QUOTE (Chanahari @ Nov 5 2006, 10:12 AM)
This is not only the fault of the today's culture and the modern man... actually, in today's culture (ie. modern Western culture) there are much more possibilities for a woman to be more an individual and not just an accessory or a consumer product for a man, although it would be foolish to deny that this notion remains existent in the West as well, especially in the consumerist subcultures of the younger generations. (After all, desire for power over others - this is what male and female chauvinists, national chauvinists, authority figures and others of this kind want -, and desire for excessive material consumption comes from the same source.) Still, I think the de-Radhaization of Radha-Krishna has more to do with the medieval Indian tradition and its male-centered resilience, than the Western way of thinking. There are much more "modern men" who can see women as equals than "non-modern men".
Sometimes I think there has been a de-radhanization (funny word), and sometimes I think there is progression to reveil more and more, and it just have not progressed far enough. If we look back in the tradition, the progression is to go from the less to the more intimate aspects of Godhead. At about the time of Chaitanya, Radha was introduced, and then the aspect of love between Radha and Krishna came.
There was a kind of cult, who wrote the Brahma vaivarta purana, that introduced Radha as separate goddess, part of Krishna, but it appears that it did not go the whole way. Maybe therefore that cult became forgotten, or rejected by Gaudiya Vaisnavas. Or maybe it was rejected since it was too bold for the male-dominated culture?
I believe this is connected with the position of women in culture. As long as women are opressed, and seen as inferior, it is not possible to have a philosophy where Radha is equal to Krishna, and where every women is a partial, patial expansion of Radha. That would make women equal to men, and if that is culturally impossible, the philosopy has to mirror that.
Today we find a little bit of the opposite. It is not culture that holds back, it is religious traditions. Women can't be equal to men, since the scriptures say otherwise. And even though Prabhupada did a lot for the equality, like giving women equal rights in ISKCON, and putting Radha and Krishna equally on the altar, still the philosophy is holding back and the equality does not come out.
Therefore I think the time is ripe to advance the philosophy about Radha one step more. Now is the time to see Radha as equally side by side to Krshna without problems. Now it is time to understand the mystery of Radha. And today, the time is ripe to thus see women as equal to men, side by side. There is nothing that holds back anymore.
Some are waiting for one of the GV gurus and acaryas to reveil that philosophy, but it just appears that many of them are more into holding on to the old traditions, their status quo, and not rocking the boat. After all, if you speak such philosophy, you fear being expelled from your status as GV guru and acarya. Therefore I don't think the advancement of the philosophy will come from one of the big established personalities.
Just like when the gopis wanted to dig out the Radha kund, and did not have the big faciltiies, but started to dig with whatever they had, I think the ermegence of Radha will come about in the same way. Those who really believe in it will have to start to dig small, with whatever they have. Together everyone will produce a big pond, and then everyone can take their bath in the pond of Radha. The mercy of Radha is available, it is just a matter of taking part of it.
Of course, in the West it was thought that it will be also more "efficient" to preach a monotheistic male God - Krishna only, and leave out Radha...
So to appease them, Western Gaudiyas, Iskconers in particular, accepted the self-designation of "Krishna conscious" (thereby disallowing the theoretical possibility of bhakti for Radha - and possibly for other divine beings - independently form the bhakti for Krishna). This process was catalysed by the new preachers' weak grasp of deep philosophy, the Western consumeristic male chauvinism; so this three factors could reach what the male-centeredness of the original Indian tradition in itself couldn't, and Radha was constrained into unprecedented insignificance.
Exactly what I think and feel.
Still, in the very widespread profilation of different branches of GV seen today, some are saying Radhe! Radhe! The main branch adheres to the same old male-dominant viewpoint, saying that they are the only true form. Maybe it has been like that all the time. We think that the main branch has always been like that. At the same time, the strong branch of ISKCON comes through single personalities. That branch was a minor branch in the beginning. This gives hope. It just requires one single person to turn the tradition for the future. The question is only - who is it?
Is it the wild avadhuta who runs around on the streets and sings Radhe! Krishna!
Or is it the person who sits more quietly and does not make a big noice about her?
What is the path actually? To rush forward boldly, or to take small careful steps?
Or will there be a revolution in the institutionalized ISKCON, by the mercy of Prabhupada?
Only the future can tell.