by Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakura
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It is asserted by all God-loving people that Godhead being the Fountainhead of all energies displays His Eternal Manifestations both in transcendental and mundane regions. In the phenomenal existence, He is targeted as Nature or the Dependant Fountainhead of the supreme Authority Godhead. The phenomena represent her service to a sensuous agent who is sometimes considered as a part and parcel of phenomena. The different attributions that are to be found in matter have got different denominations from their essence or spirit. So, the spirit is considered to be non-transformable. Godhead being the Fountainhead of all energies has had the authority of delegating an inconceivable power to retain the eternity of the Spiritual Kingdom opposing to the conception of the investigators of the temporal world. In determining the energy conferred on phenomena, we find the three different phases of quality. And this quality is fully restricted in quantitative reference and liable to be intermixed with one another. The qualities are known in three different aspects, when we take into account the question of time. Prior to the existence, along with existence and after the existence are the three different stages of the said quality. This quality when projected in space, we get two dividing lines which form the four walls of a particular object. [Ed - In other words, space and time are the two lines that form the three dimensions of space and the fourth dimension of time.] So the question of limitation is an invariable factor inherent in matter. In the Spiritual Realm the questions of time and space have no separate identification to perturb the peaceful monistic view, though such monism does not prevent the variety of Eternal Manifestation. In phenomenal observation time and space prove to intercept the idea of numerical monism whereas in the Transcendental Region of Spirit they offer no resistance or discordance in reference to finite shortcomings. The decent or the vulgar, the ribald or the non-ribald, the high or the low, the wide or the narrow have got contrary aspects which prove detrimental to our desired facilities in this world. But on the other hand when we are carried to the region of peace and harmony, these qualitative functions offer us ample facilities for jogging the frailties of natural products.
The quality of Transcendental nature is known to us as proper eternal Power of the Property which is identical with the Proprietor Himself. That transcendental Power or Energy is classed in three divisions, viz., the Energy proper of His own Self, the Energy of His physical possession and His Energy lying in the demarcated position between the former two. When we are brought to view His own, we see in Him three esoteric aspects of His own Potency, viz., His All-harmonizing Power, His All-knowing Power and His All-pervading and permeating Power. The All-harmonizing Energy acts to keep up the relation of Existence with knowledge. His pervading and permeating energy acts as the cementer between two specified energies, i.e. knowledge and harmony. And His All-knowing Energy acts as identifying the equal distance of Existence and Harmony. So all energies in Him are not contending with one another, but serving as friendly dependents of the Supreme Authority. But the case is otherwise in mundane phenomena. The qualities prove to be contending with one another in order to keep up their respective properties.
The School of Pantheists differs from the Devotional School, when it cannot distinguish between the energies found in phenomena and diffcrent phases of eternal energies that create, transform and conduct the material World with that of his own where Harmonizing Power brings all in monistic order. This monopoly of Godhead is wrongly viewed by the fiendish spirits who revolt against the Fountainhead of all harmony. They ignore the Existence, Perfect Knowledge and Harmony of Godhead and try their level best to accommodate the All Energetic Personality into their cavity of finite but wrong observations. They are prone to reconcile the different tracks of theism and atheism into agnosticism and skepticism. Their attempts fail when they want to justify to identify the mundane energy with the transcendental in as much as the latter as the subject of their inspection is not covered up in their present predicament.
Even a most thoughtful reader is found to err when he states that even associated counterparts are in the same category with that of fettered souls. His clear idea of different energies of Godhead cannot but agree with our view when we are confident of different phases of energies and their manifestations. The erring aptitude can equally chalk out his path of confounding Krishna with Karshana when he can acquaint himself with distinctive phases of manifestations due to the Energetic Godhead and His energies.
We are so much averse to render our service to the All-knowing Oversoul that we claim our existence in an atmosphere surcharged with common errors. The very expression ‘Absolute Truth’ is sometimes followed by a pronoun indicating the neuter conception of Godhead in lieu of His unlimited Power of initiative organization. The word ‘Absolute Truth’ when used in neuter gender in our present-day atmosphere, is meant for the mundane bibliography and not intended for Spiritual Realm. in the case of Absolute Truth, the pronoun ‘he’ or ‘who’ should be used, instead of ‘it’ or ‘which’, as we must not deviate from the Eternal Existence of Personal Godhead and His Spiritual manifestation void of any mundane discrepancies. If we ignore the Power of All-mightiness in Godhead we would prove ourselves to be aloof from the ever-existence, ever-manifested Spiritual Kingdom.
We are proud of our ego. We are either given to judge sinful and pious acts or think how we can lord it over others by acquiring power. These are all base self-g1orifications. But one devoted to Sri Chaitanya says that all desires actuating every object from the pillar to the highest being (Brahman), all labor for worldly possessions, all longing for enjoyment and every kind of renunciation after satiety, are all pseudo-existent and evanescent, i.e., subject to change and time. When we lose anything so acquired life seems to be vacant and useless. But it is quite futile to try to straighten the tail of dog, such being the end of all enjoyments in the fourteen spheres. All pleasures acquired as the fruits of worldly work are transitory.
Carried away by sense-perceptions of eye, ear, touch, taste and sound we turn into ego-worshippers. In this state the pure activity of the soul lies dormant. Then we also desire the pleasure in heaven. And when such ideas are strong in us we err by identifying ourselves with this mind which thus seems to be the enjoyer of the things of this world. This propensity for selfish, enjoyment deadens the pure function of the soul. But the soul knows that Sri Krishna is the One Absolute Truth.
Sri Narayana is the embodiment of His Majesty. Narayana though is the ultimate source of the Absolute Truth, Krishna’s transcendent designation, form, qualities, and sportive activities (Lila) excel Narayana’s Majesty by His display of sweetening Beauty. In Krishna the fullest majesty is mellowed by the most delicious sweetness (Madhurya) which predominates. When we do not know all these and forget our true selves we cannot understand the activities of a Vaishnava and the transcendental truth underlying such activities, and so give ourselves up to worldly enmity and friendship, taking things transitory and illusory as eternal and real.
Secondly, Krishna is completely all-cognizant. Material objects are not self-conscious. God is ever existent. It is, indeed, through mistake that we consider ourselves as Brahman. It is only then that such useless arguments for the effacement of all super-sensuous diversity or variety in Absolute Truth, take hold of us. The function of the spirit is clogged and our minds run after worldly enjoyment. The materialized mind thinks that sensual enjoyment is obtained at Krishna’s Feet. But at the Feet of Sri Krishna everything is spiritual and not an object for the gratification of our senses. When truth is obscured in us and carried away by egoistic tendencies we take things material as of the spirit.
Krishna is bliss. In Him dwells perfect joy He is the embodiment of it. Sensual knowledge or joy is not perfect — therein all our longings are not realized. Under the spell of sense perceptions we imagine that there might be unalloyed happiness in ego-worship or in the kaivalya state of Patanjali.
All seeking after joy is the function of the soul. When the desire for joy wakes up in our minds we commit a blunder in running after worldly objects and enjoyment. It is only when we receive a spiritual sight of Krishna, that we understand that His service must of necessity be the sole aim in life. As tong as we thus hanker after our own pleasures we try to enjoy the world-through the senses and are given to hollow argumentation. But this world is not made for our enjoyment. When spiritual bliss will appear in us like the incessant flow of oil then shall we be truly tied to the Feet of Krishna.
Such numerical variety as that of one, two and three exists only in worldly diversity. This diversity acquires a certain inexpressible sameness in the worlds of spirit. Then we can appreciate that Krishna alone is the eternal Truth Absolute. When the very existence of Truth and sentiency in our own selves become solely relative to Him only then we are established in our real normal state.
At present many false meanings have been imported into the word devotion. Regard for one’s parents, loyalty to man, obedience to the teacher, etc. pass as Bhakti. But the root (Bhaj) means ‘to serve’. If we do not clearly judge as to what must be the medium of that service then it is sure to be misapplied.
This is the quarrelling age. The senses, which are our enemies, are now very powerful; and crores of thorns choke the path of pure Bhakti. I am quite at a loss to know what I shall do or where I shall go unless Chaitanya Chandra shows mercy unto me.
We live in the Kaliyuga; this is an age of strife. So it happens that the self-luminous path of pure devotion is completely covered up with millions of thorns in the shape of foolish argumentation and wordy wranglings. In these circumstances it is absolutely impossible to have the knowledge of pure devotion without the mercy of Chaitanya Chandra. Sri Chaitanya Chandra is Krishna Himself. He is the Godhead. It is possible only to know Him in spirit. The atomic theory of the world knows nothing of that service.
In the variety of His manifestations the Absolute Truth Himself is to be determined from Narayana. In Krishna exists Narayana Who is His Majestic Form. Baladeva is the manifestation of His Self. He is the all-pervading Over-soul. With the revelation of the function of Supreme knowledge in our soul, we come to know that Krishna is the Absolute Truth. He is also perfect bliss; reverence does not stand in His way. Intimate service cannot be rendered if one is actuated by reverence, yet Krishna is the eternal object of the devotees whole-hearted service. But He is to be served with the ever-existent senses of the soul. We cannot serve Him through imagination or sentiment. Super-sensuous knowledge of our relation with Him is essential. There is nobody whom I can call my own except one who is solely devoted to Krishna. Krishna alone is the one object of my service. This faith is the one glory of the Vaishnava. This is the supreme necessity of life. Material fame full of the idea of selfish enjoyment is never desirable.
Godhead is eternal. We cannot attain to Him unless we realize He is bliss Himself. One confined within his psychic range in a hundred ways, cannot know what God is and so accepts things other than God as objects of his worship. Unable to understand ‘the’ true subject and object of enjoyment, as well as the nature of enjoyment itself, he imagines the world as created to afford him every kind of pleasure. This materialized mind strives only after selfish enjoyment. By this fleshy form we cannot serve.
The Shastras furnish us with a connected history of the worship of Krishna through the ages. The Scriptures divide a cycle into four Yugas, viz., Satya, Treta, Dwapara and Kali. We live in the Kali yuga. In the Satya yuga there was no distinction of caste or Varna. There was only one homogenous community the name of which was ‘hansa’. Vishnu was the only God worshipped by this community whose spiritual guide went by the name of ‘Paramahansa’. Towards the latter part of this Yuga the tastes of the people in matters spiritual came to differ. Some in quest of material prosperity began to worship other gods and goddesses. This deviation gave rise to the terms ‘Daiva’ and ‘Asura’. The devotees of Krishna were designated ‘daiva’ and those who did not worship Him were called ‘asura’ (Padmapurana). Thus while Prahlad is called a ‘sura’ as one belonging to the ‘daiva’ class, his father Hiranyakashipu is named ‘asura’ for his hostility towards Vishnu (Krishna). In the Treta Age this variation of tastes became wider and gave rise to the division of the four Varnas of Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Sudra. The Brahmanas were those who worshipped only Vishnu (Krishna). Those people of the other Varnas who developed this tendency to strict monotheism were also freely admitted into this class. Thus Vasistha who was a Brahmana admitted Visvamitra, a Kshatriya into his class when the latter showed Brahminic tendency. The ‘suras’ or ‘daiva’ class of the Satya yuga now came practically to be represented by the Brahmavarna. In the Dwarpara Yuga this progressive variation of tastes became still more extensive in consequence of which the different castes and creeds had their origin and there appeared subgroups within the class of brahmanas also. Charvaka, a Brahmana by class, held non vaishnavaite ideas for which he was contemptuously called by the theistic brahmanas as an atheist or rakshasa (a demon). This scornful epithet was also given to Ravana in the Treta Yuga for his enmity towards Rama Who is same as Krishna. Due to this degradation of the Brahmana class very few even of those who called themselves Vaishnavas retained the characteristic of the original ‘hansa’ community. The mass of the Brahmanas ceased to designate the themselves as Vaishnavas and to be the repositories of the Vaishnavite tradition. Thus we find Romaharsana and his son Suta, not hereditary Brahmanas, explaining the Bhagavata to a huge assembly of leading Brahmanas.
The claim that Vaishnavism embodies the eternal, and only function of the jiva soul in his eternal state of perfect rational existence may appear at first sight to be opposed to the experience of this world. Vaishnavism is no doubt represented by a vast and varied literature in almost all the languages of India and all persons are in a position to appreciate more or less the devotional fervor and aesthetic quality that are the special characteristics of this literature. But in spite of the admitted sweetness, gentleness, beauty and fervor that permeate every part of Vaishnava literature and make it, in the opinion of many competent persons, perhaps the most glorious heritage of India, there seems to be lacking any historical evidence to prove that the community professing Vaishnava faith has been able to attain any signal, social, political or economic success. On the contrary there are not wanting hostile critics who do not hesitate to regard Vaishnavism in some of its forms as a main cause of the backwardness of India which they attribute to the influence of Vaishnava teachings and practices involving, in their opinion, the virtual denial of the ordinary principles of moral life as well as the most elementary needs of advanced material civilization. The apostles of Puritanism and Activism are not likely to accept a creed which may be suspected of a partiality for sexuality, passivism, childish ceremonial and credulity and which declares all secular effort whether moral, social, political or philanthropic as utterly powerless for the amelioration of the lot of man; nay, which regards them as the root cause of all the troubles that afflict this miserable world.
Vaishnavism says in effect that the soul who is an embodiment of the principle of pure consciousness cannot function properly in this material universe for the reason that here he finds himself dislocated from his own proper plane and banished from truth amid happiness. Its misery is due the fact that he confounds himself with a material body and mind and the relationship of the said body and mind with the material universe as the relationship between himself and his surroundings. The material body and mind in which he is at present doubly encased are a part and parcel of this world and as such are subject to the laws of this material universe. But the Soul is in a state of perpetual rebellion against the thraldom of nature and tries to dominate the laws of inanimate nature. He thinks that he can attain this mastery over Nature by making use of the laws of Nature against herself. He is confirmed in this view by the experience of material growth, but his activities are all motivated by the fear of material death and dissolution. He also tries to attain control over the material body and the mind which he regards as his properties and thinks that it is his duty to make the proper use of them by extending and developing the scope of his relationship with the material environment by their means. He thinks that he would be happy if he succeeds in such effort and that he would be miserable if his efforts do not yield what he regards as success or what he wants to have for being happy. It is not, however, possible to define the nature of happiness that is desired by man in terms of material conditions, static or dynamic. The power of being happy and miserable belongs to the animate soul alone. He being self-forgotten wants perpetually to have certain things and is unhappy if he is in a state of want. This makes unhappiness his normal condition in this world. The physical body and mind have no conscious wants of their own. They do not possess the power of initiative which belongs only to the soul. But the wants of the soul are never satisfied by any worldly facilities because these facilities being out of his plane have no real relation to himself. The phenomena of growth and decay which seem to be identical with life are really external and material though apparently invariable, concomitants of and have no relation with, the vital principle itself. They are merely states of the body and mind. The Soul confounding himself with the body and mind in search of his proper function regarding the phenomena of growth and decay of the body and mind as dependent on a certain combination of material conditions chooses to identify himself with all such activities of the body and mind that take place in strict and passive obedience to the laws of physical nature.
This worldly sojourn of the soul has no doubt been purposed by God for His benefit. He has, therefore, real and definite duties here while he continues to be yoked to the body and mind. The growth, decay and dissolution of the body and mind are phenomena of physical nature and take place in accordance with her Laws. The soul cannot change or modify the course of the Nature. The body and mind function in strict accordance with the Laws of their constitution. Their activities and their results are predetermined and form links in an endless series of cause and effect. The fact that the soul considers himself competent to understand their purpose and the cause of their apparent success and failure is an instance of his own subjection to the deluding cosmic process which uses him thus for serving the purpose of Providence. We shall be utterly mistaken if we suppose that we possess any power over cosmic evolution. The world ever moves on using our bodies and minds as everything else on the material plane as its passive tools. In this matter we have no option but to obey her. We are being driven forward and backward by the iron laws of Nature. Empiric Science brings the working of Nature home to the consciousness of humanity in order to persuade man to submit to Nature by the realization of his utter helplessness.
But the cosmic process as gauzed up in Nature has no power over the soul in his free state due to the difference of plane. The subjection of the soul to the laws of a foreign mistress is the result of his own deliberate choice. He can easily revert to the state of free existence by the exercise of the same freedom of choice. But free existence does not mean mastery over others. Free existence does and can mean only constitutional existence in the transcendent region. The soul is a tiny particle of Universal Soul. By his constitution he is subject to the spiritual power of the Divinity of which he is a constituent part. When he chooses to function in his own position in the spiritual system and in subordination to the laws of the spiritual realm he is constitutionally free. Whenever he chooses deliberately not to serve the Absolute he thereby ipso-facto loses this natural or free state and is compelled to submit to the Divine Will under pressure. This thraldom he learns to prefer to real freedom by the tricks of the illusory Energy of Godhead ‘Maya’ which creates the world by the Will of Godhead in which Godhead makes Himself invisible for the benefit of the jiva. In this world the jiva finds ample scope for his atheistic activities which only result in ever increasing misery and disappointment. He wants to be master but finds himself really powerless and compelled to serve not Godhead but a power that is wholly alien to himself. This is the only alternative to utter annihilation which should be the instantaneous consequence of his abandonment by Godhead. Godhead does not wish to destroy those jivas that are averse to His domination. He offers them something which is infinitely better than what they themselves want in lieu of His service and which completely satisfies although He is intended ultimately to cure their disloyal inclinations. If He had offered them what they themselves want it would be their own destruction. They want to be masters, or in other words, to be merged in the Absolute, i.e., to cease to be — whereas they are really servants in substance and by their constitution. When the jiva wants to be identified with Godhead he can be neither. He must be either jiva or nothing at all. Godhead must maintain the jiva, if he is to exist at all. Godhead does not refuse to maintain those jivas who do not want to be maintained by Him. If he did not do so, they would cease to exist. He allows them to imagine that they are self-maintained but maintains them nevertheless. But as a matter of fact they are really unable to maintain themselves without support from Godhead. This is recognized even by the fallen soul when he prays to God for his continued maintenance in the way that he likes. He does not want to be ruled by his Author or Master. He wants to pursue an independent course with the help of the power of Godhead! But Godhead’s power can never act in a really subordinate way and hence it is necessary as the only way of saving his existence to produce the illusion in the fallen soul that he is being served while he is being really dominated. This is the untruth which is necessary for the existence of jiva in defiance of Godhead.
So long as the fallen soul pursues the goal of dominating the powers of Nature, he continues on this track of self-destruction. He is mercifully and sternly prevented from realizing his disloyal suicidal ambition fully. Material civilization is built up by the illusory power of Godhead to keep up this false existence of the jiva soul which has rejected his natural life. The illusory power, however, really plays into the hands of the spiritual power of Godhead. She tries to drive the jiva to seek the shelter of the spiritual power by his experience of the miseries and disillusionments of a false existence. The fallen soul’s proper function in this world begins the moment he realizes his true state of affairs. He then agrees to cooperate with the illusory power for the remedy of his mortal disease of disinclination to serve the Absolute Truth. He, however, takes a long time and a long course of sufferings for radical cure. So long as the least trace of the poison of disloyal inclination is left in the soul the illusory power prevents his entry into the realm of Godhead. It is indeed impossible for the fallen soul unassisted to undergo successfully the trials of the purgatorial process. Godhead sends His best beloved Associated Counterpart into this world to help the fallen soul to go through this ordeal successfully. Obedience to Godhead’s Associated Counterpart is the only means of liberation from the clutches Maya. Spiritual scriptures have also been manifested in this world by Godhead for the same purpose. They enable the fallen soul to find out and have faith in the spiritual guide and believe him to be the person sent by Godhead Himself to rescue him from the clutches of the illusory Power.
It is, therefore, not necessary for the jiva really to go contrary to the current of this world if he wants to do his duty by Godhead. All he has to do is to realize his own fallen condition and to have a real desire to be restored to the state of grace. He then searches for the good preceptor to obtain the method that he is to follow to obtain deliverance. The good preceptor teaches him to believe in the eternal method represented by the scriptures and by his own example and precept enables him to understand and practice the life recommended by the Scriptures or Shastras. This life is then found to accord with the real purpose of Nature herself although it may not at once appear to be so to those misguided people who continue to trust themselves and their futile speculations for the attainment of the goal of domination over her which is the product of their diseased imaginations.
When an individual or community attains to the spiritual outlook, such occurrence need not necessarily be accompanied by an appearance of material prosperity. All the circumstances of this world come to such persons as opportunities of service provided by Godhead Himself. They include the varying conditions of their minds and bodies among such circumstances. They are thus enabled by the Grace of God, so abundantly provided, to rise above the cares and anxieties that afflict those who are ignorant of the substance of themselves and of their relationship to the things of this world. Those, who are spiritually enlightened, covet nothing of this world for their own selfish enjoyment. They employ their bodies and minds and all the circumstances of this world in the incessant and exclusive service of Godhead. They are neither workers nor idlers in the worldly sense as they have no hankering for worldly enjoyment in any form. They do everything by reason of their connection with Godhead and in order to serve Him. Such activities although they do not belong to this worldly plane benefit the workers themselves and humanity at large in the only real sense. But the nature of the activities of a Vaishnava is not comprehensible to the materialized mind.
We need not suppose, therefore, that the prospects of material civilization will either gain or lose in the worldly sense by such spiritual activities. The course of this world is determined by the laws of physical Nature. Spiritual activities raise us above passive subordination to the irresistible forces of Nature, as they belong to a different and higher plane. Their Value or location cannot be expressed in terms of the changing circumstances of this visible world. They obey a Higher law which dominates the laws of physical Nature. The Vaishnavas who consciously obey the Laws of the Spiritual realm also dominate physical Nature but not in the so-called visible material or illusory but in the real or spiritual sense. Those who follow the Vaishnavas are freed from the crushing slavery of this false existence by attaining to the spiritual service of Godhead and find themselves employed in accordance with the eternal needs of their souls without being thwarted by the current of this world. From the moment they are conscious of this, they begin to function on the transcendental plane. The wheels of physical Nature ceaselessly and relentlessly grind all those Who pursue the objects of this world for the gratification of their minds and bodies. Empirical science which misleads its votaries with the promise of selfish worldly advantage is, on its own admission, powerless to do so in the face of the incalculable and overwhelming forces of physical Nature. Empirical Science can never actually make us the lords of Nature.
The mastery over Nature which is gained by the servants of Godhead is different in Mind from that which is vainly attempted by empiric science and which is never actually realizable. Mastery over Nature is attainable only for the purpose of serving Godhead, not for selfish enjoyment. The material is the external enveloping face of the spiritual. It is the inner, spiritual reality that lays itself bare to the vision of the devotee of Godhead who is willing to serve Godhead and Him alone therewith. To those who are lacking in spiritual vision, the activities of the devotees of Godhead refuse to manifest their real nature. Oh the contrary worldly minded people, due to the limited range of their perverted worldly vision, are disappointed on finding that spiritual activities are not necessarily followed by material improvements in the sense desired by themselves.
The real object of human life is not to accommodate worldly treasures to be left behind at the termination of a limited existence. The object of all life is to serve Godhead. That civilization is alone real which helps its votaries to attain this one thing needful. The external form of the real theistic civilization may displease those who prefer the shadow to substance, the illusory and transitory to the true and the eternal, death to life. But the wants of our souls can never be really satisfied by anything short of the Absolute Truth. We happen to be so by our eternal constitution. We are under a delusion when we look to any other quarter for relief. Any one who may be inclined to give a sincere and unprejudiced hearing to the voice of the Absolute Truth is bound to be convinced of the reality of its contentions, viz., that man can be liberated from the delusions of his false existence only by attaining to the exclusive service of Krishna, the Absolute Person, that such service can be learnt only by the method of convinced, rational submission at the feet of the servants and of the servants' servants of the Supreme Lord, that this is the message of Vaishnavism taught and practiced in this Age by Sri Chaitanyadeva for the deliverance of all fallen souls and that there is no other way of attaining the life-eternal except by the method of Sankirtana of the Holy Name recommended by the Scriptures and made available to all fallen souls by the mercy of Sri Chaitanya and His devotees.
Sri Chaitanya teaches by precept and example the Full-Truth regarding the nature and functions of the individual soul and nothing that falls short of the Pull-Truth can fully satisfy the wants of the little soul. It is possible to serve Krishna under all circumstances. That individual or society is really blessed which uses such opportunities as are provided by Krishna for serving Him therewith. There cannot be any discord or want of harmony in this world if we make up our minds to really serve Krishna and betake ourselves sincerely to the feet of the good preceptor for obtaining the real knowledge of such service. It is not possible for us to understand the nature of the spiritual service of Godhead by means of our mental speculations that are by their nature confined to a limited view of the objects of three dimensions only - a region that may be pleasing to our vanity but which is the cause of our present degradation and misery.