Tag Archives: Bhagavad Gita

The Ashta Nayika in Indian painting, some Krishna and Radha thoughts, Linus and Hinduism, and Byz Amb on “safe” sex

30 Dec

“The Ashta-Nayika is a collective name for eight types of nayikas or heroines as classified by Bharata in his Sanskrit treatise on performing artsNatya Shastra. The eight nayikas represent eight different states (avastha) in relationship to her hero or nayaka.[1] As archetypal states of the romantic heroine, it has been used as theme in Indian painting, literature, sculpture as well as Indian classical dance and music.”

Abhisharika-nayika takes an arduous journey on a starry night, in the dark to meet her lover. Mandi Himachal, ca 1815
Abhisarika nayika, “the heroine going to meet her lover”. She turns back to look at a golden anklet, which has just fallen off. There are also snakes below and lightning above
Khandita rebuking her lover
Proshita-patika mourning

The full taxonomy below. Assuming that Krishna and Radha come up very often as models for each of these erotic-psychic states, since their love manifests itself in almost every conceivable amorous form, from the most divine and exalted states of theosis, to the most delightfully petty states of betrayal, jealousy, spite, vengeance, longing and depressed insomnia, especially in the Gita Govinda. See also: Radha-Krishna.

1Vasakasajja Nayikaवासकसज्जा नायिकाOne dressed up for union
2Virahotkanthita Nayikaविरहोत्कंठिता नायिकाOne distressed by separation
3Svadhinabhartruka Nayikaस्वाधीनभर्तृका नायिकाOne having her husband in subjection
4Kalahantarita Nayikaकलहांतरिता नायिकाOne separated by quarrel
5Khandita Nayikaखंडिता नायिकाOne enraged with her lover
6Vipralabdha Nayikaविप्रलब्धा नायिकाOne deceived by her lover
7Proshitabhartruka Nayikaप्रोषितभर्तृका नायिकाOne with a sojourning husband
8Abhisarika Nayikaअभिसारिका नायिकाOne going to meet her lover

One of the most fun moment in the Gita Govinda is when Radha, suffering from Krishna’s sleep-around indiscretions with the gopis, the cow girls of Vrindavan, finds the strength to blow off Krishna, and immediately gets “hand” in the relationship, as we used to say, leaving the young prince-god stressed out, depressed and insomnia-plagued. Who hasn’t known the sweet pleasure of successfully turning the tables on somebody you’re involved with like that? I care nothing for your sufferings. as Heathcliff (or is it Catherine?) says in Wuthering Heights; or at least I’ll pretend that I don’t care. Then they reconcile and engage in some raunch-lite love, complete with bloody scratch marks on backs and bights and sloppy kisses… Great stuff, especially when we remember that this handsome young lover with a lover in his arms who’s salivating on his already sweaty, saffron-smeared chest is a manifestation of God himself, or, as the other …Gita tells us, the Very Principle of Existence Itself: “I am the taste of water.”

“And that, Charlie Brown, is what [Hindusim] is all about.”

‘Krishna and the Gopis on the Bank of the Yamuna River’; miniature painting from the ‘Tehri Garwhal’ Gita Govinda, circa 1775–1780
Krishna, Sleepless in Vrindavan. Manaku, 1730.
Henry Hopwood Phillips, @byzantinepower

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The “comforting illusion” of India

11 Nov

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I have a serious philosophical issue with all monotheisms; the concept just doesn’t hold water for me and I never understood why in junior high history it was presented as such a leap forward in the development of human consciousness.  Like, what’s so smart about this totally reductive idea?

I’ve always said that if I could be a sentient embryo and choose what religion I would be born into, it would be Hinduism, because it seems to me that it contains the most intelligent and sophisticated dialectic between unity and plurality.  Just the Gita — where a handsome, young, womanizing god is revealed to be the very principle of existence itself — has always been enough to seduce me both intellectually and emotionally — and sexually, frankly.  I think Kanha’s “I am the taste of water”, may be even more powerful than Yahweh’s «Ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ὤν» — “I am the Is”.

But it’s precisely that kind of Western romance with Hinduism and its infinite polymorphousness, to paraphrase Freud*, that has led to the “free pass” we’ve given to a criminal Modi from “Bible-belt” Gujarat and a criminal BJP for way too long.  It’s tempting and comforting to think that Hindu fundamentalism is an oxymoron, but fanaticism and hate can infect any ideology.

Modi is a criminal and the BJP and Shiv Sena — with its increasing stranglehold on one of the world’s great, open, cosmopolitan cities, which is why “Mumbai” infuriates me, though nobody seems to listen to me — are criminal, murderous organizations.

No amount of saffron and marigolds can change that.

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* Anthropologist Clifford Geertz used to tell an anecdote — whether real or not has never been verified — about an Englishman who asked a saddhu he came across one day where the universe was located.  And the holy man replied:

“On the back of an elephant that rests on the back of a turtle.”

“And the turtle?”

“On the back of another turtle.”

“And that turtle?”

“On the back of another turtle.”

“And that turtle?”

“Ah, sahib, after that it is turtles all the way down.”

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