me and worship Me with ananyä bhakti, having surrendered to Me and given up all other processes for attaining Me.” – Bhagavad Gita 12.6-7

Hence, all I need is to take His shelter for each and everything; with no sense of independence, but knowing that He is my eternal Pati(master and husband) and nothing else matters beyond Him. My senses should desire Him exclusively; my eyes should search for His beauty, His face and charm in everything; my nose should want to smell only His scent; my hands should crave only for His touch; my ears should listen only to His stories; my tongue should taste only His name and whatever He has tasted, and given to me out of love. Ah! Is that what love feels like?

Whatever would be defined as madness in this material world would turn into ecstasy and divine bliss in the spiritual world. The same actions when performed for the mortal beings would cause bondage and attachment, but when directed to Krsna would lead to liberation from the material conditioning but intense attachment to only Him. When would I even reach that stage in my heart and mind, when He would completely take over, and I would be unable to see anyone else beside Him? 

“Lord Kṛṣṇa’s garland had been crushed during His conjugal dalliance with the gopīs and colored vermilion by the kuṅkuma powder on their breasts. To dispel the fatigue of the gopīs, Kṛṣṇa entered the water of the Yamunā, followed swiftly by bees who were singing like the best of the Gandharvas. He appeared like a lordly elephant entering the water to relax in the company of his consorts. Indeed, the Lord had transgressed all worldly and Vedic morality just as a powerful elephant might break the dikes in a paddy field.” -Srimad Bhagavatam 10.33.22

The silent but sturdy acceptance of Krsna in my life has helped me face my worldly relations and marital life with more favorable receptivity, since my attention has willingly shifted towards Shyamsundar compared to the tedious problems of the mortal world. 

The lack of attention, bundles of expectations, hurt and loneliness I used to feel from the people around me has gradually disappeared, and been replaced by the knowledge that everyone acts under the influence of their own Prakriti. Whenever I get frustrated or angry due to any underlying attachment, I injudiciously choose to forget my eternal relation to Krsna, and allow myself to be deluded by maya.

Maybe whatever turbulence I have experienced until now has prepared me to just rely on Krsna constantly, and hold Him in the highest place, keeping everyone else secondary. But since there are certain responsibilities which I have been given in this life, I need to fulfill them as long as they don’t interfere with my loyalty to Krsna. But the ultimate purpose which I need to work for every single breath of my life is:

“The supreme occupation [dharma] for all humanity is that by which men can attain loving devotional service unto the transcendent Lord. Such devotional service must be unmotivated and uninterrupted to completely satisfy the soul.” – SB 1.2.6

If I ever find myself worrying about the mundane world problems, it sends a clear intuitive message of my lack of surrender and faith in Shri Hari. It pushes me to become more engaged in enriching my senses with Krsna, so that my indifference to the world stays in place, and only the thought of pleasing Shyam appears in the forefront.

One might question how one can accept Krsna as the husband despite being married in the world. Is that morally right? Srimad Bhagavatam states that: “Material activities never entangle the devotees of the Supreme Lord, who are fully satisfied by serving the dust of His lotus feet. Nor do material activities entangle those intelligent sages who have freed themselves from the bondage of all fruitive reactions by the power of yoga. So how could there be any question of bondage for the Lord Himself, who assumes His transcendental forms according to His own sweet will?” – 10.33.34

The worldly relations are all bound by the three gunas- sattva, rajas and tamas, and rooted in conditional transactions. It’s not pure love, but runs on selfishness and false pride. Since Madhusudana is beyond the three gunas, His very form and everything / everyone connected to Him is transcendental. That is why when one forms a relationship with Him, it is not bound by the rules of this world, but instead it causes liberation from the cycle of transmigration of souls. The prema for Krsna cannot be attained if selfishness or arrogance exists. The devotee becomes situated in their true svarupa(identity), the eternal body, according to their mood of worship. 

There is no focus on the complete elimination of ego. Rather, the ego bound by the three gunas is replaced by the spiritual identity, that I belong to Krsna alone, and His pure devotees. All other associations are temporary. Thus, whether one is married or unmarried, that kind of identification is the condition of the mind, body and ego. It does not affect the internal state of consciousness. Any relationship established with Krsna can never be judged by the dharma of the material world.

Upon long and thoughtful deliberation of my true feelings, I have realized that my spontaneous love for Krsna was more in the mood of the queens of Dvarka rather than the glorious gopis of Vraja. Hence, my meditation upon Him has taken the form of the sweet pastimes he spends with His queens.

“Śukadeva Gosvamī said: The master of the goddess of fortune resided happily in His capital city, Dvārakā, which was endowed with all opulences and populated by the most eminent Vṛṣṇis and their gorgeously dressed wives. When these beautiful women in the bloom of youth would play on the city’s rooftops with balls and other toys, they shone like flashing lightning. The main streets of the city were always crowded with intoxicated elephants exuding mada, and also with cavalry, richly adorned infantrymen, and soldiers riding chariots brilliantly decorated with gold. Gracing the city were many gardens and parks with rows of flowering trees, where bees and birds would gather, filling all directions with their songs.

Lord Kṛṣṇa was the sole beloved of His sixteen thousand wives. Expanding Himself into that many forms, He enjoyed with each of His queens in her own richly furnished residence. On the grounds of these palaces were clear ponds fragrant with the pollen of blooming utpala, kahlāra, kumuda and ambhoja lotuses and filled with flocks of cooing birds. The almighty Lord would enter those ponds, and also various rivers, and enjoy sporting in the water while His wives embraced Him, leaving the red kuṅkuma from their breasts smeared on His body.” -SB 10.90.1-7

“Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: By thus speaking and acting with such ecstatic love for Lord Kṛṣṇa, the master of all masters of mystic yoga, His loving wives attained the ultimate goal of life.” -SB 10.90.25

“The Lord, whom countless songs glorify in countless ways, forcibly attracts the minds of all women who simply hear about Him. What to speak, then, of those women who see Him directly?” -SB 10.90.26

It has been two years since I have been actively moving towards Krsna. But there are still many shortcomings within me which I wish to eliminate, so that I could serve Him better. It’s between me and Him. He knows where I need to work; even I know what I should let go in order to fully allow His dominance over me, but some anarthas still remain due to my foolish offenses in Bhakti here and there. 

This path for me has always been more intuitive than technical, and it has allowed me to embrace my feminine side to the fullest. The reason why I gravitated towards Vaishnav shastras was to understand the sweetness of different relationships my Lord shares with His devotees. How do both of them interact with each other? Is He equally aloof with His devotees as He is with the non-devotees? 

I was happily surprised to learn that Krsna doesn’t actually care about the rules and regulations in service, but rather the purity of intentions and love. He also is Bhakta-vatsala; mercifully kind to all His devotees, and personally takes care of them all the time. He makes sure that nothing interferes with their divine love, no matter what rasa the bhakta is situated in.

It has been my personal experience that following too many authoritative instructions in bhakti can be a hindrance to the free flow of love. At least that method has not worked perfectly for me, because I feel more balanced when my service comes through a softer, perceptive and spontaneous space. 

When I read scriptures, my intention is never to approach them for logical understanding and becoming an erudite, so that I could teach others when required, or have long discussions with someone when one disagrees with my path. But the goal is always to comprehend what my Lord wants me to discern, or the strong emotions which different devotees experience in union or separation from Krsna. Those emotions are not in mourning or joy about the destructible facets of the material life; but they emerge out of unalloyed spiritual ecstasy. They are so pure and powerful that they bind the Unconquerable Lord in the prema of the devotees.

My focus while reading the shastras is always to relish my senses by perusing carefully through the nectar of ambrosial bliss, I also self-analyze what all contamination still lurks inside me. Only by consistently working on my faults humbly, I can become qualified for personal service to Keshava. 

Many times I don’t grasp the hidden meaning behind certain verses, as I haven’t found an authentic guru yet. But still, whenever Krsna sends the right guru for me, I would wish that the essence of shastras be revealed to me in a very feminine manner.

The above stance has always felt quite natural to me, because it puts me in the position of acceptance, humility, calmness, beauty, softness, grace, sensitivity, openness to different expressions of emotions, while carrying the desire to be enjoyed and cherished by my Lord. Krishna is the only enjoyer as the Purna Purusha, and to be enjoyed by Him in whatever intensity one has absorption in Him, one has to be rooted in the opposite polarity. All the activities are solely to please Him, and not for personal gratification.

However, I show this side only to Krsna. With others, probably I function with a little indifference and detachment. But for my Lord, I always keep my submissive, emotional and vulnerable side.

When I was in my feminist mindset due to poor guidance from social media, I used to question, “Why should I surrender to a man? I want to be equally dominant and have things my way. No man deserves that kind of respect, where I treat them like my Bhagavan.” I kind of understand why I was so against that total idea of surrendering to a man. I had not come across any male figure till then whom I could find exemplary and learn from spiritually. Upon subconscious inquiry, I ascertained that for me to surrender my everything, I would need someone who is stronger than everyone else around, who is independent and the most powerful in all aspects. Why would I put a mortal being on pedestal when that person is equally encumbered by the force of maya, and battling personal trauma and insecurities? 

Over years of being on the bhakti-path, my approach changed tracks. When I accepted Krsna as the Only Man for me, since He is the most powerful, I didn’t mind being entirely in my feminine energy and complying with Him, without hesitation. It’s the nature of the feminine to be receptive to the masculine energy, however the beauty and balance of that synergy only appears if the masculine force knows how to take the lead, and make her feel protected and loved. 

According to the shastras, the dharma of women asks them to follow the lead of their husband, for the purpose of spiritual advancement. The qualities of devotion, loyalty and service towards the husband guarantees good results in her afterlife. Nevertheless, I don’t feel much attachment to any of my material world relations. Whether it’s my spouse, mother, father, siblings or friends, I honor and cherish them, but I still carry a certain neutrality in my heart knowing that the relationships with respect to this mortal body are temporary and conditional. Only the association with Madhusudana is permanent, eternal and unconditional. 

So, if I desire spiritual benefits, may that be fulfilled by the Lord Himself, since He is my Pati; He is JagatPati. May He lead me to where I need to be,while I stay engaged in serving and pleasing Him all the time.

There was a stage in life where I misapprehended the teachings of the shastras; as a result I had no faith in them. Partially, that detestation had also been fuelled by the modern media and absence of Sanatan Dharma teachings right since my childhood. However, after going through grueling experiences with people, when I got caught in the web of darkness and depression, I had started seeking genuine answers for my tormentation, and the solution for it. Nothing could provide a firm remedy, except the wise teachings of the scriptures. The sages who had meditated upon the Lord and His potencies- everything they had written was for the benefit of humanity, enabling them to lead a meaningful life centered around the Supreme Reality, and ultimately aim for liberation from this material world bondage. There was no touch of ego, selfishness involved in their words since they were already Brahma-jnani, and beyond the control of three modes of nature.

Hence, it was a huge foolishness on my part to shun those enlightened instructions. Many might argue that why should one follow those outdated teachings written by people in the ancient times? How would they provide solutions for the current world problems? Upon close observation and reflection upon the shastras, one notices how each and every verse holds a precious, deep psychological examination of all categories of human beings. No one is generalized. The focus is always to raise the spiritual consciousness; all facets of mankind’s experiences are explored, and the solutions provided are timeless in order to live a balanced, harmonious life.

I no longer suspected the authenticity and necessity of the shastras, but I was still wondering why the scriptures portrayed women in such a bad light? Why were men always pointed out to have more intelligence, and women to be cunning and foolish? 

I found my answers recently in the book written by a devotee named, “Feminine Spirituality- Jaya Devi”, and I could not have been more thankful. The book is such a delightful read, and her experience feels quite relatable to my spiritual journey and curiosity on multiple levels. Her guruji is someone I admire and respect, and he is an esteemed scholar on the path of Gaudiya Vaishnavism.

Jaya Devi asked her guruji the same question about women being criticized so often in the shastras. Guruji answered that women referred in the Vedic texts are generally used synonymous with Prakriti, the basic cosmic matter which creates the universe. The entire universe sprouts out of the union of prakriti and purusha(the spirit). These both are without any origin. 

Krishna is the Adi-Purusha, endowed with His sleeping energy maya. By this energy, the three gunas become differentiated, and from those gunas arise the universe, mahat-tattva, ahankara, ether, air, fire, water, earth, the devatas, sages and all living beings (I don’t want to go very technical, but let me try to wrap this up in short). The Lord has entered the bodies created by maya (prakriti), along with the jiva. Therefore the jiva within the body is called Purusha. He starts getting attached to the sensory pleasure due to the covering of ignorance, and becomes unable to give it up. Prakriti is connected to Purusha, as she produces the body, sense and sense devatäs, and jiva is connected to Prakriti by his capacity to experience happiness and distress. 

The jiva, identifying with prakriti in the form of his body, thinks he is experiencing joy and sorrow which are born from his mind. This is caused by his association with the body, which causes his birth in various bodies of devatä and animal. There is also the supreme person in the body, called Paramätmä, the great lord, who is the witness situated close to the jiva, merciful to him, acting as his supporter and protector. The goal becomes to see the indestructible Paramatma in everyone, and to realize that the jiva(purusha) is not the doer or enjoyer of anything. Krsna alone is the supreme enjoyer. One has to identify how prakriti functions through every living being, and consciously work to transcend the three gunas by meditating upon the Paramatma or surrendering to Krsna.

“When the jiva sees that action is being performed by the gunas, in the form of the doer, the action and the objects of the actions, and he understands that the soul is separate from this, he attains a state of merging with Me.” -Bhagavad Gita 15.19

So, irrespective of whether it’s a male or female, if the person is under the illusion of prakriti, and bound by material enjoyment, that person is a “woman”. Because of the misconstrual of the hidden meaning of the shastras, the less knowledgeable person wrongly labels the females as maya, based upon their external body, rather than the internal temperament. The wise sages, who were beyond material conditioning, had no bias against females. The shastras ask for detachment from “women” because whether male or female, whoever has attraction for temporal pleasure, that person is under the influence of prakriti, and has therefore forgotten about one’s true self (the purusha).

There are also some instances where men are asked to stay away from women in scriptures, as they are maya. The purpose is not to insult women, but to insinuate that attraction to the physical body is the cause of bondage; also males by nature have stronger sexual appetite compared to females. So, the stronger message used in shastras serve as an indirect warning, because entanglement in unregulated or adharmic sexual activities leads one away from their spiritual progress. Even excessive attraction in one’s own wife, and neglecting other dharmas of one’s life can also cause enmeshment.

In Manusmriti, Manu mentions that women should not be given independence. But someone whose mind is conditioned by the modern colors of the world, and has inadequate understanding of Sanskrit can easily take it in the wrong direction. It’s a fact that women, whether married or single, are always preyed upon in a male dominant society. When men lack spiritual control over their senses and lust, they are capable of physically, psychologically or emotionally abusing women, without having empathy. Manu doesn’t object to the independence of women if they are able to protect themselves in all rights. But if one is incapable, it becomes the responsibility of a just and righteous male figure to protect her from any sort of exploitation.

 Women are not supposed to be equal to men because spiritually, they fulfill different roles. Their outward disposition as well as inner values are distinct. Females have more kama(desires, not sexual lust) because they think not just about themselves, but for the entire family that they care for. She thrives on compassion, nurturing, service for everyone connected to her. Her dependence on the male, who works in the world through willpower, go-getter mode and practicality, is not a bad thing.

If she is capable of fully protecting herself from all sorts of male exploitation, and can fend for herself, while gearing towards her spiritual upliftment, there is nothing wrong with that path. But yes, it will be challenging to do it all alone.

The sacred scriptures are full of esoteric references, but only someone who has transcended the material bondage can read between the lines, else the same directives which are written to free humanity from the clutches of maya, can be misused to create barriers and suppression.

Someone pointed out lately that my intuitive approach on the path of bhakti-yog was a mere act of sentimentality rather than logic. Probably, because I do not study shastras in a calculated and technical manner! I do not deny the importance of the above approach. But wherever I’m positioned spiritually, My intention while reading any Vaishanav scripture is to secretly extract the sweetness of my Lord and His elevated devotees. Of course! I cannot do that intimately without the help of a qualified guru. But I can try my best in his/her absence.

To realize Krsna as their husband or lover, one has to accept their feminine nature, whether male or female in body. It’s usually tough for men to surrender to this truth, because they are used to spear-heading their way through the world. To let go, and allow Krsna to take control of their lives means to become completely receptive to his energy, and move beyond the identification with masculine force of life.

True love for Krsna arises beyond the dharma, austerities, charities, formalities of purification and pious rituals. He is attracted by spontaneous attraction for Him. He answers anyone according to the intensity of their absorption. So, in my perception the importance of shastras are more for understanding what pleases or displeases Krsna, and utilizing that fine knowledge to serve Him in every possible moment of my life. I’m not there yet, but that’s exactly the centerpoint of my life.

I don’t care whether I can satiate someone’s curiosity by engaging in deep, philosophical, logical analysis of the shastras. It doesn’t serve my goal. Rather, I desire to engage more soulfully, intentionally in arts, culture and beauty, just to please my Lord, and not to fuel my vanity. 

My life-long search for true love is over. I no longer seek anyone besides the company of my Lord. I wonder when I will become capable of giving Him unbound joy, His sweet smile gazing at me with warmth, with a sweet hint of mischief. May that divine bliss translate to all the activities and engagement of this material world. May I become someone He truly holds dear; may I come to know His heart since that’s a rare gift. He is extremely merciful to anyone who comes to his shelter; may I not misuse His kindness ( which I thoughtlessly end up doing more often than not).

I will now conclude this article by describing the glories of my Lord through the words of Devi Rukmini:

“The aroma of Your lotus feet, which is glorified by great saints, awards people liberation and is the abode of Goddess Lakṣmī. What woman would take shelter of any other man after savoring that aroma? Since You are the abode of transcendental qualities, what mortal woman with the insight to distinguish her own true interest would disregard that fragrance and depend instead on someone who is always subject to terrible fear? 

Because You are suitable for me, I have chosen You, the master and Supreme Soul of all the worlds, who fulfill our desires in this life and the next. May Your feet, which give freedom from illusion by approaching their worshiper, give shelter to me, who have been wandering from one material situation to another.” -Srimad Bhagavatam 10.60.42-43

I carry my Lord’s instructions securely in my heart: “Giving up all dharmas, just surrender unto Me alone. I will deliver you from all sins. Do not worry. “- Bhagavad Gita 18.66