Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura
Testimony of Love
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"Non-forgetfulness of the Twin Lotus Feet of Sri Krishna reduces non-good and augments positive well-being, by promoting purification of the living entity, devotion to the Supreme Soul, knowledge endowed with apprehension of the reality, and non-hankering for the mundane."
It is only if we are in a position to render devoted service to that Entity of the Supreme Soul, constantly remembered in the heart, that well-being would ensue. Hearing is rendered possible by the agency of Chanting (kirtana); and if hearing is maintained in the best manner real well being makes its appearance. In the absence of hearing and chanting (sravan and kirtana) the substantive manifestation is not possible.
The service of the holy Name, of the holy dham (the transcendental Abode) and of the supreme Desire of Godhead is available to all of us. There is no other means of escape from the clutches of worldly inclinations for any creature than the service of the holy Name. The service of the Name enables humanity to free itself from the hold of all superstitions and wrong ideas, and to be rooted in the service of the Desire of Krishna (Krishna-kama). The service of dham frees one from the jaws of Illusion (mayavada), the terribly wrong theory that a jiva or creature is himself God and Master, and that there is no existence, except in the human imagination, of the holy Name, Form, Attributes, Pastimes (lila) and Paraphernalia of Godhead. The service of Krishna's Desire saves one from the hand of the great foe of hankering for one's own sensuous gratification. One is thereby freed from serving the earthly passions and may be installed in the service of the De sire of the transcendental Despot, in the singing of the saving hymn of transcendental love (kama-gayatri).
As the consequence of putting on this gross physical body, base desires for the gratification of physical senses have cropped up. In consequence of the coil of the subtle material or mental body, indifference to the service of Godhead has grown, and mental speculations are ever driving us in the opposite direction. But this wrong direction is turned towards right if the inclination and taste for the service of Krishna's Desire dawns forth. The service of Krishna's desire is gained if and when we take to the service of sridham.
The Sanskrit word dham has different lexiconic meanings. But in the sense in which it is understood by the wise or seers it means that region or place where there is no scope of any desire for injury, of envy and of mortality, and which is ever self-effulgent, spiritual and blissful. The service of sridham will lead us, as a matter of course, to the service of the holy Name and the holy Desire of Krishna. Relation with sridham being established, the Means of the service of the holy Name soon brings one to the Goal of the service of Krishna's Desire, and this is the only Object of life. Relation with the worldly abode, and hankering after the ordinary worldly life soon cease for one who realizes his relation with sridham.
The only spiritual Entity or Reality, Who has mercifully descended to this world, is the holy Name of Krishna, Who ever dwells in His transcendental realm. That transcendental locality where He manifests Himself and displays His Activities is sridham. By the service of sridham the service of the holy Name and the all-holy Desire of Krishna is attained. Mere pretence to serve the Name apart from the service of sridham, and living aloof from all relations therewith, does never lead to the goal of the service of the holy Desire of Krishna (Krishna-kama).
No good can ever accrue to any jiva or creature except by complete surrender to the lotus Feet of Sri Chaitanya. If it ever comes to our knowledge, even as a flash of lightening, through the causless mercy of Chaitanya's Own servants, as to what the function of the pure cognition, viz., the individual soul, is then and then only we can be saved from the counsels of our fellow mortals in this realm of the darkness of ignorance. But Ah! The curse of our fate! Many are still found to be wholly averse to the investigation of Truth. They are awfully busy with many other activities! But such non-essential activities are but an index of ignorance and of aversion to accept the unmixed blessing.
When He pointed out that Krishna is the only Word and also its only Meaning (the only object of connotation) as well, in all languages, and of all scripts, there was a great consternation among His pupils of secular learning. But lovers and seekers of the Truth began to flock round His lotus feet for education in the transcendental literature. But the service of the holy Name, Who is the Life and soul of this transcendental learning, is not possible unless and until one takes up his abode here in sridham. And the service of the holy Desire of Krishna (Krishna-kama) is not possible without the method of the successful service of Krishna's Name.
I will simply submit to harinama (Name of Hari) and leave off all other practices. I find that all liberated souls serve the Absolute by chanting the Name. I shall have recourse to the Name only by acting as a liberated soul, not as a bound soul. The Name is served by the highest hymns of the Vedas. The feet of the Name are served by the light coming out of the pearls that deck the crown on the head of all the Vedas. The best portions of the Vedas serve the feet of harinama by chanting Him. Persons under the clutches of maya are not ready to accept that process. But the process would relieve them from these hankerings for other activities. Aural activity offers the complete relief. We are meant for incessant felicity. Aural activity would accelerate us to that position. The best relishing food will be offered if we exercise our aural activity for receiving the Transcendental sound from the proper quarters.
People have advanced various performances for dharma, artha, kama and moksha. But we do not want them, we want only prema. Worldly People have got affinity for all other dictations, for all other so-called religionists, but have no desire for the Transcendental sound. The Name is not different from Godhead. The Transcendental Name is equipped with all sorts of Potencies that would regulate our senses and give us the Full-Thing. Every one is eligible. Whether we are sinners, poor or rich, it does not matter. The Transcendental Name welcomes one and all, whoever is willing to submit to hear. We must not disturb a little boy or a person of eighty for any other thing; but we should do so for this purpose. This has no reference to the other senses.
God is ever merciful. He has given us the only way, by means of our aural activity, to have a realization of the transcendental world. But I do not mind these things. I think these are but the mutterings of ignorant people. Do not take the Name of God in vain. 'In vain' means 'for our selfish purpose.' We are to chant the Name constantly in the spiritual form. We, the souls, should have no other occupation. The uncontaminated soul has no function but to be in touch with Hari. By the agency of kirtana, or singing, the conditioned aptitude is dispelled. The word of that country, that unlimited Realm (vaikuntha), is a region that transcends the sphere of the measuring aptitude and reaches our ears. The word is song, on listening to that song our eternal well being manifests itself by the elimination of all evil.
'Vaikuntha or aprakrita sabda' may be rendered as 'Transcendental Sound'. The word 'transcend' signifies 'ascent', 'ascent' from the conditioned aptitude. To remain here is equivalent to being confined to the mundane experience, to practice one's masculine egotism or one's vanity of being the master. But there can be no real well-being if one remains entangled in such dominating egotism, for the reason that it is only those persons who are infatuated by the sense of their own superiority that are apt to be entrapped in the fetters of such dominating egotism. "The person whose soul is infatuated by dominating egotism regards himself as his own master." This is the testimony of the Gita and all sruti. "The individual soul perching on the same tree (as the Divinity) undergoes miseries due to his non-divinity and infatuation. When in the act of serving he perceives his companion to be the Divinity, he realizes His Glory being delivered from sorrow." "When the perceiv ing entity has sight of the Master, the Supreme Lord, the Person Who is the Cause of the brahmanda, the One Who is of Golden Hue, he is completely cleansed of his virtues and vices, and freed from the obstruction of mundanity and obtaining real enlightenment, attains to the condition of supreme equipoise."
The supreme equipoise is altogether different from the position of equality that is postulated by our sense-originated judgment. The equality that relates itself to limited entities is not absolute. The equipoise in relation to the Great One is a different entity.
There is mention of one's meeting with the Person with the Golden Hue, and of sin and righteousness. But it is only when we are relieved from all these conditions that we are in a position to know that we are not non-spiritual entities, nor is it the function of our real nature to remain engrossed in the non-spiritual entity. So long as we remain entangled in our perverted self, by going off the track of our soul, it is not possible for us to meditate on the true Object of our meditation. The practice of mediation on limited entities has reduced us to the condition of the frog in the well.
I happen to be an entity dominated by the knowledge of the five mundane categories. I am entrapped in the functions of little-ness by abstaining from the thoughts of the Great One. And it is for the reason that I have preferred to remain confined to the functions of my little-ness that the egotistic sentiment, that I am the master of myself and of all entities, has appeared in me. It has become necessary to get rid of this desire for domination. Nothing is easier than to assert that the little should aim at being identified with the Great. If one allows himself to be mastered by such sense-less ambition and tries to realize his 'oneness' with the Divinity, such egotistic vanity effectively blocks the course of all real well-being.
When we are cast into the state of evil by harboring the hallucination that we are the equals of the Divinity, there appear simultaneously, (1) a condition which is experienced as one of grief, (2) the state of infatuation due to 'forgetfulness' of our real nature and (3) fear. In other words we lament on account of supposing ourselves to be identical with our gross and subtle bodies, being enchanted by the limiting energy (maya) of Godhead. The mischief makes its appearance when I begin dishonestly to think that Godhead, His devotee (vaishnava), the spiritual guide and myself are on a footing of equality, and that I am superior to them. From the wicked thought that I am the equal, of the spiritual guide and the Vaishnavas or that they are less than myself, the dreadful offence in the shape of the contempt for one's superiors gathers strength. This is the real culpable arrogance. The text of the Bhagavatam says, "If one, while worshipping Govinda, abstains on principle from worshipping His devotees, he is called arrogant." This arrogance manifests itself in one who neglects the worship of the devotees of Godhead. When the conviction that all entities connected with Godhead are objects of my worship as much as Godhead Himself, dawns upon our souls, then only we are freed from the clutches of grief, infatuation and fear. The only method by which this desideratum is realizable is the service of Godhead.
The Western savants are naturally trained up with the theistic idea of the Father-hood of Godhead. They have practiced the devotional culture of offering their active enterprise towards an object who at first sight proves to be venerable in every respect. To think in such a light is natural. In human society, we find our parents nurturing their children from the beginning of their existence and they continue to do so till the latter stand on their own legs. From this illustration people may be likely to subscribe to the opinion of considering the object of their worship in the Father-hood of Godhead. But there is some other loftier thought that can convince them, as well, of the other counterpart as the true center of devotion. If the epistemological view of bhakti is properly scrutinized, the idea of concentrating their devotion towards their Father may tend to target the very thing to their most loving children. The three different ideas that are prevailing among the enquirers of t he next world in a theistic mood, will tell us the positions of elevationists, salvationists and devotees. In other words, their respective systems may be branded as the medium of actors, of stupefiers of manifestation and of God-lovers. The elevationists are found to secure the fruition of their desires as they are in need of removing their manifold wants, but their proposition would fail when they run fast. When such enterprisers are disgusted with their multifarious trade, they want to cut off all connection with their aspiring engine and they want an eternal peace for their final location. Here we find two different tracks that are trodden by salvationists, viz. (1) one of these surmises to have the final goal in non-specification of material phenomena and (2) the other finds it prudent to target the termination in an unspecified object which has been concealed by extreme temperature. The latter wants to diffuse his plan by asking the people to follow him and to neglect the three different situations of o bserved, observation and observers. The third system of devotion has got a different denotation when the final end is taken into account which can only differentiate his position from the other two. The first two were engaged in ameliorating their condition whereas the last one in view is apathetic to such misconceived selfishness. The former were busy to aggrandize their ugly interests; 'ugly'-because wrong, selfish motives are present in their attempts. But the latter, from the very beginning and during his whole course, clings tenaciously to the interests of the Personal Godhead, incorporating his self with Him; whereas the process of isolation is prominent in the former two. The salvationists may question how they are guilty of advocating the principle of detachment when they are always attempting to merge with the Absolute Impersonality. The very idea of Impersonality is tantamount to innate impression of isolation from the true Personality of Godhead. The limited brain of an elevationist is never given an opportunity, by copperplate inscription, to target a supersensuous thing which he has not experienced by his so-called senses and decisions before; moreover, he was simply driven by the phenomenal reasons that surround him, as he has been fully under the clutch of the octopus, maya. But the case is different with a devotee when we scrutinize the relative position of the three impartially.
The school of devotees may clearly be reached if we study it in reference to the comparative positions along with the other two. The first, viz. the elevationists are busy with their temporal activities; whereas the other sections are eager to have an eternal rest. The latter thoughts have got their distinctive merits in impersonality and vague conception. The prediction of an impersonalist detests the devotee by assigning to him the ever shifting mundane phenomena in the attempt to fix himself on the path of eternal personified standard; but the God-lover is not likely to deviate from the loving Fountain-head. The devotee does not advise the salvationist to give up his claim as a knower, having been tempted and deceived by phantasmagoria of natural transitory phenomena. He does not advise him further to hanker after a hallucinative peace which may have no true existence as per his surmise. All that a salvationist wants is to get rid of the unpleasantness as offered to him by the defective atmosphere of Nature, so he need not be indulging in total abnegation of the eternal world behind the phenomena. The salvationist might be disappointed if he seeks the counsel of an elevationist who has had no more property beyond Nature. The best thing for a salvationist is to seek the counsel of a devotee who has much to do with an atmosphere far off the speculative range of animation which is strictly confined to things of three dimensions. The devotees as well as the salvationists do not confine their visual range within the horizon of phenomena. Limitations of time and space no doubt permit the human scope to conceive a person who creates time and space and objects therein and can keep himself aloof from his created objects. Yet the personality with His Almighty Power conceals Himself from the puppy brains of pedants rejecting the fertility of the poor designing brain. The devotees point out to the agnostics, skeptics and atheists various clues of removing the clutch of the Octopus, which has shackled th em by the iron chains of defective, finite observations. The unsettled conception of space and time, as of objects of more than three dimensions, as well as of the meeting point of hyperbolic and parabolic curves of infinitesimal microscopic objects, of macroscope, is not in a position to appease our hunger of knowledge, though we may deceive ourselves with settled views in our present logic. Reason can prevail on atheists to solve the indeterminate unknown when they experience innumerable miseries in everyday life. They cannot deny the tangible fact of a supersensuous agent whom they can, at the worst, designate as a lifeless thing, but they can as well single Him out whenever they get sufficient light of the cosmic creation. The aphorisms of Vyasa have disclosed many a fact which can enlighten every rationalist in having the tract through which he can proceed towards the personality. Here we find that the salvationist and the devotee differ by their respective views. The former thinks it proper to designate this personality to his hallucinative impersonal views as he cherishes unpardonable aspiration of monopolising the situation of Godhead in him; but it proves to be ineffectual. Such illusory theory is not tenable by the school of devotion which is confident of the Absolute Truth. The extreme idealist may run fast to compromise with the realistic devotees, but the latter cannot agree with him when he confines his method of suggestion to mundane things only.
Hitherto we have been dealing with the three different conceptions to reach three different goals, and in the course of comparison we have shown our predilection to chalk out the path of devotion which will best serve us in the progress of our eternal life. The next thing we are to determine is the object of devotion. As rational men, we have shown the course of our taste to lie in the three directions. If we have confidence in a devotee we are naturally supposed to enquire, 'where does his destination terminate?' Our guide in devotion shows different apparels at different times to help us from our particular phase of love. When the object of love is fixed in the all-embracing figure of the Loving, we naturally show our inattention to worldly phenomena that were guiding us in our human existence. The spontaneous attachment towards ephemeral things requires a change in the guidance of a devotee; so we, in order to follow our guide, should regulate, to adhere to his heart-felt injunctions, th e direction as well as know the final point of our present mission. In the school of devotion we are taught to direct all our energy towards the infinite Fountainhead of everything who has attracted by His love all-detachable elements which consider themselves to be a different integer instead of a part of the all-loving center. Now we naturally ask our preceptor who has had experience of loving Him with all his heart the question of the name, size including the color, His distinctive qualities, His paraphernalia and His exploits. The devotional absolutist in answer to our question delineates the different names, different color and size, the distinctive features, qualifying Him for our comprehension, His different locations, the whereabouts of His satellites and His different achievements, in different atmospheres. These varieties should not puzzle us in targeting the absolute monopoly of the all-pervading Spirit, namely the position of Godhead. Language, circumstances and other similar barricades may stand against our prosecution of the present studies. But with the aid and kind help of the generous director we can tide over these petty difficulties which evil spirits might put in the form of counsels against making our actual progress towards the spiritual Kingdom. Our present empiric atmosphere has compelled us to take recourse to analogical attempts, but this analogy may either help us or stand against our progress. God is one and without a second and this idea need not bar our access to innumerable simultaneous transcendental figures in Him. As our object of investigation was not accepted as a finite sensuous object we should refrain from showing a misdirected activity with our present acquisitional intelligence. If we do not disturb our attention in thoughts detrimental to our cause we are sure to strengthen our position in admitting ourselves to the undisputed region transcendent. Here we are to adopt the process of the descending order of the Absolute Truth and not to make an irregular move towards diver se finite things. If we are relieved by proper instruction not to meddle with sensuous objects we have taken the longest journey to approach the Absolute Truth in Person.
Our dire experience of this dusty atmosphere leads us to submit ourselves to offer reverence to the powerful great and to persons of whom we beg for something. With this idea we make a division of things we come across in a scale of graduations. When we point out one side of a rod we ignore the specification of the other extremity, the intermediate gap is measured by graduated meter. The two extreme points are named and their directions, size, color, attributions, neighboring values and efficacy are also defined. In the present case the object of worship and veneration bar us at the first sight to consider the object in a different mood. In the infinite existence of Godhead it is natural to accept Him as the greatest object of veneration, but this adoration when macroscopically enlarged is metamorphosed into a transcendental predicament which may be called the Ocean of Love. In other words love, when disfigured and contaminated by unhealthy dirts, is worded in a hundred different styles. Lo ve devoid of confidence gives the result of less loving activity from the proffer. Want of love is found in different shapes in the worldly tie which is but a misnomer of the transcendental word, love. When the integer is scrutinized diverse fractional parts or distinctive impressions are offered by the same integral standard. The different fractions are incorporated in the integer by ties which go by the name of tie of love. The idea of absolute monism is confined in an idealist and that idealist cannot keep up his dogma when a stern realist examines his monistic thought. Idealistic monism shows the result of distinctive and differentiative monism in analytical standard. We are speaking of ties just now which are called the tying potency of the All-loving towards His loved millions. If we are not sanguine to investigate the All-loving and His perpetual faculty we will be at a loss to approach Him properly. His transcendental existence, His love and His loved -- all have got the indispensable existence of lov e, and this is to be singled out from varieties of phenomena and of transcendental manifestation. The mundane phenomena have got some distinctive quality by which we can give a direction of eternal manifestation that lies behind the material world in an inexplicable condition. The rupturous condition of the pessimistic view is remedied by his opposite school by the tie which goes by the name of love. Whenever we miss this tie, our existive corporation fails to trace out our connection with the infinite absolute Truth. We cannot but call this to have a chaotic fountainhead.