What Can Krishna Teach us
Relationships are confusing. Romantic relationships are even more so. We can discuss them in various ways. I feel when we learn one thing from different aspects we get to understand it deeper and deeper. Hare Krishna philosophy teaches us how to develop a loving relationship with Krishna.
Krishna is one of the God's names, which in Sanscrit means "the one who is all attractive." He is able to have a personal relationship with each being in the whole world. But, what can Hare Krishna philosophy teach us about our human relationships? Learning about five rasas (relationships) with Krishna can help us nurture elements of happy romantic relationships in our own life.
According to Hare Krishna philosophy, a person can have one of the five rasas or kinds of relationships with Krishna. The word rasa means relationship amongst other meanings in Sanscrit. I will list these five rasas in order of intimacy level and complexity of emotions. A living being can have one of the following kinds of relationships with Krishna: neutral, servitude, friendship, parental, and conjugal, or romantic.
What does this mean for us and our relationships? Romantic relationships are the most complex and need to have all of these elements to be complete. I list them just like the scholars of Krishna philosophy, in order from the most basic to the most complex. I also deem the most basic ones as important initial stepping stones upon you can build the rest of the elements.
Five elements of happy romantic relationships
Neutral rasa teaches us acceptance
The first kind of relationship with Krishna is neutral. According to Krishna philosophy, animals, plants, and inanimate objects serve Krishna in the spiritual world. Unlike here, in the material world, all these objects, animals, and plants are fully conscious. Now, what can we learn from Krishna's cows, little bees, kittens, puppies, etc.?
It's very similar to learning from how our pets love us. What do you get from your kitty or puppy? Full acceptance of the way you are is something that you naturally get from your pets. Your dog or cat don't need you to dress up, be more social, or be less lazy.
Similarly, it's essential that you have a basic understanding of who your partner is, and what they are about. The next step is that you accept and like them the way they are. You can't think, "I know he is not perfect, but hopefully, I can change him when we get married." This kind of mentality will just create resentment and you will not be able to build all other elements of happy romantic relationships.
It's clear how accepting your partner for who they are is the essential and necessary part of any relationship. Without acceptance, everything else that you try to build will not have much deep substance and won't be able to last.
Servitude rasa teaches us to give and take for balance in our romantic relationships
The next rasa with Krishna is servitude. Although being a servant can have a negative feel for some, it's actually the noblest attitude. Being able to serve someone means that you have something to offer.
More importantly, this means that you enjoy making someone happy and comfortable. Think about it. Someone can tell you that they love you ten times a day. But, how would you feel if they are never there to help you out when you need them? You probably wouldn't feel loved.
Many women can serve and sacrifice, but we have a hard time expressing what we want or need due to our upbringing. We are raised to make sure we measure up and please others.
If you don't allow your partner to please and serve you, you are robbing them of the opportunity to feel satisfaction by making you happy. Expressing your needs is one of the essential elements of happy romantic relationships. If you are unable to be vulnerable and allow your partner to please you, it can be challenging to build a connection with them.
Friendship rasa teaches us how to be playful in our relationships or marriages
Next level of relationship with Krishna is friendship. The intimacy level is higher than servitude. It encompasses both servitude and neutral relationship. In other words, if you want to have a good friendship, you need to accept your friend and be of service and allow them to help you sometimes.
What does this mean for our romantic relationships? If you want a successful long-term relationship, you need to cultivate friendship with that person. Otherwise, imagine having a strong sexual attraction to this person, but not enjoying their company. In fact, there are many relationships like this. They usually don't last long because they may be missing these more fundamental elements of happy romantic relationships, such as knowing and accepting each other or friendship.
You want to be able to develop a friendship with your romantic partner. You want to enjoy just being together without external pompous events. For instance, you may be able to have fun together if you go to Disneyland, Paris, or some other magical place where you are entertained.
But, what about sitting together on a Sunday morning and drinking a cup of coffee together? Can you enjoy each other company then and feel comfortable and fulfilled together? What about taking a long road trip through desert? Do you enjoy conversations or is there a tension? Developing friendship is essential for a happy relationship.
Understanding parental rasa with Krishna can help us develop support, nurturing, and soothing to each other in romantic relationships
Even more intimate and emotionally intensive relationship with Krishna is the parental relationship with him. Unlike friends, parents are obsessed with children's wellbeing and safety. Similarly, in romantic relationships, we can have elements of parental love with each other. We can be nurturing and soothing to each other.
We also often note when someone has so-called "dad issues" or "mommy issues." This pathologizing happens when people marry someone older to supplement for love and affection that they lacked in their childhoods.
It's not pathological to have elements of motherly or fatherly love towards your partner, but it can be unbalanced if you only cultivate this aspect and don't have romantic feelings towards each other. It's also uneven if it's just one-sided. In other words, if one partner is in a parental role and the other is in a child role. These relationships often end once the "child" grows up, and doesn't need a supplemental parent anymore.
On the other hand, if partners provide nurturing and soothing to each other interchangeably, it can enhance their relationship. The good examples of this are when one of the partners is sick and the other one shows concerns and tries to nurture them to health. Or, if one of the partners is distressed at work, the other partner listens to them and consoles them. They show the parental style of affection, but it doesn't overshadow other aspects of the relationship, such as friendship or romantic connection.
Conjugal or romantic rasa encompasses all other aspects of relationships and adds the most intense feelings of passion
One of the essential elements of happy romantic relationships is romance. If you don't nurture this part of the relationship, you two may grow apart. It's essential that you take steps to nurture romance. Many couples focus on other roles in the family, and they wind up feeling too exhausted to nurture this crucial aspect of happy romantic relationships. There are various ways in which you can cultivate romance.
You have to prioritize this aspect of your relationship, just like you prioritize all other essential tasks in your life. Scheduling activities that bring you closer together and engaging in physical activities that allow you to be together can enhance your passion. Good examples are going on a hike, taking a yoga or a dance class together.
For even more passion in the relationship, it's essential to keep some separation with your partner, so you can grow to miss each other at times. Some distance increases passion more intensely. Going out with your friends, having your own interests, etc. can help you develop that perfect amount of separation.
In order to have a happy romantic relationship, it's important to work on developing all building blocks of fulfilling romantic relations. These are acceptance and understanding, friendship, nurturing and support, and passion and romance.
Relationships can be confusing and frustrating, but so worthwhile when you make good choices.