This is the second of a three-part series in which I cover sexuality. In the first part, I discussed the nature of perverted sexuality whose hallmark is shame. In the second part, I will discuss various types of sexuality found in the Vedic texts, leading to a perfectional stage whose mark is shyness, rather than shame. In the third part, I will present responses to people who misinterpret sexuality in Vedic texts based on their perverted sense of sexuality rooted in shame. These should ideally be read in order.
Table of Contents
- 1 The Cause of the World is Ānanda
- 2 The Personality and Form of God
- 3 Divine Masculine and Feminine
- 4 Material vs. Spiritual Realms
- 5 Matter is the Inversion of Spirit
- 6 The Meaning of Material Duality
- 7 The Personification of Will and Power
- 8 The Meaning of Material Sexuality
- 9 Moral and Immoral Material Life
- 10 Father, Teacher, and Husband
- 11 Sexuality in the Heavenly Planets
- 12 Sexuality in Demonic Planets
- 13 The Absence of Sexuality in Brahman
- 14 The Nature of Sexuality in Vaikuṇṭha
- 15 The Nature of Sexuality in Goloka
- 16 The Nature of Shiva-Śakti Sexuality
- 17 Wanting, Willing, and Needing
- 18 Sexual Shyness and Loving Devotion
The Cause of the World is Ānanda
The Supreme Absolute Truth is one and is called Kṛṣṇa. He can do everything for Himself by Himself. But there is no fun in that. The fun begins when there are others. Thus, Kṛṣṇa creates worlds for pleasure.
We can illustrate this idea with a simple example of cooking. I can cook many types of dishes for myself by myself. But I don’t. When I cook for myself, I just make one subji and three chapati. But when I am cooking for others, then I like to make a feast. Of course, I love to eat a feast, but I never make a feast for myself. I make that feast when there are others to feast with. Then I make a feast, feed that feast to others, and then eat myself. The pleasure of a feast grows dramatically when others are present.
When Śrila Prabhupāda went to the West, he carried with him a 3-box cooker. In each box, it was possible to cook one thing. It could be subji, rice, or dal. He would put everything in the 3-box cooker and put the cooker on the stove and after some time when it was done, he would eat it. This was going on for more than a year. Then he found some people interested in listening to Bhagavad-Gita and chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra. He started inviting them over to his apartment and feeding them feasts. He would cook a feast, then feed the invited guests, then clean everything up, and then eat himself. He never thought of it as slavery, burden, servitude, or humiliation. That is because this is the meaning of spiritual pleasure.
On his own, Kṛṣṇa can make a feast for Himself and by Himself. But He won’t do that. It is not fun. On his own, Kṛṣṇa will just live on a 3-box cooker. That is not too bad, but it is not the best enjoyment. It is greater fun when there are others because then feasts will be made and enjoyed. Hence, Vedānta Sūtra 1.1.12 states: ānandamayo abhyāsāt, which means, because of the practice of pleasure. Why did God create the world? Because of the practice of pleasure. One is not fun. Fun requires many to exist.
To enjoy great fun, Kṛṣṇa divides into three parts—eater, cook, and food. He becomes the eater and is called Puruṣa. His power to cook becomes Śakti. The food being cooked becomes Prakṛti. The food is sometimes called Abhidheya or that which is given and taken. The separation and relation of Puruṣa and Śakti is called Sambandha. Finally, the pleasure of cooking and eating is called Prayojana. There are many other ways in which this tripartite division is described, but they are not pertinent at the moment.
The Personality and Form of God
Kṛṣṇa is called sad-ujjvala-vigrahasya. Graha means a house. The root vi denotes something separated with reciprocity, just like the concept of a car and an actual car. We can know the concept car from an actual car. But the actual car was produced from the concept car. Therefore, vigraha means a house that contains all the actual cars, and which is itself the concept car. This house can also be called the ideal car. Every other non-ideal car contains partial aspects of the ideal car. For example, some car has four-wheel drive but another car has only two-wheel drive. Some car has an air conditioner, but others don’t. When this idea is extended by sad-ujjvala, then Kṛṣṇa becomes the ideal instance of six self-effulgences.
These six self-effulgences are further elaborated in many places, including Viṣṇu Purāṇa 6.5.47.
vīryasya yaśasaḥ śriyaḥ
ṣaṇṇāṁ bhagam itīṅganā
We need to analyze Sanskrit language subtleties to understand all the meanings in this verse. The term asya means of, the term sama means concept or universal, and the term agra means supreme or prior. Thus, samagrasya means “the supreme concept of” or “the prior universal of”. When sama and agra are combined into samagra, the meaning is also everything, which we can call the complete or the whole. Therefore, the term samagrasya can also be translated as “the whole of” or “the complete of”.
All these meanings are important, relevant, and necessary. Complete means that there is nothing more than Him. Prior means that there is nothing before Him. Supreme means that He has no other controller. These three negations, which can also be called assertions, are the three modes of samagrasya.
In the above verse, three words—aiśvaryasya, vīryasya, and yaśasaḥ—use of, but the other three—śriyaḥ, jñāna, vairāgyayoh—do not. The terms mean—aiśvaryasya (wealth of), vīryasya (power of), yaśasaḥ (fame of), śriyaḥ (beauty), jñāna (knowledge), vairāgyayoh (renunciation). Wealth, power, and fame are prefixed with of but no prefix is used along with beauty, knowledge, and renunciation.
God has wealth, power, and fame, but He is beauty, renunciation, and knowledge. And yet, He is the supreme, complete, and autonomous cause of all six. There is a sense in which knowledge, beauty, and renunciation are primary, while wealth, power, and fame are secondary. When power, fame, and wealth are emphasized, the description is secondary to beauty, knowledge, and renunciation. Even among the three primary attributes, knowledge is the most important. Hence, He is called jñānam advayam or non-dual knowledge (SB 1.2.11) and satyam-param or the supreme truth” (SB 1.1.1).
Divine Masculine and Feminine
Now we can apply the eater, cook, and food tripartite division to the above six qualities of God. Kṛṣṇa is the eater of knowledge, beauty, renunciation, wealth, power, and fame. Śakti is a cook of the same six qualities. Prakṛti is the food being cooked by Śakti and eaten by Kṛṣṇa. All these three things could previously be done by Kṛṣṇa. He could know Himself as six qualities and then He would be the cook, eater, and food. That state of being three things at once is called Para-Brahman. But, as we have discussed, there is no fun in that. The fun begins through the separation of eater, cook, and food.
Now arises an even more interesting question that Kṛṣṇa may not always be eating. He could also be talking and listening. Therefore, we need another tripartite distinction between speaker, listener, and speech. They are just like the cook, eater, and food. Or, He could be smelling the food instead of tasting it. Finally, He can withdraw from all such activities and just be situated in Himself as self-awareness.
There is a power in Kṛṣṇa by which He eats, smells, and talks. But this power is not always used. This power is Māyā which means “that which is not”. When Kṛṣṇa is self-satisfied, then Māyā is inactive. But Māyā then creates a desire in Kṛṣṇa—I should become many, I should eat, speak, or smell. Desire is called Māyā because it is the antithesis of self-satisfaction. If Kṛṣṇa is self-satisfied, then Māyā says: Don’t be so self-satisfied. It is not that much fun. There is far greater enjoyment in eating, speaking, and smelling.
Māyā is the internal power of Kṛṣṇa and prompts Kṛṣṇa to desire eating, speaking, or smelling and takes Him away from self-satisfaction. Śakti is the marginal power of Kṛṣṇa that becomes the cook of the food, speech, and odor. Prakṛti is the external power of Kṛṣṇa that becomes food, speech, and odor.
This tripartite distinction between Māyā-Śakti-Prakṛti constitutes four tiers of reality in which Kṛṣṇa is the Self, Māyā is the intention of enjoyment, the power of knowing, and the pleasure of enjoyment, Śakti is the power of acting to create something enjoyable, and Prakṛti is all the things created and enjoyed. This is how we go from one to six—oneself, the intention to enjoy, the power of acting, the things created by that power, the relationship to the created things, the power of knowing, and the pleasure obtained from such knowledge. I call this six-fold description personalism to simplify it for everyone. It means that Kṛṣṇa was a complete person with six aspects originally. But He divided into four personalities—Himself, Māyā, Śakti, and Prakṛti. However, after that division, Māyā is the intention and emotion of pleasure, Śakti is the creator and knower of pleasurable things, and Prakṛti is the things produced by Śakti.
The basic philosophy of six-fold personalism is presented in different ways in different Vedic texts to emphasize different nuances of personalism. For instance, sometimes it is said that Śakti is just one. Then it is said that Śakti has three divisions. Then it is said that Śakti has five forms. Similarly, it is said that Puruṣa is one. Then it is said that Puruṣa has three forms. Then it is said that Puruṣa has five forms. If we start discussing each of these then it will take a long time. If we don’t know the basic six-fold description, then it can also get very confusing. But it is not so confusing if we know personalism.
The situation is often summarized simply by talking about Puruṣa and Śakti, where Śakti is originally a part of Puruṣa and then separated from Puruṣa. The distinction between Puruṣa and Śakti can be simplified into a will-power distinction. Once separated, the Puruṣa is simply will, and Śakti is the power of intention, emotion, cognition, conation, and relation. The power is inactive when the Puruṣa has no will. However, as we have noted above, Śakti instigates the Puruṣa: Don’t be so self-satisfied. It is not much fun. Look at me. I am your power of pleasure. I will give you everything needed for fun.
The will-power distinction is also the masculine-feminine distinction. But the masculine is not devoid of power and the feminine is not devoid of will. They are simply separated as eater, cook, and food. Food is not inert. It is also will and power. The will in food can change to emphasize smell over taste. The will of the cook can change to emphasize different kinds of smells and tastes. The will of the eater can change to enjoy different kinds of smells and tastes. Harmony is created when all these wills are aligned. Conflict is created when all these three wills are not aligned. This is how we get the spirit-matter distinction.
Material vs. Spiritual Realms
Vedic texts describe all the created realms as Chatuśpāda or having four parts. They pertain to four kinds of wills. They are laid down in a hierarchy based on the type of pleasure created by the will. The highest realm is the realm of greatest pleasure. The lower realm is lower in pleasure. Thus, we get four realms. The basic realm is self-satisfaction and is called Brahman. A lower realm is the material world and denotes self-abnegation. Beyond the material world and the Brahman are Vaikuṇṭha and Goloka. Wills are completely aligned in Goloka. They are somewhat individualized—although without any conflict—in Vaikuṇṭha.
We can use the example of rural and urban lifestyles to describe the distinction between Goloka and Vaikuṇṭha. In rural life, everyone is just a very large family. Every home is everyone’s home. Everyone’s property is everyone else’s property. Everyone knows everything about each other. There are many individuals, but they are just one big family. In urban life, there are many families, although they are not fighting with each other. Everyone’s property is more or less theirs, but if required, they can share it with others too. They are not going to fight over property. Everyone doesn’t know everything about each other, but they don’t mind telling to everyone if they want to know. Within each family, there are slightly independent—although not conflicting—individuals. Everyone has a different hobby. They share some things with others, and they keep other things to themselves if others are not keen on sharing.
Brahman is a realm in which each person remains self-absorbed. Each person is the merger of Puruṣa and Śakti which means that the Śakti is by the self, of the self, and for the self. Each person is the cook, eater, and food simultaneously. This is not perfection. But it is better than the material existence.
The material world is the place in which people don’t want to share. They are not just separate families and individuals, but there is also conflict between these families and individuals. The conflict is slightly reduced in rural life and exacerbated in urban life. The demigods in the upper realms of the universe are living together more or less harmoniously like somewhat competitive families in a village. The demons in the lower realms of the universe are living in great competition and individualism like in a modern city. Urbanization that breaks large families into smaller ones then separates individuals within a family with bitterness and animosity, then everyone starts asserting their individual rights, which then culminates in continuous competition and conflict for everything, is therefore, described as a demonic society.
Rural vs. urban is neither a binary distinction nor solely confined to that between Goloka and Vaikuṇṭha. It is just an example to understand the lifestyle in different realms. Even Goloka is divided commonly into three realms called Vrindavan, Mathura, and Dwarka—Vrindavan is the most rural, Mathura is slightly more urban, and Dwarka is the most urban. Vrindavan is like a small village, Mathura is like a town, and Dwarka is like a city. Kṛṣṇa dances with all the Gopis together in Vrindavan and He goes to a separate place of each queen in Dwarka. Thus, there is a difference in the level of individuation and separation of individuals.
Therefore, we can grade all the realms from top to bottom in terms of growing individualism, which is also called egotism. As egotism grows, people become more independent in Vaikuṇṭha, then fully self-absorbed in Brahman, and then competitive individuals in the material realm. Within the material realm, there is greater cooperation among demigods and greater competition between demons. Ultimately, the demons are the most egotistical, individualistic, and competitive. When people in society start moving toward egotism, individualism, and competitiveness, then that society is called more demonic. Anyone who transforms egotism into an intellectual principle to justify competition is considered a demon.
Within a human society also, the least individualistic people are Brahmanas. Slightly more individualistic people are Kshatriyas. Even more individualistic people are Vaisyas. And the most individualistic people are Sudras. The Sudras do manual labor. Vaisyas do agriculture, trade, and protect domestic animals. Kshatriyas rule over human society. Brahmanas understand the divine society and try to lift human society toward greater divinity, which means lesser individualism. A knowledge system that describes reality in terms of separated objects is therefore called a Sudra science—modern science is an example. This science is rejected by Brahmanas who talk about the inseparability of all the things in reality.
Matter is the Inversion of Spirit
Of the four realms in Chatuśpāda, the top three are considered spirit and the fourth is considered matter because as individualism rises, at one point, it becomes competition, conflict, and subjugation of others. Brahman is spirit because a person is self-satisfied. Vaikuṇṭha is spirit because people cooperate when needed and remain individually happy otherwise. Goloka is spirit because people have fully aligned wills.
The material realm is the place where wills are not fully aligned. Everyone wants something different and is willing to compete, fight, and destroy others. This individualism also grows progressively from the top of the universe to the bottom. Hence, the material realm is called one of egotism and darkness. The darkness is that people cannot acknowledge, recognize, or accept other individuals. They want to take more and give less. Everyone is using someone else as a tool or instrument for one’s enjoyment.
Hence, the material realm is called what the spirit is not. It doesn’t mean matter is dead. It means that it is spirit infected with very high levels of individualism to control, dominate, and subordinate others.
What something is not is a part of that thing. This principle is described in different ways in Vedic texts. First, the material realm of egotism is also a part of Kṛṣṇa, but also His least preferred nature. Second, everything exists in everything else as a contrast to that thing, just like an apple is not an orange, grape, or banana. Third, even the complete truth is present in the negation of that truth although it remains invisible. Fourth, if we seek the foundation of the negation, we will eventually discover the assertion.
The immanence of the perfect truth in the negation of that truth simply means that even the negation of the truth eventually takes one to the truth. For example, a person can be punished endlessly out of hatred. Or, he can be punished minimally until he is reformed. When punishment is minimized to reform a person, then compassion is hidden inside cruelty. When punishment is used endlessly, then there is simply hatred without compassion. The punishment in the material world is never infinite or endless. It is always proportionate to a person’s misdeeds and forgiven if the person has genuinely reformed. Thus, the loving and compassionate nature of Kṛṣṇa is evidenced in the material world by the absence of eternal hell as in all Abrahamic faiths. Hell is meant to reform a person and not to seek revenge.
Hence, even as spirit is inverted into matter, spirit is not absent from matter. Spirit is the deeper reality even in matter, which is the surface reality. The evil lives in God and God lives in the evil. But evil lives in God as what God is not, and God lives in evil as the deeper truth that the apparent evil is also good.
Binary exclusions are forbidden. If these things are not known then binary good-evil separations are inevitable. They suffer from the problem of evil, namely, how could God create evil if evil wasn’t already in Him? Or, why would a kind God send a person to eternal hell? Or, did God make us evil and then condemn us to eternal hell? Those with binary good-evil distinctions are not suitable candidates to judge good and evil in other places. They should resolve their good-evil contradictions before designating something good or evil in other places. If the idea of good and evil is not clear, then using a flawed idea of good and evil to judge others will always result in a false conclusion, different from reality.
The Meaning of Material Duality
Before we start discussing sexuality, we have to talk about material duality. Duality means that the same thing is loved and hated, desired and abhorred, coveted and rejected. But loving and hating, desiring and abhorring, coveting and rejecting appear cyclically. The reason is that opposites attract and opposites repulse. Duality is opposites. There is mutual attraction and mutual repulsion between opposites.
A man and woman get together due to attraction—each person is what the other person is not. They are attracted to each other in the hope that their union will overcome their incompleteness. But after they are united, they realize that they are opposites and hence incompatible with each other. Then they separate again. However, since each person is incomplete, hence, their attraction naturally returns.
A person gets hungry and starts eating. After some time, he gets full. Then, even the sight of food becomes revolting. If food is offered to a full person, he will vomit. He has to stop eating for some time. After some time, he gets hungry again and starts eating. Likewise, a person works, gets tired, and stops. Work becomes revolting to a tired person. If he is asked to work, he will revolt. He has to stop working for some time. After that, he cannot sit idle. He has to work again because idleness revolts him.
A person goes out to enjoy a park. He looks at different things and slowly gets bored. He cannot keep going around in the park. After a while, the park that seemed pleasing earlier becomes boring. If he is made to continuously enjoy the park, he will revolt. He has to come back home because he starts missing the home. When he sits at home, he feels relieved and relaxed from his previous trip.
Duality means cyclical change. The same thing is exciting and revolting. The same thing is desired and hated. The opposites attract and the opposites repulse. But these things don’t happen simultaneously. They occur one by one. Each of the opposites is triggered by its opposite repeatedly and cyclically.
This idea is found in the Taoist description of Yin and Yang depicted as black and white patches. Within each patch is a smaller opposite color patch. If one patch is desire then a smaller patch in it is revulsion. Desire grows and revulsion reduces. But after some time, the revulsion grows and the desire reduces. Thus, the Taoist picture shows two patches of white and black and within them smaller patches of black and white. The black is in the white and the white is in the black. Thus, each thing becomes its opposite.
Cyclical history is the result of this duality. Take for instance the cycle of socialism and capitalism. When a society begins, everyone cooperates and shares food, shelter, and clothing easily. But once they are fed, clothed, and housed nicely, they start asking: Why should I share my food, clothes, and houses with others? All that is mine is just mine. Since I am fed, clothed, and housed nicely, therefore, I will steal food, clothes, and houses from others. This process is called capitalism. When it grows, then everyone is stealing from the other parties, and cooperation is replaced by competition for survival. As capitalism rises, wealth disparities grow. At this juncture, consumption drops and the capitalist cannot continue production. All his investments go bad and he has to sell those things but there are hardly any buyers. The value of his assets drops and he starts getting poorer and weaker. His vulnerability is now exploited by those whom he had previously deprived. They steal his property and sometimes even kill him. All the private property then becomes public property and the society then returns back to socialism.
We might say that we should balance the opposite sides of duality. This is accepted. The duality is called rajas and tamas and the balance is called sattva. Since the balancer counters each opposite, therefore, the entry of the balancer transforms a two-sided war into a three-sided war. A three-sided war is noisier. Unless rajas and tamas surrender to sattva, the three-sided war stagnates the situation. Eventually, sattva moves over to rajas or tamas to destroy the other and the situation goes back to a two-sided war.
We can illustrate this issue with a family of mother, father, and child. When the mother and the father fight, the child tries to balance the situation. Progressively, the child gets into conflict with both parents. Then the child moves over to one of the parents and a divorce breaks the family apart. Now the child blames the parent who got the child for his or her problems and the war between the two resumes. Ultimately, the child abandons both parents and goes on to live on his own. Three people are joined and separated. The peaceful scenario is that one of the parents is not just stronger but also wiser. He or she should be able to control the conflict in a household by selectively using power with wisdom and compassion. When such a parent exists, then the family maintains unity even if conflicts sometimes appear within it.
The Personification of Will and Power
We have talked of will and power abstractly, but each of these has a form because there are many kinds of wills and powers. The will to hear, taste, touch, smell, and see are different kinds of wills. The wills to think about different subjects are different kinds of wills. The will to know and judge the truth, right, or good are different kinds of wills. Similarly, the power to hear, taste, touch, smell, and see are different kinds of powers. The power to think on different subjects is different kinds of powers. The power to know and judge the truth, right, or good are different kinds of powers. Everyone doesn’t have all wills and powers.
Some people have the power to think of biology while others have the power to think of psychology. If we try to teach a psychologist some biology, he may not even have the will to learn. Everyone doesn’t have the same will or power. Sometimes there is a will but there is no power. Sometimes there is power but no will. Every person is a different combination of different kinds of wills and powers.
If I have the will and power to do music and art, then my art alters my music and my music alters my art. A minor change to one part of the form alters all parts of the form. A minor change in the will-form also changes the type of power-form it unites with. Therefore, all over Vedic texts, we find the masculine and feminine forms paired. The Gayathri mantra for instance speaks about the Sun in two ways—bhargo-devasya (the deity of effulgence) and savitur-vareṇyaṃ (one who married light). Surya is male and Savita is female. Surya is the will to make certain things visible or invisible for different times, places, situations, and persons. The will is also influenced by the capacity to think about all the things that can be made visible or invisible. It is governed by the will to judge which type of vision is true, right, or good. Savita is the power to fulfill all the will in Surya. No powers remain unused. No wills remain unfulfilled.
There are different art styles called Cubism, Impressionism, Minimalism, Surrealism, and so on. These isms are not ideas. They are demigods that affect a person’s mind. By their effects on some minds, the minds mentally perceive previously unseen art forms and then express them into art forms that we can see. Gandharva is a family of musicians and dancers for instance. There are dozens of dance forms and music styles. Each style is a demigod. They affect different minds and societies at different times and places. Due to the effect of that demigod, a new art style, music style, or dance style appears.
Most people wonder why there are 330,000,000 demigods in the Vedic system. The answer is simple: Every ism is a persona; every art, music, or dance style is a persona; every cuisine is a persona; every narrative style is a person; every class of things is a persona. If we know all demigods, then we know the variety in the universe. Without demigods, we cannot explain why different people get different ideas. We cannot explain why some people create different products, cuisines, arts, dances, music, or isms. Different aspects of our minds, senses, and bodies are influenced by different demigods.
The Meaning of Material Sexuality
In the material world, sex is known as the repeated ingress and egress of the phallus into the cervix. What is the phallus and what is the cervix? As we have noted earlier, the masculine represents the will and the feminine represents the power. The phallus and cervix are the sexual organs that deliver the immediate result of pleasure and the long-term result of children. Each will-power couple creates different children.
The phallus in Surya and the cervix in Savita unite to create new types of colors and shapes. The phallus in Gandharva and the cervix in Gandharvika unite to produce new families of art, music, and dance. The male gives the desire for something and the female gives the power for something. Their combination creates a new person who has the desire and the power for something. Each child goes on to create, control, and enjoy different types of will and power. Since everything is temporary in the material world, therefore, these children take birth and die. Every ism, cuisine, art, music, or dance style doesn’t exist always. They also come in and go out of fashion. That is due to the birth and death of demigods.
Coitus is the meeting of will and power. They have been separated in the material world making each incomplete. They meet to overcome their incompleteness. However, this meeting is not static. It involves repeated ingress and egress. This is because sex in the material world is based on the duality of coveting and rejecting. This duality arises because when will and power combine, power brings the will under its control. The will now seeks freedom from the control exerted by power and separates itself from power. When the will exits the control of power, it feels free again. And yet, it is unable to fulfill itself without power, so it unites with power again. The repeated ingress of the phallus into the cervix and egress of the phallus from the cervix is the principle of will seeking power, uniting with power, the power bringing the will under its control, the will seeking freedom from power, and eventually exiting power.
Everybody thinks that power controls others. That is not false. But it is also true that power controls the will of the person who unites with it. Under the control of power, the will cannot be as free as it was before. Everyone talks about what they will do with power. But once they get power, they cannot move as freely as they could without power. The acquisition of power restrains the previously free will.
The constraint of power on will is called responsibility. The will cannot use power whimsically. Every use of power brings a responsibility, which reduces the subsequent ways that the will can use power. When the will uses power again—in the reduced manner constrained by the previous responsibility—additional responsibility is created which further reduces the freedom of the will. Thus, responsibility constrains the will, responsibility is enforced by power, and by such enforcement, power subjugates the will.
Many politicians make big promises to the electorate when they don’t have power. The moment they get power, they realize that using the power will give them responsibilities they cannot handle. The fear of responsibility then prevents the use of power just as they had promised the electorate earlier.
Similarly, when a man and a woman have sex, children are born, which become a man’s responsibility. He has to provide for them—i.e., feed, clothe, and house them. He can no longer enjoy all his freedoms as he was doing before. That is because when he united with the woman, the will used the power, and the result is a responsibility, which must now constrain the will for a long time to come. If the union of man and woman did not produce children, then the woman’s power over the man would be lower. The man would also be freer. The man loses his freedom when he starts having children. A woman wants to have children to bring the man under her control. However, a man wants children to relive his childhood.
This difference is seen in how men and women take care of their children. A woman will treat a child as a responsibility. She is the adult in the relationship. But a man will treat a child as if both are the same age. A woman will expect the child to do just as she asks. A man will teach a child to do just as he does. A man forgets about his adulthood due to children. A woman is reminded of adulthood due to children.
Material causality involves three parts—cause, effect, and consequence. The cause is the will, the effect is the pleasure created by the union of will and power, but the consequence is the long-term responsibility created by power, to constrain the subsequent free use of the will. Since the will is unfulfilled without power, the will unites with power. That union satisfies the will temporarily. But it also creates long-term consequences—which are the responsibilities of using the will—that constrain the will. Hence, the masculine is called freedom and the feminine is called bondage. The thing that is power is also the thing that is bondage. The power satisfies the will but also binds the will with responsibility. The masculine is not satisfied unless he unites with the feminine for pleasure. The feminine is not satisfied unless she brings the masculine completely under her control by exerting numerous responsibilities on him.
When men search for women for long-term relationships, they think about the woman who will satisfy them momentarily. When women search for men for long-term relationships, they think about the man who will handle responsibilities resulting from momentary satisfaction. The man thinks about how he will use the woman for his pleasure. The woman thinks about how responsible the man is going to be after she has been used by the man for pleasure. Of course, a woman also wants to be used for a man’s pleasure. Likewise, a man also wants to be responsible for his actions of using a woman for pleasure. But these are not the primary determinants. The primary determinants are pleasure and responsibility.
Moral and Immoral Material Life
The emotional pleasure for a man is using a woman just as he wants. Emotional pleasure for a woman is being used by a man just as he wants. The relational pleasure for a woman is bringing a man under her control by exerting responsibilities on him. The relational pleasure for a man is fulfilling the responsibilities exerted by a woman. The cognitive and conative act of sexual intercourse is just the momentary act of the meeting and separation of the phallus and the cervix that doesn’t mean much.
If the woman fulfills the emotional needs of the man in the way he wants then she gets a man’s love which then fulfills her. If the man fulfills his responsibilities in the way that the woman wants, he gets the woman’s love, which then fulfills him. As the love between man and woman rises, sexual intercourse dies.
Sexual intercourse increases dramatically when the woman doesn’t fulfill the emotional needs of the man and the man doesn’t fulfill the responsibilities exerted by the woman. The frustrated man tries to exert his will over the woman and the frustrated woman tries to bring that will under her control. Sex is the result of an emotionally dissatisfied man trying to satisfy himself by exerting his will on a woman and a relationally dissatisfied woman trying to satisfy herself by exerting her power to control the will. If men and women are emotionally and relationally fulfilled by each other, then sexuality decreases and dies.
An advanced society that has learned how to build peaceful, happy, and moral relationships practically ends sex. Whatever sex exists, is meant to produce good children. Children are not the side effect of the desire for sex. Sex is the side effect of the desire for children. If there is no need for children, then there is no need for sex. It is impossible to explain and understand this at present due to sexual frustration.
Whenever sexuality rises in society, we can understand that both men and women are frustrated. There are many causes of this. First, women assert independence from men when they should assert responsibility over men. Second, men try to use women but don’t fulfill their responsibilities. Third, women assert responsibility over men but don’t want to conform to a man’s will. Fourth, a woman doesn’t conform to a man’s will and a man doesn’t conform to the woman’s power of responsibility.
Sexuality is an exception even in the material world. It arises when either or both men or women are frustrated. The moral life is created in a man-woman marriage where the woman fulfills the man’s will and the man is controlled by the woman’s power of exerting responsibilities on the man. An immoral life is created when either or both man or woman is not doing what a moral life is supposed to do.
When immorality rises, sexuality grows proportionately because both men and women are frustrated. Thus, the Vedic system taught men and women different things—women how to fulfill a man’s will and a man how to accept the woman’s control. This was the recipe for a happy and moral marriage. It almost totally ended sexual intercourse because it is the symptom of frustrated men and women.
Most men today exert their power over a woman but bear no responsibility for that. They are worse than a debauch who exerts his power over women although takes full responsibility arising from his actions. Most women today demand their freedom but exert responsibilities on a man. They are worse than a prostitute who gets their freedom without responsibility from a man. The world at present is filled with worse than prostitute women and worse than debauch men. There is no understanding of sexuality because there is no understanding of spirituality. Without a grasp of how the world is created by the combination of will and power, how these are separated as genders, and how they live peacefully and happily, there can be no happiness. People will descend into greater ignorance and unhappiness.
Father, Teacher, and Husband
The confusing relationship between a husband and a wife can be demystified by understanding the three roles that Puruṣa and Śakti play. First, since Śakti has separated from Puruṣa, therefore, the Puruṣa is the father and Śakti is the child. This child hasn’t been produced sexually. She has just separated from the Puruṣa for enjoyment. Second, since Śakti fulfills the will in Puruṣa, therefore, the Puruṣa imparts His will to Śakti and in this process, the Puruṣa becomes the teacher and the Śakti becomes the disciple. Third, since the Śakti fulfills the will in Puruṣa, and then exerts control over the Puruṣa, therefore, the Puruṣa is the husband and Śakti is the wife. These three roles are important to understand their relationship.
An ideal male-female relationship involves the male playing the roles of a father, teacher, and husband and the female playing the roles of a daughter, disciple, and wife. As a father, a man protects the woman just like a father protects his daughter. This is not a sexual relationship. The daughter was a part of the father and then separated from him. Hence, the father protects the daughter with his life. As a teacher, the man imparts to a woman the nature of truth, right, and good, what the woman should do, how it should be done, and why it should be. This is also not a sexual relationship. The disciple is under the care and protection of the teacher and is guided by the teacher so that the disciple can find happiness in life. As a husband, the man enjoys using the woman for his pleasure and the woman enjoys being used by the man for his pleasure. But because this enjoyment comes after a man is a father and a teacher therefore it is not violence (because the man is a father) or cheating (because the man is a teacher). Similarly, because the woman exerts responsibilities on the man, therefore, it is not immorality.
If the man cannot be a good father and a teacher, then he cannot be a good husband. Likewise, if a woman cannot be a good daughter and a student, then she cannot be a good wife. In the Vedic tradition, boys learned from their fathers and male teachers how to be a father and a teacher. Similarly, girls learned from their mothers and female teachers how to be a daughter and a student. The instruction for boys and girls wasn’t the same. The boys are taught how to be like the father and teacher, while the girls are taught how to be a daughter and disciple. The instruction for a boy is: Do as I do. The instruction for a girl is: Do as I tell you to do. The girl serves her mother as a daughter and her teacher as a student. However, the boys are reshaped in the image of their fathers and their male teachers.
If boys grow up without a good father and/or a good male teacher, they don’t know how to be husbands because they don’t have a father and teacher role model in their life. When girls grow up without a mother and a female teacher, they don’t know how to be wives because they did not have a role model mother and teacher telling them how to be daughters and disciples. When such boys and girls get married, the man doesn’t know how to be a father and teacher and the girl doesn’t know how to be a daughter and disciple. They begin sex without any training. The man forces his will on a woman without responsibility and a woman forces her responsibilities over a man without fulfilling the will.
At present, people think that husband and wife fighting with each other is just a normal thing. It is not. Men and women are fighting because they don’t know how to play their respective roles and what is expected from them. They are divorcing for the same reason. The problem grows with each generation until all families break apart and the children grow up without role models in life. The reason is that there is no education being imparted on the interplay between Puruṣa and Śakti. There are even idiotic marriage counselors who don’t know the nature of Puruṣa and Śakti but advise people on how to save their marriage. They progressively lead people toward more frustration and eventual destruction.
Sexuality in the Heavenly Planets
The Mahabharata tells the story of Shantanu and Ganga, which illustrates the differences between earthly men and heavenly women. Shantanu was an earthly king and Ganga is a heavenly damsel. Shantanu proposes marriage to Ganga, and she agrees on one condition, namely, that Shantanu will never question her actions. She tells him: If you ever question my actions, I will leave you immediately. Shantanu agrees and they get married. One by one, they have eight children, and one by one Ganga drowns seven of them. Having promised to never question her actions, Shantanu keeps quiet.
While Ganga is about to drown the eighth child, Shantanu—having painfully watched the drowning of his previous seven children—stops Ganga and questions her actions. Ganga explains that these eight children are eight Vasus. They were previously cursed by Sage Vasiṣṭha to be born as humans, which was subsequently reduced to birth and immediate death. However, one of the eight Vasus—the last one named Dyayus—was required to have a long life without a wife and children. This child eventually became Bhishma. Upon narrating the reasons for her actions, Ganga leaves Shantanu as promised.
When Ganga left Shantanu, he became depressed. He lived alone for a long time and eventually married Satyavati. Ganga had no such feelings for Shantanu. Having lived with him long enough to give birth to eight children, she was not attached to him. She could easily leave him whenever she wanted. But she was not acting whimsically. She did what she had promised to do, and executed a job of liberating the Vasus from their curse. She was dutiful and enlightened. But she was not attached to Shantanu.
There are heavenly planets in this universe where a person ascends to as a result of their good deeds, temporarily. There are many beautiful men and women in these places. However, sex is very rare in these planets. There are women who get pregnant only once in their life. They bear a child and they die. There are women who consort with many men and vice versa, but still, sex is negligible. They sing and dance together. They enjoy each other’s company. But they don’t have sex as it brings children. Men don’t want the responsibility of children. Women don’t want to waste time in pregnancy and childbirth.
Heavenly men and women are not faithful to each other, except when they are married to each other. Their relationship is rarely sexual. They want independence, and they get independence. But they don’t misuse that independence. Since sex brings the responsibility of children, and neither men nor women want that responsibility, therefore, sex is almost non-existent. There are 330 million demigods. Their children, however, are very rare. Those children are described in the Vedic texts because they are so rare.
There are some religions at present that talk about excessive sex in eternal heaven. They don’t have the first clue about heaven. First, a heavenly life is not eternal. Second, sex is rare in heaven. Third, women and men are rarely bound to each other; even if they are married, they remain independent. Fourth, this independence is not immoral because they are extremely wise and never misuse their freedom.
Sexuality in Demonic Planets
Excessive sex is found in demonic planets because there are frustrated people. Their sexuality involves sadistic and masochistic tendencies. Men enjoy dominating women and women enjoy being dominated. The role reversal of domination is common as well. Both men and women are sadistic and masochistic.
Their bodies are very strong and beautiful. They can carry on with sex for long periods of time. They use varied types of intoxicants to enhance sexual pleasure. Men and women are rarely bound to each other in a faithful bond. They flirt with each other and engage in varied types of sexual intercourse. Orgies are common in these planets. Sex is used to degrade, humiliate, and subjugate. Both the degrader and the degraded are sexually stimulated by these acts. Violence and sex are intermixed for excitement. There is rarely any emotional attachment between sexual partners even if they are married. Anyone can sacrifice the other person if it suits their interest. Anyone can leave any other person if they find a better sexual partner. Pleasure is the sole reason for existence. It is not governed by any moral principle.
Despite all these excesses, there is no shame in sex. The situation is comparable to nudist beaches on Earth. A naked body is not considered a vice. Since everyone is so used to nudity and sexuality, therefore, there is no pleasure in ordinary acts of sex. Pleasure comes through extreme forms of degrading, violent, and humiliating acts. Pain is used to stimulate the senses before fulfilling them with little pleasure. The sharp contrast between pain and pleasure makes the pleasure fulfilling. The situation is just like a hungry man finding ordinary food very tasty. As hunger can be increased to make food seem tasty, similarly, pain can be increased to make sex extremely pleasurable. This is the essence of the demonic type of pleasure.
Even demons sometimes perform austerities for pleasure. Their austerities also involve great violence such as the sacrifice of animals, torturing themselves in painful ways, and sometimes, even cutting off their body parts. Rāvana cut off his heads in austerities. Hiraṇyakaśīpū allowed his body to be eaten by ants. Demons toughen their bodies by subjecting their bodies to extreme levels of pain. Their will and bodies become strong through such acts. When a strong body acts under the control of a strong will, the result is violent sex.
Sex is excessive in a demonic society. Eating, sleeping, drinking, and mating are the primary pleasure. Their wars are very violent because they have become so accustomed to violence that they don’t have a conscience. Violence stimulates them sexually. Even the fear of death excites them. This combination of sex and violence is called the combination of rajas and tamas. Tamas is the prominent guna and in turn, it gives rise to excessive lust for violence. Rajas, as the byproduct of tamas, mixes sex and violence.
Those religions that talk about excessive sex in heaven are actually talking about the demonic planets. Excessive sex is the result of fear, anger, and frustration. There is no peace or happiness. There is no wisdom or morality. Freedom is simultaneously desired to subjugate others and reviled through the subjugation of others. This life is neither human, nor demigod, nor divine, nor eternal. But it exists. It is never the goal of any progressive or uplifting society. Demons perform violent forms of austerity to enjoy this life. Sometimes they get so powerful that they replace the demigods in heaven. They bring their demonic ideology of sex and violence into heavenly planets, totally contrary to its nature.
The Absence of Sexuality in Brahman
There is no sexuality in Brahman because it represents a self-absorbed realm. Brahman is not one thing because there is Para-Brahman. The term Advaya means that I don’t see the other, I am not related to the other, and I don’t desire the other. When the other is absent, then there is non-duality. Similarly, when there is full absorption in the self, then I desire myself, I relate to myself, and I see myself.
Those who call this oneness are delusional and they delude others. We can close our eyes or bury our heads in the sand and we will not see anything else. We close our eyes if we want to separate ourselves from others. Under closed eyes, we may not desire the other. To interpret the closed vision as oneness is simply a delusion. However, this delusion exists because there are people who want to be deluded.
The general principle of Brahman life is that I can cook for myself delicious feasts, but I won’t, because I am the cook, I am the eater, and I am the food. Brahman is the combination of Puruṣa and Śakti, or the male and female principles. But because there is a distinction between knower, known, and knowing even in self-knowledge, therefore, the male-female distinction exists. The male is the knower, the female is the power of knowing, and the known is the child. But the child is also the father being known.
This state is called the sexual union of Puruṣa and Śakti. But this is not sex because the phallus does not ingress or egress the cervix even as the distinction between the phallus and the cervix exists. There is a Tantric practice in which sex is used for attaining the Brahman state—the phallus enters the cervix but does not exit. The couple lies motionless. The power does not restrict the will and the will does not force itself on the power. The male and female become one person because nobody thrusts their will on themselves nor does one restrain the will by one’s power. Two people are now the will and power of one person.
The Nature of Sexuality in Vaikuṇṭha
In traditional Indian temples, we find the Śakti sometimes seated on the left thigh and sometimes on the right thigh of Puruṣa. In rare cases, Śakti and Puruṣa are seated face to face. The right thigh seating indicates that the Śakti is the daughter of Puruṣa. The left thigh seating indicates that the Śakti is the wife of Puruṣa. The face-to-face seating indicates that the Puruṣa is the teacher and Śakti is the disciple. None of these relationships are sexual. But the nature of amor or love is different in these three cases. These three kinds of relationships are found in Vaikuṇṭha. They are used for Viṣṇu and Lakśmi forms.
In Vaikuṇṭha, there are no fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons, or daughters. The master and servant distinctions are faint. Mostly everyone is a loving but asexual couple. They are friendly and courteous. The concept of a family is restricted to the Puruṣa and Śakti and each Puruṣa and Śakti is similar to the others. All men in Vaikuṇṭha are almost like Viṣṇu and all women in Vaikuṇṭha are almost like Lakśmi.
Unlike Brahman, will and power are separate in Vaikuṇṭha, but the will does not exert itself on power, nor does the power exert restrain on the will. The will is gentle and so is the power. Since the will is gentle, therefore, the masculine doesn’t want to use power, and yet, the power wants to fulfill the will.
Therefore, the power stimulates the will: I want to do this for you, and the will agrees. This is neither wanting nor needing anything. But the power wants to be useful to the will, and offers what it can do, and the will agrees. The power does not exert responsibility on will because the will has only agreed to what the power earlier proposed. If the power were to exert responsibility on the will, all future proposals of power would be rejected. The will neither wants to use the power nor does power desires to be used by the will. And yet, the power voluntarily proposes something to the will, and the will acquiesces.
This is the instigation of the will by power. The will is self-satisfied, self-absorbed, and self-contended. The power draws out the will from this self-fulfilled state. This situation is variously described in Vedic texts in different ways. First, Viṣṇu is said to be Supreme because He is self-fulfilled. Second, Lakśmi is said to be superior, because She draws Viṣṇu out of self-fulfillment and Viṣṇu agrees to whatever She says. The feminine seems like the ruler and master of Vaikuṇṭha because She instigates everything. The masculine just goes with the proposals of the feminine. He is then called a hen-pecked husband. But the feminine knows that the hen-pecked husband is supremely independent and self-satisfied. He is not hen-pecked because He needs something from Her. He is hen-pecked just to please His wife.
Thus, Vaikuṇṭha is the beginning of voluntary life. The male doesn’t want anything from the female. The female wants to give something to the male. The male goes along with the female’s proposal just to please her. The female is pleased that the male has accepted her proposal. The male is pleased that the female is pleased. There is no pressure, people are free of all constraints, nobody tries to dominate or control anyone else, and everyone lives peacefully and happily. There is still will and power separation. Due to the courteous and mutually abiding nature of will and power, there is no frustration, and hence, no sex. No children are produced. There is neither birth nor death in this place. Life is eternal.
The Nature of Sexuality in Goloka
Gaudīya Vaishnavas describe the difference between Vaikuṇṭha and Goloka as svakiya and parakiya. The word kiyat denotes distance. Svakiya means the distance to the self is less. Parakiya means the distance to the other is less. They can be loosely likened to married and extra-marital relationships. We have to remember that there is no sex. Therefore, marital or extra-marital doesn’t mean sex. It means romantic affairs, flirting, talking, joking, and the intimacy of touching, kissing, and hugging, without sex. This extra-marital relationship is not a secret either. It is known to everyone and yet not visible to everyone.
Kṛṣṇa displayed the parakiya principle in His earthly pastimes. His father—Nanda—is a step-father. His mother—Yashoda—is a step-mother. His brother—Balarama—is a half-brother. His sister—Subhadra—is a half-sister. His primary girlfriend—Radha—is married to someone else. Even if Kṛṣṇa has ample to eat at home, He mostly eats by begging and stealing. Even as His mother packs Him a full lunch when He goes to the forest to graze His father’s cows and calves, which are His step-father’s property, He gives His lunch to His friends and loves to eat their lunch. He doesn’t like taking anyone’s permission. He cheats and lies to take what belongs to others. Therefore, He is designated Hari—the one who steals. Everything in Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes is proximity to what is relationally distant and distance to what is relationally proximate.
Most people who don’t know the parakiya principle, accuse Kṛṣṇa of immorality. But the question is: If I forcibly take from you, that which you already wanted to be taken forcibly, then is this act immoral?
We can illustrate this with an example. I can buy a gift for you, show it to you, then hide it behind my back, and ask you to come and grab it. Factually, I intend to give you the gift, otherwise, I would not have bought it. I have shown you the gift to bring it just within your reach. Then I have hidden it from you to increase your desire for it. Then I ask you to struggle to get it to see how desperately you want it. When you come to grab it, I know that you really wanted it. When you grab it, you get extra satisfaction in getting the gift by force. My happiness increases because you really wanted it. Your happiness increases because of delayed gratification. Since you stole the gift from me, therefore, I have not gifted it to you. Since I brought the gift for you in the first place, therefore, you are not the thief to steal it.
These things are called non-duality in Vedic texts. Examples of duality are giver vs. taker, honest vs. thief, and showing vs. hiding. Non-duality is both opposites present and neither excluded by the other. Anyone who tries to interpret non-duality in terms of duality will see half the picture. They won’t see the other half and will think that the other half doesn’t exist. The fact is that opposites exist in non-duality. Thus, anyone who calls Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes immorality is ignorant. First, he doesn’t understand the parakiya principle. Second, he doesn’t know that parakiya is superior to svakiya. Third, he doesn’t know the principle of non-duality as reconciling opposites. Fourth, he doesn’t have the complete picture.
Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes with the Gopis are not perverted sexuality because there is no sex. It is only flirting, talking, joking, and the intimacy of touching, kissing, and hugging, without sex. To ignite the parakiya, those who are distant have to be brought closer for intimacy. Any shame that prevents intimacy has to be overcome such as when Kṛṣṇa steals the clothes of the Gopis, asks them to get it themselves, and thereby ends the sense of shame that was earlier preventing intimacy. After that, there is no sex. Those who can see that Kṛṣṇa steals clothes, but don’t see the absence of sex, are seeing half the truth.
The Nature of Shiva-Śakti Sexuality
The realm of Shiva and Śakti is responsible for the repeated creation and destruction of many material universes. In Vedic cosmology, the universes last approximately 311 trillion years. When the universes are annihilated, Shiva and Śakti lie motionless just like in the case of Brahman, where will and power are merged, as two aspects of one person. The creation begins when the Śakti agitates Shiva. It is said that Shiva was “sleeping” and Śakti “awakens” Him. This agitation restarts their sexual intercourse.
The phallus that so far represented will, now also represents time. The cervix that so far represented power, now also represents space. Their union produces numerous universes which are then controlled by several child Rudra and Śakti forms that are partial aspects of the original Shiva and Śakti. Time is cyclical and space is closed. The forward movement of time is expansive and creative. The backward movement of time is contractive and destructive. During the forward movement of time, the universe expands from a seed. During the backward movement of time, the universe collapses into a seed.
In the material world, the sum of all wills is Shiva and the sum of all powers is Śakti. The sum of all wills is time and the sum of all powers is space. Space is not an empty box. It is the potential for variety. The variety increases, decreases, and changes over time. Time moves forward and backward to expand and reduce variety. Thus, the study of will and power becomes the study of time and space and then becomes the study of the cosmic variety. It takes two distinct forms—(a) the varieties possible at any time are all possible powers, and (b) the varieties that manifest and unmanifest successively are all possible wills.
To summarize all that we have discussed thus far, there are transcendent and material realms:
- Sexual intercourse is absent in the transcendent realms
- Parakiya will and power desire each other in Goloka
- Svakiya power proposes and the will acquiesces in Vaikuṇṭha
- Sex is absent in Brahman due to unawareness of the other
- Shiva-Shakti intercourse creates and destroys the universe
- Sex is an exceptional case in the planets of the demigods
- In a dutiful and moral marriage, sex reduces dramatically
- Sexuality grows if men and women don’t know their duties
- Perverse forms of sexuality are found in demonic planets
When the entirety of the material creation process is sexual, then there should be no shame in sexuality. Hence, sex has not been reviled in the Vedic system. It is also not celebrated because the transcendental realms are asexual, sexuality in the topmost parts of the universe is rare, and it increases as we go down the universe, but because the whole material creation is sexual, therefore, sex is not absent anywhere.
Since the transcendental realm is asexual, hence, celibacy is encouraged. But since the material creation is sexual, therefore, sexuality is not hated. Sex is not shameful if it is moral. Sex is not supreme because transcendence is asexual. The study of sexuality is the study of material creation. Unless we know all these aspects of the Vedic system, we cannot understand why sex is regarded in the way that it is.
Wanting, Willing, and Needing
The masculine-feminine gender discrimination exists in Goloka, Vaikuṇṭha, and the material world. That distinction is dissolved in the merger of will and power in Brahman. But there are important nuances in the nature of will and power in these realms. The will of Goloka is wanting, that of Vaikuṇṭha is willing, and that of the material world is needing. Let’s illustrate this with an example. I may want to eat, I may be willing to eat, and I may need to eat. A need arises from incompleteness. I need something when I don’t have it and I feel inadequate without it. Willing and wanting are the byproducts of completeness. Even if I don’t have it, it doesn’t matter. It is not a need. But having it is more fulfilling than not having it. The Brahman realm is neither wanting, nor willing, nor needing. The self is content with the self.
The self-fulfilled nature of Puruṣa is inverted when He focuses on what He is not. Puruṣa is complete, but a thought arises in Puruṣa: What if I was incomplete? This “what if” scenario is not reality. It is just an imagination. It is the inversion of reality. And yet it exists. Let’s illustrate this with an example. A rich man is fulfilled. But he might think: What if I was poor? What would I do then? How would I live in poverty? What hurdles in life would I have to face? How would I be treated by other people in society?
Shiva is a form of Puruṣa imbued with an imaginative and false conception of the self as a homeless, poor, and intoxicated beggar, living on a cremation ground, away from civilized society, covered with dust and ash, calling ghosts and goblins his friends, roaming around aimlessly, with no aspiration of a better life. Shiva is not any of these. He has all the opulence anyone can imagine. This is just an illusory character that He has put on to see what would happen if He were not everything that He is. It is like a rich man may go into a city dressed like a poor man to see if the city residents recognize who he is.
Shiva is a form of Puruṣa that converts self-fulfillment into self-abnegation. This is the “what if” scenario. It is not reality because the Puruṣa is not a beggar. But an illusion also exists. The result of trying to negate the truth results in the cycle of pretending to need something and then realizing that one needs nothing. If the need was real, then it should not get reversed. But it gets reversed because it is unreal. Thereby, all Vedic texts equate truth and eternity. What is temporary is equated to falsity.
The material world is false because it is working under a will, but that will is false because it reverses. If the will was true, then the world would not be reversed, destroyed, or annihilated. The material world resulting from a desire for fantasy is cyclical. It involves being gripped by Śakti and then released by Śakti, cyclically. The Śakti fulfills Shiva’s desire for self-flagellation and then releases Him because this desire is not the truth and Shiva doesn’t enjoy this self-abnegation. Since it is imaginary hence it cycles. Shiva factually has no needs. But He pretends as if He has nothing and, hence, He needs everything.
The sense of inadequacy, therefore, takes two forms called prakṣepātmika and āvaraṇātmika, which represent constrain and release. In our body, there is a sympathetic nervous system that constrains the soul. It is the fight, arouse, and stiffen impulse. This is prakṣepātmika. There is a parasympathetic nervous system that releases the soul. It is the relaxed, tranquil, or spent impulse. This is āvaraṇātmika. If the soul is gripped by constraints, then it wants to be free. If the soul attains release, then it desires constraint. Within the constrained condition, there is the duality of fight and flight, which constitute sexual intercourse. This is why the sympathetic nervous system is called the fight, flight, and freeze impulse. It creates cycles. After this sexual intercourse, there is a release. But after some time, there is again sexual intercourse.
Thus, there are two cycles—(a) fight and flight, and (b) constrain and release. If the consciousness is withdrawn from the world, and then from the body, to focus in the region of the heart, then we can experience the constrain and release cycle. Similarly, within the constrained condition, we can feel the fight and flight cycle. The same cycle can also be seen by the observation of the mind and the body.
If the prakṣepātmika is terminated, then the soul attains release. Even temporary material pleasure is called release from suffering because suffering is the result of prakṣepātmika gripping a person. The grip of prakṣepātmika results in stiffening followed by a fight and flight. The release from prakṣepātmika results in relaxation, calmness, and tranquility. Therefore, those who know Tantra philosophy talk about release as the experience just after an orgasm. The happiness of release is not real happiness. It is only a release from the gripping effect of prakṣepātmika. It is incorrect to call it mukti because it is temporary. Permanent happiness comes when Śakti never constrains and thereby never has to release. Then there is no sexual intercourse—freeze, fight, and flight. There is no orgasm or post-orgasm tranquility. There is instead a continuous, spontaneous, intensified, irrational, and causeless exuberance in the heart.
The prakṣepātmika creates a sense of shame in a person that alternates between love and hate. Shame causes passive-aggressive behaviors. It is the cycling of the fight and flight response. A person feels ashamed in the presence of a greater person. He blames his shame on the other person—after all, if the greater person did not exist, then the smaller person won’t be ashamed. Then he starts attacking the greater person. When his attack is repelled, he becomes passive, but he never accepts his defeat due to shame. He prepares for the next attack. He covets what he attacks, so it is a duality.
Sexual Shyness and Loving Devotion
Apart from the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems in our body, there is a cognitive nervous system. It exists for us to regulate the sympathetic and parasympathetic responses, understand why they cycle, and realize that this cycle is never going to lead a person to permanent happiness. Instead, he will be caught in the cycle of fight and flight, constrain and release. The cognitive nervous system helps us get out of these futile cycles. This nervous system helps us consume the Vedic knowledge by which a person initially goes to Brahman, then to Vaikuṇṭha, and then to Goloka.
The prakṣepātmika and āvaraṇātmika causality is created by Shiva and Śakti and leads to cyclical activity. It is different from the Vaishnava process which leads to eternally progressive activity. Therefore, the Vedic texts are often classified into Shaiva, Shakta, and Vaishnava divisions. Knowledge of the first two gives us a clear understanding of how the soul is cycling in the world. The third results in eternal progress. There is no finality in the eternally progressive path. There is no terminal state called release. It is continuously growing happiness. A release is a static state. Continuously increasing happiness is eternally progressive.
Once a person attains release from the passive-aggressive and constrain-release sexual cycle, then he begins to understand that which is neither passive nor aggressive and neither constraining nor releasing. This is the bond of loving devotion for the Supreme Puruṣa. This love is not passive, because the person is eager for the Lord. It is not aggressive since the person feels shy before the Lord. There is no constraint because the love for the Lord is voluntary. There is no release because the bond of devotion is eternal. This non-passive, non-aggressive, non-constraining, and non-releasing affection can be romantic.
The Gopis exhibit this form of love for Kṛṣṇa. They are not passive because they are eager for Kṛṣṇa. They are not aggressive because Kṛṣṇa is not their property. They don’t feel constrained because the affection is voluntary. They don’t feel released because the affection for the Lord has chained their hearts.
From a bodily perspective, this affection is different because there is no sexual intercourse. From a mental perspective, this affection is different because it is not filled with the duality of shame. There is no immorality because even that which is taken by force is taken to fulfill the desire of being taken forcibly. The result is that both taker and giver become happier rather than becoming unhappy. Those who equate this amor to sexuality should try to understand what sex is before they try to understand romantic loving devotion. Only those who have attained mukti can begin to truly experience it.
Sri Chaitanya appeared in this world to teach everyone about this highest form of devotional perfection. Previously, devotion was restricted to Vaikuṇṭha. There is devotion in Vaikuṇṭha but it is svakiya rather than parakiya. Things are offered and they are accepted. There is no forcible taking. There is no desire for being taken forcibly. Therefore, the Vaikuṇṭha devotion looks moral. But alongside this form of devotion, there were descriptions of romantic love between Kṛṣṇa and the Gopis given in Vedic texts such as the Bhāgavata Purāṇa. People thought that this was immoral. Hence, Sri Chaitanya appeared to explain the higher form of devotion without refuting any other form. This is so that people won’t find it immoral. Thereby, romantic love between Kṛṣṇa and the Gopis came to be known and accepted by many.
There are still people who criticize Kṛṣṇa for immorality since they don’t know anything. Hence, it is essential to understand what sexuality is, why it ends on liberation, and then, how a new form of amor begins in the perfectional stage of spiritual life that is unlike sexuality although looks just like it.