Raas, the Dance of Celebration


Osho says: Man alone cannot flow; he needs the presence of woman. Without the woman…

…man is inhibited and closed. In the same way, without man the woman is inhibited and closed. Their togetherness causes their energies to spring into the form of love. What we know as love between man and woman is nothing but the flowing of yin and yang together. And this love, if it is not personalized, can have great spiritual significance.

Osho Celebration

The attraction of man and woman for each other is what brings them together so that their latent energies flow into the stream of love and life. That is why a man feels relaxed with a woman and a woman feels at ease with a man. Separated and alone they feel tense and anxious; coming together they feel as light as feathers, weightless. Why? Because something in them, some subtle energy has become alive and moving, and as a result they feel at home and happy.

Unfortunately we have been trying to put man and woman in a cage, the cage of marriage. But as soon as we bind them with marriage and its institution, their energy ceases to flow, it stagnates. Life’s play has nothing to do with institutions; it cannot be institutionalized. Krishna’s raas does not have an order, a system; it is utterly free and spontaneous. You can say it is chaotic. It is chaos itself.

There is a significant saying of Nietzsche’s. He says, “It is out of chaos that stars are born.” Where there is no system, no order, only the interplay of energies remains. In this interplay of energies, which is raas, Krishna and his milkmaids cease to be individuals, they move as pure energies. And this dance of male and female energies together brings deep contentment and bliss; it turns into an outpouring of joy and bliss. Rising from Krishna’s raas this bliss expands and permeates every fiber of the universe. Although Krishna and his girlfriends are no more with us as people, the moon and the stars under which they danced together are still with us, and so are the trees and the hills and the earth and the skies that were once so drunk with the bliss of the raas. So, although millenia have passed, the vibes of the maharaas are still with us.

Now scientists have come forward with a strange theory. They say although people come and go, the subtle vibes of their lives and their living remain suffused in existence forever. If someone goes to dance on the grounds where Krishna once danced with his gopis he can hear the echoes of the maharaas even today. If someone can play a flute near the hills that in the past echoed with the music of Krishna’s flute, he can hear those hills still echoing it, everlastingly.

In my view, the raas symbolizes the overflowing, outpouring of the primeval energy as it is divided between man and woman. And if we accept this definition, the raas is as relevant today as it was in the times of Krishna. Then it is everlastingly relevant.

Lately I have received a suggestion from many friends that men and women should be segregated from each other when we go for meditation, because they think it will help their meditation. This suggestion is utterly stupid. They don’t know that if men and women are segregated from each other, if they are put into separate blocks, it will make them two homogeneous groups cut off from each other, blocking the flow of energy between them. Friends who come up with such suggestions are ignorant of their implications. I hold just the contrary view on the matter. If men and women meditate together as a mixed gathering, it can be immensely helpful to their meditation. Then something can happen to both of them without their knowing it, and it will deepen their meditation. Your being here together without any reason – you are not here as husbands and wives – will help you in catharsis as nothing else can do. The very presence of the opposite sex will stir many deeply repressed emotions in both men and women, and it will then be so easy to cathart them.

The terrible mental tension through which mankind is passing at the moment is the result of this segregation, this apartheid of men and women. We have separate schools and colleges for boys and girls; men and women sit in separate groups in churches and temples. Everywhere the sexes are being made to keep a distance from each other. Much of our present-day trouble and misery stems from this unnatural and unhealthy practice, because it violates the basic laws of nature. In this world the entire structure of life is based on the togetherness of the opposite forces. The more natural and spontaneous this togetherness, the more beneficial it is.

The significance of raas, the dance of celebration, is everlasting, it issues from the fundamental principle of life. This fundamental principle says that men and women are incomplete in themselves, they are fragments of a single whole. And they become whole and healthy only in close togetherness, in union with each other. If this togetherness happens unconditionally, it will complete the two in an extraordinary and unearthly way. On the other hand, if the union is conditional, if it has a motive, it is bound to lead to enormous difficulty and trouble in the process of its completion. However, so long as men and women exist on this earth, the raas will continue to be in vogue in many shapes and sizes. Maybe it does not attain the height and depth it had with Krishna, but if we grow in understanding and wisdom it is not impossible.

More or less every primitive community is aware of the beauty and significance of the raas, of their own kind of raas. They work hard through the day, and in the night both men and women gather together under the open sky and dance with abandon for hours and hours. While dancing, they forget their family relationships and mix freely with each other as men and women, and dance madly, as if all of life is meant for dancing and celebrating. They go to sleep only when they are utterly tired, and so they enter into a sleep so deep it may cause the civilized societies envy. It is for this reason that the peace of mind and the joy of life these poor people enjoy is unknown to the most affluent people who, just by wishing, can have all the good things of life. The rich are missing some basic truths of life for certain, and somewhere they are erring very grievously.

Osho, Krishna: The Man and his Philosophy, Ch 9, Q 1 Excerpt (translated from Hindi)

[The word ‘raas’ comes from the Sanskrit word ‘ras’ and the origins can be traced to ancient times.]

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