by Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakura
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Once the soul awakens to a perception of the Real Truth it easily gets rid of unnatural domination of body and mind. It becomes the master in its turn and compels the mind and body to obey itself. Under these circumstances the mental and bodily activities of the jiva undergo a radical change and become spiritualized or dominated by the soul.
The awakened soul says In effect to the mind and body, "I am not identical with you. I do not want what you require. I have so long believed that I was identical with yourselves and that our interests were the same. But I now find that I am really and categorically different from you. I am made wholly of the principle of self-consciousness while both of you are made of dead matter. Being matter you can act and be acted upon by matter under the laws of Nature. Nature makes and unmakes you but she has no power over me. I am not benefited by your growth or harmed by your decay. You grow and decay by the laws of that govern your relationship with this physical universe. Falsely identifying myself with you I find myself compelled to suffer pain and pleasure due to physical vicissitudes that overtake you. I find myself unnaturally yoked to your functions such as eating, drinking, producing thought etc. and am forced to believe them to be my own functions by which I am benefited. I shall have of course to stay with you as long as it is intended by providence that I should suffer the consequences of this unnatural alliance with you. But I shall from this time do nothing to please you. I shall permit you to do only what I consider to be necessary for my well-being, viz., getting back into my natural position of free conscious existence unhampered by the unnatural domination by longing for material enjoyment. I refuse to be any more a slave of the sensuous inclinations of the mind and body."
This awakening is the result of unconscious association with liberated souls who are always coming down into this world to help us out of the fetters of worldliness. The awakened soul is now in a position to listen consciously to the voice of the Absolute Truth that is ever knocking at the closed portals of our offending ears for admission. It now believes in the tidings of the spiritual Scriptures and also in the necessity of understanding and adopting in life the teachings of the Scriptures. As soon as this disposition is sincere the necessity of seeking the help of a proper spiritual preceptor is really felt. It begins to distinguish between a liberated and bound soul. It also realizes clearly that it can be helped only by the former. It is the inevitable characteristic of the bound soul to deceive itself and others. The bound soul can never understand, nor is ever willing to recognize its utter incompetence to grasp the real meaning of the spiritual truths recorded In the Shastras because they are under the domination of the mind and body, which being things of this world are naturally unfit to understand the nature of spiritual communications. But awakened souls have no other function than helping the bound jiva to regain its spiritual consciousness. The cooperation of the bound jiva is necessary for this recovery of its lost consciousness. As long as the bound jiva retains any liking for things of this world it is unwilling to recieve the words of the Sadhu or the real meaning of the spiritual Scriptures. The Sadhus and the Shastras tell us that we have really nothing to do with the things of this world but much to do with the things of another world which is categorically different from this, that it is possible for us to enter upon our proper function even in this life, that the method by which this deliverance from the thraldom of our present false temporary existence can be obtained is recorded in the Shastras but in order to be able to really understand the message of the holy Scriptures it is necessary to listen to its exposition from the lips of a Sadhu who alone possesses a real knowledge of it.
If we are thus convinced of the necessity of consulting a real Sadhu we should be able to find him out and he will explain to us the mode of life recommended by the Shastras, which we should lead in this world, for the benefit of our souls. The Sadhu is a transcendental person whose life is wholly regulated by the scriptures. The Absolute Truth is never partial or less than complete. The awakened soul of the Sadhu is necessarily and completely free from all touch of half truth. The life recommended by the Scriptures is the life that is led by the Sadhu. It is not possible for worldly persons to understand unassisted the nature of spiritual living because it is categorically different from the life led by themselves. This difference between the two is not confined to this or that isolated aspect. It is to be found in every single detail of conduct. The change from worldly to spiritual life is not of the nature of reform but is truly a complete revolution.
The person who is liberated from the bondage of the world continues to perform the ordinary natural functions of the body and mind apparently in the same way as one who is in the bound state. He also appears to eat and drink, sleep and die like ordinary worldly people. The process of eating of such a person is thus described in the Shastras: A person whose body and mind have been accepted by the Lord is privileged to approach the Lord and offer Him food and drink. The Lord is pleased to accept the food offered by such a person. By the acceptance of the Lord the food is spiritualized in the same way as the body and mind is spiritualized by their dedication to the Lord. This dedication of all food to the Lord is in the case of such a person truly an act of renunciation of all material food. The food that is accepted by the Lord is spiritualized and is changed into Mahaprasad or 'the great blessing'. The Sadhu accepts the Mahaprasad not for the purpose of appeasing hunger or for the acquisition of bodily or mental health and strength or for any other worldly purpose but with the object of being enabled thereby to avoid the traps laid for him during his sojourn into this world by sensuous temptations of all kinds including that of eating, and obtains by thus honoring the Mahaprasad the inclination for the spiritual service of the Lord. Honoring the Mahaprasad is thus different from eating, although to the uninitiated both may seem to be identical. The external form appears to remain the same although the real nature of activity is radically changed. The result is that whereas by mere eating the sensuous inclination is strengthened and by honoring the Mahaprasad gluttony and its attendant vices are radically cured.
Mahaprasad literally means ‘the great favor’. The benefit to the soul that results by honoring the Mahaprasad is also open to the bound jiva. The Lord does not accept food offered by the bound jiva. But if the bound jiva honors Mahaprasad his soul is benefited. The food that has been offered by the Sadhus to the Lord is categorically different from ordinary food. To take ordinary food is harmful for the soul. By honoring Mahaprasad, not only is the soul saved from the bad effect of eating but is positively benefited by obtaining the inclination for spiritual service. The Shastras, therefore, tell us to give up eating and honor the Mahaprasad. ‘If the palate is conquered every other sense is conquered.’ We can never be freed from the attraction of sensuous temptations until we give up eating altogether and learn to honor the Mahaprasad. By honoring the Mahaprasad our sensuousness is diminished and ultimately disappears altogether and it is only then that we are enabled to understand the real meaning of the Shastras.
The Sadhu helps the fallen jiva to regain his natural state of freedom from sin so he can engage in constant service of the Lord, by bringing about descent of the transcendental Sound in the form of words uttered by his lips and by Mahaprasad in the shape of food that is offered by him to the Lord. The sound uttered by the Sadhu and the Mahaprasad are not things of this world. They are not identical with ordinary sound, or ordinary food which are only means for the gratification of our sensuous inclinations and appetites. The word of God and Mahaprasad cannot be enjoyed or in other words cannot be used for the gratification of the senses because they are spiritual. Those who enjoy the kirtan or any spiritual discourse or eat the Mahaprasad for appeasing hunger or gratification of the palate are guilty of sacrilegious acts which serve only to prolong the state of sin and ignorance of the greatest possible calamity that can befall the human soul.
The Kirtan of Hari is the constant and natural function of all the faculties of the jiva soul in the state of its freedom from all affinities with this changeable world, because the Absolute Truth is identical with Hari. Hari has to be served exclusively, constantly and by all the faculties of the soul. The only function of the voice is to chant the Kirtan of Hari which is identical with and inseparab1e from the simultaneous service of Hari by all the other senses. One who does not employ his voice constantly and exclusively in chanting the Kirtan of Hari has no access to the service of Hari by any other faculty.
The Kirtan of Hari has therefore, to be chanted by being humbler than a blade of grass. There can be no trace of worldly vanity. There can be no seeking after any worldly advantage. The only object should be to please Hari.
Absolute Truth is a living person and not an abstract principle. He has the power of communicating His commands to us and expressing His approval and disapproval of our activities. No one who does not fully submit to Him can understand His command.
The Absolute Truth is not anything limited or partial, neither can it be divided. It is not dependent on any condition excepting itself. It is always one and the same. Listening to or chanting of it is always and necessarily beneficial, being the natural function of the soul. Any other view of its nature will stand in the way of that perfect humility, the outcome of absolute submission, which is the indispensable condition of its realization.
A chanter of the Kirtan of Hari is necessarily the uncompromising enemy of worldliness and hypocrisy. As chanter of the Kirtan of Hari, it is the constant function to dispel all misconceptions by the preaching of the truth in the most unambiguous form without any respect of person, place or time. That form has to be adopted which is least likely to be misunderstood. It is his bounden duty to oppose clearly and frankly any person who tries to deceive and harm himself and other people by misrepresenting the Truth due to malice or bona fide misunderstanding. This will be possible if the chanter of Kirtan is always prepared to submit to be trodden by thoughtless people if any discomfort to himself will enable him to do good to his persecutors by chanting the Truth in the most unambiguous manner. If he is unwilling or afraid of considerations of self-respect or personal discomfort to chant the Kirtan under all circumstances he is unfit to be a preacher of the Absolute Truth. Humility implies perfect submission to the Truth and no sympathy for untruth. A person who entertains any partiality for untruth is unfit to chant the Kirtan of Hari. Any clinging to untruth is opposed to the principle of humility born of absolute submission to the Truth.
Those who serve the Truth at all time by means of all their faculties and have no hankering for the trivialities of this world are always necessarily free from malice born of competing worldliness and are, therefore, fit to admonish those who are actively engaged in harming themselves and others - by the method of opposing or misrepresenting the Truth in order to attain the rewards of such a policy in the shape of a perpetuation of the state of misery and ignorance. The method which is employed by the servant of the good preceptor for preventing such misrepresentation of the truth is a part and parcel of the truth itself. It may not always be pleasing to the diseased susceptibilities of deluded minds and may even be denounced by them as a malicious act with which they are only too familiar, but the words of truth from the lips of a loyal and humble servant of Hari possess such beneficent power that all effort to suppress or obstruct them only serves to vindicate to impartial minds the necessity of complete submission to the Absolute Truth as the only cure of the disease of worldliness. Humility that is employed in the unambiguous service of the Truth is necessarily and qualitatively different from its perverted prototype which is practiced by the cunning people of this world for gaining their worldly ends. The professors of pseudo humility have reason to be afraid of the preaching of the servants of Hari, one of whose duties it is to expose the enormous possibility of mischief that is possessed by the forms of spiritual conduct when they are taken to task for serving the untruth.