God As Mother 2

I finished reading God As Mother: A Feminine Theology in India, by Cheever Mackenzie Brown. I am 124 pages into the Brahmavaivarta Purana (BVP) which is 1500 pages.

While there is still anti-feminine rhetoric in the BVP due to the strong patriarchal, ascetic, renunciate strain in Vedic theology which sees the feminine as the seductress who binds us to illusory material nature which is also feminine. Yet the counter argument is also made eulogizing the virtues of a chaste wife. Radha and Krishna have cosmogonic and soteriological equality and Radha is considered even more merciful than Krishna. Krishna however retains ontological superiority. The Devi Bhagavat Purana is an even more extreme, later feminist writing which also gives the Goddess ontological superiority.

In the BVP, Radha and Krishna are the divine God and Goddess who created the universe by their copulation. They are clearly married by Brahma from the beginning of their relationship in their earthly pastimes. “Radha as the Divine Feminine is manifest in all female beings and Krishna in all male beings. Here the relationship of the supreme pair again directly affects man’s devotional attitudes and conduct.” (Brown, p 202) We are created as their parts and in their image. As parents of all, they are our role models. “The Chaitanya school in its early period, it seems, also favored the svakiya (married) ideal. This is the view, apparently, of the two great Goswamins, Rupa and Jiva.” (Ibid., pp 203-4)

Most followers of Chaitanya rely on the Bhagavat Purana. Seeing the differences in the way various Puranas portray the same subject matter gives us permission to have different views also. Seeing how the Puranas and other Vedic literatures evolved over time gives us permission to continue evolving them. In India, there are numerous forms of Radha Krishna devotion. Unfortunately, it seems most Western devotees of Radha Krishna are of a literalist, fundamentalist bent and not open to the changes needed to develop an indigenous Radha Krishna worship as Bhaktivinode Thakur desired.

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