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Kali's Child: The Mystical and the Erotic in the Life and Teachings of Ramakrishna Second Edition Paperback – 1 Oct 1998
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it is engaging, very well-written, extremely sympathetic, thoroughly researched, respectful of the bengali tradition as well as the official ramakrishna image, and it is the most valuable contribution to the study of this curious "mad master".
if approached with preconceptions, of course readers will find only material to fan their anger. it would be far more in the spirit of the master himself to read it with an open mind and look for the truth in the strangeness.
I'm sure there is some merit in the book, butI failed to find it.
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The only common thread between Sexual intercourse and Yoga is that both are about union. Sex involves the uniting of two bodies, Yoga involves the union of the self, which from the experiences of various saints is supposedly 100 times more powerful than Sex. But to reach such a stage and such a space isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But to misinterpret it, misunderstand it and use academic clout to tarnish someone’s image without really understanding someone amounts to slander.
This man will be held accountable for character assassination. Karma’s a bitch Mr Dahmer, sorry Mr Kripal.
It is true that if you return to original sources to look into the life of a saint, some of the glow inevitably comes off. And yet what often emerges, as in John Haule's excellent accounts of the sadhana of St. Francis of Assisi, taken from the diaries of his best friends and earliest disciples rather than from the official church biographies, is something much more graspable and real. In Francis' case, it was a genuinely tantric sadhana addressed to "Lady Poverty" rather than to Tripurasundari.
Kripal's intent here is in no way to derogate Ramakrishna. He simply illustrates the likelihood that Ramakrishna was probably homosexual, that he succeeded in transforming these energies, that he was likely sexually abused in his early life (a well conducted study by the Home Ministry of India puts the overall incidence of sexual abuse in India at 52%, especially in the North) and suffered mental illnesses as a result. There is a common belief that one must be perfect in order to be realized, when, in fact, such a belief seeks to limit how divinity can appear in the world. And God has no such limitations. Despite all of this trouble and suffering, divinity shown brightly in this man. He triumphed over such deep adversity and gave the world something that inspired millions. And why should gay people, or abuse survivors or those with mental illness not have a saint they can look up to, who can show them the way to transformation of their suffering?! Tantra may not be about sex per se, however it IS about how that which binds you is also that which liberates you. And Kripal's book shows that in Ramakrishna's case in great detail.
As a former student of Bangla, I did not find his translations out of order in the least. As a many decade student and practitioner of these spiritual traditions (and a swami in preparation) I find his attitude towards the tradition deeply respectful but also dedicated to seeing all of the truth, even its rough and challenging beauty. And that is a side of Tripurasundari ("the Beauty of the three worlds") that many reviewers appear to have trouble with.
This was clearly a labor of love and transcendence and I recommend it heartily to anyone who thinks that being abused or gay or mentally ill precludes them from spiritual transformation.
While Kripal tries to sound scholarly, and pretends to make an effort, his smug tone near the end of chapter 3 reveal that he has a specific viewpoint in mind which he tries to establish by quoting his own translation of the Kathamrita. Establishing that Ramakrishna was a homosexual, Tantric who visualized and fantasised erotically about young boys, true or not, should not be established based on a single man's opinion of what he thinks the Bengali original could mean, especially when everyone else who read the Bengali original disagrees.
I believe that this controversial work has given Kripal the recognition he needs to pursue other work. He has since not made any efforts to learn more Bengali or research Ramakrishna further (or any other Hindu saint). He has also stopped defending himself against accusations made against this book - mostly because he never really refuted any detractors.
While I was very intrigued by the thesis, the work could as well have been published in a tabloid.