(Meerabai – Open Source)
“The layer that is above the sky and below the earth, which is described as being situated between the earth and the sky and which is indicated as the symbol of the past, present and future, where is that situated?”
(Gargi ~ female Vedic philosopher)
There is almost no esoteric theology written by a woman.
That is worth contemplating. Every esoteric idea we have at our disposal has been written by a man. The Upanishads ~ among the best literature we have in esoteric debate ~ is one man questioning another or the voice of the god. Debates between women are unheard of. There are very occasional and brief records of debating yoginis, such as Gargi or Lopamudra. The Shakti Tantras are not widely available or read. They were most likely not written by women either. As close as we have to evidence of a pre-existing order are the Temples in Crete, a Minoan culture which appears to confirm the existence of another possibility. A time when the female was priestess, shaman , teacher.
I often wonder what a theology would be like that had been penned by women. Not that it would be ”better” or ”worse”, but that it would surely be different…How different would it be?
Many of my teachers have been men. A common theme has been them asking me to stop questioning. As if it is some fatal flaw or block. I know the mind cannot know the mind, just as the eye cannot see the eye, but even our inner vision and spiritual experience/inclination has been shaped by culture, conditioning, what we have read and heard or ”believed in”, so is it not acceptable to question that conditioning? I don’t think Truth could be written about ever, not real Truth, not absolute Truth, and yet it is written about……exhaustively, so that it is like an infinite Maze of Babel.
I was thinking a bit more about the soul, about whether or not it abides eternally, and I saw inside a galaxy. The galaxy spreads laterally, giving the impression of eternity, of continuity. It is beautiful, luminous. It is one way of knowing ”Soul”. But in the centre there is a radiant beam that extends eternally up and below, a different kind of Infinity, one that is present moment only. It’s form is that of a laser. Intensity. It is also Soul. It does not need to exist eternally in the lateral sense, going on or back in time. It exists eternally infinitely NOW. But is all this thinking bad? These questions? Will faith beyond questions bring something more enduring? I am positive it will. But in the meantime? Is it simply down to an absence of full experience of cosmic mind? And in the absence of that full taste should I just knuckle down, be silent and cease enquiring? Because spiritual thought is of a different order than rational thought, and one is kindergarten and to be transcended? Perhaps….
I will give an example of one teacher for whom I keep very fond memories. From the age of 18 I was a regular visitor to ISKCON temples. I loved the bhajans, the kirtans, the chanting. And Krishna. I love Krishna. I first met P…-Das after I had been rowed out to a Hare Krishna island in a tiny rowing boat. He was phenomenally charismatic, a beautiful human being. He sang and played the harmonium and gave the most wonderful satsangs. He took a paternal interest in my spiritual well-being. I stayed with his wife and children and was woken in the pre-dawn hours to the sounds of his small children chanting the Bhagavad Gita.
We walked and talked among the wild deer whenever we met. He always smiled and was blissful. ”Don’t ask so many questions, Anandajyoti,” he used to say all the time. ‘Just surrender to Krishna.”
I wanted to, if only for his sake.
I met him, after a hiatus of many years, on the street in Galway. He embraced me and remembered my name. He knew I had visited with Hare Krishnas in Heidelberg, and Amsterdam over the years ~ I was amazed that he knew such things. How had he kept tabs on me?
”Stop asking questions, Anandajyoti.”
Over the years I met his disciples and kept in touch with his life. He grew old. His wife left him in a furious divorce. His son, who had sang the Bhagavad Gita in the pre-dawn hours with the voice of an angel, became a drug addict and attempted suicide. P…-das became bitter and depressed. His devotees left him. He wandered the world as a mendicant.
There is no end to this story. Neither happy nor sad. This charismatic teacher who seemed to be living in such radiant bliss is now reviled the world over and accused of all manner of malignant things, though he does continue to teach. I have not met him in many many years. He was never a teacher of mine, so I did not suffer any emotional distress, except I feel compassion for him, this beautiful yet flawed human being.
There was but one reason that I did not become his disciple when as a very young girl I arrived into the glow of his compelling enigma. It was simply because he asked me constantly to stop asking questions. I never held that against him. I just knew I could not surrender to a theology that would not permit me enquiry.
”Don’t ask too many questions, Gargi, or your head will shatter apart.”
It is to be noted that after her questions had been adequately answered Gargi became silent. 🙂
Some references on Gargi…
She asked him ‘The layer that is above the sky and below the earth, which is described as being situated between the earth and the sky and which is indicated as the symbol of the past, present and future, where is that situated?”’
He replied, ‘The layer of air is situated in the ether.’
Gargi went on: ‘“Salutation unto Thee, O Yajnavalkya. Thou hast answered well my questions. Now prepare for the others. Where is that ether pervading?’
‘Gargi, it is in the region of the Gandharvas.’
She continued, ‘Where is that region located?’
And the sage said, ‘It is in the realm of the sun.’
‘Where again is that situated?’
‘Gargi, it is in the region of the moon.’
‘Where is that again?’
‘It is in the region of the stars.’
‘Where is that region located?’
‘Gargi, it is in the region of the Gods… Oh, Gargi, ask me not anymore; thou art asking that which is not to be asked. Cease thy queries, lest thy head drop down dead on the floor.’ Yajnavalkya added, ‘O Gargi, what you are asking, the Brahman designates as akshara…. The Sun and Moon are regulated by the order of Akshara Brahman; the Earth and Sky are transfixed by Him; the minutes and seconds, days and nights, half months and months, season and years are regulated by the layer of this Akshara…. Besides this Akshara, there is none that sees, none that hears, none that thinks, none that knows. It is imperishable Brahman who is pervading this sky.
Then said Gargi: “O Venerable Brahmins, highly respect my word and acquaint yourself towards Yajnavalkya by bowing before him. None among you can defeat him in any argument concerning Brahman.” After that the daughter of Vachaknu became silent..’
OM TAT SAT