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A Ramakrishna Bibliography

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  • jodyrrr
    Kali s Child: The Mystical and Erotic in the Life and Teachings of Sri Ramakrishna. By Jeffrey J. Kripal
    Message 1 of 10 , Apr 11, 2005
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      Kali's Child: The Mystical and Erotic in the Life and Teachings
      of Sri Ramakrishna. By Jeffrey J. Kripal

      http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0226453774/qid=1113239194/sr=8-1/ref=pd_csp_1/103-4238240-7401447?v=glance&s=books&n=507846
      -------------

      Ramakrishna Revisited, by Narasingha P. Sil

      http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0761810528/qid=1113239305/sr=1-5/ref=sr_1_5/103-4238240-7401447?v=glance&s=books
      -------------

      Vivekananda: A Reassessment, by N. P. Sil

      http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0945636970/qid=1113239305/sr=1-2/ref=sr_1_2/103-4238240-7401447?v=glance&s=books
      -------------

      Divine Dowager: The Life and Teachings of Saradamani, the Holy Mother,
      by N. P. Sil

      http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/157591073X/qid=1113239305/sr=1-4/ref=sr_1_4/103-4238240-7401447?v=glance&s=books

      -------------

      Get those dust motes out of your eyes, Jason.
      The world of Ramakrishna is much, much more
      complex than his swamis want you to know.

      --jody.
    • jasonjamesmorgan
      Refutation of Daist fabrications regarding Ramakrishna from July 1999 ~ reposted 1/05/03 e-mail: elias@lightgate.net Far from honoring and bowing to the
      Message 2 of 10 , Apr 11, 2005
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        Refutation of Daist fabrications regarding Ramakrishna
        from July 1999 ~ reposted 1/05/03
        e-mail: elias@...

        Far from honoring and bowing to "the Great Tradition", Franklin Jones
        and his followers have conducted an ongoing campaign of belittlement
        and character assassination against the most honored spiritual
        teachers in history.
        One of the primary objects of their negative propaganda has been
        Ramakrishna, the 19th century Bengali saint who is arguably the
        cornerstone of modern transcendence-spirituality, East and West.
        Early on Frank alluded in his talks to Ramakrishna as "a homosexual".
        Later he found an ally in the religious scholar Jeffrey Kripal
        (author of Kali's Child), who depicted Ramakrishna as a closet
        pederast whose mysticism was largely driven by his sexual cravings
        for young boys. (Kripal himself was discredited when it was shown
        that he manufactured his evidence by mistranslation and willful
        misreading of the Bengali texts on which he based his controversial
        thesis. A close reading of Kripal's book, in this writer's opinion,
        shows that he is far from objective in his approach. Although I was
        ready to be convinced by him when I picked up Kali's Child, I came
        away knowing that he had begun his research with a conclusion that he
        was desperate to prove. Like many other false scholars before him, he
        set out to project his own world-view upon an esteemed figure from
        the past, rather than discover and explicate some heretofore hidden
        truth about that figure.)
        In their campaign to bring down Ramakrishna, Daist revisionists have
        now put forth statements (on the Ken Wilber Forum) that Ramakrishna
        was "virtually unknown, unnoticed and unacknowledged in his
        lifetime".
        A simple search of the historical record proves otherwise. Herewith a
        few quotations from relevant sources.

        "Fortunately the holy atmosphere of Dakshineswar attracted monks and
        holy men from all parts of the country. Sadhus of all denominations --
        monists and dualist, Vaishnvas and Vedantists, Saktas and
        worshippers of Rama -- flocked there in ever increasing numbers.
        Ascetics and visionaries came to seek Sri Ramakrishna's advice.
        Vaishnavas had come during the period of Vaishnava sadhana, and
        Tantriks when he practiced the disciplines of Tantra. Vedantists
        began to arrive after the departure of the Totapuri. In the room of
        Sri Ramakrishna, who was then in bed with dysentery, the Vedantists
        engaged in scriptural discussions and, forgetting his own physical
        suffering, he solved their doubts by referring directly to his own
        experiences. Many of the visitors were genuine spiritual souls, the
        unseen pillars of Hinduism, and their spiritual lives were quickened
        in no small measure by the sage of Dakshineswar... At his request,
        Mathur provided him with large stores of food-stuffs, clothes, and so
        forth, for distribution among the wandering monks.
        "Sri Ramakrishna used to say that when the flower blooms the bees
        come to it for honey of their own accord. Now many souls began to
        visit Dakshineswar to satisfy their spiritual hunger."
        --from the Introduction by Swami Nikhilananda to The Gospel of
        Ramakrishna.

        "Many noted intellectuals of the day began to visit Sri Ramakrishna,
        among them Keshab Sen, who was the first man of Western education to
        recognize his spiritual genius. Keshab, one of the great religious
        leaders in India at the time, had a large following and both in his
        sermons and in his magazines he spread the name and fame of the new
        saint. As a result many men and women were attracted to religion --
        including college professors, actors, and scientists."
        --Swami Prabhavananda, The Spiritual Heritage of India, Doubleday.

        "The second religious group that gave Hindus a renewed confidence in
        their own tradition was associated with Sri Ramakrishna (1834-1886),
        the most famous of the 19th century Indian saints. ...His influence
        was felt throughout the social life of Bengal, where he passed his
        life in continuation of the bhakti tradition so deeply rooted in that
        region. ...Among the crowds that went to see Sri Ramakrishna were
        Keshub Chunder Sen (then at the height of his fame as an orator and a
        preacher), and Narenda Natha Datta. Sen found in the saint's presence
        evidence of the universality of religious experience, but young Datta
        found a master. He became Ramakrishna's favorite disciple, and took
        the name Vivekananda."
        --A.T. Embree, The Hindu Tradition, Vintage Books.

        Other statements by Daist diminishers have alleged that Vivekananda
        disputed Ramakrishna's standing as a divine incarnation -- or even as
        a Realizer. Let Vivekananda's own words refute these strange people:
        "According to one's own capacity one has understood Sri Ramakrishna
        and so is discussing about him. It is not bad either to do so. But if
        any of his devotees has concluded that what he was understood of him
        is the only truth, then he is an object of pity. ...What he was, the
        concentrated embodiment of how many previous Avataras -- we could not
        understand a bit even spending the whole life in religious
        austerity. ...Such a synthesis of universal ideas you will not find
        in the history of the world again. Understand from this who was born
        in the person of Sri Ramakrishna.
        "In time the whole world must accept the universal and catholic ideas
        of Sri Ramakrishna and of this, only the beginning has been made.
        Before this flood everybody will be swept off. He himself is his own
        parallel. Has he any exemplar?
        "What shall I say about myself? You see, I must be one of his demons.
        In his presence even, I would sometimes speak ill of him, hearing
        which he would laugh.
        "That Ramakrishna Paramahamsa was God incarnate, I have not the least
        doubt of, but then you must let people find out for themselves what
        he used to teach. Without studying Ramakrishna Paramahamsa first, one
        can never understand the real import of the Vedas, the Vedanta, of
        the Bhagavata and the other Puranas. His life is a searchlight of
        infinite power thrown upon the whole mass of Indian religious
        thought. He was the living commentary to the Vedas and to their aim.
        He had lived in one life the whole cycle of national religious
        existence in India.
        "Whether Bhagavan Sri Krishna was born at all we are not sure; and
        the Avatars like Buddha and Chaitanya are monotonous. Ramakrishna is
        the latest and the most perfect -- the concentrated embodiment of
        knowledge, love, renunciation, catholicity and the desire to serve
        mankind. So where is anyone to compare to him?"
        --quotes by Vivekananda from Sri Ramakrishna as I Knew Him.
        Elias







        --- In meditationsocietyofamerica@yahoogroups.com, "jodyrrr"
        <jodyrrr@y...> wrote:
        >
        > Kali's Child: The Mystical and Erotic in the Life and Teachings
        > of Sri Ramakrishna. By Jeffrey J. Kripal
        >
        > http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-
        /0226453774/qid=1113239194/sr=8-1/ref=pd_csp_1/103-4238240-7401447?
        v=glance&s=books&n=507846
        > -------------
        >
        > Ramakrishna Revisited, by Narasingha P. Sil
        >
        > http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-
        /0761810528/qid=1113239305/sr=1-5/ref=sr_1_5/103-4238240-7401447?
        v=glance&s=books
        > -------------
        >
        > Vivekananda: A Reassessment, by N. P. Sil
        >
        > http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-
        /0945636970/qid=1113239305/sr=1-2/ref=sr_1_2/103-4238240-7401447?
        v=glance&s=books
        > -------------
        >
        > Divine Dowager: The Life and Teachings of Saradamani, the Holy
        Mother,
        > by N. P. Sil
        >
        > http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-
        /157591073X/qid=1113239305/sr=1-4/ref=sr_1_4/103-4238240-7401447?
        v=glance&s=books
        >
        > -------------
        >
        > Get those dust motes out of your eyes, Jason.
        > The world of Ramakrishna is much, much more
        > complex than his swamis want you to know.
        >
        > --jody.
      • jodyrrr
        Everyone, please note that the bibliography I presented has absolutely nothing to do with what follows. Hey Jason, playing with the straw up there?
        Message 3 of 10 , Apr 11, 2005
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          Everyone, please note that the bibliography I presented
          has absolutely nothing to do with what follows.

          Hey Jason, playing with the straw up there?

          --- In meditationsocietyofamerica@yahoogroups.com, jasonjamesmorgan
          <no_reply@y...> wrote:
          >
          > Refutation of Daist fabrications regarding Ramakrishna
          > from July 1999 ~ reposted 1/05/03
          > e-mail: elias@l...
          >
          > Far from honoring and bowing to "the Great Tradition", Franklin Jones
          > and his followers have conducted an ongoing campaign of belittlement
          > and character assassination against the most honored spiritual
          > teachers in history.
          > One of the primary objects of their negative propaganda has been
          > Ramakrishna, the 19th century Bengali saint who is arguably the
          > cornerstone of modern transcendence-spirituality, East and West.
          > Early on Frank alluded in his talks to Ramakrishna as "a homosexual".
          > Later he found an ally in the religious scholar Jeffrey Kripal
          > (author of Kali's Child), who depicted Ramakrishna as a closet
          > pederast whose mysticism was largely driven by his sexual cravings
          > for young boys. (Kripal himself was discredited when it was shown
          > that he manufactured his evidence by mistranslation and willful
          > misreading of the Bengali texts on which he based his controversial
          > thesis. A close reading of Kripal's book, in this writer's opinion,
          > shows that he is far from objective in his approach. Although I was
          > ready to be convinced by him when I picked up Kali's Child, I came
          > away knowing that he had begun his research with a conclusion that he
          > was desperate to prove. Like many other false scholars before him, he
          > set out to project his own world-view upon an esteemed figure from
          > the past, rather than discover and explicate some heretofore hidden
          > truth about that figure.)
          > In their campaign to bring down Ramakrishna, Daist revisionists have
          > now put forth statements (on the Ken Wilber Forum) that Ramakrishna
          > was "virtually unknown, unnoticed and unacknowledged in his
          > lifetime".
          > A simple search of the historical record proves otherwise. Herewith a
          > few quotations from relevant sources.
          >
          > "Fortunately the holy atmosphere of Dakshineswar attracted monks and
          > holy men from all parts of the country. Sadhus of all denominations --
          > monists and dualist, Vaishnvas and Vedantists, Saktas and
          > worshippers of Rama -- flocked there in ever increasing numbers.
          > Ascetics and visionaries came to seek Sri Ramakrishna's advice.
          > Vaishnavas had come during the period of Vaishnava sadhana, and
          > Tantriks when he practiced the disciplines of Tantra. Vedantists
          > began to arrive after the departure of the Totapuri. In the room of
          > Sri Ramakrishna, who was then in bed with dysentery, the Vedantists
          > engaged in scriptural discussions and, forgetting his own physical
          > suffering, he solved their doubts by referring directly to his own
          > experiences. Many of the visitors were genuine spiritual souls, the
          > unseen pillars of Hinduism, and their spiritual lives were quickened
          > in no small measure by the sage of Dakshineswar... At his request,
          > Mathur provided him with large stores of food-stuffs, clothes, and so
          > forth, for distribution among the wandering monks.
          > "Sri Ramakrishna used to say that when the flower blooms the bees
          > come to it for honey of their own accord. Now many souls began to
          > visit Dakshineswar to satisfy their spiritual hunger."
          > --from the Introduction by Swami Nikhilananda to The Gospel of
          > Ramakrishna.
          >
          > "Many noted intellectuals of the day began to visit Sri Ramakrishna,
          > among them Keshab Sen, who was the first man of Western education to
          > recognize his spiritual genius. Keshab, one of the great religious
          > leaders in India at the time, had a large following and both in his
          > sermons and in his magazines he spread the name and fame of the new
          > saint. As a result many men and women were attracted to religion --
          > including college professors, actors, and scientists."
          > --Swami Prabhavananda, The Spiritual Heritage of India, Doubleday.
          >
          > "The second religious group that gave Hindus a renewed confidence in
          > their own tradition was associated with Sri Ramakrishna (1834-1886),
          > the most famous of the 19th century Indian saints. ...His influence
          > was felt throughout the social life of Bengal, where he passed his
          > life in continuation of the bhakti tradition so deeply rooted in that
          > region. ...Among the crowds that went to see Sri Ramakrishna were
          > Keshub Chunder Sen (then at the height of his fame as an orator and a
          > preacher), and Narenda Natha Datta. Sen found in the saint's presence
          > evidence of the universality of religious experience, but young Datta
          > found a master. He became Ramakrishna's favorite disciple, and took
          > the name Vivekananda."
          > --A.T. Embree, The Hindu Tradition, Vintage Books.
          >
          > Other statements by Daist diminishers have alleged that Vivekananda
          > disputed Ramakrishna's standing as a divine incarnation -- or even as
          > a Realizer. Let Vivekananda's own words refute these strange people:
          > "According to one's own capacity one has understood Sri Ramakrishna
          > and so is discussing about him. It is not bad either to do so. But if
          > any of his devotees has concluded that what he was understood of him
          > is the only truth, then he is an object of pity. ...What he was, the
          > concentrated embodiment of how many previous Avataras -- we could not
          > understand a bit even spending the whole life in religious
          > austerity. ...Such a synthesis of universal ideas you will not find
          > in the history of the world again. Understand from this who was born
          > in the person of Sri Ramakrishna.
          > "In time the whole world must accept the universal and catholic ideas
          > of Sri Ramakrishna and of this, only the beginning has been made.
          > Before this flood everybody will be swept off. He himself is his own
          > parallel. Has he any exemplar?
          > "What shall I say about myself? You see, I must be one of his demons.
          > In his presence even, I would sometimes speak ill of him, hearing
          > which he would laugh.
          > "That Ramakrishna Paramahamsa was God incarnate, I have not the least
          > doubt of, but then you must let people find out for themselves what
          > he used to teach. Without studying Ramakrishna Paramahamsa first, one
          > can never understand the real import of the Vedas, the Vedanta, of
          > the Bhagavata and the other Puranas. His life is a searchlight of
          > infinite power thrown upon the whole mass of Indian religious
          > thought. He was the living commentary to the Vedas and to their aim.
          > He had lived in one life the whole cycle of national religious
          > existence in India.
          > "Whether Bhagavan Sri Krishna was born at all we are not sure; and
          > the Avatars like Buddha and Chaitanya are monotonous. Ramakrishna is
          > the latest and the most perfect -- the concentrated embodiment of
          > knowledge, love, renunciation, catholicity and the desire to serve
          > mankind. So where is anyone to compare to him?"
          > --quotes by Vivekananda from Sri Ramakrishna as I Knew Him.
          > Elias
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          > --- In meditationsocietyofamerica@yahoogroups.com, "jodyrrr"
          > <jodyrrr@y...> wrote:
          > >
          > > Kali's Child: The Mystical and Erotic in the Life and Teachings
          > > of Sri Ramakrishna. By Jeffrey J. Kripal
          > >
          > > http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-
          > /0226453774/qid=1113239194/sr=8-1/ref=pd_csp_1/103-4238240-7401447?
          > v=glance&s=books&n=507846
          > > -------------
          > >
          > > Ramakrishna Revisited, by Narasingha P. Sil
          > >
          > > http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-
          > /0761810528/qid=1113239305/sr=1-5/ref=sr_1_5/103-4238240-7401447?
          > v=glance&s=books
          > > -------------
          > >
          > > Vivekananda: A Reassessment, by N. P. Sil
          > >
          > > http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-
          > /0945636970/qid=1113239305/sr=1-2/ref=sr_1_2/103-4238240-7401447?
          > v=glance&s=books
          > > -------------
          > >
          > > Divine Dowager: The Life and Teachings of Saradamani, the Holy
          > Mother,
          > > by N. P. Sil
          > >
          > > http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-
          > /157591073X/qid=1113239305/sr=1-4/ref=sr_1_4/103-4238240-7401447?
          > v=glance&s=books
          > >
          > > -------------
          > >
          > > Get those dust motes out of your eyes, Jason.
          > > The world of Ramakrishna is much, much more
          > > complex than his swamis want you to know.
          > >
          > > --jody.
        • jodyrrr
          ... wrote: [snip] ... Kripal has not been discredited. Here is his answer to the critique of his translation:
          Message 4 of 10 , Apr 11, 2005
          • 0 Attachment
            --- In meditationsocietyofamerica@yahoogroups.com, jasonjamesmorgan
            <no_reply@y...> wrote:

            [snip]

            > Later he found an ally in the religious scholar Jeffrey Kripal
            > (author of Kali's Child), who depicted Ramakrishna as a closet
            > pederast whose mysticism was largely driven by his sexual cravings
            > for young boys. (Kripal himself was discredited when it was shown
            > that he manufactured his evidence by mistranslation and willful
            > misreading of the Bengali texts on which he based his controversial
            > thesis.

            Kripal has not been discredited. Here is his answer
            to the critique of his translation:

            http://www.ruf.rice.edu/~kalischi/textuality.html
          • jasonjamesmorgan
            ... Hello, Just one of many. Namaste Om Namah Shivaya Kali s Child Revisited or Didn t Anyone Check the Documentation? by Swami Tyagananda* Part 1 of 4 Jeffrey
            Message 5 of 10 , Apr 11, 2005
            • 0 Attachment
              > Kripal has not been discredited. Here is his answer
              > to the critique of his translation:
              >
              > http://www.ruf.rice.edu/~kalischi/textuality.html

              Hello,

              Just one of many.

              Namaste
              Om Namah Shivaya
              Kali's Child Revisited
              or
              Didn't Anyone Check the Documentation?
              by Swami Tyagananda*

              Part 1 of 4

              Jeffrey J. Kripal's Kali's Child has tremendous value for one very good
              reason: it is written by one who is not a part of the tradition that
              has grown around the life and teachings of Ramakrishna. Such works
              from "outside" the tradition are valuable because they often bring new
              perspectives and new life to a subject. These books can also provide a
              splendid opportunity for fruitful dialogue between those who
              are "inside" the tradition and those who are "outside." Such dialogue
              has the potential to enliven research, broaden understanding, correct
              misconceptions and enrich the knowledge of people on both sides of the
              fence.

              Moreover, Kali's Child is quite an interesting book. So interesting, in
              fact, that even as a dissertation at least one reader was found (we
              learn from the Foreword) "smiling often and laughing almost as often"
              when she took chapters of it to the beach. Academic dissertations, as
              we are painfully aware, are not generally known to produce this kind of
              effect! Kripal has an engaging writing style: were the book not strewn
              with endless reference numbers in parentheses and innumerable endnotes
              it could have passed for a novel.

              The documentation indeed looks impressive until one actually checks the
              references Kripal quotes. That is what happened in my case. As I began
              to browse through Kali's Child, I would say to myself, "I know the
              Kathamrita quite well and I've never seen that before!"1 As a sample
              check, I compared a reference with the original in Bengali and saw that
              there was a problem. So I began checking more references, comparing
              Kripal's translations with the Bengali originals and I too found
              myself "smiling often and laughing almost as often"-but for reasons
              quite different from those that provoked a similar reaction on a beach
              several years ago.

              The second edition of Dr. Jeffrey Kripal's Kali's Child begins by
              telling us that much has changed since the book's initial release.
              While the American Academy of Religion had bestowed upon Kali's Child
              the History of Religions Prize in 1996 for the best new book, Kali's
              Child had also provoked a flurry of criticism and, according to Kripal,
              the specter of "censorship" in India.

              Why the strong reaction? Kripal tells us that the negative reaction was
              due to a "deep cultural rejection of homosexuality" (KC xxi);2 it was
              an angry response to exposing the "secret" of "Ramakrishna's homoerotic
              desires" (KC xv).

              In fact the truth is much more simple: yes, the criticism the book
              received was due to its conclusions regarding Ramakrishna's purported
              homosexuality. But Kripal's conclusions came via faulty translations, a
              willful distortion and manipulation of sources, combined with a
              remarkable ignorance of Bengali culture. The derisive, nonscholarly
              tone with which he discussed Ramakrishna didn't help matters either.

              To make the facile claim that the criticism leveled against Kali's
              Child was due to homophobia is to deflect from the real issue of shoddy
              and deceptive scholarship. Should a person with a good grasp of Bengali
              language and culture seriously read the Bengali source books on
              Ramakrishna and then come to the conclusion that Ramakrishna was a
              conflicted homosexual, I would respect that person's freedom to come to
              this conclusion. I would strongly disagree with him or her, but I-and
              many other devotees of Ramakrishna-would fully support that person's
              freedom of inquiry and thought. What I and others will never support is
              the freedom to distort the text and the freedom to misuse citations.

              Since I am a monk of the Ramakrishna Order, some may argue that my
              Bengali translations and my use of citations will only serve to reflect
              my biased viewpoint. Let me then quote Narasingha Sil regarding
              Kripal's scholarship. Sil (whom Kripal particularly thanks in his
              preface to the first edition) has been Kripal's occasional collaborator
              and colleague. Moreover, no one would ever accuse Narasingha Sil and
              the Ramakrishna Order of mutual admiration.

              Speaking of Kripal's Bengali, Sil says: "Jeffrey is very adept at using
              Bengali-English dictionaries and picking the most appropriate synonyms
              for words (disregarding the primary, secondary, tertiary meanings) he
              feels could make his point." Sil also notes that Kripal "is unable even
              to converse in Bengali (but very prompt at using dictionaries)."3
              Indeed, even Kripal's associates in India acknowledge that when he
              arrived in Calcutta his knowledge of Bengali was fairly elementary.
              After eight months of study, Kripal's Bengali improved, but never
              beyond the intermediate stage. He still cannot speak Bengali and
              understands little when spoken to. Such a limited understanding of a
              foreign language and culture could hardly give Kripal the background
              necessary to understand a man whose village Bengali was worlds apart
              from the conventional Bengali appearing within the neat margins of the
              dictionaries. Further, Kripal's ignorance of Bengali culture jumps
              right off the page. Many of the author's misinterpretations are due to
              a simple lack of familiarity with Bengali attitudes and customs. The
              notes following this introductory essay will make this shortcoming
              abundantly clear.

              Finally, regarding Kali's Child itself, Sil notes: "…[Kripal's] method
              of supporting his thesis is not only wrong but reprehensible in that it
              involves willful distortion and manipulation of sources. . . . Kripal
              has faulted Swami Nikhilananda for his 'concealment' and doctoring of
              the crude expressions of KM [Kathamrita], but he has unhesitatingly
              committed similar crime[s] of omission and commission to suit his
              thesis." 4

              In this essay, which serves as an introduction to the "Notes" which
              follow, I give clear examples of the mistranslations and deceptive
              documentation which cover nearly every page of Kali's Child. The notes
              detail a page-by-page overview of some of the most egregious examples
              of Dr. Kripal's flawed scholarship. Yet even these notes are not
              exhaustive. Nor do they propose to be. They are only indicators of the
              kinds of problems that abound in Kali's Child. The purpose of this
              essay and the notes is only to encourage further studies and discussion.

              To return to matters about the book before I discuss what is in the
              book, why was there an uproar when Narasingha Sil's inflammatory review
              of Kali's Child appeared in the Calcutta edition of the Statesman in
              1997? Because the readers found the premises of Kali's Child insulting.
              Literally millions of people have read the Bengali Kathamrita for the
              past one hundred years. What Swami Nikhilananda chose and did not
              choose to translate into English is not relevant in this instance.
              Bengalis know the language, the culture, the source materials better
              than any American Ph.D. student who stays in Calcutta for eight months,
              reads Bengali with the help of a dictionary, and then tells the
              Bengalis that they are reading Ramakrishna wrong. Strangely enough,
              they find this sort of thing patronizing and arrogant. For more
              information regarding the "censorship" issue, please see note #1 at the
              end of this essay.

              Who Closed the Case?

              Except for a few minor corrections in the book's second edition,
              Kripal's original thesis remains intact, indeed has been strengthened,
              in the years between the book's first and second edition. Kripal now
              says with a clearer authority: "The case of Ramakrishna's homosexuality
              … seems to be closed" (KC xxi).

              Who has closed the case? While Kripal informs us that Kali's Child "has
              been lauded by scholars … for being right (KC xxii)," one wonders if
              any of those praising the book have ever read its citations. Have any
              of those scholars who have given this book so much acclaim actually
              read the Bengali sources that he quotes? How many of them can actually
              read Bengali well, if at all?

              Oddly enough, Kripal attempts to invoke Christopher Isherwood as having
              a "homosexual reading of Ramakrishna" (KC xiii). It is odd because if
              one reads the book that Kripal cites, My Guru and His Disciple,
              Isherwood clearly declares exactly the opposite: "I couldn't honestly
              claim him [Ramakrishna] as a homosexual, even a sublimated one, much as
              I would have liked to be able to do so."5

              Kripal buttresses his claim for Isherwood's "homosexual reading" of
              Ramakrishna by providing us with the following anecdote: In 1995 a well-
              known scholar, having heard Kripal's talk on Ramakrishna and his
              homosexual orientation, informed the author and the audience, "Chris
              Isherwood was a close friend of mine, and I want you to know that, if
              he could have been here today, Chris would have been very pleased" (KC
              xiii). Yet, to my surprise, this particular "well-known scholar"
              approached me at the November 2000 annual meeting of the American
              Academy of Religion and declared that he had been completely misquoted.
              In fact, the scholar said, he had never even met Christopher Isherwood,
              so he could hardly be considered a "close friend"! It is precisely this
              kind of fraudulent scholarship that forms the backbone of Kali's Child.
              For a fuller discussion of Isherwood along with a discussion of
              Kripal's claim that Isherwood was subjected to "censorship" by the
              Ramakrishna Order, please see note #2.

              Perhaps the centerpiece of Kali's Child is the assertion
              that "Ramakrishna was a conflicted, unwilling, homoerotic Tantrika" (KC
              3). Further, Tantra's "heterosexual assumptions seriously violated the
              structure of his own homosexual desires. His female Tantric guru and
              temple boss may have forced themselves … on the saint … but Ramakrishna
              remained … a lover not of sexually aggressive women or even of older
              men but of young, beautiful boys" (KC 2-3, emphasis mine).

              Interesting thesis; how does he document his claims?

              Ramakrishna, Kripal informs us, went into samadhi "while looking at the
              cocked hips of a beautiful English boy" (KC 19, emphasis mine).
              Interesting choice of adjectives. Kripal repeats this phrase later by
              declaring: "stunned by the cocked hips of the boy, Ramakrishna falls
              into samadhi" (KC 66). But what does the original Bengali say? Kripal
              gives two references (KA 2.49; KA 2.110) neither of which mentions the
              boy as being "beautiful" and, perhaps obviously, there is no mention
              of "cocked" hips either. The Kathamrita simply states that Ramakrishna
              went into samadhi upon seeing a boy who was-as Krishna is traditionally
              depicted in Hindu iconography-tribhanga-bent in three places (i.e.,
              bent at the knee, waist and elbow, with flute in hand). It is this sort
              of documentation that Kripal uses to build the case for Ramakrishna's
              purported homoerotic impulses.

              Then we have the issue of the sword. Even casual readers of the
              Ramakrishna literature are familiar with the story of how Ramakrishna,
              stricken with grief and frustration at not having experienced a vision
              of Kali, decided to end his life. Just as he was seizing the sword to
              slit his throat, Ramakrishna was overwhelmed by rolling waves of bliss
              and entered into samadhi. How does Kripal view this incident? Kripal
              presumes that Ramakrishna's spiritual crisis was something much more
              interesting: the suicide attempt was an attempt "to end his erotic
              torment (vyakulata) and the shame attached to it by symbolically
              castrating himself" (KC 76).

              How does he come to this conclusion? Although Kripal tells us that he
              doesn't follow Freudian methodology, this sounds pretty close to
              me: "Psychoanalytically trained students of Hindu culture have tended
              to see such symbolic self-castrations as productive of a 'negative
              Oedipus complex' in which the boy, instead of renouncing his desires
              for the mother and identifying with the father (the 'normal' outcome of
              Freud's Oedipus complex), ends up identifying with the mother by
              renouncing his masculine identity through a symbolic castration. . . .
              This in turn creates a marked homosexual tendency in the boy" (KC 344).

              This is how we've arrived, via circular logic, at Kripal's thesis:
              Ramakrishna, in wishing to slit his throat, must have really wanted to
              castrate himself since he was presumed to be suffering "erotic
              torment." But there's no evidence of "erotic torment" whatsoever.
              Kripal tries to build it into his thesis with prejudicial translations
              and false documentation, but there is no textual evidence for his
              thesis. The clincher for the head=phallus metaphor is Kripal's
              assertion that "the head in the mystical physiology of yoga and Tantra
              [is] the ultimate goal of one's semen and so an appropriate symbol for
              the phallus" (KC 76). Sorry, wrong. The ultimate goal is the retention
              of semen which strengthens the body-mind complex. The phallus and head
              are not interchangeable parts.

              What other evidence does Kripal marshal to promote his homoerotic
              thesis? There's the case of Mathur Babu, Rani Rasmani's son-in-law and
              the manager of the Kali temple. Curiously, Kripal revels in calling
              Mathur the "temple boss." What's the point? Mathur was the temple
              manager. It's interesting, however, to ponder the weight "boss" carries
              in contrast to "manager." "Boss" seems more dangerous, more
              authoritarian; there's a swagger in the word which Kripal attempts to
              build into his text.

              This is typical of Kripal's use of loaded language which he employs
              throughout Kali's Child. The notes section of this paper will provide
              many more examples of Kripal's repeated use of loaded words to create
              an effect. Why would Kripal chose a word with a pejorative and slightly
              ominous subtext? Because Kripal has already decided that Mathur
              sexually forced himself upon Ramakrishna.

              Mathur, as all the Ramakrishna literature openly states, was
              immediately attracted to Ramakrishna, because of his "good-looks,
              tender nature, piety, and youth." Then Kripal adds: "Saradananda tells
              us, seemingly completely unaware of the homosexual dimensions of his
              own description, a 'sudden loving attraction' arose in the mind and
              heart of the temple boss" (LP 2.5.1).6 The "homosexual dimensions"
              which somehow evade us in the Lilaprasanga I will quote here: "It is
              often seen that when a very close and lasting relationship is
              established with anyone in life, the loving attraction towards them is
              felt right away, at first sight" (LP 2.5.1). I fail to find the
              homosexual dimensions here. All of us have had the joy of meeting
              people with whom we immediately establish a warm rapport; even though
              we've just met them, we nevertheless feel very drawn to those people.
              In the Hindu worldview, this phenomenon is seen as completely natural.
              There is absolutely no sexual connotation in this phenomenon whatsoever.

              We've Got Some Serious Translation Issues Here

              Kripal's treatment of the word vyakulata, which he translates
              as "erotic torment," brings us to the subject of his prejudicial
              translations. Since we know that Kripal can only read and translate
              Bengali texts with the help of a dictionary, let's see how the
              dictionary translates vyakulata. The widely used 1968 edition of the
              Bengali Samsad gives us these possibilities: "eagerness, excitement;
              impatience, anxiety, worry, hustle, bustle, busyness, business,
              distraction, perplexity; scattered state; diffusion; inversion." Where
              in these possibilities do we find "erotic torment"? Let's take a look
              at the 1924 Mitra Bengali-English dictionary; perhaps Kripal might have
              found something in there. Vyakulata here is defined as: "perplexity,
              distraction, agitation, flurry, anxiety, eagerness." No erotic torment
              to be found here. Alas, the poor author has to install the erotic
              torment into the text himself, since it doesn't exist there
              independently.

              In attempting to build a case for Ramakrishna's homosexual attraction,
              Kripal states: "Ramakrishna's anxious desire was often directed to his
              young male disciples" (KC 65). The word used here is again vyakulata;
              and, as we have seen, there's nothing in the word to suggest "desire,"
              which, typically for Kripal, carries a sexual connotation.

              In any language, a word carries different shades of meaning depending
              on the context. Take the word "eagerness" or "anxiety," for example,
              and we'll have the same situation. A person can be eager or anxious to
              see a close friend; a person can be eager or anxious to see one's
              child; a person can be eager or anxious to have a stiff drink; a person
              can be eager or anxious to see one's beloved. The weight and meaning of
              the word depends on the context. To load the Bengali words heavily with
              sexual innuendo is to completely distort the meaning of the text.

              Kripal carries his argument further by declaring: "The same longing
              that was once directed to Kali and her sword is now directed to
              Narendra and his sweet singing voice" (KC 65). Vyakul is used here, but-
              as we have seen-the "longing" that one feels for God doesn't presume
              the same feeling that one has for another human being; the contexts are
              obviously different.

              Not to unduly belabor vyakul, but one last example. (See the notes for
              more references on this point.) To quote Kali's Child which is
              purportedly quoting from KA 3.126: "Again troubled by his desire for
              the boys, Ramakrishna asks M, 'Why do I feel so anxious for them?' M
              can give no answer before an upset Ramakrishna breaks in, 'Why don't
              you say something?'" (KC 65, emphasis mine).

              In comparing Kripal's translation against Nikhilananda's, I find
              Nikhilananda's translation to be perfectly accurate. Nikhilananda
              writes, and I would translate the text in exactly the same way: "The
              Master lay down on the small couch. He seemed worried about Tarak.
              Suddenly he said to M, 'Why do I worry so much about these young boys?'
              M kept still. He was thinking over a reply. The Master asked him, 'Why
              don't you speak?'"

              Nikhilananda's translation, "worry so much," is the perfect English
              equivalent for this context. If we look at Kripal's translation, we
              find sexual innuendo that isn't in the text and, interestingly enough,
              we also find words that are not in the text. The adjective "upset"
              describing Ramakrishna is not in the original. But by giving the KA
              3.126 reference, Kripal indicates that this description is in the text.
              This is nothing short of deceptive documentation.

              Another word which Kripal warps in order to shore up his homoerotic
              platform is uddipana, which means "enkindling" or "lighting up."
              Discussing the "obvious … homoerotic element" in KA 2.24, Kripal
              writes: "When it comes time for the disciples to leave one evening,
              Ramakrishna turns to the youth Bhabanath and says: 'Please don't leave
              today. When I look at you, I get all excited (uddipana)!'" (KC 67).
              Let's go back to the dictionary: the Samsad defines uddipana as: "act
              of enkindling; incitation; act of inspiring or encouragement;
              animation; manifestation; augmentation, development." The "obvious"
              homoerotic element is not obvious unless one would choose to
              mistranslate the text.

              When I checked the Bengali text against Nikhilananda's Gospel, I found
              Nikhilananda's translation accurate with the exception of one word.
              Nikhilananda writes: "The devotees were ready to return home. One by
              one they saluted the Master. At the sight of Bhavanath Sri Ramakrishna
              said: 'Don't go away today. The very sight of you inspires me'"
              (Gospel, 194). In KA 2.24 the word "you" is plural (toder): it would
              therefore be more accurate to translate the last sentence as: "The very
              sight of you all inspires me."

              "If all this seems suggestive," Kripal intones, "consider Ramakrishna's
              comments on the excitement he feels when looking at pictures of holy
              men: 'When I look at pictures of holy men I become aroused
              [uddipana] . . . just as when a man looks at a young woman and is
              reminded [uddipana] of [sexual] pleasure" (KC 67). Again we are faced
              with loaded English words and skewed translations. Ramakrishna becomes
              aroused? There's nothing in uddipana to suggest "aroused," and as we
              all know, the word "aroused" carries with it heavy sexual baggage.

              Kripal obviously wants to emphasize "men" since he translates sadhuder
              chhabi as "pictures of holy men" rather than "pictures of sadhus"
              or "pictures of monks." Of more interest is the endnote given for this
              reference (KC 343, #61): "But Ramakrishna wants nothing to do with
              pictures of women," citing KA 4.263. If we check KA 4.263 however, we
              find that Ramakrishna is neither expressing any distaste nor dislike
              for pictures of women; he is simply stating the strict rule for
              sannyasins: "A sannyasin must not even look at a picture of a woman."
              Kripal's endnote, as usual, is meant to mislead.

              But back to Kripal's sexual baggage in the body of the text: If we
              check KA 5.120 we find nothing to support Kripal's issue with photos of
              men. When a devotee describes the sadhus he had met, Ramakrishna
              says: "Look, one must keep the pictures of sadhus at home (dekho,
              sadhuder chhabi ghare rakhate hoy). One is then constantly reminded of
              God (ta hole sarvada isvarer uddipan hoy)." When the devotee says that
              he has kept such pictures in his room, Ramakrishna continues: "Yes,
              seeing the pictures of sadhus, one is reminded [of God]" (han, sadhuder
              chhabi dekhle uddipan hoy).

              Nowhere in the Kathamrita do we find Kripal's: "When I look" which he
              has conveniently placed in Ramakrishna's mouth and, even more
              conveniently, has placed those words within quotation marks. And
              nowhere is there any "aroused." The context of the quotation makes it
              completely clear that uddipana refers to God: isvarer uddipana.

              One last point: Kripal needlessly uses ellipses in this short reference
              to distort the text's meaning. Ramakrishna, when discussing the
              importance of being reminded of God through holy pictures, gives two
              examples. Kripal, however, cleverly provides only one: Ramakrishna's
              first example is being reminded of a real fruit when one sees an
              imitation one. His second example is being reminded of enjoyment (bhog)
              when seeing a young woman. Not surprisingly, the word bhog, which
              simply means either experience or enjoyment, becomes in Kripal's
              version: "[sexual] pleasure" and the first example of the fruit is
              omitted entirely.

              My final discussion of uddipana (please see the notes for more
              examples) centers around Kripal's translation of KA 3.93. Writes
              Kripal: "Almost anything he saw or heard could awaken powerful forces
              that often overwhelmed him. When one is in love, he explained, 'even
              the littlest thing can ecstatically remind one [of the beloved]'" (KC
              66).

              I've compared Nikhilananda's text with the Kathamrita and found it
              quite accurate. I would translate the text in this way: "Once love for
              God arises in the heart, even the slightest thing kindles spiritual
              feeling in a person. Then, chanting the name of Rama even once can
              produce the fruit of ten million sandhyas."

              But note what is breathtakingly dishonest about Kripal's translation:
              He writes, "when one is in love." The Kathamrita passage which he
              gives, however, is absolutely unambiguous and clear: Ramakrishna is
              referring to "love for God" (isvarer upar bhalobasha). Thus the obvious
              meaning of uddipana in this context is the "kindling of spiritual
              feeling."

              Kripal, on the other hand, after suppressing the blatant reference to
              God, turns the text on its head. Suddenly Ramakrishna's words have been
              twisted into a poor imitation of Rumi: "ecstatically remind one [of the
              beloved]." There is absolutely no mention whatsoever of "the beloved"
              in the text. I searched in vain in the preceding page and subsequent
              page of KA 3.93 as well but nowhere could I find even a hint of "the
              beloved." Amusingly, Kripal begins this paragraph by
              noting: "Ramakrishna might be described as hyperassociative." I would
              suggest that it is Kripal who has the hyperassociative problem.

              Sometimes Kripal's desire to shove inconvenient facts into the
              homoerotic box creates unintentionally comic results. Take for example
              Kripal's dissection of Ramakrishna and Kedar in KA 4.7.: "In still
              another passage, he looks at boy Kedar and is reminded of Krishna's
              sexual exploits with the milkmaids" (KC 66).

              It's interesting that Kripal describes Kedar as a "boy." Considering
              that in 1882 Kedar was fifty years old and working as a government
              accountant, I think "boy" is an exaggeration. In fact, Kedar was older
              than Ramakrishna himself. But since Kripal is bound and determined to
              have Ramakrishna be with boys, Kripal will transform even a fifty-
              something into a boy. In nineteenth-century India, a man of fifty was
              considered elderly.

              More importantly, KA 4.7 simply says that upon seeing Kedar (who was a
              devotee of Krishna), Ramakrishna was reminded of the Vrindavan-lila. I
              suppose one shouldn't be surprised to find that Kripal translates "the
              play in Vrindavan" (vrindavan-lila) as "Krishna's sexual exploits with
              the milkmaids." Though for someone who, when it suits him, can be
              persnickety about literal accuracy, why would he provide such an
              interpretative "translation"? Obviously because he wanted to emphasize
              his own subtext.

              Since Kripal wants to associate Ramakrishna with boys, no matter what,
              we shouldn't be surprised that he first suspects, then assumes, then
              presents as a fact that Ramakrishna was sexually abused as a child.
              That there is absolutely no evidence for this makes no difference to
              Dr. Kripal; we have the effect-Ramakrishna's "homoerotic impulses"-so
              now the cause must be found. Aha! Certainly he must have been sexually
              abused as a child.

              The spiritual ecstasies that Ramakrishna experienced as a child are
              thus reinterpreted as "troubling trances" (KC 57). The only
              one "troubled" by them, however, is Kripal who feels compelled to find
              sexual abuse somewhere in there. He first tries to hang the blame on
              the itinerant monks visiting the village; the young Ramakrishna enjoyed
              visiting them and we can only suspect what that means. Referring to LP
              1.7.5, Kripal somehow intuits that Ramakrishna's mother, "… began to
              worry about such visits, especially when the boy returned home with his
              clothes torn into a simple loin-cloth and his nearly naked body covered
              with ashes, but Gadadhar assured her that nothing was wrong" (KC 57).

              This reference not only shows us Kripal's ability to mistranslate but
              also his remarkable ignorance of Indian customs. Please note that it
              was not the boy's "clothes" but rather his "cloth" that was torn into a
              loincloth. The distinction is important. Perhaps the author doesn't
              know what a loincloth is and how much material it requires-or he is
              just embellishing his account of the event. It is not the slightest bit
              unusual to cut a portion of the wearing cloth (dhoti) and make it into
              a loincloth (kaupin)-many monks do so, and I have done it myself. The
              dhoti is still worn as a regular dhoti.

              Kripal's phrase "his near naked body" is his own invention. Nowhere in
              the LP is there even a mention of the boy's nakedness. In which case we
              can assume that Ramakrishna wore the kaupin as well as the wearing
              cloth. LP 1.7.5 says that the boy would "tell his mother everything"
              (tahake samasta katha nivedan korilo). When he returned from his visit
              to the monks, the boy would tell his mother, "Look mother, how the
              monks have adorned me" (ma, sadhura amake kemon sajaiya diyachhen,
              dekho). It was then obviously that he showed her the kaupin. In
              Kripal's skewed account, the reader is led to believe that the boy
              returned home with "his nearly naked body" covered with ashes.

              Further, in LP 1.7.5 the events are kept quite distinct. The boy's
              being smeared with sacred ash (vibhuti-bhushitanga hoiya) happened on
              some days (kono din), and on some days (kono din) he returned home with
              a sacred emblem on his forehead (tilak dharan koriya), and on some
              other days (abar kono din) he returned home using a part of his wearing
              cloth as a loincloth.
              Kripal goes out of his way to throw these distinct elements together
              while adding to it his own version: a tearing of "clothes" and
              a "nearly naked body." Yet again, we have loaded language which does
              not exist in the original.

              Kripal goes out of his way to throw these distinct elements together
              while adding to it his own version: a tearing of "clothes" and
              a "nearly naked body." Yet again, we have loaded language which does
              not exist in the original.

              What is especially interesting is that Kripal chooses not to mention
              the nature of Ramakrishna's mother's fear. In the same paragraph which
              Kripal quotes, it is made quite clear by Saradananda that Ramakrishna's
              mother was "afraid that one day the mendicants might tempt her son to
              go away with them" (sadhura tahar putrake kono din bhulaiya sange loiya
              jaibe na to). She mentioned this fear to her son who tried to pacify
              her. When the monks eventually came to know of this, they came to her
              house and "assured her that the thought of taking away Gadadhar with
              them had never even crossed their minds; for, to take away a boy of
              that tender age, without the permission of his parents, they said,
              would be stealing, an offence unworthy of any religious person. At
              this, every shadow of apprehension left Chandradevi, and she readily
              agreed to let the boy visit them as before."

              All of this information Kripal refuses to acknowledge, leaving the
              readers with Chandramani's ambiguous "fear." Finally, by the time we've
              reached page 303 of Kali's Child, we're told in a hand-wringing,
              pitying tone about the "holy men stripping a trusting little boy"!

              Not only were sadhus unable to keep their hands off the "trusting
              little boy," the village women were equally voracious according to
              Kripal. For a somewhat lengthy discussion of this issue, please see the
              notes which follow this essay. Briefly I'll note one point here: While
              Kripal wonders why Ramakrishna "was letting [the village women] worship
              him as a male lover," there is nothing in either the Life of
              Ramakrishna (which he references as his source) or the Kathamrita or
              the Lilaprasanga to indicate anything remotely resembling this. The
              texts all state that the village women looked upon Ramakrishna as
              Gopala, the child Krishna. Interestingly, Kripal quotes the Life of
              Ramakrishna as saying, "…the boy actively sought the company of the
              pious women of the village because they reminded him of the milkmaids
              of Vrindavan, who had realized Krishna as their husband and had
              experienced the bliss and pleasure of his love" (KC 58, emphasis mine).
              When we actually check the Life we find: "The pious young women of the
              village, who were mostly devotees of Vishnu, reminded him of the Gopis
              of Vrindavan, and, therefore, he sought their company. He knew that the
              Gopis were able to realize Krishna as their husband and feel the bliss
              of his eternal reunion because they were women."7 Note the difference
              between the "bliss and pleasure of his love"-laden with sexual innuendo-
              and what is actually in the text. Yet since it is footnoted as a
              reference to the Life, the reader naturally expects the words, or at
              least an honest summary of the referenced passage, to be there. And it
              is not.

              While Kripal tells us that his approach to Ramakrishna is not
              reductive, his own words betray him. He writes "…we must admit that
              there are no clear indications of early sexual abuse in the
              biographies. But then why should there be? . . . Is it just a
              coincidence that repeated traumatic events … [that] in the words of one
              psychiatrist, 'simultaneously conceal and reveal their origins … [and]
              speak in [the] disguised language of secrets too terrible for words?'
              It is indeed remarkable that the … literature on sexual trauma suggests
              that individuals who have experienced abuse often become adept at
              altering their state of consciousness … lose control of their bodily,
              and especially gastrointestinal, functions, experience visions and
              states of possession, become hypersensitive to idiosyncratic stimuli
              (like latrines), symbolically reenact the traumatic events, live in a
              state of hyperarousal … become hypersexual in their language or
              behavior, develop hostile feelings toward mother figures, fear adult
              sexuality, and often attempt suicide. This list reads like a summary of
              Ramakrishna's religious life" (KC 298-99).

              Is this what Kripal takes to be a "religious life"? Only if one equates
              religious experience with pathology. If religious experience can be
              flattened into a pathological reaction to trauma, then we've lost any
              real meaning behind "religious" and "religion." If this isn't
              reductive, I don't know what is. But even that's not the entire issue,
              significant though it is.

              None of the symptoms enumerated in the "literature on sexual trauma" is
              present in Ramakrishna's life. But since Kripal has approached his
              subject with a predetermined verdict, he resorts to specious reasoning
              in order to come up with the judgment he has in mind. Ramakrishna
              has "pronounced homosexual tendencies," ergo he must have suffered
              childhood sexual trauma, ergo he must reenact the traumatic events.
              This exercise in weak-link logic is reminiscent of the kangaroo courts
              where the prisoner is convicted first and then the "evidence" is
              manufactured at a more convenient time.

              Even as an adult, Kripal informs us, Ramakrishna had to deal with
              sexual predators: his Tantric guru, the Bhairavi Brahmani; his Vedanta
              guru, Tota Puri; and of course the "temple boss," Mathur Babu. These
              issues are dealt with at length in the notes, but it's of interest to
              see how Kripal presents Tota Puri to the reader. As we have seen,
              Kripal has deduced that Ramakrishna was "homosexually oriented" and so
              every aspect of his life must be interpreted through that lens.
              Take the case of Ramakrishna's Vedanta guru, Tota Puri, who was a
              member of the Naga sect of sannyasins. A highly austere and
              uncompromising monastic order, the Nagas normally live with only "space
              as clothing" (digambara), refusing to submit to any comfort the body or
              mind might enjoy. What does Kripal tell us about the encounter between
              Tota Puri and Ramakrishna? "One can only imagine," Kripal
              whispers, "what it must have been like for Ramakrishna, a homosexually
              oriented man, to be shut away for days in a small hut with another,
              stark-naked man. Vedanta instruction or no, it was this man's nudity,
              and more specifically, his penis, that naturally caught Ramakrishna's
              attention. How could it not?" (KC 160)

              Frankly I find this kind of circular reasoning staggeringly
              preposterous. Because one must take for granted that Ramakrishna is
              homosexually oriented, then it stands to reason that the only thing
              that would interest Ramakrishna about his Vedanta guru is his penis.
              For more discussion of Ramakrishna's sexual predators, please see the
              notes which follow.

              Were all this not enough, Kripal has taken his child-abuse thesis and
              stretched it to the utmost: Ramakrishna, in his view, helplessly
              engages in the same abusive acts with any unsuspecting male that comes
              near him. In what Kripal diagnoses as a "reenactment pattern," we see
              Ramakrishna, poor man, "uncontrollably rubbing sandal-paste on the
              penises of boys" (KC 301). I must admit that when I read Kripal's
              interpretation of "touching softly" (aste aste sparsha korchhen) as
              attempted sodomy (KC 301-2), I could only laugh. But then, since Dr.
              Kripal is able to equate "religious life" with "ritual reenactment of
              trauma" and becoming "hypersexual in … language or behavior," I should
              have anticipated the gloss. A discussion of this entire issue is dealt
              with extensively in the notes which follow.

              Suffice it to say here that, yet again, Kripal has willfully distorted
              the texts and willfully mistranslated the Bengali in order to present a
              vision of Ramakrishna which will conform to his thesis. By now we
              shouldn't be surprised that Kripal has omitted texts and omitted
              portions of the texts he quotes in order to suppress information which
              would run contrary to his thesis. Yet while I may not be surprised,
              it's nevertheless difficult not to be disappointed. I'm also saddened
              when I think of the unsuspecting reader who has either no knowledge of
              Bengali or no time to compare Kripal's so-called "translations" with
              the Bengali originals.

              Sometimes a Lap is Just a Lap

              In both the first and second edition of Kali's Child, Kripal makes much
              of Ramakrishna's foot and the devotee's lap. The second edition of
              Kali's Child informs us: "It is clear that Ramakrishna saw 'the lap' as
              a normally defiled sexual space" (KC 2).

              Why does the author consider the lap (kol) to be "normally defiled"? In
              Indian culture-and Bengali culture in particular-the lap has an
              extremely positive and warm maternal association. For example, the
              national anthem of Bangladesh, written by Tagore, contains the
              following line: Takhon khela dhula sakal phele, O Ma, tomar kole chhute
              ashi: "After the day's play is over, O Mother, I run back to your lap."
              In describing a mother holding a child, a person would normally say,
              mayer kole shishu jishu. The defilement, sad to say, exists only in Dr.
              Kripal's mind.

              While the first edition of Kali's Child clearly states that "lap"
              indicates "on the genitals," the second edition merely internalizes the
              allusion by stating that a lap is "a normally defiled sexual space."
              The problem is, kol carries no sexual connotation. There is no basis
              either within the text -nothing in KA 4. 278 indicates that the lap is
              anything other than a lap-nor is there any tradition or reference
              within the culture to validate this idea. To suggest that the lap is
              a "defiled space" is to place a Western construct on a culture which
              associates laps with maternal affection, safety and trust. Sometimes a
              lap is just a lap.

              As for the foot itself, it's illuminating to read Kripal's sources. One
              of his citations is KA 4.245: "The Master placed his foot on the
              pundit's lap and chest, and smiled (panditer kole o bakkhe ekti charan
              rakhiya thakur hasitechhen). The pundit clung to his feet and said
              (pandit charan dharan koriya bolitechhen) …." Here we are provided the
              stunning illustration of a foot so awesome that it can encompass not
              only a person's lap and chest but can also be clung to like a pole. And
              somehow the unconscious person doesn't lose his balance! As should be
              obvious, some Bengali expressions are hyperbolic and are not meant to
              be taken literally. However, these less-than-subtle nuances-of which
              there are legion in Kali's Child-seem to be lost on the author.

              Kripal again returns to the foot/lap issue later in the book (KC 238),
              by making it appear that Ramakrishna's "habit of touching people with
              his foot" was a routine occurrence. It wasn't. Interestingly, after
              placing his foot on Dr. Sarkar's lap, Kripal quotes Ramakrishna as
              saying: "You're very pure! Otherwise I wouldn't be able to place my
              foot there!" (KA 4.278). Kripal continues, "We see a whole range of
              opinions focused on Ramakrishna's foot 'there.'"

              First, one doesn't find any range of opinions. Second, and much more
              interestingly, when we check KA 4.278, we find that-with a nod to
              Gertrude Stein-there's no "there" there. What does the Kathamrita
              actually say? Ramakrishna tells Dr. Sarkar: "You are very pure (tumi
              khoob shuddha), or else I couldn't have touched with my foot (ta na
              hole pa rakhate pari na)." There is no "there" in the text; it is the
              author who has added the word and placed it in quotation marks even
              though it's not taken from the text.

              Apart from adding his own material and implying it to be Ramakrishna's
              (and this occurs time and time again in Kali's Child-please see the
              notes for more instances), the author also provides the insinuation of
              where the "there" is located in order to give weight to his argument
              that Ramakrishna was homoerotically motivated. Kripal adds
              that "Ramakrishna never denied that he stuck his foot in strange
              places." In? If we're returning to the first-edition "genitals"
              argument, let's remember that it would take some serious excavation
              work to locate the genitals of someone sitting cross-legged on the
              floor through the many layers of cloth that Bengalis typically wear.
              Especially since the foot is attached to someone who is unconscious of
              his external surroundings.

              Why did Dr. Sarkar object to Ramakrishna's placing his foot on the
              devotees' bodies? For the simple reason that in India touching others
              with the foot is considered disrespectful. Dr. Sarkar was Westernized
              and proud of his rationalist views. He found this sort of behavior
              irrational and unscientific. Nevertheless, he was a tremendous admirer
              of Ramakrishna; by his own admission he let his own medical practice
              suffer in order to spend more time in Ramakrishna's company. When
              Girish explained to Dr. Sarkar that Ramakrishna put his foot on others'
              bodies for their spiritual benefit, Dr. Sarkar quickly withdrew his
              objection and said, "I confess my defeat at your hands. Give me the
              dust of your feet" (KA 1: 254). And with that, Dr. Sarkar took the dust
              of Girish's feet. Was this done sarcastically? There's nothing in any
              text to suggest so. Dr. Sarkar remained an ardent admirer of
              Ramakrishna until the latter's death.

              The Kathamrita Is Structured to Conceal a Secret?

              According to Kripal the five-volume structure of M's Kathamrita was
              designed to "conceal a secret." Since its five-volume, nonchronological
              structure is unusual, I suppose we shouldn't be surprised that Kripal
              attempts to create a Kathamrita-gate from it. There are many other
              possibilities, however, which the author hasn't considered. Further, as
              we can see regarding Kripal's conjecture about the book's structure,
              his guess is first hazarded and then is presented as a fact several
              pages later.

              The Kathamrita was originally written in five volumes, which were
              published over a period of thirty years. Kripal believes that these
              volumes were "arranged cyclically" in order to conceal "a secret."
              This, he says, is a "basic thesis" of his study (KC 3). Kripal declares
              that M "held back" the secret in the first volume, "hinted at" it in
              the second, "toyed with" it in the third, "revealed it" in the fourth
              and, according to Kripal, M found that he had hardly any material left
              for the fifth (KC 4). Perhaps M was a clumsy planner.

              If we examine the facts, however, we'll come to an entirely different
              conclusion. First, there is no evidence whatsoever that M had any
              predetermined plan to divide his work into five volumes. In Sunil
              Bihari Ghosh's extraordinary research article on the Kathamrita, we
              learn that portions from M's diaries were published in various Bengali
              journals long before the Kathamrita appeared in book form. These
              portions were published in the following journals: Anusandhan, Arati,
              Alochana, Utsah, Udbodhan, Rishi, Janmabhumi, Tattwamanjari,
              Navyabharat, Punya, Pradip, Pravasi, Prayas, Bamabodhini, Sahitya,
              Sahitya-samhita, and Hindu Patrika. Quite a formidable list, although
              it is not exhaustive. It was from these published extracts that the
              first volume of the Kathamrita was compiled, printed and published by
              Swami Trigunatitananda at the Udbodhan Press in the Bengali month of
              Falgun 1308 [corresponding to the year 1902].8 There is no textual
              evidence anywhere to indicate that M began transcribing his diaries
              with the express intention of publishing a "book."

              What Kripal chooses not to mention in the main body of Kali's Child is
              that at the time he wrote this, the Ramakrishna Order had already
              published a two-volume edition of the Kathamrita, arranged
              chronologically. If the nonchronological device was meant to "conceal"
              the secret, the chronological edition should have "revealed" it!
              Apparently, the Ramakrishna Order did not feel any need to hide
              the "secret."

              The Ramakrishna Order could not publish the Kathamrita earlier because
              the copyright rested with M's descendants. The Ramakrishna Order had no
              control over how the volumes were structured. When the copyright
              expired fifty years after M's death, the Order published the Kathamrita
              chronologically, making ludicrous the accusation, which Kripal was to
              make several years later, of "hiding" disquieting information from the
              public.

              As is quite obvious, nothing was ever "hidden" from those who could
              read Bengali. At least four generations of Bengalis have read the
              Kathamrita and their perception of Ramakrishna is in most respects
              diametrically opposite to the picture presented in Kali's Child. But
              what about the "translations" of the Kathamrita in other languages? In
              Kali's Child much of the talk about "secrets" centers around Swami
              Nikhilananda's English translation of the book under the title The
              Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. According to Kripal,
              Nikhilananda "systematically concealed" the secrets by "ingeniously
              mistranslating" them. "Those passages," Kripal continues, "for which he
              could not find a suitably safe enough 'translation,' he simply omitted"
              (KC 4).

              Reading this serious allegation, my curiosity was fueled and I compared
              the Kathamrita with the Gospel page by page. In my estimate, about 25
              pages of the Kathamrita (which may roughly translate into about 18
              pages of the Gospel) have been omitted. This may seem to be
              considerable, but here is the breakdown: almost half of the omitted
              material (12 pages, to be exact) consists of a brief biography of
              Ramakrishna (in the Gospel this is replaced by a longer biography) and
              a very detailed description of the Kali Temple at Dakshineswar. The
              remaining half of the omitted material is mostly either
              M's "reflections" (under the title sevak hridaye, literally "In the
              Heart of the Servant") or his poetic portrayal of the Ganges and the
              ambiance of Dakshineswar. Here is a typical sample from the "omitted"
              material:

              Come brother, let us go to see him again. We'll see that great soul,
              that child who knows nothing other than Mother, and who has taken birth
              for our benefit. He will teach us how to solve this difficult riddle of
              life. He will teach the monk and he will teach the householder. The
              door is always open. He is waiting for us at the Kali Temple in
              Dakshineswar. Come, come, let us see him (KA 1.165).
              The "brother" in the above passage, by the way, refers to M's own mind.
              The Kathamrita text emerged as a result of long meditations that M did
              on his diary notes. That is how we find a few passages in the
              Kathamrita containing M's "reflections" on Ramakrishna's life and
              teachings.

              What is most important to note is that Nikhilananda was honest when he
              said that he omitted "only a few pages of no particular interest to the
              English speaking readers" (Gospel, vii). He did not deny the omissions
              and it seems to me unfair to question his integrity-as Kripal does-
              simply because Kripal finds something of "particular interest" which
              Nikhilananda didn't. A few phrases, examples and incidents were indeed
              omitted; it was done not to "hide" secrets but only to respect the
              Western sense of decorum, at least as it existed in the 1940s, when the
              Gospel was translated.

              Translating texts across cultural boundaries is not easy: if you
              translate the "word," you risk being misunderstood; if you translate
              the "idea," you are charged-as Kripal does-with "bowdlerizing" the
              text. His allegation that Nikhilananda omitted portions
              containing "some of the most revealing and significant passages of the
              entire text" (KC 4) is not only textually unjustified but completely
              untrue.

              Part of Kripal's Kathamrita-gate thesis is his idea that the
              Ramakrishna Order and M's descendants are still zealously guarding M's
              original diaries from the probing eyes of researchers. Says Kripal: "…
              no researcher has ever seen, and may never see, the original
              manuscripts of M's diaries. They do exist. Thanks to the foresight of
              Swami Prabhananda and the Ramakrishna Order, they have been carefully
              photographed. Unfortunately, however, they are kept under lock and key.
              Like the contents of Ramakrishna's thief's chamber, they contain a
              secret that is kept hidden from the public's eye" (KC 311).

              Like all conspiracy theorists, Kripal sees intrigue lurking in every
              corner. The truth is much more mundane. Neither the diaries nor their
              copies are in the Ramakrishna Order's archives. The original diaries
              are with M's descendants, and scholars-including a monk of the
              Ramakrishna Order whom I know-have seen those diaries, even
              photographed them, without undue difficulty.

              Kripal's desire to see "secrets" at every turn has not only distorted
              his interpretation of the Kathamrita and its Gospel incarnation, it has
              also warped his perception of Tantra. Thus we find another serious
              problem when we deal with Kripal's understanding (or misunderstanding)
              of the term.

              "Tantra Was Ramakrishna's Secret"

              Since this statement initially appears incomprehensible, we'll have to
              decipher what Kripal means. "Tantra for Ramakrishna," the author
              intuits, "was not some simple thing that one practiced in private and
              then intentionally denied in public; rather, it was a grave and ominous
              tradition of teachings and techniques that haunted him, that horrified
              him, and yet that somehow formed who he was" (KC 5).

              What is "Tantra" to Jeffrey Kripal is the real problem here. Defining
              his "basic thesis" of Kali's Child, the author writes: "Ramakrishna's
              mystical experiences were constituted by mystico-erotic energies that
              he neither fully accepted nor understood." According to Kripal, the
              Hindu Tantra proclaims "the link between the mystical and the sexual."
              He understands the Tantras to be a tradition in which "human eroticism
              and religious experience are intimately related, even identical on some
              deep energetic level." Kripal asserts the "basic relationship between
              the mystical and the sexual" and proposes that "Ramakrishna was a
              Tantrika" (KC 4-5).

              What is Kripal's understanding of the word "Tantrika"? He says that it
              is a term associated with "magical power, strangeness, seediness, and
              sex." He dismisses the "philosophical expositions" of Tantra as
              inauthentic because they are "designed to rid Tantra of everything that
              smacked of superstition, magic, or scandal" (KC 28-29). But since
              Kripal's thesis would have no support were these to be eliminated, he
              instead tries to show that these are central to the Tantric tradition.
              But is this really the case? Since the weight of scholarly opinion on
              Tantra would deflect Kripal from his predetermined course, he informs
              us that he is "naturally more interested in what Tantra feels like in
              Bengali than in what it thinks like in Sanskrit" (KC 29).

              Unfortunately, Kripal is not in a position to judge what Tantra feels
              like in Bengali. Sadly, he has spent a mere eight months in the city of
              Calcutta; he understands neither the language nor the culture. He also
              has a very serious lack of knowledge concerning Hinduism in general. As
              for what "it thinks like in Sanskrit," it's good that Kripal beats a
              retreat. It's painfully clear that he also has little knowledge of
              Sanskrit. The entire package does not position him well for a sound
              understanding of Ramakrishna.

              Were the above not enough, Kripal's apparent ignorance of the systems
              of Indian philosophy truly makes it hard not to smile. His identifying
              of three "textual traditions (the Puranas, the Tantras, and the Vedas)"
              with three "types of practitioners (the Vaishnavas, the Shaktas, and
              the Vedantins)" (KC 94) betrays a serious lack of understanding of some
              of Hinduism's most basic underpinnings. Kripal may be at his most
              laughable when he tells us that Ramakrishna's practice of Vedanta
              consisted of only taking the monastic vows and eating rice in the
              portico of the Dakshineswar temple.

              So we are not surprised when Kripal seeks to "define" Tantra by quoting
              Ramakrishna (KC 30-33). In itself this is a good idea, but the problem
              is that, as elsewhere in the book, Kripal lifts sentences out of
              context and puts his own spin on them. The result is that we have a
              version of a so-called Tantra that Kripal is eager to paint as a
              tradition known for "its stubbornly 'impure' ways" (KC 29). No wonder,
              therefore, that Kripal identifies Tantra exclusively with
              Vamachara, "the left-handed path" (see #16 in the notes which follow).
              In the major Tantras such as Kularnava, Mahanirvana and Kamalakala
              Vilasa, Vamachara finds no place at all. But in Kripal's vision,
              Tantra=Vamachara.

              It is clear that at least a part of Kripal's confusion is regarding the
              relation between the Shakta tradition and the Tantra tradition. As Teun
              Goudriaan says-and Douglas Renfrew Brooks reiterates-"not all Shaktas
              are Tantrics and … Tantrism, unlike Shaktism, is not restricted to any
              one Hindu denomination, or even to any single Indian religious
              tradition."9

              Thus a worshipper of the Goddess is a Shakta but that doesn't
              automatically make him or her a Tantric. Ramakrishna was born in a
              Vaishnava family and, because he worshipped Kali, he could be called a
              Shakta. It must be remembered also that both these traditions-along
              with others, such as the Shaiva-are parts of Vedanta. As N.N.
              Bhattacharya points out in his History of the Tantric Religion: "… The
              traditional Indian approach finds no difficulty in equating the
              essentials of Tantrism with the Vedantic interpretation of the contents
              of the major Shaiva-Shakta schools."10

              Much can be said about Kripal's attempt to pigeonhole Ramakrishna's
              life into what he calls the "Tantric world." But it is enough for the
              time being to point out Narasingha Sil's observation: "In order to fit
              the square peg of a Tantrika Ramakrishna into the round hole of a
              homosexual Paramahamsa, Kripal manufactures evidence by distorting the
              meaning of sources."11 This will become obvious by studying the notes
              to this paper.

              Does this mean that Tantra played no part in Ramakrishna's life? Of
              course it played a part. Ramakrishna did practice Tantra under the
              guidance of a qualified teacher, just as he practiced the disciplines
              of other traditions. Through every form of discipline he discovered the
              raising of his consciousness from the relative to the absolute. His
              practice of Tantra had a direct bearing in Bengal because it was there
              that the Kaula division among the Shaktas attained its highest
              development. It was associated not only with temples and devotional
              worship but also with esoteric cults and circles (chakras) of Tantric
              adepts. It was in a few of these circles that Vamachara was practiced
              and for that reason forms only an insignificant strain of Shakta Tantra.

              The basic idea of Shaktism and Tantra is that the world is a play of
              Shakti, the Divine Mother's power, and can be converted into a means of
              transcending the world and attaining the Supreme Reality. The idea
              behind Tantric practices is that the libido (kama) is the most powerful
              instinctual drive in human beings. Unless it is controlled and
              sublimated, it is impossible to transcend the world of senses. But the
              roots of the libido lie deep and ramified in the unknown chambers of
              the unconscious. Tantric practices are a way of creating certain
              external situations which bring out the contents of these chambers of
              the unconscious. Once we confront and understand the contents of the
              unconscious, they cease to haunt us and become integrated into the self
              as "knowledge" or "wisdom." Tantric disciplines are thus only a way of
              making conscious what normally remains unconscious.

              Through his Tantra practice, Ramakrishna helped revive this healthy
              core of the tradition minus the accretions: "magical power,
              strangeness, seediness, and sex." If Kripal had focused his attention
              on the Tantra proper and not on these accretions, he wouldn't have felt
              the need to distort the Bengali text of the Kathamrita.

              The Mystical and the Erotic?

              I could continue to marshal unending evidence about the
              mistranslations, deceptive documentations and cultural misreadings in
              Kali's Child, but that still wouldn't get to the crux of the book's
              problem from the Hindu point of view. The book's assumption that
              spiritual experience can be associated with sexual conflict-either
              conscious or subconscious-simply doesn't work. While Kripal comes to
              this conclusion through what I consider to be a crude understanding of
              Western psychology, he utterly neglects Hinduism's yoga psychology
              which would have given him a deeper understanding of not only
              Ramakrishna but also Hindu philosophy in general.

              Kripal appreciatively quotes John Hawley's remark that Kali's Child is
              a challenge "to dive into the vortex that opens up when religious
              creativity is aligned with our deepest bodily desires, not pitted
              against them" (KC xviii).

              This approach, however, completely mitigates against the basic thrust
              of Hindu philosophy. According to every school of Hinduism including
              Tantra, sexual attraction and sexual expression, when directed to
              another individual, pull the spiritual seeker away from the ultimate
              reality. Hinduism clearly states that you can't have it both ways:
              there's only one force that permeates the universe, and that force is
              internal as well as external. If that force or energy is diverted to
              sexual expression-even if it's only mentally-the energy required for
              attaining higher spiritual states is lost.

              According to every school of Hinduism-again including Tantra-the goal
              of human life is to be free. In the Hindu tradition, "freedom" (mukti
              or moksha) means freedom from our limited individuality, which is
              confined to the body-mind complex. The more our physical and mental
              energies are directed toward catering to biological demands, the
              stronger becomes the bond that ties us to our limitedness and the less
              energy we have to transcend it to become free.

              Again it must be emphasized that this is not just a physical phenomenon
              but a psychological one as well. In order to channel the energy
              available to us, every aspect of the human personality must be
              completely engaged. By definition, a person who is psychologically
              conflicted will not be able to attain enlightenment. Especially if the
              nature of that conflict is sexual, since sexual desire is exceptionally
              powerful.

              As we can see, since the issue here is the misdirection of energy, it
              doesn't matter whether that energy is directed in either a heterosexual
              or in a homosexual way. The only thing that matters is that it's being
              directed toward an object of sensual desire. To say, therefore, that
              those who reject Kripal's thesis are doing so from their own homophobia
              is to completely miss the point.

              I find it interesting that Kripal became fascinated "with the relation
              between human sexuality and mystical experience … partly through [his]
              reading of … John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila" (KC xxxvi). I am an
              admirer of these great Spanish mystics and my reading of them has only
              served to reinforce my own Hindu beliefs in the necessity of sexual
              restraint when seeking higher spiritual experiences. I am not an expert
              in Christian mysticism, but these noted scholars are: Mary Margaret
              Funk, O.S.B. and Gregory Elmer, O.S.B. To first quote Sr. Funk:

              The mystical writings of John and Teresa are of a higher phase in
              illumination and there's not the physical senses engaged anymore. The
              purgative stage that deals with the eight thoughts purifies those
              inclinations and so there are more trials and tribulations, as in
              spiritual gluttony and fornication, but it's of a different order.

              The tantric paths in all religions use sexual energies for various
              rituals and inner experiences, but the authentic ones are not actual
              physical sex even though the imagery and sometimes the rituals of
              consorts etc. are manifestly sexual. As you'd know from Hindu studies
              in energies it's all about raising the Kundalini energy very slowly in
              service of higher states of consciousness and if that same energy is
              not transmuted, but expressed sexually toward another or toward the
              self, those energies are cooled and not helpful for the inner work.12
              Regarding "erotic mysticism" in Christianity, Gregory Elmer, O.S.B.
              writes:

              The erotic energies are resolved in Colossians, in that "in Christ is
              your completion." Practically this means an active, graced effort to
              surrender all known energies to Jesus. Once the impasse is solved, then
              erotic imagery can be used, because it will be understood as referring
              to "mystical marriage," a state like marriage, but infinitely
              transcending it and not requiring genitality. When St. Teresa speaks of
              it she is at pains to make sure her readers don't take this in a carnal
              way.13
              The quotations given above mirror beautifully what Hinduism says
              about "erotic mysticism." Put simply, in the Hindu tradition the
              mystical and the sexual just don't mix. Yes, sometimes sexual imagery
              is used to make a point-but that point has nothing to do with sexuality
              per se. The intense longing of the soul to unite with God is sometimes
              expressed in erotic language-for example, the rasa-lila described in
              the Bhagavata. But those who see mere eroticism in it only see the
              finger instead of the moon to which the finger is pointing.

              Hated and Feared Women?

              Providing the names of two scholars who believe Ramakrishna to be a
              misogynist (McLean and Sarkar), Kripal tells us that "scholars [have] …
              usually sided with the misogynist reading" (KC 278). If we take
              Kripal's word for it, we must then assume that apart from the two
              scholars named, the weight of scholarly opinion concludes that
              Ramakrishna "hated and feared women." Since I doubt a significant
              number of South Asian scholars have even addressed Ramakrishna's
              attitude toward women, let's examine the issue without having to bear
              the burden of scholarly consensus.

              Significantly, Kripal quotes Mozoomdar's letter decrying
              Ramakrishna's "almost barbarous treatment of his wife" (KC 278). What
              was the issue that provoked Mozoomdar's censure? That Ramakrishna and
              Sarada did not have a sexual relationship. Considering the two
              individuals concerned, that hardly constitutes barbarity. Kripal notes
              Ramakrishna's "often cruel treatment of his own wife" (KC 8) and it's
              obvious that Kripal feels very badly for poor Sarada. He mentions the
              sweets that were "given by visitors to his wife, working in the
              kitchen" (KC 273). Kripal also faults Ramakrishna for thinking of his
              old mother rather than his wife when he decided to return to
              Dakshineswar (KC 168).

              It's touching that Kripal can evoke such sympathy for Sarada, but why
              didn't he ever bother to consult her for her opinion on the matter? The
              literature abounds, not only the many words of Sarada Devi concerning
              her loving relationship with Ramakrishna, but also Ramakrishna's women
              disciples who repeatedly spoke of his love, care and concern for them.
              Unfortunately, since quoting these sources would destroy Kripal's
              argument for Ramakrishna being a misogynist, he simply ignores them
              altogether. While Kripal decries Nikhilananda for concealing "many of
              Ramakrishna's outrageously misogynous statements beneath polite English
              phrases" (KC 278), Kripal indulges in the outright suppression of
              information that would provide an entirely different perspective. Isn't
              this just a convenient form of "censorship"?

              Had Kripal bothered to quote the literature concerning Sarada Devi and
              Ramakrishna's other women disciples, he would have had abundant
              information showing Ramakrishna's profound love and respect for them
              all.

              For example, we read in The Gospel of Holy Mother (a translation of the
              definitive Sri Sri Mayer Katha) that once when Sarada entered
              Ramakrishna's room, he thought it was his niece Lakshmi who had entered
              and so casually asked her to shut the door, addressing her as "tui."
              ("Tui" is a pronoun that one uses for those younger or inferior. The
              pronoun "tumi" is used for one's equals and "apni" is used for
              superiors.) When Sarada responded to Ramakrishna's request he was
              embarrassed and said, "Ah! Is it you? I thought it was Lakshmi. Please
              pardon me." Sarada said that there was nothing wrong but Ramakrishna
              remained concerned. The next morning he went to Sarada's room and told
              her, "Well, I could not sleep all night. I was so worried that I spoke
              to you rudely." In later years she would often say-especially when
              dealing with her own ill-mannered relatives, "I was married to a
              husband who never addressed me as 'tui.' Ah! How he treated me! Not
              even once did he tell me a harsh word or wound my feelings."14

              In fact, while Kripal pities the young wife in the kitchen, her own
              interpretation is quite different. During the time Ramakrishna was
              alive, she says, "I always felt as if a pitcher of bliss was kept in my
              heart. I cannot convey any idea of how much and in what manner my mind
              feasted on that steady, unchanging divine joy."15 I don't think she
              needs our sympathy on that acco<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
            • jodyrrr
              Dude, this has already all played out. Of course the hagiopoisoned devotees are going to do everything they can (including death threats) to preserve their
              Message 6 of 10 , Apr 11, 2005
              • 0 Attachment
                Dude, this has already all played out.

                Of course the hagiopoisoned devotees are going
                to do everything they can (including death threats)
                to preserve their hallowed little godman fantasy.

                Kripal has dealt with all the criticisms. It's
                all in the various academic journals where these
                issues are discussed.

                The real telling thing here is your apparent fear
                of these publications. If you don't read them
                yourself, you don't know yourself.

                Which makes you another one of the hagiopoisoned
                ostriches with their head in the sand. You are like
                a kid with his fingers in his ear saying, "I'm not
                listening, nahnahnahnah." Not very edifying.

                --- In meditationsocietyofamerica@yahoogroups.com, jasonjamesmorgan
                <no_reply@y...> wrote:
                >
                >
                > > Kripal has not been discredited. Here is his answer
                > > to the critique of his translation:
                > >
                > > http://www.ruf.rice.edu/~kalischi/textuality.html
                >
                > Hello,
                >
                > Just one of many.
                >
                > Namaste
                > Om Namah Shivaya
                > Kali's Child Revisited
                > or
                > Didn't Anyone Check the Documentation?
                > by Swami Tyagananda*
                >
                > Part 1 of 4
                >
                > Jeffrey J. Kripal's Kali's Child has tremendous value for one very good
                > reason: it is written by one who is not a part of the tradition that
                > has grown around the life and teachings of Ramakrishna. Such works
                > from "outside" the tradition are valuable because they often bring new
                > perspectives and new life to a subject. These books can also provide a
                > splendid opportunity for fruitful dialogue between those who
                > are "inside" the tradition and those who are "outside." Such dialogue
                > has the potential to enliven research, broaden understanding, correct
                > misconceptions and enrich the knowledge of people on both sides of the
                > fence.
                >


                > Moreover, Kali's Child is quite an interesting book. So interesting, in
                > fact, that even as a dissertation at least one reader was found (we
                > learn from the Foreword) "smiling often and laughing almost as often"
                > when she took chapters of it to the beach. Academic dissertations, as
                > we are painfully aware, are not generally known to produce this kind of
                > effect! Kripal has an engaging writing style: were the book not strewn
                > with endless reference numbers in parentheses and innumerable endnotes
                > it could have passed for a novel.
                >
                > The documentation indeed looks impressive until one actually checks the
                > references Kripal quotes. That is what happened in my case. As I began
                > to browse through Kali's Child, I would say to myself, "I know the
                > Kathamrita quite well and I've never seen that before!"1 As a sample
                > check, I compared a reference with the original in Bengali and saw that
                > there was a problem. So I began checking more references, comparing
                > Kripal's translations with the Bengali originals and I too found
                > myself "smiling often and laughing almost as often"-but for reasons
                > quite different from those that provoked a similar reaction on a beach
                > several years ago.
                >
                > The second edition of Dr. Jeffrey Kripal's Kali's Child begins by
                > telling us that much has changed since the book's initial release.
                > While the American Academy of Religion had bestowed upon Kali's Child
                > the History of Religions Prize in 1996 for the best new book, Kali's
                > Child had also provoked a flurry of criticism and, according to Kripal,
                > the specter of "censorship" in India.
                >
                > Why the strong reaction? Kripal tells us that the negative reaction was
                > due to a "deep cultural rejection of homosexuality" (KC xxi);2 it was
                > an angry response to exposing the "secret" of "Ramakrishna's homoerotic
                > desires" (KC xv).
                >
                > In fact the truth is much more simple: yes, the criticism the book
                > received was due to its conclusions regarding Ramakrishna's purported
                > homosexuality. But Kripal's conclusions came via faulty translations, a
                > willful distortion and manipulation of sources, combined with a
                > remarkable ignorance of Bengali culture. The derisive, nonscholarly
                > tone with which he discussed Ramakrishna didn't help matters either.
                >
                > To make the facile claim that the criticism leveled against Kali's
                > Child was due to homophobia is to deflect from the real issue of shoddy
                > and deceptive scholarship. Should a person with a good grasp of Bengali
                > language and culture seriously read the Bengali source books on
                > Ramakrishna and then come to the conclusion that Ramakrishna was a
                > conflicted homosexual, I would respect that person's freedom to come to
                > this conclusion. I would strongly disagree with him or her, but I-and
                > many other devotees of Ramakrishna-would fully support that person's
                > freedom of inquiry and thought. What I and others will never support is
                > the freedom to distort the text and the freedom to misuse citations.
                >
                > Since I am a monk of the Ramakrishna Order, some may argue that my
                > Bengali translations and my use of citations will only serve to reflect
                > my biased viewpoint. Let me then quote Narasingha Sil regarding
                > Kripal's scholarship. Sil (whom Kripal particularly thanks in his
                > preface to the first edition) has been Kripal's occasional collaborator
                > and colleague. Moreover, no one would ever accuse Narasingha Sil and
                > the Ramakrishna Order of mutual admiration.
                >
                > Speaking of Kripal's Bengali, Sil says: "Jeffrey is very adept at using
                > Bengali-English dictionaries and picking the most appropriate synonyms
                > for words (disregarding the primary, secondary, tertiary meanings) he
                > feels could make his point." Sil also notes that Kripal "is unable even
                > to converse in Bengali (but very prompt at using dictionaries)."3
                > Indeed, even Kripal's associates in India acknowledge that when he
                > arrived in Calcutta his knowledge of Bengali was fairly elementary.
                > After eight months of study, Kripal's Bengali improved, but never
                > beyond the intermediate stage. He still cannot speak Bengali and
                > understands little when spoken to. Such a limited understanding of a
                > foreign language and culture could hardly give Kripal the background
                > necessary to understand a man whose village Bengali was worlds apart
                > from the conventional Bengali appearing within the neat margins of the
                > dictionaries. Further, Kripal's ignorance of Bengali culture jumps
                > right off the page. Many of the author's misinterpretations are due to
                > a simple lack of familiarity with Bengali attitudes and customs. The
                > notes following this introductory essay will make this shortcoming
                > abundantly clear.
                >
                > Finally, regarding Kali's Child itself, Sil notes: "…[Kripal's] method
                > of supporting his thesis is not only wrong but reprehensible in that it
                > involves willful distortion and manipulation of sources. . . . Kripal
                > has faulted Swami Nikhilananda for his 'concealment' and doctoring of
                > the crude expressions of KM [Kathamrita], but he has unhesitatingly
                > committed similar crime[s] of omission and commission to suit his
                > thesis." 4
                >
                > In this essay, which serves as an introduction to the "Notes" which
                > follow, I give clear examples of the mistranslations and deceptive
                > documentation which cover nearly every page of Kali's Child. The notes
                > detail a page-by-page overview of some of the most egregious examples
                > of Dr. Kripal's flawed scholarship. Yet even these notes are not
                > exhaustive. Nor do they propose to be. They are only indicators of the
                > kinds of problems that abound in Kali's Child. The purpose of this
                > essay and the notes is only to encourage further studies and discussion.
                >
                > To return to matters about the book before I discuss what is in the
                > book, why was there an uproar when Narasingha Sil's inflammatory review
                > of Kali's Child appeared in the Calcutta edition of the Statesman in
                > 1997? Because the readers found the premises of Kali's Child insulting.
                > Literally millions of people have read the Bengali Kathamrita for the
                > past one hundred years. What Swami Nikhilananda chose and did not
                > choose to translate into English is not relevant in this instance.
                > Bengalis know the language, the culture, the source materials better
                > than any American Ph.D. student who stays in Calcutta for eight months,
                > reads Bengali with the help of a dictionary, and then tells the
                > Bengalis that they are reading Ramakrishna wrong. Strangely enough,
                > they find this sort of thing patronizing and arrogant. For more
                > information regarding the "censorship" issue, please see note #1 at the
                > end of this essay.
                >
                > Who Closed the Case?
                >
                > Except for a few minor corrections in the book's second edition,
                > Kripal's original thesis remains intact, indeed has been strengthened,
                > in the years between the book's first and second edition. Kripal now
                > says with a clearer authority: "The case of Ramakrishna's homosexuality
                > … seems to be closed" (KC xxi).
                >
                > Who has closed the case? While Kripal informs us that Kali's Child "has
                > been lauded by scholars … for being right (KC xxii)," one wonders if
                > any of those praising the book have ever read its citations. Have any
                > of those scholars who have given this book so much acclaim actually
                > read the Bengali sources that he quotes? How many of them can actually
                > read Bengali well, if at all?
                >
                > Oddly enough, Kripal attempts to invoke Christopher Isherwood as having
                > a "homosexual reading of Ramakrishna" (KC xiii). It is odd because if
                > one reads the book that Kripal cites, My Guru and His Disciple,
                > Isherwood clearly declares exactly the opposite: "I couldn't honestly
                > claim him [Ramakrishna] as a homosexual, even a sublimated one, much as
                > I would have liked to be able to do so."5
                >
                > Kripal buttresses his claim for Isherwood's "homosexual reading" of
                > Ramakrishna by providing us with the following anecdote: In 1995 a well-
                > known scholar, having heard Kripal's talk on Ramakrishna and his
                > homosexual orientation, informed the author and the audience, "Chris
                > Isherwood was a close friend of mine, and I want you to know that, if
                > he could have been here today, Chris would have been very pleased" (KC
                > xiii). Yet, to my surprise, this particular "well-known scholar"
                > approached me at the November 2000 annual meeting of the American
                > Academy of Religion and declared that he had been completely misquoted.
                > In fact, the scholar said, he had never even met Christopher Isherwood,
                > so he could hardly be considered a "close friend"! It is precisely this
                > kind of fraudulent scholarship that forms the backbone of Kali's Child.
                > For a fuller discussion of Isherwood along with a discussion of
                > Kripal's claim that Isherwood was subjected to "censorship" by the
                > Ramakrishna Order, please see note #2.
                >
                > Perhaps the centerpiece of Kali's Child is the assertion
                > that "Ramakrishna was a conflicted, unwilling, homoerotic Tantrika" (KC
                > 3). Further, Tantra's "heterosexual assumptions seriously violated the
                > structure of his own homosexual desires. His female Tantric guru and
                > temple boss may have forced themselves … on the saint … but Ramakrishna
                > remained … a lover not of sexually aggressive women or even of older
                > men but of young, beautiful boys" (KC 2-3, emphasis mine).
                >
                > Interesting thesis; how does he document his claims?
                >
                > Ramakrishna, Kripal informs us, went into samadhi "while looking at the
                > cocked hips of a beautiful English boy" (KC 19, emphasis mine).
                > Interesting choice of adjectives. Kripal repeats this phrase later by
                > declaring: "stunned by the cocked hips of the boy, Ramakrishna falls
                > into samadhi" (KC 66). But what does the original Bengali say? Kripal
                > gives two references (KA 2.49; KA 2.110) neither of which mentions the
                > boy as being "beautiful" and, perhaps obviously, there is no mention
                > of "cocked" hips either. The Kathamrita simply states that Ramakrishna
                > went into samadhi upon seeing a boy who was-as Krishna is traditionally
                > depicted in Hindu iconography-tribhanga-bent in three places (i.e.,
                > bent at the knee, waist and elbow, with flute in hand). It is this sort
                > of documentation that Kripal uses to build the case for Ramakrishna's
                > purported homoerotic impulses.
                >
                > Then we have the issue of the sword. Even casual readers of the
                > Ramakrishna literature are familiar with the story of how Ramakrishna,
                > stricken with grief and frustration at not having experienced a vision
                > of Kali, decided to end his life. Just as he was seizing the sword to
                > slit his throat, Ramakrishna was overwhelmed by rolling waves of bliss
                > and entered into samadhi. How does Kripal view this incident? Kripal
                > presumes that Ramakrishna's spiritual crisis was something much more
                > interesting: the suicide attempt was an attempt "to end his erotic
                > torment (vyakulata) and the shame attached to it by symbolically
                > castrating himself" (KC 76).
                >
                > How does he come to this conclusion? Although Kripal tells us that he
                > doesn't follow Freudian methodology, this sounds pretty close to
                > me: "Psychoanalytically trained students of Hindu culture have tended
                > to see such symbolic self-castrations as productive of a 'negative
                > Oedipus complex' in which the boy, instead of renouncing his desires
                > for the mother and identifying with the father (the 'normal' outcome of
                > Freud's Oedipus complex), ends up identifying with the mother by
                > renouncing his masculine identity through a symbolic castration. . . .
                > This in turn creates a marked homosexual tendency in the boy" (KC 344).
                >
                > This is how we've arrived, via circular logic, at Kripal's thesis:
                > Ramakrishna, in wishing to slit his throat, must have really wanted to
                > castrate himself since he was presumed to be suffering "erotic
                > torment." But there's no evidence of "erotic torment" whatsoever.
                > Kripal tries to build it into his thesis with prejudicial translations
                > and false documentation, but there is no textual evidence for his
                > thesis. The clincher for the head=phallus metaphor is Kripal's
                > assertion that "the head in the mystical physiology of yoga and Tantra
                > [is] the ultimate goal of one's semen and so an appropriate symbol for
                > the phallus" (KC 76). Sorry, wrong. The ultimate goal is the retention
                > of semen which strengthens the body-mind complex. The phallus and head
                > are not interchangeable parts.
                >
                > What other evidence does Kripal marshal to promote his homoerotic
                > thesis? There's the case of Mathur Babu, Rani Rasmani's son-in-law and
                > the manager of the Kali temple. Curiously, Kripal revels in calling
                > Mathur the "temple boss." What's the point? Mathur was the temple
                > manager. It's interesting, however, to ponder the weight "boss" carries
                > in contrast to "manager." "Boss" seems more dangerous, more
                > authoritarian; there's a swagger in the word which Kripal attempts to
                > build into his text.
                >
                > This is typical of Kripal's use of loaded language which he employs
                > throughout Kali's Child. The notes section of this paper will provide
                > many more examples of Kripal's repeated use of loaded words to create
                > an effect. Why would Kripal chose a word with a pejorative and slightly
                > ominous subtext? Because Kripal has already decided that Mathur
                > sexually forced himself upon Ramakrishna.
                >
                > Mathur, as all the Ramakrishna literature openly states, was
                > immediately attracted to Ramakrishna, because of his "good-looks,
                > tender nature, piety, and youth." Then Kripal adds: "Saradananda tells
                > us, seemingly completely unaware of the homosexual dimensions of his
                > own description, a 'sudden loving attraction' arose in the mind and
                > heart of the temple boss" (LP 2.5.1).6 The "homosexual dimensions"
                > which somehow evade us in the Lilaprasanga I will quote here: "It is
                > often seen that when a very close and lasting relationship is
                > established with anyone in life, the loving attraction towards them is
                > felt right away, at first sight" (LP 2.5.1). I fail to find the
                > homosexual dimensions here. All of us have had the joy of meeting
                > people with whom we immediately establish a warm rapport; even though
                > we've just met them, we nevertheless feel very drawn to those people.
                > In the Hindu worldview, this phenomenon is seen as completely natural.
                > There is absolutely no sexual connotation in this phenomenon whatsoever.
                >
                > We've Got Some Serious Translation Issues Here
                >
                > Kripal's treatment of the word vyakulata, which he translates
                > as "erotic torment," brings us to the subject of his prejudicial
                > translations. Since we know that Kripal can only read and translate
                > Bengali texts with the help of a dictionary, let's see how the
                > dictionary translates vyakulata. The widely used 1968 edition of the
                > Bengali Samsad gives us these possibilities: "eagerness, excitement;
                > impatience, anxiety, worry, hustle, bustle, busyness, business,
                > distraction, perplexity; scattered state; diffusion; inversion." Where
                > in these possibilities do we find "erotic torment"? Let's take a look
                > at the 1924 Mitra Bengali-English dictionary; perhaps Kripal might have
                > found something in there. Vyakulata here is defined as: "perplexity,
                > distraction, agitation, flurry, anxiety, eagerness." No erotic torment
                > to be found here. Alas, the poor author has to install the erotic
                > torment into the text himself, since it doesn't exist there
                > independently.
                >
                > In attempting to build a case for Ramakrishna's homosexual attraction,
                > Kripal states: "Ramakrishna's anxious desire was often directed to his
                > young male disciples" (KC 65). The word used here is again vyakulata;
                > and, as we have seen, there's nothing in the word to suggest "desire,"
                > which, typically for Kripal, carries a sexual connotation.
                >
                > In any language, a word carries different shades of meaning depending
                > on the context. Take the word "eagerness" or "anxiety," for example,
                > and we'll have the same situation. A person can be eager or anxious to
                > see a close friend; a person can be eager or anxious to see one's
                > child; a person can be eager or anxious to have a stiff drink; a person
                > can be eager or anxious to see one's beloved. The weight and meaning of
                > the word depends on the context. To load the Bengali words heavily with
                > sexual innuendo is to completely distort the meaning of the text.
                >
                > Kripal carries his argument further by declaring: "The same longing
                > that was once directed to Kali and her sword is now directed to
                > Narendra and his sweet singing voice" (KC 65). Vyakul is used here, but-
                > as we have seen-the "longing" that one feels for God doesn't presume
                > the same feeling that one has for another human being; the contexts are
                > obviously different.
                >
                > Not to unduly belabor vyakul, but one last example. (See the notes for
                > more references on this point.) To quote Kali's Child which is
                > purportedly quoting from KA 3.126: "Again troubled by his desire for
                > the boys, Ramakrishna asks M, 'Why do I feel so anxious for them?' M
                > can give no answer before an upset Ramakrishna breaks in, 'Why don't
                > you say something?'" (KC 65, emphasis mine).
                >
                > In comparing Kripal's translation against Nikhilananda's, I find
                > Nikhilananda's translation to be perfectly accurate. Nikhilananda
                > writes, and I would translate the text in exactly the same way: "The
                > Master lay down on the small couch. He seemed worried about Tarak.
                > Suddenly he said to M, 'Why do I worry so much about these young boys?'
                > M kept still. He was thinking over a reply. The Master asked him, 'Why
                > don't you speak?'"
                >
                > Nikhilananda's translation, "worry so much," is the perfect English
                > equivalent for this context. If we look at Kripal's translation, we
                > find sexual innuendo that isn't in the text and, interestingly enough,
                > we also find words that are not in the text. The adjective "upset"
                > describing Ramakrishna is not in the original. But by giving the KA
                > 3.126 reference, Kripal indicates that this description is in the text.
                > This is nothing short of deceptive documentation.
                >
                > Another word which Kripal warps in order to shore up his homoerotic
                > platform is uddipana, which means "enkindling" or "lighting up."
                > Discussing the "obvious … homoerotic element" in KA 2.24, Kripal
                > writes: "When it comes time for the disciples to leave one evening,
                > Ramakrishna turns to the youth Bhabanath and says: 'Please don't leave
                > today. When I look at you, I get all excited (uddipana)!'" (KC 67).
                > Let's go back to the dictionary: the Samsad defines uddipana as: "act
                > of enkindling; incitation; act of inspiring or encouragement;
                > animation; manifestation; augmentation, development." The "obvious"
                > homoerotic element is not obvious unless one would choose to
                > mistranslate the text.
                >
                > When I checked the Bengali text against Nikhilananda's Gospel, I found
                > Nikhilananda's translation accurate with the exception of one word.
                > Nikhilananda writes: "The devotees were ready to return home. One by
                > one they saluted the Master. At the sight of Bhavanath Sri Ramakrishna
                > said: 'Don't go away today. The very sight of you inspires me'"
                > (Gospel, 194). In KA 2.24 the word "you" is plural (toder): it would
                > therefore be more accurate to translate the last sentence as: "The very
                > sight of you all inspires me."
                >
                > "If all this seems suggestive," Kripal intones, "consider Ramakrishna's
                > comments on the excitement he feels when looking at pictures of holy
                > men: 'When I look at pictures of holy men I become aroused
                > [uddipana] . . . just as when a man looks at a young woman and is
                > reminded [uddipana] of [sexual] pleasure" (KC 67). Again we are faced
                > with loaded English words and skewed translations. Ramakrishna becomes
                > aroused? There's nothing in uddipana to suggest "aroused," and as we
                > all know, the word "aroused" carries with it heavy sexual baggage.
                >
                > Kripal obviously wants to emphasize "men" since he translates sadhuder
                > chhabi as "pictures of holy men" rather than "pictures of sadhus"
                > or "pictures of monks." Of more interest is the endnote given for this
                > reference (KC 343, #61): "But Ramakrishna wants nothing to do with
                > pictures of women," citing KA 4.263. If we check KA 4.263 however, we
                > find that Ramakrishna is neither expressing any distaste nor dislike
                > for pictures of women; he is simply stating the strict rule for
                > sannyasins: "A sannyasin must not even look at a picture of a woman."
                > Kripal's endnote, as usual, is meant to mislead.
                >
                > But back to Kripal's sexual baggage in the body of the text: If we
                > check KA 5.120 we find nothing to support Kripal's issue with photos of
                > men. When a devotee describes the sadhus he had met, Ramakrishna
                > says: "Look, one must keep the pictures of sadhus at home (dekho,
                > sadhuder chhabi ghare rakhate hoy). One is then constantly reminded of
                > God (ta hole sarvada isvarer uddipan hoy)." When the devotee says that
                > he has kept such pictures in his room, Ramakrishna continues: "Yes,
                > seeing the pictures of sadhus, one is reminded [of God]" (han, sadhuder
                > chhabi dekhle uddipan hoy).
                >
                > Nowhere in the Kathamrita do we find Kripal's: "When I look" which he
                > has conveniently placed in Ramakrishna's mouth and, even more
                > conveniently, has placed those words within quotation marks. And
                > nowhere is there any "aroused." The context of the quotation makes it
                > completely clear that uddipana refers to God: isvarer uddipana.
                >
                > One last point: Kripal needlessly uses ellipses in this short reference
                > to distort the text's meaning. Ramakrishna, when discussing the
                > importance of being reminded of God through holy pictures, gives two
                > examples. Kripal, however, cleverly provides only one: Ramakrishna's
                > first example is being reminded of a real fruit when one sees an
                > imitation one. His second example is being reminded of enjoyment (bhog)
                > when seeing a young woman. Not surprisingly, the word bhog, which
                > simply means either experience or enjoyment, becomes in Kripal's
                > version: "[sexual] pleasure" and the first example of the fruit is
                > omitted entirely.
                >
                > My final discussion of uddipana (please see the notes for more
                > examples) centers around Kripal's translation of KA 3.93. Writes
                > Kripal: "Almost anything he saw or heard could awaken powerful forces
                > that often overwhelmed him. When one is in love, he explained, 'even
                > the littlest thing can ecstatically remind one [of the beloved]'" (KC
                > 66).
                >
                > I've compared Nikhilananda's text with the Kathamrita and found it
                > quite accurate. I would translate the text in this way: "Once love for
                > God arises in the heart, even the slightest thing kindles spiritual
                > feeling in a person. Then, chanting the name of Rama even once can
                > produce the fruit of ten million sandhyas."
                >
                > But note what is breathtakingly dishonest about Kripal's translation:
                > He writes, "when one is in love." The Kathamrita passage which he
                > gives, however, is absolutely unambiguous and clear: Ramakrishna is
                > referring to "love for God" (isvarer upar bhalobasha). Thus the obvious
                > meaning of uddipana in this context is the "kindling of spiritual
                > feeling."
                >
                > Kripal, on the other hand, after suppressing the blatant reference to
                > God, turns the text on its head. Suddenly Ramakrishna's words have been
                > twisted into a poor imitation of Rumi: "ecstatically remind one [of the
                > beloved]." There is absolutely no mention whatsoever of "the beloved"
                > in the text. I searched in vain in the preceding page and subsequent
                > page of KA 3.93 as well but nowhere could I find even a hint of "the
                > beloved." Amusingly, Kripal begins this paragraph by
                > noting: "Ramakrishna might be described as hyperassociative." I would
                > suggest that it is Kripal who has the hyperassociative problem.
                >
                > Sometimes Kripal's desire to shove inconvenient facts into the
                > homoerotic box creates unintentionally comic results. Take for example
                > Kripal's dissection of Ramakrishna and Kedar in KA 4.7.: "In still
                > another passage, he looks at boy Kedar and is reminded of Krishna's
                > sexual exploits with the milkmaids" (KC 66).
                >
                > It's interesting that Kripal describes Kedar as a "boy." Considering
                > that in 1882 Kedar was fifty years old and working as a government
                > accountant, I think "boy" is an exaggeration. In fact, Kedar was older
                > than Ramakrishna himself. But since Kripal is bound and determined to
                > have Ramakrishna be with boys, Kripal will transform even a fifty-
                > something into a boy. In nineteenth-century India, a man of fifty was
                > considered elderly.
                >
                > More importantly, KA 4.7 simply says that upon seeing Kedar (who was a
                > devotee of Krishna), Ramakrishna was reminded of the Vrindavan-lila. I
                > suppose one shouldn't be surprised to find that Kripal translates "the
                > play in Vrindavan" (vrindavan-lila) as "Krishna's sexual exploits with
                > the milkmaids." Though for someone who, when it suits him, can be
                > persnickety about literal accuracy, why would he provide such an
                > interpretative "translation"? Obviously because he wanted to emphasize
                > his own subtext.
                >
                > Since Kripal wants to associate Ramakrishna with boys, no matter what,
                > we shouldn't be surprised that he first suspects, then assumes, then
                > presents as a fact that Ramakrishna was sexually abused as a child.
                > That there is absolutely no evidence for this makes no difference to
                > Dr. Kripal; we have the effect-Ramakrishna's "homoerotic impulses"-so
                > now the cause must be found. Aha! Certainly he must have been sexually
                > abused as a child.
                >
                > The spiritual ecstasies that Ramakrishna experienced as a child are
                > thus reinterpreted as "troubling trances" (KC 57). The only
                > one "troubled" by them, however, is Kripal who feels compelled to find
                > sexual abuse somewhere in there. He first tries to hang the blame on
                > the itinerant monks visiting the village; the young Ramakrishna enjoyed
                > visiting them and we can only suspect what that means. Referring to LP
                > 1.7.5, Kripal somehow intuits that Ramakrishna's mother, "… began to
                > worry about such visits, especially when the boy returned home with his
                > clothes torn into a simple loin-cloth and his nearly naked body covered
                > with ashes, but Gadadhar assured her that nothing was wrong" (KC 57).
                >
                > This reference not only shows us Kripal's ability to mistranslate but
                > also his remarkable ignorance of Indian customs. Please note that it
                > was not the boy's "clothes" but rather his "cloth" that was torn into a
                > loincloth. The distinction is important. Perhaps the author doesn't
                > know what a loincloth is and how much material it requires-or he is
                > just embellishing his account of the event. It is not the slightest bit
                > unusual to cut a portion of the wearing cloth (dhoti) and make it into
                > a loincloth (kaupin)-many monks do so, and I have done it myself. The
                > dhoti is still worn as a regular dhoti.
                >
                > Kripal's phrase "his near naked body" is his own invention. Nowhere in
                > the LP is there even a mention of the boy's nakedness. In which case we
                > can assume that Ramakrishna wore the kaupin as well as the wearing
                > cloth. LP 1.7.5 says that the boy would "tell his mother everything"
                > (tahake samasta katha nivedan korilo). When he returned from his visit
                > to the monks, the boy would tell his mother, "Look mother, how the
                > monks have adorned me" (ma, sadhura amake kemon sajaiya diyachhen,
                > dekho). It was then obviously that he showed her the kaupin. In
                > Kripal's skewed account, the reader is led to believe that the boy
                > returned home with "his nearly naked body" covered with ashes.
                >
                > Further, in LP 1.7.5 the events are kept quite distinct. The boy's
                > being smeared with sacred ash (vibhuti-bhushitanga hoiya) happened on
                > some days (kono din), and on some days (kono din) he returned home with
                > a sacred emblem on his forehead (tilak dharan koriya), and on some
                > other days (abar kono din) he returned home using a part of his wearing
                > cloth as a loincloth.
                > Kripal goes out of his way to throw these distinct elements together
                > while adding to it his own version: a tearing of "clothes" and
                > a "nearly naked body." Yet again, we have loaded language which does
                > not exist in the original.
                >
                > Kripal goes out of his way to throw these distinct elements together
                > while adding to it his own version: a tearing of "clothes" and
                > a "nearly naked body." Yet again, we have loaded language which does
                > not exist in the original.
                >
                > What is especially interesting is that Kripal chooses not to mention
                > the nature of Ramakrishna's mother's fear. In the same paragraph which
                > Kripal quotes, it is made quite clear by Saradananda that Ramakrishna's
                > mother was "afraid that one day the mendicants might tempt her son to
                > go away with them" (sadhura tahar putrake kono din bhulaiya sange loiya
                > jaibe na to). She mentioned this fear to her son who tried to pacify
                > her. When the monks eventually came to know of this, they came to her
                > house and "assured her that the thought of taking away Gadadhar with
                > them had never even crossed their minds; for, to take away a boy of
                > that tender age, without the permission of his parents, they said,
                > would be stealing, an offence unworthy of any religious person. At
                > this, every shadow of apprehension left Chandradevi, and she readily
                > agreed to let the boy visit them as before."
                >
                > All of this information Kripal refuses to acknowledge, leaving the
                > readers with Chandramani's ambiguous "fear." Finally, by the time we've
                > reached page 303 of Kali's Child, we're told in a hand-wringing,
                > pitying tone about the "holy men stripping a trusting little boy"!
                >
                > Not only were sadhus unable to keep their hands off the "trusting
                > little boy," the village women were equally voracious according to
                > Kripal. For a somewhat lengthy discussion of this issue, please see the
                > notes which follow this essay. Briefly I'll note one point here: While
                > Kripal wonders why Ramakrishna "was letting [the village women] worship
                > him as a male lover," there is nothing in either the Life of
                > Ramakrishna (which he references as his source) or the Kathamrita or
                > the Lilaprasanga to indicate anything remotely resembling this. The
                > texts all state that the village women looked upon Ramakrishna as
                > Gopala, the child Krishna. Interestingly, Kripal quotes the Life of
                > Ramakrishna as saying, "…the boy actively sought the company of the
                > pious women of the village because they reminded him of the milkmaids
                > of Vrindavan, who had realized Krishna as their husband and had
                > experienced the bliss and pleasure of his love" (KC 58, emphasis mine).
                > When we actually check the Life we find: "The pious young women of the
                > village, who were mostly devotees of Vishnu, reminded him of the Gopis
                > of Vrindavan, and, therefore, he sought their company. He knew that the
                > Gopis were able to realize Krishna as their husband and feel the bliss
                > of his eternal reunion because they were women."7 Note the difference
                > between the "bliss and pleasure of his love"-laden with sexual innuendo-
                > and what is actually in the text. Yet since it is footnoted as a
                > reference to the Life, the reader naturally expects the words, or at
                > least an honest summary of the referenced passage, to be there. And it
                > is not.
                >
                > While Kripal tells us that his approach to Ramakrishna is not
                > reductive, his own words betray him. He writes "…we must admit that
                > there are no clear indications of early sexual abuse in the
                > biographies. But then why should there be? . . . Is it just a
                > coincidence that repeated traumatic events … [that] in the words of one
                > psychiatrist, 'simultaneously conceal and reveal their origins … [and]
                > speak in [the] disguised language of secrets too terrible for words?'
                > It is indeed remarkable that the … literature on sexual trauma suggests
                > that individuals who have experienced abuse often become adept at
                > altering their state of consciousness … lose control of their bodily,
                > and especially gastrointestinal, functions, experience visions and
                > states of possession, become hypersensitive to idiosyncratic stimuli
                > (like latrines), symbolically reenact the traumatic events, live in a
                > state of hyperarousal … become hypersexual in their language or
                > behavior, develop hostile feelings toward mother figures, fear adult
                > sexuality, and often attempt suicide. This list reads like a summary of
                > Ramakrishna's religious life" (KC 298-99).
                >
                > Is this what Kripal takes to be a "religious life"? Only if one equates
                > religious experience with pathology. If religious experience can be
                > flattened into a pathological reaction to trauma, then we've lost any
                > real meaning behind "religious" and "religion." If this isn't
                > reductive, I don't know what is. But even that's not the entire issue,
                > significant though it is.
                >
                > None of the symptoms enumerated in the "literature on sexual trauma" is
                > present in Ramakrishna's life. But since Kripal has approached his
                > subject with a predetermined verdict, he resorts to specious reasoning
                > in order to come up with the judgment he has in mind. Ramakrishna
                > has "pronounced homosexual tendencies," ergo he must have suffered
                > childhood sexual trauma, ergo he must reenact the traumatic events.
                > This exercise in weak-link logic is reminiscent of the kangaroo courts
                > where the prisoner is convicted first and then the "evidence" is
                > manufactured at a more convenient time.
                >
                > Even as an adult, Kripal informs us, Ramakrishna had to deal with
                > sexual predators: his Tantric guru, the Bhairavi Brahmani; his Vedanta
                > guru, Tota Puri; and of course the "temple boss," Mathur Babu. These
                > issues are dealt with at length in the notes, but it's of interest to
                > see how Kripal presents Tota Puri to the reader. As we have seen,
                > Kripal has deduced that Ramakrishna was "homosexually oriented" and so
                > every aspect of his life must be interpreted through that lens.
                > Take the case of Ramakrishna's Vedanta guru, Tota Puri, who was a
                > member of the Naga sect of sannyasins. A highly austere and
                > uncompromising monastic order, the Nagas normally live with only "space
                > as clothing" (digambara), refusing to submit to any comfort the body or
                > mind might enjoy. What does Kripal tell us about the encounter between
                > Tota Puri and Ramakrishna? "One can only imagine," Kripal
                > whispers, "what it must have been like for Ramakrishna, a homosexually
                > oriented man, to be shut away for days in a small hut with another,
                > stark-naked man. Vedanta instruction or no, it was this man's nudity,
                > and more specifically, his penis, that naturally caught Ramakrishna's
                > attention. How could it not?" (KC 160)
                >
                > Frankly I find this kind of circular reasoning staggeringly
                > preposterous. Because one must take for granted that Ramakrishna is
                > homosexually oriented, then it stands to reason that the only thing
                > that would interest Ramakrishna about his Vedanta guru is his penis.
                > For more discussion of Ramakrishna's sexual predators, please see the
                > notes which follow.
                >
                > Were all this not enough, Kripal has taken his child-abuse thesis and
                > stretched it to the utmost: Ramakrishna, in his view, helplessly
                > engages in the same abusive acts with any unsuspecting male that comes
                > near him. In what Kripal diagnoses as a "reenactment pattern," we see
                > Ramakrishna, poor man, "uncontrollably rubbing sandal-paste on the
                > penises of boys" (KC 301). I must admit that when I read Kripal's
                > interpretation of "touching softly" (aste aste sparsha korchhen) as
                > attempted sodomy (KC 301-2), I could only laugh. But then, since Dr.
                > Kripal is able to equate "religious life" with "ritual reenactment of
                > trauma" and becoming "hypersexual in … language or behavior," I should
                > have anticipated the gloss. A discussion of this entire issue is dealt
                > with extensively in the notes which follow.
                >
                > Suffice it to say here that, yet again, Kripal has willfully distorted
                > the texts and willfully mistranslated the Bengali in order to present a
                > vision of Ramakrishna which will conform to his thesis. By now we
                > shouldn't be surprised that Kripal has omitted texts and omitted
                > portions of the texts he quotes in order to suppress information which
                > would run contrary to his thesis. Yet while I may not be surprised,
                > it's nevertheless difficult not to be disappointed. I'm also saddened
                > when I think of the unsuspecting reader who has either no knowledge of
                > Bengali or no time to compare Kripal's so-called "translations" with
                > the Bengali originals.
                >
                > Sometimes a Lap is Just a Lap
                >
                > In both the first and second edition of Kali's Child, Kripal makes much
                > of Ramakrishna's foot and the devotee's lap. The second edition of
                > Kali's Child informs us: "It is clear that Ramakrishna saw 'the lap' as
                > a normally defiled sexual space" (KC 2).
                >
                > Why does the author consider the lap (kol) to be "normally defiled"? In
                > Indian culture-and Bengali culture in particular-the lap has an
                > extremely positive and warm maternal association. For example, the
                > national anthem of Bangladesh, written by Tagore, contains the
                > following line: Takhon khela dhula sakal phele, O Ma, tomar kole chhute
                > ashi: "After the day's play is over, O Mother, I run back to your lap."
                > In describing a mother holding a child, a person would normally say,
                > mayer kole shishu jishu. The defilement, sad to say, exists only in Dr.
                > Kripal's mind.
                >
                > While the first edition of Kali's Child clearly states that "lap"
                > indicates "on the genitals," the second edition merely internalizes the
                > allusion by stating that a lap is "a normally defiled sexual space."
                > The problem is, kol carries no sexual connotation. There is no basis
                > either within the text -nothing in KA 4. 278 indicates that the lap is
                > anything other than a lap-nor is there any tradition or reference
                > within the culture to validate this idea. To suggest that the lap is
                > a "defiled space" is to place a Western construct on a culture which
                > associates laps with maternal affection, safety and trust. Sometimes a
                > lap is just a lap.
                >
                > As for the foot itself, it's illuminating to read Kripal's sources. One
                > of his citations is KA 4.245: "The Master placed his foot on the
                > pundit's lap and chest, and smiled (panditer kole o bakkhe ekti charan
                > rakhiya thakur hasitechhen). The pundit clung to his feet and said
                > (pandit charan dharan koriya bolitechhen) …." Here we are provided the
                > stunning illustration of a foot so awesome that it can encompass not
                > only a person's lap and chest but can also be clung to like a pole. And
                > somehow the unconscious person doesn't lose his balance! As should be
                > obvious, some Bengali expressions are hyperbolic and are not meant to
                > be taken literally. However, these less-than-subtle nuances-of which
                > there are legion in Kali's Child-seem to be lost on the author.
                >
                > Kripal again returns to the foot/lap issue later in the book (KC 238),
                > by making it appear that Ramakrishna's "habit of touching people with
                > his foot" was a routine occurrence. It wasn't. Interestingly, after
                > placing his foot on Dr. Sarkar's lap, Kripal quotes Ramakrishna as
                > saying: "You're very pure! Otherwise I wouldn't be able to place my
                > foot there!" (KA 4.278). Kripal continues, "We see a whole range of
                > opinions focused on Ramakrishna's foot 'there.'"
                >
                > First, one doesn't find any range of opinions. Second, and much more
                > interestingly, when we check KA 4.278, we find that-with a nod to
                > Gertrude Stein-there's no "there" there. What does the Kathamrita
                > actually say? Ramakrishna tells Dr. Sarkar: "You are very pure (tumi
                > khoob shuddha), or else I couldn't have touched with my foot (ta na
                > hole pa rakhate pari na)." There is no "there" in the text; it is the
                > author who has added the word and placed it in quotation marks even
                > though it's not taken from the text.
                >
                > Apart from adding his own material and implying it to be Ramakrishna's
                > (and this occurs time and time again in Kali's Child-please see the
                > notes for more instances), the author also provides the insinuation of
                > where the "there" is located in order to give weight to his argument
                > that Ramakrishna was homoerotically motivated. Kripal adds
                > that "Ramakrishna never denied that he stuck his foot in strange
                > places." In? If we're returning to the first-edition "genitals"
                > argument, let's remember that it would take some serious excavation
                > work to locate the genitals of someone sitting cross-legged on the
                > floor through the many layers of cloth that Bengalis typically wear.
                > Especially since the foot is attached to someone who is unconscious of
                > his external surroundings.
                >
                > Why did Dr. Sarkar object to Ramakrishna's placing his foot on the
                > devotees' bodies? For the simple reason that in India touching others
                > with the foot is considered disrespectful. Dr. Sarkar was Westernized
                > and proud of his rationalist views. He found this sort of behavior
                > irrational and unscientific. Nevertheless, he was a tremendous admirer
                > of Ramakrishna; by his own admission he let his own medical practice
                > suffer in order to spend more time in Ramakrishna's company. When
                > Girish explained to Dr. Sarkar that Ramakrishna put his foot on others'
                > bodies for their spiritual benefit, Dr. Sarkar quickly withdrew his
                > objection and said, "I confess my defeat at your hands. Give me the
                > dust of your feet" (KA 1: 254). And with that, Dr. Sarkar took the dust
                > of Girish's feet. Was this done sarcastically? There's nothing in any
                > text to suggest so. Dr. Sarkar remained an ardent admirer of
                > Ramakrishna until the latter's death.
                >
                > The Kathamrita Is Structured to Conceal a Secret?
                >
                > According to Kripal the five-volume structure of M's Kathamrita was
                > designed to "conceal a secret." Since its five-volume, nonchronological
                > structure is unusual, I suppose we shouldn't be surprised that Kripal
                > attempts to create a Kathamrita-gate from it. There are many other
                > possibilities, however, which the author hasn't considered. Further, as
                > we can see regarding Kripal's conjecture about the book's structure,
                > his guess is first hazarded and then is presented as a fact several
                > pages later.
                >
                > The Kathamrita was originally written in five volumes, which were
                > published over a period of thirty years. Kripal believes that these
                > volumes were "arranged cyclically" in order to conceal "a secret."
                > This, he says, is a "basic thesis" of his study (KC 3). Kripal declares
                > that M "held back" the secret in the first volume, "hinted at" it in
                > the second, "toyed with" it in the third, "revealed it" in the fourth
                > and, according to Kripal, M found that he had hardly any material left
                > for the fifth (KC 4). Perhaps M was a clumsy planner.
                >
                > If we examine the facts, however, we'll come to an entirely different
                > conclusion. First, there is no evidence whatsoever that M had any
                > predetermined plan to divide his work into five volumes. In Sunil
                > Bihari Ghosh's extraordinary research article on the Kathamrita, we
                > learn that portions from M's diaries were published in various Bengali
                > journals long before the Kathamrita appeared in book form. These
                > portions were published in the following journals: Anusandhan, Arati,
                > Alochana, Utsah, Udbodhan, Rishi, Janmabhumi, Tattwamanjari,
                > Navyabharat, Punya, Pradip, Pravasi, Prayas, Bamabodhini, Sahitya,
                > Sahitya-samhita, and Hindu Patrika. Quite a formidable list, although
                > it is not exhaustive. It was from these published extracts that the
                > first volume of the Kathamrita was compiled, printed and published by
                > Swami Trigunatitananda at the Udbodhan Press in the Bengali month of
                > Falgun 1308 [corresponding to the year 1902].8 There is no textual
                > evidence anywhere to indicate that M began transcribing his diaries
                > with the express intention of publishing a "book."
                >
                > What Kripal chooses not to mention in the main body of Kali's Child is
                > that at the time he wrote this, the Ramakrishna Order had already
                > published a two-volume edition of the Kathamrita, arranged
                > chronologically. If the nonchronological device was meant to "conceal"
                > the secret, the chronological edition should have "revealed" it!
                > Apparently, the Ramakrishna Order did not feel any need to hide
                > the "secret."
                >
                > The Ramakrishna Order could not publish the Kathamrita earlier because
                > the copyright rested with M's descendants. The Ramakrishna Order had no
                > control over how the volumes were structured. When the copyright
                > expired fifty years after M's death, the Order published the Kathamrita
                > chronologically, making ludicrous the accusation, which Kripal was to
                > make several years later, of "hiding" disquieting information from the
                > public.
                >
                > As is quite obvious, nothing was ever "hidden" from those who could
                > read Bengali. At least four generations of Bengalis have read the
                > Kathamrita and their perception of Ramakrishna is in most respects
                > diametrically opposite to the picture presented in Kali's Child. But
                > what about the "translations" of the Kathamrita in other languages? In
                > Kali's Child much of the talk about "secrets" centers around Swami
                > Nikhilananda's English translation of the book under the title The
                > Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. According to Kripal,
                > Nikhilananda "systematically concealed" the secrets by "ingeniously
                > mistranslating" them. "Those passages," Kripal continues, "for which he
                > could not find a suitably safe enough 'translation,' he simply omitted"
                > (KC 4).
                >
                > Reading this serious allegation, my curiosity was fueled and I compared
                > the Kathamrita with the Gospel page by page. In my estimate, about 25
                > pages of the Kathamrita (which may roughly translate into about 18
                > pages of the Gospel) have been omitted. This may seem to be
                > considerable, but here is the breakdown: almost half of the omitted
                > material (12 pages, to be exact) consists of a brief biography of
                > Ramakrishna (in the Gospel this is replaced by a longer biography) and
                > a very detailed description of the Kali Temple at Dakshineswar. The
                > remaining half of the omitted material is mostly either
                > M's "reflections" (under the title sevak hridaye, literally "In the
                > Heart of the Servant") or his poetic portrayal of the Ganges and the
                > ambiance of Dakshineswar. Here is a typical sample from the "omitted"
                > material:
                >
                > Come brother, let us go to see him again. We'll see that great soul,
                > that child who knows nothing other than Mother, and who has taken birth
                > for our benefit. He will teach us how to solve this difficult riddle of
                > life. He will teach the monk and he will teach the householder. The
                > door is always open. He is waiting for us at the Kali Temple in
                > Dakshineswar. Come, come, let us see him (KA 1.165).
                > The "brother" in the above passage, by the way, refers to M's own mind.
                > The Kathamrita text emerged as a result of long meditations that M did
                > on his diary notes. That is how we find a few passages in the
                > Kathamrita containing M's "reflections" on Ramakrishna's life and
                > teachings.
                >
                > What is most important to note is that Nikhilananda was honest when he
                > said that he omitted "only a few pages of no particular interest to the
                > English speaking readers" (Gospel, vii). He did not deny the omissions
                > and it seems to me unfair to question his integrity-as Kripal does-
                > simply because Kripal finds something of "particular interest" which
                > Nikhilananda didn't. A few phrases, examples and incidents were indeed
                > omitted; it was done not to "hide" secrets but only to respect the
                > Western sense of decorum, at least as it existed in the 1940s, when the
                > Gospel was translated.
                >
                > Translating texts across cultural boundaries is not easy: if you
                > translate the "word," you risk being misunderstood; if you translate
                > the "idea," you are charged-as Kripal does-with "bowdlerizing" the
                > text. His allegation that Nikhilananda omitted portions
                > containing "some of the most revealing and significant passages of the
                > entire text" (KC 4) is not only textually unjustified but completely
                > untrue.
                >
                > Part of Kripal's Kathamrita-gate thesis is his idea that the
                > Ramakrishna Order and M's descendants are still zealously guarding M's
                > original diaries from the probing eyes of researchers. Says Kripal: "…
                > no researcher has ever seen, and may never see, the original
                > manuscripts of M's diaries. They do exist. Thanks to the foresight of
                > Swami Prabhananda and the Ramakrishna Order, they have been carefully
                > photographed. Unfortunately, however, they are kept under lock and key.
                > Like the contents of Ramakrishna's thief's chamber, they contain a
                > secret that is kept hidden from the public's eye" (KC 311).
                >
                > Like all conspiracy theorists, Kripal sees intrigue lurking in every
                > corner. The truth is much more mundane. Neither the diaries nor their
                > copies are in the Ramakrishna Order's archives. The original diaries
                > are with M's descendants, and scholars-including a monk of the
                > Ramakrishna Order whom I know-have seen those diaries, even
                > photographed them, without undue difficulty.
                >
                > Kripal's desire to see "secrets" at every turn has not only distorted
                > his interpretation of the Kathamrita and its Gospel incarnation, it has
                > also warped his perception of Tantra. Thus we find another serious
                > problem when we deal with Kripal's understanding (or misunderstanding)
                > of the term.
                >
                > "Tantra Was Ramakrishna's Secret"
                >
                > Since this statement initially appears incomprehensible, we'll have to
                > decipher what Kripal means. "Tantra for Ramakrishna," the author
                > intuits, "was not some simple thing that one practiced in private and
                > then intentionally denied in public; rather, it was a grave and ominous
                > tradition of teachings and techniques that haunted him, that horrified
                > him, and yet that somehow formed who he was" (KC 5).
                >
                > What is "Tantra" to Jeffrey Kripal is the real problem here. Defining
                > his "basic thesis" of Kali's Child, the author writes: "Ramakrishna's
                > mystical experiences were constituted by mystico-erotic energies that
                > he neither fully accepted nor understood." According to Kripal, the
                > Hindu Tantra proclaims "the link between the mystical and the sexual."
                > He understands the Tantras to be a tradition in which "human eroticism
                > and religious experience are intimately related, even identical on some
                > deep energetic level." Kripal asserts the "basic relationship between
                > the mystical and the sexual" and proposes that "Ramakrishna was a
                > Tantrika" (KC 4-5).
                >
                > What is Kripal's understanding of the word "Tantrika"? He says that it
                > is a term associated with "magical power, strangeness, seediness, and
                > sex." He dismisses the "philosophical expositions" of Tantra as
                > inauthentic because they are "designed to rid Tantra of everything that
                > smacked of superstition, magic, or scandal" (KC 28-29). But since
                > Kripal's thesis would have no support were these to be eliminated, he
                > instead tries to show that these are central to the Tantric tradition.
                > But is this really the case? Since the weight of scholarly opinion on
                > Tantra would deflect Kripal from his predetermined course, he informs
                > us that he is "naturally more interested in what Tantra feels like in
                > Bengali than in what it thinks like in Sanskrit" (KC 29).
                >
                > Unfortunately, Kripal is not in a position to judge what Tantra feels
                > like in Bengali. Sadly, he has spent a mere eight months in the city of
                > Calcutta; he understands neither the language nor the culture. He also
                > has a very serious lack of knowledge concerning Hinduism in general. As
                > for what "it thinks like in Sanskrit," it's good that Kripal beats a
                > retreat. It's painfully clear that he also has little knowledge of
                > Sanskrit. The entire package does not position him well for a sound
                > understanding of Ramakrishna.
                >
                > Were the above not enough, Kripal's apparent ignorance of the systems
                > of Indian philosophy truly makes it hard not to smile. His identifying
                > of three "textual traditions (the Puranas, the Tantras, and the Vedas)"
                > with three "types of practitioners (the Vaishnavas, the Shaktas, and
                > the Vedantins)" (KC 94) betrays a serious lack of understanding of some
                > of Hinduism's most basic underpinnings. Kripal may be at his most
                > laughable when he tells us that Ramakrishna's practice of Vedanta
                > consisted of only taking the monastic vows and eating rice in the
                > portico of the Dakshineswar temple.
                >
                > So we are not surprised when Kripal seeks to "define" Tantra by quoting
                > Ramakrishna (KC 30-33). In itself this is a good idea, but the problem
                > is that, as elsewhere in the book, Kripal lifts sentences out of
                > context and puts his own spin on them. The result is that we have a
                > version of a so-called Tantra that Kripal is eager to paint as a
                > tradition known for "its stubbornly 'impure' ways" (KC 29). No wonder,
                > therefore, that Kripal identifies Tantra exclusively with
                > Vamachara, "the left-handed path" (see #16 in the notes which follow).
                > In the major Tantras such as Kularnava, Mahanirvana and Kamalakala
                > Vilasa, Vamachara finds no place at all. But in Kripal's vision,
                > Tantra=Vamachara.
                >
                > It is clear that at least a part of Kripal's confusion is regarding the
                > relation between the Shakta tradition and the Tantra tradition. As Teun
                > Goudriaan says-and Douglas Renfrew Brooks reiterates-"not all Shaktas
                > are Tantrics and … Tantrism, unlike Shaktism, is not restricted to any
                > one Hindu denomination, or even to any single Indian religious
                > tradition."9
                >
                > Thus a worshipper of the Goddess is a Shakta but that doesn't
                > automatically make him or her a Tantric. Ramakrishna was born in a
                > Vaishnava family and, because he worshipped Kali, he could be called a
                > Shakta. It must be remembered also that both these traditions-along
                > with others, such as the Shaiva-are parts of Vedanta. As N.N.
                > Bhattacharya points out in his History of the Tantric Religion: "… The
                > traditional Indian approach finds no difficulty in equating the
                > essentials of Tantrism with the Vedantic interpretation of the contents
                > of the major Shaiva-Shakta schools."10
                >
                > Much can be said about Kripal's attempt to pigeonhole Ramakrishna's
                > life into what he calls the "Tantric world." But it is enough for the
                > time being to point out Narasingha Sil's observation: "In order to fit
                > the square peg of a Tantrika Ramakrishna into the round hole of a
                > homosexual Paramahamsa, Kripal manufactures evidence by distorting the
                > meaning of sources."11 This will become obvious by studying the notes
                > to this paper.
                >
                > Does this mean that Tantra played no part in Ramakrishna's life? Of
                > course it played a part. Ramakrishna did practice Tantra under the
                > guidance of a qualified teacher, just as he practiced the disciplines
                > of other traditions. Through every form of discipline he discovered the
                > raising of his consciousness from the relative to the absolute. His
                > practice of Tantra had a direct bearing in Bengal because it was there
                > that the Kaula division among the Shaktas attained its highest
                > development. It was associated not only with temples and devotional
                > worship but also with esoteric cults and circles (chakras) of Tantric
                > adepts. It was in a few of these circles that Vamachara was practiced
                > and for that reason forms only an insignificant strain of Shakta Tantra.
                >
                > The basic idea of Shaktism and Tantra is that the world is a play of
                > Shakti, the Divine Mother's power, and can be converted into a means of
                > transcending the world and attaining the Supreme Reality. The idea
                > behind Tantric practices is that the libido (kama) is the most powerful
                > instinctual drive in human beings. Unless it is controlled and
                > sublimated, it is impossible to transcend the world of senses. But the
                > roots of the libido lie deep and ramified in the unknown chambers of
                > the unconscious. Tantric practices are a way of creating certain
                > external situations which bring out the contents of these chambers of
                > the unconscious. Once we confront and understand the contents of the
                > unconscious, they cease to haunt us and become integrated into the self
                > as "knowledge" or "wisdom." Tantric disciplines are thus only a way of
                > making conscious what normally remains unconscious.
                >
                > Through his Tantra practice, Ramakrishna helped revive this healthy
                > core of the tradition minus the accretions: "magical power,
                > strangeness, seediness, and sex." If Kripal had focused his attention
                > on the Tantra proper and not on these accretions, he wouldn't have felt
                > the need to distort the Bengali text of the Kathamrita.
                >
                > The Mystical and the Erotic?
                >
                > I could continue to marshal unending evidence about the
                > mistranslations, deceptive documentations and cultural misreadings in
                > Kali's Child, but that still wouldn't get to the crux of the book's
                > problem from the Hindu point of view. The book's assumption that
                > spiritual experience can be associated with sexual conflict-either
                > conscious or subconscious-simply doesn't work. While Kripal comes to
                > this conclusion through what I consider to be a crude understanding of
                > Western psychology, he utterly neglects Hinduism's yoga psychology
                > which would have given him a deeper understanding of not only
                > Ramakrishna but also Hindu philosophy in general.
                >
                > Kripal appreciatively quotes John Hawley's remark that Kali's Child is
                > a challenge "to dive into the vortex that opens up when religious
                > creativity is aligned with our deepest bodily desires, not pitted
                > against them" (KC xviii).
                >
                > This approach, however, completely mitigates against the basic thrust
                > of Hindu philosophy. According to every school of Hinduism including
                > Tantra, sexual attraction and sexual expression, when directed to
                > another individual, pull the spiritual seeker away from the ultimate
                > reality. Hinduism clearly states that you can't have it both ways:
                > there's only one force that permeates the universe, and that force is
                > internal as well as external. If that force or energy is diverted to
                > sexual expression-even if it's only mentally-the energy required for
                > attaining higher spiritual states is lost.
                >
                > According to every school of Hinduism-again including Tantra-the goal
                > of human life is to be free. In the Hindu tradition, "freedom" (mukti
                > or moksha) means freedom from our limited individuality, which is
                > confined to the body-mind complex. The more our physical and mental
                > energies are directed toward catering to biological demands, the
                > stronger becomes the bond that ties us to our limitedness and the less
                > energy we have to transcend it to become free.
                >
                > Again it must be emphasized that this is not just a physical phenomenon
                > but a psychological one as well. In order to channel the energy
                > available to us, every aspect of the human personality must be
                > completely engaged. By definition, a person who is psychologically
                > conflicted will not be able to attain enlightenment. Especially if the
                > nature of that conflict is sexual, since sexual desire is exceptionally
                > powerful.
                >
                > As we can see, since the issue here is the misdirection of energy, it
                > doesn't matter whether that energy is directed in either a heterosexual
                > or in a homosexual way. The only thing that matters is that it's being
                > directed toward an object of sensual desire. To say, therefore, that
                > those who reject Kripal's thesis are doing so from their own homophobia
                > is to completely miss the point.
                >
                > I find it interesting that Kripal became fascinated "with the relation
                > between human sexuality and mystical experience … partly through [his]
                > reading of … John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila" (KC xxxvi). I am an
                > admirer of these great Spanish mystics and my reading of them has only
                > served to reinforce my own Hindu beliefs in the necessity of sexual
                > restraint when seeking higher spiritual experiences. I am not an expert
                > in Christian mysticism, but these noted scholars are: Mary Margaret
                > Funk, O.S.B. and Gregory Elmer, O.S.B. To first quote Sr. Funk:
                >
                > The mystical writings of John and Teresa are of a higher phase in
                > illumination and there's not the physical senses engaged anymore. The
                > purgative stage that deals with the eight thoughts purifies those
                > inclinations and so there are more trials and tribulations, as in
                > spiritual gluttony and fornication, but it's of a different order.
                >
                > The tantric paths in all religions use sexual energies for various
                > rituals and inner experiences, but the authentic ones are not actual
                > physical sex even though the imagery and sometimes the rituals of
                > consorts etc. are manifestly sexual. As you'd know from Hindu studies
                > in energies it's all about raising the Kundalini energy very slowly in
                > service of higher states of consciousness and if that same energy is
                > not transmuted, but expressed sexually toward another or toward the
                > self, those energies are cooled and not helpful for the inner work.12
                > Regarding "erotic mysticism" in Christianity, Gregory Elmer, O.S.B.
                > writes:
                >
                > The erotic energies are resolved in Colossians, in that "in Christ is
                > your completion." Practically this means an active, graced effort to
                > surrender all known energies to Jesus. Once the impasse is solved, then
                > erotic imagery can be used, because it will be understood as referring
                > to "mystical marriage," a state like marriage, but infinitely
                > transcending it and not requiring genitality. When St. Teresa speaks of
                > it she is at pains to make sure her readers don't take this in a carnal
                > way.13
                > The quotations given above mirror beautifully what Hinduism says
                > about "erotic mysticism." Put simply, in the Hindu tradition the
                > mystical and the sexual just don't mix. Yes, sometimes sexual imagery
                > is used to make a point-but that point has nothing to do with sexuality
                > per se. The intense longing of the soul to unite with God is sometimes
                > expressed in erotic language-for example, the rasa-lila described in
                > the Bhagavata. But those who see mere eroticism in it only see the
                > finger instead of the moon to which the finger is pointing.
                >
                > Hated and Feared Women?
                >
                > Providing the names of two scholars who believe Ramakrishna to be a
                > misogynist (McLean and Sarkar), Kripal tells us that "scholars [have] …
                > usually sided with the misogynist reading" (KC 278). If we take
                > Kripal's word for it, we must then assume that apart from the two
                > scholars named, the weight of scholarly opinion concludes that
                > Ramakrishna "hated and feared women." Since I doubt a significant
                > number of South Asian scholars have even addressed Ramakrishna's
                > attitude toward women, let's examine the issue without having to bear
                > the burden of scholarly consensus.
                >
                > Significantly, Kripal quotes Mozoomdar's letter decrying
                > Ramakrishna's "almost barbarous treatment of his wife" (KC 278). What
                > was the issue that provoked Mozoomdar's censure? That Ramakrishna and
                > Sarada did not have a sexual relationship. Consi<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
              • jasonjamesmorgan
                Hello, Who did not read what? Did you read my post? I read yours. But eneogh of this, we are probably boring everyone else. I thank you bringing this
                Message 7 of 10 , Apr 11, 2005
                • 0 Attachment
                  Hello,

                  Who did not read what? Did you read my post? I read yours.

                  But eneogh of this, we are probably boring everyone else. I thank
                  you bringing this before my attention. It matters little though.
                  There are people who claim Jesus was gay. There are people who claim
                  we never landed on the moon. Dont think to highly of this dude, or
                  yourself, this is hardly worth my attention. One translation, an
                  award, stir up dust, and sign the checks. All publicity is good for
                  this dude, so I wont even speak his name. LOL

                  One cannot hide the truth from Self, the Self is truth.

                  Namaste
                  Om Namah Shivaya
                  Jason James Morgan


                  --- In meditationsocietyofamerica@yahoogroups.com, "jodyrrr"
                  <jodyrrr@y...> wrote:
                  >
                  > Dude, this has already all played out.
                  >
                  > Of course the hagiopoisoned devotees are going
                  > to do everything they can (including death threats)
                  > to preserve their hallowed little godman fantasy.
                  >
                  > Kripal has dealt with all the criticisms. It's
                  > all in the various academic journals where these
                  > issues are discussed.
                  >
                  > The real telling thing here is your apparent fear
                  > of these publications. If you don't read them
                  > yourself, you don't know yourself.
                  >
                  > Which makes you another one of the hagiopoisoned
                  > ostriches with their head in the sand. You are like
                  > a kid with his fingers in his ear saying, "I'm not
                  > listening, nahnahnahnah." Not very edifying.
                  >
                  > --- In meditationsocietyofamerica@yahoogroups.com, jasonjamesmorgan
                  > <no_reply@y...> wrote:
                  > >
                  > >
                  > > > Kripal has not been discredited. Here is his answer
                  > > > to the critique of his translation:
                  > > >
                  > > > http://www.ruf.rice.edu/~kalischi/textuality.html
                  > >
                  > > Hello,
                  > >
                  > > Just one of many.
                  > >
                  > > Namaste
                  > > Om Namah Shivaya
                  > > Kali's Child Revisited
                  > > or
                  > > Didn't Anyone Check the Documentation?
                  > > by Swami Tyagananda*
                  > >
                  > > Part 1 of 4
                  > >
                  > > Jeffrey J. Kripal's Kali's Child has tremendous value for one
                  very good
                  > > reason: it is written by one who is not a part of the tradition
                  that
                  > > has grown around the life and teachings of Ramakrishna. Such
                  works
                  > > from "outside" the tradition are valuable because they often
                  bring new
                  > > perspectives and new life to a subject. These books can also
                  provide a
                  > > splendid opportunity for fruitful dialogue between those who
                  > > are "inside" the tradition and those who are "outside." Such
                  dialogue
                  > > has the potential to enliven research, broaden understanding,
                  correct
                  > > misconceptions and enrich the knowledge of people on both sides
                  of the
                  > > fence.
                  > >
                  >
                  >
                  > > Moreover, Kali's Child is quite an interesting book. So
                  interesting, in
                  > > fact, that even as a dissertation at least one reader was found
                  (we
                  > > learn from the Foreword) "smiling often and laughing almost as
                  often"
                  > > when she took chapters of it to the beach. Academic
                  dissertations, as
                  > > we are painfully aware, are not generally known to produce this
                  kind of
                  > > effect! Kripal has an engaging writing style: were the book not
                  strewn
                  > > with endless reference numbers in parentheses and innumerable
                  endnotes
                  > > it could have passed for a novel.
                  > >
                  > > The documentation indeed looks impressive until one actually
                  checks the
                  > > references Kripal quotes. That is what happened in my case. As I
                  began
                  > > to browse through Kali's Child, I would say to myself, "I know
                  the
                  > > Kathamrita quite well and I've never seen that before!"1 As a
                  sample
                  > > check, I compared a reference with the original in Bengali and
                  saw that
                  > > there was a problem. So I began checking more references,
                  comparing
                  > > Kripal's translations with the Bengali originals and I too found
                  > > myself "smiling often and laughing almost as often"-but for
                  reasons
                  > > quite different from those that provoked a similar reaction on a
                  beach
                  > > several years ago.
                  > >
                  > > The second edition of Dr. Jeffrey Kripal's Kali's Child begins by
                  > > telling us that much has changed since the book's initial
                  release.
                  > > While the American Academy of Religion had bestowed upon Kali's
                  Child
                  > > the History of Religions Prize in 1996 for the best new book,
                  Kali's
                  > > Child had also provoked a flurry of criticism and, according to
                  Kripal,
                  > > the specter of "censorship" in India.
                  > >
                  > > Why the strong reaction? Kripal tells us that the negative
                  reaction was
                  > > due to a "deep cultural rejection of homosexuality" (KC xxi);2 it
                  was
                  > > an angry response to exposing the "secret" of "Ramakrishna's
                  homoerotic
                  > > desires" (KC xv).
                  > >
                  > > In fact the truth is much more simple: yes, the criticism the
                  book
                  > > received was due to its conclusions regarding Ramakrishna's
                  purported
                  > > homosexuality. But Kripal's conclusions came via faulty
                  translations, a
                  > > willful distortion and manipulation of sources, combined with a
                  > > remarkable ignorance of Bengali culture. The derisive,
                  nonscholarly
                  > > tone with which he discussed Ramakrishna didn't help matters
                  either.
                  > >
                  > > To make the facile claim that the criticism leveled against
                  Kali's
                  > > Child was due to homophobia is to deflect from the real issue of
                  shoddy
                  > > and deceptive scholarship. Should a person with a good grasp of
                  Bengali
                  > > language and culture seriously read the Bengali source books on
                  > > Ramakrishna and then come to the conclusion that Ramakrishna was
                  a
                  > > conflicted homosexual, I would respect that person's freedom to
                  come to
                  > > this conclusion. I would strongly disagree with him or her, but I-
                  and
                  > > many other devotees of Ramakrishna-would fully support that
                  person's
                  > > freedom of inquiry and thought. What I and others will never
                  support is
                  > > the freedom to distort the text and the freedom to misuse
                  citations.
                  > >
                  > > Since I am a monk of the Ramakrishna Order, some may argue that
                  my
                  > > Bengali translations and my use of citations will only serve to
                  reflect
                  > > my biased viewpoint. Let me then quote Narasingha Sil regarding
                  > > Kripal's scholarship. Sil (whom Kripal particularly thanks in his
                  > > preface to the first edition) has been Kripal's occasional
                  collaborator
                  > > and colleague. Moreover, no one would ever accuse Narasingha Sil
                  and
                  > > the Ramakrishna Order of mutual admiration.
                  > >
                  > > Speaking of Kripal's Bengali, Sil says: "Jeffrey is very adept at
                  using
                  > > Bengali-English dictionaries and picking the most appropriate
                  synonyms
                  > > for words (disregarding the primary, secondary, tertiary
                  meanings) he
                  > > feels could make his point." Sil also notes that Kripal "is
                  unable even
                  > > to converse in Bengali (but very prompt at using dictionaries)."3
                  > > Indeed, even Kripal's associates in India acknowledge that when
                  he
                  > > arrived in Calcutta his knowledge of Bengali was fairly
                  elementary.
                  > > After eight months of study, Kripal's Bengali improved, but never
                  > > beyond the intermediate stage. He still cannot speak Bengali and
                  > > understands little when spoken to. Such a limited understanding
                  of a
                  > > foreign language and culture could hardly give Kripal the
                  background
                  > > necessary to understand a man whose village Bengali was worlds
                  apart
                  > > from the conventional Bengali appearing within the neat margins
                  of the
                  > > dictionaries. Further, Kripal's ignorance of Bengali culture
                  jumps
                  > > right off the page. Many of the author's misinterpretations are
                  due to
                  > > a simple lack of familiarity with Bengali attitudes and customs.
                  The
                  > > notes following this introductory essay will make this
                  shortcoming
                  > > abundantly clear.
                  > >
                  > > Finally, regarding Kali's Child itself, Sil notes: "…[Kripal's]
                  method
                  > > of supporting his thesis is not only wrong but reprehensible in
                  that it
                  > > involves willful distortion and manipulation of sources. . . .
                  Kripal
                  > > has faulted Swami Nikhilananda for his 'concealment' and
                  doctoring of
                  > > the crude expressions of KM [Kathamrita], but he has
                  unhesitatingly
                  > > committed similar crime[s] of omission and commission to suit his
                  > > thesis." 4
                  > >
                  > > In this essay, which serves as an introduction to the "Notes"
                  which
                  > > follow, I give clear examples of the mistranslations and
                  deceptive
                  > > documentation which cover nearly every page of Kali's Child. The
                  notes
                  > > detail a page-by-page overview of some of the most egregious
                  examples
                  > > of Dr. Kripal's flawed scholarship. Yet even these notes are not
                  > > exhaustive. Nor do they propose to be. They are only indicators
                  of the
                  > > kinds of problems that abound in Kali's Child. The purpose of
                  this
                  > > essay and the notes is only to encourage further studies and
                  discussion.
                  > >
                  > > To return to matters about the book before I discuss what is in
                  the
                  > > book, why was there an uproar when Narasingha Sil's inflammatory
                  review
                  > > of Kali's Child appeared in the Calcutta edition of the Statesman
                  in
                  > > 1997? Because the readers found the premises of Kali's Child
                  insulting.
                  > > Literally millions of people have read the Bengali Kathamrita for
                  the
                  > > past one hundred years. What Swami Nikhilananda chose and did not
                  > > choose to translate into English is not relevant in this
                  instance.
                  > > Bengalis know the language, the culture, the source materials
                  better
                  > > than any American Ph.D. student who stays in Calcutta for eight
                  months,
                  > > reads Bengali with the help of a dictionary, and then tells the
                  > > Bengalis that they are reading Ramakrishna wrong. Strangely
                  enough,
                  > > they find this sort of thing patronizing and arrogant. For more
                  > > information regarding the "censorship" issue, please see note #1
                  at the
                  > > end of this essay.
                  > >
                  > > Who Closed the Case?
                  > >
                  > > Except for a few minor corrections in the book's second edition,
                  > > Kripal's original thesis remains intact, indeed has been
                  strengthened,
                  > > in the years between the book's first and second edition. Kripal
                  now
                  > > says with a clearer authority: "The case of Ramakrishna's
                  homosexuality
                  > > … seems to be closed" (KC xxi).
                  > >
                  > > Who has closed the case? While Kripal informs us that Kali's
                  Child "has
                  > > been lauded by scholars … for being right (KC xxii)," one wonders
                  if
                  > > any of those praising the book have ever read its citations. Have
                  any
                  > > of those scholars who have given this book so much acclaim
                  actually
                  > > read the Bengali sources that he quotes? How many of them can
                  actually
                  > > read Bengali well, if at all?
                  > >
                  > > Oddly enough, Kripal attempts to invoke Christopher Isherwood as
                  having
                  > > a "homosexual reading of Ramakrishna" (KC xiii). It is odd
                  because if
                  > > one reads the book that Kripal cites, My Guru and His Disciple,
                  > > Isherwood clearly declares exactly the opposite: "I couldn't
                  honestly
                  > > claim him [Ramakrishna] as a homosexual, even a sublimated one,
                  much as
                  > > I would have liked to be able to do so."5
                  > >
                  > > Kripal buttresses his claim for Isherwood's "homosexual reading"
                  of
                  > > Ramakrishna by providing us with the following anecdote: In 1995
                  a well-
                  > > known scholar, having heard Kripal's talk on Ramakrishna and his
                  > > homosexual orientation, informed the author and the
                  audience, "Chris
                  > > Isherwood was a close friend of mine, and I want you to know
                  that, if
                  > > he could have been here today, Chris would have been very
                  pleased" (KC
                  > > xiii). Yet, to my surprise, this particular "well-known scholar"
                  > > approached me at the November 2000 annual meeting of the American
                  > > Academy of Religion and declared that he had been completely
                  misquoted.
                  > > In fact, the scholar said, he had never even met Christopher
                  Isherwood,
                  > > so he could hardly be considered a "close friend"! It is
                  precisely this
                  > > kind of fraudulent scholarship that forms the backbone of Kali's
                  Child.
                  > > For a fuller discussion of Isherwood along with a discussion of
                  > > Kripal's claim that Isherwood was subjected to "censorship" by
                  the
                  > > Ramakrishna Order, please see note #2.
                  > >
                  > > Perhaps the centerpiece of Kali's Child is the assertion
                  > > that "Ramakrishna was a conflicted, unwilling, homoerotic
                  Tantrika" (KC
                  > > 3). Further, Tantra's "heterosexual assumptions seriously
                  violated the
                  > > structure of his own homosexual desires. His female Tantric guru
                  and
                  > > temple boss may have forced themselves … on the saint … but
                  Ramakrishna
                  > > remained … a lover not of sexually aggressive women or even of
                  older
                  > > men but of young, beautiful boys" (KC 2-3, emphasis mine).
                  > >
                  > > Interesting thesis; how does he document his claims?
                  > >
                  > > Ramakrishna, Kripal informs us, went into samadhi "while looking
                  at the
                  > > cocked hips of a beautiful English boy" (KC 19, emphasis mine).
                  > > Interesting choice of adjectives. Kripal repeats this phrase
                  later by
                  > > declaring: "stunned by the cocked hips of the boy, Ramakrishna
                  falls
                  > > into samadhi" (KC 66). But what does the original Bengali say?
                  Kripal
                  > > gives two references (KA 2.49; KA 2.110) neither of which
                  mentions the
                  > > boy as being "beautiful" and, perhaps obviously, there is no
                  mention
                  > > of "cocked" hips either. The Kathamrita simply states that
                  Ramakrishna
                  > > went into samadhi upon seeing a boy who was-as Krishna is
                  traditionally
                  > > depicted in Hindu iconography-tribhanga-bent in three places
                  (i.e.,
                  > > bent at the knee, waist and elbow, with flute in hand). It is
                  this sort
                  > > of documentation that Kripal uses to build the case for
                  Ramakrishna's
                  > > purported homoerotic impulses.
                  > >
                  > > Then we have the issue of the sword. Even casual readers of the
                  > > Ramakrishna literature are familiar with the story of how
                  Ramakrishna,
                  > > stricken with grief and frustration at not having experienced a
                  vision
                  > > of Kali, decided to end his life. Just as he was seizing the
                  sword to
                  > > slit his throat, Ramakrishna was overwhelmed by rolling waves of
                  bliss
                  > > and entered into samadhi. How does Kripal view this incident?
                  Kripal
                  > > presumes that Ramakrishna's spiritual crisis was something much
                  more
                  > > interesting: the suicide attempt was an attempt "to end his
                  erotic
                  > > torment (vyakulata) and the shame attached to it by symbolically
                  > > castrating himself" (KC 76).
                  > >
                  > > How does he come to this conclusion? Although Kripal tells us
                  that he
                  > > doesn't follow Freudian methodology, this sounds pretty close to
                  > > me: "Psychoanalytically trained students of Hindu culture have
                  tended
                  > > to see such symbolic self-castrations as productive of
                  a 'negative
                  > > Oedipus complex' in which the boy, instead of renouncing his
                  desires
                  > > for the mother and identifying with the father (the 'normal'
                  outcome of
                  > > Freud's Oedipus complex), ends up identifying with the mother by
                  > > renouncing his masculine identity through a symbolic
                  castration. . . .
                  > > This in turn creates a marked homosexual tendency in the boy" (KC
                  344).
                  > >
                  > > This is how we've arrived, via circular logic, at Kripal's
                  thesis:
                  > > Ramakrishna, in wishing to slit his throat, must have really
                  wanted to
                  > > castrate himself since he was presumed to be suffering "erotic
                  > > torment." But there's no evidence of "erotic torment" whatsoever.
                  > > Kripal tries to build it into his thesis with prejudicial
                  translations
                  > > and false documentation, but there is no textual evidence for his
                  > > thesis. The clincher for the head=phallus metaphor is Kripal's
                  > > assertion that "the head in the mystical physiology of yoga and
                  Tantra
                  > > [is] the ultimate goal of one's semen and so an appropriate
                  symbol for
                  > > the phallus" (KC 76). Sorry, wrong. The ultimate goal is the
                  retention
                  > > of semen which strengthens the body-mind complex. The phallus and
                  head
                  > > are not interchangeable parts.
                  > >
                  > > What other evidence does Kripal marshal to promote his homoerotic
                  > > thesis? There's the case of Mathur Babu, Rani Rasmani's son-in-
                  law and
                  > > the manager of the Kali temple. Curiously, Kripal revels in
                  calling
                  > > Mathur the "temple boss." What's the point? Mathur was the temple
                  > > manager. It's interesting, however, to ponder the weight "boss"
                  carries
                  > > in contrast to "manager." "Boss" seems more dangerous, more
                  > > authoritarian; there's a swagger in the word which Kripal
                  attempts to
                  > > build into his text.
                  > >
                  > > This is typical of Kripal's use of loaded language which he
                  employs
                  > > throughout Kali's Child. The notes section of this paper will
                  provide
                  > > many more examples of Kripal's repeated use of loaded words to
                  create
                  > > an effect. Why would Kripal chose a word with a pejorative and
                  slightly
                  > > ominous subtext? Because Kripal has already decided that Mathur
                  > > sexually forced himself upon Ramakrishna.
                  > >
                  > > Mathur, as all the Ramakrishna literature openly states, was
                  > > immediately attracted to Ramakrishna, because of his "good-looks,
                  > > tender nature, piety, and youth." Then Kripal adds: "Saradananda
                  tells
                  > > us, seemingly completely unaware of the homosexual dimensions of
                  his
                  > > own description, a 'sudden loving attraction' arose in the mind
                  and
                  > > heart of the temple boss" (LP 2.5.1).6 The "homosexual
                  dimensions"
                  > > which somehow evade us in the Lilaprasanga I will quote here: "It
                  is
                  > > often seen that when a very close and lasting relationship is
                  > > established with anyone in life, the loving attraction towards
                  them is
                  > > felt right away, at first sight" (LP 2.5.1). I fail to find the
                  > > homosexual dimensions here. All of us have had the joy of meeting
                  > > people with whom we immediately establish a warm rapport; even
                  though
                  > > we've just met them, we nevertheless feel very drawn to those
                  people.
                  > > In the Hindu worldview, this phenomenon is seen as completely
                  natural.
                  > > There is absolutely no sexual connotation in this phenomenon
                  whatsoever.
                  > >
                  > > We've Got Some Serious Translation Issues Here
                  > >
                  > > Kripal's treatment of the word vyakulata, which he translates
                  > > as "erotic torment," brings us to the subject of his prejudicial
                  > > translations. Since we know that Kripal can only read and
                  translate
                  > > Bengali texts with the help of a dictionary, let's see how the
                  > > dictionary translates vyakulata. The widely used 1968 edition of
                  the
                  > > Bengali Samsad gives us these possibilities: "eagerness,
                  excitement;
                  > > impatience, anxiety, worry, hustle, bustle, busyness, business,
                  > > distraction, perplexity; scattered state; diffusion; inversion."
                  Where
                  > > in these possibilities do we find "erotic torment"? Let's take a
                  look
                  > > at the 1924 Mitra Bengali-English dictionary; perhaps Kripal
                  might have
                  > > found something in there. Vyakulata here is defined
                  as: "perplexity,
                  > > distraction, agitation, flurry, anxiety, eagerness." No erotic
                  torment
                  > > to be found here. Alas, the poor author has to install the erotic
                  > > torment into the text himself, since it doesn't exist there
                  > > independently.
                  > >
                  > > In attempting to build a case for Ramakrishna's homosexual
                  attraction,
                  > > Kripal states: "Ramakrishna's anxious desire was often directed
                  to his
                  > > young male disciples" (KC 65). The word used here is again
                  vyakulata;
                  > > and, as we have seen, there's nothing in the word to
                  suggest "desire,"
                  > > which, typically for Kripal, carries a sexual connotation.
                  > >
                  > > In any language, a word carries different shades of meaning
                  depending
                  > > on the context. Take the word "eagerness" or "anxiety," for
                  example,
                  > > and we'll have the same situation. A person can be eager or
                  anxious to
                  > > see a close friend; a person can be eager or anxious to see one's
                  > > child; a person can be eager or anxious to have a stiff drink; a
                  person
                  > > can be eager or anxious to see one's beloved. The weight and
                  meaning of
                  > > the word depends on the context. To load the Bengali words
                  heavily with
                  > > sexual innuendo is to completely distort the meaning of the text.
                  > >
                  > > Kripal carries his argument further by declaring: "The same
                  longing
                  > > that was once directed to Kali and her sword is now directed to
                  > > Narendra and his sweet singing voice" (KC 65). Vyakul is used
                  here, but-
                  > > as we have seen-the "longing" that one feels for God doesn't
                  presume
                  > > the same feeling that one has for another human being; the
                  contexts are
                  > > obviously different.
                  > >
                  > > Not to unduly belabor vyakul, but one last example. (See the
                  notes for
                  > > more references on this point.) To quote Kali's Child which is
                  > > purportedly quoting from KA 3.126: "Again troubled by his desire
                  for
                  > > the boys, Ramakrishna asks M, 'Why do I feel so anxious for
                  them?' M
                  > > can give no answer before an upset Ramakrishna breaks in, 'Why
                  don't
                  > > you say something?'" (KC 65, emphasis mine).
                  > >
                  > > In comparing Kripal's translation against Nikhilananda's, I find
                  > > Nikhilananda's translation to be perfectly accurate. Nikhilananda
                  > > writes, and I would translate the text in exactly the same
                  way: "The
                  > > Master lay down on the small couch. He seemed worried about
                  Tarak.
                  > > Suddenly he said to M, 'Why do I worry so much about these young
                  boys?'
                  > > M kept still. He was thinking over a reply. The Master asked
                  him, 'Why
                  > > don't you speak?'"
                  > >
                  > > Nikhilananda's translation, "worry so much," is the perfect
                  English
                  > > equivalent for this context. If we look at Kripal's translation,
                  we
                  > > find sexual innuendo that isn't in the text and, interestingly
                  enough,
                  > > we also find words that are not in the text. The
                  adjective "upset"
                  > > describing Ramakrishna is not in the original. But by giving the
                  KA
                  > > 3.126 reference, Kripal indicates that this description is in the
                  text.
                  > > This is nothing short of deceptive documentation.
                  > >
                  > > Another word which Kripal warps in order to shore up his
                  homoerotic
                  > > platform is uddipana, which means "enkindling" or "lighting up."
                  > > Discussing the "obvious … homoerotic element" in KA 2.24, Kripal
                  > > writes: "When it comes time for the disciples to leave one
                  evening,
                  > > Ramakrishna turns to the youth Bhabanath and says: 'Please don't
                  leave
                  > > today. When I look at you, I get all excited (uddipana)!'" (KC
                  67).
                  > > Let's go back to the dictionary: the Samsad defines uddipana
                  as: "act
                  > > of enkindling; incitation; act of inspiring or encouragement;
                  > > animation; manifestation; augmentation, development."
                  The "obvious"
                  > > homoerotic element is not obvious unless one would choose to
                  > > mistranslate the text.
                  > >
                  > > When I checked the Bengali text against Nikhilananda's Gospel, I
                  found
                  > > Nikhilananda's translation accurate with the exception of one
                  word.
                  > > Nikhilananda writes: "The devotees were ready to return home. One
                  by
                  > > one they saluted the Master. At the sight of Bhavanath Sri
                  Ramakrishna
                  > > said: 'Don't go away today. The very sight of you inspires me'"
                  > > (Gospel, 194). In KA 2.24 the word "you" is plural (toder): it
                  would
                  > > therefore be more accurate to translate the last sentence
                  as: "The very
                  > > sight of you all inspires me."
                  > >
                  > > "If all this seems suggestive," Kripal intones, "consider
                  Ramakrishna's
                  > > comments on the excitement he feels when looking at pictures of
                  holy
                  > > men: 'When I look at pictures of holy men I become aroused
                  > > [uddipana] . . . just as when a man looks at a young woman and is
                  > > reminded [uddipana] of [sexual] pleasure" (KC 67). Again we are
                  faced
                  > > with loaded English words and skewed translations. Ramakrishna
                  becomes
                  > > aroused? There's nothing in uddipana to suggest "aroused," and as
                  we
                  > > all know, the word "aroused" carries with it heavy sexual baggage.
                  > >
                  > > Kripal obviously wants to emphasize "men" since he translates
                  sadhuder
                  > > chhabi as "pictures of holy men" rather than "pictures of sadhus"
                  > > or "pictures of monks." Of more interest is the endnote given for
                  this
                  > > reference (KC 343, #61): "But Ramakrishna wants nothing to do
                  with
                  > > pictures of women," citing KA 4.263. If we check KA 4.263
                  however, we
                  > > find that Ramakrishna is neither expressing any distaste nor
                  dislike
                  > > for pictures of women; he is simply stating the strict rule for
                  > > sannyasins: "A sannyasin must not even look at a picture of a
                  woman."
                  > > Kripal's endnote, as usual, is meant to mislead.
                  > >
                  > > But back to Kripal's sexual baggage in the body of the text: If
                  we
                  > > check KA 5.120 we find nothing to support Kripal's issue with
                  photos of
                  > > men. When a devotee describes the sadhus he had met, Ramakrishna
                  > > says: "Look, one must keep the pictures of sadhus at home (dekho,
                  > > sadhuder chhabi ghare rakhate hoy). One is then constantly
                  reminded of
                  > > God (ta hole sarvada isvarer uddipan hoy)." When the devotee says
                  that
                  > > he has kept such pictures in his room, Ramakrishna
                  continues: "Yes,
                  > > seeing the pictures of sadhus, one is reminded [of God]" (han,
                  sadhuder
                  > > chhabi dekhle uddipan hoy).
                  > >
                  > > Nowhere in the Kathamrita do we find Kripal's: "When I look"
                  which he
                  > > has conveniently placed in Ramakrishna's mouth and, even more
                  > > conveniently, has placed those words within quotation marks. And
                  > > nowhere is there any "aroused." The context of the quotation
                  makes it
                  > > completely clear that uddipana refers to God: isvarer uddipana.
                  > >
                  > > One last point: Kripal needlessly uses ellipses in this short
                  reference
                  > > to distort the text's meaning. Ramakrishna, when discussing the
                  > > importance of being reminded of God through holy pictures, gives
                  two
                  > > examples. Kripal, however, cleverly provides only one:
                  Ramakrishna's
                  > > first example is being reminded of a real fruit when one sees an
                  > > imitation one. His second example is being reminded of enjoyment
                  (bhog)
                  > > when seeing a young woman. Not surprisingly, the word bhog, which
                  > > simply means either experience or enjoyment, becomes in Kripal's
                  > > version: "[sexual] pleasure" and the first example of the fruit
                  is
                  > > omitted entirely.
                  > >
                  > > My final discussion of uddipana (please see the notes for more
                  > > examples) centers around Kripal's translation of KA 3.93. Writes
                  > > Kripal: "Almost anything he saw or heard could awaken powerful
                  forces
                  > > that often overwhelmed him. When one is in love, he
                  explained, 'even
                  > > the littlest thing can ecstatically remind one [of the beloved]'"
                  (KC
                  > > 66).
                  > >
                  > > I've compared Nikhilananda's text with the Kathamrita and found
                  it
                  > > quite accurate. I would translate the text in this way: "Once
                  love for
                  > > God arises in the heart, even the slightest thing kindles
                  spiritual
                  > > feeling in a person. Then, chanting the name of Rama even once
                  can
                  > > produce the fruit of ten million sandhyas."
                  > >
                  > > But note what is breathtakingly dishonest about Kripal's
                  translation:
                  > > He writes, "when one is in love." The Kathamrita passage which he
                  > > gives, however, is absolutely unambiguous and clear: Ramakrishna
                  is
                  > > referring to "love for God" (isvarer upar bhalobasha). Thus the
                  obvious
                  > > meaning of uddipana in this context is the "kindling of spiritual
                  > > feeling."
                  > >
                  > > Kripal, on the other hand, after suppressing the blatant
                  reference to
                  > > God, turns the text on its head. Suddenly Ramakrishna's words
                  have been
                  > > twisted into a poor imitation of Rumi: "ecstatically remind one
                  [of the
                  > > beloved]." There is absolutely no mention whatsoever of "the
                  beloved"
                  > > in the text. I searched in vain in the preceding page and
                  subsequent
                  > > page of KA 3.93 as well but nowhere could I find even a hint
                  of "the
                  > > beloved." Amusingly, Kripal begins this paragraph by
                  > > noting: "Ramakrishna might be described as hyperassociative." I
                  would
                  > > suggest that it is Kripal who has the hyperassociative problem.
                  > >
                  > > Sometimes Kripal's desire to shove inconvenient facts into the
                  > > homoerotic box creates unintentionally comic results. Take for
                  example
                  > > Kripal's dissection of Ramakrishna and Kedar in KA 4.7.: "In
                  still
                  > > another passage, he looks at boy Kedar and is reminded of
                  Krishna's
                  > > sexual exploits with the milkmaids" (KC 66).
                  > >
                  > > It's interesting that Kripal describes Kedar as a "boy."
                  Considering
                  > > that in 1882 Kedar was fifty years old and working as a
                  government
                  > > accountant, I think "boy" is an exaggeration. In fact, Kedar was
                  older
                  > > than Ramakrishna himself. But since Kripal is bound and
                  determined to
                  > > have Ramakrishna be with boys, Kripal will transform even a fifty-
                  > > something into a boy. In nineteenth-century India, a man of fifty
                  was
                  > > considered elderly.
                  > >
                  > > More importantly, KA 4.7 simply says that upon seeing Kedar (who
                  was a
                  > > devotee of Krishna), Ramakrishna was reminded of the Vrindavan-
                  lila. I
                  > > suppose one shouldn't be surprised to find that Kripal
                  translates "the
                  > > play in Vrindavan" (vrindavan-lila) as "Krishna's sexual exploits
                  with
                  > > the milkmaids." Though for someone who, when it suits him, can be
                  > > persnickety about literal accuracy, why would he provide such an
                  > > interpretative "translation"? Obviously because he wanted to
                  emphasize
                  > > his own subtext.
                  > >
                  > > Since Kripal wants to associate Ramakrishna with boys, no matter
                  what,
                  > > we shouldn't be surprised that he first suspects, then assumes,
                  then
                  > > presents as a fact that Ramakrishna was sexually abused as a
                  child.
                  > > That there is absolutely no evidence for this makes no difference
                  to
                  > > Dr. Kripal; we have the effect-Ramakrishna's "homoerotic
                  impulses"-so
                  > > now the cause must be found. Aha! Certainly he must have been
                  sexually
                  > > abused as a child.
                  > >
                  > > The spiritual ecstasies that Ramakrishna experienced as a child
                  are
                  > > thus reinterpreted as "troubling trances" (KC 57). The only
                  > > one "troubled" by them, however, is Kripal who feels compelled to
                  find
                  > > sexual abuse somewhere in there. He first tries to hang the blame
                  on
                  > > the itinerant monks visiting the village; the young Ramakrishna
                  enjoyed
                  > > visiting them and we can only suspect what that means. Referring
                  to LP
                  > > 1.7.5, Kripal somehow intuits that Ramakrishna's mother, "… began
                  to
                  > > worry about such visits, especially when the boy returned home
                  with his
                  > > clothes torn into a simple loin-cloth and his nearly naked body
                  covered
                  > > with ashes, but Gadadhar assured her that nothing was wrong" (KC
                  57).
                  > >
                  > > This reference not only shows us Kripal's ability to mistranslate
                  but
                  > > also his remarkable ignorance of Indian customs. Please note that
                  it
                  > > was not the boy's "clothes" but rather his "cloth" that was torn
                  into a
                  > > loincloth. The distinction is important. Perhaps the author
                  doesn't
                  > > know what a loincloth is and how much material it requires-or he
                  is
                  > > just embellishing his account of the event. It is not the
                  slightest bit
                  > > unusual to cut a portion of the wearing cloth (dhoti) and make it
                  into
                  > > a loincloth (kaupin)-many monks do so, and I have done it myself.
                  The
                  > > dhoti is still worn as a regular dhoti.
                  > >
                  > > Kripal's phrase "his near naked body" is his own invention.
                  Nowhere in
                  > > the LP is there even a mention of the boy's nakedness. In which
                  case we
                  > > can assume that Ramakrishna wore the kaupin as well as the
                  wearing
                  > > cloth. LP 1.7.5 says that the boy would "tell his mother
                  everything"
                  > > (tahake samasta katha nivedan korilo). When he returned from his
                  visit
                  > > to the monks, the boy would tell his mother, "Look mother, how
                  the
                  > > monks have adorned me" (ma, sadhura amake kemon sajaiya
                  diyachhen,
                  > > dekho). It was then obviously that he showed her the kaupin. In
                  > > Kripal's skewed account, the reader is led to believe that the
                  boy
                  > > returned home with "his nearly naked body" covered with ashes.
                  > >
                  > > Further, in LP 1.7.5 the events are kept quite distinct. The
                  boy's
                  > > being smeared with sacred ash (vibhuti-bhushitanga hoiya)
                  happened on
                  > > some days (kono din), and on some days (kono din) he returned
                  home with
                  > > a sacred emblem on his forehead (tilak dharan koriya), and on
                  some
                  > > other days (abar kono din) he returned home using a part of his
                  wearing
                  > > cloth as a loincloth.
                  > > Kripal goes out of his way to throw these distinct elements
                  together
                  > > while adding to it his own version: a tearing of "clothes" and
                  > > a "nearly naked body." Yet again, we have loaded language which
                  does
                  > > not exist in the original.
                  > >
                  > > Kripal goes out of his way to throw these distinct elements
                  together
                  > > while adding to it his own version: a tearing of "clothes" and
                  > > a "nearly naked body." Yet again, we have loaded language which
                  does
                  > > not exist in the original.
                  > >
                  > > What is especially interesting is that Kripal chooses not to
                  mention
                  > > the nature of Ramakrishna's mother's fear. In the same paragraph
                  which
                  > > Kripal quotes, it is made quite clear by Saradananda that
                  Ramakrishna's
                  > > mother was "afraid that one day the mendicants might tempt her
                  son to
                  > > go away with them" (sadhura tahar putrake kono din bhulaiya sange
                  loiya
                  > > jaibe na to). She mentioned this fear to her son who tried to
                  pacify
                  > > her. When the monks eventually came to know of this, they came to
                  her
                  > > house and "assured her that the thought of taking away Gadadhar
                  with
                  > > them had never even crossed their minds; for, to take away a boy
                  of
                  > > that tender age, without the permission of his parents, they
                  said,
                  > > would be stealing, an offence unworthy of any religious person.
                  At
                  > > this, every shadow of apprehension left Chandradevi, and she
                  readily
                  > > agreed to let the boy visit them as before."
                  > >
                  > > All of this information Kripal refuses to acknowledge, leaving
                  the
                  > > readers with Chandramani's ambiguous "fear." Finally, by the time
                  we've
                  > > reached page 303 of Kali's Child, we're told in a hand-wringing,
                  > > pitying tone about the "holy men stripping a trusting little boy"!
                  > >
                  > > Not only were sadhus unable to keep their hands off the "trusting
                  > > little boy," the village women were equally voracious according
                  to
                  > > Kripal. For a somewhat lengthy discussion of this issue, please
                  see the
                  > > notes which follow this essay. Briefly I'll note one point here:
                  While
                  > > Kripal wonders why Ramakrishna "was letting [the village women]
                  worship
                  > > him as a male lover," there is nothing in either the Life of
                  > > Ramakrishna (which he references as his source) or the Kathamrita
                  or
                  > > the Lilaprasanga to indicate anything remotely resembling this.
                  The
                  > > texts all state that the village women looked upon Ramakrishna as
                  > > Gopala, the child Krishna. Interestingly, Kripal quotes the Life
                  of
                  > > Ramakrishna as saying, "…the boy actively sought the company of
                  the
                  > > pious women of the village because they reminded him of the
                  milkmaids
                  > > of Vrindavan, who had realized Krishna as their husband and had
                  > > experienced the bliss and pleasure of his love" (KC 58, emphasis
                  mine).
                  > > When we actually check the Life we find: "The pious young women
                  of the
                  > > village, who were mostly devotees of Vishnu, reminded him of the
                  Gopis
                  > > of Vrindavan, and, therefore, he sought their company. He knew
                  that the
                  > > Gopis were able to realize Krishna as their husband and feel the
                  bliss
                  > > of his eternal reunion because they were women."7 Note the
                  difference
                  > > between the "bliss and pleasure of his love"-laden with sexual
                  innuendo-
                  > > and what is actually in the text. Yet since it is footnoted as a
                  > > reference to the Life, the reader naturally expects the words, or
                  at
                  > > least an honest summary of the referenced passage, to be there.
                  And it
                  > > is not.
                  > >
                  > > While Kripal tells us that his approach to Ramakrishna is not
                  > > reductive, his own words betray him. He writes "…we must admit
                  that
                  > > there are no clear indications of early sexual abuse in the
                  > > biographies. But then why should there be? . . . Is it just a
                  > > coincidence that repeated traumatic events … [that] in the words
                  of one
                  > > psychiatrist, 'simultaneously conceal and reveal their origins …
                  [and]
                  > > speak in [the] disguised language of secrets too terrible for
                  words?'
                  > > It is indeed remarkable that the … literature on sexual trauma
                  suggests
                  > > that individuals who have experienced abuse often become adept at
                  > > altering their state of consciousness … lose control of their
                  bodily,
                  > > and especially gastrointestinal, functions, experience visions
                  and
                  > > states of possession, become hypersensitive to idiosyncratic
                  stimuli
                  > > (like latrines), symbolically reenact the traumatic events, live
                  in a
                  > > state of hyperarousal … become hypersexual in their language or
                  > > behavior, develop hostile feelings toward mother figures, fear
                  adult
                  > > sexuality, and often attempt suicide. This list reads like a
                  summary of
                  > > Ramakrishna's religious life" (KC 298-99).
                  > >
                  > > Is this what Kripal takes to be a "religious life"? Only if one
                  equates
                  > > religious experience with pathology. If religious experience can
                  be
                  > > flattened into a pathological reaction to trauma, then we've lost
                  any
                  > > real meaning behind "religious" and "religion." If this isn't
                  > > reductive, I don't know what is. But even that's not the entire
                  issue,
                  > > significant though it is.
                  > >
                  > > None of the symptoms enumerated in the "literature on sexual
                  trauma" is
                  > > present in Ramakrishna's life. But since Kripal has approached
                  his
                  > > subject with a predetermined verdict, he resorts to specious
                  reasoning
                  > > in order to come up with the judgment he has in mind. Ramakrishna
                  > > has "pronounced homosexual tendencies," ergo he must have
                  suffered
                  > > childhood sexual trauma, ergo he must reenact the traumatic
                  events.
                  > > This exercise in weak-link logic is reminiscent of the kangaroo
                  courts
                  > > where the prisoner is convicted first and then the "evidence" is
                  > > manufactured at a more convenient time.
                  > >
                  > > Even as an adult, Kripal informs us, Ramakrishna had to deal with
                  > > sexual predators: his Tantric guru, the Bhairavi Brahmani; his
                  Vedanta
                  > > guru, Tota Puri; and of course the "temple boss," Mathur Babu.
                  These
                  > > issues are dealt with at length in the notes, but it's of
                  interest to
                  > > see how Kripal presents Tota Puri to the reader. As we have seen,
                  > > Kripal has deduced that Ramakrishna was "homosexually oriented"
                  and so
                  > > every aspect of his life must be interpreted through that lens.
                  > > Take the case of Ramakrishna's Vedanta guru, Tota Puri, who was a
                  > > member of the Naga sect of sannyasins. A highly austere and
                  > > uncompromising monastic order, the Nagas normally live with
                  only "space
                  > > as clothing" (digambara), refusing to submit to any comfort the
                  body or
                  > > mind might enjoy. What does Kripal tell us about the encounter
                  between
                  > > Tota Puri and Ramakrishna? "One can only imagine," Kripal
                  > > whispers, "what it must have been like for Ramakrishna, a
                  homosexually
                  > > oriented man, to be shut away for days in a small hut with
                  another,
                  > > stark-naked man. Vedanta instruction or no, it was this man's
                  nudity,
                  > > and more specifically, his penis, that naturally caught
                  Ramakrishna's
                  > > attention. How could it not?" (KC 160)
                  > >
                  > > Frankly I find this kind of circular reasoning staggeringly
                  > > preposterous. Because one must take for granted that Ramakrishna
                  is
                  > > homosexually oriented, then it stands to reason that the only
                  thing
                  > > that would interest Ramakrishna about his Vedanta guru is his
                  penis.
                  > > For more discussion of Ramakrishna's sexual predators, please see
                  the
                  > > notes which follow.
                  > >
                  > > Were all this not enough, Kripal has taken his child-abuse thesis
                  and
                  > > stretched it to the utmost: Ramakrishna, in his view, helplessly
                  > > engages in the same abusive acts with any unsuspecting male that
                  comes
                  > > near him. In what Kripal diagnoses as a "reenactment pattern," we
                  see
                  > > Ramakrishna, poor man, "uncontrollably rubbing sandal-paste on
                  the
                  > > penises of boys" (KC 301). I must admit that when I read Kripal's
                  > > interpretation of "touching softly" (aste aste sparsha korchhen)
                  as
                  > > attempted sodomy (KC 301-2), I could only laugh. But then, since
                  Dr.
                  > > Kripal is able to equate "religious life" with "ritual
                  reenactment of
                  > > trauma" and becoming "hypersexual in … language or behavior," I
                  should
                  > > have anticipated the gloss. A discussion of this entire issue is
                  dealt
                  > > with extensively in the notes which follow.
                  > >
                  > > Suffice it to say here that, yet again, Kripal has willfully
                  distorted
                  > > the texts and willfully mistranslated the Bengali in order to
                  present a
                  > > vision of Ramakrishna which will conform to his thesis. By now we
                  > > shouldn't be surprised that Kripal has omitted texts and omitted
                  > > portions of the texts he quotes in order to suppress information
                  which
                  > > would run contrary to his thesis. Yet while I may not be
                  surprised,
                  > > it's nevertheless difficult not to be disappointed. I'm also
                  saddened
                  > > when I think of the unsuspecting reader who has either no
                  knowledge of
                  > > Bengali or no time to compare Kripal's so-called "translations"
                  with
                  > > the Bengali originals.
                  > >
                  > > Sometimes a Lap is Just a Lap
                  > >
                  > > In both the first and second edition of Kali's Child, Kripal
                  makes much
                  > > of Ramakrishna's foot and the devotee's lap. The second edition
                  of
                  > > Kali's Child informs us: "It is clear that Ramakrishna saw 'the
                  lap' as
                  > > a normally defiled sexual space" (KC 2).
                  > >
                  > > Why does the author consider the lap (kol) to be "normally
                  defiled"? In
                  > > Indian culture-and Bengali culture in particular-the lap has an
                  > > extremely positive and warm maternal association. For example,
                  the
                  > > national anthem of Bangladesh, written by Tagore, contains the
                  > > following line: Takhon khela dhula sakal phele, O Ma, tomar kole
                  chhute
                  > > ashi: "After the day's play is over, O Mother, I run back to your
                  lap."
                  > > In describing a mother holding a child, a person would normally
                  say,
                  > > mayer kole shishu jishu. The defilement, sad to say, exists only
                  in Dr.
                  > > Kripal's mind.
                  > >
                  > > While the first edition of Kali's Child clearly states that "lap"
                  > > indicates "on the genitals," the second edition merely
                  internalizes the
                  > > allusion by stating that a lap is "a normally defiled sexual
                  space."
                  > > The problem is, kol carries no sexual connotation. There is no
                  basis
                  > > either within the text -nothing in KA 4. 278 indicates that the
                  lap is
                  > > anything other than a lap-nor is there any tradition or reference
                  > > within the culture to validate this idea. To suggest that the lap
                  is
                  > > a "defiled space" is to place a Western construct on a culture
                  which
                  > > associates laps with maternal affection, safety and trust.
                  Sometimes a
                  > > lap is just a lap.
                  > >
                  > > As for the foot itself, it's illuminating to read Kripal's
                  sources. One
                  > > of his citations is KA 4.245: "The Master placed his foot on the
                  > > pundit's lap and chest, and smiled (panditer kole o bakkhe ekti
                  charan
                  > > rakhiya thakur hasitechhen). The pundit clung to his feet and
                  said
                  > > (pandit charan dharan koriya bolitechhen) …." Here we are
                  provided the
                  > > stunning illustration of a foot so awesome that it can encompass
                  not
                  > > only a person's lap and chest but can also be clung to like a
                  pole. And
                  > > somehow the unconscious person doesn't lose his balance! As
                  should be
                  > > obvious, some Bengali expressions are hyperbolic and are not
                  meant to
                  > > be taken literally. However, these less-than-subtle nuances-of
                  which
                  > > there are legion in Kali's Child-seem to be lost on the author.
                  > >
                  > > Kripal again returns to the foot/lap issue later in the book (KC
                  238),
                  > > by making it appear that Ramakrishna's "habit of touching people
                  with
                  > > his foot" was a routine occurrence. It wasn't. Interestingly,
                  after
                  > > placing his foot on Dr. Sarkar's lap, Kripal quotes Ramakrishna
                  as
                  > > saying: "You're very pure! Otherwise I wouldn't be able to place
                  my
                  > > foot there!" (KA 4.278). Kripal continues, "We see a whole range
                  of
                  > > opinions focused on Ramakrishna's foot 'there.'"
                  > >
                  > > First, one doesn't find any range of opinions. Second, and much
                  more
                  > > interestingly, when we check KA 4.278, we find that-with a nod to
                  > > Gertrude Stein-there's no "there" there. What does the Kathamrita
                  > > actually say? Ramakrishna tells Dr. Sarkar: "You are very pure
                  (tumi
                  > > khoob shuddha), or else I couldn't have touched with my foot (ta
                  na
                  > > hole pa rakhate pari na)." There is no "there" in the text; it is
                  the
                  > > author who has added the word and placed it in quotation marks
                  even
                  > > though it's not taken from the text.
                  > >
                  > > Apart from adding his own material and implying it to be
                  Ramakrishna's
                  > > (and this occurs time and time again in Kali's Child-please see
                  the
                  > > notes for more instances), the author also provides the
                  insinuation of
                  > > where the "there" is located in order to give weight to his
                  argument
                  > > that Ramakrishna was homoerotically motivated. Kripal adds
                  > > that "Ramakrishna never denied that he stuck his foot in strange
                  > > places." In? If we're returning to the first-edition "genitals"
                  > > argument, let's remember that it would take some serious
                  excavation
                  > > work to locate the genitals of someone sitting cross-legged on
                  the
                  > > floor through the many layers of cloth that Bengalis typically
                  wear.
                  > > Especially since the foot is attached to someone who is
                  unconscious of
                  > > his external surroundings.
                  > >
                  > > Why did Dr. Sarkar object to Ramakrishna's placing his foot on
                  the
                  > > devotees' bodies? For the simple reason that in India touching
                  others
                  > > with the foot is considered disrespectful. Dr. Sarkar was
                  Westernized
                  > > and proud of his rationalist views. He found this sort of
                  behavior
                  > > irrational and unscientific. Nevertheless, he was a tremendous
                  admirer
                  > > of Ramakrishna; by his own admission he let his own medical
                  practice
                  > > suffer in order to spend more time in Ramakrishna's company. When
                  > > Girish explained to Dr. Sarkar that Ramakrishna put his foot on
                  others'
                  > > bodies for their spiritual benefit, Dr. Sarkar quickly withdrew
                  his
                  > > objection and said, "I confess my defeat at your hands. Give me
                  the
                  > > dust of your feet" (KA 1: 254). And with that, Dr. Sarkar took
                  the dust
                  > > of Girish's feet. Was this done sarcastically? There's nothing in
                  any
                  > > text to suggest so. Dr. Sarkar remained an ardent admirer of
                  > > Ramakrishna until the latter's death.
                  > >
                  > > The Kathamrita Is Structured to Conceal a Secret?
                  > >
                  > > According to Kripal the five-volume structure of M's Kathamrita
                  was
                  > > designed to "conceal a secret." Since its five-volume,
                  nonchronological
                  > > structure is unusual, I suppose we shouldn't be surprised that
                  Kripal
                  > > attempts to create a Kathamrita-gate from it. There are many
                  other
                  > > possibilities, however, which the author hasn't considered.
                  Further, as
                  > > we can see regarding Kripal's conjecture about the book's
                  structure,
                  > > his guess is first hazarded and then is presented as a fact
                  several
                  > > pages later.
                  > >
                  > > The Kathamrita was originally written in five volumes, which were
                  > > published over a period of thirty years. Kripal believes that
                  these
                  > > volumes were "arranged cyclically" in order to conceal "a
                  secret."
                  > > This, he says, is a "basic thesis" of his study (KC 3). Kripal
                  declares
                  > > that M "held back" the secret in the first volume, "hinted at" it
                  in
                  > > the second, "toyed with" it in the third, "revealed it" in the
                  fourth
                  > > and, according to Kripal, M found that he had hardly any material
                  left
                  > > for the fifth (KC 4). Perhaps M was a clumsy planner.
                  > >
                  > > If we examine the facts, however, we'll come to an entirely
                  different
                  > > conclusion. First, there is no evidence whatsoever that M had any
                  > > predetermined plan to divide his work into five volumes. In Sunil
                  > > Bihari Ghosh's extraordinary research article on the Kathamrita,
                  we
                  > > learn that portions from M's diaries were published in various
                  Bengali
                  > > journals long before the Kathamrita appeared in book form. These
                  > > portions were published in the following journals: Anusandhan,
                  Arati,
                  > > Alochana, Utsah, Udbodhan, Rishi, Janmabhumi, Tattwamanjari,
                  > > Navyabharat, Punya, Pradip, Pravasi, Prayas, Bamabodhini,
                  Sahitya,
                  > > Sahitya-samhita, and Hindu Patrika. Quite a formidable list,
                  although
                  > > it is not exhaustive. It was from these published extracts that
                  the
                  > > first volume of the Kathamrita was compiled, printed and
                  published by
                  > > Swami Trigunatitananda at the Udbodhan Press in the Bengali month
                  of
                  > > Falgun 1308 [corresponding to the year 1902].8 There is no
                  textual
                  > > evidence anywhere to indicate that M began transcribing his
                  diaries
                  > > with the express intention of publishing a "book."
                  > >
                  > > What Kripal chooses not to mention in the main body of Kali's
                  Child is
                  > > that at the time he wrote this, the Ramakrishna Order had already
                  > > published a two-volume edition of the Kathamrita, arranged
                  > > chronologically. If the nonchronological device was meant
                  to "conceal"
                  > > the secret, the chronological edition should have "revealed" it!
                  > > Apparently, the Ramakrishna Order did not feel any need to hide
                  > > the "secret."
                  > >
                  > > The Ramakrishna Order could not publish the Kathamrita earlier
                  because
                  > > the copyright rested with M's descendants. The Ramakrishna Order
                  had no
                  > > control over how the volumes were structured. When the copyright
                  > > expired fifty years after M's death, the Order published the
                  Kathamrita
                  > > chronologically, making ludicrous the accusation, which Kripal
                  was to
                  > > make several years later, of "hiding" disquieting information
                  from the
                  > > public.
                  > >
                  > > As is quite obvious, nothing was ever "hidden" from those who
                  could
                  > > read Bengali. At least four generations of Bengalis have read the
                  > > Kathamrita and their perception of Ramakrishna is in most
                  respects
                  > > diametrically opposite to the picture presented in Kali's Child.
                  But
                  > > what about the "translations" of the Kathamrita in other
                  languages? In
                  > > Kali's Child much of the talk about "secrets" centers around
                  Swami
                  > > Nikhilananda's English translation of the book under the title
                  The
                  > > Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. According to Kripal,
                  > > Nikhilananda "systematically concealed" the secrets
                  by "ingeniously
                  > > mistranslating" them. "Those passages," Kripal continues, "for
                  which he
                  > > could not find a suitably safe enough 'translation,' he simply
                  omitted"
                  > > (KC 4).
                  > >
                  > > Reading this serious allegation, my curiosity was fueled and I
                  compared
                  > > the Kathamrita with the Gospel page by page. In my estimate,
                  about 25
                  > > pages of the Kathamrita (which may roughly translate into about
                  18
                  > > pages of the Gospel) have been omitted. This may seem to be
                  > > considerable, but here is the breakdown: almost half of the
                  omitted
                  > > material (12 pages, to be exact) consists of a brief biography of
                  > > Ramakrishna (in the Gospel this is replaced by a longer
                  biography) and
                  > > a very detailed description of the Kali Temple at Dakshineswar.
                  The
                  > > remaining half of the omitted material is mostly either
                  > > M's "reflections" (under the title sevak hridaye, literally "In
                  the
                  > > Heart of the Servant") or his poetic portrayal of the Ganges and
                  the
                  > > ambiance of Dakshineswar. Here is a typical sample from
                  the "omitted"
                  > > material:
                  > >
                  > > Come brother, let us go to see him again. We'll see that great
                  soul,
                  > > that child who knows nothing other than Mother, and who has taken
                  birth
                  > > for our benefit. He will teach us how to solve this difficult
                  riddle of
                  > > life. He will teach the monk and he will teach the householder.
                  The
                  > > door is always open. He is waiting for us at the Kali Temple in
                  > > Dakshineswar. Come, come, let us see him (KA 1.165).
                  > > The "brother" in the above passage, by the way, refers to M's own
                  mind.
                  > > The Kathamrita text emerged as a result of long meditations that
                  M did
                  > > on his diary notes. That is how we find a few passages in the
                  > > Kathamrita containing M's "reflections" on Ramakrishna's life and
                  > > teachings.
                  > >
                  > > What is most important to note is that Nikhilananda was honest
                  when he
                  > > said that he omitted "only a few pages of no particular interest
                  to the
                  > > English speaking readers" (Gospel, vii). He did not deny the
                  omissions
                  > > and it seems to me unfair to question his integrity-as Kripal
                  does-
                  > > simply because Kripal finds something of "particular interest"
                  which
                  > > Nikhilananda didn't. A few phrases, examples and incidents were
                  indeed
                  > > omitted; it was done not to "hide" secrets but only to respect
                  the
                  > > Western sense of decorum, at least as it existed in the 1940s,
                  when the
                  > > Gospel was translated.
                  > >
                  > > Translating texts across cultural boundaries is not easy: if you
                  > > translate the "word," you risk being misunderstood; if you
                  translate
                  > > the "idea," you are charged-as Kripal does-with "bowdlerizing"
                  the
                  > > text. His allegation that Nikhilananda omitted portions
                  > > containing "some of the most revealing and significant passages
                  of the
                  > > entire text" (KC 4) is not only textually unjustified but
                  completely
                  > > untrue.
                  > >
                  > > Part of Kripal's Kathamrita-gate thesis is his idea that the
                  > > Ramakrishna Order and M's descendants are still zealously
                  guarding M's
                  > > original diaries from the probing eyes of researchers. Says
                  Kripal: "…
                  > > no researcher has ever seen, and may never see, the original
                  > > manuscripts of M's diaries. They do exist. Thanks to the
                  foresight of
                  > > Swami Prabhananda and the Ramakrishna Order, they have been
                  carefully
                  > > photographed. Unfortunately, however, they are kept under lock
                  and key.
                  > > Like the contents of Ramakrishna's thief's chamber, they contain
                  a
                  > > secret that is kept hidden from the public's eye" (KC 311).
                  > >
                  > > Like all conspiracy theorists, Kripal sees intrigue lurking in
                  every
                  > > corner. The truth is much more mundane. Neither the diaries nor
                  their
                  > > copies are in the Ramakrishna Order's archives. The original
                  diaries
                  > > are with M's descendants, and scholars-including a monk of the
                  > > Ramakrishna Order whom I know-have seen those diaries, even
                  > > photographed them, without undue difficulty.
                  > >
                  > > Kripal's desire to see "secrets" at every turn has not only
                  distorted
                  > > his interpretation of the Kathamrita and its Gospel incarnation,
                  it has
                  > > also warped his perception of Tantra. Thus we find another
                  serious
                  > > problem when we deal with Kripal's understanding (or
                  misunderstanding)
                  > > of the term.
                  > >
                  > > "Tantra Was Ramakrishna's Secret"
                  > >
                  > > Since this statement initially appears incomprehensible, we'll
                  have to
                  > > decipher what Kripal means. "Tantra for Ramakrishna," the author
                  > > intuits, "was not some simple thing that one practiced in private
                  and
                  > > then intentionally denied in public; rather, it was a grave and
                  ominous
                  > > tradition of teachings and techniques that haunted him, that
                  horrified
                  > > him, and yet that somehow formed who he was" (KC 5).
                  > >
                  > > What is "Tantra" to Jeffrey Kripal is the real problem here.
                  Defining
                  > > his "basic thesis" of Kali's Child, the author
                  writes: "Ramakrishna's
                  > > mystical experiences were constituted by mystico-erotic energies
                  that
                  > > he neither fully accepted nor understood." According to Kripal,
                  the
                  > > Hindu Tantra proclaims "the link between the mystical and the
                  sexual."
                  > > He understands the Tantras to be a tradition in which "human
                  eroticism
                  > > and religious experience are intimately related, even identical
                  on some
                  > > deep energetic level." Kripal asserts the "basic relationship
                  between
                  > > the mystical and the sexual" and proposes that "Ramakrishna was a
                  > > Tantrika" (KC 4-5).
                  > >
                  > > What is Kripal's understanding of the word "Tantrika"? He says
                  that it
                  > > is a term associated with "magical power, strangeness, seediness,
                  and
                  > > sex." He dismisses the "philosophical expositions" of Tantra as
                  > > inauthentic because they are "designed to rid Tantra of
                  everything that
                  > > smacked of superstition, magic, or scandal" (KC 28-29). But since
                  > > Kripal's thesis would have no support were these to be
                  eliminated, he
                  > > instead tries to show that these are central to the Tantric
                  tradition.
                  > > But is this really the case? Since the weight of scholarly
                  opinion on
                  > > Tantra would deflect Kripal from his predetermined course, he
                  informs
                  > > us that he is "naturally more interested in what Tantra feels
                  like in
                  > > Bengali than in what it thinks like in Sanskrit" (KC 29).
                  > >
                  > > Unfortunately, Kripal is not in a position to judge what Tantra
                  feels
                  > > like in Bengali. Sadly, he has spent a mere eight months in the
                  city of
                  > > Calcutta; he understands neither the language nor the culture. He
                  also
                  > > has a very serious lack of knowledge concerning Hinduism in
                  general. As
                  > > for what "it thinks like in Sanskrit," it's good that Kripal
                  beats a
                  > > retreat. It's painfully clear that he also has little knowledge
                  of
                  > > Sanskrit. The entire package does not position him well for a
                  sound
                  > > understanding of Ramakrishna.
                  > >
                  > > Were the above not enough, Kripal's apparent ignorance of the
                  systems
                  > > of Indian philosophy truly makes it hard not to smile. His
                  identifying
                  > > of three "textual traditions (the Puranas, the Tantras, and the
                  Vedas)"
                  > > with three "types of practitioners (the Vaishnavas, the Shaktas,
                  and
                  > > the Vedantins)" (KC 94) betrays a serious lack of understanding
                  of some
                  > > of Hinduism's most basic underpinnings. Kripal may be at his most
                  > > laughable when he tells us that Ramakrishna's practice of Vedanta
                  > > consisted of only taking the monastic vows and eating rice in the
                  > > portico of the Dakshineswar temple.
                  > >
                  > > So we are not surprised when Kripal seeks to "define" Tantra by
                  quoting
                  > > Ramakrishna (KC 30-33). In itself this is a good idea, but the
                  problem
                  > > is that, as elsewhere in the book, Kripal lifts sentences out of
                  > > context and puts his own spin on them. The result is that we have
                  a
                  > > version of a so-called Tantra that Kripal is eager to paint as a
                  > > tradition known for "its stubbornly 'impure' ways" (KC 29). No
                  wonder,
                  > > therefore, that Kripal identifies Tantra exclusively with
                  > > Vamachara, "the left-handed path" (see #16 in the notes which
                  follow).
                  > > In the major Tantras such as Kularnava, Mahanirvana and
                  Kamalakala
                  > > Vilasa, Vamachara finds no place at all. But in Kripal's vision,
                  > > Tantra=Vamachara.
                  > >
                  > > It is clear that at least a part of Kripal's confusion is
                  regarding the
                  > > relation between the Shakta tradition and the Tantra tradition.
                  As Teun
                  > > Goudriaan says-and Douglas Renfrew Brooks reiterates-"not all
                  Shaktas
                  > > are Tantrics and … Tantrism, unlike Shaktism, is not restricted
                  to any
                  > > one Hindu denomination, or even to any single Indian religious
                  > > tradition."9
                  > >
                  > > Thus a worshipper of the Goddess is a Shakta but that doesn't
                  > > automatically make him or her a Tantric. Ramakrishna was born in
                  a
                  > > Vaishnava family and, because he worshipped Kali, he could be
                  called a
                  > > Shakta. It must be remembered also that both these traditions-
                  along
                  > > with others, such as the Shaiva-are parts of Vedanta. As N.N.
                  > > Bhattacharya points out in his History of the Tantric
                  Religion: "… The
                  > > traditional Indian approach finds no difficulty in equating the
                  > > essentials of Tantrism with the Vedantic interpretation of the
                  contents
                  > > of the major Shaiva-Shakta schools."10
                  > >
                  > > Much can be said about Kripal's attempt to pigeonhole
                  Ramakrishna's
                  > > life into what he calls the "Tantric world." But it is enough for
                  the
                  > > time being to point out Narasingha Sil's observation: "In order
                  to fit
                  > > the square peg of a Tantrika Ramakrishna into the round hole of a
                  > > homosexual Paramahamsa, Kripal manufactures evidence by
                  distorting the
                  > > meaning of sources."11 This will become obvious by studying the
                  notes
                  > > to this paper.
                  > >
                  > > Does this mean that Tantra played no part in Ramakrishna's life?
                  Of
                  > > course it played a part. Ramakrishna did practice Tantra under
                  the
                  > > guidance of a qualified teacher, just as he practiced the
                  disciplines
                  > > of other traditions. Through every form of discipline he
                  discovered the
                  > > raising of his consciousness from the relative to the absolute.
                  His
                  > > practice of Tantra had a direct bearing in Bengal because it was
                  there
                  > > that the Kaula division among the Shaktas attained its highest
                  > > development. It was associated not only with temples and
                  devotional
                  > > worship but also with esoteric cults and circles (chakras) of
                  Tantric
                  > > adepts. It was in a few of these circles that Vamachara was
                  practiced
                  > > and for that reason forms only an insignificant strain of Shakta
                  Tantra.
                  > >
                  > > The basic idea of Shaktism and Tantra is that the world is a play
                  of
                  > > Shakti, the Divine Mother's power, and can be converted into a
                  means of
                  > > transcending the world and attaining the Supreme Reality. The
                  idea
                  > > behind Tantric practices is that the libido (kama) is the most
                  powerful
                  > > instinctual drive in human beings. Unless it is controlled and
                  > > sublimated, it is impossible to transcend the world of senses.
                  But the
                  > > roots of the libido lie deep and ramified in the unknown chambers
                  of
                  > > the unconscious. Tantric practices are a way of creating certain
                  > > external situations which bring out the contents of these
                  chambers of
                  > > the unconscious. Once we confront and understand the contents of
                  the
                  > > unconscious, they cease to haunt us and become integrated into
                  the self
                  > > as "knowledge" or "wisdom." Tantric disciplines are thus only a
                  way of
                  > > making conscious what normally remains unconscious.
                  > >
                  > > Through his Tantra practice, Ramakrishna helped revive this
                  healthy
                  > > core of the tradition minus the accretions: "magical power,
                  > > strangeness, seediness, and sex." If Kripal had focused his
                  attention
                  > > on the Tantra proper and not on these accretions, he wouldn't
                  have felt
                  > > the need to distort the Bengali text of the Kathamrita.
                  > >
                  > > The Mystical and the Erotic?
                  > >
                  > > I could continue to marshal unending evidence about the
                  > > mistranslations, deceptive documentations and cultural
                  misreadings in
                  > > Kali's Child, but that still wouldn't get to the crux of the
                  book's
                  > > problem from the Hindu point of view. The book's assumption that
                  > > spiritual experience can be associated with sexual conflict-
                  either
                  > > conscious or subconscious-simply doesn't work. While Kripal comes
                  to
                  > > this conclusion through what I consider to be a crude
                  understanding of
                  > > Western psychology, he utterly neglects Hinduism's yoga
                  psychology
                  > > which would have given him a deeper understanding of not only
                  > > Ramakrishna but also Hindu philosophy in general.
                  > >
                  > > Kripal appreciatively quotes John Hawley's remark that Kali's
                  Child is
                  > > a challenge "to dive into the vortex that opens up when religious
                  > > creativity is aligned with our deepest bodily desires, not pitted
                  > > against them" (KC xviii).
                  > >
                  > > This approach, however, completely mitigates against the basic
                  thrust
                  > > of Hindu philosophy. According to every school of Hinduism
                  including
                  > > Tantra, sexual attraction and sexual expression, when directed to
                  > > another individual, pull the spiritual seeker away from the
                  ultimate
                  > > reality. Hinduism clearly states that you can't have it both
                  ways:
                  > > there's only one force that permeates the universe, and that
                  force is
                  > > internal as well as external. If that force or energy is diverted
                  to
                  > > sexual expression-even if it's only mentally-the energy required
                  for
                  > > attaining higher spiritual states is lost.
                  > >
                  > > According to every school of Hinduism-again including Tantra-the
                  goal
                  > > of human life is to be free. In the Hindu tradition, "freedom"
                  (mukti
                  > > or moksha) means freedom from our limited individuality, which is
                  > > confined to the body-mind complex. The more our physical and
                  mental
                  > > energies are directed toward catering to biological demands, the
                  > > stronger becomes the bond that ties us to our limitedness and the
                  less
                  > > energy we have to transcend it to become free.
                  > >
                  > > Again it must be emphasized that this is not just a physical
                  phenomenon
                  > > but a psychological one as well. In order to channel the energy
                  > > available to us, every aspect of the human personality must be
                  > > completely engaged. By definition, a person who is
                  psychologically
                  > > conflicted will not be able to attain enlightenment. Especially
                  if the
                  > > nature of that conflict is sexual, since sexual desire is
                  exceptionally
                  > > powerful.
                  > >
                  > > As we can see, since the issue here is the misdirection of
                  energy, it
                  > > doesn't matter whether that energy is directed in either a
                  heterosexual
                  > > or in a homosexual way. The only thing that matters is that it's
                  being
                  > > directed toward an object of sensual desire. To say, therefore,
                  that
                  > > those who reject Kripal's thesis are doing so from their own
                  homophobia
                  > > is to completely miss the point.
                  > >
                  > > I find it interesting that Kripal became fascinated "with the
                  relation
                  > > between human sexuality and mystica<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
                • jodyrrr
                  ... [snip] ... And the truth of the Self has as much to do with sexuality, hagiography or ideas of Victorian morality, as it does with my dog s ass.
                  Message 8 of 10 , Apr 11, 2005
                  • 0 Attachment
                    --- In meditationsocietyofamerica@yahoogroups.com, jasonjamesmorgan
                    [snip]

                    > One cannot hide the truth from Self, the Self is truth.

                    And the truth of the Self has as much to do with sexuality,
                    hagiography or ideas of Victorian morality, as it does with
                    my dog's ass.

                    >
                    > Namaste
                    > Om Namah Shivaya
                    > Jason James Morgan
                    >
                    >
                    > --- In meditationsocietyofamerica@yahoogroups.com, "jodyrrr"
                    > <jodyrrr@y...> wrote:
                    > >
                    > > Dude, this has already all played out.
                    > >
                    > > Of course the hagiopoisoned devotees are going
                    > > to do everything they can (including death threats)
                    > > to preserve their hallowed little godman fantasy.
                    > >
                    > > Kripal has dealt with all the criticisms. It's
                    > > all in the various academic journals where these
                    > > issues are discussed.
                    > >
                    > > The real telling thing here is your apparent fear
                    > > of these publications. If you don't read them
                    > > yourself, you don't know yourself.
                    > >
                    > > Which makes you another one of the hagiopoisoned
                    > > ostriches with their head in the sand. You are like
                    > > a kid with his fingers in his ear saying, "I'm not
                    > > listening, nahnahnahnah." Not very edifying.
                    > >
                    > > --- In meditationsocietyofamerica@yahoogroups.com, jasonjamesmorgan
                    > > <no_reply@y...> wrote:
                    > > >
                    > > >
                    > > > > Kripal has not been discredited. Here is his answer
                    > > > > to the critique of his translation:
                    > > > >
                    > > > > http://www.ruf.rice.edu/~kalischi/textuality.html
                    > > >
                    > > > Hello,
                    > > >
                    > > > Just one of many.
                    > > >
                    > > > Namaste
                    > > > Om Namah Shivaya
                    > > > Kali's Child Revisited
                    > > > or
                    > > > Didn't Anyone Check the Documentation?
                    > > > by Swami Tyagananda*
                    > > >
                    > > > Part 1 of 4
                    > > >
                    > > > Jeffrey J. Kripal's Kali's Child has tremendous value for one
                    > very good
                    > > > reason: it is written by one who is not a part of the tradition
                    > that
                    > > > has grown around the life and teachings of Ramakrishna. Such
                    > works
                    > > > from "outside" the tradition are valuable because they often
                    > bring new
                    > > > perspectives and new life to a subject. These books can also
                    > provide a
                    > > > splendid opportunity for fruitful dialogue between those who
                    > > > are "inside" the tradition and those who are "outside." Such
                    > dialogue
                    > > > has the potential to enliven research, broaden understanding,
                    > correct
                    > > > misconceptions and enrich the knowledge of people on both sides
                    > of the
                    > > > fence.
                    > > >
                    > >
                    > >
                    > > > Moreover, Kali's Child is quite an interesting book. So
                    > interesting, in
                    > > > fact, that even as a dissertation at least one reader was found
                    > (we
                    > > > learn from the Foreword) "smiling often and laughing almost as
                    > often"
                    > > > when she took chapters of it to the beach. Academic
                    > dissertations, as
                    > > > we are painfully aware, are not generally known to produce this
                    > kind of
                    > > > effect! Kripal has an engaging writing style: were the book not
                    > strewn
                    > > > with endless reference numbers in parentheses and innumerable
                    > endnotes
                    > > > it could have passed for a novel.
                    > > >
                    > > > The documentation indeed looks impressive until one actually
                    > checks the
                    > > > references Kripal quotes. That is what happened in my case. As I
                    > began
                    > > > to browse through Kali's Child, I would say to myself, "I know
                    > the
                    > > > Kathamrita quite well and I've never seen that before!"1 As a
                    > sample
                    > > > check, I compared a reference with the original in Bengali and
                    > saw that
                    > > > there was a problem. So I began checking more references,
                    > comparing
                    > > > Kripal's translations with the Bengali originals and I too found
                    > > > myself "smiling often and laughing almost as often"-but for
                    > reasons
                    > > > quite different from those that provoked a similar reaction on a
                    > beach
                    > > > several years ago.
                    > > >
                    > > > The second edition of Dr. Jeffrey Kripal's Kali's Child begins by
                    > > > telling us that much has changed since the book's initial
                    > release.
                    > > > While the American Academy of Religion had bestowed upon Kali's
                    > Child
                    > > > the History of Religions Prize in 1996 for the best new book,
                    > Kali's
                    > > > Child had also provoked a flurry of criticism and, according to
                    > Kripal,
                    > > > the specter of "censorship" in India.
                    > > >
                    > > > Why the strong reaction? Kripal tells us that the negative
                    > reaction was
                    > > > due to a "deep cultural rejection of homosexuality" (KC xxi);2 it
                    > was
                    > > > an angry response to exposing the "secret" of "Ramakrishna's
                    > homoerotic
                    > > > desires" (KC xv).
                    > > >
                    > > > In fact the truth is much more simple: yes, the criticism the
                    > book
                    > > > received was due to its conclusions regarding Ramakrishna's
                    > purported
                    > > > homosexuality. But Kripal's conclusions came via faulty
                    > translations, a
                    > > > willful distortion and manipulation of sources, combined with a
                    > > > remarkable ignorance of Bengali culture. The derisive,
                    > nonscholarly
                    > > > tone with which he discussed Ramakrishna didn't help matters
                    > either.
                    > > >
                    > > > To make the facile claim that the criticism leveled against
                    > Kali's
                    > > > Child was due to homophobia is to deflect from the real issue of
                    > shoddy
                    > > > and deceptive scholarship. Should a person with a good grasp of
                    > Bengali
                    > > > language and culture seriously read the Bengali source books on
                    > > > Ramakrishna and then come to the conclusion that Ramakrishna was
                    > a
                    > > > conflicted homosexual, I would respect that person's freedom to
                    > come to
                    > > > this conclusion. I would strongly disagree with him or her, but I-
                    > and
                    > > > many other devotees of Ramakrishna-would fully support that
                    > person's
                    > > > freedom of inquiry and thought. What I and others will never
                    > support is
                    > > > the freedom to distort the text and the freedom to misuse
                    > citations.
                    > > >
                    > > > Since I am a monk of the Ramakrishna Order, some may argue that
                    > my
                    > > > Bengali translations and my use of citations will only serve to
                    > reflect
                    > > > my biased viewpoint. Let me then quote Narasingha Sil regarding
                    > > > Kripal's scholarship. Sil (whom Kripal particularly thanks in his
                    > > > preface to the first edition) has been Kripal's occasional
                    > collaborator
                    > > > and colleague. Moreover, no one would ever accuse Narasingha Sil
                    > and
                    > > > the Ramakrishna Order of mutual admiration.
                    > > >
                    > > > Speaking of Kripal's Bengali, Sil says: "Jeffrey is very adept at
                    > using
                    > > > Bengali-English dictionaries and picking the most appropriate
                    > synonyms
                    > > > for words (disregarding the primary, secondary, tertiary
                    > meanings) he
                    > > > feels could make his point." Sil also notes that Kripal "is
                    > unable even
                    > > > to converse in Bengali (but very prompt at using dictionaries)."3
                    > > > Indeed, even Kripal's associates in India acknowledge that when
                    > he
                    > > > arrived in Calcutta his knowledge of Bengali was fairly
                    > elementary.
                    > > > After eight months of study, Kripal's Bengali improved, but never
                    > > > beyond the intermediate stage. He still cannot speak Bengali and
                    > > > understands little when spoken to. Such a limited understanding
                    > of a
                    > > > foreign language and culture could hardly give Kripal the
                    > background
                    > > > necessary to understand a man whose village Bengali was worlds
                    > apart
                    > > > from the conventional Bengali appearing within the neat margins
                    > of the
                    > > > dictionaries. Further, Kripal's ignorance of Bengali culture
                    > jumps
                    > > > right off the page. Many of the author's misinterpretations are
                    > due to
                    > > > a simple lack of familiarity with Bengali attitudes and customs.
                    > The
                    > > > notes following this introductory essay will make this
                    > shortcoming
                    > > > abundantly clear.
                    > > >
                    > > > Finally, regarding Kali's Child itself, Sil notes: "…[Kripal's]
                    > method
                    > > > of supporting his thesis is not only wrong but reprehensible in
                    > that it
                    > > > involves willful distortion and manipulation of sources. . . .
                    > Kripal
                    > > > has faulted Swami Nikhilananda for his 'concealment' and
                    > doctoring of
                    > > > the crude expressions of KM [Kathamrita], but he has
                    > unhesitatingly
                    > > > committed similar crime[s] of omission and commission to suit his
                    > > > thesis." 4
                    > > >
                    > > > In this essay, which serves as an introduction to the "Notes"
                    > which
                    > > > follow, I give clear examples of the mistranslations and
                    > deceptive
                    > > > documentation which cover nearly every page of Kali's Child. The
                    > notes
                    > > > detail a page-by-page overview of some of the most egregious
                    > examples
                    > > > of Dr. Kripal's flawed scholarship. Yet even these notes are not
                    > > > exhaustive. Nor do they propose to be. They are only indicators
                    > of the
                    > > > kinds of problems that abound in Kali's Child. The purpose of
                    > this
                    > > > essay and the notes is only to encourage further studies and
                    > discussion.
                    > > >
                    > > > To return to matters about the book before I discuss what is in
                    > the
                    > > > book, why was there an uproar when Narasingha Sil's inflammatory
                    > review
                    > > > of Kali's Child appeared in the Calcutta edition of the Statesman
                    > in
                    > > > 1997? Because the readers found the premises of Kali's Child
                    > insulting.
                    > > > Literally millions of people have read the Bengali Kathamrita for
                    > the
                    > > > past one hundred years. What Swami Nikhilananda chose and did not
                    > > > choose to translate into English is not relevant in this
                    > instance.
                    > > > Bengalis know the language, the culture, the source materials
                    > better
                    > > > than any American Ph.D. student who stays in Calcutta for eight
                    > months,
                    > > > reads Bengali with the help of a dictionary, and then tells the
                    > > > Bengalis that they are reading Ramakrishna wrong. Strangely
                    > enough,
                    > > > they find this sort of thing patronizing and arrogant. For more
                    > > > information regarding the "censorship" issue, please see note #1
                    > at the
                    > > > end of this essay.
                    > > >
                    > > > Who Closed the Case?
                    > > >
                    > > > Except for a few minor corrections in the book's second edition,
                    > > > Kripal's original thesis remains intact, indeed has been
                    > strengthened,
                    > > > in the years between the book's first and second edition. Kripal
                    > now
                    > > > says with a clearer authority: "The case of Ramakrishna's
                    > homosexuality
                    > > > … seems to be closed" (KC xxi).
                    > > >
                    > > > Who has closed the case? While Kripal informs us that Kali's
                    > Child "has
                    > > > been lauded by scholars … for being right (KC xxii)," one wonders
                    > if
                    > > > any of those praising the book have ever read its citations. Have
                    > any
                    > > > of those scholars who have given this book so much acclaim
                    > actually
                    > > > read the Bengali sources that he quotes? How many of them can
                    > actually
                    > > > read Bengali well, if at all?
                    > > >
                    > > > Oddly enough, Kripal attempts to invoke Christopher Isherwood as
                    > having
                    > > > a "homosexual reading of Ramakrishna" (KC xiii). It is odd
                    > because if
                    > > > one reads the book that Kripal cites, My Guru and His Disciple,
                    > > > Isherwood clearly declares exactly the opposite: "I couldn't
                    > honestly
                    > > > claim him [Ramakrishna] as a homosexual, even a sublimated one,
                    > much as
                    > > > I would have liked to be able to do so."5
                    > > >
                    > > > Kripal buttresses his claim for Isherwood's "homosexual reading"
                    > of
                    > > > Ramakrishna by providing us with the following anecdote: In 1995
                    > a well-
                    > > > known scholar, having heard Kripal's talk on Ramakrishna and his
                    > > > homosexual orientation, informed the author and the
                    > audience, "Chris
                    > > > Isherwood was a close friend of mine, and I want you to know
                    > that, if
                    > > > he could have been here today, Chris would have been very
                    > pleased" (KC
                    > > > xiii). Yet, to my surprise, this particular "well-known scholar"
                    > > > approached me at the November 2000 annual meeting of the American
                    > > > Academy of Religion and declared that he had been completely
                    > misquoted.
                    > > > In fact, the scholar said, he had never even met Christopher
                    > Isherwood,
                    > > > so he could hardly be considered a "close friend"! It is
                    > precisely this
                    > > > kind of fraudulent scholarship that forms the backbone of Kali's
                    > Child.
                    > > > For a fuller discussion of Isherwood along with a discussion of
                    > > > Kripal's claim that Isherwood was subjected to "censorship" by
                    > the
                    > > > Ramakrishna Order, please see note #2.
                    > > >
                    > > > Perhaps the centerpiece of Kali's Child is the assertion
                    > > > that "Ramakrishna was a conflicted, unwilling, homoerotic
                    > Tantrika" (KC
                    > > > 3). Further, Tantra's "heterosexual assumptions seriously
                    > violated the
                    > > > structure of his own homosexual desires. His female Tantric guru
                    > and
                    > > > temple boss may have forced themselves … on the saint … but
                    > Ramakrishna
                    > > > remained … a lover not of sexually aggressive women or even of
                    > older
                    > > > men but of young, beautiful boys" (KC 2-3, emphasis mine).
                    > > >
                    > > > Interesting thesis; how does he document his claims?
                    > > >
                    > > > Ramakrishna, Kripal informs us, went into samadhi "while looking
                    > at the
                    > > > cocked hips of a beautiful English boy" (KC 19, emphasis mine).
                    > > > Interesting choice of adjectives. Kripal repeats this phrase
                    > later by
                    > > > declaring: "stunned by the cocked hips of the boy, Ramakrishna
                    > falls
                    > > > into samadhi" (KC 66). But what does the original Bengali say?
                    > Kripal
                    > > > gives two references (KA 2.49; KA 2.110) neither of which
                    > mentions the
                    > > > boy as being "beautiful" and, perhaps obviously, there is no
                    > mention
                    > > > of "cocked" hips either. The Kathamrita simply states that
                    > Ramakrishna
                    > > > went into samadhi upon seeing a boy who was-as Krishna is
                    > traditionally
                    > > > depicted in Hindu iconography-tribhanga-bent in three places
                    > (i.e.,
                    > > > bent at the knee, waist and elbow, with flute in hand). It is
                    > this sort
                    > > > of documentation that Kripal uses to build the case for
                    > Ramakrishna's
                    > > > purported homoerotic impulses.
                    > > >
                    > > > Then we have the issue of the sword. Even casual readers of the
                    > > > Ramakrishna literature are familiar with the story of how
                    > Ramakrishna,
                    > > > stricken with grief and frustration at not having experienced a
                    > vision
                    > > > of Kali, decided to end his life. Just as he was seizing the
                    > sword to
                    > > > slit his throat, Ramakrishna was overwhelmed by rolling waves of
                    > bliss
                    > > > and entered into samadhi. How does Kripal view this incident?
                    > Kripal
                    > > > presumes that Ramakrishna's spiritual crisis was something much
                    > more
                    > > > interesting: the suicide attempt was an attempt "to end his
                    > erotic
                    > > > torment (vyakulata) and the shame attached to it by symbolically
                    > > > castrating himself" (KC 76).
                    > > >
                    > > > How does he come to this conclusion? Although Kripal tells us
                    > that he
                    > > > doesn't follow Freudian methodology, this sounds pretty close to
                    > > > me: "Psychoanalytically trained students of Hindu culture have
                    > tended
                    > > > to see such symbolic self-castrations as productive of
                    > a 'negative
                    > > > Oedipus complex' in which the boy, instead of renouncing his
                    > desires
                    > > > for the mother and identifying with the father (the 'normal'
                    > outcome of
                    > > > Freud's Oedipus complex), ends up identifying with the mother by
                    > > > renouncing his masculine identity through a symbolic
                    > castration. . . .
                    > > > This in turn creates a marked homosexual tendency in the boy" (KC
                    > 344).
                    > > >
                    > > > This is how we've arrived, via circular logic, at Kripal's
                    > thesis:
                    > > > Ramakrishna, in wishing to slit his throat, must have really
                    > wanted to
                    > > > castrate himself since he was presumed to be suffering "erotic
                    > > > torment." But there's no evidence of "erotic torment" whatsoever.
                    > > > Kripal tries to build it into his thesis with prejudicial
                    > translations
                    > > > and false documentation, but there is no textual evidence for his
                    > > > thesis. The clincher for the head=phallus metaphor is Kripal's
                    > > > assertion that "the head in the mystical physiology of yoga and
                    > Tantra
                    > > > [is] the ultimate goal of one's semen and so an appropriate
                    > symbol for
                    > > > the phallus" (KC 76). Sorry, wrong. The ultimate goal is the
                    > retention
                    > > > of semen which strengthens the body-mind complex. The phallus and
                    > head
                    > > > are not interchangeable parts.
                    > > >
                    > > > What other evidence does Kripal marshal to promote his homoerotic
                    > > > thesis? There's the case of Mathur Babu, Rani Rasmani's son-in-
                    > law and
                    > > > the manager of the Kali temple. Curiously, Kripal revels in
                    > calling
                    > > > Mathur the "temple boss." What's the point? Mathur was the temple
                    > > > manager. It's interesting, however, to ponder the weight "boss"
                    > carries
                    > > > in contrast to "manager." "Boss" seems more dangerous, more
                    > > > authoritarian; there's a swagger in the word which Kripal
                    > attempts to
                    > > > build into his text.
                    > > >
                    > > > This is typical of Kripal's use of loaded language which he
                    > employs
                    > > > throughout Kali's Child. The notes section of this paper will
                    > provide
                    > > > many more examples of Kripal's repeated use of loaded words to
                    > create
                    > > > an effect. Why would Kripal chose a word with a pejorative and
                    > slightly
                    > > > ominous subtext? Because Kripal has already decided that Mathur
                    > > > sexually forced himself upon Ramakrishna.
                    > > >
                    > > > Mathur, as all the Ramakrishna literature openly states, was
                    > > > immediately attracted to Ramakrishna, because of his "good-looks,
                    > > > tender nature, piety, and youth." Then Kripal adds: "Saradananda
                    > tells
                    > > > us, seemingly completely unaware of the homosexual dimensions of
                    > his
                    > > > own description, a 'sudden loving attraction' arose in the mind
                    > and
                    > > > heart of the temple boss" (LP 2.5.1).6 The "homosexual
                    > dimensions"
                    > > > which somehow evade us in the Lilaprasanga I will quote here: "It
                    > is
                    > > > often seen that when a very close and lasting relationship is
                    > > > established with anyone in life, the loving attraction towards
                    > them is
                    > > > felt right away, at first sight" (LP 2.5.1). I fail to find the
                    > > > homosexual dimensions here. All of us have had the joy of meeting
                    > > > people with whom we immediately establish a warm rapport; even
                    > though
                    > > > we've just met them, we nevertheless feel very drawn to those
                    > people.
                    > > > In the Hindu worldview, this phenomenon is seen as completely
                    > natural.
                    > > > There is absolutely no sexual connotation in this phenomenon
                    > whatsoever.
                    > > >
                    > > > We've Got Some Serious Translation Issues Here
                    > > >
                    > > > Kripal's treatment of the word vyakulata, which he translates
                    > > > as "erotic torment," brings us to the subject of his prejudicial
                    > > > translations. Since we know that Kripal can only read and
                    > translate
                    > > > Bengali texts with the help of a dictionary, let's see how the
                    > > > dictionary translates vyakulata. The widely used 1968 edition of
                    > the
                    > > > Bengali Samsad gives us these possibilities: "eagerness,
                    > excitement;
                    > > > impatience, anxiety, worry, hustle, bustle, busyness, business,
                    > > > distraction, perplexity; scattered state; diffusion; inversion."
                    > Where
                    > > > in these possibilities do we find "erotic torment"? Let's take a
                    > look
                    > > > at the 1924 Mitra Bengali-English dictionary; perhaps Kripal
                    > might have
                    > > > found something in there. Vyakulata here is defined
                    > as: "perplexity,
                    > > > distraction, agitation, flurry, anxiety, eagerness." No erotic
                    > torment
                    > > > to be found here. Alas, the poor author has to install the erotic
                    > > > torment into the text himself, since it doesn't exist there
                    > > > independently.
                    > > >
                    > > > In attempting to build a case for Ramakrishna's homosexual
                    > attraction,
                    > > > Kripal states: "Ramakrishna's anxious desire was often directed
                    > to his
                    > > > young male disciples" (KC 65). The word used here is again
                    > vyakulata;
                    > > > and, as we have seen, there's nothing in the word to
                    > suggest "desire,"
                    > > > which, typically for Kripal, carries a sexual connotation.
                    > > >
                    > > > In any language, a word carries different shades of meaning
                    > depending
                    > > > on the context. Take the word "eagerness" or "anxiety," for
                    > example,
                    > > > and we'll have the same situation. A person can be eager or
                    > anxious to
                    > > > see a close friend; a person can be eager or anxious to see one's
                    > > > child; a person can be eager or anxious to have a stiff drink; a
                    > person
                    > > > can be eager or anxious to see one's beloved. The weight and
                    > meaning of
                    > > > the word depends on the context. To load the Bengali words
                    > heavily with
                    > > > sexual innuendo is to completely distort the meaning of the text.
                    > > >
                    > > > Kripal carries his argument further by declaring: "The same
                    > longing
                    > > > that was once directed to Kali and her sword is now directed to
                    > > > Narendra and his sweet singing voice" (KC 65). Vyakul is used
                    > here, but-
                    > > > as we have seen-the "longing" that one feels for God doesn't
                    > presume
                    > > > the same feeling that one has for another human being; the
                    > contexts are
                    > > > obviously different.
                    > > >
                    > > > Not to unduly belabor vyakul, but one last example. (See the
                    > notes for
                    > > > more references on this point.) To quote Kali's Child which is
                    > > > purportedly quoting from KA 3.126: "Again troubled by his desire
                    > for
                    > > > the boys, Ramakrishna asks M, 'Why do I feel so anxious for
                    > them?' M
                    > > > can give no answer before an upset Ramakrishna breaks in, 'Why
                    > don't
                    > > > you say something?'" (KC 65, emphasis mine).
                    > > >
                    > > > In comparing Kripal's translation against Nikhilananda's, I find
                    > > > Nikhilananda's translation to be perfectly accurate. Nikhilananda
                    > > > writes, and I would translate the text in exactly the same
                    > way: "The
                    > > > Master lay down on the small couch. He seemed worried about
                    > Tarak.
                    > > > Suddenly he said to M, 'Why do I worry so much about these young
                    > boys?'
                    > > > M kept still. He was thinking over a reply. The Master asked
                    > him, 'Why
                    > > > don't you speak?'"
                    > > >
                    > > > Nikhilananda's translation, "worry so much," is the perfect
                    > English
                    > > > equivalent for this context. If we look at Kripal's translation,
                    > we
                    > > > find sexual innuendo that isn't in the text and, interestingly
                    > enough,
                    > > > we also find words that are not in the text. The
                    > adjective "upset"
                    > > > describing Ramakrishna is not in the original. But by giving the
                    > KA
                    > > > 3.126 reference, Kripal indicates that this description is in the
                    > text.
                    > > > This is nothing short of deceptive documentation.
                    > > >
                    > > > Another word which Kripal warps in order to shore up his
                    > homoerotic
                    > > > platform is uddipana, which means "enkindling" or "lighting up."
                    > > > Discussing the "obvious … homoerotic element" in KA 2.24, Kripal
                    > > > writes: "When it comes time for the disciples to leave one
                    > evening,
                    > > > Ramakrishna turns to the youth Bhabanath and says: 'Please don't
                    > leave
                    > > > today. When I look at you, I get all excited (uddipana)!'" (KC
                    > 67).
                    > > > Let's go back to the dictionary: the Samsad defines uddipana
                    > as: "act
                    > > > of enkindling; incitation; act of inspiring or encouragement;
                    > > > animation; manifestation; augmentation, development."
                    > The "obvious"
                    > > > homoerotic element is not obvious unless one would choose to
                    > > > mistranslate the text.
                    > > >
                    > > > When I checked the Bengali text against Nikhilananda's Gospel, I
                    > found
                    > > > Nikhilananda's translation accurate with the exception of one
                    > word.
                    > > > Nikhilananda writes: "The devotees were ready to return home. One
                    > by
                    > > > one they saluted the Master. At the sight of Bhavanath Sri
                    > Ramakrishna
                    > > > said: 'Don't go away today. The very sight of you inspires me'"
                    > > > (Gospel, 194). In KA 2.24 the word "you" is plural (toder): it
                    > would
                    > > > therefore be more accurate to translate the last sentence
                    > as: "The very
                    > > > sight of you all inspires me."
                    > > >
                    > > > "If all this seems suggestive," Kripal intones, "consider
                    > Ramakrishna's
                    > > > comments on the excitement he feels when looking at pictures of
                    > holy
                    > > > men: 'When I look at pictures of holy men I become aroused
                    > > > [uddipana] . . . just as when a man looks at a young woman and is
                    > > > reminded [uddipana] of [sexual] pleasure" (KC 67). Again we are
                    > faced
                    > > > with loaded English words and skewed translations. Ramakrishna
                    > becomes
                    > > > aroused? There's nothing in uddipana to suggest "aroused," and as
                    > we
                    > > > all know, the word "aroused" carries with it heavy sexual baggage.
                    > > >
                    > > > Kripal obviously wants to emphasize "men" since he translates
                    > sadhuder
                    > > > chhabi as "pictures of holy men" rather than "pictures of sadhus"
                    > > > or "pictures of monks." Of more interest is the endnote given for
                    > this
                    > > > reference (KC 343, #61): "But Ramakrishna wants nothing to do
                    > with
                    > > > pictures of women," citing KA 4.263. If we check KA 4.263
                    > however, we
                    > > > find that Ramakrishna is neither expressing any distaste nor
                    > dislike
                    > > > for pictures of women; he is simply stating the strict rule for
                    > > > sannyasins: "A sannyasin must not even look at a picture of a
                    > woman."
                    > > > Kripal's endnote, as usual, is meant to mislead.
                    > > >
                    > > > But back to Kripal's sexual baggage in the body of the text: If
                    > we
                    > > > check KA 5.120 we find nothing to support Kripal's issue with
                    > photos of
                    > > > men. When a devotee describes the sadhus he had met, Ramakrishna
                    > > > says: "Look, one must keep the pictures of sadhus at home (dekho,
                    > > > sadhuder chhabi ghare rakhate hoy). One is then constantly
                    > reminded of
                    > > > God (ta hole sarvada isvarer uddipan hoy)." When the devotee says
                    > that
                    > > > he has kept such pictures in his room, Ramakrishna
                    > continues: "Yes,
                    > > > seeing the pictures of sadhus, one is reminded [of God]" (han,
                    > sadhuder
                    > > > chhabi dekhle uddipan hoy).
                    > > >
                    > > > Nowhere in the Kathamrita do we find Kripal's: "When I look"
                    > which he
                    > > > has conveniently placed in Ramakrishna's mouth and, even more
                    > > > conveniently, has placed those words within quotation marks. And
                    > > > nowhere is there any "aroused." The context of the quotation
                    > makes it
                    > > > completely clear that uddipana refers to God: isvarer uddipana.
                    > > >
                    > > > One last point: Kripal needlessly uses ellipses in this short
                    > reference
                    > > > to distort the text's meaning. Ramakrishna, when discussing the
                    > > > importance of being reminded of God through holy pictures, gives
                    > two
                    > > > examples. Kripal, however, cleverly provides only one:
                    > Ramakrishna's
                    > > > first example is being reminded of a real fruit when one sees an
                    > > > imitation one. His second example is being reminded of enjoyment
                    > (bhog)
                    > > > when seeing a young woman. Not surprisingly, the word bhog, which
                    > > > simply means either experience or enjoyment, becomes in Kripal's
                    > > > version: "[sexual] pleasure" and the first example of the fruit
                    > is
                    > > > omitted entirely.
                    > > >
                    > > > My final discussion of uddipana (please see the notes for more
                    > > > examples) centers around Kripal's translation of KA 3.93. Writes
                    > > > Kripal: "Almost anything he saw or heard could awaken powerful
                    > forces
                    > > > that often overwhelmed him. When one is in love, he
                    > explained, 'even
                    > > > the littlest thing can ecstatically remind one [of the beloved]'"
                    > (KC
                    > > > 66).
                    > > >
                    > > > I've compared Nikhilananda's text with the Kathamrita and found
                    > it
                    > > > quite accurate. I would translate the text in this way: "Once
                    > love for
                    > > > God arises in the heart, even the slightest thing kindles
                    > spiritual
                    > > > feeling in a person. Then, chanting the name of Rama even once
                    > can
                    > > > produce the fruit of ten million sandhyas."
                    > > >
                    > > > But note what is breathtakingly dishonest about Kripal's
                    > translation:
                    > > > He writes, "when one is in love." The Kathamrita passage which he
                    > > > gives, however, is absolutely unambiguous and clear: Ramakrishna
                    > is
                    > > > referring to "love for God" (isvarer upar bhalobasha). Thus the
                    > obvious
                    > > > meaning of uddipana in this context is the "kindling of spiritual
                    > > > feeling."
                    > > >
                    > > > Kripal, on the other hand, after suppressing the blatant
                    > reference to
                    > > > God, turns the text on its head. Suddenly Ramakrishna's words
                    > have been
                    > > > twisted into a poor imitation of Rumi: "ecstatically remind one
                    > [of the
                    > > > beloved]." There is absolutely no mention whatsoever of "the
                    > beloved"
                    > > > in the text. I searched in vain in the preceding page and
                    > subsequent
                    > > > page of KA 3.93 as well but nowhere could I find even a hint
                    > of "the
                    > > > beloved." Amusingly, Kripal begins this paragraph by
                    > > > noting: "Ramakrishna might be described as hyperassociative." I
                    > would
                    > > > suggest that it is Kripal who has the hyperassociative problem.
                    > > >
                    > > > Sometimes Kripal's desire to shove inconvenient facts into the
                    > > > homoerotic box creates unintentionally comic results. Take for
                    > example
                    > > > Kripal's dissection of Ramakrishna and Kedar in KA 4.7.: "In
                    > still
                    > > > another passage, he looks at boy Kedar and is reminded of
                    > Krishna's
                    > > > sexual exploits with the milkmaids" (KC 66).
                    > > >
                    > > > It's interesting that Kripal describes Kedar as a "boy."
                    > Considering
                    > > > that in 1882 Kedar was fifty years old and working as a
                    > government
                    > > > accountant, I think "boy" is an exaggeration. In fact, Kedar was
                    > older
                    > > > than Ramakrishna himself. But since Kripal is bound and
                    > determined to
                    > > > have Ramakrishna be with boys, Kripal will transform even a fifty-
                    > > > something into a boy. In nineteenth-century India, a man of fifty
                    > was
                    > > > considered elderly.
                    > > >
                    > > > More importantly, KA 4.7 simply says that upon seeing Kedar (who
                    > was a
                    > > > devotee of Krishna), Ramakrishna was reminded of the Vrindavan-
                    > lila. I
                    > > > suppose one shouldn't be surprised to find that Kripal
                    > translates "the
                    > > > play in Vrindavan" (vrindavan-lila) as "Krishna's sexual exploits
                    > with
                    > > > the milkmaids." Though for someone who, when it suits him, can be
                    > > > persnickety about literal accuracy, why would he provide such an
                    > > > interpretative "translation"? Obviously because he wanted to
                    > emphasize
                    > > > his own subtext.
                    > > >
                    > > > Since Kripal wants to associate Ramakrishna with boys, no matter
                    > what,
                    > > > we shouldn't be surprised that he first suspects, then assumes,
                    > then
                    > > > presents as a fact that Ramakrishna was sexually abused as a
                    > child.
                    > > > That there is absolutely no evidence for this makes no difference
                    > to
                    > > > Dr. Kripal; we have the effect-Ramakrishna's "homoerotic
                    > impulses"-so
                    > > > now the cause must be found. Aha! Certainly he must have been
                    > sexually
                    > > > abused as a child.
                    > > >
                    > > > The spiritual ecstasies that Ramakrishna experienced as a child
                    > are
                    > > > thus reinterpreted as "troubling trances" (KC 57). The only
                    > > > one "troubled" by them, however, is Kripal who feels compelled to
                    > find
                    > > > sexual abuse somewhere in there. He first tries to hang the blame
                    > on
                    > > > the itinerant monks visiting the village; the young Ramakrishna
                    > enjoyed
                    > > > visiting them and we can only suspect what that means. Referring
                    > to LP
                    > > > 1.7.5, Kripal somehow intuits that Ramakrishna's mother, "… began
                    > to
                    > > > worry about such visits, especially when the boy returned home
                    > with his
                    > > > clothes torn into a simple loin-cloth and his nearly naked body
                    > covered
                    > > > with ashes, but Gadadhar assured her that nothing was wrong" (KC
                    > 57).
                    > > >
                    > > > This reference not only shows us Kripal's ability to mistranslate
                    > but
                    > > > also his remarkable ignorance of Indian customs. Please note that
                    > it
                    > > > was not the boy's "clothes" but rather his "cloth" that was torn
                    > into a
                    > > > loincloth. The distinction is important. Perhaps the author
                    > doesn't
                    > > > know what a loincloth is and how much material it requires-or he
                    > is
                    > > > just embellishing his account of the event. It is not the
                    > slightest bit
                    > > > unusual to cut a portion of the wearing cloth (dhoti) and make it
                    > into
                    > > > a loincloth (kaupin)-many monks do so, and I have done it myself.
                    > The
                    > > > dhoti is still worn as a regular dhoti.
                    > > >
                    > > > Kripal's phrase "his near naked body" is his own invention.
                    > Nowhere in
                    > > > the LP is there even a mention of the boy's nakedness. In which
                    > case we
                    > > > can assume that Ramakrishna wore the kaupin as well as the
                    > wearing
                    > > > cloth. LP 1.7.5 says that the boy would "tell his mother
                    > everything"
                    > > > (tahake samasta katha nivedan korilo). When he returned from his
                    > visit
                    > > > to the monks, the boy would tell his mother, "Look mother, how
                    > the
                    > > > monks have adorned me" (ma, sadhura amake kemon sajaiya
                    > diyachhen,
                    > > > dekho). It was then obviously that he showed her the kaupin. In
                    > > > Kripal's skewed account, the reader is led to believe that the
                    > boy
                    > > > returned home with "his nearly naked body" covered with ashes.
                    > > >
                    > > > Further, in LP 1.7.5 the events are kept quite distinct. The
                    > boy's
                    > > > being smeared with sacred ash (vibhuti-bhushitanga hoiya)
                    > happened on
                    > > > some days (kono din), and on some days (kono din) he returned
                    > home with
                    > > > a sacred emblem on his forehead (tilak dharan koriya), and on
                    > some
                    > > > other days (abar kono din) he returned home using a part of his
                    > wearing
                    > > > cloth as a loincloth.
                    > > > Kripal goes out of his way to throw these distinct elements
                    > together
                    > > > while adding to it his own version: a tearing of "clothes" and
                    > > > a "nearly naked body." Yet again, we have loaded language which
                    > does
                    > > > not exist in the original.
                    > > >
                    > > > Kripal goes out of his way to throw these distinct elements
                    > together
                    > > > while adding to it his own version: a tearing of "clothes" and
                    > > > a "nearly naked body." Yet again, we have loaded language which
                    > does
                    > > > not exist in the original.
                    > > >
                    > > > What is especially interesting is that Kripal chooses not to
                    > mention
                    > > > the nature of Ramakrishna's mother's fear. In the same paragraph
                    > which
                    > > > Kripal quotes, it is made quite clear by Saradananda that
                    > Ramakrishna's
                    > > > mother was "afraid that one day the mendicants might tempt her
                    > son to
                    > > > go away with them" (sadhura tahar putrake kono din bhulaiya sange
                    > loiya
                    > > > jaibe na to). She mentioned this fear to her son who tried to
                    > pacify
                    > > > her. When the monks eventually came to know of this, they came to
                    > her
                    > > > house and "assured her that the thought of taking away Gadadhar
                    > with
                    > > > them had never even crossed their minds; for, to take away a boy
                    > of
                    > > > that tender age, without the permission of his parents, they
                    > said,
                    > > > would be stealing, an offence unworthy of any religious person.
                    > At
                    > > > this, every shadow of apprehension left Chandradevi, and she
                    > readily
                    > > > agreed to let the boy visit them as before."
                    > > >
                    > > > All of this information Kripal refuses to acknowledge, leaving
                    > the
                    > > > readers with Chandramani's ambiguous "fear." Finally, by the time
                    > we've
                    > > > reached page 303 of Kali's Child, we're told in a hand-wringing,
                    > > > pitying tone about the "holy men stripping a trusting little boy"!
                    > > >
                    > > > Not only were sadhus unable to keep their hands off the "trusting
                    > > > little boy," the village women were equally voracious according
                    > to
                    > > > Kripal. For a somewhat lengthy discussion of this issue, please
                    > see the
                    > > > notes which follow this essay. Briefly I'll note one point here:
                    > While
                    > > > Kripal wonders why Ramakrishna "was letting [the village women]
                    > worship
                    > > > him as a male lover," there is nothing in either the Life of
                    > > > Ramakrishna (which he references as his source) or the Kathamrita
                    > or
                    > > > the Lilaprasanga to indicate anything remotely resembling this.
                    > The
                    > > > texts all state that the village women looked upon Ramakrishna as
                    > > > Gopala, the child Krishna. Interestingly, Kripal quotes the Life
                    > of
                    > > > Ramakrishna as saying, "…the boy actively sought the company of
                    > the
                    > > > pious women of the village because they reminded him of the
                    > milkmaids
                    > > > of Vrindavan, who had realized Krishna as their husband and had
                    > > > experienced the bliss and pleasure of his love" (KC 58, emphasis
                    > mine).
                    > > > When we actually check the Life we find: "The pious young women
                    > of the
                    > > > village, who were mostly devotees of Vishnu, reminded him of the
                    > Gopis
                    > > > of Vrindavan, and, therefore, he sought their company. He knew
                    > that the
                    > > > Gopis were able to realize Krishna as their husband and feel the
                    > bliss
                    > > > of his eternal reunion because they were women."7 Note the
                    > difference
                    > > > between the "bliss and pleasure of his love"-laden with sexual
                    > innuendo-
                    > > > and what is actually in the text. Yet since it is footnoted as a
                    > > > reference to the Life, the reader naturally expects the words, or
                    > at
                    > > > least an honest summary of the referenced passage, to be there.
                    > And it
                    > > > is not.
                    > > >
                    > > > While Kripal tells us that his approach to Ramakrishna is not
                    > > > reductive, his own words betray him. He writes "…we must admit
                    > that
                    > > > there are no clear indications of early sexual abuse in the
                    > > > biographies. But then why should there be? . . . Is it just a
                    > > > coincidence that repeated traumatic events … [that] in the words
                    > of one
                    > > > psychiatrist, 'simultaneously conceal and reveal their origins …
                    > [and]
                    > > > speak in [the] disguised language of secrets too terrible for
                    > words?'
                    > > > It is indeed remarkable that the … literature on sexual trauma
                    > suggests
                    > > > that individuals who have experienced abuse often become adept at
                    > > > altering their state of consciousness … lose control of their
                    > bodily,
                    > > > and especially gastrointestinal, functions, experience visions
                    > and
                    > > > states of possession, become hypersensitive to idiosyncratic
                    > stimuli
                    > > > (like latrines), symbolically reenact the traumatic events, live
                    > in a
                    > > > state of hyperarousal … become hypersexual in their language or
                    > > > behavior, develop hostile feelings toward mother figures, fear
                    > adult
                    > > > sexuality, and often attempt suicide. This list reads like a
                    > summary of
                    > > > Ramakrishna's religious life" (KC 298-99).
                    > > >
                    > > > Is this what Kripal takes to be a "religious life"? Only if one
                    > equates
                    > > > religious experience with pathology. If religious experience can
                    > be
                    > > > flattened into a pathological reaction to trauma, then we've lost
                    > any
                    > > > real meaning behind "religious" and "religion." If this isn't
                    > > > reductive, I don't know what is. But even that's not the entire
                    > issue,
                    > > > significant though it is.
                    > > >
                    > > > None of the symptoms enumerated in the "literature on sexual
                    > trauma" is
                    > > > present in Ramakrishna's life. But since Kripal has approached
                    > his
                    > > > subject with a predetermined verdict, he resorts to specious
                    > reasoning
                    > > > in order to come up with the judgment he has in mind. Ramakrishna
                    > > > has "pronounced homosexual tendencies," ergo he must have
                    > suffered
                    > > > childhood sexual trauma, ergo he must reenact the traumatic
                    > events.
                    > > > This exercise in weak-link logic is reminiscent of the kangaroo
                    > courts
                    > > > where the prisoner is convicted first and then the "evidence" is
                    > > > manufactured at a more convenient time.
                    > > >
                    > > > Even as an adult, Kripal informs us, Ramakrishna had to deal with
                    > > > sexual predators: his Tantric guru, the Bhairavi Brahmani; his
                    > Vedanta
                    > > > guru, Tota Puri; and of course the "temple boss," Mathur Babu.
                    > These
                    > > > issues are dealt with at length in the notes, but it's of
                    > interest to
                    > > > see how Kripal presents Tota Puri to the reader. As we have seen,
                    > > > Kripal has deduced that Ramakrishna was "homosexually oriented"
                    > and so
                    > > > every aspect of his life must be interpreted through that lens.
                    > > > Take the case of Ramakrishna's Vedanta guru, Tota Puri, who was a
                    > > > member of the Naga sect of sannyasins. A highly austere and
                    > > > uncompromising monastic order, the Nagas normally live with
                    > only "space
                    > > > as clothing" (digambara), refusing to submit to any comfort the
                    > body or
                    > > > mind might enjoy. What does Kripal tell us about the encounter
                    > between
                    > > > Tota Puri and Ramakrishna? "One can only imagine," Kripal
                    > > > whispers, "what it must have been like for Ramakrishna, a
                    > homosexually
                    > > > oriented man, to be shut away for days in a small hut with
                    > another,
                    > > > stark-naked man. Vedanta instruction or no, it was this man's
                    > nudity,
                    > > > and more specifically, his penis, that naturally caught
                    > Ramakrishna's
                    > > > attention. How could it not?" (KC 160)
                    > > >
                    > > > Frankly I find this kind of circular reasoning staggeringly
                    > > > preposterous. Because one must take for granted that Ramakrishna
                    > is
                    > > > homosexually oriented, then it stands to reason that the only
                    > thing
                    > > > that would interest Ramakrishna about his Vedanta guru is his
                    > penis.
                    > > > For more discussion of Ramakrishna's sexual predators, please see
                    > the
                    > > > notes which follow.
                    > > >
                    > > > Were all this not enough, Kripal has taken his child-abuse thesis
                    > and
                    > > > stretched it to the utmost: Ramakrishna, in his view, helplessly
                    > > > engages in the same abusive acts with any unsuspecting male that
                    > comes
                    > > > near him. In what Kripal diagnoses as a "reenactment pattern," we
                    > see
                    > > > Ramakrishna, poor man, "uncontrollably rubbing sandal-paste on
                    > the
                    > > > penises of boys" (KC 301). I must admit that when I read Kripal's
                    > > > interpretation of "touching softly" (aste aste sparsha korchhen)
                    > as
                    > > > attempted sodomy (KC 301-2), I could only laugh. But then, since
                    > Dr.
                    > > > Kripal is able to equate "religious life" with "ritual
                    > reenactment of
                    > > > trauma" and becoming "hypersexual in … language or behavior," I
                    > should
                    > > > have anticipated the gloss. A discussion of this entire issue is
                    > dealt
                    > > > with extensively in the notes which follow.
                    > > >
                    > > > Suffice it to say here that, yet again, Kripal has willfully
                    > distorted
                    > > > the texts and willfully mistranslated the Bengali in order to
                    > present a
                    > > > vision of Ramakrishna which will conform to his thesis. By now we
                    > > > shouldn't be surprised that Kripal has omitted texts and omitted
                    > > > portions of the texts he quotes in order to suppress information
                    > which
                    > > > would run contrary to his thesis. Yet while I may not be
                    > surprised,
                    > > > it's nevertheless difficult not to be disappointed. I'm also
                    > saddened
                    > > > when I think of the unsuspecting reader who has either no
                    > knowledge of
                    > > > Bengali or no time to compare Kripal's so-called "translations"
                    > with
                    > > > the Bengali originals.
                    > > >
                    > > > Sometimes a Lap is Just a Lap
                    > > >
                    > > > In both the first and second edition of Kali's Child, Kripal
                    > makes much
                    > > > of Ramakrishna's foot and the devotee's lap. The second edition
                    > of
                    > > > Kali's Child informs us: "It is clear that Ramakrishna saw 'the
                    > lap' as
                    > > > a normally defiled sexual space" (KC 2).
                    > > >
                    > > > Why does the author consider the lap (kol) to be "normally
                    > defiled"? In
                    > > > Indian culture-and Bengali culture in particular-the lap has an
                    > > > extremely positive and warm maternal association. For example,
                    > the
                    > > > national anthem of Bangladesh, written by Tagore, contains the
                    > > > following line: Takhon khela dhula sakal phele, O Ma, tomar kole
                    > chhute
                    > > > ashi: "After the day's play is over, O Mother, I run back to your
                    > lap."
                    > > > In describing a mother holding a child, a person would normally
                    > say,
                    > > > mayer kole shishu jishu. The defilement, sad to say, exists only
                    > in Dr.
                    > > > Kripal's mind.
                    > > >
                    > > > While the first edition of Kali's Child clearly states that "lap"
                    > > > indicates "on the genitals," the second edition merely
                    > internalizes the
                    > > > allusion by stating that a lap is "a normally defiled sexual
                    > space."
                    > > > The problem is, kol carries no sexual connotation. There is no
                    > basis
                    > > > either within the text -nothing in KA 4. 278 indicates that the
                    > lap is
                    > > > anything other than a lap-nor is there any tradition or reference
                    > > > within the culture to validate this idea. To suggest that the lap
                    > is
                    > > > a "defiled space" is to place a Western construct on a culture
                    > which
                    > > > associates laps with maternal affection, safety and trust.
                    > Sometimes a
                    > > > lap is just a lap.
                    > > >
                    > > > As for the foot itself, it's illuminating to read Kripal's
                    > sources. One
                    > > > of his citations is KA 4.245: "The Master placed his foot on the
                    > > > pundit's lap and chest, and smiled (panditer kole o bakkhe ekti
                    > charan
                    > > > rakhiya thakur hasitechhen). The pundit clung to his feet and
                    > said
                    > > > (pandit charan dharan koriya bolitechhen) …." Here we are
                    > provided the
                    > > > stunning illustration of a foot so awesome that it can encompass
                    > not
                    > > > only a person's lap and chest but can also be clung to like a
                    > pole. And
                    > > > somehow the unconscious person doesn't lose his balance! As
                    > should be
                    > > > obvious, some Bengali expressions are hyperbolic and are not
                    > meant to
                    > > > be taken literally. However, these less-than-subtle nuances-of
                    > which
                    > > > there are legion in Kali's Child-seem to be lost on the author.
                    > > >
                    > > > Kripal again returns to the foot/lap issue later in the book (KC
                    > 238),
                    > > > by making it appear that Ramakrishna's "habit of touching people
                    > with
                    > > > his foot" was a routine occurrence. It wasn't. Interestingly,
                    > after
                    > > > placing his foot on Dr. Sarkar's lap, Kripal quotes Ramakrishna
                    > as
                    > > > saying: "You're very pure! Otherwise I wouldn't be able to place
                    > my
                    > > > foot there!" (KA 4.278). Kripal continues, "We see a whole range
                    > of
                    > > > opinions focused on Ramakrishna's foot 'there.'"
                    > > >
                    > > > First, one doesn't find any range of opinions. Second, and much
                    > more
                    > > > interestingly, when we check KA 4.278, we find that-with a nod to
                    > > > Gertrude Stein-there's no "there" there. What does the Kathamrita
                    > > > actually say? Ramakrishna tells Dr. Sarkar: "You are very pure
                    > (tumi
                    > > > khoob shuddha), or else I couldn't have touched with my foot (ta
                    > na
                    > > > hole pa rakhate pari na)." There is no "there" in the text; it is
                    > the
                    > > > author who has added the word and placed it in quotation marks
                    > even
                    > > > though it's not taken from the text.
                    > > >
                    > > > Apart from adding his own material and implying it to be
                    > Ramakrishna's
                    > > > (and this occurs time and time again in Kali's Child-please see
                    > the
                    > > > notes for more instances), the author also provides the
                    > insinuation of
                    > > > where the "there" is located in order to give weight to his
                    > argument
                    > > > that Ramakrishna was homoerotically motivated. Kripal adds
                    > > > that "Ramakrishna never denied that he stuck his foot in strange
                    > > > places." In? If we're returning to the first-edition "genitals"
                    > > > argument, let's remember that it would take some serious
                    > excavation
                    > > > work to locate the genitals of someone sitting cross-legged on
                    > the
                    > > > floor through the many layers of cloth that Bengalis typically
                    > wear.
                    > > > Especially since the foot is attached to someone who is
                    > unconscious of
                    > > > his external surroundings.
                    > > >
                    > > > Why did Dr. Sarkar object to Ramakrishna's placing his foot on
                    > the
                    > > > devotees' bodies? For the simple reason that in India touching
                    > others
                    > > > with the foot is considered disrespectful. Dr. Sarkar was
                    > Westernized
                    > > > and proud of his rationalist views. He found this sort of
                    > behavior
                    > > > irrational and unscientific. Nevertheless, he was a tremendous
                    > admirer
                    > > > of Ramakrishna; by his own admission he let his own medical
                    > practice
                    > > > suffer in order to spend more time in Ramakrishna's company. When
                    > > > Girish explained to Dr. Sarkar that Ramakrishna put his foot on
                    > others'
                    > > > bodies for their spiritual benefit, Dr. Sarkar quickly withdrew
                    > his
                    > > > objection and said, "I confess my defeat at your hands. Give me
                    > the
                    > > > dust of your feet" (KA 1: 254). And with that, Dr. Sarkar took
                    > the dust
                    > > > of Girish's feet. Was this done sarcastically? There's nothing in
                    > any
                    > > > text to suggest so. Dr. Sarkar remained an ardent admirer of
                    > > > Ramakrishna until the latter's death.
                    > > >
                    > > > The Kathamrita Is Structured to Conceal a Secret?
                    > > >
                    > > > According to Kripal the five-volume structure of M's Kathamrita
                    > was
                    > > > designed to "conceal a secret." Since its five-volume,
                    > nonchronological
                    > > > structure is unusual, I suppose we shouldn't be surprised that
                    > Kripal
                    > > > attempts to create a Kathamrita-gate from it. There are many
                    > other
                    > > > possibilities, however, which the author hasn't considered.
                    > Further, as
                    > > > we can see regarding Kripal's conjecture about the book's
                    > structure,
                    > > > his guess is first hazarded and then is presented as a fact
                    > several
                    > > > pages later.
                    > > >
                    > > > The Kathamrita was originally written in five volumes, which were
                    > > > published over a period of thirty years. Kripal believes that
                    > these
                    > > > volumes were "arranged cyclically" in order to conceal "a
                    > secret."
                    > > > This, he says, is a "basic thesis" of his study (KC 3). Kripal
                    > declares
                    > > > that M "held back" the secret in the first volume, "hinted at" it
                    > in
                    > > > the second, "toyed with" it in the third, "revealed it" in the
                    > fourth
                    > > > and, according to Kripal, M found that he had hardly any material
                    > left
                    > > > for the fifth (KC 4). Perhaps M was a clumsy planner.
                    > > >
                    > > > If we examine the facts, however, we'll come to an entirely
                    > different
                    > > > conclusion. First, there is no evidence whatsoever that M had any
                    > > > predetermined plan to divide his work into five volumes. In Sunil
                    > > > Bihari Ghosh's extraordinary research article on the Kathamrita,
                    > we
                    > > > learn that portions from M's diaries were published in various
                    > Bengali
                    > > > journals long before the Kathamrita appeared in book form. These
                    > > > portions were published in the following journals: Anusandhan,
                    > Arati,
                    > > > Alochana, Utsah, Udbodhan, Rishi, Janmabhumi, Tattwamanjari,
                    > > > Navyabharat, Punya, Pradip, Pravasi, Prayas, Bamabodhini,
                    > Sahitya,
                    > > > Sahitya-samhita, and Hindu Patrika. Quite a formidable list,
                    > although
                    > > > it is not exhaustive. It was from these published extracts that
                    > the
                    > > > first volume of the Kathamrita was compiled, printed and
                    > published by
                    > > > Swami Trigunatitananda at the Udbodhan Press in the Bengali month
                    > of
                    > > > Falgun 1308 [corresponding to the year 1902].8 There is no
                    > textual
                    > > > evidence anywhere to indicate that M began transcribing his
                    > diaries
                    > > > with the express intention of publishing a "book."
                    > > >
                    > > > What Kripal chooses not to mention in the main body of Kali's
                    > Child is
                    > > > that at the time he wrote this, the Ramakrishna Order had already
                    > > > published a two-volume edition of the Kathamrita, arranged
                    > > > chronologically. If the nonchronological device was meant
                    > to "conceal"
                    > > > the secret, the chronological edition should have "revealed" it!
                    > > > Apparently, the Ramakrishna Order did not feel any need to hide
                    > > > the "secret."
                    > > >
                    > > > The Ramakrishna Order could not publish the Kathamrita earlier
                    > because
                    > > > the copyright rested with M's descendants. The Ramakrishna Order
                    > had no
                    > > > control over how the volumes were structured. When the copyright
                    > > > expired fifty years after M's death, the Order published the
                    > Kathamrita
                    > > > chronologically, making ludicrous the accusation, which Kripal
                    > was to
                    > > > make several years later, of "hiding" disquieting information
                    > from the
                    > > > public.
                    > > >
                    > > > As is quite obvious, nothing was ever "hidden" from those who
                    > could
                    > > > read Bengali. At least four generations of Bengalis have read the
                    > > > Kathamrita and their perception of Ramakrishna is in most
                    > respects
                    > > > diametrically opposite to the picture presented in Kali's Child.
                    > But
                    > > > what about the "translations" of the Kathamrita in other
                    > languages? In
                    > > > Kali's Child much of the talk about "secrets" centers around
                    > Swami
                    > > > Nikhilananda's English translation of the book under the title
                    > The
                    > > > Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. According to Kripal,
                    > > > Nikhilananda "systematically concealed" the secrets
                    > by "ingeniously
                    > > > mistranslating" them. "Those passages," Kripal continues, "for
                    > which he
                    > > > could not find a suitably safe enough 'translation,' he simply
                    > omitted"
                    > > > (KC 4).
                    > > >
                    > > > Reading this serious allegation, my curiosity was fueled and I
                    > compared
                    > > > the Kathamrita with the Gospel page by page. In my estimate,
                    > about 25
                    > > > pages of the Kathamrita (which may roughly translate into about
                    > 18
                    > > > pages of the Gospel) have been omitted. This may seem to be
                    > > > considerable, but here is the breakdown: almost half of the
                    > omitted
                    > > > material (12 pages, to be exact) consists of a brief biography of
                    > > > Ramakrishna (in the Gospel this is replaced by a longer
                    > biography) and
                    > > > a very detailed description of the Kali Temple at Dakshineswar.
                    > The
                    > > > remaining half of the omitted material is mostly either
                    > > > M's "reflections" (under the title sevak hridaye, literally "In
                    > the
                    > > > Heart of the Servant") or his poetic portrayal of the Ganges and
                    > the
                    > > > ambiance of Dakshineswar. Here is a typical sample from
                    > the "omitted"
                    > > > material:
                    > > >
                    > > > Come brother, let us go to see him again. We'll see that great
                    > soul,
                    > > > that child who knows nothing other than Mother, and who has taken
                    > birth
                    > > > for our benefit. He will teach us how to solve this difficult
                    > riddle of
                    > > > life. He will teach the monk and he will teach the householder.
                    > The
                    > > > door is always open. He is waiting for us at the Kali Temple in
                    > > > Dakshineswar. Come, come, let us see him (KA 1.165).
                    > > > The "brother" in the above passage, by the way, refers to M's own
                    > mind.
                    > > > The Kathamrita text emerged as a result of long meditations that
                    > M did
                    > > > on his diary notes. That is how we find a few passages in the
                    > > > Kathamrita containing M's "reflections" on Ramakrishna's life and
                    > > > teachings.
                    > > >
                    > > > What is most important to note is that Nikhilananda was honest
                    > when he
                    > > > said that he omitted "only a few pages of no particular interest
                    > to the
                    > > > English speaking readers" (Gospel, vii). He did not deny the
                    > omissions
                    > > > and it seems to me unfair to question his integrity-as Kripal
                    > does-
                    > > > simply because Kripal finds something of "particular interest"
                    > which
                    > > > Nikhilananda didn't. A few phrases, examples and incidents were
                    > indeed
                    > > > omitted; it was done not to "hide" secrets but only to respect
                    > the
                    > > > Western sense of decorum, at least as it existed in the 1940s,
                    > when the
                    > > > Gospel was translated.
                    > > >
                    > > > Translating texts across cultural boundaries is not easy: if you
                    > > > translate the "word," you risk being misunderstood; if you
                    > translate
                    > > > the "idea," you are charged-as Kripal does-with "bowdlerizing"
                    > the
                    > > > text. His allegation that Nikhilananda omitted portions
                    > > > containing "some of the most revealing and significant passages
                    > of the
                    > > > entire text" (KC 4) is not only textually unjustified but
                    > completely
                    > > > untrue.
                    > > >
                    > > > Part of Kripal's Kathamrita-gate thesis is his idea that the
                    > > > Ramakrishna Order and M's descendants are still zealously
                    > guarding M's
                    > > > original diaries from the probing eyes of researchers. Says
                    > Kripal: "…
                    > > > no researcher has ever seen, and may never see, the original
                    > > > manuscripts of M's diaries. They do exist. Thanks to the
                    > foresight of
                    > > > Swami Prabhananda and the Ramakrishna Order, they have been
                    > carefully
                    > > > photographed. Unfortunately, however, they are kept under lock
                    > and key.
                    > > > Like the contents of Ramakrishna's thief's chamber, they contain
                    > a
                    > > > secret that is kept hidden from the public's eye" (KC 311).
                    > > >
                    > > > Like all conspiracy theorists, Kripal sees intrigue lurking in
                    > every
                    > > > corner. The truth is much more mundane. Neither the diaries nor
                    > their
                    > > > copies are in the Ramakrishna Order's archives. The original
                    > diaries
                    > > > are with M's descendants, and scholars-including a monk of the
                    > > > Ramakrishna Order whom I know-have seen those diaries, even
                    > > > photographed them, without undue difficulty.
                    > > >
                    > > > Kripal's desire to see "secrets" at every turn has not only
                    > distorted
                    > > > his interpretation of the Kathamrita and its Gospel incarnation,
                    > it has
                    > > > also warped his perception of Tantra. Thus we find another
                    > serious
                    > > > problem when we deal with Kripal's understanding (or
                    > misunderstanding)
                    > > > of the term.
                    > > >
                    > > > "Tantra Was Ramakrishna's Secret"
                    > > >
                    > > > Since this statement initially appears incomprehensible, we'll
                    > have to
                    > > > decipher what Kripal means. "Tantra for Ramakrishna," the author
                    > > > intuits, "was not some simple thing that one practiced in private
                    > and
                    > > > then intentionally denied in public; rather, it was a grave and
                    > ominous
                    > > > tradition of teachings and techniques that haunted him, that
                    > horrified
                    > > > him, and yet that somehow formed who he was" (KC 5).
                    > > >
                    > > > What is "Tantra" to Jeffrey Kripal is the real problem here.
                    > Defining
                    > > > his "basic thesis" of Kali's Child, the author
                    > writes: "Ramakrishna's
                    > > > mystical experiences were constituted by mystico-erotic energies
                    > that
                    > > > he neither fully accepted nor understood." According to Kripal,
                    > the
                    > > > Hindu Tantra proclaims "the link between the mystical and the
                    > sexual."
                    > > > He understands the Tantras to be a tradition in which "human
                    > eroticism
                    > > > and religious experience are intimately related, even identical
                    > on some
                    > > > deep energetic level." Kripal asserts the "basic relationship
                    > between
                    > > > the mystical and the sexual" and proposes that "Ramakrishna was a
                    > > > Tantrika" (KC 4-5).
                    > > >
                    > > > What is Kripal's understanding of the word "Tantrika"? He says
                    > that it
                    > > > is a term associated with "magical power, strangeness, seediness,
                    > and
                    > > > sex." He dismisses the "philosophical expositions" of Tantra as
                    > > > inauthentic because they are "designed to rid Tantra of
                    > everything that
                    > > > smacked of superstition, magic, or scandal" (KC 28-29). But since
                    > > > Kripal's thesis would have no support were these to be
                    > eliminated, he
                    > > > instead tries to show that these are central to the Tantric
                    > tradition.
                    > > > But is this really the case? Since the weight of scholarly
                    > opinion on
                    > > > Tantra would deflect Kripal from his predetermined course, he
                    > informs
                    > > > us that he is "naturally more interested in what Tantra feels
                    > like in
                    > > > Bengali than in what it thinks like in Sanskrit" (KC 29).
                    > > >
                    > > > Unfortunately, Kripal is not in a position to judge what Tantra
                    > feels
                    > > > like in Bengali. Sadly, he has spent a mere eight months in the
                    > city of
                    > > > Calcutta; he understands neither the language nor the culture. He
                    > also
                    > > > has a very serious lack of knowledge concerning Hinduism in
                    > general. As
                    > > > for what "it thinks like in Sanskrit," it's good that Kripal
                    > beats a
                    > > > retreat. It's painfully clear that he also has little knowledge
                    > of
                    > > > Sanskrit. The entire package does not position him well for a
                    > sound
                    > > > understanding of Ramakrishna.
                    > > >
                    > > > Were the above not enough, Kripal's apparent ignorance of the
                    > systems
                    > > > of Indian philosophy truly makes it hard not to smile. His
                    > identifying
                    > > > of three "textual traditions (the Puranas, the Tantras, and the
                    > Vedas)"
                    > > > with three "types of practitioners (the Vaishnavas, the Shaktas,
                    > and
                    > > > the Vedantins)" (KC 94) betrays a serious lack of understanding
                    > of some
                    > > > of Hinduism's most basic underpinnings. Kripal may be at his most
                    > > > laughable when he tells us that Ramakrishna's practice of Vedanta
                    > > > consisted of only taking the monastic vows and eating rice in the
                    > > > portico of the Dakshineswar temple.
                    > > >
                    > > > So we are not surprised when Kripal seeks to "define" Tantra by
                    > quoting
                    > > > Ramakrishna (KC 30-33). In itself this is a good idea, but the
                    > problem
                    > > > is that, as elsewhere in the book, Kripal lifts sentences out of
                    > > > context and puts his own spin on them. The result is that we have
                    > a
                    > > > version of a so-called Tantra that Kripal is eager to paint as a
                    > > > tradition known for "its stubbornly 'impure' ways" (KC 29). No
                    > wonder,
                    > > > therefore, that Kripal identifies Tantra exclusively with
                    > > > Vamachara, "the left-handed path" (see #16 in the notes which
                    > follow).
                    > > > In the major Tantras such as Kularnava, Mahanirvana and
                    > Kamalakala
                    > > > Vilasa, Vamachara finds no place at all. But in Kripal's vision,
                    > > > Tantra=Vamachara.
                    > > >
                    > > > It is clear that at least a part of Kripal's confusion is
                    > regarding the
                    > > > relation between the Shakta tradition and the Tantra tradition.
                    > As Teun
                    > > > Goudriaan says-and Douglas Renfrew Brooks reiterates-"not all
                    > Shaktas
                    > > > are Tantrics and … Tantrism, unlike Shaktism, is not restricted
                    > to any
                    > > > one Hindu denomination, or even to any single Indian religious
                    > > > tradition."9
                    > > >
                    > > > Thus a worshipper of the Goddess is a Shakta but that doesn't
                    > > > automatically make him or her a Tantric. Ramakrishna was born in
                    > a
                    > > > Vaishnava family and, because he worshipped Kali, he could be
                    > called a
                    > > > Shakta. It must be remembered also that both these traditions-
                    > along
                    > > > with others, such as the Shaiva-are parts of Vedanta. As N.N.
                    > > > Bhattacharya points out in his History of the Tantric
                    > Religion: "… The
                    > > > traditional Indian approach finds no difficulty in equating the
                    > > > essentials of Tantrism with the Vedantic interpretation of the
                    > contents
                    > > > of the major Shaiva-Shakta schools."10
                    > > >
                    > > > Much can be said about Kripal's attempt to pigeonhole
                    > Ramakrishna's
                    > > > life into what he calls the "Tantric world." But it is enough for
                    > the
                    > > > time being to point out Narasingha Sil's observation: "In order
                    > to fit
                    > > > the square peg of a Tantrika Ramakrishna into the round hole of a
                    > > > homosexual Paramahamsa, Kripal manufactures evidence by
                    > distorting the
                    > > > meaning of sources."11 This will become obvious by studying the
                    > notes
                    > > > to this paper.
                    > > >
                    > > > Does this mean that Tantra played no part in Ramakrishna's life?
                    > Of
                    > > > course it played a part. Ramakrishna did practice Tantra under
                    > the
                    > > > guidance of a qualified teacher, just as he practiced the
                    > disciplines
                    > > > of other traditions. Through every form of discipline he
                    > discovered the
                    > > > raising of his consciousness from the relative to the absolute.
                    > His
                    > > > practice of Tantra had a direct bearing in Bengal because it was
                    > there
                    > > > that the Kaula division among the Shaktas attained its highest
                    > > > development. It was associated not only with temples and
                    > devotional
                    > > > worship but also with esoteric cults and circles (chakras) of
                    > Tantric
                    > > > adepts. It was in a few of these circles that Vamachara was
                    > practiced
                    > > > and for that reason forms only an insignificant strain of Shakta
                    > Tantra.
                    > > >
                    > > > The basic idea of Shaktism and Tantra is that the world is a play
                    > of
                    > > > Shakti, the Divine Mother's power, and can be converted into a
                    > means of
                    > > > transcending the world and attaining the Supreme Reality. The
                    > idea
                    > > > behind Tantric practices is that the libido (kama) is the most
                    > powerful
                    > > > instinctual drive in human beings. Unless it is controlled and
                    > > > sublimated, it is impossible to transcend the world of senses.
                    > But the
                    > > > roots of the libido lie deep and ramified in the unknown chambers
                    > of
                    > > > the unconscious. Tantric practices are a way of creating certain
                    > > > external situations which bring out the contents of these
                    > chambers of
                    > > > the unconscious. Once we confront and understand the contents of
                    > the
                    > > > unconscious, they cease to haunt us and become integrated into
                    > the self
                    > > > as "knowledge" or "wisdom." Tantric disciplines are thus only a
                    > way of
                    > > > making conscious what normally remains unconscious.
                    > > >
                    > > > Through his Tantra practice, Ramakrishna helped revive this
                    > healthy
                    > > > core of the tradition minus the accretions: "magical power,
                    > > > strangeness, seediness, and sex." If Kripal had focused his
                    > attention
                    > > > on the Tantra proper and not on these accretions, he wouldn't
                    > have felt
                    > > > the need to distort the Bengali text of the Kathamrita.
                    > > >
                    > > > The Mystical and the Erotic?
                    > > >
                    > > > I could continue to marshal unending evidence about the
                    > > > mistranslations, deceptive documentations and cultural
                    > misreadings in
                    > > > Kali's Child, but that still wouldn't get to the crux of the
                    > book's
                    <br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
                  • jasonjamesmorgan
                    Hello, How is your loving, childlike, pure awareness now? What does hagiography mean? Everyone has there critics. Even you. Om Tat Sat Namaste Om Namah
                    Message 9 of 10 , Apr 11, 2005
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                      Hello,

                      How is your loving, childlike, pure awareness now?

                      What does hagiography mean?

                      Everyone has there critics. Even you.

                      Om Tat Sat

                      Namaste
                      Om Namah Shivaya
                      Jason James Morgan


                      --- In meditationsocietyofamerica@yahoogroups.com, "jodyrrr"
                      <jodyrrr@y...> wrote:
                      >
                      > --- In meditationsocietyofamerica@yahoogroups.com, jasonjamesmorgan
                      > [snip]
                      >
                      > > One cannot hide the truth from Self, the Self is truth.
                      >
                      > And the truth of the Self has as much to do with sexuality,
                      > hagiography or ideas of Victorian morality, as it does with
                      > my dog's ass.
                      >
                      > >
                      > > Namaste
                      > > Om Namah Shivaya
                      > > Jason James Morgan
                    • jodyrrr
                      ... Never had that. It s a hagiographic myth. The Self cannot be described by ANY term, including loving and childlike. You could call it pure, but that
                      Message 10 of 10 , Apr 11, 2005
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                        --- In meditationsocietyofamerica@yahoogroups.com, jasonjamesmorgan
                        <no_reply@y...> wrote:
                        >
                        > Hello,
                        >
                        > How is your loving, childlike, pure awareness now?

                        Never had that. It's a hagiographic myth. The Self
                        cannot be described by ANY term, including loving and
                        childlike. You could call it pure, but that "pure"
                        has absolutely nothing to do with morality.

                        > What does hagiography mean?

                        Mythmaking based on the idea of sainthood.

                        > Everyone has there critics. Even you.

                        I have many. I'm not perfect, just an asshole
                        with an opinion.

                        However, in the matter of the sexuality of
                        Ramakrishna, the opinion I present is well-
                        established in the circles of religious
                        studies. That it's not in the community
                        of devotees is not surprising, but it is
                        nonetheless sad for them.


                        > Om Tat Sat
                        >
                        > Namaste
                        > Om Namah Shivaya
                        > Jason James Morgan
                        >
                        >
                        > --- In meditationsocietyofamerica@yahoogroups.com, "jodyrrr"
                        > <jodyrrr@y...> wrote:
                        > >
                        > > --- In meditationsocietyofamerica@yahoogroups.com, jasonjamesmorgan
                        > > [snip]
                        > >
                        > > > One cannot hide the truth from Self, the Self is truth.
                        > >
                        > > And the truth of the Self has as much to do with sexuality,
                        > > hagiography or ideas of Victorian morality, as it does with
                        > > my dog's ass.
                        > >
                        > > >
                        > > > Namaste
                        > > > Om Namah Shivaya
                        > > > Jason James Morgan
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