A Myth Writer Who Realizes It Is a Myth

I just finished re-reading Sri Madhava Mahotsava by Sri Jiva Gosvamipada, translated by Bhanu Swami. In the final section, The Union, Jiva says, “The Divine Couple Radha-Madhava, the personifications of beauty, the temple of youthfulness, the kindom of good qualities, the treasure house of all types of bliss, the essence of all sixty four arts, a heavenly flower scented by Cupid’s own fragrance, and the shelter of Their devotees…” I think this is a pretty good statement of what the essence of God-dess is.

Then, in The Concluding Request, Jiva says, “With all my intelligence I have not even been able to vaguely describe this blissful pastime.. Far from presenting the details, I cannot even present a general description. The form of the moon is only manifest in the full moon.” Jiva Goswami, who is better known for his theological treatises, did an outstanding job of describing Radha’s bathing ceremony and coronation as the Queen of Vrindaban. He talks about using his intelligence to describe these blissful pastimes. As I said elsewhere, faith transcends intelligence, but it does not negate it. We are to use our intelligence in these matters.

Jiva also admits his inability to describe these pastimes because of the limitations of language and he also admits that his description is different from the actual pastimes. They are symbolic, metaphorical, mythological descriptions of the actual spiritual realities, and that is the only way spiritual truths can be described. It is a language of faith developed by a community of faith. Therefore, it is subject to scrutiny and further development.

If we could all admit the limitations of our visions and descriptions as Jiva so humbly does throughout, perhaps we would not be so attached to them and not need to take them in such a literal, concrete way.

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