Great mystics there have been who had earned for themselves a place in the galaxy of self-enjoyers. In all cases self-enjoyment in its higher forms has been mystical, that is to say an experience of union with the All, the infinite, the Absolute, the Cause and substance of being. Each poise of the infinite has led to the experience or approach of an appropriate complementary or relative poise on the part of the individuals seeking knowledge and enjoyment or service of the Absolute. If the individual be just a poise of the Infinite Absolute, even then though individualized in a particular direction it has the possibility of being infinite in that direction. The great philosopher-mathematician Leibniz had attempted most ambitiously a representation of this qualitative infinity possible to any monad or self in a particular direction and asserted that it can attain to a total clear comprehension of all in a particular station or perspective. Equally Sri Ramanuja tried earlier in the East to grant this infinity to the consciousness function of each soul in its liberated condition. Indeed liberation and equality with the Divine means this complete expansion of the functional consciousness (dharma-bhuta-jnana) unconditioned by any space-time or causal conditions or karma and which preserves the individual’s personal perspective and being. In this sense the whole experience of the All and the Universe would become intensive and inward experience. This is called by some to be idealistic mysticism. But even then a qualitative difference would remain between the Godhead and the monad (soul), since God includes every perspective of every soul in its fullest infinite expansion both intensively and extensively. Leibniz was thus in a definite philosophic predicament. His mystic intuition did not triumph over his logical, whereas in the pluralistic mysticism of Sri Ramanuja each individual soul achieves a double poise but is integrated by the concept of Organic relationship between the Divine and the soul.
But aesthetic union is a peculiar experience. True mergence may well be the fulfillment of a nihilist mystic, but the aesthetic demand is not to become sugar but to enjoy sugar. The bridal mysticism is the experience sought by a lover of the beloved. According to the highest conception of this poise and approach, the finite soul surrenders and absolutely gives up itself to the Infinite Godhead who accepts this surrender and offering. The nearest approach to this total bodily giving up is that of the lover to the beloved. From the moment this surrender is made the beloved is the life of her life, the source of honour, fame, fulfillment, support and all. The infinite thus chosen and surrendered to becomes everything and all. The representation of this mystic union is apparently a union of two persons, a union of body, mind and soul sought with the infinite, the beloved. In mystic rapture one experiences the transformation of one’s entire being so as to appear to be that of the beloved Himself.
This experience with the Infinite has made a demand on men and women alike. Men have indeed sought to experience the union deeming the Infinite as the female. The Punjabi Sufi mystics, indeed even Omar khayyam of Persia and the tantrika vamacaries, have more or less adopted this path. The female is Mother or Beloved. But the Infinite as female is difficult.11 Nietzsche’s famous statement ‘I have not found the women through whom I can have children. I love thee, Eternity! I love thee’ may utter the supreme spirit of philosophic mysticism on the creative level. The finite seeks the infinite to ‘beget’ creation or creative fulfillment, creativity, real and eternal, comes from the Infinite. Finding oneself as ‘male’ in a biologic sense or structure one seeks the Woman. So for those who have yearned for a biological perpetuation or higher evolution this is a perverse approach since it seeks to make God a field or ksetra. While the finite can be a field or instrument, the Divine cannot be anything other than ksetrajna-the creating principle. This is the mystic significance of the Ramayana wherein Ravana sought the Infinite for ksetra and disastrously failed.
11 The view held in some schools that every soul is a biunity of male and female an original division into male and female had been the cause of this seeking of ‘beloveds’ on corresponding counter parts or the other halves. Some-mystics of the Southern C.V.V. School of Yoga, free masons of the Maria Corelli School hold that a male continues to be a male and female as female till they meet and forge a unity or oneness so to speak. But the quest for Infinity is not of this order. The male is God infinite and all souls are female according to Bhagavata Reversing this to say that God is Infinite Female and souls are male is a fateful approach.
The correct mode of approach then is to be the field of the Infinite, the ksetra, the female, rather than the male. But it is difficult for a male (biological) to become a female. Through a series of lives, a man or women, seeks the infinite among and in the finite man or women, misses it and glimpses it and loses it. But the search is unending. This is one more argument for the reality of the prior births and rebirth as a purposive process or function. We can otherwise never be able to explain the reason for the loves and hates, and searches for fulfillment in different types and in different relationships and in different ways. The beloved-approach is a fulfillment of all types of relationships. Nor is the experience easily satisfying in these human relationships of brother or sister, mother or father or wife. Whilst these relationships may grant felicity of association or happiness none of them can grant creative delight. To make marriage an intellectual a sublimated acquaintance for mutual benefit is to be incapable of becoming either spiritual or physical. For a creative fulfillment of each is needed. Poets know the intellectual marriage with the infinite spirit of poesy. So too we find spiritual brides of the Divine; though male in gross physique they are willing adoring hymning spouses of the Divine begetting creative fruits of poesy and mantra and art. The Gopis were such brides of God. St. Aquinas was also one of those who held that not until one becomes a woman can one know God. To this group belong also St. Sathakopa, St. Tirumangai, St. Manikkavacagar and Sri Chaitanya12. Sri Rama Krishna Paramahamsa also trod this path.
By this approach they became creative fields of the Divine. Such is the glorious possibility of this union that it had even been possible to experience a complete triple union in body, and mind and self or and in cognition, feeling and willing, so much so the ancient Upanisadic experience of God had become a solid experience of Saccidananda. Such occupations of the physical body by the Divine had resulted in stigmata or signs of indelible character being imprinted on the physical body of the devotee. Spiritual marriage is a consecration for a spiritual creation, the fulfillment of the infinity in the finite, of God in the soul, of perfection bodying itself forth in and through the soul. And thus it is a real and total integral function of the Infinite. One may not speak with any intelligibility about the ‘infinitisation of the finite’ except that the finite is spiritually, mentally and physically made capable of being used creatively by the Divine. It may of course mean that the functional awareness or consciousness is removed of all limitations and conditions. The view held is that the final perfection of the soul lies in its becoming the sakti of the Divine as the Vishnu Purana says, and as the tantrika system metaphysically claims each soul to be.
12 There are several views indeed which are relevant to this approach. The souls are females and the divine All (Sarvesvara) alone is the male.
Another view is that all males (God, man or animal) are Visnu, and all females (goddess, women etc.) are Sri and the males must move to discover their appropriate, destined females, Vishnu Purana I 8, 35.
Deva tiryannmanusyesu Pumnama Bhagavan Harih |
Strinamne Srisca Vijneya nanayor vidyate param. ||
Ancient Indian thought designated the Divine as having six excellences or qualities, namely, jnana and bala, virya and sakti, and aisvarya and tejas. These three pairs of attributes when closely examined refer firstly to the Sacerdotum-Regnum (Priest-Ruler) combination; secondly to the Male-Female dyad combined to yield a single personality or a diunity of personalities united in function but separate in essence. Thirdly, the three pairs of attributes refer to the three planes of organic experience, namely the physical, the vital and mental, and the spiritual. Representations of such themes vary in different contexts. We can see them in the conceptions of Zarathushtra and Blake.13
But this primary biunity is a representation of the mystic experience. The abstract representation of this unity does not bring about the intimate marriage-possibility between the infinite and the finite. One would rather think that such a possibility is only between two infinites as indeed Sri Vaisnavism envisages. The Mystic Diunity of Brahman and Sri is such that it is a unity of two Infinites who essentially act as One Person. Even so in Tantrika conception is the relation between Siva and Sakti but it is more often reduced to one of substance and attribute or Word and Meaning (vak and artha).
13 In the Religion of Zarathushtra, the Excellences of Ahura Mazda are enumerated as six archangel personalities Vohu-mana, Amesha spenta, Vohisit a spenta, Aramaiti, Haurvatat, Ameretata. In Blake’s “Jerusalem” there is again a pairing of the four loas yos, arigen, Luvah and Tharmas, with their female counter parts. Four mighty ones are in everyman. Perfect unity cannot exist but from the universal brotherhood of Eden
The soul however can never secure this status in an infinite measure. It must remain in an impossibility despite the saints of the bridal path. No one became the ‘Mother’ or identified with the transcendent Mother Isvari. But some have claimed for them that close ‘essential part hood (amsatva). The mother is as much an indwelling presence as the Divine Isvara. She is the Sraddha, Medha, Sarasvati, Sri, Aditi and Daya. She has also the six qualities or three dyads of qualities, and she too has the fivefold manifestations or descents and forms14. All these the soul has not. The Soul in spiritual marriage is wrapt in silence and trance, ecstasy, and the influx of radiance which are indescribable and is en rapport with the divine and the mother. Everything assumes the ‘holiness’ which is the symbol of Perfection and its power. Until one becomes a woman, a field, a patra or vessel of the Divine, willing nought else and seeking Him alone does this spiritual possibility of a perfect infinite finite union occur. One could be a servant (dasa), a sakha and companion but none develops into this total or integral union. The Divine may not play on the biologic note of reproduction nor even on the mental perpetuative note. Mental reproduction and mechanical reproduction may well happen. The spiritual reproduction or rather creativity may conceivably displace or supplant the other two. At present at any rate there has been an effort to affirm that denial of reproduction in the biological sense is the condition of spiritual creation or realization or union itself. Mystics however there are who would like to keep the problem of creation or creativity open. Such then is the experience. No one who seeks the mystic experience, male or female, should seek any satisfaction in these directions with anybody in any sense. This ekanta-state or pativrata-state is the aim; not the abnegation of all union but abnegation of union with any other soul or partial power except with the Highest Divine.
14 Ahirbudhnya Samhita VIII 65 and XXI 8-10
Eka Saktir harer visnoh sarvabhavanugamini |
Devi sadgunyapurnanya jnanandakriyamayi ||
Quoted by Nanjiyar (Ranganatha Muni)in his Srisukta Bhasya
Thus in Hindu thought and Mysticism, Andal or Goda wooed and won an integral union having become feminine in a triple status, spiritually, mentally and physically-vitally. For the Divine she existed and for Him only. This consecration of the entire being by Goda is a peak of bridal mysticism. Variations of this approach have been also described in the story of the medieval saint Mirabai and in the puranic Radha.
The Bridal path is the culmination of a seeking for union in an integral or total way which includes the essence of all other realizations. It is the culmination indeed of the jnana, karma and bhakti paths. It is therefore called Sringara-path. And it is the most dynamic creativity that is the fruit of infinite love for God. Mysticism reaches the peak of existence-consciousness in this alone. God’s Infinite Beauty as Krsna is the eternal enchantment of the mystic’s urge for union. For verily the finite belongs to the Infinite and the Infinite longs for the finite.