Monday, July 27, 2020

Why is Radha not Worshiped in the Eka Sarana Faith of Sankaradeva: A Critical Difference between the Philosophies of Sankaradeva and Sri Caitanya

[This short post was, originally, written as a comment on the lecture SrimantaSankardeva and Sri Chaitanyadeva in the perspective of Bhakti Movement uploaded on YouTube by the Department of Bengali, ADP College, Nagaon, Assam.]

I have a take on the question of the relationship between the personalities of Radha and Krsna and the Samkhya entities of purusa and prakrti, which I would now like to articulate with your permission.
In my opinion, Radha and Krsna are the same purusa and prakrti of the Samkhya. Not exactly the same though; Radha is the personified form of mula-prakrti (primal matter) and Krsna is not just any purusa, but the parama purusa (God). Radha and Krsna are not historical personalities (though it might appear so to the masses not knowing the philosophy) but are primal matter and God respectively.
The difference between the Sankaradeva-ite and the Caitanya-ite schools is that between the poles. In the Sankaradeva-ite philosophy, the distinction between parama purusa and mula-prakrti is fundamental and persists eternally. God is God and matter is matter and never the twain shall meet. In the ultimate scheme of things, prakrti remains an entity eternally subservient to God (parama purusa), maintaining its own separate ontological existence. The merging of prakrti in God, etc. given in the Puranic texts such as the Bhagavata (in the chapters on the creation and dissolution of the material world) is only to be taken poetically as no real merging takes place.
Krsna, the supreme purusa, is of the essential nature of consciousness while prakrti is unconscious substance. Purusa, says the Samkhya, is conscious personality and prakrti, unconscious matter. These two fundamental entities can never be one. Therefore the difference persists eternally.
In the Caitanya-ite school, on the other hand, the distinction between parama purusa (Krsna) and mula-prakrti (Radha) is not fundamental and does not persist eternally. God is, in reality, both matter and God. From a certain portion of the supremely conscious purusa (God) emerges literally the unconscious material creation. It is this portion of Krsna that is Radha and the Lord engages in sportive activity, as it were, with “her,” his own portion.
Therefore, God, in the Caitanya-ite philosophy, is both consciousness and unconsciousness.
These fundamental differences in philosophy translate into critical differences in the theological field. In the Sankaradeva-ite theology, there is, as a result of the eternal difference between purusa and prakrti, a lot of importance placed on cultivating discrimination between "jada" (matter) and "caitanya" (conscious personality). There are many verses in Madhavadeva's Nama Ghosa that assert this critical difference. Only Hari (Krsna) is said to be caitanya; all other deities—products of matter—are jada. And it is in consequence of this primary philosophical distinction that in Sankaradeva's Eka Sarana faith, only Krsna is worshiped; and not Radha because that would mean worshiping prakrti, unconscious (jada) matter.
But in the Caitanya-ite theology, Radha and Krsna are both worshiped. Here, the worshiper would naturally be not much inclined to cultivate discrimination between jada and caitanya because, after all (here), Radha is only Krsna! God is both matter as well as God; therefore, worshiping mula-prakrti (Radha) along with the supreme purusa (Krsna) would not pose much of a hindrance to the worshiper in Caitanya’s school because, in the ultimate analysis, the two are literally one!

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