|STRIPPING THE GURUS||
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A BIT OF A BOOBY
[Ramakrishna] is a figure of recent history and his life and teachings have not yet been obscured by loving legends and doubtful myths (in Ramakrishna, 2003).
Ramakrishna ... gained recognition from his devotees and admirers that he was [an incarnation of] Christ.... When [Mahendra Nath Gupta, a prominent disciple] told his Master that he was the same person as Jesus and Chaitanya, Ramakrishna affirmed enthusiastically: “Same! Same! Certainly the same person” (Sil, 1998).
I am an avatar. I am God in human form (Ramakrishna, in [Nityatmananda, 1967]).
THE STORY OF YOGA and yogis in the Westand of their corresponding alleged abuses of power, most often reportedly for sexual purposesreally begins with Swami Vivekananda’s lectures at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893.
Vivekananda’s story, however, begins with his own guru, Sri Ramakrishna, the latter having been born in India in 1836. (“Sri” is an East Indian title of respect, akin to the English “Sir.”) Thus, it is to the latter that we shall first turn our attention.
As a child, the boy Ramakrishnawho later claimed to be the incarnation of both Krishna and Rama“loved to dress up and act like a girl” (Sil, 1997). He was, indeed, aided in that activity by relatives who bought him feminine outfits and gold ornaments, to suit his own relatively feminine body and psyche.
One can very well see from the extant photograph of Ramakrishna [e.g., online at Ramakrishna (2003)] he possessed quite well-formed and firm breastsmost possibly a case of gynecomastia....
Ramakrishna could also be described, in the jargon of modern medical psychology, as a “she male,” that is, a male who, despite his male genitalia, possesses a female psyche and breasts resembling those of a woman....
[Saradananda] writes, apparently on the basis of the Master’s testimony, that he used to bleed every month from the region of his pubic hair ... and the bleeding continued for three days just like the menstrual period of women (Sil, 1998).
Nor was that the extent of the great sage’s appreciation for the microcosmic aspects of the feminine principle:
Once he sat after a midday siesta with his loin cloth disheveled. He then remarked that he was sitting like a woman about to suckle her baby. In fact, he used to suckle his young beloved [male] disciple Rakhal Ghosh....
He ... exhibited his frankly erotic behavior toward his male devotees and disciples.... He often posed as their girlfriend or mother and always touched or caressed them lovingly (Sil, 1998).
Anyone who is suckling an adult is explicitly viewing/treating that adult as a child. If there is any sexual attraction at all from the “parent” to the “child” in such a context, there is no escaping the obvious psychological pedophilic component, even if the suckled one is of legal age, as was the eighteen-year-old Ghosh. And if one grown man (a “she-male,” in Ramakrishna’s case) is having another grown man (his junior) pretend to be an infant, so that the first of them can pretend to be the mother to the second, and literally suckle the second, in any other context there would be no doubt at all as to the fetishistic nature of the behavior.
Further, after having met his foremost disciple, Vivekananda, for the first time, in the throes of an “agonizing desire” to see the young man again, Ramakrishna confessed:
I ran to the northern quarter of the garden, a rather unfrequented place, and there cried at the top of my voice, “O my darling, come back to me! I can’t live without seeing you!” After some time, I felt better. This state of things continued for six months. There were other boys who also came here; I felt greatly drawn towards some of them but nothing like the way I was attracted toward [Vivekananda] (Disciples, 1979; italics added).
Ramakrishna went on to describe his favorite disciple variously as a “huge red-eyed carp,” “a very large pot,” “a big bamboo with holes” and a “male pigeon.”
In later days, the prematurely impotent, married guru once went into samadhi (i.e., mystical ecstasy, generally involving a loss of awareness of the body) after having mounted the young Vivekananda’s back.
As to what excuse the great guru might have given for such mounting had it not sent him vaulting into ecstatic perception of God, one can only guess.
[W]e cannot ignore [Ramakrishna’s] obsession with the anus and shit in his conversations. Even the experience of his highest realization that there exists within the individual self the Paramatman, the repository of all knowledge, was derived from his beholding a grasshopper with a thin sticklike object inserted in its anus!....
His ecstasy [i.e., as trance] was induced by touching his favorite young [male] devotees. He developed a few strategies for touching or petting the body (occasionally the penis, as was the case with Vijaykrishna Goswami, whose cock he calmed by his “touch”) of devotees (Sil, 1998).
Of course, none of Ramakrishna’s documented homoerotic behaviors in the above regards would equate to him having been a practicing homosexual. They equally, however, cannot be unrelated to his own view of the female body as being nothing more than “such things as blood, flesh, fat, entrails, worms, piss, shit, and the like” (in Nikhilananda, 1984). Indeed, the “incarnation of the Divine Mother” himself divulged:
I am terribly scared of women.... I see them as a tigress coming to devour me. Besides, I see large pores [cf. vagina symbols] in their limbs. I find all of them as ogres....
If my body is touched by a woman I feel sick.... The touched part aches as if stung by a horned catfish (in Nikhilananda, 1984).
Even the mere sight of a woman could reportedly so negatively excite Ramakrishna as to prompt him to
either run to the temple or invoke the strategy of escape by getting into samadhi. His attraction for young boys that may be considered as muted pedophilia is often associated with aging impotent males....
Ramakrishna’s contempt for women was basically a misogynist attitude of an insecure male, who thought of himself as a woman in order to fight his innate fear of the female (Sil, 1998).
On other occasions, the mention of any object which Ramakrishna did not desire (e.g., hemp, wine) would send him fleeing into samadhi; as could strong emotion (e.g., anger) on the sage’s part. At his cousin’s suggestion that those odd behaviors might have been psychologically based, Ramakrishna “responded by almost jumping into the river in order to end it all” (in Sil, 1998).
With those various factors acting, it should not surprise that Ramakrishna’s own spiritual discipline took several odd turns.
During his ascetic practices, Ramakrishna exhibited remarkable bodily changes. While worshiping Rama as his devotee Hanuman, the monkey chieftain of the Ramayana, his movements resembled those of a monkey.... [Ramakrishna was also an accomplished childhood actor.] In his biography of Ramakrishna, novelist Christopher Isherwood paraphrased the saint’s own description of his strange behavior: “I didn’t do this of my own accord; it happened of itself. And the most marvelous thing wasthe lower end of my spine lengthened, nearly an inch! Later, when I stopped practicing this kind of devotion, it gradually went back to its normal size” (in Murphy, 1992).
During the days of my [“holy”] madness [as priest of the Kali temple in Dakshineswar] I used to worship my own penis as the Shiva linga.... Worship of a live linga. I even decorated it with a pearl (in Nikhilananda, 1984).
Nor was the sage’s manner of worship confined to his own genitalia:
[Ramakrishna] considered swear words [to be] as meaningful as the Vedas and the Puranas and was particularly fond of performing japa (ritual counting of rosary) by muttering the word “cunt” (Sil, 1998).
Indeed, as the claimed avatar himself told his devotees:
The moment I utter the word “cunt” I behold the cosmic vagina ... and I sink into it (in Sil, 1998).
That is actually not quite as odd as it might initially seem, for “cunt” itself derives from Kunda or Cuntinames for Kali, the Hindu Divine Mother goddess, beloved of Ramakrishna.
It is still plenty odd, though.
In any case, in 1861 the recently wedded Ramakrishna began tantric (sexual) yoga practice with a female teacher, Yogeshwari. (His marriage was actually to a five-year-old child bride, chosen by the twenty-three-year-old yogi himself, and then left with her parents to mature.) Rituals performed by the eager student during that sadhana (i.e., spiritual practice/discipline) included eating the culinary leftovers from the meals of dogs and jackals. Also, consuming a “fish and human meat preparation in a human skull” (Sil, 1998). Attempts to have him participate in the ritual sex with a consort which is an essential component of tantra, however, were less successful. Indeed, they ended with the sage himself falling safely into trance, and later simply witnessing other practitioners having ritual intercourse.
Comparably, upon his wife’s coming of age, Ramakrishna tried but failed to make love to her, instead involuntarily plunging into a “premature superconsciousness.” (Their marriage was actually, it appears, never consummated.) That, however, did not discourage the young woman from staking her own spiritual claims:
[W]hile regarding her husband as God, Sarada came to be convinced that as his wedded wife she must also be divine. Following her husband’s claim that she was actually Shiva’s wife, Sarada later claimed: “I am Bhagavati, the Divine Mother of the Universe” (Sil, 1998).
Such was evidently the compensation for her being confined to the kitchen for days at a time by her husband, cooking, not even being allowed to relieve herself in the latrine.
[Ramakrishna was] one of the truly great saints of nineteenth-century India (Feuerstein, 1992).
In a demonstration of the high regard with which every loyal disciple holds his or her guru, Vivekananda himself declared that Ramakrishna was “the greatest of all avatars” (Sil, 1997). That evaluation, however, was not shared by everyone who knew the great sage:
Hriday, the Master’s nephew and companion, actually regarded him [as] a moron (Sil, 1998).
The venerated guru later formed the same opinion of his own earthly mother.
In any case, as part of his alleged avatarhood, Ramakrishna was christened with the title “Paramahansa,” meaning “Supreme Swan.” The appellation itself signifies the highest spiritual attainment and discrimination, by analogy with the swan which, it is claimed, is able to extract only the milk from a mixture of milk and water (presumably by curdling it).
In mid-1885, Ramakrishna was diagnosed with throat cancer. He died in 1886, leaving several thousand disciples (Satchidananda, 1977). As expected, Vivekananda took over leadership of those devotees.
After all that, Sil (1998) gave his summary evaluation of “the incarnation [of God or the Divine Mother] for the modern age,” concluding that, the swooning Ramakrishna’s status as a monumental cultural icon notwithstanding, he was nevertheless “a bit of a baby and a bit of a booby.”
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