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ramakrishna forward

To: alt.yoga, alt.magick.tantra
From: yohanan@my-dejanews.com
Subject: Ramakrishna's Tantrika Guru (was: Re: Indian Men, American Women)
Date: Mon, 12 Oct 1998 20:49:41 GMT

In article <19981009201006.09200.00008868@ng18.aol.com>,
  vatreya@aol.com (VAtreya) wrote:
>
> In the life of Ramakrishna paramahamsa, it is mentioned that he learnt the
> tantra art  from a yogini. i remember reading it in swami nikhilananda's book
> 'life of swami vivekananda' but never thought it could provoke discussion. i
> would like to know who this yogini might be.
> thanks
> Vasudevan S Atreya

A few months after the Rani (Ramakrishna's original patroness) died in
1861,
a strange woman appeared at the temple river landing.  An
attractive--one
text describes her as "extraordinarily sexy"--middle-aged brahmin woman
(or
"brahmani"), she was dressed in the red robes of a Bhairavi and carried
a
bundle of books in her hand.  Her hair was dishevelled, like that of
Kali. 
She claimed that she had found two out of the three great souls that had
been
revealed to her by the goddess.  She was now seeking the third.  To
Hriday's
amazement--Ramakrishna had refused to associate with women up to this
point--Ramakrishna immediately entrusted himself to her wisdom, relating
to
her all his visions and strange experiences, "like a child."  The
Bhairavi
assured the troubled priest that he was not mad by using her books to
prove
that the same things had happened to Radha, the lover of Krsna, and
Caitanya,
the sixteenth-century saint of Bengal.  "Who calls you mad, father?  You
are
not mad.  You are in great ecstasy."  Probably at the Bhairavi's
prodding,
Mathur (Ramakrishna's patron) brought in a local Tantric scholar named
Vaishnavacharan, whom the Bhairavi seems to have known, to establish the
Bhairavi's conclusions that Ramakrishna's seemingly pathological
behavior was
in fact a sign of his unprecendented religious status.  The young priest
was
relieved when Vaishnavacharan's diagnosis matched the Bhairavi's: "I'm
glad
to know it's not a disease."  A similar discussion, staged again by
Mathur
shortly after the arrival of Gauri, yet another Tantric scholar, would
conclude that Ramakrishna was a veritable incarnation of God.  Mathur,
the
Bhairavi, and their Tantric friends were clearly in control of things.

The precise nature of Ramakrishna's relationship with the Bhairavi, like
almost everything else about the saint, is something of a secret.  In
the
Katham.rta we are told that after seeing Ramakrishna eat, Gauri used to
ask
Ramakrishna whether he took the Bhairavi for his sadhana, that is,
whether he
had engaged in ritual intercourse with her.  Ramakrishna made no reply
to
Gauri's question, or if he did, M refuses to record it.  The reader is
left
with a similar silence in the Jivanav.rttanta.  Datta uses an ambiguous
section heading for these initial scenes with the Bhairavi, a heading
which
constitutes, like Gauri's curiosity, a question and like Ramakrishna's
reply,
a refusal to answer.  The phrase Datta uses is brahmaNir sahita milana. 
It
could mean either "union with the Brahmani" or "meeting with the
BrahmaNi,'
depending on how one wants to take the verbal noun, milana.  The term is
commonly used to mean sexual union.  When Ramakrishna, for example, uses
the
term, it usually refers either to the sexual pleasure a wife and husband
experience in their conjugal relations or to a mystical form of sexual
union:
"Saccidananda Siva is in the thousand-petaled lotus--he unites with
Sakti. 
The union (milana) of Siva and Sakti!"  It is also used in the texts to
refer
to the physical joining of the sexual organs, and to Tantric ritual
intercourse.  The term, however, can also mean simply "meeting."  But
even
here, it should be pointed out that, for Ramakrishna, a "meeting" of
this
type possesses unmistakable sexual dimensions: "Sitting down or visiting
with
a woman for a long time, that too is called sexual intercourse (ramaNa). 
Accordingly, in the last volume of the Katham.rta, the Paramahamsa,
quoting
the Tantras, lists "the eight types of sexual intercourse
(maithunamaShTanga)
that a renunciant must avoid: "There are eight kinds of sexual
intercourse. 
That bliss one experiences when one listens to talk about women, that is
a
kind of sexual intercourse.  Talking about women (praising them) is also
a
kind of sexual intercourse.  Keeping anything of a woman's close to you
and
deriving bliss from it, that too is a kind of sexual intercourse. 
Touching
is a kind of sexual intercourse."  For Ramakrishna, as for the Tantras,
any
kind of social intercourse with a woman is always just that:
intercourse. 
Human interaction, at least between the sexes, is charged with sexual
powers,
acknowledged or not.

Datta's use of the expression "Union with the BrahmaNi," then, is at
best
ambiguous.  He never explicitly describes a scene in which Ramakrishna
actually engages in intercourse with the Bhairavi, but in the end he
leaves
the door open to just such a possibility by his acknowledgement that he
is
keeping secrets: "We have heard of various happenings concerning the
BrahmaNi, but on this topic we hesitate to reveal all of them to the
public."
 Like Ramakrishna in the Katham.rta, then, Datta refuses to answer
Gauri's
question concerning the precise nature of Ramakrishna's
"intercourse"with the
Bhairavi.

This secret silence surrounding the Bhairavi and the ambivalence that
her
presence seemed to invoke from practically everyone carries over into
almost
every scene involving her.  Mathur, of all people, immediately
distrusted
her.  Suspicious of both her physical charms and her traveling habits
(she
traveled alone), he is said to have one day asked her mockingly, "Where
is
your Bhairava [male Tantrika], O Bhairavi?"  She cleverly pointed to
Siva
lying beneath the feet of the goddess in the Kali temple.  "But that
Bhairava
doesn't move," Mathur replied.  "Why have I become a Bhairavi if I
cannot
rouse the unmoving?" she snapped back.  Mathur shut up.

Two other early scenes involving the Bhairavi are especially revealing
in
light of my analysis of Kali as Mother and Lover.  In the first, the
Bhairavi
is meditating on her chosen god, Raghuvira (the same deity of
Ramakrishna's
family), in the Panchavati and is about to offer him food and drink when
the
sight of a "strange vision" plunges her into samadhi:

At this same time, the Master felt drawn [to that place] and in a
half-conscious state showed up there.  Completely possessed by a divine
power, he began to eat all of the ritual food offered by the BrahmaNi. 
After
a while, the BrahmaNi regained consciousness, opened her eyes, and saw
that
such actions of the Master, merged in an ecstatic state, corresponded to
her
own vision.  She was filled with bliss as the hairs of her body stood on
end.
 After a while, the Master regained normal consciousness and was
disturbed
about what he had done.  He said to the BrahmaNi: "Who knows, mother,
why I
lose control of myself and do such things!"

The Bhairavi, convinced now that her chosen deity dwelt in the body of
Ramakrishna, immersed her image of Raghuvira in the river, for she had
obtained "the concrete and abiding presence of Raghuvira in the body and
mind
of the Master."  Ramakrishna in effect had replaced the image.

It is important to note here the terms with which Ramakrishna commonly
addressed the Bhairavi--"Mother"-- and with which the Bhairavi addressed
Ramakrishna--"Child."  It was a relationship that Ramakrishna felt quite
comfortable with, despite the hints of something improper or scandalous
in
his behavior.  But sometimes the Bhairavi attempted to initiate a quite
different relationship, one to which Ramakrishna objected....

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